The wealthy politician as rapist

The head of the International Monetary Fund, a likely Socialist candidate for the presidency of France, was yanked out of his first class cabin on a plane just before it was set to take off and was arrested for sexual assault.

Haggard and unshaven after a weekend in jail, the chief of the International Monetary Fund was denied release on bail Monday on charges of trying to rape a hotel maid as allegations of other, similar attacks by Dominique Strauss-Kahn began to emerge.

In France, a lawyer for a novelist said the writer is likely to file a criminal complaint accusing Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her nine years ago. A French lawmaker accused him of attacking other maids in previous stays at the same luxury hotel. And in New York, prosecutors said they are working to verify reports of at least one other case, which they suggested was overseas.

Strauss-Kahn’s weekend arrest rocked the financial world as the IMF grapples with the European debt crisis, and upended French presidential politics. Strauss-Kahn, a member of France’s Socialist party, was widely considered the strongest potential challenger next year to President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Making his first appearance on the sex charges, a grim-looking Strauss-Kahn stood slumped before a judge in a dark raincoat and open-collared shirt. The 62-year-old, silver-haired Strauss-Kahn said nothing as a lawyer professed his innocence and strove in vain to get him released on bail.

The judge ruled against him after prosecutors warned that the wealthy banker might flee to France and put himself beyond the reach of U.S. law like the filmmaker Roman Polanski.

via IMF chief jailed without bail in NYC attempted-rape case; more allegations emerge – The Washington Post.

The story goes on to give the sordid details of the attack on the maid, an African immigrant, who went in to clean the $3000-per-night room and was attacked by the naked Strauss-Kahn.  This was no sexual harassment charge by “puritanical” Americans, as some Frenchmen are saying.  Rather, it was a brutal, violent attempted rape.

The new radical ideology for our time

I had an epiphany while reading reports of protests in Europe against the various austerity measures being imposed due to the different government’s economic woes:  The radical ideology for our postmodern times is anarchism, the rejection of all authority.

Let me explain, but first read what is happening in Europe:

Already struggling to avoid a debt default that could seal Greece’s fate as a financial pariah, this Mediterranean nation is also scrambling to contain another threat — a breakdown in the rule of law.

Thousands have joined an “I Won’t Pay” movement, refusing to cover highway tolls, bus fares, even fees at public hospitals. To block a landfill project, an entire town south of Athens has risen up against the government, burning earth-moving equipment and destroying part of a main access road.

The protests are an emblem of social discontent spreading across Europe in response to a new age of austerity. At a time when the United States is just beginning to consider deep spending cuts, countries such as Greece are coping with a fallout that has extended well beyond ordinary civil disobedience.

Perhaps most alarming, analysts here say, has been the resurgence of an anarchist movement, one with a long history in Europe. While militants have been disrupting life in Greece for years, authorities say that anger against the government has now given rise to dozens of new “amateur anarchist” groups, whose tactics include planting of gas canisters in mailboxes and destroying bank ATMs.

Some attacks have gone further, heightening concerns about a return to the kind of left-wing violence that plagued parts of Europe during the 1970s and 1980s. After urban guerrillas mailed explosive parcels to European leaders and detonated a powerful bomb last year in front of an Athens courthouse, authorities here have staged a series of raids, arresting dozens and yielding caches of machine guns, grenades and bomb-making materials.

The anarchist movement in Europe has a long, storied past, embracing an anti-establishment universe influenced by a broad range of thinkers from French politician and philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to Karl Marx to Oscar Wilde. Defined narrowly, the movement includes groups of urban guerillas, radical youths and militant unionists. More broadly, it encompasses everything from punk rock to WikiLeaks. . . .

A radical minority is energizing the anarchist movement, a loose network of anti-establishment groups that sprung up in force in the 1970s in opposition to Greece’s former military junta. Over the next two decades, anarchists would assassinate Richard Welch, a CIA station chief in Athens, as well as Greek politicians and a British military attache.

Greek authorities seemed to cut the head off the movement after the leaders of November 17th, the largest group, were arrested in the early 2000s before Greece hosted the 2004 Olympics. But it has been gaining new life. The December 2008 killing of a 15-year anarchist by a police officer in the Exarchia neighborhood of Athens sparked days of riots and became the impetus for a series of fresh attacks.

Since then, experts say, the economic crisis has helped the movement thrive, with anarchists positioning themselves as society’s new avengers. Long a den of anarchists, the graffiti-blanketed Exarchia neighborhood is alive anew with dissent. Nihilist youths are patrolling the local park, preventing police from entering and blocking authorities from building a parking lot on the site. On one evening at a local cafe, an anarchist group was broadcasting anti-government messages via a clandestine radio station using a laptop and a few young recruits.

In the most recent attacks, only one person has been injured, a courier who handled a letter bomb, but over the past two years, anarchist attacks have claimed four lives in Greece, including a journalist and a minister’s top aide. Left-wing radicals also appear responsible for the deaths of three civilians — including a pregnant woman — after a bank was firebombed during an anti-government protest last year.

Still, there is a line to be drawn between the far larger group of young anarchists hurling Molotov cocktails at street demonstrations and the smaller, more dangerous cells of urban guerrillas. But experts are increasingly concerned about growing militancy on the streets and the emergence of dozens of new anarchist groups on the Internet.

via In Greece, austerity kindles deep discontent – The Washington Post.

We have anarchist protesters here in the USA too.  They are the ones who wear masks and break windows during the protests at the various global economics conclaves.

Now of course in Europe it is beyond absurd to protest cut-backs in government services by advocating the elimination of government altogether!  But anarchists reject the authority of reason also.  I think their strategy is exploit people’s anger at their governments to turn them against government in general.  But I’m thinking that the fundamental ideology needs to be taken seriously because, to one degree or another, it has become pervasive.

There are many paths to anarchy, coming from both the left and the right.  Read the extensive Wikipedia article on anarchism:

There are many types and traditions of anarchism, not all of which are mutually exclusive.[5]Anarchist schools of thought can differ fundamentally, supporting anything from extreme individualism to complete collectivism.[2] Strains of anarchism have been divided into the categories of social and individualist anarchism or similar dual classifications.[6][7] Anarchism is often considered to be a radical left-wing ideology,[8][9] and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflect anti-statist interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism or participatory economics. However, anarchism has always included an individualist strain supporting a market economy and private property, or morally unrestrained egoism.[10][11][12] Some individualist anarchists are also socialists[13][14] while some anarcho-communists are also individualists.[15][16] The position known as anarchism without adjectives insists on “recognising the right of other tendencies to the name ‘anarchist’ while, obviously, having their own preferences for specific types of anarchist theory and their own arguments why other types are flawed.”[17]

The central tendency of anarchism as a mass social movement has been represented by anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon[18] which nevertheless did have an impact on the bigger currents[19] and individualists also participated in large anarchist organizations.[20][21] Some anarchists oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence (anarcho-pacifism),[22][23] while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and propaganda of the deed, on the path to an anarchist society.

The links show how many aspects of anarchism there are.  But briefly, left-wing anarchism opposes all established power systems, as well as private property.  Right-wing anarchism is an extreme libertarianism that believes the “invisible hand” of free market economics can also regulate all human interactions, making central governments unnecessary.

Anarchism accords well with postmodernism, which rejects  objective truth and objective morality, and which considers all cultural institutions to be ultimately grounded in social oppression and the imposition of power.  Anarchism also accords well with contemporary culture, which tends to reject all moral authority, including that of the family and religious institutions.

And isn’t  contemporary conservatism with its libertarianism, the Tea Party, and the overall antipathy to  government part of this climate?  That there may be good reasons for a certain reaction does not always justify everything that reaction turns into.  The horrible working conditions of the 19th century industrial revolution made Communism seem like a good idea at the time, even though that ideology turned into an even more horrible monster.  Bad government can make us want to limit it without going so far as anarchism.  Still, it seems to me that conservatives need to work out clearly what they think government should do and not do, as opposed to surrendering to the anarchist impulse.

Maxed out

As of yesterday, the federal government is officially maxed out on the  great national credit card.  We reached our credit limit of $14.294 trillion.   Government accountants think they can keep the bills paid using accounting tricks until August 2.   In the meantime, Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling.  Otherwise, the government could go into default.

Usually, raising the debt ceiling was more or less automatic, like passing resolutions celebrating Flag Day, but this time fiscal conservatives in Congress are threatening to keep that from happening unless the current administration agrees to major expenditure cuts.

Should Congress up the limit?  If it doesn’t, a default would surely be devastating for the economy, sending the dollar, government bonds, and foreign investment into a nosedive.  Would it be worth that to make a statement about out-of-control budget deficits?

Bin Laden’s porn stash

From the New York Times:

The enormous cache of computer files taken from Osama bin Laden’s compound contained a considerable quantity of pornographic videos, American officials said on Friday, adding a discordant note to the public image of the Islamist militant who long denounced the West for its lax sexual mores.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity about classified material, would not say whether there was evidence that Bin Laden or the other men living in the house had acquired or viewed the material.

The discovery of the pornography, first reported by Reuters, may not be surprising in a collection of five computers, 10 hard drives and dozens of thumb drives and CDs whose age and past ownership is not known.

But the disclosure could fuel accusations of hypocrisy against the founder of Al Qaeda, who was 54 and lived with three wives at the time of his death, and will be welcomed by counterterrorism officials because it could tarnish his legacy and erode the appeal of his brand of religious extremism.

via Pornography Is Found on Bin Laden’s Computers – NYTimes.com.

Some people are dismissing this announcement as American propaganda, but it shouldn’t be surprising.   The original 9/11 hijackers–bin Laden’s henchmen–were visiting strip clubs right before their suicide mission.  Guilt over his porn addiction was allegedly one of the reasons 9/11 leader Mohammed Atta hated the West and wanted to atone for his sin by attaining the assurance of salvation available only to the martyrs who died waging jihad against the infidel.  And if someone has so little conscience as to execute the mass murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, why should we think he would have qualms about sexually explicit videos?

This is just more evidence of the paradox that legalism in religion does NOT mean more righteousness; rather, it tends to mean more unrighteousness. This is due to legalism’s  spirit of self-righteousness, loophole hunting, and rationalization.  And above all its lack of repentance and faith in Christ that alone can change a person from the inside and that  bears good fruit.

ADDENDUM:  The Daily Beast reports that Pakistan was found to be the leading nation in internet porn searches. Iran was third. Egypt was fifth.

I don’t think the prevalence of pornography in Islamic countries that insist that women be completely veiled should be dismissed as mere hypocrisy. I would argue that this manifestation of our sinful nature is the occasion of both guilt and hatred for the culture that has tempted them to such sin. Further, I suspect this is a factor in the rise of radical, jihadist Islam.

New movement of the Holy Spirit?

From a collection of responses to the PCUSA’s decision to remove the celibacy requirement for single pastors.  Donald Fortson III observes that

“Church history is crystal clear: Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere, never, by no one in the history of Christianity.” Adoption of amdendment 10-A is therefore, by definition, anti-catholic.

Archpriest Siarhei Hardun from the Orthodox Church of Belarus, an ecumenical observer, said this to the Presbyterians at last year’s convention, which passed the proposal that was recently ratified by enough congregations:

“Christian morality is as old as Christianity itself. It doesn’t need to be invented now. Those attempts to invent new morality look for me like attempts to invent a new religion — a sort of modern paganism.

When people say that they are led and guided by the Holy Spirit to do it, I wonder if it is the same Spirit that inspired the Bible, if it is the same Holy Spirit that inspires the Holy Orthodox Church not to change anything doctrinal or moral standards? It is really the same Spirit or perhaps there are different spirits acting in different denominations and inspiring them to develop in different directions and create different theologies and different morals?

via Touchstone Magazine – Mere Comments: ‘Nowhere, Never, by No One.’.

I have been struck by the way theological innovators credit the moving of the Holy Spirit for leading their churches in these new  directions.   That’s the justification being given by Presbyterians, Episcopalians,  ELCA theologians, and others for moving away from traditional teachings, from ordaining women to affirming gay marriage:  the Holy Spirit is showing us new things; this is a new movement of the Holy Spirit.  These mainline Protestants are exhibiting a curious “enthusiasm,” separating the Holy Spirit from the Word of God.

Eye of Newt and Mitt of Romney

Finally two big-name, legitimate candidates have thrown their hats into the ring, running for the Republican presidential nomination.  They are:   Newt Gingrich.  And Mitt Romney.

Those of you whose Christianity shapes your politics, could you vote for either of these guys?  Newt has lots of creative conservative ideas, but he has a history of admitted adultery, has been divorced twice, and is on his third marriage.  Would you say that character is more important than ideology?  And if so, would you ever be able to vote for Newt?  (He has recently converted from being a Baptist to being a Roman Catholic.  Does anyone know if he would be allowed to take Holy Communion, given his multiple marriages, even though they were pre-conversion?)

As for Mitt Romney, he is not a Christian at all, but rather a Mormon.  Does that make a difference to you in your willingness to ever vote for him?  Luther’s oft-cited quotation about better to vote for a wise Turk than a foolish Christian is apparently one of those urban legends.  But even if you agree with the principle, do you think Romney is a wise-enough Turk?

This weekend Mike Huckabee, last year a social conservative favorite, announced he is not running.  Mitch Daniel is a candidate with gravitas, but he is the one who called for a “truce” on social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage.  (Even though as Indiana governor he has recently defunded Planned Parenthood in that state.)

Would Christian conservatives rally around Pawlenty?  Santorum?  Bachman?

Is there any potential GOP candidate that, if he or she were the Republican nominee, would make you vote for Obama instead?

 


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