Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mere Exposure As A Major Problem For Democracy

In relation to the problem that I noted with the obvious and announced ideological screwing with Wikipedia, which is not only known about but bragged about by groups like the Guerrilla Skeptics and other groups, and the apparent manipulation of Google results, also known to be real by the announced intentions of Google-bombers, such as Dan Savages "Santorum" effort, I've got to mention that the "Mere Exposure Effect" as something which could be enhanced by the hundreds of millions or more of Google searches done every day.   If you're not familiar with the theory, which has some experimental evidence to support its existence, here is a very short definition of it.

Also called the familiarity principle, this psychological tendency causes individuals to prefer an option that they have been exposed to before to an option they have never encountered, even if the exposure to the first option was brief. The Mere Exposure Effect can be useful in marketing, as many forms of advertising can be used to create a feeling of familiarity with the product.

I chose that definition from "" to highlight the clear truth that for-profit companies know about and use that effect to sell products to people, and not only products but ideas.  They have reason to believe they can convince people to pay for something merely by exposing them to the identity of products, with no more information about it than that.  If that is true, and, unlike much of the psych research that is widely believed, this does look like it is based on some good experimentation, it poses a massive problem for democracy, made bigger by the existence of mass media of the type that Google is.  

The mere exposure to what is at the top of the search results, most often in my experience, Wikipedia, will sell an idea, no matter how bad that idea is, how false it might be, how intentionally deceptive or malignant it is.   While I've been called to work this morning and I won't get to write this up more fully, I don't see how the intentional manipulation of this skewing of our unintended tendencies can't but be a problem for democracy. In one of my most detested examples, there are those oil industry spots using the icy blonde to shill oil industry propaganda that are on over and over again, especially, in my experience, during TV news shows and during the liberal ghetto hours on MSNBC.   What those ads sell is a major danger to life on Earth as is possible,  a counter to the obviously correct science that tells us the oil and other extraction industries could end up getting us all killed and are, in fact, destroying species and entire environmental systems to make money for their owners and investors.

Democracy can't survive unless it adapts to the challenges it faces, especially those that are a result of corporations using science and the lessons of its successes in swaying public thought and opinion, often to the harm of the public.   And there is no more serious lesson for us than in the successes of people such as the putrid "father of public reliations,"  Edward Bernays.   If you are unfamiliar with him and his popularity gained by, literally, selling death to a dupable public, here's a description of one of his early campaigns of mass deception and his announced intentions of sabotaging democracy.

Bernays is known for inventing a number of the public relations and advertising techniques that revolutionized marketing in the early decades of the 20th century. For example, Bernays was a pioneer in creating what Daniel Boorstin would later call "pseudo-events:" staged happenings that were covered as news. One of his most famous stunts was to hire a number of young women to march in New York's Easter Parade in 1929 while smoking cigarettes-at that time public smoking by women was still widely regarded as taboo. He made sure photographers and reporters were on hand, and had encouraged the women to refer to the cigarettes as "torches of freedom." The women were thus depicted as fashionable rebels against the discrimination that forbade public smoking by women.

The event was front page news in papers all across the country on the following day, and in many cities women took to the streets with their cigarettes to show their support. What didn't come out until much later was the fact that Bernays had been under contract to the American Tobacco Company to expand the market for cigarettes among women.

In everything he did, Bernays began with the basic principles of the psychology of his time, and not only his uncle's. He felt that it was not reason but emotion and instinct that moved the common man, and throughout his long life he held onto the elitist view that those who understood this could and should control the masses. As he said in the first paragraph of his influential book Propaganda. "Those who manipulate [the habits and opinions of the masses]...constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country."

Any "civil libertarian" who pretends that self-government by people with an accurate grasp of reality hasn't been under the active attack of corporations and the scientists they hire to lie and manipulate an effective margin of deceived people is obviously in the pocket of the corporate liars or a duped, deceived fool who doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.  And the free-speech absolutists are the main cheerleaders in the enablement of those stinking rich liars.  I despise them even more than I despise the cynical ad men who they cover up for.

Friday, July 11, 2014

There's Too Little Shame In The World or Is it too early to post about Louis Gohmert Again?

Royston Williams
Divers And Lazarus

The Young Tradition
Lyke Wake Dirge

Louie Gohmert In The News

FRIDAY, JUL 11, 2014 11:49 AM EDT
Tea Party darling Louie Gohmert proves God is for real

Congressman Compares Unaccompanied Children To Soldiers Invading France On D-Day
BY ESTHER YU-HSI LEE JULY 11, 2014 AT 3:00 PM UPDATED: JULY 11, 2014 AT 5:13 PM

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.  Deuteronomy 10:17-18

You shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.   Exodus 23:9

And if a stranger sojourn with you in your land, you shall not vex him  Leviticus 19:33

Cursed be he that perverts the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.  Deuteronomy 27:19

Thus said the LORD; Execute you judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3

The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yes, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. Ezekiel 22:29

And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, said the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:5

That last one's included to show the company that Gohmert puts himself in, according to the scripture he pretends to revere.  I hope he enjoys it.

Show and Tell

When we broke up our mother's household,  I inherited was some of our father's braille and blindness equipment.  I suppose that since I've, officially, got the worst eyesight of all my siblings, they figure I'd probably be the one who would need it.

His very old, frozen up Perkins Brailler which I should try oiling in case it's needed.   It's missing the handle on the side, too.  I suspect my grade-school teacher, sister let her little monsters at school at it.
His stylus and slates, the awls missing

I remember our father using it, which he would have to emboss his writing backwards, something that impressed me to no end when I was a kid.  I remember him making individual samples for an entire elementary school classroom with it.    

An odd little Banks Brailler that embosses a paper tape, which I don't remember him ever using (his looks like it's in mint condition and is maroon). 

His slide rule which is so antiquated that there isn't any picture of it online and his Cramner Abacus, which is what brings about this post.  

I remember when he got the abacus, back in the early 1960s and how excited he was because it allowed him to do complicated computations after not being able to do them for two decades.  He never got the hang of doing it with his brailler, a complex process that was hard even for relatively simple problems.  He used it often enough so he wore the felts holding the beads in place several times, one of his he finally and with much effort replaced it with a piece of leather.  Moving the beads was hard but it didn't wear out.

The rules for using one are the same as for the modern Japanese abacus and after not too much time practicing, I was surprised to find that it's a lot easier and faster to use than a calculator, for the four common operations.   Someone online pointed out that most of the countries that beat the pants off of the United States for math scores made extensive use of the abacus in elementary school level mathematics.  Yeah, I know, I'd figured they'd gone to electronic calculators too but, according to what I'm reading, no.

Considering my limited experience with this, it's an appalling scandal that the United States isn't teaching basic arithmetic using an incredibly cheap, simple and far more efficient technology than electric calculators.   Though, of course, it's not patented so no huge corporations are likely to make money producing them, probably a big reason the sighted United States didn't do what the blind United States apparently did more than 50 years ago.

Bought a used Japanese style abacus for less than a dollar, on which the beads move freely and which works perfectly, big surprise, huh?   It's what I'll be doing my every day figuring with.  My father's fingers must have been like iron bands the way he moved those beads.  Two of them, anyway.

Update:  I showed this to my brother and he wondered what happened to our father's talking calculator that someone gave him.  I'd forgotten all about it because, unlike his abacus, it broke rather quickly and became unusable.  I don't remember him using it much, though I do remember his sighted family members using it when they couldn't find a calculator that was working.   He wasn't all that impressed with it.

A Republic of Lies

Last night, while looking for the primary source of one of the frequently cherry picked passages of Madison, being frustrated that Google had, clearly, been screwed to yield pages and pages of atheists misquoting it, not to mention the Wikipedia that is totally unreliable, I thought that what we really needed was a search engine that wasn't so open to being manipulated by dedicated, not to mention fanatical, ideologues.

Then, this morning I saw this piece about how the convicted criminal Dinesh D'Souza had manipulated Google single handed, to promote his lies.

There is probably no algorithm that a Google can come up with that, once its manner of operation is known, can't be manipulated by ideologues to spread lies and propaganda.  Look at how hard it is to keep hackers from finding ways to turn far more complex instructions hidden in code to their own purposes.  When a sleazy, convicted con man like D'Souza can manipulate companies like that, there's no reason to believe they'll even try.

If that's the case then the internet, itself, is a big problem for democracy, since accurate and honest information is one of the absolutely required ingredients in making democracy.  And since that's true, that kind of problem needs to always be kept in mind when using it as if it were a reliable source of information.

Given that the fact that it is being used as a vehicle for lying and propaganda, the status that Wikipedia still has when it should be a standing joke and object of ridicule, I'm not optimistic about this.   Self-government doesn't work if people believe lies are the truth and, especially, if people believe that it doesn't matter what's true and what isn't.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Betty Carter Beware My Heart

Finally, Someone Notices

In recent years, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has deliberately and dramatically expanded the power of corporations.  But even more alarming is how the Roberts Court has advanced this agenda—by contorting and perverting the First Amendment. Under this Court, free speech has been equated with spending, advertising, and even data grabs for marketing purposes, expansive liberties that apply not only to human beings but to corporations, because the Court says they’re people, too. 

Originally—and up until fairly recently—the First Amendment was understood to be a shield protecting individual liberty. But the Roberts Court seems increasingly intent on turning the First Amendment into a weapon against the American people, not to mention basic fairness and common sense. 

Actually, it's been going on since at least 1976, the infamous Buckley v Valeo ruling, over three different Chief "Justices".   This is a long-standing plan by the Republican-fascists, hatched in the genteel environs of stink tanks and in well cushioned sitting rooms of law school faculty at the Ivy level universities.  They used the language of liberals against The People and the suckers bought the dodge.   Of course, lots of "liberals" had a stake in the con job, working in the media with a financial interest in "free press" only it was not free press but press able to sell itself to the highest bidders.  Just as the "free speech" of Buckley v Valeo was a lie because that ruling and those which followed gave speech a monetary value, some of it far more pricey because it was the loudest and most ubiquitous and most repeated.  Any speech which was free was, generally, worth as much as it cost, nothing.  Especially true now that corporations have "free speech rights" because no mere free speech can compete in the media market with the power to lie granted by the sleaziest courts in our history.  Yes, even sleazier than those 19th century courts that gave us Dred Scott and "Separate and equal", they have those precedents and their results to inform their ultra-sleaze.  

Just To Annoy My Trolls

I Don't Get This. I'm Supposed To Be Upset That Governments Spy on Each Other?

Apparently, from what's filtering into my in-box, I'm supposed to be upset that Hillary Clinton has ruled out a "no-spy" agreement with other countries, in which the United States government promised to not spy on other governments.  Of course, since spying is supposed to happen in secret, a successful spy operation on the other government would be undetected and since it is usually illegal to spy on the secret activities of a government in that country, any such "no-spy" agreement wouldn't be worth the ink on the paper it was printed on.   

I don't believe for a second that Germany, Brazil and other countries which are officially in a swivet about U.S. spying on their governments don't spy on the United States government, corporation and private citizens as they deem worthy of spying on. 

Of course the reason this is big news is because His Glenness revealed what his source, Edward Snoweden, told us about the U.S. spying on Angela Merkel.  In other words, we know about this because Snowden was spying on the United States government - he claims that's why he took the job with the NSA - Bush- Cheney Spy Families connected contractor, to spy on the NSA but we're supposed to be horrified when it's our government spying on other governments and their leaders.  So, private entrepreneur spying from Edward Snowden is, somehow, morally pure and good but government spying is always wrong?   Otherwise, where would His Glenness get the stuff he's peddling?

The play-left is riding on a hobby horse called MASSIVE LOGICAL DISCONNECT on this one. That there are legitimate problems with the government spying on its own citizens, especially those engaged in challenging the military-industrial-university-etc. complex, is no reason to go nuts in such a self-discrediting way.   No serious person in the world who thought about it would want their own country to stop spying on other governments and non-governmental actors and groups that could have a seriously bad effect on other people.  No government in the world will ever stop doing that and last for very long.   No one who pretends to not understand that deserves to be taken seriously. 

Grow the hell up.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Speaking of incomparable

What Wes Montgomery did with Round Mindnight is incredible.

It's the kind of performance that is so great you feel torn between inspiration and despair.  Only no one else plays that well either.   He may have been the best, bar none.

Update:   Nica's Dream

Louis Armstrong - Memories of You

I'd wanted to post the incomparable rendition by Betty Carter and couldn't find it but Louis Armstrong's incomparable rendition of Eubie Blake's great song was available.

So is Thelonius Monk's

So many incomparable versions of a great song to choose from.

Oh, Great Another Instrument I Wish I Played

I never heard of an accordina until about a half hour ago while exploring French jazz that I'd never heard before.

This Kind of Stuff Will Never be Kewl From my E-mail Yesterday

"When this story first hit our television screens, as an American, I was profoundly ashamed as I watched angry local residents shouting at innocent children with fear-filled faces," said the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries. "However, the outpouring of care, protection, and support for these frightened children by thousands of local volunteers all across our nation renewed my faith in human generosity and compassion being demonstrated in the face of this tragic set of circumstances."

On Tuesday, dozens of congregations from the Southern California Nevada Conference of the UCC will be represented in a faith-based delegation that will travel to Naval Base Ventura County in Oxnard, Calif., that is currently housing hundreds of migrant children. Organized by the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and the United Methodist Church, the group will seek entrance into the naval base to ensure transparency and oversight at the facility, assess its conditions, and advocate for the children being held inside.

"Once we hear back from the delegation in Ventura, we will know more about the needs there and how we can assist," said Keith Clark, executive associate conference minister of the Southern California Nevada Conference. "It's a situation where we will have to assess what is being done and how we can help with the immediate situation. I'm sure there will also be advocacy for the broader issues involved."

The Southern California Nevada Conference is also urging its congregations to send supplies to the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, which is collecting donations to distribute to the young refugees. Items of immediate need include baby wipes, diapers, baby formula, baby food, bottles, antibacterial lotions/dispensers, juice boxes and sealed snacks.

"We are called to care for the least of these and called to greet and care for the immigrant as well," Clark said. "It's the responsibility of the faith community and the UCC to meet the needs of these strangers who have come into our midst, and to help communities understand how we can have a loving response to those who are seeking our help."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Betty Carter Gone With The Wind

Quick Take On An Article By Thomas Frank

I got a lot more out of this article than I expected to, Thomas Frank is seldom superficial, except when the topic is actual, instead of metaphorical, religion, something he shares in common with most contemporary writers.   I can agree with about 7/8ths of it though I think what he rather snarkily equates to religion is more realistically attributable to the Ivy League universities* where most of the people he targets came through, or its equivalent.  And, quite to the contrary of his metaphor, those are decidedly Mammonist and hostile to the economic justice that is inseparable from the very Jesus who became a graven image and a vainly named slogan for the Mammonists who comprised even the allegedly religious wing of wingnuttery.

If there were to be an effective counter to the Mammonism that is the target of Frank's article, history indicates it is likely to be religious, real supernatural religion capable of instilling a real and effective and durable belief in the moral obligations to do justice, to respect rights on an equal basis because, no matter what genes you're born with or what random chance has dealt you, you have both the inherent right to those and an obligation to respect those rights.  It is the kind of religion that holds that you have a moral obligation to do that, even when you don't like the person or people whose rights you have to respect, even when it is economically disadvantageous to you to respect those rights.

We kind of agree on the goals but I've become convinced that goal can't be achieved without the durable obligation that can only be found in an effective form in religion, specifically, in the United States, the very "Abrahamic" religions that, in the form that takes those rights and obligations seriously, has never been fashionable but which is responsible for the power behind every successful attempt to change things for the better.  That hasn't changed and the attempt to do that without God is what has failed.  I don't think we have a choice except to fight it as genuine religion as opposed to a Mammonism that is a cheap and sleazy and false imitation of it.  No matter how uncomfortable that makes today's scribbling class worried about being ostracized if they say it.

* The article has three pictures as illustration:

Jim Cramer:  Education: Harvard University (1984), Harvard Law School (1977), Springfield Township High School, Harvard College

Dinesh D'Sousa: Education: Dartmouth College

Thomas Friedman: Education: St Antony's College, Oxford (1979), Brandeis University (1973–1975), Saint Louis Park High School (1971), American University in Cairo, University of Minnesota.

These people are not the product of religion, they are the product of universities that are more corporate brothels than religious.  They've taken up careers as panderers after having been intellectual rent boys.

Update at lunchbreak:  Another Salon triptych as evidence of my point.

William Kristol Education: Harvard University, Harvard College, Collegiate School
Paul Wolfowitz Education: University of Chicago, Cornell University
Richard Cheney Education: Natrona  Casper College, University of Wyoming, Yale University, University of Wisconsin-Madison,

I don't think I'm bringing my laptop to work again.  It's too distracting and I have work to do.

Update 3:  Another blasted trinity
Robert Rubin Education: Yale Law School (1964), Harvard College
Lawrence Summers Education: Harvard University (1982), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1975)
Timothy GeithnerEducation: Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (1985), Dartmouth College (1983), Peking University, International School Bangkok, Beijing Normal University

Sunday, July 6, 2014


I will be starting a new job tomorrow and will probably post pieces in the evenings instead of the mornings for as long as it continues.  I will probably not be able to post comments until then, either.

Not Much Comment Would Seem To Be Needed

The Church Trap" at the 2013 Burning Man Festival. An old church-shaped structure is poised to catch people sitting in its pews or playing its organ.

This could serve as an illustration of my contentions that atheism is the required dogma of what is leftish and moderny and sciency, etc.   While I can't find out what the, um, idea behind it is supposed to be, what comes immediately to mind shouldn't surprise anyone who has read many allegedly leftist comment threads.

The Attempt to Religiously Hijack The Government Is Continuing And It Isn't Only The Fundamentalists Who Do It

One of the more aggravating experiences of online life is when you read someone spouting some common received wisdom, confirmed by other commentators,  that you know to be wrong, especially when you have the evidence to clinch the case that it is wrong.  It's my experience that no level of primary evidence presented will overcome the ideological mythology of those phony citations.  Whether it be the religious character of Copernicus and Galileo (especially the early support by Cardinals and Popes for the Copernican system) or it is, about 99 out of 100 times, the citation of Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance, a thoroughly Christian document, as an attack on Christianity.   I mention both because I ran across both this past week.

As I continue rescuing my garden from the effects of near 100 degree weather and lots of rain, today, I will recommend this extremely enlightening conversation Krista Tippett had with Steven Waldman about the history of public religion in America.   I didn't hear it when it was first aired*, having not discovered Krista Tippett's program until the last several years.  As is almost always the case with her show, it will teach you a lot that you never knew before and overturn things that you had always been told were true, when they aren't.  Here's one particularly interesting and provocative passage.

Mr. Waldman: It was the church fathers and the government working together that held the trial and sentenced her [Mary Dyer's hanging had just been discussed.] to death. There’s a second bout of persecution that I think is also really significant, uh, and has not had nearly enough attention, which is, there was a lot of persecution of Baptists throughout the Colonies that, I think, has — has been written about. What was really interesting was that one of the pockets where the persecution was most intense happened to be in a couple of northern Virginia counties at the time that James Madison, was a young man and living there. Uh, it actually was part of Northern Virginia that — that gave us Jefferson, Madison, Washington, Henry, and George Mason.

Ms. Tippett: That’s amazing.

Mr. Waldman: So the — yeah, very fertile ground. So for Madison, the question of religious liberty was not something he was reading about only in Locke or hearing about as a European phenomenon. He was literally seeing it in his local courthouse with Baptists who were being thrown in jail, simply for preaching their own gospel.

Ms. Tippett: It does seem like, um, we have transposed, as you kind of described at the beginning, our — our own questions and our — the divisions of our time onto our understanding of the Founding Fathers. But you found a much more diverse and complicated picture, not only of the — of the history in general, but of these individuals in particular, and it seems to me that James Madison especially captured your imagination.

Mr. Waldman: Yes. It seems like nowadays, there’s kind of two scripts and you have to choose one or the other. One script says that the founders were all religious Christians and therefore, they would oppose separation of church and state.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah.

Mr. Waldman: And the other script says the founders all wanted separation of church and state in part because they were secular, or they were deists. This dichotomy would have seemed utterly baffling to the founders. For one thing, the founders who supported separation of church and state mostly did it because they wanted to promote religion, not discourage religion.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Mr. Waldman: It was the whole idea was that this was a strategy for encouraging the growth of religion by leaving it alone. And there were others who thought that the way to encourage religion was by having the state support it, but they both agreed that the goal was to encourage religion. And that’s — that’s just not a viewpoint that’s reflected in the modern debate. And I did find James Madison to be the most interesting one on this because he was really the one who came up with the — the most holistic, uh, vision, uh, for religious liberty that combined, first what he was hearing from evangelical Christians, um, Baptists...
Ms. Tippett: He went to Princeton, didn’t he, which at that time was an evangelical college.

Mr. Waldman: Exactly. I mean, there’s a lot about Madison and the evangelicals that is — is amazing. First of all, we think of evangelicals now as being opposed to separation of church and state because a lot of the religious, conservative leaders have taken that position in recent times. Uh, in Madison’s era, it was the other way around. And in fact, we would not have religious liberty without the 18th century evangelicals. They were Madison and Jefferson’s foot soldiers in the drive for religious liberty. And often they were the philosophers who helped them think through the case for religious liberty.

Ms. Tippett: Yeah, and what was that — what was their stake in that philosophically and theologically? It seems to me it was — there was also a theological, um, argument — an evangelical argument for separation of church and state.

Mr. Waldman: Some of the evangelical support for separation of church and state was obviously practical, which was that the evangelicals were being persecuted.

Ms. Tippett: They were in the front line to be persecuted without it, right.Mr. Waldman: Yeah. And so, they — they had an obvious interest in — in breaking up the authority of the established churches, which were preventing them from praying the way they wanted.

Ms. Tippett: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Waldman: But there was a theology to it, as well. First of all, they always cited Jesus’ invocation that His world was the kingdom of heaven, and that it was Caesar’s role to regulate government and the civil society. That separation was part of it. But there was something even deeper than that, which is that the evangelicals believed in a personal relationship with God that didn’t have to always go through intermediary institutions, didn’t have to go through clergy or church. It was a small “d” democratic approach.

Ms. Tippett: Mm. Mm-hmm.

Mr. Waldman: So that kind of individual liberty approach to religion obviously meshed perfectly with the revolutionary spirit that Jefferson and Madison and others were arguing as it related to the crown, saying also the individual has the right to liberty.

I wonder what evangelicals today would make of that history of their movement, especially those evangelicals who live in states where they are a frequently unpopular minority, today.

Listening to the show,  reading the transcript, the provocative idea came to me that, today, it is atheists who, in fact, want to establish their religion as the state religion.  I think they have all along and that there has been an evangelical wing of atheism that has established itself in the nominal left for which atheism is, in fact, the paramount issue.  I think those fanatics have had such a disproportionate effect on liberal academic life, legal theory and the government that it has had the effect of destroying liberalism, in the American sense of the word.  

In the 1970s, I first noticed that there was such a phobia to anything that could possibly be interpreted to be religious that any encouragement to think about the morality of behavior was tacitly banned.  It was "judgmental" it "imposed your morality on other people".   Even in schools there was a fad for presenting "open ended" scenarios and stories in which no encouragement was to be given in judging the behavior of the characters as being wrong or immoral, that, somehow, even very young school children would [magically] find the best answer for themselves.  Which anyone who ever experienced an unsupervised school yard at recess would know was a pile of foetid crap.  Bullies and nasty cliques are the main beneficiaries of "moral neutrality" in personal life, organized criminals and dictators and violent, criminal gangs in societies and countries.  The results are antithetical to the morality and ideals of real liberalism in real life.

Stuff like that made the backlash against it far stronger than it needed to be and it continues today to disadvantage the real left, the goals of which aren't those of the fanatics.

I hold that it is self-evident in real life that there is, in fact, an actual right morality that is rather remarkably approached in parts of the Declaration of Independence, even as it is contradicted by other parts, especially the racism against the native population who "the founders"** were murdering and displacing so they could steal their land.  Which could bring us back to the folly of established religion and the need for religion to take its rightful place in aiding the correction of the evils guaranteed to arise in secular governments.   Governments are easily taken over by organized criminals, chiefly interested in stealing things but sometimes for other reasons.   And those criminals are not above using the immorality of a majority or an effective margin of the population to install itself - which is how Republicans used the religious backlash against the attempt to install atheism as the de facto state religion.  It is a seriously difficult balancing act, democracy, but it fails when there isn't just that moral intention that has been turned by the past three viciously dishonest Supreme Courts against the people who fell for that pose of moral neutrality.

The equally held rights and moral obligations that comprises the morality of traditional American liberalism is the right morality, that fact can be seen in what happens when it is absent or superseded by or suppressed by other or no moral system and I'm not going to apologize for saying that if it isn't  the basis of a society it will devolve into depravity, complete with rule by organized criminals, such as we are veering towards so dangerously, today.

*  It's kind of surprising and kind of gratifying to see how many of the themes I've written about are touched on in the program, sometimes arriving at different conclusions than I did.   Here's the introduction to the second part of the program, a conversation with Philip Hamburger as more of an incentive to listen to the show.

Ms. Tippett: I'm Krista Tippett and this is On Being. Today, for the Fourth of July, a surprising reality check about the long road of American democracy. The esteemed constitutional lawyer Philip Hamburger was stunned by almost everything he discovered when he researched his 2004 book, Separation of Church and State.

That phrase itself was first coined in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson, in a letter he wrote right after he became president, to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut. They had asked why Jefferson would not proclaim national days of fasting and thanksgiving, as Washington and Adams had done before him. He replied by making reference to the first amendment of the Bill of Rights, writing: “...I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

But Jefferson then added this summary clause: “Thus,” he wrote, “building a wall of separation between church and state.” The Danbury Baptists ignored this language. It only entered U.S. constitutional law nearly 150 years later, through a 1947 legal opinion authored by Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. And Black was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK, in its American heyday, was not only racist but staunchly anti-Catholic and pro-“separation of church and state.”

** This was especially gratifying to hear.

Mr. Waldman: Well, first, I want to say that when it comes to this topic, any time anyone starts a sentence with, the Founding Fathers believed...

Ms. Tippett: Yeah.

Mr. Waldman: should immediately have a lot of skepticism. Because one of the things I’ve learned is that there is no such thing as the Founding Fathers, as a unitary block. When it comes to these issues, they actually disagreed with each other. And they were kind of close to the action. They were the ones who wrote the Constitution, and they still disagreed with each other about what it meant.

I had long suspected that all of this talk about "the founders" originated in the segregationist resistance to the moral position of the Civil Rights Movement.  That has been the clear intention of those who drop that phrase, up to and including the members of this, the most racist Supreme Court since the 1890s.   I'd asked my mother and a number of other people if they ever remembered hearing people talking about "the founders" before then and none of them could.  It was, though, used at least one book promoting Unitarianism from before that, which I've seen, claiming "the founders" as belonging to them.  Though that use of the phrase isn't the one that caught on to such bad effect.  If you read "the founders" in full, you will find that even that presumably liberal attempt to own them, man, is a rather large exaggeration.

Reading Jefferson's letters and complete documents that are frequently excerpted dishonestly for ideological purposes, I've become rather skeptical of any citation of the position of individuals for ideological purposes.   Those people who left any documentation are frequently far more complex than the less than two-dimensional views that people present of them for their own purposes present them as being.