"It seems to me that to organize on the basis of feeding people or righting social injustice and all that is very valuable. But to rally people around the idea of modernism, modernity, or something is simply silly. I mean, I don't know what kind of a cause that is, to be up to date. I think it ultimately leads to fashion and snobbery and I'm against it."
Jack Levine: January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010
The advice of Bob and Brad "The Two Most Famous Physical therapists On The Internet" to have some of the best advice to take care of my aging body. There are lots and lots of issue specific videos for various problems but these are three recent ones that have given me lots of relief from my back and shoulder problems. There are great playlists, too.
One of the things they said that helped the most was that if you have pain, often if you walk for 20 minutes and get more oxygen to the place it hurts, the pain will lessen or disappear. I cut way down on my use of aspirin doing that. I do it in the house, sometimes walking in place while I listen to music or books or lectures.
This one is my project for the coming year, I've begun this week. Maybe by the time July comes around I'll be a lot stronger.
Another thing they showed that was really useful was how to make your own back roller from a cheap swimming noodle and PVC pipe - only I used an old piece of broom handle. Saves a lot of money.
OK, noon EDT on Christmas Eve, no politics till Monday. I'd recommend today's Polka Party show from WUNH radio, archived in two one-hour segments here, as well as older shows. I'll guarantee you'll hear Christmas music you've never heard before and some you might not want to hear again. I do love Gary Sredzienski, an old fashioned kind of radio host, so uncool he's cooler than cool.
I'll post the link to the Aegean Connection Christmas Show when it's archived. It's still on right now. It makes me wonder if my half-Greek cousins ever heard any of the music the host is playing.
Update: As promised here's the link to the archived hour-long halves of today's Aegean Connnection Christmas Show
Count me as one who thinks that Hillary Clinton should never run for President again. I say that acknowledging that she is, beyond doubt, the most thoroughly tested and vetted candidate for the office in history, a courageous woman who stood against an unprecedented, decades long attack by the Republican-fascist party, billionaire-fascists, the presstitutes who comprise the politically effective American media and such upholders of corporate power as the New York Times, and who managed, despite their best efforts to destroy her, to win a majority of the vote. She even managed to do that while under attack by the federal police, the FBI director James Comey and thugs working for him as police agents, breaking the law openly and with impunity. If, in any other country, someone who won the popular vote by as much as she did were not allowed to assume the office, it would be called an anti-democratic travesty and the one who was allowed to steal the presidency would be condemned as an illegitimate despot. Only that's not done when it's the United States which is amassing quite the record of the worst kind of election rigging, voter suppression and intimidation to empower the Republican-fascist party.
I hope that Hillary Clinton does what she wants to do, freed from the burden of having to run for president. I would love to see her do what John Quincy Adams did and run for the House or, if a seat is open, the Senate. Adams had more of an impact in the House of Representatives than he had as president. I'm unaware of them ever making a movie about his administration. But if she wants to enjoy life as a private citizen she certainly deserves it.
Who do I want to run in 2020? No one like Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Both of them have done their part to destroy the Democratic Party even as they were given its presidency. Barack Obama's recent declarations as to how he and people like Eric Holder are going to "rebuild" the Democratic Party is beyond absurd, it is nauseating. Barack Obama is the greatest example of a man who was given the strongest hand a Democrat has been given since 1933 and he immediately and continually gave in to his opponents and refused to use that power to get a strong, Democratic legislative program into law. His Attorney Generals, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch failed to prosecute the platinum level criminals who stole billions and billions of dollars, something which would have been extremely just, extremely useful and extremely popular. Instead, especially Holder went after petty criminals for things like marijuana.
Obama also appointed one of the most malignant Democrats in the country as his first Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel and a host of other really terrible people to staff his administration. I went through how he caved in without a fight to people like the repulsive Joe Lieberman others like Kent Conrad and courted the phony "moderate" Republicans of my state, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.
Barack Obama is about the last person who has any credibility to restore what he had such a huge hand in destroying. I've talked to state and local Democratic politicians who were nearly universal in criticizing the Obama administration and political operation for their lack of support for those running down-ticket and in off-years. Despite his platform performances, which are very popular, he is one of the worst Democratic presidents who have ever been entrusted with the office. He should retire from politics as Bill Clinton should have.
Bill Clinton did one of the stupidest things during the entire campaign when he met with Loretta Lynch, though her agreeing to meet with him was, if anything, even stupider. It gave Republicans the opening they needed to put the absurd investigation of the non-issue of Hillary Clinton's e-mails into the hands of James Comey, a figure so hypocritical and corrupt that even Barack Obama has admitted he was his worst appointment. Frankly, for all of the problems Bill Clinton and his activities caused while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State and during her campaign, not to mention during his own administration, I'd have divorced him a long time ago. If there was any doubt about it in the 1990s, this past election proves he has far too little respect for her. She's too good for him. While in office as opposed to the show-biz of campaigning, the man has some of the worst judgement I've ever seen in a Democratic Politician. He shares that with Barack Obama It's as if he purposely tried to see how much he could get away with when he had already been caught over and over again.
The first requirement I'd have for a Democratic candidate would be that they don't have that kind of baggage and a husband or wife who generates it . More so they have to have a record of being a hard fighter who is under no illusions about the Republican-fascist party or the billionaire-sociopath class.
The dependence on Republican running really bad candidates, something which benefited both Clinton and Obama isn't something we can depend on working. This year is proof of the unwisdom of that strategy. When it doesn't work the results are horrific. If we ever get the kind of chance that Obama blew in 2009 we're going to have to use it to crush the fascists and their billionaire class owners. Domestic and foreign.
One thing I'd do is get rid of the Iowa- New Hampshire strangle hold on the earliest contests. They are unrepresentative of the country as a whole and have entirely too much influence in who gets the nomination. I'd get rid of caucuses, altogether. At the earliest opportunity the Democratic Party should tell states that use caucuses that they have to adopt a primary system or their delegations will not be seated. I can imagine that voters in most states which have caucuses would be enthusiastic about that change. The buffalo butts in state and local parties and governments can't be allowed to have a veto on democracy on the measly excuse of tradition, anymore. I see no evidence that state parties are stronger in states that have caucuses, one of the excuses I've heard for retaining them. They are as likely to turn into a beauty contest as a primary.
Update: I wonder why the national Democratic Party or state Democratic Parties couldn't institute a vote of registered Democrats by mail as they did in the far more participated in Washington state primary which, though it had many times more participants than the official caucus, didn't choose that states delegates to the convention.
If a state legislature wants to improperly insert its will into what is not a governmental entity, forcing an undemocratic caucus, the national party could say that delegates that represented the winner of such a primary by mail, financed and carried out by the Democratic Party, would be seated at the convention and get to have their votes counted for the nomination.
I suspect that such a system would be far more democratic and likely less expensive than a traditional primary vote. If the means of counting the ballot was in the hands of the Democratic Party meddling by outside forces could be eliminated. Such a system would also get rid of the possibility of Republicans or others trying to ratfuck the nomination by temporarily switching their party declaration or by open voting. That is something I saw done this year by people who declared they would not vote for the nominee of the party. The Democratic Party only owes non-Democrats the best Democratic candidate it can produce, they don't owe them the opportunity to choose a bad one for the Republican-fascists to run against.
I can't imagine Barack Obama supporting such a radical - only not - change in the rules. He's a dutiful and scrupulous rule follower, not a rule maker or bold reformer.
Get rid of the stinking, antiquated, anti-democratic caucuses.
Update 2: The National Democratic Party could also override the states like Iowa and New Hampshire which hijack the schedule in their own favor over the good of the entire country. Such a ballot by mail could be on the schedule set by the Party instead of by state legislatures and state secretaries of state. I can't imagine it would give us weaker candidates if the larger states had more of a say in who gets a voice in choosing who is the front runner. I'd favor a long period for sending in ballots with a deadline in April or May for all states. That would remove the local and regional bias built into the system that has plagued American government since the rise of the primaries.
Update 3: NO! NO! NO! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, HAVEN'T WE LEARNED THAT DOING ANYTHING POLITICAL ON THE INTERNET IS AN INVITATION FOR HIJACKING FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC! KEEP IT IN THE U.S. MAIL AND CONDUCTED OFF-LINE. KEEP THE WHOLE THING OFF LINE, FROM PLANNING TO IMPLEMENTATION TO VOTE COUNTING TO VOTE REPORTING.
Of all the many loathsome people in the Trump campaign and transition and about to be Trump regime, I have to say that the one I find the most loathsome is Kellyanne Conway. She isn't the most facile liar we've ever had in public life, she has a mid-range talent for telling blatant lies and making it seem to the ignorant to be true, she doesn't carry it off well if you know anything. But she is the most tireless liar, who will repeat a lie she's been called on, even with the proof that she's lying in public and she'll go on to either compound it or to tell another lie. Her annoyingly Karo syupy delivery of those lies along with her bottle blonde appearance does nothing to lessen the revolting sum of her talents.
I can honestly say that of all the people in the Trump regime that is forming, she is one of those whose downfall I would most welcome, who I would most like to see go to prison and to be permanently banned from public life, either by statute or by common consensus. She is an open chancre on the American political system, one of many but the one who I find the most repulsive, currently. I expect that to change, her rivals for first on the list of the loathsome are all world class scum.
Jerry Seinfeld isn't, never was and never will be funny. He is a jerk. His show was stupid. Mentioning "Festivus" is a sign of stupidity and unoriginality and intellectual banality. It's a sign of a TV addled culture and a post-literate would-be intellectual milieu. Someone told me that I was supposed to air grievances yesterday. So I decided to get into the dispirit of the thing. That silly bint is a lab assistant at some kind of ethology lab. For her to discount the ideological use of science is like a member of the alt-right discounting the racism of the alt-right. I won't go so far as my bio-anthropology teacher in college did and say "scratch an ethologist and you'll find a Nazi" but you will generally find an ideological materialist.
Again, I'm challenged on whether or not I believe in the Virgin Birth, to which I say that it's easier to believe than much of the current nonsense pushed by atheists who try to turn science into a tool of atheism. Some of the schemes of multi-verse theory that have gotten play in actual, published science - I'm thinking, especially, of those in which everything that happens generates universes in which the alternatives happen. That's something that, actually, got into the discourse of science. And I could also mention, again, my year long challenge to the materialist "brain-only" guys to explain how the brain could make exactly the right physical structure to "be" a new idea before that idea could exist in said brain to instruct it on what to make. That is an impossible to overcome hurdle to their materialist model, yet it is the simple and naive faith of so many college educated and would-be educated people in the English speaking world that such a miracle happens trillions of times every day in the sentient population of the world. It's one of the real surprises of my time online, fact checking the claims of atheists, how much of this "science" in cosmology, biology, physics, the so-called social sciences, is actually motivated by a fanatical desire to disprove God, having nothing to do with the legitimate focus of science. Science, as well as politics, has entered into a decadent phase in which ideology has become far too much a part of its formal literature and claims.
Unlike the many schemes of materialist explanation of the world that are dreamed up in the ideological use of science, there are at least self-consistent theories of the Virgin Birth and the place of Jesus in the cosmological assertions of believers. That much of that is left to the belief in the wisdom of God and not something which is vulnerable to human tools of discernment is internally consistent in a manner which materialism cannot have it. In fact, it is modern materialism which is radically anthropocentric, not monotheistic religion which admits to the limits of human comprehension.
I am open to the possibility that the Virgin Birth is an accurate account, I don't currently believe it is certain that it happened the way that the two Gospels that contain that account have said it. I do believe that Jesus spoke with a unique prophetic voice, I do believe that he and his teachings come from God. If that makes him divine, so be it. I'm unaware of any other prophet who was as radical in their declarations, some of it extending and building on previous prophets of his Hebrew heritage. I don't see anything in secular liberalism or radicalism that begins to match the Gospel for its radicalism, I doubt that any materialistic view of the world is capable of generating or sustaining that level of radical leveling of even the most humble of human beings to the same level of the least humble, I don't see anything that is more productive of a demand for equality among people - not only theoretical, political rights held eternally in a potential form by that system that encourages inequality based on schemes of valuation and ownership but actual, material equality - than the Gospel of Jesus. I don't see any scheme to substitute a mock-up of justice that is more likely to produce real justice than the Gospels. Atheism, certainly in its materialist form, is almost a certain guarantee to produce exactly its opposite. That has been the proof of the history of the attempts to produce scientific regimes in the 20th century, their oppressive depravity is unprecedented in history.
That Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world is certainly relevant to the political consideration of Christianity. All attempts to make that kingdom through politics is bound to fall short or fail catastrophically. If Jesus didn't attempt to do that, any of his supposed followers who did were bound to produce anything but. I don't expect that even an acceptably decent secular government can come from either those who want to create a "Christian" state or those who want an atheist-materialist paradise. It can only come from people who have both the firm conviction of the moral content of the Gospel - identified as Christian or not - and the modesty to admit that an approximation to that is the best that human government can produce. Schemes of utopia are bound to produce horrors. Whatever good came to grow in the on-going and developing American democracy didn't come from materialism, it came from people who wanted to put those moral truths into effect.
Again, I doubt that's the answer you wanted, but it's the one you're going to get.
Kuhn Mixed Chorus
Prague Chamber Orchestra
Lubomir Matl, conductor
Pavel Kuhn, chorus master
Jana Jonasova, soprano
Marie Mrazova, contralto
Zelenka's Magnificat was another of those I'd never heard before the survey of scores of settings I surveyed a couple of years ago. It was one that J.S. Bach admired to the extent he had one of his sons make a copy of it for use in his church. There are a number of performances on Youtube. I chose this one more or less at random.
Original Title: I So Don't Miss Carl Sagan (and his smirky self-satisfied mug).
I wonder how many of the sciency smart boys even understand what axial tilt means or how many of them realize that the planet is tilted all of the time. I'll bet not one in a hundred of the atheist sci-rangers who parroted that line yesterday could even define what the term means.
Considering that it's more than just an arguable case that Johannes Kepler, a very devout Christian, and Galileo, another very devout Christian, can be pretty much credited with understanding that the system of Copernicus, an actual Christian cleric, led to the conclusion that axial tilt produced the seasons, I don't see that atheists have much of a claim to the concept.
Update: Ah, no, no joy for the atheists in the Greek guy who first estimated it
It is related that Oenopides, seeing an uneducated youth who had amassed many books, observed, “Not in your coffer but in your breast.”24 Sextus Empiricus25 says that Oenopides laid special emphasis on fire and air as first principles. Aëtius26 says that Diogenes (of Apollonia), Cleanthes, and Oenopides made the soul of the world to be divine. Cleanthes left a hymn to Zeus in which the universe is considered a living being with God as its soul, and if Aëtius is correct then Oenopides must have anticipated these views by more than a century. Diogenes is known to have revived the doctrine of Anaximenes that the primary substance is air, and presumably Oenopides in part shared this view but gave equal primacy to fire as a first principle.
Update 2: Yeah, Galileo got house arrest for tangling with Urban VIII who, in a fact little known to atheists of little brain, had actually been Galileo's patron and defender up till the time Galileo spoofed him as "Simplicus", not a wise thing to do to a Pope in early 17th century Italy. They tended to be touchy about being mocked. His house arrest was so brutal that he managed to write and, as I recall, publish one of his major works, The Discourse on Two New Sciences, which I am sure you are aware, only not. By the way, it was published in Leiden. During his house arrest Galileo was awarded a gold chain by the Dutch government, which he refused. His main enemy and former friend, Urban VIII commended him on his refusal. From that treatment we can see how the treatment of Galileo proves the evil nature of Christianity.
And we can confirm that by noting how those humane atheists have dealt with such enlightened ways with their scientists who opposed the officially approved science of their day such as Georgii Karpechenko, Georgii Nadson, Isaak Agol, Solomon Levit, Grigorii Levitskii,... Oh, um. But..... well, yeah..... they were actually all executed as enemies of Lysenkoism. How about someone who they didn't execute, who had that in common with Galileo. How about the great botanist Nikolai Vavilov. Well, true he got sent to prison instead of house arrest in his own digs and, well, true he did die of starvation there but, hey, at least it wasn't those evil Xians who did him in. It wasn't like what they did to Lavoisier, cutting his head off..... well, yeah, I guess it was atheists who did him in during that great event in the history of atheism, the Reign of Terror in France, But I'll bet they used that symbol of their materialist enlightenment, the guillotine.
Actually, considering the internal exile of Andrei Sakharov, that's a better comparison with Galileo. Like you know, when they let Galileo move to another one of his houses, in Florence, to be closer to his eye doctor. Hey, now there's a coincidence for you, Sakharov's wife Yelena Bonner went to Italy when she had eye trouble too. Only they had to wait till a change of government before their internal exile was lifted for her to go.
Update 3: Well, your great hero Lillian Hellman we tangled over last night was a devoted Stalinist during the entire time those scientists were being killed by the great hero of scientific atheism, Stalin, even as my distant cousin was having the falling out with her that makes such entertaining reading now. As was the god(less)father and patron of Paul Kurtz and, so, sugar daddy of neo atheism, and "Humanist of the Year" Corliss Lamont. I'd love to go through his papers to find out if he ever mentioned Lysenkoism or the trail of scientists who either got offed by his hero, Stalin, or died in prison or never worked in science again. Compared to the high 17th century crime against science that is held to merit death to Catholicism and religion in general, the scads of bodies wracked up within living memory by atheist governments is held, by you guys and the people who control the media to be barely worth noticing.
With the slimy, smarmy, Trump son-in-law. Jared Kushner, bragging about the deal the Trump campaign made with Sinclair Broadcasting Group and the general behavior of the broadcast and cabloid media in this past election, it's obvious that the American corporate media is not separate from politics but is a direct player in politics as no print media has been since the advent of television. The story about that in The Hill unintentionally revealed that that in its story Kushner revealing the corrupt deal, they framed it in people not wanting to be told how to vote by the media, but that's not what it means.
On this front, The Hill compiled a list of major newspaper endorsements of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton before the election. The results were staggering to absorb, as the Republican received a grand total of two endorsements while Clinton took home 57, including endorsements from key newspapers in “blue wall” states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, all of which powered Trump's unlikely victory. The takeaway is clear: Despite the editorial boards of hometown papers far and wide strongly urging their readers to vote for Clinton in no uncertain terms, Trump still won key states that haven't gone a Republican's way since Duran Duran's apex in the ‘80s.
What it actually shows is that print media has stopped being a decisive political force, For worse, with no alternative better, broadcast and cabloid media are the media that sway elections and those have been in the business of creating and promoting Trump for decades. They have also been nearly uniform in pushing every lie the Republican Party, right-wing think tanks and billionaire funded front groups have told about Hillary Clinton for the past quarter of a century. The Hill also pointed out that the local broadcast TV owner Sinclair has far more reach than even cabloid media.
Many Sinclair stations exist in the Midwestern swing states key to Trump's victory and in some cases reach more viewers than CNN, a network Trump has consistently attacked more than any other as “unfair” and “dishonest” before and after the election. In Ohio, for example, Sinclair averages 250,000 viewers while CNN only registers 30,000.
250,000 is about a hundred thousand more than the circulation of the largest newspaper in Ohio, the Plain Dealer which, though it endorsed Hillary Clinton it is hardly a liberal newspaper. The endorsement disparity means that print journalists, as a group, are more responsible than show-biz "journalism". There is no way to analyze such a thing without taking into account that Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president of a democracy, Donald Trump is entirely unqualified and a classic media created fascist strongman in the Mussolini - Berlusconi line. It was also apparent by the time endorsements were made that Donald Trump was the candidate favored by and likely being run by Vladimir Putin.
It should be understood that when I talk about the media in this context, I am only addressing those parts of it that have real political impact. It's fairly safe to leave out all but the largest and most influential newspapers and even those might be, in reality, of relative unimportance to the consideration. The New York Times has other things to answer for, it is a major player in the destruction of democracy. There are a few other print venues which do, too.
The concept of the media held by the people who wrote the pathetically inadequate First Amendment in no way matches the media we have, the decentralized nature of print media in the age of letterpress printing is as unlike modern media as could be imagined. And also different is the impact between the act of reading words in black and white on a page and having a TV blare multi-media messaging designed to look like reality so as to have maximum impact in attracting viewers and selling its message to them. The designed manipulation of electronic media leaves the old methods of doing that in written text in the dusts of history.
The pretense that the "founders" concept of the media was anything like what exists today, its role in forming the opinion and mind of voters and its proven ability to destroy wise and informed government and the good will necessary for a peaceful, decent society has to give way to the reality that one of the major projects of the American media in the last half century has been to destroy those in favor of the multi-millionaire and now billionaire owners of it. NPR shows that even allegedly "public media" will do that because it will sell out to the same forces.
The American people, the alleged intellectual class, the legal, judicial and political establishment will either face the disgusting and horrific reality of what TV, radio and now internet media are doing to us and their program of destroying democracy by destroying a sense of so much as the truth or we should face the fact that the absurd pseudo-18th century dogma on the First Amendment will give us fascism. You won't find the ACLU or media lawyers or the self-appointed champions of civil liberties facing that fact, you won't hear it discussed seriously and in a way that is anything but self-serving in the media which the failed fraud of free-speech absolutism favors. It was invented by those in the hire of the media, after all.
The media in the United States, certainly in its politically effective form of radio, TV and the depths of online media have shown it is anything but patriotic. That is if by American patriotism you mean the maintenance of egalitarian democracy, the only meaning the word should have anywhere now that we know it is the only legitimate form of government. The American media might pledge allegiance to the flag and the "republic for which it stands" but their real allegiance is to their owners and the financial benefit of those who make money from it or who could be beneficial to it. There is nothing more obvious from the conduct of the media in creating and promoting Trump that they are, by intention, hostile to egalitarian democracy. We had better face the fact that the founders didn't understand because such media as we have could not have been imagined by them anymore than they could fathom the total deficit of honor and decency in members of the elite class who were their heirs.
Democracy will either change and adapt to face the new dangers to it or it will die, it is as simple as that. Ours shows little to any sign that it can even face the most obvious of facts that come from the election of Trump with a minority of the vote, by the very mechanisms that the Founders thought would save democracy if the voters went nuts some time or other. Their scheme for that backfired and empowered the insane just as their privilege granted to the press backfired and produced that insanity in The People.
At the very least, the media has to be open to being punished for lying through civil lawsuits. Broadcast and cabloid media must also be prevented from polluting the alleged news with self-serving bias. There must be licenses for both that can be lost through the kind of political lying and distortion that is the regular feature of American electronic media in the past fifty years, especially since the Reagan era destruction of regulation on broadcast media. The truth has to be privileged over lies, a situation which the Supreme Court has turned on its head, privileging lies which have so many built in advantages, the truth often not being as easy to sell as a well constructed lie. Our media are the masters of the lie constructed for quick and easy sale to the maximum number of people. That has a real and destructive effect on democracy and a decent society.
I don't have time to write a response to that clipped, cherry-picked quote but, by chance, all that reading from the Cappadocians reminded me of this old program, an interview Krista Tippett did with Jaroslav Pelikan. I would put it differently from the way Jaroslav Pelikan did because it was clear that the Nazi distortion of "Positive Christianity" didn't have Christianity as its goal but the destruction of Christianity. Perhaps he hadn't read what the Nazi high command, including Hitler, said both publicly and privately about their intentions to do that.
MS. TIPPETT: No, and it — but it's so interesting, because I think that where someone goes when they hear that there are these thousands of creeds is that everybody's doing it differently all the time, and that's not really what you find. But I did want to dwell briefly on one that I sense is near and dear to your heart, which is this Maasai Creed… DR. PELIKAN: Oh, yes. MS. TIPPETT: …the Maasai people of Africa, which was written around 1960, the Congregation of the Holy Ghost in east Nigeria. I don't know. Would you like to read some of your favorite… DR. PELIKAN: Like most creeds, it is designed on a threefold pattern of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and comes out of the experience of Christians in Africa who were animists, fetishists who worshiped things in nature and the mystery of life and who then, upon receiving the Christian faith, began reciting the creeds as they had been taught, in this case by Roman Catholic missionaries, in other cases by Evangelical or Orthodox missionaries. But after a couple of generations of that, a Christian community gradually comes of age, achieves a level of maturation where you want to do it for yourself, do it your way, speaking in your context, using the images of your culture. And the question is can you do that without sacrificing the integrity of what you have received? It's easy just to repeat, but then it's not your own. It's easy to say what is your own as though nobody had ever said it before, but then the question is whether it's authentically Christian. And I think this one manages to do both of those in a remarkable way. DR. PELIKAN: "We believe in one high God, who out of love created the beautiful world. We believe that God made good His promise by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left His home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, and showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by His people, tortured and nailed, hands and feet to a cross, and died. He lay buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch Him, and on the third day He rose from the grave." DR. PELIKAN: Now for one thing, the Nicene Creed as well as the Apostles' Creed go directly from born of the Virgin Mary to suffered under Pontius Pilate. And the whole story in the Gospels… MS. TIPPETT: The life of Christ. DR. PELIKAN: …yeah, is just leapt over. MS. TIPPETT: And that's what a lot of modern people have criticized in the creeds. DR. PELIKAN: You go from Alpha to Omega. And here, see, He was born, as the creed said, He left His home — the creeds don't say that — and He was always on safari in Africa. When I read that the first time, a student of mine who'd been a member of a religious order, she was a sister, and she had been in a hospital in east Nigeria, and that's the creed they recited at their liturgy. And so she brought it to me, and I just got shivers, just the thought, you know, the hyenas did not touch Him and the act of defiance — God lives even in spite of the hyenas. But it's a good example of this model that I quoted earlier, that it is not enough to Christianize Africa. We have to Africanize Christianity. No, the dangers in there are enormous. MS. TIPPETT: Mm-hmm. DR. PELIKAN: In the 1930s, under the Nazis, a movement that wanted to purify Germany of foreign — that is to say Jewish — influences and to affirm Aryanism — that is to say, we do not want to Christianize Germany, we want to Germanize Christianity — taking the same model, and they ended up… MS. TIPPETT: …completely destroying… DR. PELIKAN: …denying that Jesus was Jewish, refusing to ordain as priest or minister anyone who had one-fourth Jewish blood. And so intuitively, one knows that this Maasai creed has the ring of authenticity and that that Nazi creed does not. MS. TIPPETT: Yes.
Needless to say, what Hitler and the Nazis said for public consumption on the question was no more honest than anything else they said, especially in the early years of the Nazi movement and even a short while after they assumed power and quickly changed both their actions and their words. It's always important to note the year and even month in which Hitler said something. As he felt more empowered to display his depravity, he tended to give up the diplomatic lying. He hoodwinked people, continually, even people who knew he was dangerous. One of the strongest possible dangers to Nazism, from the start, was the Christian religion of the large majority of Germans and Austrians. He couldn't, like Lenin, start with a wholesale attack on Christianity, though he rapidly moved to undermine Christianity almost from the start. Pius XI quickly learned that he wasn't dealing with just another bad leader of a government but with an entirely new level of evil. I would guess he realized that about two weeks after that concordat was signed.
I strongly suspect we have more than a little to learn from that period about the danger and stupidity of assuming a normal level of evil intent by someone who happens to come out ahead in an election. Like Trump, Hitler never got a majority of the vote. The extent to which Christianity in the United States has already been corrupted - especially those parts which have declared most loudly their fidelity to the Biblical texts - is something which Christians have to deal with. That was what I noted the yesterday with my link to Yolanda Pierce. The extent to which Christianity has become corrupted and devitalized has a lot to do with how so many people voted, in the name of Jesus, for a man who embodies everything that Jesus preached against.
Here is one of the other posts I did last year in response to the accusation that the Nazis were a manifestation of Christianity. I haven't done more than read a few articles on the topic but the revelations that some of those lines that became current in Brit-American atheist circles were the invention of the Soviet government during the very anti-Christian Khrushchev regime is probably relevant to this. That it was an obvious lie that would be disproved by reading the published words of the Nazi government and the reported table talk of Hitler and his closest associates doesn't count much. It was also obvious in their de-Christianization of Christmas. But that primary evidence isn't what informs even most of the college educated common wisdom of the college educated class of the United States. In a country that got most of its common received wisdom from second and third-rate magazine scribbleage instead of rigorous scholarship the facts don't matter as long as the narrative is gratifying. That was the point of including Garrison Keillor's observations on the Unitarian rewrite of Silent Night, that it was part of the stylish anti-Chritianity which bought the line of crap that was being thrown around, which I was refuting.
The cover and a page from a wartime Nazi Advent pamphlet of 1941. There is no mention of Christ but plenty of family-oriented propaganda and a celebration of the cycle of the year, complete with Swastika.
It looks not all that different from a lot of the supposed neo-pagan stuff you'll see in a similar attempt to de-Christianize Christmas and to be rather stupidly inclusive.
I have to thank the troll who led me to look more into how the Nazis stole Christmas because there are few things that more firmly demonstrate their determination to obliterate Christianity. And, to the point I made about the apparent lack of Pagan opposition to Nazism, they were obviously wildly pro-Paganism as long as it was Germanic paganism. I hadn't realized that the SS insignia was an overt use of runic symbolism, as, in fact, a large number of other Nazi insignias are. In addition to being the rune for the sound "s" as in the name of the SS, it stands for "victory".
There really is no bottom to the creepiness of the Nazis taking over the holiday.
These are ornaments made in the shape of hand grenades.
"Celebrating the birth of a Jewish baby was unthinkable for the Nazis," said Juergen Mueller, the chief researcher behind the exhibit "Not Such a Holy Night" at the National Socialism Documentation Center in Cologne, which documents Christmas tradition during the Third Reich. But Christmas was too popular even during the Nazi period to be banned, Mueller told Deutsche Welle. "They therefore decided to corrupt it." Initially Nazi officials had tried to reject all Christian traditions. They renamed the festival Julfest and propagated the Germanic origins of the winter celebration of light on December 21, the winter solstice.
'And, as to the Nazis rewriting the words to Silent Night to take Jesus and God out of it - see the Deutsche Welle article linked to - Garrison Keillor noted that was also being done in what should be an annual holiday tradition.
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. Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism, and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write "Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah"? No, we didn't. Christmas is a Christian holiday - if you're not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don't mess with the Messiah.
I'd better stop or it will get me on the Christmas Revels and I'm in a bad enough mood seeing all that Nazi stuff, already.
I come from a very large family, with nine siblings, most of whom eventually gained spouses and had children. Being a fairly close family who mostly live in close proximity that quickly necessitated that we cut down on the present buying or making stuff at the massive family Christmas party which is a tradition for us. We drew a name from the list of those who wanted to participate and gave one gift at the party. The sense of relief for everyone involved when we first started doing that was enormous. There was also a price limit on how much the present was supposed to cost to keep any sense of competitive giving out of it.
As time went on and nieces and nephews began to form alliances, marriages and may-as-well be marriages, with children, some inherited from their partners' previous relationships, things got a bit attenuated. Several years ago, after there were too many names on the list who I had to ask who they were, having never seen them, I opted out, so I only bring something to share to the party and enjoy the company, which is the point of the thing. The freedom from the present opening part of it has been an enhancement of the enjoyment of the occasion. Since then a couple of others have opted out. Maybe, with time, the whole present exchange will go away and it will just be a family Christmas Party.
I don't get presents at Christmas and don't give any to anyone I know. I also don't give much in the way of donations at Christmas, I wait till all of that rush is over so as to not burden the people in non-profit groups that have to deal with the onslaught of donations at that one time of the year. February, I'd guess, would be a good time for that. I know enough about food banks to know they'd rather get money than cans of stuff, at least that's what the people I know who work in them say.
All of this leads up to this outrageous video that I saw while looking for the latest edition of Keith Olbermann's The Resistance.
I think there must be a special section in hell for people who pay that much for clothes and who are impressed with those who do and to those who encourage it.
In this post on the On Being blog, Yolanda Pierce noted, quite effectively, that a large majority of those who call themselves "Evangelical Christians" voted for a man who embodies just about everything other than a sincere follower of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is something which Christians in the United States have to face, that a large number of those who proclaim their fidelity to the Gospel have committed an enormous sin in voting for Donald Trump and his regime which he is already filling with billionaire and multi-millionaire criminals, oligarchs, degenerates, insane xenophobes, racists and violent paranoiacs who will crush the least among us, reduce many to the same level of destitution and the close to it state of desperation. That whirlwind that I talked about being sown yesterday, a lot of those seeds were planted by those who proclaim themselves to be Christians. Just as democracy in the United States is lying sick and injured on the side of the road with no Samaritan in sight, the least among us is too. The priests and pharisees are passing on the other side of the road, getting ahead. There isn't any use in pretending that isn't the case anymore than it was to pretend about that in Germany in the early 1930s as the Nazis were both exploiting the symbolism and language that Christians were used to and preparing to destroy Christianity along with its developing list of those it intended to murder. I wouldn't at all be surprised if the likes of Michael Flynn and those working with the Trump regime on the outside didn't have the beginnings of such lists in mind if not on paper. Here's a reminder from last year of the real nature of the Nazi regime, something so frequently lied about online these days. The other day, when I pointed out that the brutality of Christian medieval Europe lacked at least one feature that made the brutal pagan European cultures worse, human sacrifice, I got someone's pinafore in a twist. I pointed out that any brutality done by those nominal Christians would have been in contradiction to the very teachings of the man they revered as divine, no less a figure than the only Son of God. That isn't something you can say about the brutality of paganism, warfare and brutality, human sacrifice were part of pagan religion, just those things which made it so popular with some of the most brutal of the Nazis, Himmler, for example. For those who go all romantic about the Yule, the SS under Himmler were real big on celebrating the "Jule" there was a special ceramic, the Julleuchter, candle holders created as an award for members of the SS who participated in Nazi celebrations of the Yule, the candle symbolic of the "undying sun" which was apparently, to be associated with Nazism as well as the little yellow star we enjoy.
I have seen identical "Yule lights" sold as neo-pagan holiday items and as decorations on pagan websites, some of them also, neo-Nazi webites ("Heathern English" is one, though I will not post a url for a neo-Nazi website.) There is even an apparent pagan revisionist who includes a cross and a star of David along with the SS lightning bolts and other Nazi symbols. I'm not sure of his motives but I doubt they're honest.
It was all part of the promotion of paganism which the Nazi hierarchy were pushing to be an eventual replacement for Christianity, as was, in fact, the pseudo-Christian, "Postitive Christianity" in which everything would be redefined because the original contained such anti-Nazi facts that the man who was held to be the second person in the Godhead was a Jew, all of his earliest named followers were Jews, the morality taught by Jesus was the direct and absolute opposite of what was taught by Nazism, etc. That a number of those pushing paganism were atheists, such as Alfred Rosenberg, who saw it as something the simple people needed as they were turned into atheists and Nazis rather demonstrates my point.
The Nazi substitute for Christianity, "Positive Christianity" is also useful to refute the line used in the hate mail this post is inspired by, "No true Scotsman". There is a problem when applying that pat phrase to what I said in that you can be a true Scotsman by simply being born a Scot, you can be a perfectly good Scot by that simple fact no matter what course of conduct you take. It's a matter of biological heritage. You can't say the same thing about Christianity, which is not biological but is based at its rock bottom foundation on belief in the teachings of Jesus. The extent to which you follow those is the extent to which you are being good at practicing Christianity, of "being a true Christian" if you will. The extent to which you violate and contradict those teachings is the extent to which you are being an untrue Christian. Someone who followed the Nazis' "Positive Christianity" was in no way a true Christian.
That many such have pretended to be successful at being Christians is something which is, as well, a part of the Gospel of Jesus. Over and over again he noted there were and would be people who professed their belief in his teachings only to prove by their actions that they don't. He said there would be false prophets who led people astray. The Gospels show that Jesus wasn't under any illusions as to that, it would also be false to his teachings for anyone professing Christianity to not admit to it and to question, critically those who profess their Christianity especially when their actions are radically in opposition to the moral teachings that define Christianity.
You would never say that someone who insisted on doing their arithmetic wrong was a "true mathematician" you wouldn't say that someone who, despite their having a doctorate in Biology, denied the reality of evolution or the scientific method was being a "true scientist". Like science, Christianity is something that you adopt as a conscious choice, it's not something you're born to. You can't say that even a Scot who betrays Scotland isn't a true Scotsman, their parents determined that at conception. You can easily say someone isn't being a true scientist or Christian because those choices are entirely in their own hands. That phrase in that context should be put away because it is especially ill considered. That it seems to have been the biology teacher, P.Z. Myers who has popularized it among atheists is especially revealing of his lapse in analytical rigor, he's had a number of those.
Considering Mary was probably a young teenager when she sang the words it would be nice to hear it sung by girls.
Of the older settings for the Anglican service I like George Dyson's about the best. This one has the virtue of absolute clear understanding of the words with very good music. It certainly doesn't replace the polyphonic settings but it serves the purpose of giving the text.
I got a bit behind in posting this series due to the bereavement in my family. There's nothing quite so awful as burring a young person you once took care of as a young child and watched grow up. Even when it was due to natural but entirely unexpected causes. I don't know if we get experiences like that so we can use them to understand and sympathize with other people who suffer similar things but since we have them that's about the best use for those experiences. It's certainly more useful than railing against the existence of God and smartly declaring his non-existence for public consumption among the other would-be smarties.
We're going to be having lots of occasion for mourning, being in a time of reckoning. We've sown powerful lies in the land and around the world and that crop is in. Unfortunately, the "enligthenment" philosophy that permitted the sowing of those lies doesn't seem to be having any second thoughts on permitting and empowering those lies so I'm afraid the whirlwind is going to be horrible. It won't stop until we end or disempower those lies. And there's no guarantee that is going to happen. There is nothing special about the United States or its constituent parts that couldn't fall to the same futile violence that other places in the world have fallen into and remained stuck for decades and centuries. There is nothing in the character of the American People which will, in the 21st century reliably lead us to cast off a cleverly brought and maintained fascist government.
The only protection against fascism, the only protection for democracy is the empowerment of the truth over lies and it turns out that won't happen with the insane lassiez-faire regime our Supreme Court set up during the height of liberalism. The identification of that stupid belief with liberalism was wrong from the start, it was libertarianism which doesn't bring a decent, democratic society, it was permission to lie for the very same media that brought us Trump which was the vehicle for the empowerment of lies and the resultant destruction of democracy.
The only force powerful enough to defeat the well-crafted, well-sold, attractive and sleazily attractive lies which have gotten us here is the hard truth which is suppressed and which has the disadvantage of being neither attractive nor salacious. And, I have come to believe, the only force which enables the truth to win is a belief that God commands the truth be told instead of lies. I don't have any faith that the line of prerequisites for egalitarian democracy to arise or the ability to retain it once in place can exist where that isn't the effective belief of a working majority of people. That is a grace from God but one which people have to accept. Where that is accepted, the good-will which is, if anything, exactly as necessary as the truth, will also come. But that's our choice, it won't be done for us.
I am going to hazard a guess and say that Keith Olbermann's desperate dream of the Electoral College doing what the current favorite of the "founders," Hamilton promised it would, rescue us from, a Donald Trump, is not going to happen today.
Considering that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, which the aristocrats, slave-holders and crooks didn't trust and it is exactly and precisely the Electoral College which is about to give us the most massively unqualified, unsuitable and certainly disastrous president in our history, the entire idea has failed, yet again, the test of time. This time should be the last time, though I'm sure the beneficiaries of it will resist any attempt to impose democracy over the clear un-wisdom of the founders.
With the Electoral College, itself, stealing the election of Hillary Clinton and handing the presidency to Donald Trump, it deserves to be abolished. In its place there should be an amendment to the Constitution which establishes that the loser of a majority of the votes cast should not ever assume the office. It should establish that the states must run a clean and honest election and that either by run-off or by weighted voting, no one should ever be able to become president without the support of the majority of the voters.
That, of course, would be only the start of changes that have been needed in that document written by aristocratic amateurs who, as all aristocrats will, impose their own self-interest on the results. Getting rid of the patchwork of jerry-rigged, Gerrymandered and corrupt state and local elections is as necessary but harder to do. Making it easier to get rid of a horrifically bad president or Supreme Court member is needed, imposing a term on Supreme Court members, .... etc.
But, today, the Electoral College will prove that it was always a terrible idea and its role in imposing Donald Trump on must be the last straw. It is exactly the foreign despot that Hamilton warned about, raising up a figure within the United States, with the full participation and support of the corrupt media, who played this fatal weakness in the Constitution to give us Trump. There is nothing more unpatriotic, more anti-democratic than keeping it in place.
Why are Democratic politicians and political operatives, etc. still using the internet for communications after they know they're vulnerable to Russian hacking? Get some obscure Native American language speakers and hire them as code-talkers, do all our communication by short-waver numbers stations, anything but continuing to use e-mail that's going to get stolen by the Russian Czar and his government of thugs working in concert with the Republican-fascists. And soon it's going to be the American-fascist government under Trump who will be hacking your stuff.
I wasn't planning on writing about Barack Obama this morning, then I made the mistake of turning on the radio and hearing his interview on National Public Radio. It was an odd experience, hearing him express pride in his unnecessary, entirely stupid attempts at "bi-partisanship" which pissed away, especially, the opportunities the American People had given him to make far more change than I now believe Barack Obama ever intended to attempt. Especially surreal was hearing him warning Trump about the desirability to do things through legislation instead of by executive orders. As if his experience as a voluntarily weak president will have any impact on a megalomaniacal, flaming racist of a fascist strongman.
A few somewhat random thoughts on hearing the interview.
Obama's 2008 campaign promised a level of audacity and boldness that never was in the man, his declarations on that were theater, not real. He traded in heroic imagery and language from leaders of the past for his campaigns but pulled the ultimate bait and switch when he governed from the attitude that it was his supporters' responsibility to make him do what he'd promised them either explicitly or by clear and obvious implication. Barack Obama used the imagery and language of the Black civil rights movement to gain the nomination and the presidency, I've come to think his use of that was some of the most cynical political theatrics in the history of the country. He didn't walk away from it, though in most cases, he didn't walk anywhere, he did nothing. And when he did, such as his "dreamers" executive order, he likely set up a lot of people as targets for the racist Trump regime. Obama's record on unregistered immigrants is an especially bad one. I can't imagine many who mistook his order as an opportunity aren't wondering if they were played for fools, today.
Sometime in the first two years of his administration it became obvious that he cared far more about Republicans liking him than he did the sense of betrayal that those who voted for him felt as he caved in on even things like seriously weakening the stimulus bill WHICH COULD HAVE PASSED WITHOUT REPUBLICAN SUPPORT in order to court Republicans like Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe who played him for a complete chump.
Even within the Democratic Party, Obama refused to play any kind of hard ball with Senators and even members of the House who, similarly, damaged the legislation that should have put into effect his campaign promises. He was only ever going to be as audacious, as prepared to push for the hopes of those who supported him as the most conservative Democrat or even the slimiest of Quislings like Joe Lieberman was going to go along with. In very few instances did Barack Obama even make an effort to deliver on that promised hope. About the lowest point I can think of was when, in an attempt to court the support of the early dissenting leftish blogosphere, he met with a group of, then, top bloggers and told them it was their responsibility to make him do what he had promised to do. As if we weren't all trying our hardest to do that, already.
From early in his time as President, I had the feeling that Barack Obama didn't have contempt for his supporters but I came to the conclusion that he both figured he was due their support and that it was his to take for granted. What mattered to him on an emotional level was the approval of Republicans and, most of all, what would have been called the establishment in the language of the 1960s. There was an early indication that that was how he operated in his campaign to become president of the Harvard Law Review, in which he promoted himself through conservative law students to win over a more liberal candidate. I think that act shows that courting power and status through servicing the conservative elite is as deep as any mental attribute of Barack Obama.
He never was a liberal, he was always, a center-right figure. While his race was exploited by the very Republicans he was courting, he detached himself from the situation. His several attempts to use it, things like the "beer summit" his few and weak declarations about violence against Black People were too little and far, far too weak. I long ago got the sense that one of his strongest inclinations is to deflect responsibility from himself. I think that is a habit he learned in the training of the elite, through his prep-school-Ivy-League education, the same thing that allows Supreme Court justices and others to act as if they are not responsible for the results of their actions in public office.
There was a bizarre detachment in his tone in describing his administration, an aloofness in which I think there is a lesson for Democrats. Barack Obama may well be the coolest president we've ever had, he has been declared that many times during his administration. He does the occasional stand up routine or one liner really well. In that he reminds me of another president, Calvin Coolidge who became an unlikely icon of the 1920s. I think there is more in common between him and Barack Obama than either of them would have liked to have anyone notice. After Coolidge's irresponsible administration, there was a deluge. After Obama there is likely to come an even worse one and this one could destroy American democracy and far more. It could end up getting us all killed.
I will have more on this later, I've got to go be sick first. I'm especially disgusted with what he said about his having to resort to using executive orders, something which is largely a result of his failure at real leadership, especially in the first two years before he lost the Congress to Republicans. His advice to Trump on the downside of that and the necessity of doing things through legislation comes off as just more of an excuse. And it's entirely pointless. Trump is a fascist dictator, the Republicans in power in Congress and, soon, to regain their stranglehold on democracy in the Supreme Court will not even bother to laugh at it. Coming from Barack Obama it is less than a stream of hollow platitudes, it is nauseating.
We need to make sure that no one like Barack Obama ever again gets the Democratic nomination as president. We don't need another Bill Clinton either, but for other reasons. Both were masters at electoral politics, neither of them were at all skilled or talented or strong enough to master the real politics of governing. I'm not sure I think either of them really cared much about that. I don't have any doubt that Hillary Clinton did. Her defeat will likely turn out to be the greatest tragedy of both Obama and Bill Clinton's presidencies. She should have been president in 2008. Things would have been a lot different if she had been. One thing she pointed out in 2008 was that Lyndon Johnson, ironically, the most liberal president in our history, that he was the one who delivered the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. She was attacked for saying that. Her words turned out to be remarkably insightful about what was to come.