Friday, May 24, 2019

Hate Mail

Duncan Black runs the Harry Hope's Bar of once prominent play-lefty blogs.  Only he doesn't do much running.  And there's no poetry. 



Update:  Every once in a while it's good to remember what an unusually good actor Lee Marvin was, and I don't mean by just Hollywood standards. 

Update 2:  There are so few ideas over there that it's not surprising.  Stupy has never had an idea that didn't originate with someone else so any idea he comes up against seems like it's original. 

"That's a dirty story! Bob Mueller doesn't want to have to tell that on TV"

Since the former governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld pointed out that both he and Robert Mueller had been friends of Donald Trump's taxpayer funded lawyer William Barr, what he said about the revelation that the model of rectitude, Robert Mueller's condition that he would only testify to the House Judiciary Committee in closed session on Lawrence O'Donnell's show last night was refreshingly honest.

Well, Lawrence,  I think that that Bob Mueller is totally up to testifying in public.  He was head of the FBI for twelve years, he was grilled by Congress, both parties many, many times.  And he was my deputy in the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston and I remember I went to dinner in New York where he was giving a speech, twelve years later after he had served so long and ably in the FBI.  He's a totally different guy, he's a very, very consummate, experienced guy, so he would be up to it [testifying to the House  Judiciary Committee].

I think what's going on here is Bob is so straight, he doesn't necessarily want to say how the process has been perverted and my reading of what happened behind closed doors - Bob Mueller's report says we decided not to make a traditional prosecutive judgment because we really couldn't.  

Translation: Bill Barr told me that he was going to squash any indictment I tried to bring against the president for obstruction.  That's a dirty story!  Bob Mueller doesn't want to have to tell that on TV and I think that's exactly what's going on here. 

To which I say, Robert Mueller is entirely too full of himself if that's really his reason, if that's his real reason, we'd better know about that and depend on the judgement of those who know the case but are ready to put American democracy before a crooked pal. "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country," might make an overly clever line for for some second-string scribbler like E. M. Forster to pen, it might make it for sustaining a class-ridden Britain, American democracy can't survive it.

As both O'Donnell and Bill Weld pointed out, Robert Mueller has made a lifetime career of serving in the government, being appointed by presidents, being hired on the basis of his identity as a Republican to fill posts in Republican administrations, he has testified IN PUBLIC at hearings before, he has basked in the adulation of politicians and had his highly vaunted integrity lauded over and over again.  For him to belatedly get shy about presenting the findings of his most important work - the object of which is merely saving American democracy from its enemies foreign and domestic - is not credible, it is certainly not honorable, his given reason is certainly not straight.

I think that as Bill Weld said, he doesn't want to have to say that his good buddy Barr said he'd refuse to bring an indictment of the very indictable Donald Trump, that Barr said or made known to him that he was not to call for an indictment, that he would have to reveal Barr's very political ratfucking in league with the enemies of American democracy, domestic, for sure, in league with those who are foreign enemies, that he did so in pursuit of his fascistic conception of a Republican-fascist presidency with the power to break any law with impunity, the last Constitutional resort of impeachment being about as real as Donald Trump's hair color.

Robert Mueller's pose of integrity is anything but that if he doesn't carry this through IN PUBLIC ON TELEVISION.  If he refuses to lay out all of the filth that he has witnessed, including by Barr, it is him putting a buddy of his same political orientation, of his political party above the good of the country.

For him to strike that pose after seeing what Barr has been doing to his report for the past two months is an act that deserves to go down in history as among the more infamous betrayals of public trust.   I am not good buddies with Robert Mueller, I don't have any reason to trust the common DC - NYC media and establishment consensus on his reputation. Even some of those I might have some regard for are way too quick to treat those in power with entirely too much deference and a pose of respect. 

In Robert Mueller I see a man who may have not been the worst of Republican-establishment apparatchiks but one who, in this crisis, has chosen his sides knowing better than almost anyone else what that means, ducking the full measure of the responsibility that he assumed when he agreed to conduct this most important of jobs.

Update:  I should have added the very last sentence of what Bill Weld said in that passage,  "He's such a gentleman!"  Well, the old saying goes, "The devil is a gentleman."   If that's what a gentleman does, to hell with such gentlemen.

Blaming Politicians For Doing Dumb Things Promoted By The Media Is Putting The Biggest Part Of The Blame In The Wrong Place

Reading this Politico article talking about the role that the then Senator Joe Biden played in creating some of the worst of the drug legislation of the 1980s and 90s, the first thing I thought was that Biden, as so many politicians inevitably do, was surfing the cultural waves created by media.   

The issue of crack cocaine was largely fueled by, yes, the introduction of a new form of cocaine that had its own peculiar venues of harming people.    But the hysteria about it, the thing that led to the legislation, was largely media driven, Phil Donahue and other talk show hosts and magazine show hosts getting the hot guests on to fuel ratings, the authors of books on the hot new topic of the danger of crack, and the coverage of the face of crack use, largely presented as a Black face, largely as poor people, as the Politico article points out, presenting it as a menace largely because of the people who were using it as the affluent users of powder cocaine weren't presented by their relatives and friends in the media, in the publishing industry in journalism as being the clear and present danger that the media presented the use of crack as being.   

That many of those who became temporary media celebrities over the issue were doctors and researchers who pushed those distorted images of what was not much different from the use of powered cocaine was certainly a huge part of why politicians were swept up in the media campaign and who, unsurprisingly, wrote legislation to address what they were told were new and unique dangers to the country and the public.

As I've written earlier this week, I have long had serious misgivings about Joe Biden's political career, his wisdom, his integrity, and, since his infamously and stupendously stupid 1987 plagiarizing of that speech by Neil Kinnock, his intelligence, but I am not going to single him out for doing what politicians job is, politicians whose careers depend on the shifting mood of the public, that shifting being hugely influenced by those decisions of what to put on TV and the radio and in books and magazine articles by the media.   

If you want to know why Biden and is colleagues did things that turned out to be such a disaster, it was largely at the result of what happened in the programming offices of the Phil Donahue Show, the network and cabloid shows, radio shows, and the other venues of media driving the thing. 

Since the article relates how the anti-crack legislation sponsored and promoted by Biden in the 80s and 90s relates to the very real and incredibly deadly epidemic of opioid overdoses and deaths we are going through now, that certainly was even more due to the decisions of the same talk shows and news outlets to fall for the opioid producers declaration of an "under-treated pain epidemic" sold largely by the same methods though with far more obviously evil intent.  The "under-treated pain epidemic" was a media campaign pushed by drug pushers, directly.  Drug pushers of the same, affluent,white, elite class, notoriously many of them holding MD degrees and their families owning the very companies pushing the drugs they certainly knew their customers would become addicted to and, inevitably, a significant percentage of those would go on to use other opioids when they couldn't get their legal, doctor prescribed fixes.   

Again, the media's role in creating the public demand for regulatory and legal changes that permitted the very drug pushers to get America addicted to drugs, was central to pressuring politicians to change laws and put the screws to reluctant regulators to make the drugs available.  

And since they had an enormous role in all of this, especially in the "free speech - free press" rulings that allowed drug companies to advertise even the most dangerous of drugs directly to consumers A CENTRAL PILLAR IN GETTING US ADDICTED TO SO MANY DRUGS the Supreme Court is even more to blame than the politicians who have to bow to pubic pressure that will come with that drug advertising.  And along with that any deputed "civil liberties" group which filed briefs with the court and who testified in favor of the disaster of direct to consumer advertising of drugs.  And, yes, I do mean the goddamned ACLU.  

The idiocy that corporations are "persons" and enjoy the natural rights of real, naturally produced human beings is one of those Constitutional disasters, though it is one that can't be blamed except most indirectly on the fabled founders.  It, as well, is a creation of the Supreme Court.  But though it, also, played a central role in all of these disasters,  I'll go on about that another time. 

As the Politico article notes, Biden seems to realize that his legislation was a disaster, I have no evidence to present that any of the media and others who created both of these disasters have learned a goddamned thing that will keep them from doing it again, the media is certainly not about to take its rightful share of the blame.  The Supreme Court never, ever says it's sorry.  The ACLU brags about the role they took in it on their website.   Being "First Amendment" means never, ever having to say you're sorry.  They blame the politicians who caved to the public pressure brought by those media organizations and drug corporations they freed to create that public pressure.  And if a politician didn't cave to public pressure, they'd be the first to slam them for not being responsive to the voters. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

"a critique of society can be described as specifically Christian only if its authorization comes from this Jesus Christ" - Hate Mail

As I'm finding so often this year as I read the work of Hans Kung in depth, he has already answered the accusation of the depraved history of people who profess Christianity.  I'll get to the specifics of your accusation in light of this passage from "Being Christian As Being Radically Human" from "On Being A Christian."  

If Christians with their theology wish to undertake a critical function in society - in certain respects and within certain limits - they must know and be able to explain the basis of their criticism.  If both their negative and positive criticism amount to no more than what society itself is constantly saying, then their specifically Christian criticism is superfluous. It is not sufficient to call for justice, peace and freedom, like all the rest, merely using a biblical label like "Kingdom of God."  After all that has been and it is clear that a critique of society can be described as specifically Christian only if its authorization comes from this Jesus Christ.  

The author of the best book on Jesus from the Marxist-atheist standpoint, the Czech Milan Machovec, rightly draws attention to the fact -typical of the situation- that "polemicists and critics practically never reproach Christians for being followers of Christ, but on the contrary, for not being such, for betraying the cause of Jesus, for showing all the characteristics which Jesus attributed to the Pharisees, for falling under the condemnation:  'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.'  This may be a criticism of Christianity at any particular time, but not of the real ideals of Jesus."  And at the same time he recalls in particular the charges laid by Karl Marx against bourgeois Christianity with the slogan:  "Does not every moment of your practical lives give the lie to your theories?"

To Marx, after a century and two years of seeing Marxist governance, I'd say look who's talking.  To an atheist using the sketchy history of putative Christian governance as a refutation of Christianity, the uniform history of officially atheist governance being bloody, oppressive dictatorships giving rise to oligarchies and economic elites which, in the fullness of time either turn from a nominal socialism (though inevitably state-capitalism of some form) to overt gangster-capitalism  and - unlike the point in that passage - there is nothing in atheism that can be used to say that such atheists are violating the principles of atheism.   

That tactic, one constantly used against Christianity by atheists from before Voltaire, has been proven to work against the moral character of atheism far better than it does against Jesus, the Gospels, the Epistles, and much of the theology that forms the secondary and tertiary literature of Christianity.  That started to become clear soon after the death of M. Arouet in the Reign of Terror, it has been confirmed in every instance of officially atheist governance since then.  Though I wouldn't go too far with it, especially in  the modern period, many of those countries with officially established Christian state religions have proven that that identification is not, inevitably, depraved in the same way.  That is, I wouldn't push it unless responding to the kind of claim contained in the comment. The closer nominal Christians, individually and in institutions,  hold to the teachings of Jesus, the authoritative and definitive definition of what could be called genuine Christianity, the less susceptible to that polemical criticism they are.  The farther from the teachings of Jesus, the more liable it is to that criticism.   To hold that those who violate the teachings of Jesus while pretending to be Christians discredits Christianity makes about as much sense as claiming that those who get the wrong answer when they're adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing debunk the facts of arithmetic.  

I'm sure there are other authors who have made similar points but, as I say, I've been reading Kung this year. 

The Magic Of Impeachment Is Less Than Slight Of Hand It's Never Going To Happen

I think it all comes down to the proponents of impeachment NOW! believing, against all evidence in history and the present circumstances, that the House voting for impeachment will magically cleanse and correct the disaster that has been building since 1964.  

Well, it won't.  First, impeachment even by an overwhelming vote of the House will go nowhere in the Mitch McConnell Senate, believing that any level of growing public support for impeachment of Trump will pressure McConnell, Graham and others to allow Trump's removal to happen in the Senate they control is, as well, ridiculous.  The impeachment and removal of an American president has never happened in our history, even though many American presidents have broken the law and committed impeachable offenses.  

The impeachment provision of the Constitution does not work to remove criminal presidents who should be removed, it was one of the stupider things they put in the Constitution because they couldn't figure out how to set things up to their liking without risking a president becoming a despot.  If there is one thing that is clear from how the U.S. Constitution really has worked is that as long as we retain the presidential system and as people who want to have a fascist presidency as Trump clearly wants to be and as Republican-fascists want him to be observe how to do that more effectively, since we are not going to change that system, what is happening today is our ever worse, ever newer reality.  

Second,  in fact, Nancy Pelosi who has been the savviest of students of politics longer than even I've been alive knows that making what will likely be a futile gesture resulting in Trump remaining in office, knows that, itself will be worse than, as RMJ put it, the death by a thousand cuts she is inflicting on him.  Adam Schiff, no fool, either, pointed out that if Trump were aquittted by the Senate he and Republican-fascists could claim he had been exonerated.  Much as I respect the intelligence of some of those making the case that doing nothing is bad,  Joy Reid, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, etc.  I think they should consider that they have something to learn from what Nancy Pelosi knows about politics, sometimes long experience and observation provides you with what youthful brilliance doesn't.  

I think the enthusiasm for impeachment in light of the impossibility of its completion in the removal of Trump and the worse danger of a Trump with a claim of exoneration and a Republican-fascist party able to take that in the election of 2020, is a symptom of the deep level of delusional superstition we have been encouraged to maintain about the document setting out the phony power of impeachment and the slaveowner-gangsters who conceived of it. 

As those who read what I post here on a regular basis know, I'm no great admirer of large parts of the U.S. Constitutional system.  I think one of the worst things to happen in my lifetime is the extension of a cult of personality whipped up by both the proponents of de facto slavery and American apartheid on the one hand, and the "civil liberties" industry on the other for the group of mostly slave-owning white, rich aristocratic crooks who wrote the Constitution as if they were some secular pantheon of all wise gods.  

Along with the huge pile of bull shit that you are required to believe about the goodness and wisdom of that collection of slave holders and financial speculators, those fabled "founders",  it is held to be manditory to believe that the Constitution, itself, is some kind of magic formula that will bring every blessing, especially when read with what we are told is a discernable reading of the minds of those gods, the foundation of every bull shit ruse cooked up by law school and law review bull shitters as "originalism" "original intent" etc.  Even in the less fundamentalist form of that as found by the allegedly liberal "civil liberties" industry enough of that civic superstition that holds the Constitution in the highest regard retains a dangerous amount of that magical thinking. 

If we could manage to get rid of the Electoral College, by amending the Constitution (itself an almost impossible thing because the far from far-sighted founders failure to envision fifty state legislatures) not to mention things like making the Senate democratically representative, having the most democratic part of the government The House of Representatives sign off on court and other appointments, putting a term limit on the Supreme Court (with a lifetime ban on being involved in matters they had even a remote hand in deciding on the court) and a few other vitally important things, like making it clear that the modern mass media has no right to broadcast lies and advocating the denial of equal rights, the Constitution might not be as unsafe as it is.  But if you can't impeach a Trump and get the Senate to do their part in removing him, good luck on any of that.   

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Three Questions

What the hell is "granular detail"?   Why is it better than plain old detail?

When did "bespoke" become a thing?   I mean, literally.  I lived more decades than I care to admit to without ever hearing or reading "bespoke" used once and I've both heard and read it scores of times just in the past year. 

Where Is The Media And Pundit Pressure For Impeachment ON THE SENATE?

This morning, as I am typing this, I am listening to John Heilemann and Lawrence O'Donnell discussing why the Democratic House Leadership hasn't yet put impeachment of the criminal Trump on the table, via pirated Youtube and it occurred to me that for the past five months I've heard and read countless such discussions as to why the Democrats in the House aren't pursuing impeachment and saving the country from a criminal regime.

The answer to that is, of course, that the Republicans under Mitch McConnell in the Senate will never complete an impeachment by removing the Republican-fascist Trump no matter how strong the evidence that he is the biggest and most blatant criminal and, at least in what might be considered, civil treason with the enemies of the American People.  

WHY HAVE I NOT HEARD A SINGLE PUNDIT PUT THE BLAME FOR THIS WHERE IT BELONGS, ON REPUBLICANS?  ON SUSAN COLLINS, ON LISA MURKOWSKI, ON MITT ROMNEY, ETC. WHILE FOCUSING THEIR RHETORIC AND THE ATTENTION OF THOSE LISTENING TO THEM WHERE THE PROBLEM DOESN'T ORIGINATE?  

Slam the goddamned Republicans, that's the real question to ask, the real problem, that Republicans in the Senate will not convict their criminal leader - they haven't dumped his fellow criminal McConnell.  Pressure the goddamned Senate to commit to convict.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Don't Tell Me That My Recent Revelation that I Sound Like The Late Joe Perham Has Nothing To Do With This

Maine accent the 4th sexiest in America, survey says

An international travel company conducted a poll to find out which accents people consider the sexiest in America, and survey takers somehow did not find the Maine accent to be sexiest.

The Big 7 Travel sample survey of its 1.5 million or so social media followers showed signs that many respondents had never heard a Mainer speak, as three other accents were rated higher in the Top 50 list.


Texas, Boston and New York accents grabbed the top three spots on the list, in that order.

To which I say, come on, New York?   Well, if you like people being rude to you.  And which Boston accent?  Southie?  And which Maine accent for that matter, coastal, inland, south-west, northern?  I will admit that there are some sexy  guys in my state who sound like they come from nowhere else, the guy who runs the used truck business on the other side of our woods is about the sexiest sexagenarian I've ever seen.  There's nothing sexier than polite and competent intelligence matched with good-will no matter what the accent.  But, really, what a dumb survey. 

The Tireless Little Meter Maid of My Orthography Has Put On His Uniform And Taken Out His Ticket Pad Again

Big deal.  I used to have a friend whose name was pronounced the same but who spelled it "Hurst" I wrote her name a lot more times than I ever wrote out William Randolph Hearst. and I spelled it right twice in the piece.

I might think out and write about the kind of college-credentialed dolt who, when faced with a reasoned argument based on evidence will concentrate on typos and misspellings instead of defending his ignorance based stupidity and the stupid ersatz intellectual culture that supports that willful triviality.  The flowering of an intellectual and educational system that promotes triviality. I've never been that impressed with that minor knack of visual memory, myself. 

The Depravity of Conservatism And Why We Have To Crush The Unitary Executive Theory Out Of Consideration

In doing some research into the peculiarly American sect of fascism that holds the Department of Justice and certainly holds sway if not control of so many courts, the "unitary executive" theory of government, I read this passage from John Dean's 2007 book Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches.  But before I give it I want to make clear that I certainly don't buy into the pose of high-mindedness that is represented by that conservative so often seen on the MSNBC liberal ghetto hours these days, George Will, though if you take his arguments of principle with salt, temporarily suspending your disbelief in view of their largely ignoring the actual history of his conventional form of conservatives, he revealed something telling about the difference between the somewhat less thuggish-mob connected right of the past and the total degenerate thugs we have today. 

Conservative commentator and columnist George Will saw that agenda coming before Bush even formally announced his intentions to run for the presidency.  Recall that it was Dick Cheney who became one of the first tutors to Governor George Bush in 1999, when he began his bid for the White House.  On a visit to Bush in Texas that year to talk with the team he assembled to work on his presidential campaign, Will noticed what the governor and his staff were reading and how they were thinking.  "They are recasting conservatism by expunging the traditional conservative ambivalence about presidential power,"  Will reported at the time.  "Hence the presence on the cluttered desk of chief speechwriter Mike Gerson of Terry Eastland's book Energy in the Executive:  The Case for the Strong Presidency.  Eastland's title comes from Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Paper No. 70, " 'Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good governent.'"  Will explained the philosophy that would turn out later to be Bush's guiding principle:  "Eastland's thesis is that  'the strong presidency is necessary to effect ends sought by most conservatives.'"   Strikingly, Will concluded his report with a savvy prediction,  " A second Bush presidency would be more muscular than the first in exercising executive power."  Will, clearly, anticipated this direction long before 9/11, which shows what terrific cover the issue of terrorism has provided for Bush and Cheney.  Will's reading of the Bush team's goals provides strong evidence that, even in a hypothetical world in which 9/11 did not occur, we still would have witnessed a concerted grab for executive power by Bush and Cheney. 

I will break in here and say that I think the difference between Will and Eastland is the difference between someone who wants to preserve a measure of distance between the country and outright mob-rule thuggery associated with button-down, traditional Republican conservatives (the kind who used to be Republicans in New England) and those who want an outright gangster-fascist hold on power by their faction.   I have not thought it out but I wonder if there are strong echos of the coalition between the northern mercantile class, as embodied in Alexander Hamilton and the most ruthless of the Southern slave power as championed by Madison in the framing of the Constitution.   If you take that as the mold that formed these things today, I will note that despite what that asinine Broadway musical that is playing, I'd guess, mostly to the tourist trade, now, says, Hamilton was hardly a genuine abolitionist, holding slaves, himself, being married into the family holding the most slaves in New York and, in his Federalist Paper propaganda, pointed out the financial advantages to the old monied class of the North in protecting the institution of slavery in the South. 

Terry Eastland's call for conservatives to embrace a strong presidency, and George Will's perception of its significance, reveal a milestone in conservative thinking.  Will said that, as the Republicans took note of the emboldened post-Watergate Congress,  "congressional supremacy [became] the conservative aspiration. "  Conservatives suspected that if "Congress really [could] be a co-equal branch, [then] controlling it might even be preferable to holding the presidency, which is the engine of energetic government."  Here Will makes a very important point.  "Energetic government" is emblematic of liberal and progressive administrations, not conservative ones. The conservative canon that emerged during the post-World War II period developed by conservative thinkers like James Burnham, whom George Will has always held in esteem, opposed strong presidents, particularly those who overpowered Congress.  Why, then, the turnabout?   As Will explained,  "Those ideas died during the Republican debacles as the 1995 government shutdown and the rout of Republicans during budget negotiations with Clinton.  These [experiences] gave Republicans their own monomania: they must win the White House, and do so with an executive unapologetic about wielding power."

Works like Terryh Eastland's book, and the unabashed insistence of movement conservatives (principally the authoritarian conservatives like the religious right, social conservatives, and the neoconservatives) on increased presidential power, do not fit very comfortably with the traditional conservative values like those of George Will.  He hastened to remind his readers,  "Conservatives are viscerally suspicious of power made potent by being concentrated in one person, and are wary of the plebiscitary idea of democracy inherent in the idea of a 'presidential nation.' " Eastland's book aimed to overcome such conservative concerns by providing an intellectual and constitutional foundation for all conservatives to embrace a strong presidency.  It is, however, a very weak base, deeply flawed as history and constitutional law, and closer to cheer-leading for presidential hubris, excessive secrecy, and monarchical-like authority than a solid justification for a strong presidency.  Not surprisingly, it was reviewed allmost exclusively by conservative publications like the Wall Street Journal and the Washington times and the National Review.  One line in the Wall Street Journal's review, which is taken from Eastland's book, is particularly worth noting:  "At the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency his approval rating was the highest of any president since World War II.  'Like dying rich,' said columnist Charles Krauthammer, 'this is a great moral failure.' "  Conservative advocates of a strong president as envisioned by Eastland no doubt believe a president who has performed truly well during his term of office will be thoroughly despised by the American public but admired by the Charles Karuthammer types.  Apparently, this is the model that Bush and Cheney have chosen to follow. 

First, Will's opposition to, "the plebiscitary idea of democracy [in this context the direct election of the president] inherent in the idea of a 'presidential nation.' " in the context of the presidency since 2000 couldn't be more clearly wrong.  Both Bush II and now Trump are a direct result of the Electoral College and, in the case of Bush II the fiat of right-wing members of the Supreme Court who, I have little doubt, George Will had little trouble with being on the court, certainly appointed by presidents he supported and endorsed.  The distance between the old-line conservatives as Will claims to represent and the overtly fascist thugs is not nearly that great.  Which doesn't necessarily mean that what they have to say about how we got here from there is unimportant or even not useful.  

The unitary executive theory, perhaps all the more for its Hamiltonian inheritance, is a proven danger to egalitarian democracy, it's even, as can be seen in Will's resistance to it, a danger to non-democratic republicanism.  One of the most important things we will have to do to save egalitarian democracy is to smash it. 

The passage about the late and truly vile and cruel and dishonest Charles Krauthammer gives away a lot about the real nature of the Republican-fascists who now are in control of the government.  A leader such as Krauthammer esteemed in his imagination would have been hated by The People, presumably because they did things that harmed them, that killed and maimed them in pointless wars, that impoverished them, that ground them down in ways that I can imagine a Krauthammer taking delight in, of cheating and swindling them, of leaving them vulnerable to the predations of the gangsters who sponsor Republican-fascism.  A president who had been good for the American people was anathema to the Krauthammers because they are, at their core, founded in favoring the privilege of the privileged and the pain of those who aren't.  In one example in circulation right now is Republicans like Chip Roy in Congress histrionically weeping like Lindsay Graham for the right of drug companies to sell life sustaining drugs that cost sixty dollars a year in other counties for twenty thousand dollars a year here.  If George Will is truly opposed to that kind of thing as opposed to the overt fascists in the Republican House caucus, it would be news to me.  I strongly suspect if it had been a drug that Charles Krauthammer had needed to sustain him in his disability, it might have been different for even him, IN THAT ONE, PERSONAL, that one, isolated instance.  I think the real definition of American conservatism has always been in its either indifference to or delight in the misery of the poor, the minority, women other than those of the upper class.  That was as true in the 1980s, the 1880s and the 1780s as it is today. 



Peddling Apples With Bites Taken Out Of Them To Willing Buyers - Hate Mail

Wish I had the time to work out a sufficient and clear description of the phenomenon of people with college credentials having not been educated enough in the logical content of the old-time Freshman Rhetoric class of yore and so are incapable of identifying even glaring deficiencies in their own thinking and claims and what substitutes as arguments. 

One of the idiotic bits of hate mail I got overnight denies the effect of the Sullivan decision in freeing the New York Times to publish lies with impunity, without even the worry of a court ordering them to correct themselves, a ruling which made the media even freer than before, to lie the country into the string of criminal Republican presidencies that came after that, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Bush II and now Trump.* 

The . . . um . . argument uses the snippet of American history that holds William Randolph Hearst as the cause of the Spanish American War, probably about as much of that history as most of the superficially college credentialed have heard about the Spanish American War - a snippet of history which consisted of Hearst bragging he had that power to incite war - was used in the argument as if  that exonerates the idiocy of the Warren Court in making the ruling made the media 

a.  EVEN FREER TO PEDDLE WARS BY PUBLISHING LIES ABOUT LIBERAL POLITICIANS AND PUBLIC FIGURES WITH IMPUNITY, and which

b. ignores that the Sullivan Decision was merely the first in a line of terrible Supreme Court decisions using its language and concepts that have had the effect of allowing the media to lie us into the attack on egalitarian democracy we are endangered by today. 

What Sullivan allows, what the rest of that line of "free press" rulings allows, is the very thing that is held up as terrible when it was claimed was his power by Hurst BECAUSE OF HIS POWER TO DO THAT AS A PRESS BARON at the turn of the last century. 

I suspect the denial of the effect of allowing the media held to be as elite as the NYT  to lie on our politics isn't a matter of willful blindness as to that being possible.  It's not a holding practiced, uniformly.  The very resort to an old truism of American history,  attributing that power to the Rupert Murdoch of the early McKinley era but denying it when it's the holy New York Times and the electronic mass media (powerful in ways and effects that Hurst could only have dreamed of) in the period of the transformation of merely bad corporate Republicanism to Republican-fascism is an important mental aberration to look into.  It's mandatory to recognize it as terrible when the fabled yellow journalism of Hearst did it, but it's OK when modern medic corporations do it to ever worse results. 

To try to use an earlier example of the same effect I noted, the malign effect of the media being free to tell political lies in the United States, made worse by the string of "free press" rulings in the age of even more powerful and concentrated electronic mass media, rulings that began with Sullivan, as if that made my arguments weaker is a stupid in a way that Frosh Rhetoric was hoped to warn college grads against.  What was bad in the ink on paper, hawked by news boys era of Hearst is magnified by the revolution in the media that came with radio, television, cable (the engine of American fascism) and  now the internet.  

That denial is  especially stunning since two of the worst examples of what that gets you have been media celebrities who, as public people are a 100% creation of the media.  I think this tells us a lot more about class and how when the right people do it, that makes it OK with those acculturated into those deemed to have been educated.  

This has to be related to the phenomenon of even those with a genuine instead of an ersatz education who don't seem to be able to see through the likes of Rod Rosenstein or the conclusively confirmed gangster thug lawyer William Barr without the strongest of confirmation of what they proved themselves to be even three decades ago.   

That level of denialism is likely a result of buying lines and phrases and even something standing as an argument SOLD TO THE COLLEGE CREDENTIALED CHUMPS BY THE FRIGGIN' MEDIA.  It's a different media who sold Trump to his true believers but it's the same phenomenon of chumps buying lies and distortions tailored for easy sale to a target audience using the practices of the PR industry.   College-credentialed folk are made conceited enough by their status that they can't possibly imagine themselves and those who have their respect or even mere regard as being susceptible to those things they believe only those without their credentials falling for, and if you believe that they are right, look at what I said the other day about those chumps being sold on the products peddled by Apple inc. even as they are serially shafted at enormously higher prices. 

*  If you want to point out the Gerald Ford regime, one that was never voted into office but which was imposed on the country by the choice of Richard Nixon when Spiro Agnew's crimes caught up with him and he had resign as the, up till Cheney, worst Vice President in our history.  I have argued that into that melange of criminality Ford introduced the precedent that when a president gets caught in the most serious kinds of crimes and resigns then the Vice President, inevitably his hand-picked choice of the same party, gets to pardon him so he can never be punished for those crimes.  As far as I'm concerned, that crime of Gerald Ford is as serious as many of those committed by his fellow Republicans because it has left us vulnerable to Trump.

Update:  Rereading this, I have to remark on the idiocy of, in the face of Agnew having to resign for crimes that date from the time he was Governor of Maryland from the Vice Presidency, that it was the criminal, himself, Nixon, who got to pick his successor.   Even if Nixon hadn't been a criminal, himself, the practice of allowing someone who had the bad judgement to choose an Agnew in the first place, to get a chance to pick his replacement is utter stupidity.   I don't believe I've ever read anyone who noticed that before.  

Monday, May 20, 2019

Betty Carter- Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most


Betty Carter - vocals
John Hicks - piano
Curtis Lundy - double bass

Kenny Washington - drums


May is really lousy this year.

Now I've found my computer is infected with the trojan malware IdleBuddy and I'm going to have to try to get rid of it.  Linux is looking better all the time. As is using a remote computer offline for any important stuff.  I friggin' hate my computer!  

Standby.  


Biden Will Be A Disaster And Why Buttigieg Isn't Ready To Run

I can't possibly find a thing to disagree with this piece the estimable Charles Pierce posted the other day

Joe Biden kicked up a fuss the other day by saying something...un-smart. (Ex-tree! Ex-tree! Read allaboutit!) He suggested that the current president* is a historical one-off and that, once we are rid of him and have fumigated the White House thoroughly, the normal routine of governing the country will resume and everybody can have drinks with each other at the end of the day. If there is one issue that desperately needs litigating in the Democratic Party's primary process it is this:

Resolved: this presidency* is the logical outcome of 40 years of modern conservatism and its effect on the Republican Party. If it wasn't this guy, it would've been somebody else.

It is pointless for any Democratic candidate to run for any office without acknowledging this fact. We've been banging this tin drum around the shebeen here since it opened, but not enough people have embraced the truth of it. (An aside: I really like some of my Never Trump brethren, but they should go back to their own party and clean out the stables. During an election year, and especially during the Democratic primaries, as far as I'm concerned, they all can take a seat.) The problem is the party, and what it's become.

It is just one of the many things that is wrong with Joe Biden and, to tell you the truth, Barack Obama than that they yearned for a normalized status quo of the kind that has been in place their entire careers in public office.  I disagree with Pierce that . . . I'll use his description of the guys Joe Biden wants to have drinks with . . . 

A party that embraced Ronald Reagan was always going to produce a Donald Trump.

The party is the problem, because of what it's become—a vehicle for bigotry, religious fanaticism, rigged elections, retrograde social policies, renegade plutocracy, staggering wealth inequality, scientific ignorance, reflexive stupidity, violent populism, white supremacy, and a view of the American electorate that is all switch and no bait. (Did I miss anything?) 

Three times since 1981, the Republicans have produced a president who basically embodied all of these things, just to varying degrees. Ronald Reagan played fast and loose with the truth; is that business about trees causing air pollution really any nuttier than whatever it was that El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago tweeted at 5 a.m. this morning? George W. Bush launched a war on false pretenses and made this a nation that tortures people and is proud of it. Is that any better than what's going on at the border now? The question isn't how the Republicans produced this particular disaster of a president*. The question is what took them so long.

Correctly, Charles Pierce points out the part that Democrats like Biden and, though he doesn't say it I will, even more so Barack Obama, have played in aiding the Republicans in all of their florid corruption, corruption to the point of saturation and superfluidity.  

I disagree with his timeline in producing that accommodation with corporate fascism and the part that Democrats or, more to the point, secular liberals have played in that.  The production of Reagan was, as with Trump primarily a product of the American media freed by the Supreme Court to lie us into, first Nixon, and only then Reagan - our first 100% media created president*.   But his conclusion as to why the last thing Democrats need is another idiot who will seek some accomodation with these fucking fascists is spot on.  

There was always less to Joe Biden than met the TV camera, his leadership of the putrid Senate Judiciary Committee couldn't hide that fact even from television, though the media only picked up on that retrospectively, two decades and more after the fact.  Barack Obama choosing him as his VP only increased my skepticism that the golden-boy, Obama had what was needed to take the disaster of Bush II and use it to destroy Republican fascism.  

It's one of the few things other than his relative youth that gives me pause about Pete Buttigieg that I'm afraid he might share some of that underestimate of the total depravity of the current Republican Party,  Obama's futile gesture of "bipartisanship" that wasted so much of the opportunity that Democrats and Independent voters gave him in 2008 has made me allergic to Democrats who say things in that line. 

Joe Biden is down with the Tulsi Gabbards of the ridiculously huge Democratic pack in what they will do for Democrats if they are elected.  I don't think Biden will be elected, I think the media and the push-pollsters are pushing him because they know Trump would likely get in when Biden, as he always does, says or does something stupid.   If, by some miracle Biden beats Trump, he will screw the Democratic base and he'll do it in the most annoying way.   Biden's alleged appeal to conservative white men is largely a media myth, it certainly didn't attract them in large numbers to support Obama.   Biden's political strategy is based on the seriously flawed assumption that real liberals will vote for him because they have to so he will never, ever put himself at risk in promoting our interests.  He buys into his mythical concept of a "blue collar middle-aged white man" and that that is the constituency that he will service as much as he did the financial industry he represented in his entire Congressional career.  

Obama's greatest political legacy would seem to be that his personal success led to a huge resurgence of racism in the United States.  If he didn't know that's how the Republican-fascists were going to use his race, he was the biggest idiot in the country.  He certainly should have learned that as  they had been doing that from even before he took the office, he should have known that was what they'd make of him.  He should have known it before he took the oath the first time, I doubt that he'd act as if he did if HE won in 2020.  That backlash has destroyed almost everything that he can lay any claim to.  The one thing that remains, for now, the remnants of the ACA as crippled by the Roberts court, was actually something he wanted to throw the towel in after the 2010 backlash election.  I will never stop pointing out that it was Nancy Pelosi who forced Obama and Harry Reid into passing it.  He was mighty unwilling to spend his political capital in making it something far more unassailable, putting the screws to the quisling Joe Lieberman and quisling Democrats instead of pissing away his captal going for the votes of Collins and Snowe.  Biden - who was allegedly there to rally his fellow Democratic and Democratic In Name Only Senators - sure as hell didn't press them hard enough to matter much.   

Biden's idiotic recently resurfaced 2015 statement about liking Dick Cheney, the king pin of Republican fascism  is only the tip of the iceberg that could surface, Biden is gifted at saying extremely stupid things, especially when he's trying to give an appearance of Senatorial politeness and courtesy and comity.  We don't need that crap, it's what made Barack Obama a failed president who, like the previous failed Democratic president, managed to get elected to two terms.  If Obama had been the president he had promised he would be, there would be no Trump, there would likely have been no 2010 disaster which we are still living through.  

Hillary Clinton had my support in both 2008 and 2016 because I was pretty sure she'd learned something from her husband's wasted presidency and she wouldn't have been the Republicans' punching bag without striking back.  In 2008 one of my major misgivings about Obama was his lack of experience, the other was how Republicans said they found him someone they could work with.  The last thing we need is Joe Biden's kissing up to Republicans, which has been his practice since he was in the Senate and letting scum like Orin Hatch and Arlen Specter trash Anita Hill to put the pathological anti-black racist Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.  I would hope that we see a lot more of that real Joe Biden before it's too late when the idiotic Iowa caucuses happen.  Fucking caucuses, we can't even manage to get rid of that anti-democratic 19th century atrocity!   The best thing Biden could do is knock out Sanders and then fail himself, leaving the way for the possibility of a modern Democrat to win, one who will reflect who the party is.  And I don't mean any of the white men who are running though some of them are certainly better than Biden,  

Pete Buttigieg might be a great president someday, when he's got a bit more experience and understands that his success will depend on a majority constructed of Black Women and Men, Latinos, Women in general, even genuinely liberal white men, the real and dependable Democratic voters and the kind of Independent voters who will vote with us.  Appealing for cross overs from the imaginary stock figure of Joe Six-Pack might get someone the nomination, it might even fuel an aspirational West Wing archetype like Obama into winning the election.  But trying to do business with Hitler has never been a good strategy for avoiding disaster.  We can't afford one who will yearn for CNN to call him a "bipartisan" president.  If he wants to be that he should run for the Bipartisan Party's nomination. 

* Given that, and my skepticism that even a Charles Pierce will face the fact that it is the indulgence given to his profession by the high priests in black robes that has gotten us where we are today, I think that even his excellent piece, so right but yet so wrong because it doesn't go to the root of the problem, will not get us there.  

The problem is that the Federalist fascists and their fellow rent boys of billionaires are smart enough to profit from that free-press absolutist idiocy, rulings that profited, mostly, the corporate media and its owners.  It is the media that created both Reagan and Trump.   

Sunday, May 19, 2019

I've Been Up Too Too Early So Now It's Too Late

Long day, started at about 2 this morning.  No lasting damage but the recovery will take a while, a family member, not me.  Too old for this. 



Dave Liebman sax· Steve Swallow bass· Adam Nussbaum drums

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Mark Wheatley - So You Want To Disappear




Fraser once tracked clients who jumped bail. Then he added a little twist to the business by helping people disappear instead, which is why Kathryn gives him a call. 

Cast:
Kathryn ..... Lia Williams
Fraser ..... Neil Pearson
Ali ..... Tessa Nicholson
Mitch ..... Michael Shelford
Kyle ..... Miche Doherty

Producer: Eoin O'Callaghan.

Etc.

I was tempted to break my resolution to not post videos of Majority Report to post their presentation of the blessed virgin Benny Shapiro's freak out when he was questioned by the conservative TORY!!! BBC interviewer Andrew Neil but then Michael Brooks went all Bernie Bot purity troll on Elizabeth Warren the other day I got too pissed off to overlook it. 

I was trying to think of who Ben Shapiro reminded me of.  At first I thought of Divine's insane, perverted, foot stomper son in Polyester but then I realized he reminded me more of Bruno Ganz's Hitler in one of the less well known scenes in Der Untergang.   Not the infamous and often used Bunker freak out scene. 

What I Did On My Sick Day

First, I will note that no atheist has taken up the challenge to answer those two questions posted here last weekend:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 

What would a secular paraphrase of that sentence look like?  

In what nonreligious terms is human equality self evident?

Not getting an answer from anyone as to what a non-religious articulation of those self-evident truths on which depends, merely, the entire concept and justification of egalitarian democracy, I'm going to keep asking that.  Not getting an answer is as telling as getting the one I'd expect, an ineffective, arbitrary mish-mosh of verbiage which might be acceptable to those who agreed to it, temporarily, as it served their purpose but which would change no reality. 

As it happened, the other day Michael Brooks of Majority Report said something in passing about the atrocious Alabama ban on abortion that was passed into law this week that runs directly into that atheist-materialist-scientistic incapacity to come up with a durable and effective articulation of rights.  My quick transcript of the relevant passage. 

. . . You know, these things are settled legally, as written in a way . . .because - sorry to go all post-modernist here - but law is constructed - law is a political project that is not a natural thing that has descended from the sky but we've made a basic political-moral judgment that women's' capacity to control their own bodies their own sovereignty their own life trajectory is going to supersede the potential of life . . . 

Ironically, right before he said that, he pointed out Ben Shaiprio was "trying to create a back door out for himself" something which Michael Brooks' substitute for the endowment of rights by God is.  Clearly, as so many states controlled by Republicans, holding the entire legislative arms and governorships of many states are proving, they think the Republican-fascists - also holding the Executive, the Senate and the Supreme Court, will prove that Michael Brooks' claim that "we've made a basic political-moral judgement" supporting women's rights to the ownership and control of even their own bodies is about as dependable as rights writ in water. 

I commented and got into a bit of a brawl on this.  

Anthony McCarthy
1 day ago 
I totally agree with where Michael Brooks comes out, that women have the right to self-autonomy and the ownership of their own bodies and, though he didn't say so, that the state has no legitimate right to regulate what happens inside her skin or within her basic human capacity to exercise her rights in but unless you found those rights in an assumption of supernatural endowment, then you can't possibly claim that there is any wrong in what the Alabama state government did which, apparently, is OK enough with the society that elected Republican-fascists to such an overwhelming majority as they certainly knew what they were capable of voting into law.   Unless you hold, as Jefferson had to put it in the Declaration of Independence that rights are an inherent endowment by our Creator, then any level of depravity under law that has the temporary or long term acceptance of the majority in that society is as legitimate as the least depraved.  I have never read any atheistic articulation of that which makes it impossible to justify actions as depraved as the ones that the Alabama State government just took and, literally, every other such depraved action of any government anywhere.  I respect Michael Brooks' intelligence and if he knows of a secular articulation of what Jefferson wrote in the beginning of the Declaration of Independence that produces the same effect, I'd love to know about it.

Alas, Michael Brooks didn't give me one (as I suspect even an atheist of his intelligence would soon realize was impossible) but the usual level of atheist comment thread dolts typed unresponsively. 

TheEvolver311
1 day ago
Jefferson pulled that out of his ass and it certainly wasn't pulled out of christianity.

Anthony McCarthy
23 hours ago
@TheEvolver311  Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were on the committee to draft the Declaration, they didn't come up with something better as an absolute foundation of egalitarian democracy, neither has anyone else I've ever read.  Your declaration doesn't do a thing to found equal rights in anything that disqualifies what the Alabama legislature did because in Alabama, clearly, that is contained within the social consensus.

 TheEvolver311
23 hours ago
@Anthony McCarthy actually it derives its power from the people and our government. The "creator" isn't even the god of the bible it was the prime mover from diesm. The bible actually advocates slavery and no human rights.

Anthony McCarthy
23 hours ago 
@TheEvolver311 First, by The Bible, I think you must mean the Mosaic Law which envisages a slavery which was far less terrible than American slavery, if you knew more than you pulled out of your own ass, you would know that, among other things, the American abolitionists cited The Bible in their arguments to abolish slavery to far greater effect than they did even Jefferson's clear basis of why egalitarian democracy is the only morally legitimate form of government, based in the equal endowment of rights by God. Only that's a more complex argument than I've ever seen a blog comment thread atheist be able to encompass.  I expect that the likes of David Walker, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman will be found far more credible in that than some inarticulate slacker gen blog atheist.   When white abolitionists pointed directly to the Mosaic law to condemn the fugitive slave laws, they proved its moral superiority even to the secular Constitution which is far more a document motivated by the interests of the slave owners who wrote it. 

Unless you hold that rights are an "unaienable" and equal endowment from God, all rationalistic, scientistic, atheist substitutes could be used to successfully argue that equal rights that are not a product of a majority opinion or whim are non-existent.  You could argue that any state or polity where  a majority held that women had no right to have an abortion were as right to make that the law than a state where the opposite had the approval of a majority.   You could argue that Alabama and the rest of the Confederate states were right to secede so they could keep and entrench slavery.  Michael Brooks, smarter than almost any comment thread atheist I've encountered, is about the best chance I can see of someone coming up with as effective a replacement for Jefferson's formula for making egalitarian democracy and unless he comes up with one, I'm going to conclude that is because an effective, durable one cannot be founded except in that assumption of endowment by God.

There's no real reason to go on, the atheist idiots didn't come up with anything but typical atheist slogans and bromides.  None of which founded the rights of women to even the ownership of their bodies in anything stronger than the clear non-consensus that Brooks claims.   

I did get to ask one who said that I'd have to "prove" the existence of God first"  if that meant that any claims atheists made to equal rights would, likewise, depend on that proof.  I don't think the boob even understood what the argument was about so I doubt he understood that without that Jeffersonian formula, all of the atheist whining about being deprived of their equal rights is as unfounded as Michael Brooks' substitute in social consensus is.  Any society, any state or country that wanted to have legal discrimination against atheists or members of religious minorities which held that as a majority or even consensus view of it would be as justified in making that the law as the one which Michael Brooks, clearly falsely creates out of the Alabama or even the national electorate which has resulted in the current political power structure that is poised to strike down Roe and reimpose who knows what depraved violations of natural rights as a result of that expressed consensus. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Fat Cat · Makoto Ozone · Gary Burton



Time Thread (For Bill Evans)


Makoto Ozone, piano
Gary Burton, vibraphone 

Bach Fuga from Sonata No. 1 - Henryk Szeryng


Score (page 4)
Not feeling great, not up to writing, I'll try to post later. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Past Which Will Be The Future


Hate Mail - "you're a cultist"

I have spent fewer words and fewer years of my life being impressed with the thinking and writing of perhaps the greatest living writer of English and far more probably our greatest essayist, Marilynne Robinson than some of us have spent on the Mop Heads, Mick and his old Stones, Clint Eastwood, and other various figures held up for untellectual and inartistic adoration in the profit-driven  commercial pop world that your mind remains stuck in.  

You can choose where you want to concentrate your inattention on and I'll decide whose writing my attention is concentrated on. 

My attention span is capacious enough to notice you didn't come up with a non-religious, secular articulation of Jefferson's formula for creating egalitarian democracy.  Did you not think to refute that claim, answer that challenge, prove me wrong?   That's your mind on commercial pop crap.  Shouldn't you be concentrating on getting attention from your fellow perennial tweens? 

Update:  Well, you don't go to Duncan's expecting to find intellectual stimulation, not since c. 2006, at least. 

How We Devolved Into Trumpian Fascism Through The Inadequacy Of Cultural Secularism

Well meaning as I'm sure a lot of them are, the series of former Department of Justice lawyers, lawyers connected to it and in that general orbit who have gone on the radio or MSNBC to express their shock at William Barr and Rod Rosenstein etc. who turn out to not be the stalwart "institutionalists" that they had always believed them to be and to turn out to be sycophantic enablers of the levels of Trumpian fascism on display in the stonewalling letter issuing out of the Trumpian legal arm this week is wearing entirely thin. 

You have to wonder why Rosenstein's exposure as providing Trump his obstructive excuse to fire the equally but differently compromised James Comey - whose ethical bona fides we had been assured of from the same crew - didn't clue them in that the little creep was the self-serving little creep he's turned out to be.  How many of these Republican thugs and punks do you get to be wrong about before you question your own judgement?  

You have to wonder why someone with Barr's known history of facilitating the obstruction of justice with the Bush I pardons and suppressing documents surrounding Bush II's torture program from Congressional oversight WHILE PROMOTING THE FASCISTIC THEORY OF THE UNITARY EXECUTIVE didn't clue these guys and gals in that William Barr was a seriously amoral danger to democracy in any form. 

I seem to have wandered in to a long discussion of some fundamental truths and mandatory prerequisites of democracy as those relate to a belief in God and the impossibility of discovering those fundamental moral principles in the absence of a belief in God.  Or, at any rate,the impossibility of otherwise finding them as something sufficiently strongly believed in to make an effective difference for the good.  I have to wonder if the most astonishing lack of moral probity in the matter of moderate to liberal lawyers who have worked with and observed Barr and Rosenstein isn't due to their acculturation and education into a devotion to secularism and the dereligionization of the public sphere.  

Perhaps the even-handedness in removing such inconvenient things as hard holdings of such inevitably religious morality from the law, from the administration of government and, as the Republican-fascist majorities in the Congress and, perhaps, on the courts, from law making, has led to a situation in which their substitution with mere professional ethics and mere predilection and habits of expression have proven to be entirely inadequate to keep us from disaster in the form of what might be called "anti-democracy" in which there's a vote that results in fascism.

I will throw in that any expression of them that doesn't match that interesting turn of phrase that Thomas Jefferson came up with, that such moral absolutes must be "self evident" in the terms in which they are asserted will almost certainly prove to be unsustainable and likely immediately found to be ineffective.*   I suspect that anything that is not in the form of a religious commandment to be held to have the status of an axiom will be ineffective. 

Marilynne Robinson's succinct and deep analysis of Jefferson's foundation of legitimate government, founded in the rights that he asserted were a self-evident and equal endowment of God contained the entirely sensible but brilliant insight into Jefferson, that if he, one of the smartest of politicians in the history of western culture, had been able to find that foundation anywhere else, in the new innovation of science which he was so devoted to,  he would have given that explanation of it.  

What is also certain is that the committee that was assigned with the task of editing Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration of Independence which  contained men such as  John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman,included those who quite likely would have preferred to find that foundation in other than religious terms (Franklin, Adams) and they definitely could not find them, neither could the rest of the members of of the Continental Congress who adopted the Declaration.   Neither has anyone else who I've ever read.  The atheists who like to troll me have not come up with any who I don't know.*

I think it's safe to say that those absolute foundations cannot be found in any other than the religious holding that rights sufficient to make government by the consent of those governed legitimate are an equally bestowed gift from God.  

That word, "legitimate,"  "legitimacy," which saturates the discussion of whether or not Trump will be our dictator or the mere executive officer of a representative democracy, means nothing if, ultimately, it doesn't reference absolute holdings of morality that are more durable than the transient holdings of rationalistic schemes like utilitarianism, the transient social consensus as substitutes.  

Without a holding of something more durable than human beings are capable of artificially constructing the very concept of law, legitimacy is unable to hold up democracy in any reliable manner.  As can be seen in the repulsive spectacle of the obviously insincere, fraudulent trappings of something called "evangelical" Christianity and an Orthodox Judaism able to work with neo-Nazism covering up the Mammonist debauchery and crookedness of the Trump regime, even when you call it "religion" it can twist any moral holding to support their opposites in reality.  

That prostitution of religion is something that is certainly no surprise, it is something that has been held up to discredit religion for centuries.  It's practically a stock-routine in the routine, repetitive pantomime that easily 90% of literature, theater and entertainment inevitably is. 

What is a shock to the prim and proper advocates of secularism, non-religion, anti-religion is that if the human institutions of religion are so morally corruptible, the merely secular and even more human institutions of secularism are as corruptible and their adherents - even with that secular substitute for religious instruction, advanced degrees and law licenses - are as corruptible and readily duped, as those whose Christianity is caught up in cultural racism and bigotry, the cult of toxic masculinity (and toxic femininity) the movie-TV melange of horse-operas and violent sex and the overriding substitute for Judeo-Christian-Islamic morality that issues out of every venue of secularism, the worship of wealth and things and violent sex.  

William Barr is a high-end fascist, the lawyer of a fascist strongman thug.  Fascism is a political ideology that favors unequal rule by gangsters.  All of the elite lawyers servicing the Trump regime, the Trump family in these matters, Democratic as well as Republican fixtures inhigh-power law that don't actively oppose them, are serving Trumpian fascism.  All of the perfumed, well-manicured, highly educated advocates of the unitary executive spewed out of Harvard and Yale and their equivalents, all of the creepy little toadies who can live with that like Rod Rosenstein are what you get when you suppress those truths which even the seriously morally compromised Jefferson found inexpressible in any but religious terms.  If we want to have a country that does better, we're going to have to just admit that you won't find those truths in an effective form anywhere else.  

Secularism may be an administrative necessity to prevent the corruption of religion and government that tends to come with sectarianism but if the common holding of The People doesn't hold those truths to be self-evident and based in the will of God, the results won't be egalitarian democracy, they won't be legitimate. 

*  What we can be certain of, it will be attacked on the basis of scientism, materialism and because of the inescapable implication of the reality of God and God's character as benevolent enough to equally endow people with those rights.  

Note: 

For me,  Marilynne Robinson's observation that Jefferson held that people were doubly blessed, first with the privilege of being created, of being granted existence, and then being endowed with rights is an especially deep observation.  If we hold that then we can hardly avoid the idea that God also endowed our fellow creatures, all of creation with blessing and, perhaps, rights.   Though that's way past the step that people are willing to take.  It might be the last lesson humanity learns that it made a big mistake in not aspiring to such an Edenic view of reality as they concentrated on the merely utilitarian and materialistic.   Materialism is as human an invention as Mormonism is, so is science which was invented in utilitarian aspirations.