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Shutdown plus First fruits equals two months salary, pouf!!

Friday, February 1st, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — where economics meets scripture ]
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The mundane:

Pete Nischt, 32, of Akron, Ohio, didn’t like the shutdown from the start, and now his flight from New York to Cleveland was delayed for three hours. In recent days, as he saw how people who had gone without pay for a month were suffering, he came to view the failure to pay public employees as “a breach of the social contract. Trump has been lying the whole time .?.?. and now we’re paying for it.”

That’s from How the shutdown ended: Americans just had it up to here

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The spiritual:

Okay, that’s the mundane “people who had gone without pay for a month” because of the shutdown — how about the spiritual? How about they also give God, in the person of Paula White, a month’s pay?

Eh?

And:

Oh yes, she’s an Apostle of the New Apostolic Reformation.

Paula White, who heads up the president’s evangelical advisory committee, suggested making a donation to her ministries to honor the religious principle of “first fruit,” which she said is the idea that all firsts belong to God, including the first harvest and, apparently, the first month of your salary.

In any case, the principle is simple enough:

“January is the beginning of a new year for us in the Western world. Let us give to God what belongs to him: the first hours of our day, the first month of the year, the first of our increase, the first in every area of our life. It’s devoted…. The principle of first fruits is that when you give God the first, he governs the rest and redeems in,” she said.

“When you honor this principle, it provides the foundation and structure for God’s blessings and promises in your life. It unlocks deep dimensions of spiritual truths that literally transform your life. When you apply this, everything comes in divine alignment for his plan and promises for you. When you don’t honor it, whether through ignorance or direct disobedience, there are consequences.”

But what if — because of the shutdown, you weren’t paid for a month? Maybe you’re an air traffic controller, and received a check for $0.00? Offer it up?

Pouf! cancels out Pouf! In other words, that won’t cost you anything — beyond the original suffering mentioned above..

Ouch!

One delicious ouroboros and miscellaneous chyrons &c

Friday, January 25th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — all the way through to Roger Stone and a clip from Godfather II ]
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First, in the place of honor, this brilliant sign protesting the government shutdown. Ouroboric in form, simple, succinct, pithy:

That’s a protest haiku, if ever I saw one, in a detail from the original photo.

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And while we’re on the topic of haikus, chyrons — those texts at the foot of TV screens — are the haiku of news media. Here are some I’ve collected recently — I’ll add more here as we go, since adding them in the comments section requires tweeting them so as to have a URL to work with..

As I’ve said elsewhere, that Carter Page, Michael Caputo, Sam Nunberg, Jerome Corsi joint interview by Ari Melber was fantastic television.

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I generally pick chyrons to screengrab for their game or war metaphors, but pithy and witty will get me every time.

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Kelly O’Donnell (immediately above) said memorably, “It’s a sort of dueling banjos of legislation..”

Hey:

Double #FAIL

And now, the Roger Stone indictment, with its movie reference. There have been plenty of pundits an news anchors referencing the Godfather movies, and that “textbook mob tactics” reference from the new chairmen of the Oversight and Intel committees. but AFAIK this is the first such reference from the Mueller team in a court document, and notable as such.

Plus I guess I’ll need to revisit the Godfather series to keep up with current affairs..

Better angels and air traffic controllers

Monday, January 14th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — the curious, little noticed replacement of the heavens by the sky ]
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In the introduction to my What sacred games shall we have to invent? — one of my favorite instance of the HipBone Games, take a look — I wrote:

The great German engraver Albrecht Dürer’s illustrations of the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation) differ from contemporary televised images of warfare not only in terms of the armor and weaponry used, but also and more importantly by recording two worlds, the visible and the invisible, where the television camera records only the visible. The sky in television reports of war contains missiles and warplanes, and if anything “invisible” is depicted, it is invisible only by virtue of being viewed in the infra-red portion of the spectrum via night scope. Dürer’s sky is not merely “sky” but also “heaven”, and thus depicts that “war in heaven” alluded to in Revelations 12: 7, with its angels and demons and dragon, its Lady clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and crowned with the stars…

A crucial shift in the way in which we envision “reality” has occurred between Albrecht Dürer’s time and our own, and that shift has indeed largely deprived us of a real sense of the existence of an “invisible world” — whether it be the invisible world of faerie or sacrament, of poetic vision or apocalypse. That great modern prophet William Blake both predicted and lamented this loss, and his entire corpus of poetry and paintings can be viewed as a singular attempt to replace in our culture that visionary quality that our increasing scientism so easily deprives us of.

This shift in our understanding becomes exceedingly important when we come to consider the awesome potential of weapons now in the human arsenal: and nuclear weapons in particular. For while the “rational” conscious mind is considering Hermann Kahn’s Ladder of Escalation and other more recent “scenarios” and “game plans” in the “theater of war” with characteristic dispassion, the imagination by necessity views the imaginal… and our dreams, our hopes and fears are filled with those same ancient forces that John of Patmos perceived in his visions, and which Albrecht Dürer depicted in the imagery of his own time. As a culture, we are now largely “unconscious” of the war in heaven — but it has not ceased to influence our lives.

I remembered this when MSNBC host Bryan WIlliams told the presidential biographer Jon Meacham a day or two ago:

if you’re going to clear those better angels of yours fo takeoff, remember the air traffic controllers are working without salaries..

I don’t suppose Williams‘ mind made a big deal of the mildly ironic conflation of heaven and sky, angels and air traffic controllers, he’d managed here in what was surely a passing comment — but the juxtaposition is in fact a significant one, as significant as John Donne’s celebrated juxtaposition of the pre-scientific square earth and the scientific spherical one in the brilliant opening lines of his sonnet:

At the round earth’s imagin’d corners, blow
Your trumpets, angels,

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Of such juxtapositions are light laughs and great poems made..

Jesus, take the wheel

Friday, December 7th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — despair or certain hope? ]
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Under the headline The White House Has No Plan for Confronting the Mueller Report, we read (upper panel):

An Urban Dictionary entry captures the sense of helplessness..

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Carrie Underwood‘s song, from which the phrase “Jesus, take the wheel” is drawn, uses driving too fast and spinning out of control on black ice as its example of a situation where that prayer arises, setting the scene with the despairing line:

she was running low on faith and gasoline

In her despair, she finds surrender:

Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
‘Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go
So give me one more chance
And save me from this road I’m on
Jesus, take the wheel

The car comes to rest on the shoulder of the road, and —

And for the first time in a long time
She bowed her head to pray
She said I’m sorry for the way
I’ve been living my life
I know I’ve got to change
So from now on tonight

Jesus, take the wheel..

Listen:

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For reasons outside my control, when I first played this song it was followed automatically and much to my surr[prise by this, from Handel, and apt for the season:

Perhaps there’s an answer here to the White House staffers’ despair — speaking of the Christ child, Handel, quoting Isaiah, instructs us:

And the government shall be upon his shoulders

The government..

Infinity Journal: Can Grand Strategy be Mastered?

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

[Mark Safranski / “zen“]

The new edition of Infinity Journal is out and they have a most interesting article by Dr. Lukas Milevski, a promising young scholar best known for his recent book The Evolution of Modern Grand Strategic Thought.

Can Grand Strategy be Mastered?

….The first conceptualization of grand strategy, broadening the concept to include all instruments of national power and not simply the military, may arguably be quite useful. Policy-makers and strategists all should understand how military power fits in with non-military power, and vice versa, to achieve desired effects. They must understand the assumptions which implicitly underpin each form of power and how they integrate and contradict among themselves. As Lawrence Freedman argued in 1992, “[t]he view that strategy is bound up with the role of force in international life must be qualified, because if force is but one form of power then strategy must address the relationship between this form and others, including authority.”[ix]

The use of non-military power against an adversary in war is clearly not simple diplomacy, but also is not encompassed within classical definitions of strategy. Grand strategy may or may not be an appropriate term for it; in recent decades the British have labeled it the comprehensive approach. Yet, given how many authors have paid lip service to the variety of forms of power inherent in this interpretation of grand strategy, the amount of attention actually dedicated to the non-military forms of power has been startlingly low. As Everett Carl Dolman suggested in a somewhat blasé manner, “[a] worthy grand strategist will consider all pertinent means individually and in concert to achieve the continuing health and advantage of the state.”[x] Yet one may reasonably ask, ‘but how?’ To make connections among categories and among distinct fields and disciplines is one of the primary purposes of theory, yet this has simply not been done in the grand strategic literature even when this task is implicit and inherent in the definition of the concept itself.[xi] Furthermore, without the achievement of this difficult scholarly work, grand strategic theory which adheres to this form of the concept will never fulfill Clausewitz’s appreciation of theory.

….In principle, grand strategy, conceived along the lines of incorporating multiple instruments beyond the military, can indeed be mastered. However, there is no theory yet which may guide those who desire to master grand strategy in this manner. Practice in the world of action may, of course, still take place without theory—or at least academic theory. Yet without proper guidance, chaos among the various military and non-military instruments is inevitable. They will not work properly together; they may even achieve contradictory effects; and so forth. The comprehensive approach, as practiced in Afghanistan and Iraq, has not been particularly successful.
The second conceptualization of grand strategy, as being placed above policy in a hierarchy of ideas and duties, along with the subsidiary characteristic of enduring over lengthy periods of time, is less transferable to the world of action. Each aspect of this second understanding of grand strategy contributes individually to limiting the transferability of the concept.

Read the whole thing here.

Milevski is a grand strategy skeptic and as such he raises fair questions in his article regarding grand strategy as an actionable thing that some enterprising official, politician or military officer could master. Though he does not raise it explicitly, Milevski’s argument reflects a longstanding debate on whether grand strategy is even a thing one can do or is merely a retrospective historical explanation. Aiding Milevski is that while there has been much learned commentary on grand strategy by eminent scholars or practitioners like Kennan and Kissinger, conceptually it is a muddle with competing definitions and lacking a coherent accepted theory. Much like obscenity, we seem to know grand strategy when we see it (Containment! Bismarck!) but can’t really explain why it happened here and not there.

The two competing definitions Milevski raises complement one another but they are not the same. The first is what is sometimes in America called a whole-of-government approach to conflict and Milevski admits this version of grand strategy is one that could potentially be mastered, albeit there is no pathway to do so. The reason for this is that is that grand strategy requires a fairly robust centralization of political power to be realized. To do grand strategy, it helps if you are Otto von Bismarck, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, Pericles, Peter the Great or some similar figure. Middle level bureaucrats in democratic polities might conceive or suggest grand strategies but unless they convincingly sell their idea to the ruling elite and then the elite to the public (Dean Acheson, for example, “scaring the hell out of the country”) it won’t become actionable policies, diplomatic agreements or military operations. This is possible but rarely happens without an existential strategic threat or at least the perception of a serious one.

Milevski is less enchanted, as are Clausewitzians generally, with the second version of grand strategy that posits a great idea or theme floating above policy, guiding it over very long periods of time such as decades or centuries. Objectively, it is hard to come up with a rationale why this could not be happening more often because it doesn’t though we can point to examples where nations or empires have followed a principle consistently in peace or war for a very long period of time; for example, Britain seeking to prevent any power from dominating continental Europe or China’s tributary system for managing dangerous barbarian tribes and neighboring states. Subjectively, Clausewitzians simply don’t like “grand strategy” violating the hierarchy Clausewitz set forth to explain the relationship between politics/politik, policy and strategy in war. Milevski spends time on this objection specifically.

I’m less troubled by the contradiction than Dr. Milevski, though it’s worth considering that in theory the two different versions of grand strategy could be different phenomena instead of competing definitions of one. Much of the first version of grand strategy could also be termed “statecraft” and the second is something like John Boyd’s theme of vitality and growth or at a minimum, an aspirational security paradigm. It’s more of a vision or an opportunistic operating principle than a well honed strategy  or clearly defined end-state. It is open-ended to permit maximum political flexibility and accommodate many, at times competing, policies. The second version of grand strategy is not at all strategy in the sense applied to a theater of combat for concrete objectives; it is more political, more gestalt.


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