Saturday, December 3, 2016

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe - Before I Die

Stars: Mavor Moore, Don Francks, Cec Linder, Frank Perry, Alfie Scott

Special Guest Stars: Jane Eastwood, August Shellenburg, Maria Loma

Stars: Mavor Moore, Don Francks, Cec Linder, Frank Perry, Alfie Scott

Special Guest Stars: Jackie Buroughs, Brian George, Arch MacDonald

Wow, You Really Dug To The Bottom of The Barrel Unfortunately It's Tripe

I am sent this decade old post from P.Z. Myers in refutation of what I said.

John Wilkins is fighting the philosophical and historical fight against the Darwin’s Deadly Legacy nonsense with an excellent summary of the course of the eugenics movement. I especially liked this quote from Dobzhansky:

The eugenical Jeremiahs keep constantly before our eyes the nightmare of human populations accumulating recessive genes that produce pathological effects when homozygous. These prophets of doom seem to be unaware of the fact that wild species in the state of nature fare in this respect no better than man does with all the artificiality of his surroundings, and yet life has not come to an end on this planet. The eschatological cries proclaiming the failure of natural selection to operate in human populations have more to do with political beliefs than with scientific findings.

If you don’t know who Theodosius Dobzhansky was, he was one of the founders of the neo-Darwinian synthesis, and was far, far more influential on evolutionary thinking than either Haeckel or Hitler. Scientific leaders were calling this stuff nonsense before Hitler tried to invoke his Final Solution.

Well, to start with,  I didn't rely on any secondary, tertiary souces to make my arguments, I didn't use anything but the primary documentation except in one post because the necessary material wasn't available in English.   I used the words of Darwin, Haeckel, Galton, Leonard Darwin, etc. to make my arguments.  So bringing up some fundamentalist propaganda is irrelevant to what I've said here.   Though I will note that some, more scholarly fundamentalists have done what no one in the St. Darwin industry would seem to have done, read what he said and read what those whose writings on the relevant topics said in the works Darwin cited.  They might be wrong about the fact of evolution, many of them are right about the role of Darwin in the history of eugenics which includes the Nazi genocides.  I have yet to meet one of Darwin's defenders who seems to have read The Descent of Man - his work most relevant to the issue, and whose knowledge of On The Origin of Species is anything but quite incomplete and opportunistic.

Of course I know who Theodosius Dobzhansky was, he was a great geneticist in his day, the teacher of one of my heroes, Richard Lewontin, who, in turn was the teacher of Jerry Coyne.  I wouldn't blame either of them for Jerry, just to make sure no one thinks I would.

I will continue by pointing out that as Dobzhansky was Ukranian, a member of one of those racial groups who, under Nazi eugenics, was slated for either extermination as certainly as Jews were or, if they were kept alive, were to be trained to be slaves to their German masters, his counter-eugenic thinking would never have been considered.  Instead of being a distinguished university graduate and professor, such slaves were to be taught no more than how to write their name and count to 500.   I am quite certain that his scientific influence in Nazi Germany exists entirely in the imagination of such ahistorical dolts as Myers.   So such scientific thinking had already been swamped by the interpretation of Natural Selection which informed Nazi science and the eugenics program in place and which would soon fulfill the dream of so many eugenicists before then of murdering the disabled and going on from that starter program to full fledged industrialized mass murder.

Dobzhansky, eminent as he was, as right in his condemnation of eugenics as he was, didn't have nearly the impact even among his scientific colleagues as Myers claims.  I think it's safe to say that more of the prominent geneticists at the time he said that, 1937, were eugenicists as so many of them would remain in the post-war period and continuing til today.  The roll call of eminent geneticist-eugenicists even during and even after the war would include R. A. Fisher, Julian Huxley, Francis Crick, James Watson, if you want to consider him a geneticist, Myers' friend, Richard Dawkins has flirted with overt promotion of eugenics.  You can add all kinds of others from related and unrelated fields of science, even such people as Linus Pauling.  There's even a quote floating around from Dobzhansky that, if accurate, is far more positive about the "core" of eugenics than that quote above, though I haven't read it in his book and I won't accept the characterization of it until I do.

But all of that is, actually, beside the point, there is no doubt that the mainstream of German biology and the central authorities it relied on to construct its racial theories, its rankings of human beings in terms of "fitness" or value, both among various ethnic and national groups and within the German population (the basis of their murder of the disabled) was solidly Darwinian.  Darwin repeatedly talked about the benefits of murdering the disabled, especially when they were children.  He spoke blithly of the great day he anticipated, when the superior would have eradicated inferior ethnic groups, some of which he named, some which he implied with a mild, would-be wise, wink and a nod.  Read The Descent of Man and read it for yourself, look up his glowing, positive citations of Haeckel, Galton, Greg and others promoting those and other ideas that were useful to the Nazis.

There is absolutely no question that thinking was promoted by Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man and in his full and fully informed endorsement of Ernst Haeckel's and others' eugenics, including Haeckel's articulation of the idea that the deaths of those deemed inferior, including deaths at the hands of their "superiors" was a benefit to the entire human species.  There is no changing that, it is there in Darwin's books, in the things he endorsed and promoted.  The very generation of Nazi scientists who constructed the biological theories that were the basis of the genocides were thoroughly steeped in Darwin and Haeckel and Galton (whose eugenics Darwin also and for all time endorsed).   Alfred Ploetz, Eugen Fischer, etc. were explicit in stating where they got those ideas from.   Anyone who believes that Theodosius Dobzhansky, a young American geneticist of Ukranian ethnicity and Soviet education would have more of an influence on the Nazi scientific establishment than Ernst Haeckel, widely read even by non-scientists in Germany,  from whom their generation learned so much of their relevant thinking is either lying or they are a total idiot.

Now, I really would rather be trying to fight fascism than going over this again.  My archive is not indexed but it's not hard to do a word search of it.

Friday, December 2, 2016

I'm Beginning To Doubt He Ever Read It - Hate Mail

No, of course I don't expect someone as wedded to their bigotry and ignorance as that to change in their descent into senility.   Some people can change based on what they learn, even very late in life. But not if they're bigots wedded to ignorance.   Such people have more in common with Donald Trump than they would ever want to admit or have anyone notice or mention.  But I have noticed it and I just mentioned it.   As to the Darwinian character of the Nazi murder program,  here's an interesting passage from Shirer's Berlin Diary that Simps seems to have skimmed or skimped.  After a long discussion of the start of the Nazi genocides, the murder of the disabled, he said:

X, a German told me yesterday that relatives are rushing to get their kin out of the private asylums and out of the clutches of the authorities.  He says the Gestapo is doing to death persons who are merely suffering temporary derangement or just plain nervous breakdown.  

What is still unclear to me is the motive for these murders.  Germans themselves advance three:

1. That they are being carried out to save food.
2. That they are done for the purpose of experimenting with new poison gasses and death rays.
3. That they are simply the result of the extreme Nazis deciding to carry out their eugenic and sociological ideas.

The first motive is obviously absurd, since the death of 100,000 persons will not save much food for a nation of 80,000,000.  Besides, there is no acute food shortage in Germany.   The second motive is possible, though I doubt it.  Poison gasses may have been used in putting these unfortunates out of the way, but if so, the experimentation was only incidental.  Many Germans I have talked to think that some new gas which disfigures the body has been used, and that this is the reason why the remains of the victims have been cremated.  But I can get no real evidence of this. 

The third motive seems most likely to me.  For years a group of radical Nazi sociologists who were instrumental in putting through the Reich's sterilization laws have pressed for a national policy of eliminating the mentally unfit.  They say they have disciples among many sociologists in other lands, and perhaps they have.  Paragraph two of the form letter sent the relatives plainly bears the stamp of this sociological thinking:  “In view of the nature of his serious, incurable ailment, his death, which saved him from a lifelong institutional sojourn, is to be regarded merely as a release.”

I will point out that it is an absolute fact that eugenics began, both in English and in German, as a direct development of Darwin's Natural Selection,  that is indisputable as Francis Galton not only said that was what inspired him to invent eugenics but he also published Charles Darwin's glowing endorsement and encouragement of the developing science (pseudo-science though it was) in a letter praising Galton's first major book on the topic.  It is also an incontestable fact that the founder of organized German eugenics, Wilhelm Schallmeyer, explicitly attributed his eugenics to his reading of On the Origin of Species, not on a reading of Galton, so Darwinism was a direct inspiration of eugenics as an organized entity in Germany.   That was certainly common knowledge among educated people of the time.  And, as mentioned, we also have the testimony of his sons, George, Francis, Horace and Leonard to that effect, something which any modern denial cannot sweep away or supersede.

It is also an indisputable fact that by that time sociology as virtually every would-be biological science in the West was thoroughly engrossed in explaining everything in terms of natural selection, the various sects of that faith being the only real difference.   German sociology had certainly established that habit of thought decades before.  And, it is as indisputable that such science sought to put its beliefs about natural selection into application in human populations and society.

I can, and have, documented that Charles Darwin endorsed such ideas as are contained in that form letter in Ernst Haeckel's book, one of the first major works on Darwinism in German, The History of Creation,  saying that Haeckel's book was such a good representation of his own thinking that had he known Haeckel was working on it, he wouldn't have bothered to write The Descent of Man.   I have looked and found no place where Darwin took exception to even the most extreme ideas contained in that book, explicitly attributed by Haeckel to his reading of Darwin.  Haeckel derives all of it from the "materialist monism" the, "final triumph" of which he credits to Charles Darwin.  It is quite possible to find language like that used by the Nazi sociologists in books presented as science by Darwin, by Haeckel and by a line of Darwinian biologists and sociologists, in English and German, starting in the 1860s when On the Origin of Species introduced Darwin's Natural Selection to the world and, especially, in the coming decades as it and such books as The Descent of Man and The History of Creation were widely read by intellectuals, scientists and others, and their explicit claims about the benefit of the deaths of those who were “inferior” for the surviving population became part of Western culture.

Also, there is this.

On December 6, 1940 the Vatican condemned the “mercy killings.”  Responding to the question whether it is illicit for authorities to order the killing of those who, although they have committed no crime worthy of death, nevertheless are considered no longer useful to society or the state because of physical or mental deficiencies, the Sacred Congregation of Holy Office held that “such killings are contrary to both the natural and the divine law.”  It is doubtful if the mass of German Catholics, even if they learned of this statement from Rome, which is improbable, understood what it referred to.  Only a minority in Germany know of the “mercy deaths.”  

Footnote p. 575

I believe this footnote is the only mention of the Vatican in the book.   So Shirer's “definitive account” would seem to have missed the publication of the anti-Nazi encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, unusually issued in German to be read in all Catholic churches in 1937, but, then, I don't think he was much of a church goer.  Nor does it seem to get much of the Christian opposition to the Nazis, even as that became ever more dangerous.  Though he mentions some of it, especially things like the Protestant pastor Friedrich von Bodelschwingh who heroically resisted the murder of disabled children under his care and was arrested for it before the Nazis bombed his asylum.

I have my doubts that Simps ever really read the book or that he had sufficient background knowledge to understand large parts of it .  I don't know if Shirer figured on his readership having that or if, perhaps, he didn't fully understand the meaning of some of what he saw.

Update:  Now Simps and his fan base are deriding the knowledge of two of the most eminent and respected historians of the Nazi period and Germany in the period leading up to it, misrepresenting them, which they'd have to because none of them ever heard of them before.

I really do think the time I wasted at Eschaton has been productive because as the smart people left it over the years, the remnant was a real education in why so much of the self-defined "left" is so stupid.  My only regret is that I stuck it out longer than many of them did.

How Many Of These Die Each Year To Keep Trump In Hair?

Image result for troll doll blonde

Hate Mail - I'd Suggest He Try Reading Something Written After The War But That Would Be Pointless

Anyone who thinks William Shirer's Berlin Diary is "the definitive" book about the Third Reich, published before the American entry into the war, just as the genocide started with the disabled but before it continued to the Einsatzgruppen and then the industrialized death camps, before the fall of Nazism when their archives came into the hands of the allies, before the Nuremberg Trials, before the seven decades of subsequent research, including documentation of the entire period that wasn't available to an American reporter in the 1930s, mostly because most of the history of the worst crimes of the Nazis hadn't yet happened to be documented by him in that book, .... any such schmuck who thinks that book by Shirer or even his major work, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is "definitive" is too stupid to take advice on what else to read.   Just one point, if Shirer's book is "definitive" the "definitive" account leaves out the Holocaust because it hadn't happened yet.  Only, as we've seen so recently, Simps doesn't quite get how time works, that there is a past, a present and a future and they have to be considered in that order if causal relations are to be made.

My guess is someone assigned it to him when he was in highschool or college back in the 60s and it's the only book he ever read on the topic. 

Shirer is hardly an exhaustive or even an objective resource on the history of the Nazis and their motives.   I didn't have to take what he said on their theories of biological superiority and the desirability of them murdering those who they held to be "unfit" because the Nazis documented that, themselves.  And the Darwinian pedigree of that idea is available in incontestable lines of transmission from Darwin, through Galton and Haeckel, to their students and students of their students, directly to the eugenicists in English and in German who cited Darwin as the inspiration of their ideas.  Eugenics, itself, in its original English articulation with Francis Galton and its German language variant are thoroughly and obviously Darwinian.   Darwin to Haeckel to Eugen Fischer to Adolph Hitler even as he was writing Mein Kampf is only one of the fully documented lines of the transmission of that.  I could fully document others going through American eugenics, and have, here in dozens of fully documented posts.   If William Shirer wasn't aware of that means nothing, the record is there and always will be as long as the human species can read.  I know that Simps and his audience don't exactly lead to optimism that it always will be able to, but it still can now.  

The cover-up that depended on the laziness of English speaking scribblers, quite often who lied out of nothing more elevated than ideological motives, and students who couldn't be bothered to look up that record is over.  That half-century of cover-up is done, for good.   Enough of it is available for free online in easily searchable documents and more is coming online all the time.  That case proving the Darwinian pedigree of Nazi eugenics is proved beyond any rational denial.  It was so clear in the pre-war period that Darwin's own son, Leonard,  expressed his pride in his father's role in "turning German thinking" on such things "in the right direction" in 1939, mere months before the killing started.   There is no one who has ever lied to try to distance Charles Darwin from the results of his own articulation of natural selection in eugenics, both English and German, who has the credibility of Darwin's own children to make that connection and every one of them who left any writing about that matter did make that connection, George Darwin, Francis Darwin, Horace Darwin and Leonard Darwin all did as did everyone I looked into who knew the man and spoke to him, including Ernst Haeckel.   That record isn't going to get covered up, ever again. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dusan Bogdanovic - Polyrhythmic and Polymetric Studies for Guitar

Unfortunately the guitarist isn't listed.  It might be the composer, himself. 

These are wonderful pieces and being able to follow the score as you listen is a real enhancement of listening to them.   

How Well The Bill of Rights Is Protecting Us These Days: “Government-Backed Attackers” May Have Hacked My Account | The Closer with Keith Olbermann

Psalm 120 - The "Other" We Disdain Might Just Turn Out To Be Us

120 When I was in trouble, I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
2 Save me, Lord,
    from liars and deceivers.
3 You liars, what will God do to you?
    How will he punish you?
4 With a soldier's sharp arrows,
    with red-hot coals!
5 Living among you is as bad as living in Meshech
    or among the people of Kedar.*
6 I have lived too long
    with people who hate peace!
7 When I speak of peace,
    they are for war.

*  The note in the text says that these were two distant regions where the people were held to be savages.   You can choose any of those that apply, I guess. Some state you hold to be especially barbarous, if you live in the United States, perhaps the United States if you live somewhere it is considered a savage and ignorant country.  I'd agree with you, only you might want to think about the civilized locus you love to believe you live in as one, too.   

A short way of saying this Psalm is you'd better be careful because the savage other you set up to disdain just might turn out to be you. 

In the months I've been reading these Hebrew scriptures more closely the more enormous the lie so often repeated that religion has no practice of self-criticism is obvious.   I'm surprised more of those who claim to be zealous for the scriptures don't follow that example in their own lives and in their own society.  

Shawn Alex Thompson - An Insignificant Man - The Criminal Posts A Movie

Writer/Director: Shawn Alex Thompson
Composer: Drew Jurecka
DOP: Boris Mojsovski
Editor: Caroline Christie
Actors: Patrick McKenna, Aidan Devine, Peter Dacunha
Musicians: Chris Banks, Drew Jurecka, Nathan Hiltz
Producers: Melanie Windle, Checker Pictures

There's Nothing Hard About It Permitting Liars to Lie Only Benefits The Liars

I am leaving my last piece at the top of the page because I think the point of just what I've proposed is important, even vitally important.  It isn't that the president or the cops or the congress dictate what is allowed to be said in the media, it is to allow people the press lies about, including liberal politicians, to sue to stop the lies and to cost media corporations enough money to prevent them continuing to lie to the American people about liberals and liberalism.   Apparently that is too subtle a point for the kind of all or nothing, black or white rearrangement of blocks of language that pass as thought among so many on the alleged left.   I will point out that a lot of those who would seem to not want you to recognize that difference work in the media which has a financial interest in not getting sued for lying and which has benefited from the Warren Court's permission to lie with impunity.   

It was lies that got us Trumped, it is the free speech fundamentalists who played the left for suckers.  Any left that has any integrity, any real belief that what they advocate is really important will have to start with acknowledging the power of lies to defeat our advocacy for powerless people, the environment, etc. that which no magical "more speech"has countered.  Not even that "more speech" which is pathetically and mutely stated in a small magazine few read and fewer broadcast, that is no match for the even-more-and-infinitely-more-effective-"more speech" lied out from American TV and hate-talk radio 24-7-356.  Pretending it is might make a plot for a sappy Hollywood movie, it's not reality.  Hollywood is largely in the business of lying, anyone who saw The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (and was ever a name more potently ironic) should have heard that confession.   

I may post something later in the day. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

First Amendment Fundamentalism - Making A Lie As Good As The Truth - Hate Mail

Human culture isn't static, there is no point in the past when the knowledge and methods and beliefs and practices and institutions that human beings have come up with represent a time and place when you can say all that was known about anything was the last word in it.   That is true of medicine, of various branches of science, it is true of scholarship in everything from the arts and humanities to history, and all other branches of formal treatment of human thought and understanding.  If there is one thing that is certain, people will learn new things about even the oldest bodies of knowledge, sometimes overturning long time thinking about those, sometimes the new view of things will be so compelling that the old way of thinking about something will fall to that new thinking and then the next phase which will, possibly, lead to that new way falling in the future.

Fundamentalism is a pretense that some aspect of human thought and culture isn't susceptible to that reality, that, as time passes, as new experiences come up, as ways of life and thinking change the ramifications and implications forced by those new exigencies won't have an impact on the way that a body of writing will be seen.  In the most commonly critiqued forms of fundamentalism, Biblical, Islamic, etc. the absurdities that fundamentalists assert about their preferred scriptures are widely seen as ridiculous, clearly at variance with the changes in life, in culture, in the conditions of life which arose since the set-point the fundamentalists want to go back to might have been, temporarily, relevant, which may have made sense in the time and place that held force.   I will say that fundamentalism about religious texts robs them of their most powerful and important role in human culture by insisting that they are not relevant to the culture which, no matter what the fundamentalist romantically desires, will not return to those conditions.  That is the reason that anti-religious atheists will insist that fundamentalism is the one and only way that people are to consider religion as being, that atheists are in agreement with fundamentalists in insisting that a fundamentalist view of religion is the only real way to see it and that anything else is illegitimate.

But this is about another fundamentalism, the one which we confront in the complete inadequacy of making believe that a country fed lies can maintain egalitarian democracy and, so, a decent life for its citizens.   The role that lying by the media, on behalf of rich people and their interests has become one of the main themes of my blogging, of my thinking about why liberalism has failed so abjectly in the United States.   It has become one of the major conclusions of my study of the time period when liberalism went from its high point in the 1960s to its first gradual and then steady and now plummeting decline that it was when the media was allowed, by a liberal Supreme Court, to lie about politicians with complete impunity, that you can see the decline of liberalism from that ruling in 1964 and gathering momentum as courts dominated by the appointees of Richard Nixon and future presidents, using the very same First Amendment interpretation of the advocates of that ruling to vastly enable the total dominance of electronic media in the very period when it rendered the print media which the people who adopted the First Amendment might have recognized fell into general political ineffectiveness.

It is as insane for liberals to hold that one is not to talk about the role that that interpretation of the First Amendment, adopted by the Warren Court fifty years ago has had in the defeat of liberalism, of the disaster that has overtaken American democracy.  It is insane and irresponsible to the ultimate degree when it is lying about Hillary Clinton and Al Gore and Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter, allowed under its permission for the media to lie with impunity which has greased the slide into the disaster of Donald Trump.   It is an insistence that we not learn from what resulted from that decision, it is to take a fundamentalist stand, though it is more commonly euphemistically called "absolutism" instead of what it really is, a fundamentalist refusal to acknowledge the changes wrought by that idiotic decision.

It is as insane as some Imam insisting that the Copernican model of the solar system is not to be believed or some insane fundamentalist preacher to declare that women mustn't be treated for pain during childbirth.  That the fundamentalism involved is non-religious doesn't change the fact that that interpretation has been tried and its results have been disastrous.

There is every difference in the world between holding that our laws should not protect lies and the Trump raving about preventing the internet from permitting the truth to be told.   It as always a total and appalling dereliction of duty for judges and justices to maintain that it was beyond them to figure out what was a lie and what was true, that's what they took the job to do, supposedly.   If they can't do that, their profession is a fraud.   If they don't trust their colleagues to do that honestly instead of using their office to benefit those who lies benefit and the truth harms, they have a moral and professional duty to say so.   After four decades of Republican dominance of courts, it wouldn't surprise me if that isn't the case,  the Republican party is the one which has most benefited from the Sullivan Decision as it has the line of First Amendment "free-speech - free-press" cases that used its thinking and language.

If we don't face that reality, if we don't find some way to allow the truth to be told while making lying expensive and dangerous for the liars, you can kiss egalitarian democracy good-bye because that's what it's going to take to get even as much of that as we had back.   That is the lesson of the experiment the court started in 1964, we've had fifty-two years to see what happens when lies are benefited.

One of the big differences between what I advocate, making it possible for people who are lied about to sue for effective redress and effective punishment, is that it doesn't put the power to pursue that in the hands of the executive of the government or in the police powers.  It puts it in the hands of those who are wronged.   It is entirely different from what Donald Trump seems to propose which is to used the power of the presidency, the corrupt FBI, the corrupt Department of Justice to restrict speech and the press.   Putting that power in the hands of those wronged, UNDER CIVIL LAW INSTEAD OF CRIMINAL LAW makes it an entirely different thing.   So, your accusation that I'm advocating the same thing that Trump is couldn't possibly be more wrong.   In fact, Donald Trump, as a massive liar and libeler would be vulnerable in exactly the same way he should be when he defrauds the people he suckered in the past.

As someone who generally adores Rachel Maddow (I watched the video you linked to), I'd like to hear her or someone at her level, the few of them allowed to appear on American TV, to really, really deal with the role that lying by the media has played in producing Donald Trump and the Republican-fascism that rules our country, admitting where that started in the "free speech- free press" dogma of the 1950s and 60s.  That was where it started to really have an impact on the collective mind of the American people as they were told those permitted lies to, unsurprisingly, inform their voting decisions.

Hate Mail - I'm Not Going To Stop Pointing This Out Because Someone Calls Me A Name

I Am told that the consensus at THE Baby Blue "brain trust" - some of them really call it that - was against what I said in the comments here, yesterday.  As it would seem none of them read what I said, relying on Steve Simels' clips of that, they can bite me.  

What is really funny is that in just about every way, my evolving thinking on Israel and Palestine runs in a pretty exact parallel with that of one of my greatest heros, Howard Zinn.  Zinn, who I doubt most of them have read, was always considered a great hero among the Eschatots.   Apparently unlike most of them, I read him.   Here's what he had to say about that.   I will note that  since the original article, Howard Zinn's last interview in the March 2010 Moment magazine is behind a pay wall, I've taken the relevant passage from another source

How did you react to Israel’s creation in 1948? 

I didn’t know a lot about it, but I remember speaking at some gathering to celebrate its founding. I wasn’t a Zionist. I just vaguely knew that a Jewish state was being created and that seemed like a good thing. I had no idea that the Jews were coming into an area occupied by Palestinians.

Were you critical of Israel before 1967? 

Before 1967 Israel did not loom large in my consciousness. I was aware that there was a war between Israel and the Arab states in 1956, but it really wasn’t until 1967 and the taking of the occupied territories that I realized this was a serious problem. I remember reading I.F. Stone, who was very concerned with Israel.[see excerpt from Stone, below]

How do you discuss Israel and Palestine with Jews who might be resistant to claims that Israel bears some responsibility for the conflict? 

As always in very complicated issues where emotions come to the fore quickly, I try to first acknowledge the other party’s feelings. In the case of Israel I try to say, yes, I understand your sympathy for a Jewish state, and I understand that you become angry when rockets fall [in Sderot] or when a suicide bomber takes needless life. But that has to be seen in proportion. I try to appeal to the experience of Jews, the experience of the Holocaust, by saying, if it’s never again, it’s not just never again for Jews, it’s never again for anybody. I also try to present facts that are hard to put aside. Rockets from Gaza killed three Israelis; Israelis retaliated with an enormous bombardment that killed 1,000 people. You can’t simply write that off or say, well, they’re morally equivalent or it was bad on both sides. Or the Lebanese send rockets into Israel, killing a number of people, and the Israelis invade Lebanon in 1982 and there are 14,000 civilian casualties. These are horrors inflicted by a Jewish state. As a Jew I feel ashamed when I read these things…I [also] try to appeal to what I think are the best legacies of the Jewish people—people like Albert Einstein and Martin Buber, who cannot be simply written off, because they’re Jewish heroes. And these are people who were critical of Israel and sympathetic to Palestinians.

Do you think that Zionism was a mistake? 

I think the Jewish State was a mistake, yes. Obviously, it’s too late to go back. It was a mistake to drive the Indians off the American continent, but it’s too late to give it back. At the time, I thought creating Israel was a good thing, but in retrospect, it was probably the worst thing that the Jews could have done. What they did was join the nationalistic frenzy, they became privy to all of the evils that nationalism creates and became very much like the United States—very aggressive, violent and bigoted. When Jews were without a state they were internationalists and they contributed to whatever culture they were part of and produced great things. Jews were known as kindly, talented people. Now, I think, Israel is contributing to anti-Semitism. So I think it was a big mistake.

I will cut the commentary from the Jewish Journal, where I took these excerpts from, you can read what they said about Howard Zinn's interview at the second link above. 

Ideally, there should be a secular state in which Arabs and Jews live together as equals. There are countries around the world where different ethnic groups live side by side. But that is very difficult and therefore the two-state solution seems like the most practical thing, especially since both Jews and Palestinians seem to favor it. It’s odd: All these people on both sides want a two-state solution, but it can’t come into being. The basic problem is the fanaticism of people like Benjamin Netanyahu and people who don’t want to give up the occupied territories. The settlements also pose a real problem. But it’s a problem that’s solvable. It was solved in the agreement with Egypt [when the settlers were removed from Sinai]. This time it’s more serious, but there are ways in which settlers can be compensated or assured of their rights in a Palestinian state as a quid pro quo for the rights of Arabs in the Jewish state.

Since reading him had as much of an impact on my thinking as it did on Zinn's, here's one of the pieces by I.F. Stone on the topic.  

THE MYTH that the Arab refugees fled because the Arab radios urged them to do so was analyzed by Erskine B. Childers in the London Spectator May 12, 1961. An examination of British and US radio monitoring records turned up no such appeals; on the contrary there were appeals and "even orders to the civilians of Palestine, to stay put." The most balanced and humane discussion of the question may be found in Christopher Sykes's book Crossroads to Israel: 1917-48 (at pages 350-57). "It can be said with a high degree of certainty," Mr. Sykes wrote, "that most of the time in the first half of 1948 the mass exodus was the natural, thoughtless, pitiful movement of ignorant people who had been badly led and who in the day of trial found themselves forsaken by their leaders…. But if the exodus was by and large an accident of war in the first stage, in the later stages it was consciously and mercilessly helped on by Jewish threats and aggression toward Arab populations…It is to be noted, however, that where the Arabs had leaders who refused to be stampeded into panic flight, the people came to no harm." Jewish terrorism, not only by the Irgun, in such savage massacres as Deir Yassin, but in milder form by the Haganah, itself "encouraged" Arabs to leave areas the Jews wished to take over for strategic or demographic reasons. They tried to make as much of Israel as free of Arabs as possible.

The effort to equate the expulsion of the Arabs from Palestine with the new Jewish immigration out of the Arab countries is not so simple nor so equitable as it is made to appear in Zionist propaganda. The Palestinian Arabs feel about this "swap" as German Jews would if denied restitution on the grounds that they had been "swapped" for German refugees from the Sudetenland. In a sanely conceived settlement, some allowance should equitably be made for Jewish properties left behind in Arab countries. What is objectionable in the simplified version of this question is the idea that Palestinian Arabs whom Israel didn't want should have no objection to being "exchanged" for Arabic Jews it did want. One uprooting cannot morally be equated with the other.

A certain moral imbecility marks all ethnocentric movements. The Others are always either less than human, and thus their interests may be ignored, or more than human and therefore so dangerous that it is right to destroy them. The latter is the underlying pan-Arab attitude toward the Jews; the former is Zionism's basic attitude toward the Arabs. M. Avnery notes that Herzl in his book The Jewish State, which launched the modern Zionist movement, dealt with working hours, housing for workers, and even the national flag but had not one word to say about the Arabs! For the Zionists the Arab was the Invisible Man. Psychologically he was not there. Achad Ha-Am, the Russian Jew who became a great Hebrew philosopher, tried to draw attention as early as 1891 to the fact that Palestine was not an empty territory and that this posed problems. But as little attention was paid to him as was later accorded his successors in "spiritual Zionism," men like Buber and Judah Magnes who tried to preach Ichud, "unity," i.e. with the Arabs. Of all the formulas with which Zionism comforted itself none was more false and more enduring than Israel Zangwill's phrase about "a land without people for a people without a land." Buber related that Max Nordau, hearing for the first time that there was an Arab population in Palestine, ran to Herzl crying, "I didn't know that—but then we are committing an injustice." R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, Dean of the faculty of letters at the Hebrew University, in the first article of this anthology's Israeli section, writes with admirable objectivity, "There can be no doubt that if Nordau's reaction had been more general, it would seriously have paralyzed the élan of the Zionist movement." It took refuge, he writes, in "a moral myopia."

This moral myopia makes it possible for Zionists to dwell on the 1900 years of Exile in which the Jews have longed for Palestine but dismiss as nugatory the nineteen years in which Arab refugees have also longed for it. "Homelessness" is the major theme of Zionism but this pathetic passion is denied to Arab refugees. Even Meir Yaari, the head of Mapam, the leader of the "Marxist" Zionists of Hashomer Hatzair, who long preached bi-nationalism, says Israel can only accept a minority of the Arab refugees because the essential reason for the creation of Israel was to "welcome the mass of immigrant Jews returning to their historic fatherland!" If there is not room enough for both, the Jews must have precedence.

And, here is another, more recent piece by Max Blumenthal.

Only a few kilometers from Umm al-Hiran, in the southern Negev Desert and inside the Green Line, the state of Israel has initiated another ambitious project to “concentrate” an unwanted population. It is the Saharonim detention facility, a vast matrix of watchtowers, concrete blast walls, razor wire, and surveillance cameras that now comprise what the British Independent has described as “the world’s biggest detention center.”

Originally constructed as a prison for Palestinians during the First Intifada, Saharonim was expanded to hold 8,000 Africans who had fled genocide and persecution. Currently, it is home to at least 1,800 African refugees, including women and children, who live in what the Israeli architectural group Bikrom has called “a huge concentration camp with harsh conditions.”

Like the Bedouins of the Negev’s unrecognized villages, the 60,000 African migrants and asylum seekers who live in Israel have been identified as a demographic threat that must be purged from the body of the Jewish state. In a meeting with his cabinet ministers in May 2012, Netanyahu warned that their numbers could multiply tenfold “and cause the negation of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” It was imperative “to physically remove the infiltrators,” the prime minister declared. “We must crack down and mete out tougher punishments.”

In short order, the Knesset amended the Infiltration Prevention Act it had passed in 1954 to prevent Palestinian refugees from ever reuniting with the families and property they were forced to leave behind in Israel. Under the new bill, non-Jewish Africans can be arrested and held without trial for as long as three years. (Israel’s Supreme Court has invalidated the amendment, but the government has made no moves to enforce the ruling, and may not do so.) The bill earmarked funding for the construction of Saharonim and a massive wall along the Israeli-Egyptian border. Arnon Sofer, a longtime Netanyahu advisor, also urged the construction of “sea walls” to guard against future “climate change refugees.”

“We don’t belong to this region,” Sofer explained.

In that single sentence, he distilled the logic of Israel’s system of ethnocracy. The maintenance of the Jewish state demands the engineering of a demographic majority of nonindigenous Jews and their dispersal across historic Palestine through methods of colonial settlement. State planners like Sofer refer to the process as “Judaization.” Because indigenous Palestinians and foreign migrants are not Jews, the state of Israel has legally defined most of them as “infiltrators,” mandating their removal and permanent relocation to various zones of exclusion—from refugee camps across the Arab world to walled-off West Bank Bantustans to the besieged Gaza Strip to state-constructed Bedouin reservations to the desert camp of Saharonim.

As long as the state of Israel holds fast to its demographic imperatives, the non-Jewish outclass must be “concentrated” to make room for exclusively Jewish settlement and economic development. This is not a particularly humane system, to be sure, but it is one that all within the spectrum of Zionist opinion, from the Kahanist right to the J Street left, necessarily support. Indeed, if there is any substantial disagreement between the two seemingly divergent camps, it is over the style of rhetoric they deploy in defense of Israel’s ethnocracy. As the revisionist Zionist ideologue Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in his famous 1923 “Iron Wall” essay outlining the logic of what would become Israel’s deterrence strategy, “there are no meaningful differences between our ‘militarists’ and our ‘vegetarians.’”

During the Oslo era, the time of hope that prevailed in mid-1990’s Israel, it was the “dovish” Labor Party of Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak that began surrounding the Gaza Strip with barricades and electrified fencing while drawing up plans for a wall separating the West Bank from “Israel proper.” (That blueprint was implemented under the prime ministership of Ariel Sharon.)

“Us over here, them over there” was the slogan of Barak’s campaign for reelection in 1999, and of the Peace Now camp supporting a two-state solution at the time. Through the fulfillment of the Labor Party’s separationist policies, the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank have gradually disappeared from Israel’s prosperous coastal center, consolidating cities like Tel Aviv as meccas of European cosmopolitanism—“a villa in the jungle,” as Barak said.

With the post-Oslo political transition that shattered Israel’s “peace camp,” ascendant right-wing parties set out to finish the job that Labor had started. By 2009, when Israel elected the most hawkish government in its history, the country was still full of “infiltrators,” the most visible of whom were those African migrants, deprived of work permits and increasingly forced to sleep in parks in south Tel Aviv. According to a report by the newspaper Haaretz on a brand new Israel Democracy Institute poll on Israeli attitudes, “Arabs no longer top the list of neighbors Israeli Jews would consider undesirable, replaced now by foreign workers. Almost 57% of Jewish respondents said that having foreign workers as neighbors would bother them.”


Reading things like that shaped my thinking on these issues.   Most people on the left won't talk about the Israeli-Palestinian issues because they are afraid of the kind of bullying coercion that calls any criticism of Israel "anti-semitism", as it devolves into the apartheid-fascist-military-fascist regime it was bound to turn into.  There isn't another country on Earth that could do what is done by the Israeli government and get off without it being noted as wrong, well, except the United States.

Only the left in the United States doesn't hold back on noting the moral atrocities committed by the United States.   I'm totally in favor of that.   I don't think anyone who has read what I've written about my country would say I was anything but a severe critic of it and the things that have been done under its tragically flawed Constitution which are leading us into an apartheid-fascist-military-fascist regime.   I'm certainly not going to pretend it isn't happening in a country I don't even live in but which gets massive aid and support from my own government.  Not because a bunch of bigoted assholes are going to call me names over it. 

Compared to the "mistake" that Howard Zinn calls the Zionist project, the alternative I said offering Jews a homeland donated by the United States or citizenship in the United would have had a better chance of being better.  The present day, Jewish population of Israel is between 6,100,000 and 6,200,000 with 25% of the total population being non-Jewish and, clearly, if Blumenthal is to be believed, considered to be, legally and in real terms, an ethnic underclass.   I don't see the slightest reason to think things are going to get better,  I don't see any chance that real democrats will ever govern Israel, even if you want to call what Labor did "democracy".    All I can see is a total disaster waiting to happen.  With Trump about to take office, I'd say the chances of that total disaster, up to and including the possibility of nuclear war, is likely at its highest point, ever.   I don't think that considering what would happen if Israel either were the victim of, or the initiators of a nuclear attack can be considered to be entirely unrealistic or even less likely than in the period when the Israeli government certainly considered it realistic enough that it developed nuclear weapons. 

If the alternatives considered by the original generation of Zionists, including the "Uganda Proposal" (not my term) would have been better is doubtful but, as Stone says, the Zionists, from the start, tried to tie their plans in with European colonialism.  It was bound to be negatively impacted by the breakups of the imperial powers in place as it formed.   I am pretty sure that the two things  I said would have been better couldn't have had a worse result for Jews or Palestinians or the others who have been harmed by the imperialism of the various powers involved.   You will note if you look at this last link, that Canada and Australia were also considered as possible locations of a Jewish Homeland, only, those were dropped.  The Jewish Virtual Library says 

Zangwill became the movement's undisputed leader. After the rejection of the Uganda scheme on the grounds of impracticability by the British, Zangwill turned his attention to settlement in Canada and Australia. But opposition from local residents led him to abandon the scheme.

Considering Canada has the world's 4th largest Jewish Community, I doubt  establishing a Jewish state there would have really met with the kind of opposition it did and continues to in Palestine. I suspect that the Europeans who scoped it out took the objections of Europeans more seriously than they would have Arabs.   I don't know enough about Australia to post a guess.  I suspect it would not have discriminated against white Europeans in the way it does the indigenous population.   But, as Stone pointed out, no one has treated those it stole a country from well. 

Until recently, the United States had the largest Jewish population, Israel only overtaking it in numbers in 2013.  I would bet that Jews living in the United States are, generally, far more personally secure than those living in Israel as are those living in Canada.  I am pretty sure that either or both countries would have accepted a Jewish homeland far better than it was accepted in Palestine.  I'd love to have a far larger Jewish citizenship of the United States, living in safety, being generally a progressive segment of the population, but, apparently, such an idea is considered anti-Semitism.  Compared to Europe, America has an excellent record of accepting Jews.  I think it would have been a far better bet than the one taken. 

Hate Mail - Jack Levine Never Said That

Oh, yes he did,  you can hear him saying it here, what I transcribed it from so I could use it as my motto.  I can't help it if no one else bothered to transcribe it and so you can't find it online.  

Jack Levine - Prophet of Our Age - Election Night

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Can Anyone Tell Me?

I just got one of those really annoying robo-calls that simulate someone on the other end of the line from Murder inc.  also known as the NRA.   They wanted to ask me a few push-poll questions after they played a recorded message from the gun industry Goebbels.   I was going to hang up but then I remembered someone told me that if you just didn't hang up the phone but left it for 20 minutes the line would remain open and they couldn't call someone else on it.  Is that true?  It's what I did.  

Phineas Newborn - Oleo

Phineas Newborn, piano
Al McKibbon, bass
Kenny Dennis, drums

The Sermon

Phineas Newborn, piano
Leroy Vinnegar, bass
Frank Butler, drums


Hampton Hawes Quartet - The Awful Truth

Hampton Hawes - piano
Barney Kessel - guitar
Red Mitchell - double bass
Shelly Manne - drums

For Real 

Hampton Hawes - piano
Harold Land - tenor saxophone
Scott LaFaro - bass
Frank Butler - drums

Imagine recording two albums with totally different groups of first rate musicians in the same year.

What I'm Afraid We Are Going To Learn Through The Hardest School of Experience

Looking around the web, I found this fascinatingly disturbing map from the Southern Poverty Law Center of where known organized hate groups are to be found in the United States.  It's kind of a surprise that some states which I'd have been led to believe would be covered with them have relatively few icons specifying hate groups.  I'm gratified and slightly surprised that my state seems to have only one while our only neighboring state, New Hampshire, has far more.   It's interesting where the real centers of heavy-duty organized hatred are and the various distributions of those in other states.

[Update I clicked on the icons on the blown up map and other than one of those icons, the ones that looked like they were in New Hampshire were, actually, in Massachusetts.  Sorry, New Hampshire. ]

It is entirely insane that any of the groups mapped which have an actual, documented history of violence and an announced ideology advocating that violence are allowed to legally and openly exist in the United States.  It is one of the most insane things about the United States Constitution after the horrific experiences of. the 20th century where they held power.  They should be suppressed into extinction, their hate propaganda suppressed into silence.  Klan activity here and with the proven history of Nazism and fascism and Communism, that those anti-democratic groups which maintain ideologies which would destroy the very rights they are granted are allowed to propagate in the United States is insane and irresponsible.   Egalitarian democracy, and those who wish to benefit from its establishment,  have an overriding interest in being able to suppress a limited number of expressions aimed at destroying it held by people prepared to do that.  Doing that would extinguish none of the other rights of those who maintain those political-ideological pathologies.   As is seen this year, those hate cults can gain political power through the enabling media (including the holy New York Times) and endanger all of the rights of other people who innocently wish to live out their lives at peace with their fellow citizens.

The 18th century naivete that, somehow, by some naturalistic magic,  things would just work themselves out - something especially popular with the slave holders and land grabbers here -  has been definitively disproved by the hard history of 20th century dictatorships.   The world would be a better place if Nazism and fascism and Communism had all been effectively suppressed.  Millions, running into the hundreds of millions, would not have been murdered.  The mountain of bodies could stand as a monument to the idiocy of allowing violent, murderous ideologies their "free speech" rights, their "rights of association" and "freedom of the press" as much as it could a monument to what happens when such groups gain power and destroy all of the rights of hundreds of millions, running into the billions if you include those who aren't murdered, outright.  Only the most enormous of fools doesn't learn something from the lessons our generation and those in the recent past have been given.

Jack Levine: Prophet of Our Time

The more I see the Trump regime coming together the more I  feel like we're living in a world as illustrated by Jack Levine.   It just came to me while thinking of Rudy Giuliani that he, especially in his present form in which his inner evil is obvious in his appearance,  that he could have stepped right out of one of the paintings of gangsters or plutocrats or oligarchs, which are all one in the same in his commentary on American society.

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David Bentley Hart - Mind and Spirit: The Irreducibility of Consciousness to Matter.

Some of you will remember that a while back I posted a monthly challenge to materialist-atheists to explain how the favorite "brain-only" model of the mind in which all of our thoughts are the product of physical structures present in the brain could account for new ideas entering into our minds.

If all thoughts are dependent on a physical structure in the brain new thoughts would require new and different physical structures in the brain of each person to "be" that new idea.

If that new structure in the brain comes to be in a brain where it wasn't before, our brain would have to construct that new structure.

My question developed over the course of asking it for a year.

The brain would have to know it needed to make a new structure to "be" that new idea before it could make the structures,  how could the brain know that before that structure could be present in the brain?

How would the brain know what kind of structure it had to build in order to be the right physical form of that idea BEFORE THAT IDEA COULD EXIST IN THE BRAIN TO TELL IT THAT? 

How would the brain know how to make that new structure to be precisely the right form and character to be an precise and accurate generator of that idea, again BEFORE THE IDEA COULD BE PRESENT IN THE BRAIN TO TELL IT THAT?  

I also raised other problems, I believe insurmountable problems for the dogma that our ideas are physical structures in our brains.  One of the most pressing for such atheists is how could our brains create the same structure so that any two peoples' brains could contain the same laws of mathematics or science or logic.   How would our brains be able to create the same structure, either exactly identical or even identical to within a tolerable variation so that it could be rationally held that two peoples' minds contained the same physical law.  That problem leads to how such a physically based law of science could permit differences in articulation due to differences of language, culture, personal experience, etc.   It would seem to me one of the most vulnerable ideas in human culture under their materialist "brain-only" ideology would be science which, inevitably, must be a social activity and entity.   

But the ideologues of materialist-atheism, even the most intelligent of them such as Sean Carroll or Jerry Coyne - not considering such materialist meatheads as would seem to populate the cognitive, behavioral and, these days, alas, even the biological sciences, are reduced to less than rigorous thought in order to protect their ideology, held far more out of emotional preference than intellectual integrity.    In a possible order of most common to less common those include:

Coercive bullying insistence that their materialism is the only allowable point of view and so whatever is concluded must uphold it.   In that we can see that their materialism is merely another rigid, fundamentalist denomination that relies on its ability to bully its critics into silence or acquiescence.   This bullying is how atheism conquered academia.

Dishonestly trying to cut corners, shift denotations and definitions - often relying on ambiguity when words have more than one meaning.   I would include the frequent refusal to take philosophical criticism of their ideas seriously because philosophers, other than those who practice their same ideological faith practices, will often find lapses, if not gaping holes in their pronouncements and fiats.  I think that's what really accounts for the arrogant dismissal of so many scientists for philosophy, the kind of scientist who likes to pretend they are on the verge of sewing up a Theory of some Everything or other.

Vulgar appeal to the ignorance of those who are too lazy to even understand the problem.  The new atheism was entirely an appeal to the ignorance of so many atheists who could sometimes be said to know a little but who mostly knew how to recite atheist slogans and snark.  I know lots of them like to believe they are the intellectual class of the age but what they really are is the indictment of intellectualism in a world which confers credentials in the place of educating people.

Here is an excellent talk by David Bentley Hart which is so worth listening to that it's too bad the audio is at such a low level and only one channel, the left one.  You might want to use earphones or put it through your stereo system.    If it weren't such a good talk I wouldn't post it.

You'll probably want to skip the five or so minute pause they took before the question period.  

I will add, that other than to magically intone such terms as "DNA" and "natural selection" and for one of the would-be "Brights" to say that "the brain just does what it does" no atheist here or any of the other places I posted that question over that year came up to a start on answering even the first one of how the brain would know it needed to make a new idea before that idea existed in the brain, never mind the other hard questions that would have to be answered for the materialist-atheist brain model to even account for that one, essential aspect of our minds.   They quickly went to the more vulgar of the dodges listed above. 

Monday, November 28, 2016


I've been thinking about the definition of mental illness, the kind of mental illness of being convinced that things that aren't true are true and believing things that are true are false and, really, isn't that the definition of what our media produces, regularly?   

I think a realistic DSM would have to include FOXophrenia and Baron Trumphausen syndrome among its listed disorders.   

I'm serious about the American media producing widespread mental illness, paranoia, xenophobia, delusion, an inability to tell the truth from blatant lies, reality and non-reality. 

It's Good That Samantha Bee Had Masha Gessen on Because Lots Of Americans Never Saw A Real Journalist on American TV Before

Hate Mail -

".... incompetent prose stylist..."

Prose stylist.  You know what, dopey, I've said from the first thing I ever wrote on a blog that I'm not a writer, I don't aspire to be a writer, I don't care to nurture a style and would probably avoid doing that if someone credibly accused me of being a "stylist".   I said, "credibly" so that doesn't include anything you come up with.  

All I do is write.   Now, why don't you try reading it at more than a 3rd grade reading level, you know, the level you think at when you're trying really hard.  

A Welcome Mat For A Would-Be Dictator A Prediction From Ten Years Ago

To start with, any news broadcast that says that Hillary Clinton lost the election is promoting a lie,  I heard it this morning on the radio.   She didn't lose the election, she won it by more than two-million votes.   In any other country that would mean that if the man who lost the vote to her by that many votes assumed the office it would define political corruption and his regime would be seen as illegitimate or tainted at best.   So, we shouldn't put up with people saying she lost the election, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE lost the election because our Constitution and many of the individual states are set up so that the loser of the popular vote can become president.   Considering the blatant attempts at partisan vote suppression in states ruled by Republicans, the corruption of this election couldn't be more obvious.  I strongly suspect if another country held such an election and got the result we have, it would go on some State Department list of countries with rigged elections.

Another thing, we really have to stop protecting the United States Constitution which so obviously doesn't protect us from this kind of disaster.  It is in serious need of major revisions that will never be done as long as it is considered a sacred scripture instead of the document cobbled together by slave-owning aristocrats with provisions to prevent democratic rule which would not be profitable to them.  It was born in corruption, it only avoids that on those rare occasions when the Supreme Court has members who value democracy and who override its inherent corruptions.  And, as seen in the Warren Court, even some of those courts institute interpretations that knee cap democracy even as they promote it in other ways.   Our courts, our politics doesn't learn from experience that should have made those revisions in that document over the past two centuries.  The anti-democratic provisions in it are endangering us now.

I wrote in 2006 that if we didn't fix the elections in this country it was just a matter of time before the Republicans would steal another election.   We haven't and they have.

It is clear that Donald Trump is nervous that the results that were announced on election night will be found to be wrong or the result of ballot suppression or any of a number of possible means for Republican governors and state governments to have done for him what Jeb Bush did for his brother in Florida in 2000.  His preemptive lying about 3 million illegitimate votes is part of a clear effort for him to suppress any attempt to look, seriously at this issue before the Electoral College meets.   If, as some have speculated, there could have been computer tampering with those state elections, it could expose his "win" as being the result of not only losing the actual election but rigging by the Republican Party, the party which has openly been doing exactly that since 2010 and which more covertly has done it for decades.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What If We Dodge The Bullet?

What if they lose? What if the congress investigates the crimes of the Bush regime and those are stopped? What if things go back to normal?

After what we've seen in the past six years, if things can go back to normal it won't be a blessed relief, it will be a disaster. Our recent history proves that we have fatal problems in the foundation of the American government.

Our elections have to be fixed, not just returned to c. 1964. We have to secure the vote, from before it is cast, to counting it, to reporting the results and to their fulfillment. No elections official, secretary of state, or judge can ever be allowed to prevent another legal ballot being cast or counted or made to count. The sleazy behavior we've seen from every level from elections clerk to Supreme Court and the Executive wouldn't be tolerated in a real democracy. A democracy needs it to be an impeachable crime for a Supreme Court Justice to say that a Citizen of the United States does not have a right to vote. That is a fundamental contradiction of the role of the court in a democracy. Anyone who believes that has no place on our court or in our government.

The media, and today that means the electronic media, have to have their self-interested bias exposed and it's pollution scrubbed out of our politics. They have to be forced to perform the public service they promised, including standards of fairness. Broadcast stations must provide real news, including local news, which has to be unbiased and fair. And without diverse ownership of the media, they won't serve the entire public. Women and minority groups have to control parts of the electronic media.

The cable "news" channels have betrayed the public trust even more flagrantly than broadcast, spreading lies effective enough to start the most idiotic and dangerous war of our history. We will pay the cost of their lies for decades, in blood as well as in money.

They also aided the Bush putsch of 2000 and the earlier scheme to remove a genuinely elected President on trumped up charges and lies. Pretending that a rogue cable industry isn't a danger to freedom has to stop. Anyone who defends them on their crimes against democracy is a dupe or a profiteer. Put them under the same public service requirements as broadcast media. Media passes itself off as the voice of the people, then let them show it by putting the public before their investors and owners.

Recent history proves that self-government can't depend on leaving it to chance. Laissez faire democracy dies and the death is never a natural one. It lets the powerful and wealthy swamp the Peoples's voice almost all of the time. The Supreme Court rulings making corporations artificial people made that all the more true

Our government is always presented as being those who hold office , that is where almost all of the pitiful efforts at reform are concentrated. And that hasn't worked. We have the most dishonest government of our lifetimes. Putting patches on the process to make it a level field is unrealistic to the level of willful blindness. Powerful interests have power. They will always win when they have equal access to the process and own the media. The handful of examples where individuals or small groups win over the big guy make for sentimental TV movies, using them as proof that the system works is calculated dishonesty.

If the People are neglected then it all goes wrong. They won't even show up to vote. That step isn't a naive social studies lesson that you stop thinking about after the test in fourth grade. You don't go on to the higher study of civics and leave it behind. There is nothing higher in a democracy than the People, there is no act of government more important than their Vote. Abraham Lincoln, one of the real founders of the country we live in today, gave the formula for it. You know it by heart. He didn't mention the congress, the executive or the high church of the judiciary. He said that the enormous sacrifice of the American People in the Civil War was so that government of the People, by the People, and for the People shall not perish from the earth.

Any aftermath of the Bush II disaster that doesn't include changes to these laws will be just the beginning of the next time. Not securing the Vote, the will of the People; and forcing their own chosen responsibilities on the media, the only guarantee of an informed and realistic Vote, is a welcome mat for the next would-be dictator. Any liberal, leftist, Democrat, independent, even "moderate" Republican who lets two years go by without enacting real electoral and media reform had better beware. It's just a matter of waiting before the same coalition of corporate interests, bigots, oligarches and haters tries again. They might be as slow and stealthy as they were this time, buying up media, using it to spread lies that "more speech" can't drown out. And they'll make their come back having learned from the mistakes they made this time. Like the aristocratic conspirators in ancient Athens, they will be more dangerous than ever.

Along with these two absolute prerequisites to securing democracy there is the necessity for a full and public appraisal of the thefts and other crimes of the Bush II and previous presidencies. There has to be a full program of congressional hearings, done in public, of what has happened. They have to be congressional hearings because that is their responsibility. A commission or blue ribbon panel or other kind of establishment dodge won’t do it. Those are mechanisms for obscuring and stalling. This is a job for those appointed by The People. They asked for the responsibility, no one forced them to run.

There will be a chorus of media and politicians and the Republican talking points network telling us to “get over it”. They are the PR voice of the criminals. We have to be prepared to force these reforms over their constant lies and slogans.

Just going along as we have been is a guarantee that the disasters will continue. We will have to push the next Democratic congress to work simultaneously on all these issues while taking up new business. They are not extras they are the only way we are going to find out how to go forward, to make progress instead of making the same mistakes we have made before.

If the Republican who have created this disaster win a majority next week, the problems will not disappear they will certainly get worse. Giving up before those problems are fixed securely is not an option for us.

Update:  2016.  There has to be a federal law that mandates that all elections for President, Vice President, Senate and the House of Representatives be done on a paper ballot, set out in a uniform way to avoid rigging with the form by a latter day Katherine Harris, the woman who played such an important role in rigging the Florida election in 2000.   There has to be a uniform method of voting for those federal offices that can be taught in elementary school and which is as familiar as a Lincoln penny in its form.  The ballots should be required to be kept in a secure manner so they can be counted and inspected by hand if necessary, there should never be any form of voting for those four federal offices which is not verifiable, computer voting should be relegated to the corrupt past.

Elections Canada, the last time I looked into it, ran some of the most efficient, clean and honest elections there were.  That would certainly be a better model for us than the hodge podge of corruption that our antiquated Constitution and the corrupt priesthood of the Supreme Court allows.

We've had two obviously rigged elections, installing Republicans who lost the popular vote in the past sixteen years.  It is a national shame that we have not done anything to improve our elections, instead the courts have allowed Republican governors and legislatures to make them clearly more corrupt, especially through suppressing votes of Black and Latino and other groups which vote more heavily for Democrats.   That is something that can't be allowed to go unchallenged and any Supreme Court justice who supports their ability to corrupt our elections should be considered to have committed an impeachable offense.   I have only the slightest of threads of hopes that some miracle or some revelation will prevent the clearly fascistic Donald Trump from taking office in under two months.  He is, clearly, the most dangerous man to have ever been handed power by our insanely worshiped Constitution, he is clearly under the influence of a foreign dictator who meddled in our elections as well.   He was also aided by the corrupted FBI under the direction of the criminal James Comey.  

Some of our oldest citizens have seen the country devolve from the being governed by one of the greatest of presidents, Franklin Roosevelt, to being put into the hands of, succesively,  Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and now Donald Trump.   That, friends, is what a country in a nose dive to disaster looks like.

At this point if the Electoral College flipped, something I would normally be against, I'd welcome it because, at this point, it's our last hope, barring a miracle revealing corruption in several states.   After four years of Trump-Pence, democracy won't come back anytime in our lifetimes barring a disaster even bigger than the Civil War.  I suspect millions would die in it, anyone who would hope for that is criminally insane.  I'm not advocating it, I'm predicting it.  It is either that or overt fascism perhaps lasting as long as the Soviet-red-fascist government did.   And, as can be seen in Russia and most of the former "republics" of the Soviet Union, living under dictatorship doesn't provide  a guaranteed education in how to do democracy.

We really have to fix the First Amendment, explicitly calling any "freedom of the press" the privilege GRANTED ONLY IN SO FAR AS THEY SERVE THE PEOPLES' RIGHT TO TRUE AND ACCURATE INFORMATION and allowing people they lie about to sue them with high enough fines to keep them from lying.   I read that someone pointed out to Donald Trump that if the libel laws were in force that he could be sued,  I read that he expressed surprise saying he'd never thought of that.  Well, I have, Donald Trump could never have been more than the shady real estate thug he was if he could be sued for lying.   The cabloids, hate-talk radio and networks that created his public persona would never have done it if they could have been sued by the people they lied about.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Opposite Of Idolatry

What an honor to think that all of you before me are Christ! Even the humblest peasant, maybe pondering there next to a radio, you are Christ!
St. Archbishop Oscar Romero:  Sermon of 13 January 1980

If anyone had expressed scandal at what Oscar Romero said in that sermon, he could have cited the best authority on the matter, what he said in the Gospel according to Matthew, 25:40, in which Jesus says that what you do to the least of people you do to God.  That is as radical an identification of the lowest level of humanity with God as is possible to articulate in human terms.*

The intellectual sterility and emotional puerility of popular atheism as posted about here last night shows in how stupid and barren its proposed blasphemy is.  Even that is banal.  To call it the depth of bathos would be to give it too high a status.   One of the things I've learned is that even a fairly simple level of engagement with what the scriptures actually say is beyond such goofy stupidity.  They either don't know about or they can't get what those really say so they're left to take pot shots at stuff like people who imagine they see a - usually white-European style picture - of Jesus or Mary or something like that.   What Christ looks like is someone who is destitute, someone who is burdened under terrible debt that is destroying them, someone who is sick, someone who is a victim of addiction,  someone who is discriminated against.  Our various economic schemes and political systems generate a continual stream of living images of divinity, all of them as variable as the faces of those people. "He that has pity on the poor lends to the LORD"  Proverbs 19:17.**  And, as pointed out recently,  secular, would-be liberals are as likely to add to that as anyone through their clear hatred of the underclass.  "Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him."  Proverbs 14:31

So, you can snark about images of Jesus on a grilled-cheese sandwich or a dog's anus all you want. The reality is that anyone who mistook the pattern on the grilled cheese or a tortilla or a potato chip or in the water stains on a building is missing the face of Jesus all around them in the entirely more impressive manifestation that image in living beings.   That is the real, miraculous and hard, demanding manifestation of God all around us.

*  The first theological insight I learned from Gregory of Nyssa—and I suspect the last to which I shall cling when all others fall away—is that the Christian doctrine of creatio ex nihilo is not merely a cosmological or metaphysical claim, but also an eschatological claim about the world’s relation to God, and hence a moral claim about the nature of God in himself. In the end of all things is their beginning, and only from the perspective of the end can one know what they are, why they have been made, and who the God is who has called them forth from nothingness. And in Gregory’s thought, with an integrity found only also in Origen and Maximus, protology and eschatology are a single science, a single revelation disclosed in the God-man. There is no profounder meditation on the meaning of creation than Gregory’s eschatological treatise On the Soul and Resurrection, and no more brilliantly realized eschatological vision than his On the Making of Humanity. For him, clearly, one can say that the cosmos has been truly created only when it reaches its consummation in “the union of all things with the first good,” and that humanity has truly been created only when all human beings, united in the living body of Christ, become at last that “Godlike thing” that is “humankind according to the image.”

David Bentley Hart:  God, Creation and Evil The moral meaning of creatio ex nihilo

I defy any secular radical to come up with any framing of reality more likely to lead to the elevation of the destitute, the discriminated against, the other than this.

**   I can't imagine most Christians, right-wing or liberal, even those who allegedly believe every word of the scripture is literally true in the most naive sense of that and, even a command, would want to follow that policy of lending.  I'd love to hear someone bring up that verse at some Congressional or Senate hearing on financial policy just to hear what the discussion of it would be.   Obviously, hardly anyone really trusts God to be in their credit, no matter what characters they insist on engraving on the currency.

As has been pointed out many times, the Gospel is radical in a way that secular radicalism can't begin to fathom.

It reminds me of the story that Brueggemann told of the Georgia lawmaker who insisted on posting the 10 Commandments in courthouses or some such other place.  Someone had the wit to ask him if he knew what the 10 Commandments commanded, he didn't know though he vaguely recalled one of them said something about adultery.   Since he was almost certainly a Republican he might tell it to Trump or Giuliani or Gingrich or .....

New Year - Magnificat in the Eighth Mode

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever. 

Luke 1:46-55 (followed by the Glory Be To The Father) 

Chanting the Magnificat on the various modes is similar to chanting the Psalms:  

There is an initial melodic pattern used in each verse

Followed by sung on the "reciting tone" on which most of the words are recited (c in this case) 

a melodic patter to be used at the end of the first half of the verse, more words sung on the reciting tone 

and a closing melodic patter at the end of each verse. 

As you can see in this "chant notation" the noting of each reciting tone is not literal but left to the understanding of the singer.   There are a few kind of confusing things about this notation which doesn't really show rhythm, which is left more or less to the choir master's conception of how the speech rhythm of the text should go but the differences are usually less than that would lead you to suspect.   Of course, you can sing along with the monks as you read the notation in this video. It will probably tell you more than my going on about it will. 

If you want to read about that method the section in the Liber Usualis on the Ordinary Chants of the Office can tell you quite a bit and it gives the melodic patterns used in each mode.   That starts on page 207 of the book (page 319 of the PDF). 

This book Chants of the ChurchIn Modern Notation gives a less ornamented version of the Magnificat  on Pages 132 and 133 (148 and 149 of the PDF).   Note that the first half of the verse is on the first of those pages and the second half of it is on the next page.  Especially useful are the interlinear style translations of the texts,  the texts and their meanings are the most important thing in this.  It is prayer and meditation, after all. 

Why the priests and monks who publish even the easier to use chant books don't just give it to you straight forward is something I don't understand.  The savings in paper, I suppose. That's understandable when it's chanting the 150 Psalms on the various melodic patters, though that savings is slight in the case of the Magnificat which isn't that long and only has a couple of handfuls of different ways to chant it.  

Of course, if you are doing it alone, the best thing to do would be to come up with your own melodic setting.  Who's going to tell you you can't do that?  If you're doing it for yourself, in private, you don't have to worry about what someone else thinks.  If you decide something isn't right, you just try something else.  Critics have never added a single thing to music, they're in the business of preventing music, not creating it.    That's not the purpose of this, to start with, it's the meaning of the text.   About which, more later. 

I don't think the Gregorian melodies work well with any English translation of the Magnificat I can think of.  English has far different rhythms and patters of meaning.   If you want to do this in English or, I'd guess, other languages, coming up with your own ways of doing it is probably best.