Saturday, February 23, 2019

Hate Mail

I don't care about what people who don't read me don't think about what they don't know about what I've said.  It would be stupid to care about that.   I do know they can bite me. 

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Frank Cottrell-Boyce - The Door In The Pillow

Inspired by events in his own life, award-winning screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce has created a deeply tender drama, full of heart, hope and humour which weaves the powerful impact of dementia into a haunting ghost story. Anne Mitchell stars as Annie, a woman whose fractured sense of the world is held together by stories. Daughter Terri starts to question where they are coming from – one story in particular seems wildly disconnected from anything Terri knows of her mother's past. It doesn’t crack under examination, and seems to have a concrete solidity that reality no longer does....

Frank Cottrell-Boyce is perhaps best known as the script writer for the London Olympics Opening Ceremony. He won the Carnegie medal for his novel MILLIONS, which he also adapted for the screen directed by Danny Boyle. He scripted the Oscar-nominated HILARY AND JACKIE, and collaborated with Michael Winterbottom on films including 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE. His novel SPUTNIK’S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH is currently being adapted as an animated film for Dreamworks.

Annie ….. Ann Mitchell
Terri ….. Samantha Spiro
Bernie ….. Carolyn Pickles
Eric ….. Tony Turner
Father Burns ….. Don Gilet
The Soldier ….. Christopher Harper
The Children ….. Grace Doherty and Eviee Lavery
Other parts are played by Saffron Coomber, Jeanette Percival, Alexandra Constantinidi

Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Directed by Allegra McIlroy

OK, So You Want To Know What I Think About In The Closet Of The Vatican

Note: If you do a google search on this, be careful not to mistake the National Catholic Reporter, a credible independent journalistic effort, for the National Catholic Register which is not one. 

I have not read more than the introduction to Frédéric Martel's clearly sensational book, In The Closet Of The Vatican, about what he claims to have found out about an overwhelming percentage of those who work in and around the Vatican being gay men, he says 80%, apparently a number that some who have worked there do not doubt but others question.  A long excerpt of the book (I believe it's the entire intro) was published by National Catholic Reporter.  The NRC also published a scathing review, not of the book but of that introduction by one of their experienced journalists, Michael Sean Winters, which Winters admits is not a review since he had not read the whole book.   The NRC also posted an actual review which took a more positive review of the book by Donald Cozzens,  never let anyone tell you that the NRC is merely an agenda driven publication. 

Having read all three of these and being left saying that while I am concerned about the inaccuracies that Winters alleges, I find a lot of what the text I've read and read about seems credible. I think Martel's analysis of how the Catholic Clergy came to be heavily staffed with gay men is insightful, it was a way for gay men in a highly family-oriented pre-liberation culture to hide their sexual preferences.  I know of men who went into the priesthood in families and in communities in which a man remaining unmarried and not dating women would have been whispered about as being gay.  I'm old enough to remember that.  He, as a gay man, probably has deeper insights to the mind sets of gay men than are available to most straight men,  I find his suspicion that the stronger the Cardinal or Bishop or priest comes out bashing LGBT people the more likely that they're hiding a hidden gay life to be entirely credible.  I also suspect he is spot on in a number of those right wingers in the hierarchy are hypocrites on matters of sexuality.  While I believe that most priests have probably at least technically remained chaste or relatively chaste, it's clear a large percentage haven't.

Most credible, I think, is Martel's attribution to the preponderance of unmarried men in the hierarchy of the absolute tone-deafness, absolute cluelessness, callous cruelty of the Catholic hierarchy, especially those who have not worked as parish priests but have had lives in religious communities or, worst of all, in academic theology, in issues of real family life and real sexuality as lay Catholics live it.   While I think Michael Sean Winters has a point that to attribute that just to their being gay is probably, to some extent, inaccurate, the fact that just about none of the men who make the policy of the Church have lived typical family lives since they were teenagers is certain to warp their thinking on it.  Even at times someone as astute as Pope Francis comes up with some sentimental, unrealistic groaners, especially about women and womens' lives as lived as wives and mothers and as single women in the world.

I have come to the point where I don't want to stay within a Catholic Church which is governed by a small clique of unmarried men, gay or straight or mixed.  If this Pope doesn't open up the governing structure of the Church, the Curia, the College of Cardinals, most of all, to married Catholics and Women who are unmarried, I'll support the Roman Catholic Women Priests in their several organizations.  I am certain that under Pope Francis the disgusting ban on Women's ordination made by JPII will not be lifted, even if I doubt he really supports it.  I think it is his fear of the likes of Cardinal Raymond Burke, other neo-medievalists and the multi-millionaires and billionaires who fund the Catholic hard right will split the church if he makes the change necessary.  I think if he wants to have a successful papacy and the Church to survive, one which restores the Catholic Church to something like its claims, then he will have to risk that.  I'm not waiting, I consider the Women Priests to be as Catholic as the degraded Vatican which has been the home of so much corruption, sandal and rumor.  By their fruits you will know them.  I don't mean that to be a pun, it is the actual advice of Jesus as to how to judge those who speak in his name and with his authority.  The Vatican is sorely wanting by that standard of judgement.

I am troubled about the book when I read the specific criticisms of its accuracy in Michael Sean Winter's criticism and his listing of actual, errors which can be checked.  Clearly the sprawling book was not adequately fact-checked - perhaps along the same line, apparently it lacks an index.  I have done enough fact checking of what I write to know that it can be a daunting task to try to avoid inaccuracies and mistaken beliefs but it should be the responsibility of any writer of non-fiction to do that  and, as well, their publishers.  That said, I think a cleaned up, fact checked and INDEXED AND CITED edition of the book might be not only an important contribution but earth shaking.  I will read the whole book but I'd like a better idea of what is gold and what is dross in something I'm supposed to take as a journalist's product.  I will say that in that Martel is far from the only offender, I come from the United States with all of the fallen journalistic standards in place here, after all.

Friday, February 22, 2019

But Free Speeee-eeech! Even Number Hate Mail

Oh, I'm totally in favor of free speech, when it's true.

Any media figure, any person who wants to make public statements about another person has it totally within their power to shield themselves from being successfully sued,



I wouldn't have any problem with very high punitive damages being paid by those who bring slapp suits or frivolous suits to people who told the truth, that would be a lot better than surrendering the country to the regime of lying it's been abandoned to now.   I wouldn't have any problem with fascist entities or billionaires who finance such frivolous lawsuits having ruinous fines assessed.  I'd love to see those fascist fronts being shut down.

Update:  Even Number To Numbest

You have to be really stupid to miss the point of my post about antisemitism the other day.  I said the word has come to mean nothing  through dishonest use and needs to be replaced with words that mean specific things.  In no way did I "try to redefine it" you'd have to be illiterate or a liar or both to miss that point.  Alas, the person you reference is all of those and more.  So many who use the word "antisemitism" are, starting with the Jew-hating atheist Wilhelm Marr who invented the word to give sciency status to his hatred, which is one of the biggest problems with the word.  The dishonest use of it swamps its use by honest people.

The current effort of Israel Right Or Wrong types to hijack the word to shield a country falling into a state of fascist apartheid is only making it worse.  If they think the criticism of Israel is a problem for its existence, wait five or ten or two years when it is an overt apartheid state and see the support for it by the United States completely dissolve.  I don't see them removing the criminal Netanyahu from office.  I'm not holding my breath to see him fall over his latest bid to keep his semi-fascist party in power.  I stopped holding my breath to see that happen since the last time the fascists took control of the government . 

Most Americans have probably never heard of Yifat Ehrlich, or for that matter her former center-right political party in Israel, Bayit Yehudi. If they care about the future of Israel and Zionism, they should now hold her name in reverence.

On Thursday Ehrlich refused a foul bargain. After her party’s leaders made a deal to allow Judeofascists to appear on the ballot with her and other Bayit Yehudi candidates in Israel’s upcoming elections, she quit.

The candidates in question are members of the Otzma Yehudi Party, known in English as Jewish Power. They are the political heirs of the late Meir Kahane. The Jewish Power Party embraces his policy of ethnic cleansing — that is, the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the territory it won in defensive wars with Arab states. One of its leaders holds a party every year at the grave of the Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Palestinian civilians in 1994.

Ehrlich’s courage stands in contrast to the unreconstructed cynicism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who orchestrated the deal. The Jerusalem Post reports that Netanyahu promised two cabinet ministries to Bayit Yehudi in exchange for agreeing to the electoral alliance. The prime minister has sought to form a right-wing government, and he needs all the votes he can get.

If you think Americans should keep quiet over that, you can go to hell.  I slammed the majority in South Carolina the other day for their repeated election of scum like Lindsay Graham, I've slammed my state for keeping Susan Collins in office, if you think I should refrain from criticizing the country that has kept Netanyahu in office so long you can screw yourself.

More And Number Hate Mail

I am challenged as to why I have not condemned the Black-Gay actor Jussie Smollett for faking a racist-gay bashing attack on him in order to help boost his acting career.  To start with, I never heard of Jussie Sollett, I don't do TV and I don't do movies.  Especially Hollywood movies.  The last time I went to see a movie in a theater it was Hairspray, the one with Divine and Jerry Stiller, not the musical. I REALLY don't do musicals.

I didn't know any details of the case until I went looking and found what Stephen Colbert said in his monologue last night, if that was accurate, yeah, the guy was being a jerk.  To use something as serious as a staged hate crime to mount a publicity campaign for your show-biz career is disgusting and it should be discouraged by prosecution - though I doubt my saying that will quell the white-boy rage of the guy who challenged me.

Smollett is clearly suffering from that ubiquitous affliction found in of so many those who go into show business, narcissistic immaturity.   It's a rule among many if not most actors, especially those whose acting is confined to what's done before a camera, subtract ten or twenty or even seventy years to get them down to an emotional age of less than 20.  Sometimes of less than 10. Maybe the guy will learn something from it but if he does he's unusual among TV-Movie actors and figures.  I hope he does.  Some have.  Not many but some.  I mean, look at Mel Gibson, look at Donald Trump, two others in the same business who did worse.

There's Nothing Hard About It, Knowing The Truth Will Make You Free, Buying Lies Will Enslave You, Mass Media Allowed To Lie Will Destroy Democracy

Someone pointed out to me that I agree with Clarence Thomas and Donald Trump and disagree with the man I generally call the estimable Charles Pierce on the question of Sullivan v. New York Times.

Well, not really.  I don't think any of them have a full or realistic view of the consequences of the Warren Court allowing the media to lie with impunity against "public figures" by forcing those they slander and libel to prove their mental state and motives in lying about them.  I don't think the results of making media open to lawsuits on the basis of the falseness of the lies it spreads would benefit Trump or Thomas, I think liberals would be the beneficiaries of returning to a pre-Sullivan condition. 

I look at who the media lies about the most effectively, liberals, the actual kind of liberals who used to be elected from around the country and who, in the very period when Sullivan was chiseled in baloney who in one week in 1965 adopted Medicare, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act, pretty much the same congress which a year before had produced the Civil Rights Act.  The same congress which produced the high point of American liberalism and who the Supreme Court enabled the enemies of all of those to lie about with impunity.  It's been pretty well down hill all the way under that regime of enabled, protected lying by the media.  The very thing which produced the Nixon and Reagan administrations, the Bush I administration, the illegitimate regimes of Bush II and Trump.  Oh, yes, and with those criminal regimes and administrations, the Warren Court has been being disappeared in the law as their Supreme Court appointments have taken over as the cabloid machine, first CNN and then the full strength version of it, FOX have lied and propagandized the country into fascist dominance.

I think that Charlie Piece is blinded to the actual character of that permission to lie because, frankly, it is in his financial and expressive interest to not have to worry about being sued.  I think that economic motive and the convenience of not having to fact-check what they want to say is the reason the Sullivan decision is so popular with even liberal writers who, if they really considered the results of it, would see it has enabled the regime of lies that created that Republican ascendancy.  I think it is also, to an extent, the hold-over of habits developed in the anti-anti-commie period when, to oppose the domestic fascists who mounted the red scare and HUAC they developed a "First Amendment" knee jerk that has largely and unsurprisingly been most useful to those with the most money who own the media or who buy it so they can turn it into their political tools - and, coincidentally, for whom many of those "liberals" work.  I might like some journalists but I'm not going to pretend they are not prone to self-interested fits of unreality and even resorting to post-truth blather.

Lefties, of whom I would certainly be considered one, have always suffered from the same anti-anti-commie disease that disables the thinking of liberals, even worse.  The delusion of the American left that all they needed to do was make their case and the masses would flock to them has been disproved by a century of such delusion and, let me break this to you, one Bernie, no, not even one AOC means it's springtime for the great Socialist revolution.  Even if Ocasio-Cortez is as good at social media as she seems, and I do have enormous respect for her, the Sullivan freed lie machine will chew her up and spit her out.  Repetition of even the most outrageous lies will sink the best of us.  I've seen that happen to virtually every promising liberal since the 60s.  They did it to McGovern, a war hero and one of the most decent men to have gotten a nomination, they did it to John Kerry with purple bandaids, they did it to the great Jimmy Carter.   I haven't done the actual research but I will bet you that the media, freed by the Sullivan ruling, lied with greater abandon about the Reverend Martin Luther King jr. after they were freed than before the ruling was set down, preparing the way for his assassination as certainly as Trump inspired the latest would-be assassin with his lying.  Given the origin of the case, that would be the cruelest of the ironies involved in this. The media, freed of responsibilities by that ruling and by the destruction of the Fairness Doctrine, public service requirements, etc. has become almost entirely a corporate-fascist lie machine.  All thanks to the miracle of "free speech absolutism" "freedom of the press" and the abandonment of the hard fact that a People fed lies cannot have an egalitarian democracy or a decent life.

The real life history of lying in the United States that has produced Trumpian post-truth is a product of the "free speech-free press" rulings of the Supreme Court starting with Sullivan.  It is the real life experiment that allows us to know what allowing lies free reign will produce.  Remember that as you listen to the lies issuing from the Trump regime and congressional Republicans and CNN and FOX, etc.   Remember that the next time the New York Times prints that Hillary Clinton or, maybe, AOC is about to be indicted.  Right before an election.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

As They Meet In Rome, Again, It's Time For Pope Francis To Live Up To His Name

This piece in the National Catholic Reporter is one of the best summaries outlining some of the most horrible scandal and hypocrisy that Americans only know a small part of from the demi-reality of movies like Spotlight.  It is a look at the international scandal of child sex abuse and the cover-up that made it even worse than it was, the corrupt priests, bishops, cardinals and Popes and wealthy Catholics, corrupt institutions like the Legionaries of Christ under the utterly corrupt and stomach churning cult figure Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado and the utterly corrupt Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the - I'll say it - corrupt papacy of John Paul II, a man who allowed flattery, cold-war politics and neo-medieval predilections and his thirst for centralized power and his own cult of personality to make all aspects of the scandals entirely worse.   I totally disagree with the canonization of John Paul II, he was a terrible pope who, in his long papacy, did not embody heroic virtue.

I am left newly and totally disgusted that even as the bishops meet in Rome for the much announced meeting over the pedophile and other abuse scandals that Pope Francis has not acted decisively enough to end the scandal.  I am beginning to think he knows that if he does what he needs to do, to make the radical change required, the rich establishment which has been a part of the worst of the corruption will split from the Church probably taking some of the most reactionary bishops and cardinals as their leaders but if he doesn't act to radically change the governing structure of the church, taking the power out of the hands of the clique of allegedly celibate and even more allegedly chaste men, diluting their influence with women and married Catholic men and women, nothing will change.  That ability to bring radical change is, apparently in his hands, now:

But for a reform agenda to succeed, Francis needs a policy on the issue he has identified, in sometimes scalding rhetoric: clericalism, the pursuit of power by the clerical culture at the expense of laypeople. The calcified power structure of men covering up for men will not change itself. One way to begin that change is to install women reformers in the College of Cardinals, further breaking from Italian hierarchs, who have controlled the Roman Curia for generations. The pope has the power to elevate women as cardinals if he so chooses; John Paul offered a seat to Mother Teresa, who declined. That is a power Pope Francis should forcefully use.

The other route is to change the mandatory celibacy law. Celibacy does not cause men to abuse children any more than incest can be blamed on marriage. But the clerical culture that has lost huge numbers of men since Paul VI's 1967 encyclical praising celibacy as the church's "brilliant jewel" turned into a huge closet for gay men. Many are honorable priests who loyally serve the church; but the psychosexual maturity issues of many others, leading them to abuse teenage boys, are a key part of the crisis. Shifting the balance of power to a married clergy will take time, but ultimately drive a larger change toward a genuine, sorely needed theology of family.

While Francis has certainly been better at handling the crisis than his predecessor, Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger,  that was a mighty low bar to have to jump over.  I do think the article is fair in giving Ratzinger some credit for at least making a try at reigning in the corruption that blossomed under JPII, but he was rather ineffectual.  Pope Francis should look at the cost that the timidity of Benedict XVI and, yes, the timidity of Paul VI which have both led to the scandal and the terrible crimes that are the cause of that scandal and others. 

If Francis is afraid of an overt schism, dividing the church there is already one which is hidden by its informality which has led to millions of people across the world disassociating themselves with a church which is filthy with hypocrisy and which has, through the pedophile and other scandals, destroyed its own its credibility.   Some have said this is the worst scandal since the Reformation but I think it's actually more like the scandals of the late middle ages around the time when Francesco di Bernardone had a vision in an abandoned, derelict chapel of being told by Jesus to build his church.  It's time for this Francis to be as bold as the saint whose name he took.  If he fails, the thing will crumble into a total ruin for vermin to live in.  He doesn't have much time to prevent that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Word "Antisemitism" Is Inadequate To Describe The Myriad Things It Is Used To Name

I have so much respect for the historian Deborah Lipstadt that I was sorry to say that I think her view of antisemitism as given in this talk about her new book (which I have not yet read) is not adequate. It is far worse than inadequate.  Though it isn't entirely her fault, the word, itself having so many problems but I think she reproduces many of the problems with the use of the word to mean not only different things but radically different things, equating those things that I've written about before.   I thought and think far better of her as an historian than this.

She starts out badly by ignoring the pre-Christian existence of antisemitism from such figures as Antiochus Epiphanes and Tacitius and the existence of some of the most virulent features of modern antisemitism - the blood libel was an invention of classical, pagan Greeks, not Christians.  The fact that Tacitus's antisemitism became a part of German antisemitism during the Renaissance as his antisemtic and Germanophilic screeds were published and translated through many, many editions during a time in which books which were bought were certainly read and influential makes that a not insignificant elision from the history of antisemitism.

Of course much of what she said about the Biblical source of antisemitism of a kind is undeniable, though, as she, herself, says, the very same sources identify Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity as a Jew, and many of the writers of many of the books of the Second Testament certainly identified as Jews,  Paul, the author of James, etc. This means that what she calls the origin of antisemitism is certainly not identified as such without enormous ambiguity.  That ambiguity is not her fault, it is contained in the text anymore than the use of those texts by later people who read them selectively for evil purposes is the fault of the writers of the texts.  As used in the Second Testament, the word "Jews" clearly means different things at different times and in different contexts.

There is no place in the Second Testament that I know of, not even in the most troubling of the Gospels in this regard, John,  which says that Jesus Christ, somehow, stopped being a Jew right up to the time of is execution by Rome and his burial.  I would say that chapter 19, where the author talks about the crucifixion and burial of Jesus goes out of his way to show that all of those involved considered Jesus a Jew, even the authorities who called for his death had to have acknowledged that or they would have had no standing to bring him before Pilate demanding his crucifixion.   Even the discourse of Acts and the Pauline Epistles (Paul explicitly called himself a Jew, a Pharisee) shows that Peter and James and the rest of the original Christian Church in Jerusalem not only went to the Temple to worship daily, they took for granted the necessity of the Mosaic Law in the life of their new community.  It was Paul the Pharisee who, converting Greeks and other non Jews advocated the relaxation of the requirements of conversion to Judaism for members of the new movement, of exempting them from the definitive acts of conversion, circumcision, observance of dietary and other laws.  And he considered himself a Jew even as he did that.

So the situation is far more complex and nuanced than even Deborah Lipstadt is willing to admit.  I would go so far as to say that most of what is now called "antisemitic" in medieval and later Christianity is a willful suppression of the fact that Jesus, all of his called "apostles" and almost all of his named disciples in the Gospel were Jews who certainly, to a person, believed they were Jews for their entire lives and even as the most distinctive holy day of Christianity was tied to the Passover.   I take some of her point seriously, it would be impossible not to, but to call the phenomenon of nominally medieval Christian antisemtism the same thing as the 19th and 20th century phenomenon which gave rise to the word is both anachronistic and dangerously inaccurate.

The word "antisemitism" was not invented by a Jewish writer to describe hatred of Jews, it was a word invented by the anti-religious, anti-Christian atheist Wilhelm Marr to give his hatred of Jews and his identification of them as biologically "other-than-German" linguistic and scientific cachet and, so, respectability in the secular, scientistic milieu of modernism.  The ironies of his life - such as the fact that all of his wives had Jewish ancestry - abound as is the fact that, in his telling, Judaism corrupted Germany and Europe exactly through the Christianization of Europe - his called Christians "new-Jews".  Clearly, his antisemitism at least by implication, would have to include Christians.  He invented the term as the theories of evolution, especially that of Charles Darwin, and the cladistic classification and ranking of  human alleged sub-populations was in vogue.  "Antisemitism" is a word which, if it were kept true to its origin, is specifically meant as a scientific, biological ideology.

The most basic folly of the current attempt to define "antisemitism" is that it is made to mean whatever the person using the term wants it to mean. Which means it means ever less with each expansion of its us.  It is used to mean:

Christians who believe that belief in Christianity is necessary for salvation want  to convert Jews so that Jews are "saved" and who are welcomed with open arms by those who want to convert them.  That is certainly true historically when even first generation and second generation converts were able to achieve high office in the Catholic Church and even canonization as Saints.  The conversion of Jews and Muslims and others accounts for virtually all of the phenomenon of "Christian antisemitism" in so far as theology or even most of the policies of the Christian churches enter into,  it is not anti-Jewish in its conception, it is pro-salvation.  They want Jews to be "saved" not obliterated as people, not as some inferior or inherently hereditary evil or competing "other" to be destroyed.   And lots of, especially, modern Christians do not believe that Jews need to convert to be "saved".  To not acknowledge that in 2019 is certainly as wrong and false as it is to pretend away any of the past or present antisemitism mentioned here.

It is used to mean the various political suppression of Jews in Europe in various places at various times of various harshness, requirements that Jews be segregated into ghettos, distinctive clothing or badges, laws restricting property ownership and other forms of economic restrictions.  It is used for pogroms and banishings by local and even national governments and, at times, officially owned church-states.  All of that is so varied, so varied in stringency and varied in practice and even official approval that it is too complex to go under one label.  In so far as the official position of the Catholic Church is concerned, sometimes, under some Popes and bishops, they were complicit with some of the worst of it, under some Popes and some bishops, they acted to protect the rights and lives of Jews, often in direct opposition to local prices and kings who clearly wanted to confiscate the property of the Jews they were dispossessing and dispelling and killing.  There are Popes and some Protestants who forbid the spreading of the blood libel myths that European Christianity seems to have inherited from classical times and there were those who were complicit in it.  That long history is clearly not all the same thing accurately named by one word.

Then there is the modern, scientific form of hatred of Jews, starting in the "enlightenment" with such heroes of modernism as Voltaire sounding as bad as any medieval or classical Jew-hater, the scientific classification of Jews as "other" as I already pointed out the inventor of the word under discussion and other sciency Jew-haters, many of them who hated Christianity as much as if not more than Judaism, not least because Christianity is saturated with Jewish content with the same God and its central figures are, to a person, Jews.

The most deadly of antisemitism was explicitly anti-Christian in act and sometimes in word, as well, Nazism, Stalinism, etc.  It was explicitly an expression of Darwinian natural selection applied to the human species.  It wanted to kill all Jews, it killed Jews who had converted to Christianity, it killed Jews who had in previous generations stopped identifying as Jews, it wanted to eradicate all of Jewish thought and belief from human life.  As Susannah Heschel has brilliantly pointed out, the nominally Christian churches in Germany which wished to go along with the new, scientific regime, were quite prepared to eviscerate the Second Testament of any content which could be considered "Jewish" and when they did that they got rid of most of the contents of the very book which Deborah Lipstadt says is the origin of antisemitism.  Needless to say, most Christians rejected the radical amputation of Christianity from not only its roots but most of its substance, as well.  That's one thing that Wilhelm Marr got right, Christianity without Judaism is not Christianity.

I don't know if in her book or in other places Deborah Lipstadt gives a more nuanced study of the topic but from what I've heard and read, I don't suspect she did.

One of the things I distrust about the current movement to try to define the word "antisemitism" is that it is clearly a means of trying to use the word to shield the Israeli government, now under decades of proto-fascistic rule, from the same kinds of criticism that any other such government with such abominable and racist and murderous policies would be fairly open to.   That antisemites might use the reaction against Israel to promote their hatred of Jews is certainly a terrible complication to the practice of criticizing the Israeli government, it is also one of the ironies of the establishment of the Israeli state that it has, as Jacobo Timmerman once pointed out, become the motive of some of the worst violence against Jews in the post-WWII period.

There were eminent Jews who warned about the dangerous features of the Israeli political establishment from the time of its founding, many of their warnings have come to pass, including warnings of the potential of those who founded the current ruling establishment to become fascists.  It was certain that an Israel which could have been expected to exist only under a state of permanent attack would develop into a nationalistic-militaristic country which was, in fact, fascist and exclusionary in nature.  I'm not going to apologize for believing what Isadore Abramowitz,  Hannah Arendt,  Abraham Brick, Rabbi Jessurun Cardozo,  Albert Einstein,  Herman Eisen, M.D.  Hayim Fineman, M. Gallen, M.D., H. H. Harris,  Zelig S. Harris, Sidney Hook, Fred Karush, Briuria Kaufman, Irma L. Lindheim,  Nachman Majesl,  Seymour Melman,  Myer D Mendelson, M.D.,  Harry M. Orlinsky,  Samuel Pitlick,  Fritz Rohrlich,  Louis P. Rocker Ruth Sager,
Itzhak Sankowsky,  I. J. Schoenberg, Samuel Schuman, M Znger, Irma Wolpe, and Stefan Wolpe were warning about seventy years ago, now that their predictions have come truer than not.  I'm not going to refrain from noting the same criticisms that can be made in Israel by Jewish Israeli critics noting the fascistic features that have arisen in Israel and in the very parties which have ruled it for decades but which are suppressed here with false and frivolous accusations of "antisemitism".  I'm not going to tell lies for another country that I'm certainly not going to lie for my own or any other country.  Anyone who allows name-calling to keep them from telling the truth has debased themselves, I won't do it.

Note:  While I acknowledge that Lipstadt is correct that the issue of "money and Jews: is a part of the anti-Jewish invective but that doesn't change the fact that in the United States, political influence is intrinsically tied to money.  The fact is that in American politics the influence of money IS the issue.  To acknowledge that AIPAC and other entities that lobby the United States government have used money and the pressure of campaign contributions to candidates opposing their critics in its activity is to acknowledge a fact of life under the corruption that the U. S. Supreme Court has imposed on us.  I don't fault them for using money to do what all other groups use money to do, or at least not any more than I do any other group.  But I will not pretend they don't because it makes people feel queasy.   That it makes people feel queasy is understandable and unfortunate, but that's not my fault, either.

I Do Not Believe There Is Really Serious Atheism I Think It Has Corroded Intellectual And Moral Life And Harmed Egalitarian Democracy

The excerpts of Hans Kung's book which I posted last week began explicitly addressing its arguments to atheists.

Does God exist?  Here we want to address expressly even the unbeliever.  For even someone who does not think that God exists could at least agree with the hypothesis of which the inner meaning has become clear in the previous section and which nevertheless by no means settles the question of the existence or nonexistence of God.  The hypothesis runs:  If God exists, then a fundamental solution of the riddle of persistently uncertain reality is indicated, in the sense that a fundamental answer - obviously  needing to be developed and interpreted - will have been found to the question of the source of reality.

Far from the claims of popular atheist blather, the materialistic, scientistic foundation of almost all modern atheism, undermines confidence in the reality of reality, "reality" being meaningless in human discourse if exactly the human experience of reality is not taken as its only definition.  The exigencies of materialism require atheists in science and philosophy to undermine the status of our perception of reality and even the very conscious experience which is the only thing with which we can know that reality through.  All of our talk and discourse and consideration of reality is dependent on the very entity, our conscious experience, which cannot be made compatible with materialism and retain its access to anything which has the transcendent quality of truth or accuracy, of it being a reflection of any external reality.   That was what a good part of the hundreds of pages that preceded the arguments I excerpted reviewed and discussed.

Of course, as a political blogger, more so as an egalitarian democrat, what concerns me about that most is the undermining of the moral foundations of egalitarianism and democracy with the goal of producing the common good of all and the sustenance of life.  Equality and democracy are founded in moral holdings that are non-negotiable and which must be taken as absolutely real and of binding consequence.   I am convinced that science has been far from a uniform benefit in that regard and materialism is absolutely fatal to it.* 

I am convinced that atheism will always, in the end, corrode and wash away those moral foundations and I am also convinced that most of atheism is not an intellectually motivated position, I think the passage from Kung in which he said that any atheist who would even listen to his arguments had to be "quite serious and not an intellectual pose, snobbish caprice or thoughtless superficiality."  I added to that that my experience of discussion with many atheists online, everything from some of the more eminent of popular atheists, Sean Carroll, Jerry Coyne, John Wilkins, to the dregs of the blog and, I'll admit, Youtube commenting atheists, leads me to believe that even the best of them hold their position on less than serious grounds.   I gave a list of those atheists of the past I considered to be serious, though I think much of their writing, read again after decades of taking its quality for granted, is not infrequently slippery and deceptive. I would say that's especially true of Bertrand Russell.  Oddly, I think the one I am left with the most respect for, and it is only because he gave full expression to the logically depraved results of his atheism is Nietzsche who I find totally loathsome in so many ways.**

Actually, most of the serious atheists I encounter are the ones who do not really care about atheism and seem to hold theirs quite loosely, though they generally aren't the ones willing to go into the ultimate consequences of holding their ideology.  Several of my fellow egalitarian democrats who are also atheists who I know very well aren't interested in holding up their belief in equality and democracy against the ultimate consequences of materialism, scientism and atheism, which I can kind of respect even if I don't trust it as a trustworthy consequence of widespread atheism.  I'm not sure that there really are atheists who are "quite serious," in the way that Hans Kung addressed himself to, certainly not in great number.  I would contrast that to serious religious believers and even some who aren't so serious who are quite willing to deal with ultimate consequences and implications of what they believe, I think that is a consequence of believing that their actions and beliefs have actual and inescapable consequence in a way that atheism generally rejects.  I think the very nature of belief in God that is common to the monotheistic religions lends itself to that kind of serious consideration in a way that atheism doesn't naturally hold.  But first there is the choice to believe that reality is real and consequential.  I think atheists, even the ones like the Churchlands and Dennetts are intellectual hypocrites whose descriptions of what their atheism requires them to say about our minds and consciousness are shown to be an empty pose by how they conduct their academic lives.  The very expression with which their claims for atheism is made contradicts their stated conclusions.  I can not pretend to have any respect for such an intellectual pose, it is totally corrupt, totally decadent, totally corrupting for an academic and general culture that tolerates it.

* My long study of natural selection and its inevitable product, eugenics, has led me to be extremely skeptical of the intellectual status of much of science and entirely skeptical of its compatiblity with egalitarian democracy, a stand which, I will point out, Charles Darwin endorsed when it was asserted by Ernst Haeckel.  I am also extremely skeptical of the motives of those who invented and developed the ideas that comprise Darwinism. 

**  I've recently heard some of Nietzsche's music for the first time, which is technically competent but not very good. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Be Careful What You Wish For: Remember, Neither Clarence Thomas Nor Donald Trump Are The Brightest Pebbles On The Beach

I am told that Clarence Thomas has joined me in criticizing the 1964 New York Times v Sullivan ruling that the Warren Court used to pretty much give permission to the media to lie about public figures with impunity, burdening those lied about with the next to impossible task of proving that the lies were told with "actual malice" when in the world of legalistic make believe, even obvious malice wouldn't suffice to get relief.

The piece from NBC says:

Thomas called the ruling and similar ones in follow-on cases "policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law" and said the court should reconsider.

"If the Constitution does not require public figures to satisfy an actual-malice standard in state-law defamation suits, then neither should we."

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the legal rules for libel actions, calling them a sham and a disgrace.

"We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws, so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts," he said a year ago.

I will point out that the effect of overturning the ruling would certainly not have the effect that just about any of these guys,  Thomas, Trump, the other side, the alleged liberal side would expect it to.   To start with, imagine a United States in which FOX and other Murdoch properties, the other cabloids and tabloids, Sinclair, the goddamned New York Times could be sued by Hillary Clinton or John Kerry or Al Gore or Walter Mondale or any of the other Democratic candidates since 1964.

Imagine if they hadn't been able to lie about Hubert Humphrey in the way that was rampant in the 1968 election.  I've given the chronology before 1960, Nixon loses, 1964 Supreme Court issues Sullivan Decision 1968 Nixon wins, setting off the spiral that we have lived under down the drain with Trump, today.  Imagine if they had not been able to slander Anita Hill.  Imagine if those who Trump had lied about could sue him into the flames of hell.  He would have gone under and never have been heard from, again.

That the effect of the legal impunity the Warren Court granted would not be favorable to the rich and powerful and their servants on the right is indicated by the case which gave Thomas his excuse to criticize the ruling that he, I suppose, imagines would rehabilitate his character in history (when a lot more than the accusations of sexual harassment did that to him).

Thomas' comments came in an opinion on Tuesday concurring with the court's refusal to hear an appeal from Katherine McKee, who claimed she was raped by Bill Cosby. She said Cosby's lawyer leaked a letter that distorted her background and damaged her reputation.

Lower courts dismissed her case, citing the 1964 Times v. Sullivan precedent. They said by disclosing her accusation against Cosby to a reporter she "thrust herself to the forefront of a public controversy" and therefore had to meet the more demanding libel standard applying to public figures.

She appealed those rulings, and the Supreme Court declined to take the case by an apparently unanimous vote. Thomas said he agreed the New York Times precedent required that outcome, but he said the 1964 case was wrongly decided.

Before the Times ruling, Thomas said, a person claiming defamation needed to prove only that a statement was false and resulted in ridicule, hatred, or contempt. Libels against public figures were considered more serious than ordinary defamations, he said.

First, the idea that someone who may be a victim of a crime talking about that to reporters turns them into a "public figure" who can be lied about with impunity is outrageous.  The people with the most to lose in such a scenario includes exactly victims of crime who cannot get police or prosecutors to take their accusations seriously.   Women, children, LGBT people Black People, Latinos, the poor etc.   The effect of such a rule would fall disproportionately on exactly the classes of people who are more likely to not be taken seriously by law enforcement.

Second, the burden that they prove they were defamed falsely was done by "actual malice" is something which is next to impossible to prove, it was, in reality a carte blanche for everything from the most piddling local rag to international media corporations to destroy people without risking much of anything and it has had a seriously dangerous effect on our politics and on public life in general.

The United States got along for almost two hundred years without the media having the freedom that that ruling gave it, though it had plenty that were used maliciously.  The progress made under that previous regime of somewhat inhibited lying was what the freedom to lie has been used to attack.   The Warren Court could have easily recommended that the NYT be ordered to print a retraction and to pay for the court costs, which they could well have afforded to do and which might have had the effect of making them slightly less likely to publish lies, such as the ones they told about such people as Hillary Clinton.  If they had been more careful about facts it would have been less of a sleazy rag than it has been under the ruling it got from the Court.  In fact, the entire media, knowing they had better be able to back up what they said would have been better and we wouldn't be living in so much of that "post-truth" world we live in.   That "post-truth" is really an age of lies, the kind of lies that the ruling permitted.  To pretend there is no relationship between the time line of that spiral into the sewer of lies we live in and that ruling is willful blindness.  It is another lie, the fundamental narrative of that lie, the one promoted by the "civil liberties" industry which was as much a funded industry of the media corporations as Matthew Whitaker's sleazy operation exposed in the House last week was for the casino industry.  And it has been even more corrupting.

We've Been Here Before - Hate Mail

Looking up his name in my archive, I have mentioned the right-wing media priest Robert Barron in two posts, neither of which were complementary to him.  I think his mission is a blight on the Church and to Catholic culture and on the basis of such bizarre things as are mentioned in this article from National Catholic Reporter for December, I expect things will not end well.  Call me suspicious but when a right-wing media priest chooses to associate his brand with body builders and he's very obviously not a lifter, himself, it's kind of creepy.  His media presence is a superficial appendage of the would be "dark web" which calls itself "intellectual" but is more untellectual and, as I said, a blight.  

I don't know how anyone who reads what I write could think I would endorse him or approve of his shtick.  Well, I do if the person making that accusation is an idiot and a bigot, which means they've got more in common with Barron's cult than I do. 

To Hell With Bernie Sanders Just Another Carpetbagging Spoiler Now

The Democratic Party establishment must protect the party from non-Democrats who sweep in to try to use caucuses and open primaries to try to steal the nomination of a party they are not real members of.  With this morning's announcement by Bernie Sanders, who I'm not sure has yet rejoined the party he abandoned months after joining it FOR THE FIRST TIME for 2016, it's clear that allowing people like him to do this is bad for the party and bad for the country.   Bernie Sanders, 77, has no chance of winning the election, he has little chance of winning the nomination, especially given the other, real, life-long Democrats who have announced already.  What he has a chance of doing is acting as a spoiler who will get Trump reelected by splitting the opposition vote, that's a pattern all too familiar with the darlings of the "real left" who are mostly affluent people who are in the business of suckering those who they can to defeating the best who have a chance of winning elections. 

The Democratic Party should adopt rules that:

1.  No one who has not been a declared member of the Democratic Party for all of the eight years before the election they would run in is eligible for the Democratic Presidential nomination. 

2.  Delegates to the National Convention chosen by open primaries and caucuses will not be eligible to cast votes for the presidential nomination.  

3. The Democratic Party will run primaries by mail-in votes with only Democrats who have been declared members of the party for the year before the nomination contest in states which hold open primaries or caucuses - actually the Democratic Party should conduct its own nominations based on mail-in ballots in line with the way those have been successfully conducted in states in the past. 

Democrats have to protect the party from outside interference by the likes of the Green Party and, now, sadly, the Bernie Sanders cult.  There is something deeply wrong with a "left" which has a fifty year record of doing this kind of thing.  From Al Lowenstein's disastrous "Dump Johnson" effort and Eugene McCarthy's many stunt candidacies, through the sandbagging of Jimmy Carter resulting in Reagan, to Ralph Nader and the history of the Green-Republican spoiler phenomenon, this has been a serious problem for not only the Democratic Party but for American liberalism, the real left, the one which has a possibility of gaining office and making real change in real life.  

Monday, February 18, 2019

A Celtic Confederation?

Someone asked me this morning what I think of the disaster that has befallen the British Labour Party with the defection of more MPs.  I don't think about it much, British politics is something I don't follow closely enough to have anything important to say.  I will say that as much as I might agree with some of his policies, someone who has been as dismal a party leader as Jeremy Corbyn has should be replaced.  He seems to be a lot better at alienating people and dismissing them from his shadow cabinet than he does getting anything done.  I find his stand on a second referendum that could prevent the disaster that Brexit is going to be totally incomprehensible - apparently some think he believes he can survive to pick up the smoldering pieces after it explodes.  And then there is his incredible handling of petty antisemitism among his ranks.  And I'm not talking about the bullshit accusations made about Ilhan Omar here, it was the real thing.  If he were the head of the Democratic Party I belong to, I'd say dump him.  I, for the life of me, don't understand the enduring affection that American lefties have for him.  If he'd managed to do something other than split the Labour Party, that would be different. 

When the disaster of Brexit comes, I wonder if anyone has ever thought of Scotland and Northern Ireland breaking away to form their own democratic confederation, maybe along with the Republic of Ireland.  One that could remain in the EU.  I wouldn't be surprised if something like that might not eventually develop, after Scotland realizes England is a hopeless pit of class ridden awfulness and they vote to leave the Uk.   Wouldn't that outcome of Brexit be ironic.  Though I haven't noticed anyone thinking of it before. 

Portrait Of The Senator As A Stinking Flower Of Decay

Lindsay Graham is certainly in the running to be the most disgusting gay man in America, certainly among living ones and is right down there with those from the past,  Roy Cohn, James Buchanan*, J. Edgar Hoover.  If he goes for Andrew McCabe, I, as a gay man, will certainly be on the side of the button-down straight guy with whom I probably have little to nothing in common. 

Why, a lot of people wonder, would Lindsay Graham, who, if you may recall, played a never-Trumper before Trump got the nomination and who is now slobbering all over him, wanting to be nothing but his tool as head of the degraded Senate Judiciary Committee?   Well, there are lots of reasons, one is that the most prominent Southern faggot in public life is a neo-Segregationist, or, at least, knows that's where his own best interests lie in advancing.  He wants to put more Federalist-fascists on the Supreme Court and lower federal courts to pretty much annul the entire range of civil rights legislation, including any that benefits LGBT people.  Lindsay Graham has lived his entire life under a system that makes him a pariah but which has always had room for gay men who have no morals, no honor, no sense of civic decency, look at that list I gave above.  He knows that servants of power and wealth are always protected except when they do something really bad and their protectors have fallen. 

I tend to suspect that Trump or some sleaze like Pecker or Putin or some billionaire oligarch probably has something on Lindsay that he knows they'll use to crush him like the little grub he is if he doesn't do their bidding but it might not be that.  You can imagine how bad that could be, anything from officially outting him to the South Carolina voters who have been pretending he's not a faggot even as every gay man with any political knowledge I've known has much known that about him for his entire time in public life. I've known men who reported seeing him partying for decades. But maybe it doesn't take overt blackmail.  Having no morals, no honor, no sense of civic decency, he'd do it for money and power. 

Lindsay Graham is exactly what you would expect a person without any morals to be like, one who isn't placed by chance or by physical endowment to be even worse than he is.  His being in the Senate only proves that South Carolina is, as it has been since the Constitutional Convention, a place where the worst hold power with few exceptions to break that rule.  He is the poisoned, putrid flower of the decadence of slave power, a corpse flower growing parasitically out of the decay of democracy.  He has no real beliefs, no real convictions, he is a willing tool of corruption.  He's been rewarded for being one.  He knows that the TV networks are his fellow tools of money and power.  They'll always have him on and never really challenge him on anything.

* I've been thinking more about the Buchanan administration lately because there are many parallels, a totally corrupt and degenerate Supreme Court working hand in glove with an incompetent and corrupt president whose devotion to slavery was based in or enhanced by his sexual relationship with Alabama Senator William Rufus King, who, no doubt, was susceptible to influence over fears of being exposed as much as Trump fears Putin exposing his perversions.  The fracturing politics, the regionalism, the floridly corrupt media and general corruption of the antebellum period. 

I think there is more than a good chance that, like the late 1850s, we are on the verge of a terrible and bloody period only this one is going to be far worse.  The bloodshed of the Civil War was something that no one was prepared for because of the recent advances in arms and weaponry, those are far worse today.  The Federalist-fascists have been making sure that the equivalent of the slavery side, today, has as much of that as their paranoid, hating hearts can manage to get.  I hope when its over, whoever is left will take a good look at scrapping the Constitution that contains the corruption endemic to our system, the system that has put power into the hands of a degenerate like Lindsay Graham.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

I am listening to the CBC program Spark, they are talking about "memes" and for the life of me, I can't hear how "memes" are different from what we used to call in the olden days "ideas" that is if by "ideas" you don't distinguish between stupid and intelligent, informative and deceptive, erudite and stupid.  "Slogans" "images" etc.  . 

Clearly the word "meme" doesn't mean what it did when Dawkins invented it to try to plug a gaping chasm in his gene-selfishness theory and it was taken up by his fellow meatheads, Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmore and pretty much no one else of any academic or alleged intellectual status.  

When I hear someone use the word I think that they're idiots who are trying to impress other idiots by using a meaningless buzzword the origin of which makes them feel all sciency and smart and up to date when it only shows they are credulous dopes. 

Hate Mail - Actually, More Like Hissy Mail

I am getting hate mail on the series presenting Hans Kung's arguments for believing in God, none of them attacks Kung's arguments, none of them presents counter-arguments, they whine like an 8-year-old stamping their feet and angrily declaring "that's not fair!"  If one breaks out of that mode into something approaching an adult level of argument I may post it, even if it violates my New Years resolution.  It's a big "if" but I'll post it if it breaks out of the typical popular understanding of atheism which Kung brilliantly characterized as, "an intellectual pose, snobbish caprice or thoughtless superficiality."  None so far has.

In rational argument the better argument wins the argument, it doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be absolutely air-tight - as absolutely no human argument ever has been and likely never will be.  So much of atheism and its more cowardly cousin, agnosticism rests on the pretense that such air-tightness is required when it never is.  It is certainly never required of arguments for atheism and against belief. 

I would caution any atheist that their argument should, at the very least, account for how their materialistic, scientistic, atheistic argument is consistent with the faith in reason and even the validity of our minds that is at the center of Kung's arguments, atheists don't get that miracle in contradiction to the logical consequences of the ground of their atheism for free - especially when some of today's major atheists like Dennett, Dawkins, the Churchlands, Coyne etc. are in the business of debunking our very minds.  That aspect of the logical consequences of materialism isn't something atheists get to two step around when it is the very heart of the attack on their atheism.  

Contents Of The Arguments For Believing in God I Excerpted From Hans Kungs Does God Exist?

The passage of Hans Kung's book Does God Exist: An Answer For Today, which I gave over the past week in response to a demand that I post a proof of God's existence is hardly the whole of Kung's argument to convince people of some excellent reasons to believe in God.  It goes on from there for quite a while. It is only the part of it that demonstrates that a belief in God is supportive of a belief in the significance of human perception of reality, of human reason, reasons for human beings to be confident in our experience of life and our ability to understand it.  Those are all things which are proven to be damaged by atheism when it is followed to its logical conclusions as is the pretense of scientistic atheism, the kind which almost every modern atheist either practices or would like to be taken as practicing.  The list of eminent atheist scientists and philosophers who attack even the most basic validity of our minds is a long one.  It was that expressed on a popular level in the statement "science has proven that free will doesn't exist" on a then popular, now ever more obscure lefty blog which began my long investigation into the political consequences of scientistic, materialistic atheism and how it has damaged and discredited the egalitarian democratic left.  The list of such atheist scientist-philosophers, even many of them taken as lefties, who have attacked the ideas of equality and democracy are, is also a long one.

Since it is so useful to the purpose of this blog, I'm giving links to all of the parts of the argument I typed out and posted.  It would be best to read them in Kung's book with its exhaustive examination of scientistic modernism and going on to parts of his excellent arguments for choosing to believe in God which I can't type out.

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