Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mary Lou Williams Cloudy

I think I heard some What's Your Story Morning Glory in there, so here it is too.

What a genius she was.  She deserves to be as prominent as Duke Ellington and the other great composers.

Dividing What Can't Be Divided, Separating What Isn't Separate and Rejecting What Is Clearly Not Representative

One of the problems I had with my high school biology class was our macho-guy teacher's obvious gratification had from killing frogs and other animals in front of his lab classes.  I'm not sure if it came to me that if you are engaged in the study of life sciences, it was kind of strange to kill the thing you were supposed to be studying.  But studying a living being isn't as easy as killing it and cutting it up, though, I couldn't see the point of finding the organs and bones and other things in a dead animal that wasn't obtainable from looking at the lab manual that showed exactly the same thing.  No one from my class ever became a surgeon who worked on frogs and fetal pigs and fruit flies.    But we never really studied frogs in nature or any kind of pigs and the fruit flies were only noted in numbers with red eyes as compared to pale eyes.  I let mine go instead of gassing them to death as he instructed.  I suspect they died in the cold of early spring*.

Yesterday's and today's posts talk about consciousness, thoughts and ideas, I hope, begin to show how those things, the most immediate things we can know, are far from discrete objects that can be divided into discrete parts.  We talk about an idea but that idea is the development of other ideas that were precursors of it, innumerable ones and indefinable ones that are inseparable from that thing we call our "experience," itself hardly liable to discovery by dissection in any neat form of discrete parts, much of it claimed to be "subconscious".   And an idea, once had, is not a set entity but is transformed by further thinking and further experience, though the previous forms of that idea obviously can remain in our minds in some form since we can recall them, though not always in a form reliably the same as it was before its modification.  Sometimes the act of recall is also the act of modification of an idea.  But we pretend that all of this is reducible into "things" mental objects that have some existence apart from the flowing currents of our experience in the continual NOW that we actually live in.

We can't really address consciousness, ideas, thoughts, by trying to divide it and to examine parts of it because it is all a continuous whole.   Perhaps we can address aspects of it, though the serial failures of psychology and its related attempts, leads me to suspect that conclusions drawn on that will be of spotty success and always bound to failure, if not ultimate rejection.

The role that articulation of ideas has in the self-deception that we can make those divisions in consciousness and what that consists of is worth considering. We can't pass on to another person the entirety of our conscious experience, the best we can do is to try to give some impression of parts of it.   Intellectual life, academic practice and, most of all science, elevates the generally vague impressions, concentrating on a few that seem to be generally accepted as valid-  physical law - and pretends that other and vaguer impressions have a transferable solidity and durability that is not really there.  We pretend that those fragments can stand in for the experience that we can't have when if there is one thing that is obvious, anything we know about that is fragmentary.   I can know that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, I can't know everything about that, I can't even know what someone who was there witnessing it would have seen and known about it.  Nor can they know what it was like for a teenager in a small town high school in Maine to hear about it from a grim-faced English teacher and the way the chill went up my legs and spine that I am feeling as I type this sentence out.

If  someone wants to pretend that they are treating consciousness with science, cutting it into discrete parts,  asserting that those are really found in molecules that are the product of DNA as handed down through natural selection,  they may find something which they can pass off to others who are predisposed to pretend that they are doing what can't be done.  They will generally be materialists or scientists with a professional interest in the pretense, based on the training of other materialists who taught them to think that way or, at least, to pretend to not see the problems with it.   And, also, people who don't think much about the problem and who don't really understand what is being asserted can be sold the idea that they've nut-shelled consciousness once and for all.  Would the acceptance from ignorance of the assertions really be the same idea as the one that was passed off as science as formally expounded?

But anyone who thinks about the experience of their own consciousness, their own thinking, of the indivisible continuity of it, of the largely unknown or, at least, unarticulated detail of it is entirely within their rights to note that the choppy discontinuity of the claims of neuro-science or cognitive science are not what they experience as consciousness.

There is no way for science to make a claim on the consciousness that is ours, which is what comprises our existence as a person, the absolute ground of our perceptions and of any thinking we can do about ourselves and people, beings and things external to us.   Just as we own our bodies, we also own our consciousness and we are the only experts on what our experience of that is.  I totally reject any reductionist view or assertions about my conscious experience, it is continuous and there is no one who can legitimately claim to know more about that than I do. Perhaps you have the same experience of your consciousness, or, in light of what I said above, this is something that sounds similar.   That is your decision to make.

*  Least anyone suspect my motives, I had the highest average in his class, my perfect score on his final is the one and only test score I recall in two decades of formal education - no, I didn't stay back in any grade.   I don't remember my SAT score, I wasn't aware I was supposed to remember it at the time.  I don't remember anyone talking about that stuff back then.

Statement And Response

Schadenerd 3 hours ago
I have deep respect for Jerry - his book on evolution is the one I recommend to all beginners, and I am a regular reader of his blog. The criticism of Kripal and pseudoscience is fair  and necessary - however some bits here kinda stuck out as a sore thumb, and should have been avoided IMO:

"Finally, when the brain expires, so does consciousness."

This bit should have been avoided here IMHO. There is no way of knowing that - but of course, I share Jerry's belief that there is no reason to presume that consciousness could last beyond death. However, this is still an assumption nonetheless.

Also I want to emphasize on the difference between philosophical and methodological naturalism - methodlogical naturalism, as in the one used in scientific inquiry, is an axiom adopted for pragmatic purposes, i.e. to quote Barbara Forrest: "methodological naturalism means that for one to do science, one must look for empirical evidence and natural explanations, and not rely on faith and the supernatural"

This must not conflated with philosophical naturalism (despite this being a position I hold), which is distinct from methodological naturalism.

I also don't like lumping of opponents of "scientism" altogether - there are people who criticize scientism like Massimo Pigliucci for eg. - and are far from "woo heads" regardless of whether you agree or disagree with them on that. I'm one of "them" as well, and yes I am a scientific skeptic, hence more frustrating to read those jabs here.

thinkingcriminal 31 minutes ago

I agree that methodological naturalism is how science is supposed to be done, though I think Eddington's definition of that as a "tidiness of mind" is more accurate than Forrest''s.  I disagree with the assertion that that is how science is actually done, all of the time.  There are huge swaths of science that are heavily involved with the promotion of extra-scientific, frequently evidence free assertions of materialist ideology.  I think that is obvious in the creation of things like "the" multi-verse which is obviously motivated from a rather desperate attempt by materialists to keep from having to deal with what people conclude about fine tuning.  Instead of merely asserting a scientific suspension of belief is necessary WITHIN SCIENCE, they feel a need to create jillions of universes and all kinds of attendant entities such as Boltzmann brains in order to pretend that those would put the final nail in the coffin of God.   Of course that is not going to work, the commonly believed aspect of God, that God is all powerful would mean that God is quite capable of creating infinite numbers of universes for reasons that God doesn't choose to share with the speaking inhabitants of one world in one of those universes.

But there is no reason for a believer to make that assertion because the far more parsimonious observation that there is no real evidence of a multi-verse is entirely possible.   And that is nothing to the twists and gyrations that ideological materialists go through over such issues as the absolute beginning of the universe and time, insisting on the validity of the second law of thermodynamics when it suits their materialism and setting up impossible definitions of the universe (including whatever it  was that the universe "was" before the Big Bang) as being infinite in the past but, somehow, not having wound down to heat death in the infinite past.

And, as can be seen in this discussion, materialist ideology within science has given rise to the ultimate in decadence, the assertion that consciousness is an illusion, that all of our thoughts are determined by chemistry and physics.  Of course they don't generally include ideas they like, such as science in that because it couldn't but impeach the status of scientific ideas as an objective representation of the universe if that were the case.   They invent explanatory myths in order to turn our consciousness, our thinking, our behaviors into positive adaptations that persisted because they imparted a reproductive advantage, without any evidence, at all, that that was the case.   There can't be because no one observed our remote ancestors "behaving" in the ways asserted, no one consulted them to get a report of their thinking or experience, and no one was there to collect statistics as to how many successful descendants our ancestors who performed those "behaviors"  and think those thoughts left as opposed to those members of their species who didn't perform those behaviors and think those thoughts.

They also assert that consciousness is an emergent expression of physical objects without taking into account what those objects could be, where they are, how they could be generated in real time by DNA and cellular chemistry to make the physical entities that really are our thoughts so as to comprise the experienced experience of thinking and consciousness.  And, most seriously of all for science and any other academic address of the external world and universe, they don't have any way to explain how the DNA and cellular chemistry would know how to make exactly the right proteins and biological structures to embody the millions of thoughts and sensations that people have so as to be an embodiment of the world and universe external to the brain-only brains they propose can do all of this.   Each and every transient thought we have would have to exist in a physical form before our experience of thoughts or contemporaneously with them.  Somehow the perception of something would have to exist as a physical entity within the brain even as the structure is being built that is the thought of it.  I am extremely skeptical that proteins are manufactured and folded, in exactly the right form, fast enough to account for the experience of thought, including the creation of ideas that have never been thought before, ideas about things which have never existed and will never exist in the universe.

And, don't forget, since natural selection is supposed to explain all of this, even the most "maladaptive" ideas and "behaviors" would have to be generated by the same mechanism as produces the positive adaptations and that ability, to produce maladaptive ideas would have had to be retained by natural selection when any sensible consideration would force you to wonder why that ability was retained when its products should have weeded it out of the genome by now.

I've challenged atheists to show where religion has been SUCCESSFULLY inserted into the formal literature of science over and over again and they have not been able to produce an instance when it was not detected and expelled.   I can show, over and over again how materialist ideology has been successfully inserted into the formal literature and belief of science without any objection that it is an illicit insertion of philosophical materialism where it doesn't belong.

Note:  I seem to be blocked from commenting at The New Republic again, the same claim that "It seems you're attempting to post malinformed content."   I told you, they even use Stalinist style language to suppress ideas they don't like.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Time for Glasnost in the Intellectual West: One Thought Criminal Recommends Another Thought Criminal

When I started this blog, I called it "The Thought Criminal" because I had, for the several hundredth time, been told that I was saying things that are not allowed to be said as a writer for a leftist, feminist, blog.

I suppose that the people who took the time to tell me that didn't understand that, instead of discouraging me in my heresy, it would encourage me to note even more of the problems of materialism,  the Stalinist style orthodoxy that dominates any intellectual discussion that is to be considered respectable.

That that materialist orthodoxy had forced so many people out of the left and alienated so many others who could have been political allies was the reason I took it on to start with.   I had already committed the unforgivable sin of dissing Darwin and looking at the entirely indisputable fact that natural selection was, in fact, incompatible with the existential basis of liberalism (in the American sense) and any left that wouldn't merely reproduce the homicidal and dictatorial depravity of right-wing materialism with a coat of red paint.   Being challenged on that point, I began my long program or research into the, apparently, unmentionable record of what Darwin, his closest contemporary colleagues whose "science" he endorsed and others who knew Darwin as intimately as his own sons said on that count. Instead of forcing my sorrowful recantation, they proved to me, beyond any doubt, that Darwinism gave rise to and was, in fact, motivated by the most obvious upper-class depravity.

Darwin was influenced by his interests and the habits he had grown up with as a member of the landed-upper class.  The bias resulting from those habits of thought dominate his science.   And the things he had said from that bias found a welcome reception by other members of the upper classes who populated science in Britain, the United States, Europe, yes, Germany, reinforced their class interest and determined the future course of the study of the inarticulate and mute fact of evolution.   If the people who were outraged at my apostasy in early 2008 could know how far away from the One True And Real Right Way For An Educated Person To Think that my doing what they are always demanding would take me, they would have busted a gusset.  It all happened when I looked at the evidence and drew logical conclusions from it.

I have come to the conclusion that the farther away from the evidence-based, tested conclusions about rather simple objects that are studied by physics and chemistry, the more open the science will be to unadmitted, even unsuspected ideological pollution.  That is true of theoretical science and those sciences which study very complex entities, for which much conjecture must fill in for actual observation, such as evolutionary biology and, most of all any attempt to deal with thoughts and consciousness.

And, the unflagging vigilance of materialists in science being what it is, that pollution will not be supernatural, it will be materialistic.  They will be forever insisting on their right to fill gaps in knowledge with whatever is convenient for their materialist ideology.

And the ideological dominance within science, as within any profession, the nature of those sciences will be largely determined by the social and political coercion and the resultant habits that people who are trained by older scientists will learn as the prerequisite for having a successful career and a peaceful life as a working scientist.  I think that coercion and those habits are constantly on display but, as the record of what Darwin, his cited colleagues and his children, it is also pretended to not exist.

All of this comes up because I read a couple of Jerry Coyne's recent diatribes. One against another atheist, Thomas Nagel who dared to write a book about the problems with the current orthodoxy of the materialist, neo-Darwinist, conception of nature isn't credible.  If you must, here's his diatribe on that topic*.

Coyne has also been frothing about other academics, specifically Jeffrey J. Kripal, who has done the forbidden, looked seriously at both what people have had to say about paranormal experiences and controlled, peer-reviewed research into psi.

I will probably write something about Kripal's article since it is entirely more interesting, less dogmatic, less predictable and entirely more reasonable than Coyne's ranting.  I would recommend everyone read it because it is something that nothing Coyne writes is, THOUGHT PROVOKING, instead of merely prejudice confirming.   Kripal gives several of the things I've written about a somewhat different take, which has given me a lot to think about.  If I wrote about Coyne it would be merely a tedious search for the citations of things I would need to dispute what he said and that's far less interesting.

The real reason that Coyne is so much in a lather is that a serious journal, The Chronical of Higher Education, has published an article recommending people take a serious look at reports of supernatural experiences and there couldn't be anything that would endanger Coyne's favored materialist Stalinism than people being unafraid to look at things forbidden by his faith.   And, given recent scientific publications in respected, peer-reviewed science journals that support the existence of precognition or, as Dean Radin calls it, pre-sentiment, of extremely high significance, Coyne may well realize that the days of that Stalinist freeze on free thinking are numbered.   As soon as a significant number of people look at that controlled, experimental research and are aware that it has passed every requirement of science, Coyne's old-line materialist orthodoxy will crumble like an ancient idol that stood on feet of clay.  With that, the Stalinist freeze on people talking about such experiences and science, the enforced silencing of anyone who dares mention that in the educated classes will be over.

*  Here is Coyne's non-psychotic student, H. Allen Orr's critique of Nagel's book.  Which is really what lead me to write this.   I'm finding Coyne's insane ranting to be less worth answering the more of it I've read and written on.  I wonder if he might end up like Nietzsche, sometimes.  The man is a raving nutcase with a professorship.

I have to say that even as much as I respect Orr and find him a reasonable and honest writer, I think his professional training has not allowed him to transcend the habits of thought that he learned to become a geneticist.

Update:  HA!  Apparently Jerry Coyne or someone at The New Republic(an) has accused me of "posting malinformed content" so I'm blocked from further commenting.   See what I said, it's a Stalinist style speech code.

Update 2:  And I suspect someone read that update because I'm reinstated to comment at TNR.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

More Transplanting Listening Reverend Wright's Address To Chicago Teachers from January 17th

If he had been in my town, I'd have gone to his church.  And I don't go to church these days.

Educating Straight People About The Dignity of Gay Men Is a Burden

I've had several other online encounters with straight folks who think gay sex in a public toilet is something to be in favor of and, apparently, a litmus test for being a good and right-thinking liberal.  As a gay man, I don't, I resent people thinking that a dangerous, degrading practice that is the very emblem of the oppression of gay men is good and should be allowed.   Here is my answer with the piece I refer to in it.  Note, I was still using the pseudonym "olvlzl" back when I wrote that.

April 3, 2014

I have never engaged in anonymous sex and, in fact, wrote a post about Larry Craig's escapade saying I had too much respect for gay sex to think it was appropriate to have it in a public toilet. Straight people who read my post were shocked that a gay man could agree with Craig being arrested in a public toilet for soliciting sex, until I asked them 1. if they would welcome using a toilet while people where having sex there, 2. if they would be happy to have their child using a public toilet under those conditions, 3. if they don't think it would be better if people who want sex go someplace to have it in private.

I'm tired of straight people thinking gay sex belongs in a public toilet and gay men who think so little of other gay men and themselves to think that's appropriate. And I didn't even get into the role that anonymous, gay sex contributed to the deaths of enormous numbers of gay men, including scores of men I knew, as well as turning so many today into people constantly having to fight against a viral infection. You see, I also have an opinion on the issue informed by science, as well.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

What You Find In All The Wrong Places Isn't Love. Posted by olvlzl.
Larry Craig being busted as a hypocritical gay-basher who has sex with men had a bit of justice to it. It's been no secret among gay men with an interest in politics that he's been just another of a long line of conservatives who voted and talked against gay men while using gay men for sex. Roy Cohn, was hardly the first, though he should stand as the poster boy of conservative gay hypocrisy. Craig's making such an ass of himself by trying to use his Senate credentials to get out of it was only the icing on his public display of self-entitlement, nothing that is rare among conservatives. Look at Strom Thurmond and imagine what his being outed for “race mixing” sixty years earlier might have meant for civil rights, or at least the damage it might have done to the pretense of the "principled" opposition to civil rights.

But, as a gay man, I've got to tell you something even more basic and, I'm sure, controversial. Those who object to his being busted for playing footsie with an undercover cop in an airport toilet, while I understand your point, I can't fully agree. A public toilet is not a wooded area affording privacy or even just a meeting place from which men who are looking for sexual partners will go elsewhere. It's a public sanitary facility which is for the purpose of disposing of body wastes. It is in no sense private. People shouldn't have sex in a place like that, due to the fact that other people have to use it and due to the fact that it shows a complete lack of respect for their intended sexual, no, I can't call them partners in this case, targets and for themselves. I've got more respect for gay people than to think a public toilet is an appropriate place to have sex with them. I've got more respect for gay sex than that. Having sex in a public toilet is a sign of internalized oppression, a sign of accepting continued discrimination and self loathing. It’s also, notably, dangerous.

The fact that it is Larry Craig, a man who has done so much to damage the lives of gay men and Lesbians, who sought quickie, anonymous sex in a public toilet should lead people to think about whether it's a matter of rights or a sign of continued oppression that men continue to conduct the most intimate encounters in what I'll be frank enough to call such degraded circumstances. Don’t we deserve better than to have tea room sex stand in for the public concept of our most intimate lives?

NPR Ignores The Numbers In Its Own Survey Report To Skew A Story For Republicans

In its typical practice of having a report on Obamacare presented by Mara Liasson this moring.  That's THE Mara Liasson who NPR shares with FOX "News" -  And everyone knows that FOX practices the highest standards of unbiased news reporting, now, don't they?

Of course she spun the numbers from NPR's pollsters to be big trouble for Obamacare, Obama and Democrats in November.  If I were a billionaire I'd commission someone to study how even the best news for Democrats, such as the sign-up numbers for Obamacare that they couldn't help but reporting, somehow turns out to be big trouble for Democrats.

The polls show that 47% report being in favor of Obamacare and 51% poll as not favoring it.  The question, apparently, was "Do you support or oppose the health care reform law that passed in 2010, also known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare?"   People were apparently given the choices of  Somewhat support, Strongly support, Somewhat oppose or Strongly oppose.   I don't know what their margin of error was guessed as being but a 4% difference isn't an enormous gap, especially considering the flood of negative publicity given to the bad roll out of and the unprecedented and relentless attacks made on it by Republicans since they took over control of the congress.  And even Liasson and Steve Inskeep who did the intro,  had to admit that the numbers are moving up for those who favor the law.

What Liasson also had to admit is that within the "oppose" figures are 7% of "likely voters" didn't like it because it didn't go far enough. So it is entirely possible to interpret the poll as having 54% of those responding favoring either Obamacare or something stronger than Obamacare.

In fact, if you look at the page of the poll they commissioned,  THAT IS HOW IT IS REPORTED ON THE PAGE.   They came up with that 7% figure by asking

(IF OPPOSE)  Would you say you oppose the health care reform law because it goes too far in changing health insurance, or because it doesn't go far enough in changing health insurance?

In the report of the poll the numbers of supporters and those who oppose it BECAUSE IT DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH are combined to reach that 54% figure which they report ON PAGE 16 OF NPR'S OWN DOCUMENT  as "Total Support Healthcare Reform but which didn't make it into the report, which, along with Inskeep's intro, was decidedly skewed to favor Republicans.

I have a relative who hates Barack Obama and believed all of the horror stories about what Obamacare would bring, she has had a falling out with most of the family over the issue.  Yet, this same relative has taken advantage of it to have her 23-year-old daughter on her insurance and, DURING THE PAST MONTHS HAS FOUND A CHEAPER PLAN ON HER EXCHANGE.  She saves thousands of dollars a year for the plan she bought under Obamacare.   I don't know how she might vote in November, if her hatred of Democrats will overrule her desire to keep her daughter insured under a less expensive policy than was available to her before, but the chances are good she might not vote for someone who she believes will take that insurance away.  I have no doubt as to where she would appear in NPR's survey results, how she will vote in November is certainly less certain than it would have been without Obamacare.   I doubt I will be hearing reports from Mara and Steve about people like her.

I know, long time listeners to NPR will have wondered why I bothered to report the obvious, if they just read the title.   This is why.

Update:  Another difficulty with this report are the breakdowns into "strongly support or oppose."  What does that mean?  Since Liasson and the Republican pollster in the story put a lot of stock into those, claiming that the higher figures for those who "strongly oppose" are larger than those who "strongly support" the ACA.   How do they know what that means, since it is entirely based on the self-reporting of those surveyed, without any kind of definition as to what that mean?  I would guess that some of those who favor single-payer or the compromise position of a public option would feel very strongly about it, so their assumption that those figures are an obvious benefit to Republican is not based in what was asked and the answers given.

I think it would probably be a good idea for pollsters to not include those kinds of undefined, emotional reports in their figures because even they don't know what those mean to the people who give them those numbers.  But, then, I'm quite skeptical about the validity of opinion polling, altogether.   They certainly have no real value as news, certainly not as compared to the reporting of hard fact.  But that's hard and the results are so frequently unpopular with those who the facts don't favor.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Love How James Merrill Read Poetry

Here is a site with him reading a series of poems in honor of Elizabeth Bishop. 

James Merrill died too soon, of AIDS.  

Two Things Making Me Go Ape This Afternoon

I know which one is more important, the atrocious Supreme Court ruling that tries to deliver the government of the United States to billionaires, here and around the world.  But however it happened,  "One Toke Over The Line" got into my head and won't leave is driving me crazy.  

I'm sure that will end as soon as I can stomach reading the ruling and the inevitable amicus brief from the ACLU supporting the billionaire buying club.  There will be a post. 

The Moral Obligation of a Disaffected Democrat

First, for all of his shortcomings, his failures, his capitulations and his non-intentions, Barack Obama has been an enormous disappointment even to someone who was somewhat skeptical of his candidacy in 2008.   But, that being said, he has been far less bad and, in some cases, entirely better than McCain-Palin and Romney-Ryan would have been.  So responsibility requires noting that real difference between them, the differences that has produced has made real and important differences in the lives of real people.  Even the very compromised Affordable Care Act has provided timely treatment to people whose lives and health depend, absolutely, on treatment being timely.  Those people could not wait for some dream candidate of the left to, in some unforeseeable future, to be elected and to push through single-payer or even the compromise position of a public option.  Those people and their needs have a right to us taking their lives seriously and their needs in the context of their condition to be considered as important enough to vote for an imperfect candidate.

That being said, the anger and dissatisfaction with President Obama, Harry Reid and far too many members of the Democratic caucuses in the Congress is understandable and justified.  They blew the greatest chance to make far more substantial change and to take back the government from the corporate oligarchs who the Supreme Court put in control.

I said the other day that Bernie Sanders was about the only secular leader who expresses the passion for justice, especially economic justice that religious figures regularly exhort.   And, since he is a Senator instead of a minister, priest or other religious figure, Bernie Sanders has a platform that it is somewhat harder for the media to disappear in the sea of oligarchy pleasing blather that is almost the entire message of the free press in the absence of the Fairness Doctrine, public service requirements and the carte blanche that the courts have given them to tell the most blatant and harmful lies.   That being the case, the position Bernie Sanders has is vitally important to what remains of the left, in exile, today.

There was a piece on ZNet, urging Bernie Sanders to make the kind of futile, symbolic, guaranteed loser of a presidential candidacy in 2016.  The writers make some progress, noting that the Green Party is hardly any kind of a success, they overestimate by about a quarter how many offices Greens hold while noting that most of those offices were filled in non-partisan races where party was irrelevant to the results, a number of them appear to be appointed positions as well.  As someone who has family members who have served on municipal boards and committees, getting appointed is often a question of any warm body will do as long as they will fill an empty position.  The Green Party has been at it long enough with so little success that it would probably be better if they just admitted they are stuck in neutral and will never switch to drive.   But trading one failed third party for yet another attempt to use a presidential candidacy as a catalyst for a short term "movement" is probably an even worse idea.  If any kind of "movement" forms it will likely have the same effect as the Nader candidacy under the Greens did, putting another horrifically bad Republican in the office.   You can name the movements in the past fifty years going back,  Occupy, the Nader movement, the Barry Commoner candidacy, the Greens, the Dump Johnson effort, the serial Eugene McCarthy candidacies (I think Lana Turner had fewer husbands) ... how many times does that kind of thing have to blow up on the left for the left to learn the lesson of its most recent history even as the wounds and injuries of those are still felt?

If there is to be a movement that uses candidacies as an organizing mechanism, those should be limited to WINNABLE elections for legislative bodies on the local, state and, in a long shot, the national level.  If a movement can't be roused to elect people to those far less challenging offices, it has no business wasting energy and credibility on a futile star-based presidential candidacy.  It has no business causing more damage than doing nothing.  In the ZNet article, Bill Fletcher and Ted Glick describe themselves, "We are writing as long-time progressive activists and organizers whose involvement with progressive electoral campaigns goes back over 30 years."  If that is who they are then it is remarkable that they don't recall the disaster of the George W. Bush coronation and the devastation he, Cheney and their cast of crooks and criminals wreaked on the country and the world.   For me, anyone who proposes something that so clearly will not work to do anything except repeat that disastrous expression of Ralph Nader's ego, enabling the most corrupt courts in out lifetimes to bestow the presidency on the losing candidate of their party, anyone who proposes doing that in 2014 has discredited themselves permanently.   They should go find something less dangerous than actively organizing another catastrophe for the left.   The left has not recovered from the first of those I listed, Allard Lowenstein's bird-brained Dump Johnson effort.   I remember being surprised when William F. Buckley paid homage to Lowenstein after he died, but, in later years, considering what he did for Republicans, it's not surprising.

Democrats have the obligation to consider the reality of what can be done, which can produce good that the most idealistically framed impossibility can't.  Democrats have the obligation to pursue electoral success and holding political office by politicians who we have the possibility of influencing, we have to responsibility to make REALISTIC requests of them, aware that they will have to balance the possibility of those being achieved with the cost of pursuing them will be to success in their next election.

Politicians who have done the hard work of winning an office - generally much harder for liberal Democrats than for their opponents - have an obligation to their supporters AND ALL OF THEIR CONSTITUENTES WHO DEPEND ON THEIR BEING IN OFFICE to hold the office.  That obligation extends to trying to do the possible, it doesn't extend to idealists who demand what can't be done.  Their demanding that will only have the effect of forcing the politician to ignore them. Those impossible demands has been the program of too much of the "left" which has relied on threats to "punish" politician who don't self-destruct for them.   Any politician who destroys their political career by gratifying such absurd demands is irresponsible, any leftist who demands that have really insisted that they be ignored by any sensible politician or potential ally.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How Many Words Have You Read Decrying the Ugandan Gay Hating Law

How many of those suggested something that could be done about that?  While the blogging class babbled, other people were doing something.

"Susan" was seeking political asylum from Uganda, running for her life because she is a lesbian. After surviving house arrest, corrective gang rape ordered by her father, and domestic slavery, she spent every dollar she had to escape to Boston, with no choice but to leave behind her young son, who was fathered by one of her rapists. "Paul" was a millionaire in Uganda, and was also active in the fight against HIV in children. After being discovered with his partner, he was imprisoned, tortured, and was going to be killed after the prison determined its corrective strategies were not working. One night, while emptying the bucket that served as his toilet, Paul ran from the armed guards, hiding in dark fields until he was able to obtain his visa and flee to America.  

The common thread between these two asylum seekers is Hadwen Park Congregational Church United Church of Christ and its LGBT Asylum Support Task Force, a program that both Susan and Paul credit with saving their lives. Run by the Rev. Judy Hanlon, pastor of the Worcester, Mass., church, the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force has provided a safe refuge for more than 80 LGBT asylum seekers like Susan and Paul from 15 countries around the world since 2008. As countries like Uganda pass extreme anti-gay legislation like the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which Ugandans celebrated with a thanksgiving service on Monday, March 31, Hanlon only expects her work to increase as more members of the LGBT community seek help, safety and freedom.

"There has definitely been an uptick in the amount of emails, and it's definitely related to the cruelty there," Hanlon said of Ugandan asylum seekers. "My life has been changed. My little crap that I worry about – are you kidding? These people are so strong."

The LGBT Asylum Support Task Force is a group of volunteers in Central Massachusetts who provide support to people seeking political asylum in the U.S. based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While UCC congregations and members are the program's primary supporters, the task force also receives funding from other faith groups, colleges, foundations, and the general community. To support the program's current level of asylum seekers, Hanlon "pounds the pavement" for $5,000 each month to support its goal of $50,000 per year. But with the increased anti-gay measures in Uganda and other countries, Hanlon is hoping to double this year's donations.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Black Liberation Theology With Bill Moyers

This is the way forward.  I don't know if it would bring church attendance figures up but its opposite, the kind of passive liberal Christianity that Chris Hedges condemns in similar terms as Rev. Wright does governments, has not worked.  You can hear the entire context of the sound bite taken to distort what he said on this video.  When you hear the comparison between the American empire and its sins with those the prophets condemned in ancient Israel, you can hear that what he said was completely distorted.  You can compare the various damnings form people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others, claiming that God brought hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and plagues FOR DOING JUSTICE and know that there is all the difference in what Rev. Wright said.  And you can see from contrasting the reaction of the American media between the two that justice was the real target of their misrepresentation.

Being For Something: "Maybe Church Folk Should Shut Up And Listen to Jesus"

More of why The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is a target of the lying corporate media, CNN, FOX, ABC, NPR ...  I find more here than I get from all of the counter-atheist apologetic, even the best of it.   This is like liberation theology, showing the reason to be for it, to believe it because it is about something real.

Can't Seem To Avoid It: My Disappointment On Clicking on a Truthout Piece on the Hobby Lobby Case

This is my answer to the deceptively entitled,  Could the Supreme Court Re-Legalize Discrimination, at Truthout.

As has become typical of articles published in would-be leftish media, this article tries to be new-atheist click-bait by missing the point. The argument that the Republican-fascists are using to attack the ACA are not based in the Bible, they are based in a libertarian interpretation of the Bill of Rights based on the Supreme Court created superstition of corporate person hood. While people on the left could have been relentlessly attacking corporate person hood, it has been distracted with the election losing strategy of indiscriminately attacking religion and the people who are religious.

The largely class-based atheism of the would-be educated class has led it to push a doubly self-defeating stand for the left. That stand has this in common with the Hobby Lobby side, it uses the Bill of Rights to press the left into committing political suicide on the theory that eventually atheists would be the majority and would achieve their real goal, destroying religion. Only that's not happening and what got destroyed was the left. The left won't win on the basis of atheism, that is the lesson of the meager success that the left has had in American history. Compared to that, the major success of the left of the past century, the Civil Rights movement, was characterized as a religious movement. It foundered when anti-religious figures pushed aside the religious figures.

Attacking corporate person hood is the key to destroying the corporate stranglehold on the United States and through international institutions like the World Trade Organization, on the world. Attacking religion will only prevent destroying the creation of artificial people by the Supreme Court, it is criminally irresponsible for the alleged left to gratify its bigotry instead of attacking the real enemy.

If I had known this was going to go with the loss leader of atheist invective, I wouldn't have bothered reading it. That loss leader only leads to more loss.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Social Justice Isn't A Gift It Is A Given

Other than, perhaps, Bernie Sanders, I can't think of a politician on the secular left who comes near the power and insistence of The Reverend. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. in demanding justice.

If you want to hear where the title comes from, listen to his anecdote beginning about 21:00.

The quality of the video isn't great and the audio cuts out a few times but the message gets through.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beyond Hate Talk Internet

I needed some relief from the anti-religious saturation of my usual internet reading so I decided to find a haven and linger there for a while.

I don't feel dirty and all churned up when I spend time at websites like that.  And I feel like doing something instead of being angry and all churned up.

I would welcome some suggestions for other websites to visit and recommend.