Saturday, March 4, 2017

"More Trump-Russia ties, followed by Trump- Russia lies."

Congressman Eric Swalwell

Second Feature - Gareth Stack - “The Wall in the Mind” episode 1

This is from an episode of the podcast Radio Drama Revival.  The play begins at about 2:20. There's an introduction and an interview following the play.  The interview is worth listening to. 

The podcast is from last October, it gives you a good idea of how lively and free the non-broadcast audio drama world is.  

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Raymond Chandler - The Little Sister

Someone asked when I was going to post more Philip Marlowe.  I've got to be in the right mood for Raymond Chandler, he was OK but he isn't my favorite reading,  But I haven't had much time to listen to radio plays this week so here.

I have to point out that Raymond Chandler was very likely deeply in the closet and it probably had more than a little to do with his weird biography and him drinking himself to death.  I mention that only because I read a book that was listed as "the first gay hard-boiled detective novel" the week before last.  I won't name it because I didn't think it was that good.  I strongly suspect that, if you read between the lines, it's clear Philip Marlowe was trying to pass, maybe to himself and to his author.  

I like this series of productions by the BBC, some of the fun is hearing the difference in how successful the Brit actors are in doing American accents.   

Now, don't start talking out of the side of your mouth.

Update:  Indeed, you'd expect an author in deep denial to create a character in deep denial.

I love being told all about being gay by straight men.  I've learned so much that way. 

Old Whines From New Bottles And I don't Mean The Premium Stuff

Is there anyone whinier than a whining Marxist?

I don't take back a word I said about the friggin' Marxists, all of them from Trot to Stalinist, from old line to the newest nonsense that's printed in Jacobin or The Nation - they'll never give up that romantic nonsense no matter how discredited it is.   I mean, that piece by that youngish dolt Benjamin Kunkle published a couple of weeks back in The Nation is typical of the nonsense that the great Marxist revival - which is no where to be seen - is about to come.  When will they get it through their thick skulls that, after, literally, a century of trying that stuff out, witness to the century of oppression, terror, enslavement and the most massive of mass murder needed to keep it in power against the very People that are supposed to be it's beneficiaries


What's happening in Russia right now, in many of the formerly Marxist countries shows where the real evolution of Marxism goes, to its natural state in fascism.   I used to, in my romantic youth, believe that once Communism fell in the Soviet Union and elsewhere, as it was already obvious it would to anyone who wasn't a fully invested believer in the nonsense, that the people who had experienced it would be so irresistibly drawn to democracy that that would be the result.   Of course, I - like just about every one of the Ivy Leaguer Marxists pushing it - had never experienced the full benefit of Soviet style fascism first hand, I didn't understand that a population whose minds, spirits and souls had been damaged by that level of oppression would not easily free themselves from its oppression.  After all, American slavery and the Jim Crow system that followed it still cast a deep shadow over American democracy.  It's no surprise that it is the neo-confederates of the United States are the ones who sold us to Putin, they have always shared the same hatred of egalitarian democracy he has.

The real shock is that American lefties are still such suckers for it, even today.  I think one of the most promising areas for research and consideration is the part that Marxists played in discrediting the democratic left and handing the country to the fascists.  Maybe one of the things they could look at is the lefty establishment who complained that American criticism of Vladimir Putin's fascist regime threatened to start a "new cold war" even as it's clear he was ratfucking democracy in Europe and here.  They just can't break those old lefty habits, no matter how absurd they are.

You might want to look at this rather strange review by Katrina vanden Heuvel of the history of the relationship of her magazine, The Nation, with Marxism.  You would think someone who had looked at the often dodgey history of that would have considered whether or not they should still be pushing it, now that it's obvious even the communists don't want Marxism anymore.  Maybe that's another facet of the damage that totalistic ideology can have on people, prehaps especially those whose consideration of it is abstract and theoretical instead of having lived under its oppression, they can't quit it no matter how many times it makes a fool of them.  If there were some way for the real, egalitarian-democratic left to get shut of those idiots, I'd love to know how.

Update:  Ah, don't believe anything you read about me at Eschaton.

Update 2:  Anyone who reads what I write would know that any attempt to equate any position I have on anything with Donald Trump and his rinky-dink Reich is a product of pathological lying.

If they want to believe pathological lies, there's not much I can do about it except to point that out. Duncan Black doesn't care how big a lie his regulars tell.  He doesn't care about much except people clicking on his link so he'll get a cut of the profits.

Does Anyone Really Believe A Word He Says?

I don't think I was more than vaguely aware of someone named "Carter Page" in the cluster of sycophantic toadies around the Trump inner circle before this week.  After watching several of the deceptive, sleazy performances of him being interviewed on TV this week, I have to say the next time I see him I hope it's having his smile wiped off his face by a judge handing down a prison sentence.  What a sleaze. 

Susan Collins Was One of Jeff Sessions Biggest Backers

When Jeff Sessions, the one and only Attorney General of the United States, was lying like a caught six-year-old every single time he said "I don't recall" the other day.   He remembers what he and the Russian ambassador said and when he says "I don't recall" what he really was saying is,  If I tell you what I said my ass is fried.  

I was talking to someone I know, an experienced lawyer who said that what Sessions said during his semi-recusal - my friend pointed out it wasn't, explicitly,  a blanket recusal - what Sessions said the other day was one of the stupidest things he'd ever heard a lawyer of Sessions supposed experience has ever said.  He "recalled" enough of the conversation he had with the ambassador that his claim to not remember the substance of the meeting was in no way credible.  

Jeff Sessions has now added being a liar and a perjurer to his legacy as a racist, white supremacist.  His misrepresentation of his record as a states attorney and his perjury during his confirmation hearings for attorney general makes all of the Republicans in the Senate who voted for his confirmation have violated their oaths of office, all of them proved that they are unfit for office or public trust.  That includes you,  Susan Collins.  You went way out of your way to give the racist Jeff Sessions cover, denying one of the most obvious aspects of his public life, lying about that.   Your useless and cynical use of votes against a few of Trumps many entirely unqualified appointees can't possibly make up for your promotion of Jeff Sessions for an office he never had any business being in.   That is so much a fact that it's not even a full month after that when he is obviously someone who should be fired or forced to resign.   This is on you and your fellow Senators who very likely put someone in charge of law enforcement who is vulnerable to blackmail by the Putin regime.   Now, after Sessions' entirely incompetent statement, it's clear he was never qualified to hold the office, to start with. 

Update:  If you've just eaten you might want to take something to keep you from throwing up before you hear Senator Susan's speech promoting Jeff Sessions, covering up his history of racist, white supremacy in office.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Bud Powell / Don Byas -- Just One of Those Things, 1961

Don Byas -- tenor sax 
Bud Powell -- piano 
Pieree Michelot -- bass 
Kenny Clarke -- drums 

Update:  Time Waits 

Bud Powell, piano
Sam Jones, bass
Philly Joe Jones, drums

Why Trump is Refusing to Confront Reality

Those Tiny Little Details That Change Everything

The Republican-fascist media is striking back, listing Democrats who had meetings with the Russian Ambassador.  Apparently it's too complex for them to understand there's a world of difference between meeting with the representative of a government WHICH IS TRYING TO STEAL AN AMERICAN ELECTION FOR YOU AND MEETING WITH ONE THAT IS TRYING TO STEAL IT FROM YOUR PARTY. 

Not to mention the difference between meeting with one who could blackmail you over your shady business dealings, money laundering, etc. with them as opposed to meeting with them when they've got nothing to hold over your head.

Not to mention meeting with them on the record, above board and two meetings with them that you feel you've got to lie about when asked about them in a Senate hearing, under oath. 

Long Ago And Far Away

Remember when the media pushed the line that Ivanka and Jared Kushner were going to ameliorate the worst tendencies of Don Trump?  

Sorry, I can't think of those people without crime family language slipping in. 

Though it's hard for me to think of their AG as Consigliere Sessions.  I doubt someone as foolish as Sessions would last three days in old fashioned organized crime.   He'd have been napping with the halibut by the end of January. 

I Won't Spill Your Guilty Secret

Oh, my. My inbox has a message from one of Duncan's regulars who says they read my blog every day and find a lot to agree with.  They ask me not to identify them, which I will honor.  

My only question is how they can still stand his comment community?   I know, I know.  I was still addicted to it for a while after the sensible people like RMJ, Tena, NTodd, Phila, etc. left but only off and on after 2008 and the eruption of the anti-Hillary misogynists.  

I guess if you're not one of the majority of them who are idiots, you can take yourself out of my blanket criticism.  It's just I can't ignore the general tone of the place.  They were all in a state of hysteria after Trump's speech and the "pivot" nonsense, anyone who had paid attention to what else was going on, outside of cabloid TV would know that crap wouldn't last more than a few minutes.  

It's so exhausting over there with all that posing, adrenaline, hyperventilation and dramatic fainting.   Really, how can you stand being so bullied by the mean girls and boy or two?  You shouldn't have to stay in jr. high once you've graduated. 

Update:  I can't comment on something someone sends me without looking at the link, unlike most of Duncan's dolts, I do fact check.  That's the only time I ever go there, the night of the speech I got a leak from Duncan's Depends and I saw that everyone was histrionically hysterical over the "pivot" stuff.  

On the other hand, it's nice for a man of my age to be someone's guilty secret.  At least as long as it doesn't include activities that lead to a loss of sleep.  

Update 2:  Aside from the two dreadful years of jr. high, make that three for you know who, the closest experience I recall to it was the time I didn't take my very wise adviser's advice and agreed to play for a production at the theater department.  "They'll drive you crazy, don't do it,"  I was told.  I did and they did.   I couldn't imagine voluntarily spending four years there. 

Isaiah 58: 3-9

This is practically a formula for producing real liberalism as opposed to pseudo-liberalism.

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

James Comey Is Exhibit A In A Case For An Independent Prosecutor

James Comey as FBI director inserted himself and his agency into the presidential election at the last minute, very likely throwing the election to Donald Trump, the candidate of his party.  One of the things that was revealed during the uproar over that was that his home in Connecticut had a Trump sign on its lawn.   He had broken Department of Justice rules several times last year commenting on an investigation and, when it was concluded that there was nothing the investigation turned up would warrant bringing a prosecution.  The policy is to not comment on such unproductive investigations.

Now we find out from Congressman Adam Schiff, one of the senior members of the House and Senate who comprise the "Gang of Eight" who are supposed to receive timely and confidential notice from, among others, the FBI of serious issues involving national security, has said that James Comey has been refusing to answer questions from them, not claiming any kind of executive privilege for information, not really giving any reason.

One of the bigger problems with Comey not informing the Gang of Eight and other members of Congress on those issues could be that the disgraced Trump Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has already been trying to suppress an investigation in which he is, obviously, one of those who must be a focus of that investigation.   That would be a complete and total violation of just about every pertinent rule to prevent that happening and would be all the reason any honest person could have to call for his immediate firing or demanding his resignation.   If that's the case it's obvious his mere and rather fuzzy recuseal statement won't suffice.

If there is a serious matter of national security,  Vladimir Putin and his regime coordinating with the Trump campaign to throw our election to a man who is his puppet is about as serious as it can get.

But, given his recent behavior, it's entirely possible that either James Comey and,or parts of his FBI are more than possibly involved in a cover up of their own behavior in trying to throw the election to Donald Trump.   For exactly the same reasons Sessions should never have had any possible influence on the investigation into that national security disaster, James Comey and the FBI under his directorship cannot be trusted to do an investigation that might target themselves.

There is no reason for anyone to believe any investigation of this which isn't conducted by an independent investigator with full powers to subpoena witnesses and to require them to respond to questions and provide evidence.   Some have talked about doing it with a bi-partisan panel appointed by the Congressional leadership of both parties.  I am not optimistic about the history of such panels. During an interview with Rachel Maddow, last night, Congressman Schiff pointed out that while the FBI or other law enforcement agencies' natural inclination is to try to develop a criminal case that could be prosecuted, the higher priority is the national security of the United States.   That's true, but the trouble with Comey is that he has a clear history in this very matter which has favored the Republican Party he belongs to.   There is not only no reason to trust him, he has given honest people every reason to distrust him.  If he reveals that, in fact, the reason he has not cooperated with the Gang of Eight and informed the Senate they were about to confirm, AS HIS BOSS, a man who was under investigation for a serious breach of national security, was interference by Sessions and the Trump regime, he might possibly repair some of his squandered reputation.  Though holding your breath for that is probably dangerous to your health.  If he does not, it should be assumed that this is his choice and he should, rightly, be considered to be part of a Nixonian cover up and should be under investigation, himself.

See Also:  In the various thing I found out about James Comey, who had traded in the kind of "integrity" that will be promoted by the Washington DC insider class was the evidence that he's quite apt to bend reality to suit his own warped moral code.  James Comey The Man Who Tried To Turn Jerry Falwell Into Reinhold Niebuhr?  If Barack Obama, who certainly knows Niebuhr knew about that, his appointment of Comey was even worse than being what he admitted, the worst appointment he made as president, it was incredibly stupid.  I said this in November:

Looking at that decision in the most cynical manner, Comey is still in the job in January it is tempting to imagine him becoming a thorn in the side of a possible President Trump, but only if the pattern of using the FBI on his behalf and the behalf of the Republican Party is stopped.  That would largely hinge on whether Comey's behavior is based in the self-righteousness his friends claim or in the clear partisanship where I believe his motivation and those of many of his subordinates lie.  Another consideration is who would replace him.  I cannot imagine Donald Trump - especially with a Republican Senate - would appoint someone less bad in his place.   

If, as I think is likely, now, that Comey is impeding an investigation of this on behalf of Trump and his Republican Party, replacing him isn't an option, it's a risk we must take.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

There's No Michael In The Shadows

This from Charles Pierce is one of the most horrifying things I've read in the past six hours.

Now, it seems that the president*, as part of Steve Bannon's great experiment in supply-side Leninism, simply is letting the entire department wither away while Rex Tillerson bops around the globe. Remember all those stories about "rubber rooms," where unemployable teachers whiled away the hours because you couldn't fire them? It sounds to me like the State Department—the freaking Department of State—is turning into one big rubber room.

With the State Department demonstratively shut out of meetings with foreign leaders, key State posts left unfilled, and the White House not soliciting many department staffers for their policy advice, there is little left to do. "If I left before 10 p.m., that was a good day," said the State staffer of the old days, which used to start at 6:30 in the morning. "Now, I come in at 9, 9:15, and leave by 5:30." The seeming hostility from the White House, the decades of American foreign-policy tradition being turned on its head, and the days of listlessness are taking a toll on people who are used to channeling their ambition and idealism into the detail-oriented, highly regimented busywork that greases the infinite wheels of a massive bureaucracy. Without it, anxiety has spiked. People aren't sleeping well. Over a long impromptu lunch one afternoon—"I can meet tomorrow or today, whenever! Do you want to meet right now?"—the staffer told me she too has trouble sleeping now, kept awake by her worries about her job and America's fading role in the world. "I used to love my job," she said. "Now, it feels like coming to the hospital to take care of a terminally ill family member. You come in every day, you bring flowers, you brush their hair, paint their nails, even though you know there's no point. You do it out of love."

But don't worry. The president*'s son-in-law is on the case.

"They really want to blow this place up," said the mid-level State Department officer. "I don't think this administration thinks the State Department needs to exist. They think Jared [Kushner, Trump's son-in-law] can do everything. It's reminiscent of the developing countries where I've served. The family rules everything, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs knows nothing."
This will certainly end well.

But while senior State appointees have yet to be appointed, other staff has been showing up. The Office of Policy Planning, created by George Kennan after World War II, is now filled not just with Ph.D.s, as it once was, but with fresh college graduates and a malpractice attorney from New Jersey whose sole foreign-policy credential seems to be that she was born in Hungary.


The last month, the staffer said, "has been a very deliberate stress test." "There seems to be no effort to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of people who are here, who just want to help," said the mid-level officer. Instead, they see the White House vilifying them as bureaucrats no one elected, and it all seems, the mid-level officer said, "symbolic of wanting to neuter the organization." "This is probably what it felt like to be a British foreign service officer after World War II, when you realize, no, the sun actually does set on your empire," said the mid-level officer. "America is over. And being part of that, when it's happening for no reason, is traumatic."

Can't say I'll miss being an empire much but, also, I think we need a State Department that exists somewhere outside of Jared Kushner's head.

Jared Kushner, I had the feeling he was Michael Corleone to Steve Bannon's Sonny or, rather Luca Brasi, but anyone who would try to do that is more of a Fredo.   I don't have any illusions that Mike Pence will be any better at being president than he was at being governor of Indiana, he was so bad that Republicans were glad to get shut of him, but having Trump's crime-family princeling son-in-law with that kind of power is ... well, those State Department sources said it.

This Isn't Going To Happen Very Often

but I agreed with something David Frum said the other day.  In discussing the already obvious fact that Donald Trump and those he has appointed to manage the finances of the United States,  Frum pointed out that Trump's business method was to borrow money and not pay it back.  Which is why he's proposing massive increases in military spending at the same time he's proposing giving his oligarch class new, massive windfalls in tax cuts.   

I think this Trump regime is going to be one of three things, a. the beginning of overt fascist control of the United States, or b. brought down as the most criminally corrupt executive in our history or c. a race between b. and the delivery of the massive depression that we narrowly escaped just before Barack Obama took office.   Though don't think that more than one if not all of them can happen at the same time.  

The insane American federal system has installed the loser of the election who is and was known to be the most ignorant, incompetent, irrational, delusional crook to have ever gotten the presidency.   And that is something we're supposed to not change because it was the clever idea of guys like that Hamilton who's being faked on Broadway right now. 

It makes you wonder what it looked like as the Roman Republic was giving way to the long Imperial nightmare.  Only we've gone from Caligula* to Nero in sixteen years.  It took the Romans a bit longer. 

*  I saw a clip of W. being interviewed on TV the other day.  He looks kind of smug knowing that Trump will relieve him as setting the mark for terrible administrations in the post-war period.  

One Thing Is Obvious Jeff Sessions Committed Perjury During His Confirmation Hearings And Should Be Prosecuted For That Alone

With the revelations that while he was an active member of the Trump campaign,  then Senator Jeff Sessions met twice with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak,  something which he was asked about by Senator Al Franken during Session's confirmation testimony he must be removed from office and prosecuted for perjury.

At his Jan. 10 Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked by Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. He added: “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

The Senate under Mitch McConnell pushed through the Trump nominees, one of the most urgently pushed of those his fellow Republican Senator, Jeff Sessions.  His was one of the nominations that the phony moderate Senator from my state, Susan Collins in supporting Sessions expressed theatrical outrage that anyone could question, denying what is blatantly obvious, that Sessions is a white supremacist-racist in order to vote for what was already one of the most disturbing of the many disturbing Trump nominations.

Now there can be no covering it up,  Jeff Sessions committed perjury and it's more than likely he was deeply involved in the coordination between the Russian regime which was meddling in our election on behalf of Donald Trump,  Sessions' candidate from the start of the campaign.

I would bet that there is far more damaging material that is already contained in those government reports that the departing Obama administration was distributing within the government, making known to large numbers of people with the proper clearance so that the incoming Trump regime would not be able to destroy or suppress it.

We now know enough about both the House and Senate under Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions, as well as the FBI under the ethically and likely legally defective James Comey that none of them can be trusted to investigate the clear violations of law by the Trump Campaign and, now, the Trump regime.  There must be a full, independent prosecutor with no bias in favor of either the Trump regime or the Republicans or the FBI which disgraced itself, clearly siding with the Trump campaign.  I wouldn't be surprised if coordination between the FBI and the Trump campaign happened, given what we already know.

I said a while back that the absurdly truncated definition of what constitutes treason under the Constitution had to be expanded to cover the massive betrayal of democracy and The People of the United States in regard to the Putin regime's successful attempt to throw a presidential election to its puppet,  Trump.  I think amending the Constitution will take too long and at the earliest possible time a Democratic congress and president, if we ever have another, must create a new category of crime which would hold at least the level of seriousness of the current definition of treason.  What we're seeing here is worse than mere treason, it is the coordinated effort of people holding office, such as Sessions and certainly others, to coordinate their efforts with those of a foreign dictator with massive power and resources who pose at least the same danger to the United States as any it has faced.  I don't know what you would call that crime but it is treason on speed and steroids all at the same time.

The Republican Party, from the most obvious fascist to the phony moderates like Collins have proven to be exactly what Republicans used to so absurdly claim the old Communist Party was, the most dangerously subversive entity in American life.  Well, that is if you don't count such entities as the oil industry, which runs the State Department under another of Putin's cronies, confirmed by the Republican Senate.  With what we learned about the just confirmed Secretary of Commerce, who arranged for Donald Trump to profit mightily by helping a Putin ally launder and hide assets, we are looking at the most blatantly corrupt government in the history of the United States - a supremely corrupt Republican government.  And that doesn't even begin to get back to the fact that it is also a product of the media, TV, radio and Hollywood.

The United States is through if the prosecution of these people doesn't start within days.   If that doesn't happen, if Trump and anyone else in his administration who are part of this sell-off of the country to Putin aren't both removed from office and punished, a combination of oil and other oligarchs here and in Russia have taken over and destroyed democracy here as Putin and his fellow kleptocrats, leftovers from the Communist aristocracy stamped on its head just as it was being born there.  I am not shocked that it was largely a combination of them with the neo-Confederates - hardly all from the South - in the Republican Party who did it, treason against egalitarian democracy is their tradition.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Am Asked To Comment On This Claim Made At Baby Blue

There are practically no wingnut basic scientists, period. Having any success in that area pretty much requires for you to have an open mind.

I have never researched it but am pretty sure it's an unsupportable statement.  A quick search turns up this six year old Slate article which says

A Pew Research Center Poll from July 2009 showed that only around 6 percent of U.S. scientists are Republicans; 55 percent are Democrats, 32 percent are independent, and the rest "don't know" their affiliation.

Even in 2010, I'd say that anyone who could be a Republican would qualify as what I'd call a "wingnut" conservative.  While 6% isn't 32% it doesn't equal "practically no", either.   When I first read your e-mail, the first thing I thought of was the odious racist, eugenicist physics Nobel William Shockley, which also led me to think of the physicist, the odious Edward Teller.  And those were only two of the very eminent scientists who I would definitely say were not only wingnuts but highly dangerous wingnuts.

But that's one measure of wing nuttery, there are lots of other ways you can define that.

Being a scientist, lest anyone be under any illusions on the matter, is a matter of your profession, it is not some priesthood based on some kind of moral purity or honesty or integrity.  Anyone who is hired by someone as a scientist, to do scientific research, to publish or teach science, perhaps even just to speak as a scientist with the authority of "science" is a scientist.  It's not a pure and holy priesthood dedicated to the truth, democracy and justice.   I don't get to make that decision, I don't let people into or exclude them from science, scientists, editors of journals and university faculties do.

-  It includes geologists and others working for the oil, gas, coal and other extraction industries that do enormous damage to the environment.

- It includes scientists who are hired by industry to lie about or minimize the dangers of their environmentally dangerous practices, to cover up dangers of pollution, food additives, drugs, GMO crops, pesticides, etc.

- It includes the scientists who do the science to come up with all of the above.

- It includes those hired by the military to do basic research into ever more deadly and ever more massively deadly weapons, tactics, strategies, policies, etc.

- It includes those whose alleged psychological, sociological, anthropological, cognitive, etc. assertions support inequality between women and men (guess who is generally favored), black and white (again, guess who comes out ahead) etc.

- Eugenics was and neo-eugenics still is considered science, promoted by science and scientists, either calling it that or not.  I have come to the belief that any assertion of natural selection must, eventually, turn to eugenics or, at the least, an assertion that human equality is a delusion.

- Scientists, entirely scientific establishments, in physics, chemistry, biology, etc. have worked for some of the most horrible governments with the worst records of genocide, mass murder, oppression, slavery, etc.  The Nazis, the Soviet Union, China, every single country, including North Korea and Pakistan which obtained atomic and nuclear weapons and, lest anyone forget the only country which has yet used atomic weapons, the United States, all employed scientists in very large numbers who knew exactly what they were doing when they were producing the deadliest weapons we've ever had.*

I don't count them as liberals or their professional activity as liberal or at least any kind of liberalism I want to have anything to do with or expect to have positive results.

I don't care which party someone belongs to, if they're doing that or so many other things as scientists, they fall into the "wingnut" scale in my book.  If they're doing it out of professional and financial motives instead of rabid political-ideological motives doesn't seem, to me, to make that better.  It just shows that they have no morals instead of seriously twisted morals.   I don't know which is worse, in the end.

The romantic view of science held by just about everyone on the lefty-left is a delusion.   There are probably as high a percentage of highly principled, highly moral, politically egalitarian-democratic scientists as there are in other areas of life.   Given the financial, social and academic rewards of selling out through science, I strongly suspect that you're more likely to find those kinds of sell outs in the STEM fields than you will in the arts or religious studies.   I would, once, have suspected you could include philosophy in that group but it seems to have gone to hell, too.

* As a subscriber to and addict of the Periodic Table of Video videos, this one posted two days ago adds some information to this in regard to the professional activity of chemists.

It was a follow up to this one posted earlier.

Update:  While writing this, I was sent this futher statement from the "brain trust" at Eschaton.

slarti_bartfast  Richard_thunderbay • 44 minutes ago
There are practically no wingnut basic scientists, period. Having any success in that area pretty much requires for you to have an open mind.

I'll add it has to be one of the most clueless statements about science I've ever read, only I've read the same claim made so many times.   Like most of the true believers in science as some great moral force, you've got to totally ignore the history of science which is full of eminent scientists who have nothing like an open mind.  Max Planck, who could pretty definitively stand as the icon of science, famously said it,  progress in science often requires funerals as the most eminent scientists die off and the new ideas they resisted can come to the forefront.

Science is a method, it isn't magic.

Update 2:   And now he sends this:

Hazelnut79  Moe_Szyslak • an hour ago
I mean, I've joked before that biology must not be a STEM field since everybody has to switch over to medicine to get jobs, but I don't think I've met a single righty biologist.

I guess Hazelnut never met the racists and eugenicists James Watson or Francis Crick.  To some extent that could depend on how far you want to extend biology.  These days a lot of people from psychology to sociology to even economics like to pretend they're practicing evolutionary biology and, in a lot of cases, getting away with it.  Lots of them are very popular with right wingers because they support inequality and, in a lot of cases, gender, racial and ethnic inequality.   I think one of the most entertaining events in recent popular understanding of science was when so many of his biggest fans found out Richard Dawkins has some pretty horrible regressive features to him.  I suspect he probably votes liberalish but, really, he's no liberal.   And don't get me started on ethology and actual Nazis like Konrad Lorenz.

Note:  I wrote this quickly last night and forgot to fact-check my faulty recollection that Edward Teller won the Nobel prize, he didn't though he won many other honors from his scientific colleagues.

This Is A Test - On The Pundits Declaration of Pivot

The pundit class is always, in every situation, looking for a way to promote the corporate-fascist agenda. Trump has been meeting with lots of corporate leaders, pretty much publicly, with no shame or fear of prosecution, setting up massive financial trusts with them, with the government at the center in a way that even the worst of the 19th century, gilded-age crook-presidents never did. They got their lines from that as plainly as Trump got his from the teleprompter. The media babblers know how to read their lines too.

I doubt it's going to last long.  There are enough people who don't want the United States to be a puppet state of Donald Trump's benefactors in Russia who have access to damaging information about him and the Republican-fascists are going to seriously damage lots of people who will be able to vote.  

Hate Mail

No, I figured out that anyone at Baby Blue who believes the lies and libels about me is too stupid for me to worry about.   And that guy who claims I don't have a sense of humor has stolen jokes from me and posted them as his own.  I don't really care, it's not as if I'm going to make any money from it and I've got more where those came from.  I'm still having trouble with "insert" which will limit my posting of new stuff till I get it sorted out.  

As to the comment about the number of the comments here, I get at least five to ten for every one I decide to post.  I read a number of blogs that have vastly more value for reading time than Duncan and none of them have as many comments,  Echidne, for example.  Comments seem to drive out content, as Digby may have found when she decided to drop comments at her blog.  

He still ain't getting posted here during lent, I gave up fatheads. 

Update:  You can tell he's cribbing because those are the jokes that are funny.  Well, unless it's a joke that was old when Joey Bishop told it on Merv Griffin before most of the Eschatots were born. 

Bernie Sanders' BRILLIANT Response To Trump's Speech To Congress

I was really unhappy with Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders and his campaign last year but I totally support Senator Bernie Sanders, as I always have.  

Update:   And here's the official response:  

Democratic response to Trump Congress Speech by Steve Beshear

Gregorio Allegri - Miserere - Psalm 51 (Catholic number 50)

Pro Cantione Antiqua
Mark Brown, director

Scores at IMSLP  Note:  I only looked at a couple of the many scores available and I wasn't sure of their accuracy, so you can judge.  The one with the most stars the manuscript listed as "Anton Friedrich Justus Thibaut (1772-1840)? former owner" looks interesting but I doubt anyone could use it as a performance score.   It uses c clefs.

Note, this is the famous one, the one that the teenage Mozart heard once at a Wednesday Vespers service at the Vatican, wrote out the score from memory (he had to go back to hear it again and he needed to make a few corrections on Friday) winning him fame for his incredibly good ear training and mastery of harmony and counterpoint and earned him him being appointed chivalric orders by the Pope.   Never let anyone tell you that the Mozarts weren't masters of PR.   One online source says that the English music commentator Charles Burney got a copy of the score from Mozart so I would imagine the IMSLP scores published by him would reflect that line of transmission.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hate Mail Two

Naw, I don't feel sorry for Duncan, he's a guy who sponsors libel and lies and only gets excited if people aren't buying enough through his for-profit link to the Amazon sweat-shop.   As far as I'm concerned, if it were possible to sue him for that, I would.   If it meant the end of Eschaton, well, who'd notice? You do have to wonder if he knew what it meant when he named his blog that.  I'm betting he didn't. 

The Freedom From Rear - Hate Mail

You have no idea how liberating it was to realize that the rump of regulars at Eschaton,  who are also regular rumps, are functional illiterates who wouldn't get what I was saying no matter how often I repeated it.  

It does't matter what I say, they won't read it and they won't get it.  

Looking at your link, I notice Duncan's putting up a show of making an effort, can't help but think it has something to do with what I said about that last week.  Maybe the boy can revive his long shelved ability to write.  If he wants his regulars to read it he'd better keep it simple and stupid.  I'd advise him to forget about them and write for literates.  It's so much less depressing and futile. 

June Butler And All Of The Rest Who Confront Republican Liars Are My Heroes

I'm late for this but three cheers for June Butler of Wounded Bird for standing her ground and asking her questions that the Republican Bill Cassidy tried to dodge by running out the clock.  She's my heroine of the week, again.

 Bill Cassidy arrived on time, and talked and talked, yada, yada, yada, running out the time of a one hour meeting. Here are my notes as I wrote them as I sat and listened.

President O'Trump (He really said that) will spend 1 trillion on infrastructure
Trump will bring back energy jobs
Trump will bring back manufacturing jobs
The Dakota pipeline is good and will create many jobs in the US
He's talking too much. Get to the questions
Cassidy talks too damned much
Running out the clock, blah, blah, blah

I sat patiently for a good while and was tired of wasting my time, so I started waving my hand. Cassidy paid no attention, so I shouted out, "Senator, you're talking too much. Listen to the people. Also, I have a question."

He didn't get to me, and people were pointing to me and telling him to answer my question. He finally turned to me, and I asked:

"Will you guarantee that your health care plan or whatever Republican health care plan you sign will cover everyone who is covered by Obamacare?   You are a doctor, and you took an oath to do no harm."

He answered something like nearly everyone. I said, "That's no guarantee."

Then he said, "What if people don't want coverage?"

I said, "That's not what I mean, and you know it."

Cassidy never got to the written questions that were handed in, so I'm glad I shouted out and didn't wait. He left promptly after an hour with a number of people still waiting to ask questions.

Among the few questions and comments that time permitted, one man spoke of how Medicaid expansion helps hospitals that had to take losses in the emergency room before the program was implemented....

To which I say, hurrah! , don't let any of them get away without being confronted.

Abolish "Insert"

My friggin' computer keeps getting stuck in "insert" mode, I've got no idea why but it is making writing and editing (as in yesterday's post) incredibly difficult.   Has anyone ever really used "insert" other than the oldest of computer geeks from the earliest times?   I have never used it, not once, though it's forced me to retype a lot when the damned "feature" gets triggered - especially when I'm entering text from a book.  I've never voluntarily used it in three decades of using computers.

Why do they still have it?  If they've got to get rid of something that would be my #1 thing to go.

Last Day For This Topic For Now

I had hoped to leave that topic yesterday but I can't resist pointing something out to you.  In the update to yesterday's post I posed a theoretical:

I wonder what would happen if, in such a play, someone took a child who was taken from their parents and trained in some other ideology which was not religious but which the parents didn't approve of but the religion of the parents was "the wrong one" how it would be received.  Say a child who was being schooled in creationism taken and turned into a conventional materialist-atheist-Darwinist.   I can't imagine the feelings of the parents would count for much and such a play would almost certainly not be written or made into a movie.

The dynamics of the situation would be the same, a child taken, without reason, from the parents to be trained in an ideology they didn't approve of and likely alienated from them, perhaps in ways Edgardo Mortara was not from his family with whom he maintained contact.  As I was writing that it occurred to me that it was possible that the Judaism of the Mortara family might contain a more literal notion of the story of creation than the theatrical folk, reviewers, writers, ideological hacks, blog blatherers, my trolls, etc. pretending to take their part would approve of.  Though I'm certainly no expert in such matters among the Jewish community of Bologna in the mid 19th century.  I'd wonder if the central issue were made the circumcision of male babies what would get written.  Is the opposition to that most definitive of Jewish practices still a thing among American atheists as it was not long ago?

If the case were not a traditional ideological weapon to use against Catholicism, no one would still be rehashing it in books or making plays or movies about it.  I'd love to know why that case and not so many others.

I think it's interesting why the case of the unjustly institutionalized Carrie Buck and her daughter Vivian Buck. taken from her mother by the social work establishment of Virginia, an act enabled, ultimately by the high priesthood of the U.S. Supreme Court isn't so treated.  It is a far more compelling story without the ambiguities and contradictions that make the Mortara case impossible to make into a salable, honest drama, including the fact that the central figure in the case, as a sane and rational adult, approved of what  was done but which causes us such outrage.   Not only was Carrie Buck sterilized against her will and institutionalized, she and by implication her daughter and parents were slandered from the Supreme Court bench by that most cold-blooded of saints of pseudo-liberalism, Oliver Wendell Holmes, as "imbeciles".  Most relevant to this post, the only child she would ever have,  Vivian Buck, like her mother of demonstrated normal intelligence,  was taken from her and put in foster care where she died as a child.  By the action of the state of Virginia as supported by the Supreme Court, she didn't live to be in her eighties, able to give us her adult consideration and judgement of her life as Edgardo Mortara did.  I think it's more than possible that if she'd been left in the care of her mother, she well may not have died.

Now, that's a case with clear cut dramatic potential that wouldn't have to suppress inconvenient, untheatrical or embarrassing facts such as the judgement of the adult Mortara stated about his own life.  But I can't name any plays or movies about it, can you?   I mean without googling it.

I suspect that is because the villains in the story are the wrong villains who playwrights and producers and directors either are afraid of attacking or who they wouldn't find to be as gratifying objects of incited hatred.  I don't think the motive in kicking around the case of Edgardo Mortara has much to do with the injustice to the long dead Mortaras, it's got everything to do with who they can use this to attack, today.  The Catholic Church is such a traditional and gratifying object of hate in the English speaking intellectual class but they'd never dare go after Oliver Wendell Holmes in the same way.   It wouldn't even occur to them to research it.  It hasn't been done before.  They've done more remakes of that story than I have posts on the topic since Sunday morning.

Update:  As you would see if you read the link given above, the Nazis completely understood that the goal of Oliver Wendell Holmes jr. and theirs were the same, to exclude the descendants of those they selected as "inferior" from the future.  At the time of the Buck v Bell decision, the Nazis weren't even openly talking about more than an American style eugenics program to sterilize those selected as "unfit", as I have pointed out, elsewhere, many of the leading lights of British literature and politics, such as George Bernard Shaw, were the ones who were talking about putting them in gas chambers and killing them with gas, he'd been doing it for at least a decade and a half before the Bell decision.

Holmes and the state of Virginia did in the one case of Carrie Buck, just that.  Her child died - perhaps as a result of having been taken from her - and she could have no more.  I'm not sure if Vivian were sterilized as a young girl but I am pretty certain she would have been as she entered her adolescence.  I have also pointed out that it was the Nazis who kept the best records of a Dr. Perkins who was doing his best, in consultation with such people as Charles Davenport, to exterminate the Abenakis in quaint, rural, New England Vermont according to the current best practices of progressive science.

As I pointed out, during the Nuremberg trials the Nazis were able to bring up the words of Holmes and other Americans in their defense, which must have been awkward for Francis Biddle, who led the court, he was Holmes' private secretary and confidant.  A lot of what the Nazis did was informed by the public thinking of supposed British and American liberals, only "liberals" in the "enlightenment" use of the word, not in the traditional Christian meaning of the word.  There were lots of Christians who fell for that corruption as progressive at the time and after, too.  That's one thing you can't blame the Catholic Church for, they were opposed to eugenics from the start.

Update:  in effect "What right did E.M. have to have an opinion about his own life!"

I really have already said this several times but I'll repeat it again. 

A. The kidnapping of Edgaro Mortara was wrong, in my opinion. 

B. The fact is that, as a rational adult Edgaro Mortara said it wasn't bad that it had happened.  I haven't seen any evidence that he wasn't capable of deciding that for himself,  if he'd said he was wronged, we wouldn't have any problem with that, now would we. 

C. I don't have any right to substitute my judgement for that of the guy who was the central figure in the case, not even if that leads to an unsatisfying stalemate of contending ideas or, in the case of you guys, emotions.   

D. Obviously, many people don't care what he thought about his own life, expropriating his right to decide that for themselves.  I'm not pretending I or they have any right to not care about it.  It was his life, not yours to judge, not mine.  He didn't commit any crimes that might give us that right. 

Now, go soak your fat head.   You can consider that my little Fat Tuesday celebration.   Tomorrow I've got to try to be good. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

It’s Time for a Grand Jury on Trump and Russia

Vi Redd - Anthropology - Against Trumpian Racism

Vi Redd - I'd rather have a memory than a dream

Vi Redd, alto sax
Herb Ellis, guitar
Russ Freeman, piano
Bob Whitlock., bass
Richie Goldberg, drum

Now's The Time

Vi Redd, Alto Sax and Vocals
Roy Ayers, vibes
Carmell Jones, trumpet
Russ Freeman, piano
Leroy Vinnegar, bass

Richie Goldberg, drums

Mary Lou Williams, Don Byas - Lullabye of the Leaves

Mary's Waltz 

The Horrific Consequences Of Believing Our Preferred Fictions And Why The Smart Guys Are As Willing To Suspend Disbelief As The Rubes

Obviously, the reality TV created Donald Trump most of the people who voted for him believe in, isn't the real Donald Trump.  But that TV fiction can produce horrendous consequences when that TV substitute for reality is taken by the vulnerable to be reality.   And before you smug smarties figure this is going to be an opportunity for you to look down on those idiots, you'll get yours in a few minutes.

The Donald Trump that TV manipulation of an audience produced is clearly not the insane idiot who sits in the White House, a slave to his crass appetites and his inner 2-year-old he really is, TV Trump is the macho, high-roller, user of others to make a bundle and live the kind of putrid, vulgar high-life that TV and Hollywood also sell.  As a president the horrors of that substitution of the fictionalized Trump for reality can't be stopped by the directors, producers, writers or even the tyranny of the hour blocking of the American TV schedule to move on to the next distraction.  It's all too real.

In that product of the degraded form of drama that "realty" TV is we have a good example of what happens when people in large numbers are served up the phony, the lying, the manipulative and ersatz reality of the worst of theatrical entertainment.  Don't forget, Donald Trump isn't just an actor, he's a consumer of the stuff.   We also have an example, perhaps somewhat less horrific, when the pro-wrestler Jesse Ventura rather shockingly became governor of the once believed sensible state of Minnesota,  That was also a product of TV.   That warning of the consequences of replacing the lowest of theatrical manipulation as a substitute for reality was a warning which America did not take.

In the Donald Trump phenomenon, the danger of imposing the commercial form of pretended reality on real life are becoming terrifyingly obvious.

Yesterday's exercise in considering the possible use of the life of Edgaro Mortara to make an ideological movie isn't an entirely separate thing from the above.  Any cinematic use of him and his story will create a fiction, it's inevitable when you translate any life into a theatrical form, it will distort that reality for its own purposes.

In thinking about the possible use of his life to make a movie you either have to consider Mortara's judgment of his kidnapping by Pius IX which didn't condemn it which will not permit the results you might want, or you have to ignore those completely, substituting the judgement of the results of that of someone else, his parents, other members of his family, or, in a rapidly descending circle of those with absolutely no standing to override Mortara's own judgement of his life, supposed advocates, scholars, ideologues and polemicists who expropriate Mortara's ultimate expertise to make that decision about himself and his biography.

The ideological use of Mortara's life, and, worse, not even his life but just the kidnapping, is about the only part of the real Mortara that ever gets into our view of him.  That would be least true in an historical treatment of his life which takes into account his own judgement of what it means, which , he not being stupid or insane, would, at least be fair.  Consider that his own thinking matters and, it being his life which is the ultimate matter to consider, it is more important than even the relatively few other people with actual standing to have an opinion of it that should matter.

Any non-ideological treatment of his life is stuck with two irreconcilable facts, the fact that the kidnapping was by any modern thinking wrong, a wrong to his parents and family, beyond question but also the fact that the adult Edgardo Mortara didn't see it that way*.  I agreed and agree that the kidnapping was wrong but I also acknowledge that I don't have a right to ignore Mortara's own judgment of his own life.   That situation might not lead to a satisfyingly final and single view of the events but my satisfaction isn't what determines the character of what happened.  That there is no pat moral conclusion possible if you take Mortara's adult judgment of his life into consideration as well as that of his parents who would certainly have not liked that result, as well.

A theatrical, instead of a responsible historical treatment of the reality of Edgardo Mortara's life would almost certainly have to disregard his own view of his life.  Considering that a theatrical production that did justice to even the both sides that had any real standing to have an opinion on it would not reach a satisfying denoument, reach a just conclusion or leave the audience and the critics happy, the play would never get written that way.  Or, if it were, it would close, probably during previews.  And what is true of theater is ever so much more true of a Hollywood movie which exists, ultimately, to make money by giving the audience what it already wanted or to sell them an easy, facile, and, so, false view of any complex event.  Which is why Hollywood history ain't never going to be history.

I think if the movie is released I might overcome my allergy to Hollywood history to see it but the thing I will be interested in is whether or not Tony Kushner has made a deal with the devil and sold his soul to tinsel town.  I doubt that the complex and clearly fictionalized view of historical figures to explore the moral implications will be present in the movie, I think he'll have gone for the ideological safe and pat treatment of it.  It's what Hollywood does with history, it's what just about every theatrical and even much of popular history does with it.  But putting it up on a screen with filmed actors, convincing sets and the rest of simulated  reality, flooding and aiding our suspension of disbelief gives it a dangerous potency that no one falls for like the ideologically prepared mind - in that probably the most ready audience to be swayed to what they already want to believe are those with an education.   Political ideology, especially the potent brands of it that will inform a Tony Kushner audience, makes them as vulnerable to suspend their disbelief as a conservative who watched The Apprentice or World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.  Only they add the arrogance of believing they're smarter than they are to it.

*  Again, I have to point out, that if at the same age, an atheist had begun the conversion of Edgardo Mortara out of believing, observant Judaism into materialist atheism, perhaps a socialism that would turn, in the fullness of time, into some acceptably violent anarchism or Marxism, the ideological treatment of that story would likely reach entirely different conclusions that, as well, would probably not have made his parents happy.  In which case just about all of those without any proper standing would switch allegiances.

Note:  It occurs to me that the ideological use of Edgardo Mortara is a lot like the ideological use of Phineas Gage, only in the case of Mortara, a man who was educated and able to leave a record of his thoughts which Gage did not, his own judgment could be taken into consideration.  I will point out that Gage's life, seen without ideological filters, doesn't support the atheist-materialist Gage that most people believe was the real man was after his famous accident.  The Phineas Gage most people believe they know about is a pseudo-scientific, ideological puppet that can be made to do what suits their ideological purposes.  It's not like the man who, after the accident, moved to Chile and worked at the challenging job of driving a stage coach, in a country where he'd have had to learn a new language and which would require what the ideologues claim he lost.   Not even that reality overrides the ideological lies.

Update:  I just read this interesting article about a play  on this subject produced in 2002, Edgardo Mine by Alfred Urey.   As, reportedly, the Speilberg-Kushner movie, it was inspired by the book by David Kertzer,  "The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara".   In the review Alfred Urey said he didn't want to make the play one-sided, opting to tell the story out of the points of view of Pius IX and Marianna Mortara, the boy's mother.   His explanation of why he changed his original idea of telling the story from the boy's point of view is interesting:

At first I thought I would make the boy the main character.  But he wasn't the one who put things into play.  ... So I didn't know what to do, until one day I saw a big color engraving of Pope Pius IX.  I saw that picture and thought:  “He's an actor.  Hes a ham.  Look at that costume.  Look at that headdress."  I never met any popes,  but I've met lots of show-offs,  and that's a character I can relate to.  I felt that I knew this man, his piety, his sense of self, his sense of humor.  The character of the pope began to fascinate me, because he really felt he was doing God's will, and it was painful for him to do this.  He believed he had no choice.

Which could take several more posts to go into.  First, the choice to leave the boy out avoids the unpopular fact that he, the person whose point of view is the one with the highest standing took what is now an unpopular view of it, I don't blame him, I don't like that idea either and am sure a play that included it wouldn't be well received by a modern audience.   Remember, I'm the one who said I didn't think an honest view of this story would make a successful drama.

I also thought it was interesting because Urey's idea that Pius IX "had no choice" would be how someone who had a view of the Catholic religion as a form of brain washing that produced automatons might believe someone like Pius IX would think of it. In my experience, it's how secularist-modernist people figure religious people don't think.  I have a strong feeling that if he were able to answer that idea, he would deny that was the case.  But I don't know what he'd have said anymore than Urey does.   The only possible means of knowing that is in what was, actually said by the people involved.

All of this makes me ever more wary of the use of historical events and, especially, the lives of real people in an ersatz realist presentation of those events than ever.  I think if people want to say something about other times and other places and to use them for their own purposes, they should invent characters who are independent of the real people who don't volunteer to be turned into ideological cartoons.   I wonder what would happen if, in such a play, someone took a child who was taken from their parents and trained in some other ideology which was not religious but which the parents didn't approve of but the religion of the parents was "the wrong one" how it would be received.  Say a child who was being schooled in creationism taken and turned into a conventional materialist-atheist-Darwinist.   I can't imagine the feelings of the parents would count for much and such a play would almost certainly not be written or made into a movie.

It reminds me of the story I know of a woman, the mother of one of my in-laws, who was put up for adoption by her protestant mother at an early age, placed temporarily with a Catholic family where she was loved and well cared for but, according to the policy of the social worker establishment in their state, was removed from them when a protestant placement could be found, a placement where she was unhappy and not loved as she had been with a family of "the wrong" faith.  She felt the decision of the social workers damaged her life.  I'd say that she was the one who got to make that judgement.

Who does a child belong to, in the end?  How much does a child belong to their parents, their family, their ethnicity, their religion?   Damned if I know the answer to that but I doubt any of the scholars, scribblers, directors, producers, etc. named in these posts does, either.

I do know that Edgardo Mortara doesn't belong to them, certainly not more than he belonged to himself.  They are doing with him, as a real person, something not much different from what they accuse Pius IX of doing with him.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I'm Amazed You Guys Ever Got Promoted To Fifth Grade

I don't think I'll ever get used to the idea of people with college degrees who never learned to use a dictionary.   Not even an online version where you just have to copy, paste and read.  

Here highlight it, copy it, paste this in google and read what it is.

Ultramontanism definition 

I'm done spoon feeding the most ignorant conceited people there are.   

Update:  You can consider this the weekend I finally realized the reason I'm getting so much flack from so many flaky atheists is that in the new millennium and for a long time before that, atheism has been an expression of functional illiteracy.  It always was an expression of intellectual reductionism but now it's a symptom of illiteracy.   It's the reason that Duncan Black's rump remnant of a blog community that used to include literate people who have all left it can not comprehend what I say no matter how many times I say it, how clearly I say it, often with documented support. They simply can't read at an adult level.   I don't know if his decision to start writing to suit the level of their illiteracy is a conscious or an unconscious concession to that, but it may as well have been. 

Donald Trump Must Go

Now This Is Getting Interesting Or Ridiculous

Maybe the best way to make the point is to ask who has the standing to decide "the ultimate question" of whether or not what Pius IX did to Edgardo Mortara was good or evil.  

Who gets to decide that?  Tony Kushner? Steven Spielberg?  Pius IX?  His henchmen? Anti-Catholic polemicists?  Ultramontanist nutters?  Authors with an ideological axe to grind during Mortara's life or decades after his death?  Mortara's parents?  His siblings?  Their descendants?   Who has the highest standing to make that ultimate determination?

Now, if you've come up with your preferred answer, how about this?  What was Edgardo Mortara's standing to make that determination about his own life as compared to that of anyone else? 

I certainly think the kidnapping was an evil act but I don't have the standing to make the determination that Edgardo Mortara did.  My judgement of the kidnapping is on a general, abstract principle that, unless there was reasonable evidence of child abuse or neglect,  Pius IX and his henchmen committed an evil act just as ICE does when they tear parents away from their children. But that judgement is an abstract that can't override the adult Edgardo Mortara's view of his own life. Even his own parents' standing to make that judgement in an ultimate sense is inferior to his.  I don't have a right to ignore that. 

Update:  If what Edgardo Mortara said about it doesn't satisfy you or appease your sense of outrage might piss you off, it doesn't mean his judgement of his own life is inferior to that of someone who never knew him and knows little to nothing about him.  Who died and made you him? 

Update 2:  "If they hand't brainwashed him to be a Catholic he wouldn't say it was all right".  

That's an if, it isn't what happened.   

I'd say that if, as he was older and could say what he thought, Edgardo Mortara said that what happened to him was a violation of his rights, evil, wrong, etc. then that would constitute his mature judgement of the matter and it would be what should be given priority over the opinion of anyone else.  Would you disagree with that?  

And if you agree that his possible adult condemnation of his kidnapping should govern how we think about it, why isn't that also true if his adult judgement of his life didn't condemn it?   

I'm asking you a question, not giving you an answer.  Mortara was the only one qualified to do that. I respect that, you obviously don't. 

That none of this gives someone something they can make an honest movie script from isn't my problem. 

Update 3:  It shouldn't be overlooked that Edgardo Mortara was kidnapped in 1858, when, in these secular United States, governed by the secular Constitution and the Bill of Rights, it was perfectly legal for children to be taken from their parents and sold to people who would not give them a high level of education to be raised as Mortara was.  The ethnic and religious identities of slave holders, including  "free thinking" atheists, would show that what was done in one instance in the Papal States, far worse happened hundreds, thousands of times, year after year in these secular United States and in many other countries. 

If, as is the clear intention in the polemical use of this one incident, it discredits and invalidates Catholicism and Christianity, then the many tens of thousands of such incidents discredits and invalidates the Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights and secularism, in general. Or at least it would according to that use of it.  That's almost certainly the real reason this movie is being made, reading more about it and the book that reportedly inspired the decision to make it.   If Kushner and Speilberg surprise me on that I won't be upset about it but, again, I'm not waiting up nights. 

What Part Of "I Don't Know That" "I Doubt It Is Possible" Was Too Complicated For You To Get?

I raised questions, I didn't come to any conclusion and I said that I doubted anyone could, so as to connect the adult Edgardo Mortara's view of his own life with his kidnapping as a child.  I doubted it was possible

I don't know that.  I don't know how even the great Tony Kushner can turn that into theatrical, never mind cinematic truth.   I doubt it is possible to do that.  How can you make history or even honest drama out of someones' life while ignoring what they said about it? 

I don't know how you could turn those doubts into a positive assertion.  Well, I don't know how an honest person could, I can figure out how an habitual liar would.  Raising questions that you say you doubt can be answered is something that you do when you're refusing to lie about something.  It's not something that the movies are very good at.  Not profit-making movies of the Hollywood type, it would have to be an "art film" to do that.  One that wouldn't turn a profit or get an Oscar nomination.

Update:  If you want easy, pre-packaged thinking, as easily swallowed and digested as pablum wrapped up in a baby-blue wrapper, there are places you can get that.  I don't do that.

Movies, TV shows, plays are probably about the worst venues of presenting history there are

No, I  didn't know that Steven Spielberg is planning on making a movie about the kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara by the agents of Pope Piux IX in 1858, refusing to return him to his family, raising him as a Catholic because a servant girl had secretly baptized him when he was an infant.  If, and it being a Hollywood, movie presentation of history, IF Spielberg and the fine playwright Tony Kushner were faithful to the historical record, I'd say, sure, go for it.  And, make no mistake about it, Kushner is about my favorite living American dramatist.  But, it being a Hollywood, movie presentation of history, I can't say that I've ever seen one of those that is faithful to the historical record so it might count as a first.  Even Kushner felt it desirable to bend history in Lincoln to make the history of that time into a movie and if he did that I'm not waiting up nights for even someone of his ability to turn this history into an accurate movie.  Movies, TV shows, plays are probably about the worst venues of presenting history there are.   Adding to the problem is that there are at least two, opposing and distinct lines of historical record in the Edgardo Mortara case which won't both fit into a feature film.

It was tempting to ignore the taunt but there are some interesting questions and points that writing about it raises, so I will.

I certainly am in favor of condemning what Pius IX and his henchmen did, kidnapping a child from his parents on the pretext of a secret baptism of the child was disgusting and worthy of the condemnation that it got at that time and ever since.  It is certainly a shameful episode in 19th century Catholic history.   I've written about it in the past and pointed out that it does show that the use of one term, anti-Semitism for that and similar act to force Jews to convert to Catholicism or Christianity and the biology-based genocide of the Nazis, the pogrom of Stalin, etc. are certainly not the same things.   English so often gets into trouble when we use the same words for things which are really not the same, especially true among the mid-brow, unthinking type of person who mistake the movies for a history lesson.

You have to draw a distinction between presenting a movie as if it were history and the use of historical personages to represent truth other than historical truth.   Even when put into a movie, that can be not only artistically valid but can present truth.  Kushner did that brilliantly in Angels in America, the movie scene of Al Pacino as the putrid, by then delusional Roy Cohn on his death bed and Meryl Streep as the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg is one of the greatest pieces of acting I've ever seen in a movie.  I couldn't fault that kind of abstracted use of historical figures which no one but the stupidest of viewers, who probably wouldn't see that kind of movie, would mistake as the truth.

I don't know what Kushner and Spielberg will do with the story, I don't know if I'll see the movie, I'm even more allergic to cinematic "history" than I am to Hollywood productions, in general.  They might do it.  In which case, let Pius IX stand condemned for what he did, which was indefensible. But it does raise a lot of interesting questions, even taking that into account.

Considering who it is who brings this up to me, overnight, I do have to wonder why it is the highest of high crimes to do what Pius IX and his henchmen did, to take a Jewish child and turn him into a Catholic when it would clearly be perfectly OK with him to take a Jewish child and turn him into an atheist.

Why is what Pius IX did considered a terrible crime which blackens Catholics and Catholicism, today, whereas atheists who alienate Jewish children from their religion  are considered to be performing a great and noble act?  It's not as if Catholicism doesn't share a huge amount in common with Judaism, the entire Jewish Bible, for example.  By a huge number, the largest category of those who take the Jewish scriptures seriously, as divine teaching, are Christians, Catholics, alone, accounting for more than a billion of people who fall into that category.  And the central figure in Christianity was a Jew who taught as a Jew, his named followers all being Jews, as well.  Atheism, on the other hand, doesn't have that in common with Judaism.  The Holocaust, the 20th century pogroms in the Soviet Union were largely an atheist, anti-Christian phenomenon.

Lots of people used the event, at the time and now,  to push their own agendas, Catholic and anti-Catholic.  That is the primary use of it, now.  Within the Catholic Church, now, I can't imagine that just about anyone would do anything but condemn the kidnapping.   I can't imagine more than a tiny, fanatical Ultramontanist faction doing anything but condemn it, entirely. Let me clarify that I'm unaware of any such Ultramontanist faction actually existing, it would clearly be in opposition to the official teaching of the Catholic Church, now.

Edgardo Mortara died a Jew who was a Catholic Priest in good standing in Belgium in 1940.  If he had lived even a year or two, it is entirely likely that the Nazis would have murdered him for being a Jew as they murdered St. Sr. Edith Stein.  Though they certainly killed lots and lots of Catholics, lay people, nuns, priests, for being Catholics, too.

Considering Mortara is the central figure in the actual history, there is a question of how much what he said about himself and his own case should determine what is said about it, now.   Certainly, what he said, himself, as an adult, years and decades after the death of Pius IX in 1878 can't be ignored or discounted.   I'm not aware of him ever sharing the commonly held opinions of condemnation of his kidnapping and rearing as a Catholic intended for the priesthood from his infancy.  I have no idea how you deal with that so as to come to an ultimate conclusion as to what it means.  It is certainly a reasonable assumption that if he hadn't been so kidnapped and reared, he wouldn't have been a Catholic priest who supported Pius IX.  But, since he was, how do you discount his own opinion of his own life?   I don't know that.  I don't know how even the great Tony Kushner can turn that into theatrical, never mind cinematic truth.   I doubt it is possible to do that.  How can you make history or even honest drama out of someones' life while ignoring what they said about it?

Update:  I looked back over my notes from the time I wrote on this and I'm going to say that there is no way to honestly deal with this story in a movie unless you pointedly deal with the impossibility of squaring what Mortara thought of his own life as opposed to other peoples' opinions of it.  You can condemn the initial act of kidnapping and probably should but his entire life isn't that one act. Turning his entire life into the black or white conclusion that the movie industry demands would have to squeeze it into falsification.