Is this an ivory tower?


The phenomenon we are seeing here is not new. The degree of self-delusion (if that is what it is) is impressive, saying “sometimes a year has passed without a single comment.” It’s deliberate isolation, the result of polarization. It’s also arrogance, but I’ve learned in my years of treading this planet that arrogance is a product of insecurity.

I have never wanted to hang out with people who only “discuss” things with people who agree with them. I have always wanted to take the fight to the enemy. In so doing, I’ve learned a lot, and have had changes of heart and mind on many topics:

  • I used to believe in a thing called “peak oil,” and was wrong. I read scholarly books on the subject too, reaffirming my rightness on the topic before learning how wrong it is.
  • I once bought into the notion that the Mob, acting alone, killed JFK. I was wrong. The books I read on that subject, attempting to make that case, combined were over 1200 pages. All they did was assemble selected evidence, ignoring inconvenient stuff.
  • I used to think that the underclass is a victim of the upper classes. Yeah, that’s wrong too. Victimhood is overrated, and should not be enabled. (There are victims on this planet who need our help. Instead, we are bombing them, as we speak!)
  • I used to have a whole lot more respect for feminists than I do now. Speaking of professional victims.
  • I am looking cross-eyed at Chomsky these days, thinking perhaps I’ve stumbled on a fatal flaw. Long story, I’ll have to face that one of these mornings and write a long dreary essay on it. But my view of him is evolving.
  • I find myself wondering if global warming, climate change and all of that is just another hoax. That’s why I never write about it. One, the science is beyond me, and two, it could be mere power of suggestion. I am susceptible to that, just like everyone.

These kind of attitudinal changes can only come about when people who disagree with each other stand toe-to-toe and have it out. We are all equipped with an automatic avoidance mechanism (seen above). We instead need to bore into those topics about which we have firm beliefs and not enough evidence to support them. Often enough the people with whom I disagree are right, and I am wrong.

But so what?!! Who among us gets to go through life being right all the time?

Oh yeah – Rob Natelson. He was always right, every word he wrote, and then he went into hiding. Big Swede – when the going gets tough, when you attempt to press him on a topic, Swede gets going. Out the door. And James Conner. He’s hiding. He’s afraid. He’s wrong about stuff. A lot of stuff. Like all of us. And he cannot face it. That is sad.
PS: I do not know what kind of comments Conner has been getting that so upset him, but for the record, none have been from me. I have made no attempts to penetrate his fortress.

35 thoughts on “Is this an ivory tower?

  1. Your PS renders all of your pseudo cerebral analysis about James complete bullshit. The fact you spent the effort writing this tripe where you express your judgements shows how out of touch you are with any shred of humility.

    As to James himself, I don’t know of a Montanan that loves any more deeply our country, Montana, the Flathead, and his city more. Just look at the issues he writes about and his photography. His reasons are his own as to his policy change.


        1. Blather is by definition devoid of content. If it had content, it would not be blather.

          You, in the other hand, got a burr in your saddle, and it ain’t Conner, and it ain’t me. It has something to do with what is written here, if you even read it. It would be nice if you just said what was on your mind, asshole.


    1. Craig, what are your qualifications for judging the patriotism of Montanans? . What’s your system for determining who loves what the most?

      James can hide out in his zero feedback zone hermetically sealed blog if he wants to.

      And we can talk about it here if we want to. You too, if you want to. Which it appears you do.

      Your comment to Mark shows me what a confused self absorbed knee jerk kind of human you are. I find you generally pathetic,. even more pathetic than James.

      Have a good Sunday!


    1. Sagan wrote in one of his books, I think Pale Blue Dot, and this has stuck with me all of these years, that he thought the Apollo missions were a cover for development of ICBM’s, which is why the program was shit canned when the rocketry was well enough advanced. It was disguised military spending, which pretty well describes NASA. Everything about this country is bamboozlement.


  2. We have not yet completely shaken the puritanism that led to the Salem witch trials. In Miller’s play about Puritanism, The Crucible, everyone belongs to either God (Democrats) or the devil (Republicans). Dissent is not tolerated because it is the devil’s work. It is this intolerance and actions against all social deviants that maintain Party purity. All those tainted by devil-worship must be eliminated from the “community.” At least today hangings and burning at the stake have been replaced by “unfriending” or being scrubbed from a blog roll. The thought process, however, seems similar, yet not surprising, since to me at least, nothing ever really changes that much. A lot of talk about “freeborn rights” is being recycled today — just not for everybody, right?


  3. Our debates seem to go in two directions. Your most prominent response is with insults. I’m not blameless in this tactic, but I leave knowing that rolling around in the mud is pointless.

    The other direction you and many others including Rob, JC, Liz, Steve almost always go are these long lectures and spider webbed diatribes that are frankly boring. It’s like the one who spews the longest wins.

    Ever been to a debate? There’s time limits. Everyone knows you guys are smart and can link sentences together, but that doesn’t mean you’re right.


    1. OK. Will try harder. But while you don’t often level personal insults, your links do. The one you put up at 4&20, that had Palestinians protecting themselves with children, was incredibly insulting – that you can think that speaks of a man far removed from understanding and who is even hateful.

      People everywhere can link sentences. If that is all it took to understand this crazy country, the TV people would be the smartest guys in the room. I mean, look at how glib they are!


        1. That’s’ not always true. Truth can happen anywhere in the spectrum, and your side is as [right as] wrong about a whole host of issues. But most times, as with your postings about the Palestinians orchestrating attacks on themselves by Israel to generate sympathy, my take on your perception there, the counter evidence is overwhelming, but you will not go there.

          Take the link you just supplied: Within it is a link with the words that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “direct descendant of Nazi Germany.” Godwin aside, that is simply not true, and it is interesting that the link leads to a page with a photo of George W. Bush, whose forebears indeed did materially support the rise of Hitler. You can look this up, as Brown Brothers Harriman was pursued under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

          But assume the sins of the grandfather do not visit on the son, what about Muslim Brotherhood? Simply couple those two words with the words “British intelligence” and you will find dozens of links that speak of MB as agents provocateur whose task it is to keep middle eastern states backward and the oil flowing.

          Can you be reached on this level, Swede? Can you expose yourself to counter-intuitive reporting? It is not right or wrong by its mere existence, but it does have to be incorporated into a world view or discarded. Ignorance of the existence of these counter-threads to the history you’ve been taught does not serve you well.

          Made it through that without an insult. Hope I did not link too many sentences for you.


          1. Wouldn’t a suicide bomber be in essence an “attack on oneself”?

            So why isn’t it a stretch that a cult bent on killing themselves would utilize human shields?


          2. Because 1) They are not a “cult,” and 2) They are not bent on killing themselves. They’re a population of over four million people living inside walled communities and who have had their land and resources stolen.

            C’mon Swede, you can do better than this. That is an ignorant and hateful comment. At least address the “ignorant” part if you cannot turn down the hatred. Ignorance is a curable disease.


          3. You’re right they’re a “death cult”. A cult which worships death. A cult which rewards families who send off their children to die in an explosion of blood and guts.

            Do you deny their use of suicide bombs? Do you think that maybe they’re some stories made up by corporate interests?


          4. They do not worship death. The only difference between Israeli F16 pilots and Palestinian suicide bombers, each of whom have bombs stropped to bellies, is that the Israeli pilot will live to bomb again. Each inflicts massive suffering on other humans. The Israeli pilot does not witness the suffering, as he has already flown by when the bombs go off.

            But to characterize over 4 million people by a few who have chosen to do that is wrong. I wonder if you are having trouble grasping the size of this refugee crisis.

            And the numbers tell the story. Israel has murdered thousands and thousands of innocent civilians, stolen land and resources (please address that matter), disappeared people int to the prison system never to be seen again, engaged in aggressive war against its neighbors, engaged in terrorism, and behaves like a fascist state.

            What have we got this time? Three Israeli youth, probalby killed by Mossad as a means to stopping the Knesset form releasing other Palestinians, and over a thousand Palestinians killed. You are making me sick, here, pal. Somehow you seem to think this is OK.

            Do you know the history of the region? Balfour? Khazars? Zionism itself? If so, please explain to me why Palestinians have to give up their land and livelihood and become refugees in their own country so that Germans can be punished for crimes committed against Khazars.


  4. Swede, et al. If you haven’t watched this 2005 Palestinian movie, Paradise Now, you should. It won a Golden Globe and other awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign language film in 2005. Without giving away anything, it’s ostensibly about Palestinian suicide bombers. Full length movie:


    1. Come on now, Swede will not be watching that. He’s watching re-runs of Hee Haw on his laptop right now with Fox News playing in the background.


      1. I’ll defer to Roger Ebert:

        Roger Ebert, November 3, 2005

        What I am waiting for is a movie about a suicide bomber who is an atheist, who expects oblivion after his death and pulls the trigger after having reasoned that the deaths of his victims will advance a cause so important that he, and they, must die. When religion enters into the picture, it clouds the meaning of the act: How selfless is your sacrifice if you believe you will be instantly rewarded for eternity?

        “What happens afterward?” asks one of the two suicide bombers in “Paradise Now.”

        “Two angels will pick you up.”

        “Are you sure?”


        The movie involves two days in the lives of Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman), two Palestinians, garage mechanics and best friends, who are recruited to cross into Israel and blow themselves up. They are not shown as fanatics. They prepare for their task as one would prepare for any difficult assignment. The organization that supports them provides training, encouragement, praise, shaves and haircuts, suits and ties, a ceremonial dinner, and a chance to make videos that will be shown on television.

        On his video, Said articulates the Palestinian position, expressing anger that the Israelis have stolen the status of victims he believes belongs by right to his own people. Does this speech make the film propaganda, or does it function simply as a record of what such a man would say on such an occasion? I’m not sure it matters. If we are interested in a film that takes us into the lives of suicide bombers, we must be prepared to regard what we find there. Certainly what Said says will not come as a surprise to any Israeli. It’s simply that they disagree.

        We may disagree, too, and yet watch the film with a fearsome fascination. The director and co-writer, Hany Abu-Assad, uses the interesting device of undercutting the heroism of his martyrs with everyday details. During one taping of a farewell message, the camera malfunctions. During another, one of the bombers interrupts his political sermon with a personal shopping reminder for his mother. When the leader of the terrorist group personally visits the two men, he seems less like a charismatic leader than a bureaucrat a little bored by this obligatory task.

        Then there is the matter of the woman Suha (Lubna Azabal); she and Said are beginning to love each other. A Palestinian born in France and raised in Morocco, she has great status in the Palestinian community because she is the daughter of Abu Assam, a revered leader. But she is not an advocate of suicide bombs. Influenced no doubt by the skepticism of the West, she questions terrorist acts on both theological and practical grounds: Islam forbids suicide, and she wonders if one qualifies as a martyr if one has martyred oneself. And she believes the effect of the bombings is to create innocent victims and inspire retaliation in a never-ending cycle of violence.

        The director is himself a Palestinian, born in Israel; his crew included Palestinians, Israelis and Westerners, and during the filming was reportedly threatened by both sides in the conflict. It hardly matters, in a way, which side Abu-Assad’s protagonists are on; the film is dangerous because of its objectivity, its dispassionate attention to the actual practical process by which volunteers are trained and prepared for the act of destruction.

        “Paradise Now,” like another 2005 film, “The War Within,” and the 1999 Indian film “The Terrorist,” humanizes suicide bombers. But in my mind, at least, that creates not sympathy, but pity; what a waste, to spend your life and all your future on behalf of those who send you but do not go themselves. These movies by necessity tell us versions of the same story: A true believer prepares for death, and we watch to see if death will come.

        That is why I await the movie about the atheist who blows himself up. He will need to convince himself objectively of the wisdom of his decision. When religion is involved, it sidesteps the issue, since religion provides an absolute rationale. The problem is that all religions provide this service — yours, mine, theirs. When higher powers are evoked to justify death on both sides of a dispute, does heaven send four angels?


        1. I find the whole notion of the suicide bomber to be an aberration. One, there is no justification for killing innocent people, ever. Two, normal people do not commit suicide. So the people who are suicide bombers have to be mentally unstable, to say the least, but I think there is more.

          Israel depends for its PR image on its victim status. Bad people have to be doing bad things to Israelis, and yes, we are ever so subtly reminded of the Holocaust. So it would be in Israel’s interest to find, recruit and arm suicide bombers. I, personally, regard Israel’s leadership as psychotic, so nothing surprises me. But this notion, as the movie puts forth, that normal kids become suicide bombers is in my mind nuts.

          ReidRichard Reid, shoe bomber, is a psychotic, and an imbecile. He was also on the no-fly list. He could not have possibly gotten aboard an aircraft without assistance. Other passengers said he seemed surprised when his underpants caught fire, and of course, there was not enough explosive there to do any damage. His incident was used to justify purchase of full body scanners, probably the purpose of the scam.

          We live in the MKULTRA era, so that body snatching, mind control, drug zombies, are all studied. I have no doubt that Israel, Mossad, CIA, MI5 and 6 are busy scouting the homeless shelters, the streets and underpasses, for candidates to use as suicide bombers. I have no doubt they might not recruit and train young and disaffected Palestinians. I also have no doubt that they would plant a bomb and claim it was done by a suicide bomber. You’ve seen the faith people have in Israel. They can pull off just about anything they want. Palestinians are not saints, but have much less reason to do these bombings than the Israelis, who need them to justify their continued Gulags.


          1. I haven’t watched the movie in years, but I’ll watch it again, soon. Scenes from it come back to me as I read and hear about what is happening in Gaza right now.

            The director, Abu-Assad had this to say about it: ‘The film is simply meant to open a discussion, hopefully a meaningful discussion, about the real issues at hand. I hope that the film will succeed in stimulating thought…’


  5. Working on some damaged water pumps so I’ll leave you with this letter.

    Most of the reporting on the latest war between Israel and Hamas focuses on the number of casualties in Gaza. Hamas has been identified by the U.S. as a terrorist organization that is funded by Iran. The government of Hamas claims it is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and, therefore, every Israeli man, woman and child is a legitimate target. The culture of Hamas is a culture of death. It celebrates those who deliberately murder Israelis (including babies).

    The culture of Israel is a celebration of life, learning, family and the pursuit of peace and happiness, just like the basic culture in the United States. Israel just wants to live in peace with its neighbors. The new government of Egypt also rejects Hamas and its terrorism. Israel has only retaliated against Hamas after thousands of deadly rockets have been fired by Hamas terrorists indiscriminately into Israel. Israel has tried to do everything to protect its citizens, building shelters everywhere and a missile defense system to deflect incoming missiles. It is about 95 percent effective, so few Israelis have been killed or wounded.

    In contrast, the Hamas authorities not only don’t provide any safe shelters for their citizens, they deliberately place deadly rockets and munitions in private homes and apartments. They also purposely place them in schools, hospitals and mosques. The Israeli army tries to minimize casualties when it goes in to destroy these weapons, so it contacts the residents by phone to warn them to leave their apartments. Many of them leave, but then, unbelievably, the Hamas authorities tell the people to go back to their homes and “stand up to the Israelis,” and if they get killed, the authorities yell and curse and blame the Israelis. They use the deaths as propaganda to incur the world’s sympathy. They use people as human shields and they have no respect for human life.

    This is the reality; this is what Israel faces. I just wish everyone could visit Israel and see how millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims live together peacefully. It is the most multicultural society, along with the U.S., in the world. The difference between Hamas and Israel is highlighted by the official response to murder. The response by Hamas to the recent murder of the three Israeli teenagers was cheering and celebrating the murderers. The response to the revenge killing of an Arab teenager by some Israelis was for the Israeli government to condemn the killing and arrest the perpetrators. I pray that more and more people learn the truth about Israel and Hamas and make sure our government leaders are aware and act to condemn and fight terrorism and hatred and promote real peace.

    Ellen Bander

    elementary librarian

    Baton Rouge


    1. Damaged water pumps? What, your irrigation ditch run dry? Nice problem to have.

      I’ll bet there’s a few million Palestinians that would much rather be spending their time repairing water pumps, than watching shrapnel-damaged human hearts pumping blood out wounds till the veins run dry.


  6. “Israel.. It is the most multicultural society, along with the U.S., in the world.”

    Whereupon I shake my head in disbelief at the level of stupidity this sort of exceptionalist propaganda reveals, and I ignore the rest of the article.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s