Saturday, November 26, 2016

Grant Green - Idle Moments

Grant Green - guitar
Joe Henderson - tenor saxophone
Bobby Hutcherson - vibraphone
Bob Cranshaw - double bass
Duke Pearson - piano
Al Harewood - drums

And for the guy who complains I never post standards


Grant Green: Guitar
Jimmy Forrest: Tenor Sax
Harold Mabern: Piano
Gene Ramey: Bass
Elvin Jones: Drums

Jimmy Forrest almost takes it away but Grant Green was an amazing inventor of brilliant solos too.

I'd get into it with the guy who thinks Elvin Jones is inferior to his idea of a brilliant pop music skins banger but it's a waste of time, the guy's not only got no class, he's got no ears.

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Gordon Pengilly - Bailey's Way - Logan's Lost Herd

Cast: Thomas Hauff; John Wright; Heather Lea
McCallum; Christian Goutsis; Tiffany Thomas;
Joyce Doolittle; Brian Smith; Tim Koetting

Cast: Donna Belleville; Russell Moore; Paul Coeur;
Lindsay Burns; Mark Bellamy;John Wright.

Esther Purves Smith as Tanis Bailey
David LeReaney as SergeantMann
Grant Linneberg as Detective Donaldson

Hate Mail - The Clever Simels

I am sent a picture that Steve Simels posted of a dog's anus that he claims looks like Jesus.  I don't know, it looks more Brit to me, more like a mop head from the period when they did that lame-ass cartoon of them.

Doesn't look Semitic to me.  

It is ironic considering it's a horse's ass that posted it.  And here Simps said I have no sense of irony. Shows what he knows. 

What's really funny is he thinks him being a jerk is going to upset someone.   Anyone who would get upset about that needs to rearrange their priorities. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Horace Parlan - Speakin' My Piece

Horace Parlan - piano
Tommy Turrentine - trumpet
Stanley Turrentine - tenor saxophone
George Tucker - bass
Al Harewood - drums

Skoo Chee

The Badness of My Method - Hate Mail

As I've noted in the past, I have very bad eyesight.  That means that I need to see what I've written in several different forms in order to edit it,  I can't really see the word-processing feature of Blogger very well, even when it's increased in size.  I suppose I should buy one of those giant screens but I can't afford one.   Also, the "save" button on it is right next to the "publish" button so I have been known to push the wrong button, publishing things in a draft instead of a more finished form.

Editing in the deep shadows has its own perils, quite often when a sentence is changed I'll miss where I should have changed the number of the noun or pronoun or  verb or where I should have changed a preposition.  That's especially true because I tend to write long sentences.   I can't see punctuation marks on it either, usually guessing where those are by the spacing.   You can read in my archive my thoughts on that too.  I'd suggest searching with the terms Strunk White for those.

I try to post things by nine-o'clock in the morning Eastern Standard Time in the United States, trying to post the semi-final draft by seven so I can look at it on a couple of different monitors, looking for problems.  Obviously that doesn't always do the job.  Needless to say, I continually edit as I see problems, sometimes I don't catch them till later in the day or days later, if ever.

If you don't like what I write, you know, you're not obligated to read it.  

No, I Don't Retract - Hate Mail

I won't take back a word of my criticism of Barack Obama, if anything I'd say that a Democratic president who entered office with his Republican predecessor having allowed the oligarchs to blow up the economy, stealing the life savings and security of millions of Americans BUT WHOSE ADMINISTRATION, IN EIGHT YEARS, PUT NONE OF THE BIGGEST CROOKS IN HISTORY IN PRISON is the definition of a failed Democratic president.    If Barack Obama had gone after the oligarchic gangsters and jailed them and oversaw breaking up the banks and other financial institutions which are the primary vehicles of that massive theft, Democrats would have been the heroes of America instead of having been cheated out of office.

Barack Obama has done little to nothing to really reform the corrupt American system, the little that he did, the little that was done by Congress in the first two years of his administration, before the Republicans took back the congress as a result of Barack Obama's failure and refusal to lead or even really talk to the American People.  He chose to be aloof, he chose to be unassertive, he chose to be a weak president when he had played a strong politician, successfully, during his 2008 campaign and, again in 2012.   He was lucky in both elections by having a weak Republican nominee, but the American People elected him as a leader and instead they got what he was willing to give them.

I think one of the emblematic events of Brack Obama's presidency was that the great and strong public servant, Elizabeth Warren started working to build the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau within his administration, was denied the leadership of that bureau, being as undercut by members of Obama's administration as she was Republicans and left to run and win the Senate Seat she holds where she has had to, repeatedly, attack people who Obama appointed to do those things.  One thing I really wish I knew it was who told her that she had to hire Leonard Chanin for that agency over her reservations because she knew he had been among the worst of those responsible for failing to prevent and who, in fact, facilitated the collapse of the economy in 2008.  I can imagine who in the Obama administration - the MEN he listened to instead of Elizabeth warren, would have likely been the ones she referred to.   I strongly suspect that that other supposed genius, Lawrence Summers, was one of them.  He's the man who, after having to leave his administration due to his continued incompetence and arrogance was reported to be the man who Obama wanted to head the Federal Reserve.  That is even given his disastrous track record of administering the finances of Harvard that Garrison Keillor noted in his 2009 Christmas column I linked to the other day.

And that's not even getting to the failure of his Attorneys General,  Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch in that area and many others.

Barack Obama will go down as a failed president because he chose to be a weak president.  He chose to maintain his persona of a cool, aloof intellectual who, on occasion, could pull off skits of him having the common touch.

I voted for him twice but it was not because I expected much more than we got from him, it was because the alternative would be a disaster on the George W. Bush - Dick Cheney level.   I didn't especially favor him in the primaries of 2008, I thought Hillary Clinton was a better candidate with a better record, though I would certainly have rather had other choices then.   I do think that Hillary Clinton would have been a far, far better president than Barack Obama has been, she is more than his intellectual equal and she has few of the typical male ego problems that have been a real detriment through the history of only male American presidents.  SHE CERTAINLY HAS NONE OF HIS CO-DEPENDENCY HANGUPS ABOUT REPUBLICAN APPROVAL.   The corruption built into the system through the Constitution kept that from happening.  I doubt the investigations into likely corruption of the vote in states such as Ohio and Michigan will overturn the obviously corrupted election of the most corrupt, interest conflicted and sleazy man to have ever been handed the presidency while losing the vote.

Donald Trump is a result of the failures of Barack Obama as much as it is the corruption of our media and the corrupt Constitution and Supreme Courts we are governed by.   If he will benefit from nostalgia for his term in office as compared to the Trump disaster is hardly a safe bet.  In many ways Bill Clinton was a more successful president, though that was mostly due to the chance timing of the tech bubble.  And he's seldom remembered fondly as compared to what came after, today.

Barack Obama was not a total disaster like the alternatives or his predecessor, but he was hardly a success.  We needed him to be a success, his refusal to get down and fight hard, putting pressure on recalcitrant Democrats and putting the screws to Republicanfascists is the reason he wasn't.   The last thing we need is another handsome, smart, cool guy as a Democratic president, we're voting for a President, not the next embodiment of 007.

If Democrats voting in primaries in 2020 will learn anything from putting their trust in Barack Obama is doubtful, though that's what we need for them to understand.   Looking at his administration nostalgically or in anything but 20 20 vision in the hard light of the burning country and world will not get us out of this.  That's why I wrote that piece you hated so much and why I wrote this.

Update:  The Boston Globe, today, has a piece whining about how Harvard is likely to be "frozen out as the source of personnel for a Trump regime as it was one of the major sources for the Obama administration.

When President Obama needed to stock his administration, there was one place he could reliably turn to for talent: his alma mater, Harvard University.

Lawrence Summers, who was a top economic aide, Elena Kagan, the Supreme Court justice, Ashton Carter, the defense secretary, and Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, are among a long list of Harvard faculty members summoned to Washington by Obama.

But now that Donald Trump is taking over the White House, Harvard, the ultimate insiders’ club, could find itself in an unfamiliar position: frozen out.

Between Larry Summers whose widely touted genius is something I don't see in his CV other than that he's gotten a lot of suckers to believe in it and Elena Kagan who seems to think one of her major duties on the Court is to recuse herself in ways that I doubt many if any others have ever felt it necessary to do, it makes me wish he'd tapped the talent from more land grant universities.   I could go on and on with why the Ivy League product has been tried and found disastrously wanting.

Before my most ignorant trolls can bring it up,  as I've pointed out before, Elizabeth Warren is a product of public schools and universities including Rutgers.   Being absolutely brilliant she was snapped up by Harvard.  While she may have been hired by the Harvard set, she has proven over and over again that she is not by or for the Harvard class of society.

I'd give a link but you'll have to pay to read the whole thing and it's not especially informative.

Update:  Simples is upset that I've dissed the prep-school->Ivy League->high income professional class.   As I recall it was me doing that about seven years ago at the blog of that product of the lesser Ivys (as Harvard boy Ted Cruz would have put it) Brown, Baby Blue, that first got the Simels ire up.

For my part, looking at the enormous numbers of Ivy League and Might as Well be Ivy league people who are the stewards of corruption in everything from the media, to finance, to industry, to the government, they are the real indigenous criminal class of the United States.

Update 2:  Apparently Simps has the idiots of Eschaton duped into thinking that what I wrote was from a Republican point of view.   Which shows another of his habits, distorting what was said by closely clipping it. They never bother reading stuff before they gas about it at the ol' "Brain Trust" (yeah, some of them really do call it that), it's why Duncan stopped going through the motions of doing more than getting money from his geezer chat room.

As a commenting community of some blogs ages and enters a eutrophic condition, there are often symptoms of oxygen deprivation.  Baby Blue is blue in the lips and fingers from that.

In both his mercy and his expectations, it means we are being taken with ultimate seriousness. Walter Brueggemann - The Bible Makes Sense - The Covenantal - Historical Model

As might be guessed from the title of his book, Walter Brueggemann presented the three previously posted framings of reality so he could contrast them to what he presents as the framing that the Hebrew-Christian scriptures present as the nature of reality or, better, the human experience of it.   

In most of what I've heard of his recent presentations, he, unsurprisingly, contrasts it to the "Modern Industrial-Scientific Model" because that is the predominant world view of those in the West, especially the United States where he is based.   And it is what is killing our plant and us. 

That is the world model that the overwhelming majority of those who call themselves "conservatives" and those who call themselves "liberals, or progressives or leftists" hold.  It is the shared framing of many who would consider themselves Christians thought it is basically and inevitably in complete conflict with their professed religion.  It is the framing of every, single atheist I've ever encountered, even most of those who believe themselves to be Buddhists, which, if they take the teachings of the Buddha seriously, can't be reconciled with it, either.   

It is the official and required framing of virtually all of academia.   I'm unaware of any university that, unless you are majoring in some aspect of religion, requires you to do any reading which force you to consider any other framing than that one.  

In my experience of writing things online, in the past decade, if you push on its contradictions and incompatibilities with experience and even the existence of life, you will be met with everything from total incomprehension to outrage and anger to derision but most often to a confused and vague incomprehension and fear that you are not safely held to be respectable.  

I think that is because most people must realize it is completely inadequate and can't explain their experience or account for why life under it leaves them with a feeling of discontented unease and not infrequent crises of faith in its reason and demand for control and predictability.  The lapses between those and their real experience in life cause crises which their habits of thought,  learned through that framing, can't manage or escape while remaining in that required framing.  I think those crises are the most common reason that even very conventional people will seek refuge in the Transcendentalist Model or in some quasi or pseudo-religious model of fundamentalism.  If they are fortunate, they will realize a different way of viewing reality was lying there, hidden by the uninformed and naive reading of the Scriptures which could consider them only as if they were written as historical or scientific reports.  More on that later.  

The Covenantal-Historical Model

This view may be contrasted at important points with the “different faith models” we have already reviewed.  Distinct from the modern-scientific-industrial view, covenantal-historical faith affirms that human existence does not consist primarily in the capacity to know and control and manage.  Against a this-for-that world based on success and competence, it asserts that real life with God consists in risking commitments, in powerful memories and compelling visions.  Distinct from existentialism,  this perspective asserts that meanings are never private but always communal, never to be found in an isolated “now,”  but always in an ongoing process of trust and betrayal,  and never with individual persons as the only actors.  It insists that life consists I a dialogue with a powerful, compelling Other who bestows mercy and compels accountability.   The God whom we confess is a serious partner in our lives.  We may pray to him for mercy because he does not give us what we have coming to us.  He does not settle for quid pro quo.  He does not deal with us according to our iniquities.  But he also takes our loyalty seriously.  He leaves us not free but requires that our lives be lived in answer to his expectations.  In both his mercy and his expectations,  it means we are being taken with ultimate seriousness.  Distinct from transcendentalism,  the biblical frame of reference denies that meaning can be immune to the incongruities and discontinuities of history.  These discontinuities include such things as the real grief and loss of death which cannot be explained as a “growth point,”  the real failures of relationships,  the real collapse of institutions upon which we have relied.  It asserts that discursive meanings are located in and derived precisely from historical hurts and historical amazements which judge and heal and call to repentance.

When we read the Bible, then, we need to learn to pay attention to the understandings of reality which permeate the texts.  Unless we do this, we may fail to discern what is in fact present to the text and to the church.   For the believing community is always confronted by the text as summoning it to make a new decision about perspective.

Thus one main reason why we read Scripture is so that we may not settle easily for any other notion of life,  forgetting who we are and the understanding of life that we have confessed and embraced. Informed by the Bible, we are invited to live in faithful response to this faithful covenant partner. Such a possibility is not guaranteed by Scripture study,  but it is peculiar to our faith tradition and provides us with a context for living quite different from the reigning alternatives.  In other words,  one of the most important gifts the Bible can give us is a frame of reference for our lives.  Given that frame of reference, we are still left with major decisions to make about our world, our freedom, and our responsibility.  But scripture reading can provide us with resources and images enabling us to understand, embrace, and respond to life in all its richness.   For the Bible presents human life in terms of the vitality of being in history with a covenantal partner who speaks newness in a world which always seems fatigued and exhausted.  That is what is most deeply characteristic about this view of reality:  that we are in covenant with One who speaks newness, who dismantles what is old in our lives, and who calls us to welcome and live toward his newness.

From the viewpoint of the alternatives, the Bible presents a curious reading of reality quite out of harmony with that proposed by other viewpoints.  Of course the elements about which we are speaking are nowhere neatly spelled out in systematic fashion.  But they do emerge, and their emergence in diverse times and places is important as resource and context for all of us in the church.  Four dimensions of covenant summarized below are especially important as they hint of a new history in which we might live.

I will post more of this section soon.

One of the consequences of materialism and especially in its most popular scientistic sect is the absurd notion that all of reality is reducible to entities and definition of events simple enough to subject to a pose of quantitative analysis and, so, BE science.  Though that idea is among the most absurd superstitions about both what science is, claiming for it powers and abilities it can't have and claiming for it realms of human experience and phenomena that can't be honestly squeezed into its corset.  The obvious fact is that our everyday experience, never mind less straight forward human activity and experience is of a complexity which science can't be applied to.  It can to some though far from all individual aspects of that experience and action which are simple enough to be successfully treated with science.  But the experience of life, any life is not really able to have more than a few things things isolated from it for scientific treatment, neither those things which are amenable to scientific treatment when taken in the abstract instead of within real, living organisms, nor those which aren't.  And what you can say about individual lives is even more true of society and the world of human beings.  I'll point out that due to our inability to understand even our closest mammal and bird cousins thinking about their experience, it is ever more and always removed from being honestly treated with science.

Science often works when it chooses its problems carefully and honestly, its success diminishes rather rapidly when scientists propose biting off more than they can process and insist on applying scientific methods to things which can't be sufficiently discerned to be characterized, measured and analyzed or which are too varied and complex to be characterized both honestly and succinctly enough to be treated scientifically.

Yet the habits of the Modern Industrial-Scientific model are so ingrained that huge numbers of people are hoodwinked by anything which  a University and their colleagues in their "specialty" allows to be called science.   The social-sciences are the perfect example because they have repeatedly, over and over, built enormous towers of papers and books and careers and university departments much of it alleged to be scientific research, only for those, after decades of building them, to collapse due to the weight of the accretions of their inevitable corner cutting.  And they begin by building on the sand of desired assumptions and prerequisites instead of the rock of adequate observation.

But the social sciences are hardly the only ones.  I heard a biologist once remark that nutrition is far, far from a successful science, though it has come up with some basic facts about human and animal needs by way of food.  I would guess that is because that our organisms are far too complex to be easily observed in real life and far too variable, both within a population and even over time in an individual.  The problems they propose to deal with are, past a fairly simple level, too complex to produce real science, the results are seen in the constant contradictions of studies and the not infrequent falling of dogmas and commandments concerning what you must eat and not eat to maintain a real life.

I have talked, at length, before about contemporary cosmology in this regard as well as the Darwinian dogma about the phenomenon of evolution and its horrible impact on human history [You can search my blog for those posts].

Of course, I'm presenting the inadequacy of the most common opposition of the Covenantal - Historical model that Walter Brueggemann wrote about because that Covenantal-Historical way of viewing the world is quite new to me, though I read plenty of scripture and I read more theology and history of religion than, I'd guess,  the average college educated American.

If you want to really understand it, you should read the book, The Bible Makes Sense,  or some of his many others,  or listen to any of his lectures or sermons or interviews available online.  And not only him but any of a large number of other such scholars who you can hear on Youtube of Vimeo or on podcasts.  They don't always agree with each other or choose to emphasize the same things - which, unlike in the Modern Industrial - Scientific model, is OK.  They can even be friends with and respect those who disagree with them.

I would mostly recommend that when you read or think about the writings that make up The Bible or, indeed, any scripture that you read them in the ways that Brueggemann recommends, not in the fundamentalist-atheist manner of a literal discourse nor as mere allegory but as something far more complex and difficult to understand, the insights, inspired quite often, though sometimes less so, of human beings thinking very hard and quite often at a stunningly deep level about human experience and action and the human societies they lived in.  I do believe much of it is divinely inspired, by which I mean inspired by the insight we, as potentially rational beings and, more important, beings capable of unselfish love are capable of when we are at our best.  And much of the rest of it, the Psalms of anger and revenge, for example, can give you a deeper understanding of our less worthy emotions and the temptations and traps we can set for ourselves and which, if we don't, life can for us.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Jeri Southern - I Hadn't Anyone Till You

Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye

Sorry, I can't track down the musicians. I think it's the Dave Barbour trio, based on the guitar, but I'm not sure.

Encore:   The  Very Thought of You 

Dusan Bogdanovic - Little Cafe Suite for Guitar

It's been a really crappy year, starting with my brother in a coma (it's only gotten worse, don't ask) to Hillary Clinton winning the election but being denied the presidency by a mix of our slave-holding founders' democracy prevention measures, the quarter-century inquisition of her by the 1st Amendment media privilege to lie, and the criminalized FBI under James Comey interfering in the election.  Comey and his thugs as Feds should all be in jail, Trump should be trying to figure out how he's going to get out of the various lawsuits by all the people he's cheated and robbed.

Then there was the drought we've been having in New England, drier than I've ever seen it, drier than the oldest person I know ever seeing it, another terrible garden year after last year's garden destroying hail storm.  We didn't even get any apples due to the unnaturally warm winter last year which included early blossoming and then a frost to kill those.

One of the few bright sides to it for me was finding out about the music of Dusan Bogdanovic which is wonderful even as it doesn't make up for the rest of it.  But I'm thankful for that, as I'm thankful for learning about Walter Brueggemann's work and his point of view of the First Testament.  The Psalms and his hints on how to use them are another high point.   I've given you a Psalm, here's a piece by Bogdanovic which was just posted a couple of days ago.  I'm already looking for the CD.

Psalm 133

133 How wonderful it is, how pleasant,
    for God's people to live together in harmony!
2 It is like the precious anointing oil
    running down from Aaron's head and beard,
    down to the collar of his robes.
3 It is like the dew on Mount Hermon,
    falling on the hills of Zion.
That is where the Lord has promised his blessing—
    life that never ends.

Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum
habitare fratres in unum:
2 sicut unguentum optimum in capite,
quod descendit in barbam, barbam Aaron,
quod descendit in oram vestimenti eius;
3 sicut ros Hermon, qui descendit in montes Sion,
quoniam illic mandavi  Dominus benedictionem, 
vitam usque in saeculum.

Note for those interested in Gregorian Chant, the Graduale Romanum where this chant is found [page 351 of the book, page 179 of rhe pdf] is also available online in a pdf.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Morgana King - It's Only A Paper Moon

Harvey Leonard, piano, celeste
Barry Galbraith, guitar 
Ernie Furtado, bass
Ralph Pollack, drums 
Terry Gibbs, vibes 

More Than You Know 

A Critical Look At The Obama Presidency

As he was leaving office, Molly Ivins criticized Bill Clinton by, among other things noting we had a right to expect him to keep his fly zipped.  But the more substantial part of her assessment of his presidency was 

I have spent more time and space on defending Bill Clinton than I care to think about.  If left to my own devices, I'd spend all my time pointing out that he's weaker than bus-station chili. But the man is so constantly subjected to such hideous and unfair abuse that I wind up standing up for him on the general principle that some fairness should be applied. Besides, no one but a fool or a Republican ever took him for a liberal.

As an added bonus, at the link, read what Molly Ivins had to say about Max Frankel of the stinking old drab - oh, sorry, the Great Gray Lady said about why they pursued the White Water story, initiating the sandbagging of Hillary Clinton which has resulted in Donald Trump. 

Anyway, this vidio is a discussion of why and how another weak-by-choice Democratic president, Barack Obama failed largely because he chose to be a weak president.  It's a good list by people who certainly know, starting with Congressman Keith Ellison.  I agree with virtually everything that was said, I wouldn't have said it so politely. 

For my part, I think in Barack Obama we got a president who would never, no matter what, transgress the boundaries of his class, the prep-school, Ivy League, high-income professional class.  

I, at no time, ever had the sense that he really cared about the lives of poor people, of the oppressed working class that his administration helped cement farther into that role, even as he and his economic team spent political capital lavishly on bailing out the big banks and financial institutions.   I think it was, largely, a matter of class for Barack Obama as can be seen in the biographies and CVs of those he hired to fill positions.  His secretary of Education, like him, never set foot in a public school as a student and had no stake in them.  They chose to pursue education policies that were more appropriate to a prep-school lacrosse league than to one of our most important institutions which has the responsibility to educate all comers, no matter what ability, so many of those in most need concentrated in school districts which would never win a Race to the Top.   I never had the impression that Barack Obama ever had any interest in the welfare of those who would inevitably lose that race.  

Another thing which I concluded during the first year of his presidency as he kept extending his hand to Republicans, even when he didn't need them, watering down essential programs of economic development to try to entice such hypocrites as Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to vote for them, they would spit in his face.   His clear and ruling emotional need for the approval of Republicans was one of the most dispiriting things about him.  I concluded early in his administration that he thought their approval mattered entirely more than that of his supporters, who he took for granted.  His refusal to play hard politics with even members of the Democratic Party and such quislings as Joe Lieberman and Kent Conrad and others who were instrumental in weakening the Health Care bill early doomed his legacy.   If he had insisted on a government option in that bill, it would be wildly popular instead of the far less than great law it is, it would probably have made it far harder for Republicans to use it as a weapon against him.  But it would, no doubt, have upset people he knew from school or their friends or their families.  

Barack Obama's place in history will be based on his race, it won't be based on his actual accomplishment in the presidency, most of which will be overturned.  If a future Democratic congress and president revive health care, I doubt they will look at Obamacare as more than lessons learned in what to not do. Other than being the president who "got bin Ladin" it's hard to think of any strong action he took.   He squandered what the American People gave him in his first election through his decision to appoint champions of the wealthy and, let's not forget, the poisonous Rahm Emmanuel who bears quite a large share of the blame for what happened.   It wasn't enough.  No one, no matter how handsome, charismatic, charming and intellectually brilliant as he is, should run for the Democratic nomination if they don't intend to be a strong president.  We've had two who fit that description, both of them let us down.   Government is too important to make it a popularity contest. We should never make this mistake again. 

If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency and there was noise about putting him on the Supreme Court, as it is rumored he wanted, I would have been entirely opposed to it.  He has no history that would indicate he has the makings of a great Supreme Court justice and, after the horrible courts we've suffered under, nothing other than great and bold people are needed for the job.   He's certainly smart enough, everything he decided would be pinned down in precedents and previous rulings and writings of prominent law school faculty.  I doubt it would be informed by the real conditions that poor people live under, of the inequality they face, of the rigged game which is both our constitution and the real and sordid history of the judiciary have created.   

I might wish Barack Obama a long and happy life as a private citizen, I don't expect he'll surprise us by competing with Jimmy Carter for the title of Best Ex-President In American History.   

Xavier Jara - GFA 2016 Finals

Here's a short recital played by Xavier Jara, the young American guitarist who is one of the best guitarists I've ever heard.   I listened to a number of the youtubes of the others in the competition.  Though I hate musical competitions on principle, he stood out in a pretty spectacular field. Outstanding in the playing, the musicality, and the choice of repertoire and complete maturity in his thinking and amazing use of time.

1. Fantasies P5 & P71 - John Dowland 0:00 , 2:45

2. Sonata K53 in D Major - Domenico Scarlatti 9:25

3. Labyrinth - Stephen Goss 12:45

4. Dreams - Sergio Assad 19:30

5. Sonata N.3 - Dusan Bogdanovic 22:50

You may have heard a youtube I posted a few weeks back of him playing the Bogdanovic sonata in an earlier competition,  I may have posted another youtube of him playing it on a different occasion as well, I don't remember.  Hearing how he makes the same piece new every time he plays is shows that he's a real artist as well as a spectacular technician.  A fine but otherwise inferior musician might make the mistake of trying to play the same piece the same way, a great one will always be finding new things in it.

The Emblem Of Our Time

I have been thinking, especially during the Trump campaign and after that the billionaire sociopath is probably the most appropriate icon of our time.  Especially the internet billionaire sociopath.   Peter Thiel is just one of them, though he is certainly one of the most deranged.  

Walter Brueggemann - The Bible Makes Sense - The Transcendentalist Model

The Transcendentalist Model

This view of reality is for those who believe that life is too complicated to endure and too messy to be the place of meaning.   And so they believe there is another sphere of reality which is simple, clear, unsoiled and uncomplicated.   The real meanings do not emerge from the power struggles found in our lives, even in our love relationships, but must be found in a sphere protected from all of that.   This model appears in the romantic notions of love and marriage in much of the American dream which envisions a “little home in love land,”  where we won't have a telephone, ie, we won't be bothered by reality.   But it also has its religious form, in which pious language and stained-glass windows pretend to screen out the cries of hunger and the groans of injustice.   Enduring meaning is immune from the incongruities and discontinuities of historical experience and may be located beyond historical experience in an abiding and enduring state of eternity. 

Such a history-denying view of life has a variety of manifestations.   It may be expressed as cold reason which regards only logic as providing relevant data.   Conversely,  it may be mystical meditation which seeks to negate historical experience, to be emptied of such sensitivities for the sake of other once-removed meanings.  Such a quest for non-historical reality may be pursued by meditative reflection after the manner of Eastern religions or, more broadly, in religious celebrations which serve to escape the realities of daily life. 

Transcendentalism tends to deny suffering and to seek serenity beyond the reaches of historical hurt.  Implicit in such a view is the conviction that historical experience and indeed historical personality are not essential embodiments of fundamental meaning.  It will be evident that such a view of religion is in conflict with a religion of incarnation,  that is, of historical embodiment of decisive meaning. 

Transcendentalism tends to deny the exigencies of historical risk and hurt.  It imagines that life can be lived without involvement with unattractive persons.  It pretends that life can be uninterrupted tranquility without any abrasions.  It conjures a God who dwells in a quiet heaven to sanction such a settled life.   It is finally in conflict with the religion of Jesus who knew that the power of God is shown precisely where there are hurting, sick, lame people.   And so even among people who are in every way sophisticated and concerned with the mastery of their lives, some are tempted to an unthinking religion in which responsibility dissolves and one can embrace an undifferentiated experience of good felling in which persons can abdicate,  make no decisions or take any responsibility 

None of us, obviously, ever embodies any of these models fully or intentionally.  But they do exercise great influence in the shaping of personality and in defining cultural values and expectations.  It is clear that we never perceive any of them fully and consistently,  but only in hints and tendencies.   Thus the modern-industrial-scientific view probably prevails in our public institutions,  such as schools and hospitals,  and certainly dominates the job market which pays primary attention to competence and performance for the sake of profit.  To be sure,  there are always dimensions of compassion and grace,  but they do not make a decisive difference.

Again, existentialism will not often surface among us in pure form,  but it molds much of the counter-culture life and has an important appeal for some of the young.  It is perhaps the vision of youth that all worlds are possible and any is choosable.  And transcendentalism is often proper religion which is just now surfacing,  especially among respectable drop-outs of the modern-industrial-scientific view of life which has not kept its promises.  The discovery of these unkept promises invites people to withdraw to “religion.” 

Of those things which get the name, "transcendentalism," in the sense that it means dropping out of real hard, painful reality instead of in the Modern-Industrial-Scientific model can become a really horrible thing to observe.  I would say that my disillusionment with Buddhism began to grow when I first read verse 28 of the Dhammapada.  I can't recall which of the translations it was, I've read a number of them.  It talked about the transcended man looking down from on high at the sufferings of those who were untranscendant in terms of pleasure.  Here it is in one of the less unattractive translations.

Just as one upon the summit of a mountain beholds the groundlings, even so when the wise man casts away heedlessness by heedfulness and ascends the high tower of wisdom, this sorrowless sage beholds the sorrowing and foolish multitude.

Wondering why he's just sitting there up on the mountain looking down without doing anything about it was the beginning of my realization that any religion which doesn't hold the Jewish-social and economic justice at its heart has the potential to be solipsistic, self-centered (ironic for Buddhism) and unworthy.  There are Buddhists who have avoided that to one extent or another, engaging in the kind of social action associated with some but far too few Christians.   I've read that such engaged Buddhists are about as controversial with other Buddhists as Christians involved with such activities are with a large number of their supposed fellow Christians.   However, Christianity, being a child of the Hebrew religion, is saturated with the advocacy of it, the requirement to do it and the warning that unless you do do it, you're going to go to hell.  It's there as a strong if latent potential.  If that is, ultimately, more effective in bringing about economic and social justice in Christianity is, I think, obvious.

But Christians are as tempted as anyone else to disengage with the world and to spend your time trying to transcend while the world goes to hell as anyone else is.  Though it is also an historical fact that just such communities in Christianity, convents, monasteries, parishes, etc. have been the foremost places of such justice.*

There is a recurring story among Christian contemplatives of how a young nun or monk will have a transcendent seeming vision only to be told, usually by Mary or some other saint,  that they're neglecting their duty to serve the poor.  That comes first.   Such internal criticism is certainly part of a number of traditions that could be put under the title "Transcendentalism,"  just as those temptations to turn it into selfishness, there are the warnings against that.   I find, in almost every case, certainly among the monotheistic religions, such internal criticism is central to what would be considered "transcendentalism"  in a way that the two previously presented framings of reality lack.   And that is because of the religious context in which much of the would be methods of transcending are practiced.   The totally secular fad of "mindfulness" that was all over the media a while back sold itself on being totally compatible with and an enhancement of capitalist efficiency and the acquisition of a secular, materialist western lifestyle.  Such "mindfulness" is the natural religion of a clean-living internet era billionaire sociopath.  Often peddled by what is, essentially, a spiritual businessman, often in association with western pseudo-scientist-businessmen.    I think if the Buddha knew that was going to be a product of his teaching in the hands of such secularizers, he might have included a bit of economic and social justice in it.

Brueggemann doesn't mean just that in his critique of transcendentalism.  His goes farther than that but I think this example I mentioned is among the most seriously tempting for most people right now.

I may have mentioned the exchange I had online once in which I noted that Buddhism seemed to be lacking in a commandment to do justice to poor people.  The answer of one of the Buddhists was that there was no such thing as justice, that it was a delusion.   My answer was that if she were denied justice she'd notice its absence and probably be immediately and completely convinced of its reality as the experience of injustice harshed her mellow.   Though I put it more politely than that.  And that's not just true of Buddhists,  it's so easy even the most egocentric of  atheists can figure it out when it's them.

*  In his account of the Protestant Reformation in England and what would become Britain, William Cobbett, over and over again, points out how the English means of caring for the destitute, the sick, the poor, the widowed was destroyed by the Tudor and Stuart kings as they murdered and drove out the monks and nuns and stole their properties and lands for distribution among the English monarchs and the gangsters who worked for them.  In fact, under those regimes, poverty was criminalized and the treatment of the poor in Britain was some of the worst in Europe.   Even after the infamous poor laws allegedly ended, a woman I knew who was based in Southern England told me that though she traveled to lots of places in Europe over a number of years, she never saw more abject and cruel poverty than what she saw in Britain.  It was under the "enlightenment" regime, what you might take as the opposite of transcendentalism,  certainly the enemy of such things as religious monasticism, that that poverty reached its most grinding and murderous levels.


Two Comments:

steve simelsNovember 23, 2016 at 12:47 PM
So now you're blaming Ralph Waldo Emerson for the election of Donald Trump?

Seriously Sparky -- seek help.

Seriously, Stupie, I don't write so that the vocabulary and concepts fall inside your most incapacious and limited mind.   Walter Brueggemann, who is, in every way, your intellectual superior obviously doesn't, either.

Hum... Emerson's role in producing Donald Trump.  Well, as I've held all along that if Obama had listened to Elizabeth Warren instead of Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers there would have been Democratic congresses with increasing margins for the past eight years,  there is a case that the guy your hero, racist, antisemite, anti-religious icon of bile,  H.L. Menken called "the codfish Moses" may have played a role.

Seven years ago from Garrison Keillor's now classic Christmas Column:

I've just come from Cambridge, that beehive of brilliance, where nerds don't feel self-conscious: There's always someone nerdier nearby. If you are the World's Leading Authority on the mating habits of the jabberwock beetle of the Lesser Jujube Archipelago, you can take comfort in knowing that the pinch-faced drone next to you at Starbucks may be the W.L.A. on 17th-century Huguenot hymnody or a niche of quantum physics that is understood by nobody but himself.

People in Cambridge learn to be wary of brilliance, having seen geniuses in the throes of deep thought step into potholes and disappear. Such as the brilliant economist Lawrence Summers, whose presidency brought Harvard to the verge of disaster. He, against the advice of his lessers, invested Harvard's operating funds in the stock market and lost the bet. In the cold light of day, this was dumber than dirt, like putting the kids' lunch money on Valiant's Fancy to win in the 5th. And now the genius is in the White House, two short flights of stairs above the Oval Office. This does not make Cantabrigians feel better about our nation's economic future.

You can blame Ralph Waldo Emerson for the brazen foolishness of the elite. He preached here at the First Church of Cambridge, a Unitarian outfit (where I discovered that "Silent Night" has been cleverly rewritten to make it more about silence and night and not so much about God), and Emerson tossed off little bon mots that have been leading people astray ever since. "To be great is to be misunderstood," for example. This tiny gem of self-pity has given license to a million arrogant and unlovable people to imagine that their unpopularity somehow was proof of their greatness.

And all his hoo-ha about listening to the voice within and don't follow the path, make your own path and leave a trail and so forth, encouraged people who might've been excellent janitors to become bold and innovative economists who run a wealthy university into the ditch.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Public Service Announcements Gave Way To Fascist Service Programming

Visiting an elderly relative the other day,  yes, there are people more elderly than I am,  she had on the Catholic TV cable station.  Not the dreadful, reactionary EWTN, the cable station from the Archdiocese of Boston.   I wasn't paying especially close attention to it when I heard this striking ad from Embrace Refugees

It suddenly occurred to me that I don't think I heard a public service message on a commercial TV station for years and years before I escaped from worship of the wall screen.   Did they go as a result of the Reagan administration dropping public service requirements from the stinking media?

Does this kind of thing get on local TV some places?  Does it appear on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, FOX?  I ask that last one just to include it,  I can imagine FOX airing the opposite of this ad, only they'd call it "news", in fact, their interpretation of public service is more in line with the use of that term in animal breeding.   All of the networks, actually.

You would like to think that Americans who saw actual refugee children, who heard their words out of their mouths might be moved from the racism of the American fascists, the Trump-fascists, the Republican-fascists, but, given this election, it's obvious that a large number of Americans would probably be less likely to hear what they said if it came out of their mouths.  Of course, if the TV executives don't carry their words, even spoken by American children, they won't even hear them that way.

Walter Brueggemann - The Bible Makes Sense - The Existentialist Model

The Existentialist Model

Persons who have found the model we have just described wanting, have looked for an alternative.  And they have found one.  They have wanted an alternative to a world that is rational and objective and so have fashioned a model of reality which in some ways is the very opposite of the modern-industrial-scientific model.  If we cannot live life by what we know in a cool way, perhaps we can live by the hot action of making decisions. 

Existentialism has many popular forms.  It is the loner “who must do his own thing” and who believes it morally irresponsible to rely on tradition, on longstanding communities and institutions.  It is felt by this model that a community is by definition an act of deception or bad faith and finally the individual person must live his/her own life by his/her own resources.  This tends to be evident among young persons who must leave home, among rebels who believe that all rules must be broken and all seasoned decisions rejected.

This perspective was originally articulated to present an alternative to a coldly objective and rational world of control and mastery.  Existentialism holds that meaning exists only in, and derives from, the decisions made by the individual in the present moment.  It is thus a protest, and an important one, against a static view of reality which regards everything as fixed and closed and insists on keeping it that way.  Conversely,  this model of reality tends to be community-denying, locating meaning only in terms of the solitary decision-maker who must not only make decisions alone but also live with the consequences.  

Along with such uncompromising individualism, this model also tends to devalue the historical process as it moves from event to event.  It finds no meaning in the sweep of history or in the continuities of the process because meaning is located only in the now of the present decision.  While this view does appreciate the full power of the present moment, it tends to leave the individual in a vacuum because, by definition, memories and hopes are not matters of significance for the identity or destiny of the individual.  

In brief, existentialism posits the human decision-maker as the sole agent of meaning.  Not only can meanings not be appropriated from others, there is no possibility of transcendent meaning in experience.  No meanings can be given to, or be prior to, the individual in the moment.  While existentialism intends to be a statement of radical freedom and responsibility, it also holds the likely prospect of weariness and despair.  While the promise is great, if my world depends solely on me, that is more than I can bear. 

Walter Brueggemann's second example of chosen framing of reality is one that was more influential among intellectuals when the book was written than it is now.  As you can see in his description, existentialism always tended to incoherence due to its rejections of everything from rationality and history and community, which must result in everything being arbitrary and even random.  I remember reading its literature wondering if it wasn't the decadence that set in when intellectuals, running up against the limits of human reason's ability to discern everything at ever level of focus had either a crisis of faith in their god, reason and turned against it (as the Angel of Light does in the Genesis story) or that they had a very academic, very well mannered tantrum.

I think that the longest lasting effects of existentialism is in the various theatrical poses it created or adopted, rugged individualism,  tragic rugged individualism,  persecuted rugged individual or, as in Sartre's theater works, totally abject, pathetic, victims beyond any hope of redemption.   I always found it telling that Sartre mixed existentialism with Marxism which was entirely incompatible with it.  I suspect it was all a matter of fashion, as so much in intellectual and, even more so, quasi-intellectual, journalistic circles is.   I mean, the philosopher of ultimate individualism co-existing with the ultimate denial of individualism.  He may as well have been a Nazi at the same time.

You might suspect that existentialism was a lot like the current materialist-atheist model* that I've written a lot about in that no existentialist ever really lived their life under its framing, it's mostly an intellectual pose, something to write about, something to use to attack those people and their ideas which you don't like.

I am not sure of what the intellectual status of existentialism is in academia.  I suspect its theatrical products are still shown or given but only as a theatrical spectacle, not as an intellectual discourse.  Having read quite a bit of the fiction of existentialism,  I can't say that it was persuasive or even attractive, it was often quite deliberately repulsive.   I suspect it will finally die when the junior faculty with an academic stake in it stop teaching or finally die, themselves and it is replaced in college curricula.  Sometimes you have to wait for them to die before a dead philosophical fad dies out.   It's not like psychotherapy or old fashioned phrenology, there isn't really a financial motive in keeping it going.

*  No "brain-only" materialist in the entire history of that ideological dogma ever lived their life as if they were a meat-automaton whose actions were merely as a result of the particular chemistry and physics at work in their brains, producing whatever results based on the combinations of randomly present atoms and molecules.  They certainly don't treat their opponents that way as they ridicule and brow beat them for merely and, inevitably correctly, expressing what those materialists claim is beyond their control, that their belief in transubstantiation or The Trinity or the worship of fire, etc. comes from their material precursors.

Note:  I just noticed that I posted this in a draft form and I can't fix it right now.  I will later.

Monday, November 21, 2016

At Least I'm Not Telling You What I'm Eating For Lunch

In the two months since giving up the serious sets of crunches I did every morning for planking - which takes a lot less time - I've wished I did it years earlier.  Planking is, by far, better than those crunches we were all taught to do back in the olden days.  What they told us was the real, right way to do it instead of those sit-ups we'd been taught.

Someone saw me and asked me if I was getting in shape to get into dating.

To which the answer is hell no.  I'm getting into not having a backache, though I'm going to have to go back to wearing suspenders.  My pants are too loose. 

This is as close to a personal weblog as I'm going to get.   If you do crunches now, try planking instead, there are a million places to find out how its done online. 

Andrew Hill - Not So

Andrew Hill (piano)
Richard Davis, Eddie Khan (basses)
Roy Haynes (drums)

The Many People I Think The World Has Heard Too Much From Already

I see from a sidebar at something else I read Michael Moore is predicting Donald Trump won't last a full four year term.  While I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't, he's a fat, obviously unhealthy and likely drugged up 70 year old geezer, I have a request.

Shut up, Michael Moore.  

If there's something that would put a jinx on getting rid of Trump it would be Michael Moore making one in his seemingly endless strings of predictions and prognostications and bloviations predicting he won't.  It was a long time ago I concluded that Moore makes these statements mostly to get his name on the webloid sites.  I wish they'd stop giving him attention. 

On the even of the election I started a list of people who might profitably vanish from the public eye and ear and consciousness,  Jill Stein, the Green Party, Bill Clinton (who I still thought might be first guy) Julian Assange, Susan "forever dead to my eyes" Sarandon,  Michael Moore....

If I'd kept making the list which would definitely include the snake oil peddler Thom  Hartmann and Ralph Nader that other snake oil peddler (watched part of youtube with them last night and had to turn it off as I felt like punching them both in the mush) .... 

Better stop now or I'll start up with the list again.  

It tends to be the case that those who have get more, and those who don't have get less or nothing.

I am going to type out several passages from Walter Brueggmann's book The Bible Makes Sense because I think he gave a very good presentation of different ways to frame reality which we impose but which we are most often so accustomed to that we don't even understand we are doing that.  The first one is nearly ubiquitous, it is the common received wisdom the rule of thought that you are required to adhere to if you are going to be held to be a legitimate thinker worthy of listening to.  The Modern Industrial-Scientific model, if not adhered to will get you declared to have a case of intellectual cooties.  This framing is widely shared by all secularists and many who would consider themselves to be religious, even many who believe that the Bible frames their thinking.  I think, in that context, it is useful to remember that when the ultra-Mammonist George W. Bush was asked to name his favorite philosopher, he claimed it to be Jesus, the man who said to sell everything you have and give the money to the poor, who said if you had money to give it to someone who would not pay it back.  What really ruled his actions and his public career was definitely not that Jewish peasant and foremost advocate of an entirely different way of thinking.

The left, secular and much of the religious left,  which believes itself to be the polar opposite of  right-wing capitalism is saturated with this first framing of reality which, as Brueggmann points out, is pretty much guaranteed to produce the opposites of what the left exists to strive for.

The Modern-Industrial-Scientific Model

This model has emerged in the past several centuries and has been of decisive importance in shaping our public institutions.  It includes the notion that knowledge is power and, therefore, that life consists of acquiring enough knowledge to control and predict our world,  and thereby to secure our own lives against every danger and threat.

It also includes the notion that life is built on a reliable scheme of performance and reward.  Put in traditional language,  “Good people prosper, evil people suffer.”  Put in more contemporary language, it means that everyone and everything is valued for his or her usefulness.  Life is governed by a firm arrangement of effectiveness and pay-offs, whether in the marketplace, the home, or the church.  All relations take on a quid pro quo pattern of scratching one another's backs.  Such an understanding of reality places a high value on competence and achieving, on success and getting ahead.  Such a view yields a notion of person hood which says,  “I have value for what I do,”  or in its more decadent form,  “I have value for what I have.”  The human community consists of people getting what they earn and deserve.  Those who earn little and therefore deserve little do not figure;  in fact, for practical purposes they do not even exist.  Obviously,  such a view favors those who succeed and are competent.  It tends to be the case that those who have get more, and those who don't have get less or nothing.  

This model applies to kids in the Little League who never get to play as well as to the poor who never share in the riches of society.  such a model of course destroys those who are left out.  But it also destroys those who benefit, for finally no one can succeed enough, and so everyone is too anxious and too driven and finally alienated.  This model, which lies at the heart of the American perception of reality and which shapes most of our institutions, clearly resists the good news of the gospel,  for it is based on the assumption of that graciousness must be banished. 

As a result, this view puts a premium on what is knowable, manageable, and predictable.  Clearly it does not appreciate graciousness, for everything is earned.  It is not open to mystery,  for everything must be explained.  It has no space for transcendence because everything must be managed.  While much of our modern world is organized this way, and may of us are deeply into it when we least know it, such a model of reality is quite at variance with that of the Bible.

The entire book is worth reading and, as it says in the introduction, to use it as a curriculum for study.  He wrote it more than forty years ago but you can hear pretty much these same ideas in his more recent writings.   Considering that he used texts that are thousands of years old to develop these insights perhaps forty years is likely to add evidence to bolster the case instead of basically altering the conclusions.  

Update:  I was going to hold this until I'd posted all of excerpts, but it is so important, so timely and such a recent statement of the same thing I will post it now.

October 23, 2016 Faith Forum Walter Brueggemann

Psalm 50 - You made friends with every crook you met, and you liked people who break their wedding vows.

You talked only about violence and told nothing but lies; you sat around gossiping, ruining the reputation of your own relatives.

50 From east to west,
    the powerful Lord God
    has been calling together
    everyone on earth.
2 God shines brightly from Zion,
    the most beautiful city.
3 Our God approaches,
    but not silently;
    a flaming fire comes first,
    and a storm surrounds him.
4 God comes to judge his people.
    He shouts to the heavens
    and to the earth,
5 “Call my followers together!
They offered me a sacrifice,
    and we made an agreement.”
6 The heavens announce,
“God is the judge,
    and he is always honest.”
7 My people, I am God!
    Israel, I am your God.
    Listen to my charges
    against you.
8 Although you offer sacrifices
    and always bring gifts,
9     I won’t accept your offerings
    of bulls and goats.
10 Every animal in the forest
    belongs to me,
    and so do the cattle
    on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds
    in the mountains,
    and every wild creature
    is in my care.
12 If I were hungry,
    I wouldn’t tell you,
    because I own the world
    and everything in it.
13 I don’t eat the meat of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats.
14 I am God Most High!
    The only sacrifice I want
    is for you to be thankful
    and to keep your word.
15 Pray to me in time of trouble.
    I will rescue you,
    and you will honor me.
16 But to the wicked I say:
    “You don’t have the right
to mention my laws
    or claim to keep our agreement!
17 You refused correction
    and rejected my commands.
18 You made friends
    with every crook you met,
    and you liked people who break 
their wedding vows.
19 You talked only about violence
    and told nothing but lies;
20 you sat around gossiping,
    ruining the reputation
    of your own relatives.”
21 When you did all of this,
I didn’t say a word,
    and you thought,
“God is just like us!”
    But now I will accuse you.
22 You have ignored me!
    So pay close attention
    or I will tear you apart,
    and no one can help you.
23 The sacrifice that honors me
    is a thankful heart.
Obey me,
    and I, your God,
    will show my power to save.

Even with my naive, unsophisticated method of going through the Psalms, it doesn't take a day or two to find one which is full of relevance to what's going on right now.   This Psalm is one that seems to be associated with Advent in some churches, it is certainly full of relevance for where we find ourselves.   From the accusations of hypocrisy among those who make a show of praise worship but who break one after another of the commandments and who voted Trump, for the champion and huckster of Mammon and on to that icon of corruption and princeling  among liars, himself.   In the ritualized Thanksgiving of the United States,  the sacrifice isn't burned in a naive belief that God somehow needed or wanted in murdered, burned form what was already hers, it is eaten by a nation full of people who are in no need of such a big meal.

I'm not much in a mood for American style holidays with their sales opportunities.  Trump has put me right off the desire to buy much of anything.  I'm in no mood to worship Comus on Thursday.  I'll work on setting this Psalm, instead.

Will God tear the United States apart, will there be no one to help us?   Well, if you consider the nature of things, God made it so a country like ours can't last forever.   Which is probably good news, with the way we are now.  It will, though, be a consequence of our own choices not God's fault.  God didn't give us an exemption from the way things happen when you act in certain ways.

and you thought,
“God is just like us!”

What an exact and succinct description of how people imagine God.  I'm struck by many of the insights the Psalmists had into how people think, the mistaken thoughts of people, the consequences of their wrong thinking but that is one of the most striking of all, to me, so far.   The fundamentalists idea of God is a god I can't believe in and it is pretty much the same god as the atheists seem to be limited in imagining.  The anthropomorphic god and gods of various other varieties of paganisms Pagan and pesudo-Jewish-Christian pagans of various kinds, the material gods of classical religion, etc. are all covered in that accusation.   In fact, it is a description that, to some extent, covers anyone who maintains any kind of fixed idea of God.  We're always having to call ourself up short on doing that, of setting up an intellectual idol.  If Donald Trump has a conception of God other than a line in his con game that he uses to con his marks, I'm sure his ego driven imagination thinks of God in terms of himself.  Trump seems to be his own golden mooncalf, and so many are the chumps who worship it.  If you want an example, listen to the news on NPR or TV or other radio venues, read the papers and you'll find that idol worship/cargo cult.

As to God having the power to save us.  I'd say it would take nothing less to get us out of what we've gotten ourselves in.   Our secular gods didn't save us.

The Constitution certainly didn't prevent Trump, as I railed all yesterday the high free speechiness and other previsions of that most idolized part of it, the First Amendment didn't do it, with its potential to enable and protect liars, it enabled it.

The Press?  The media?  Give me a friggin' break.  From the New York Times and NPR down to the sewer of FOX and the even lower levels they're as corrupt as the oligarchics that control and own that media and the people whose words you get the lies through.

Academia?  Which part, the part that impotently tells the truth or the part that enabled the media to outshout that with lies or the part that really only cares about promoting its own elite form of Mammonism, materialism or the others which have either failed to save us or which are in on the imperial decadence we have descended into?

You have to go to those few institutions that haven't played a part in producing the conditions that caused us to allow and accept a Donald Trump and they are few and far between.  Even many of what get called "Churches" were thick as thieves with it.  Notice that in this Psalm as in so much of the Bible, IT IS A MASSIVE CRITIQUE OF THE RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT AND RELIGIOUS PEOPLE AS IT IS SECULAR SOCIETY.   That is one of the biggest lies of the atheists and their insipid repetition bots, the Jewish Scriptures, both testaments, are full to the top of self-criticism and criticism of the religious authorities, they don't get off with a carte blanche.  Only religious people and institutions which continue that rigorous self-examination have much of a chance of escaping this judgment, this indictment.

Living up to that covenant is both simple and hard.  Doing to others what we want them to do to us- which, by the way, would make Trump's entire career and way of life disappear and end pretty much all of human evil doing.  It's easy to codify like Hillel did, citing Leviticus,  doing it is hard, not least of which because it depends on other people to fulfill their part of the covenant which it is.  Though their failure hardly excuses not trying to keep up your side.   The best people like me can hope to achieve is trying and when, inevitably, falling short, to try again.  Maybe you get better if you keep trying.  Our country has stopped trying.  It got talked out of that by TV and the movies presenting people who look out for #1 as the smart guys.  Or how else do you think they created Donald Trump?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dorothy Ashby - Pawky

Dorothy Ashby - harp
Frank Wess - flute
Herman Wright - bass
Art Taylor - drums

While others are endlessly presenting the same old, same old, old old, ... here's someone I'd never heard before about ten minutes ago.   It's an interesting texture, not keyboard or vibes or guitar.

Hate Mail - A Curse

I know it's not nice but having watched dozens of people I knew die of AIDS, having seen my father painfully and horribly turn yellow and die as a result of the Hepatitis C he contracted from a blood transfusion,  I can't help but wish you could directly experience in your own body the results of those diseases which you so blithely and, as you believe so amusingly,  approve of those who "work" in porn being exposed to.    I'll wish that for you and not for your loved ones, though I doubt someone so depraved as you really has those. 

Update:  If you watched people die of AIDS and you oppose requiring the producers of porn to prove condoms are used by the people they exploit you're only confirming you are as much a piece of shit as I said you are, Simps. 

Update 2: Simps, I'm going to hold that last diatribe because it sounds like you're off your meds, consider it my favor to you.  I still notice you haven't committed on the ballot question. 

Update 3:  Simps, I'd say a mind is a terrible thing to waste but in your case that's moot. 

It's So Easy That Even A Communist Could Figure It Out - Marc Blitzstein - The Cradle Will Rock - The Freedom of the Press

Update:  Um.  No, dearie.  There's nothing "McCarthyite" about saying Marc Blitzstein was a Communist, he was very publicly a member of the Communist Party from the 1930s.  He was a true believer who, among other things, liked to browbeat other composers who he held were not sufficiently Stalinist era socialist realist enough.   Try reading  Mark the Music, Eric Gordon's fine but disillusioning biography of him.   He was a real jerk.

Hate Mail misc. "More Speech" Has Definitively Failed The Test Of Time Falling For It Makes You A Chump For Trump

The designation "Hispanic" is almost as meaningless as "Nones".   When she came to live in the United States a member of my extended family who grew up in the Dominican Republic was shocked to find out that instead of being considered Latina, as she defines herself, most Americans consider her and her son Black.   In the Dominican Republic she was part of the fair-skinned middle class, she and her family didn't identify themselves with their obvious African heritage.   She is fluent in both Spanish and English but she identifies with other people who speak Spanish who come from Latin America.   Someone of her identity disappears in that Pew analysis.   I haven't talked with my nephew who speaks mostly English with an American accent since he became old enough to determine who he is going to identify with but I am pretty sure he is considered Black in Atlanta. 


I absolutely do date the beginning of the rise of Trump with the 1964 Sullivan Decision.  Donald Trump won the election due to two lines of lies which were made ubiquitous by the American media enabled to lie by that decision.  

What sold Trump were the lies that demonized Hillary Clinton and produced a vague, content free belief in so many that she, a real public servant for the past quarter of a century as she was under fire, was corrupt and the embodiment of evil.  The other line of lies directly produced the public persona of Donald Trump and the general line of Republican propaganda that duped even those who are the victims of what they do when they have power.  

Anything which enabled the lies that flooded through the media into the minds of tens and hundreds of millions and enabled those lines of lies to swamp the truth shares in the responsibility for producing the coming horror of the Trump regime, no less than they produced those of George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush and Richard Nixon.  

The elite, Ivy League class lawyers who produced the legal arguments that allowed the media to tell those lies,  many of them working in the hire of the media which has lied us into Trump, the journalists who promoted those lines and slogans, the Supreme Court justices who bought it - some of them among the most liberal members of that body as well as some of the most overtly fascist - all of them are the ones who created the conditions that got Trump into the presidency.    

I named a few of them, Nat Hentoff, Joel Gora, the American Civil Liberties Union, many others could be named.  I'll risk them suing me, I dare them to.  

They are still pushing those permissions of the media to lie even after the results of their advocacy are obvious, after their absurdly stupid and entirely ineffective bromide of "more speech" has obviously failed, abjectly and utterly.  

If it worked, Trump wouldn't be getting ready to set up a fascist regime in the United States.   I don't retract a syllable of that accusation. I don't care what the conventional pseudo-left pieties hold about them.  The reality of what they produced is real and horrific.  I don't fall for their preening pose of idealistic purity or their pitch for donations and subscriptions.   Those are all lies, as well.   

The Sullivan Decision, blocking the ability of liberal politicians to put their "more speech" where it would have a real effect on media corporations,  in lawsuits which could have forced them to retract and, more importantly, to cost them money, is what is most responsible for the end of liberal progress.   

You can chart the decline of the left from it, beginning with the first presidential election after it in 1968, electing Richard Nixon four years after that ruling was made.  Anyone who remembers that election accurately will remember that the media was, beyond doubt, in favor of putting Nixon into office.  

I have mentioned how, listening to the TV the morning after the election, when Nixon's win was announced, cheering broke out in the NBC news room.  I recall old, prim John Chancellor was visibly shocked and eager to cover up for his colleagues who gave away the game claimed that they were just glad it was over.  Which I didn't believe then and I don't believe now.  NBC and the other networks have done very well under Republicans, their owners have done very well under them as have their advertisers.