Saturday, September 28, 2019

How Can You Believe People Encouraged To Be Like That Are Capable Of Self-Government? or The Price Of Having A Left Based In College Kids And Old Guys Who Want To Pretend They Still Are There

It's not only the good-life world as imagined by Trump and the likes of Sheldon Adelson that is, as I said in the passage you whine about:

The imagined alternative in secular, a-religious, anti-Christianity produces a world which is a brothel governed by gangsters.   

I said something nice about the largely forgotten protest-singer-songwriter-folkie, Tom Paxton the other day.   Thinking just now about your whining about that passage in my piece the other day made me think of this song of his:

You're going to have to excuse me if I suspect that that imagined crowd having a rollicking good old time at the bar was not going to achieve universal health care, take care of the children, clean up the environment, or even reliably get the crops picked. The consequences of having the American would-be left in the hands of people who never got over being in college, or high school has more than a little to do with why the American left has been a friggin' flop. It is a celebration of life as exactly those things I said you could expect from a secular, a-religious, anti-Christian view of life. 

I will note the LP that was on was from 1970.  In the following years they couldn't even manage to get the Vietnam War ended, they couldn't even get rid of Nixon.  That took the boring old Democratic leadership of that time, most of whom probably spent Saturday Nights reading their homework.  I imagine such lefties from scenes as imagined in that song as got old probably spend their time getting drunk at casinos, these days.  I'd expect a lot of them would vote Republican now.   I will note that it wasn't such people as who got the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. put into effect, it was people who didn't live that way who did.

I went to bars like that when I was young and stupid.  I remember those times and wish I'd been young and a lot less stupid.   I think I felt some kind of obligation to pretend I was enjoying myself, the alcohol helped to not think about how awful it was.  Thank God disco made me realize I'd never really thought it was fun.  I could put up with a bar fight, I couldn't put up with disco.

The bold, manly, rollicking, barroom style lefty who imagines he's participating in a real workin' man's pleasures in such thing is supremely condescending, as he is proving he doesn't have enough respect for working people to imagine them as capable of being better and more responsible than that, of being a far more responsible and kind person   You're more likely to get that view of the underclass on Sunday morning in church.   

I still think some of Tom Paxton's songs still work better than Tom Lehrer's who had just about stopped writing songs by the time Paxton wrote that one.  But you're not going to get anywhere better than where we are now with his prescriptions on how to live.  I mean, look at where we've gotten since those boring old Southern Christian Leadership Conference guys stopped leading the left.

Figured I should take care of this before taking a couple of days off. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

Stupid Mail And A Notice

I don't have time to write a post on Mencken, here is something you might want to consider from this article.

Look up H. L. Mencken’s review of Mein Kampf, as it appeared in The American Mercury of December 1933. Greatly to the distress of his old friend and publisher Alfred A. Knopf, among others, Mencken felt it his job to explain that the new Führer was potentially onto something good. Not only did he describe as “sensible enough” the idea that “Germany’s first big task is to collar Austria and so consolidate the German people,” but he went on to state that anti-Semitism was more or less to be expected. (“The disadvantage of the Jew is that, to simple men, he always seems a kind of foreigner.”) Though he tried to soften the blow by comparing Hitler to fundamentalist Democrat William Jennings Bryan—harsh dispraise in the Mencken universe—he too found that there was a Jewish-­Bolshevik threat to be combated: “The bloody Räte­republik at Munich—long forgotten elsewhere, but only too well remembered in Germany—had been set up and bossed by a Jew, and there were other Jews high in the councils of the Communist party, which proposed openly to repeat the Munich pillages and butch­er­ies all over the country.”

As to comparing Hitler to William Jennings Bryan, that is about as dishonest a thing as that asshole could have done, considering it was Bryan's undelivered closing speech in the Scopes trial that Mencken covered and helped turn into a circus (the one that the Chamber of Commerce in Dayton Tennessee hoped for) it was Bryan who correctly predicted the total depravity that would result from Darwinism as understood in the 1920s and Mencken who was a fan of the Nazis, as shown in the article.  

I know you remember that fad of quoting the asshole which I mentioned, but, like almost all of those who said, "H. L. Mencken said . . . "  you never read him either.   The ones who had read him and quoted him must not have been too bothered with the awful things he said.  

Note:  I've had a death in my family and will not be posting on Saturday and maybe not on Sunday.

I Wouldn't Be Surprised If Nancy Pelosi Knew Trump Would Be Exposed

The many, many, many years of people on lefty blogs, on lefty comment threads, columnists in lefty magazines, op-ed pages, on radio and TV and online commentary have been slamming Nancy Pelosi for everything under the sun have certainly been incredibly wrong.  That continued up till the other day when the fullness of time proved that her biding her time for Trump to make himself eminently impeachable came.  I was reading the most bitter condemnation of her by blog rats on lefty blogs right up till the hours before she made her announcement of the official impeachment inquiry. 

She is smarter than all of her critics put together.  They are childish dolts.  She is the best Speaker of the House in recent American history, certainly the best of my lifetime.  I am certain that most of the criticism of her on the left is related to her gender.   None of it has come from people who have her amazing political skill and cunning.  The play-lefties are idiots, to a person.

As H.L. Mencken Said . . . Hate Mail

Sorry, I assumed that you would understand what "allotropic" as Mencken used it in support of Nietzsche's anti-democratic anti-Christianity - among those things listed - means.  That was the basis of my commentary.

Allotropy, according to Merriam Webster online means "the existence of a substance and especially an element in two or more different forms (as of crystals) usually in the same phase".  

In terms of human beings and human societies, that means  "pluralistic," as in different racial identities, different national and ethnic identities, different religious orientations, etc.  Universally, remember that Nietzsche and so many of his admirers, male and, oddly enough, female, are deeply misogynist, it means male and female, the male always being the default form of humanity, women being there to be used and oppressed.  Such female admirers of Nietzsche as who like to think of themselves as feminists are responsible for explaining that basic, fundamental and inherent contradiction in their ideological program, I can't square that circle. 

Clearly, you can contrast the pluralistic inclusiveness of Christianity as expressed by the man who can be considered as turning the Jesus movement into Christianity,  Paul.  
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28

Would that those who professed Christianity for the next two thousand years had lived up to that.   

You have to conclude it's that kind of thing that Mencken and Nietzsche just hated about Christianity, what so many professed Christians have ignored, to the damage of the reputation of Christianity among so many.  

I will note that what Nietzsche hated about democracy was pretty much the same thing.  It must have really pissed them off that egalitarian democracy was something that those they despise as "weak" "inferior" "other" the millions and billions who such elitists and snobs desperately like to believe they are better than, more fit than, more worthy of life than, have everything to gain from the vision of Paul, the universal practice of the teachings of Jesus, even if in the second-hand expression of those in democracy, than they do in allowing the oligarchs and aristocrats and rich gangsters to rule them.  

I remember how, in the 1970s as it descended into the Republican-fascism, the fascist-chic movies from Hollywood,  University of Chicago "classical economics" etc. how many people suddenly started quoting the admirer of Nietzsche, Mencken. 

 It became, first, really annoying, then, as I looked at what Mencken actually said, it looked like a disturbing promotion of his pathological thinking.   I had to conclude it wasn't unrelated to how things were going.  I remember even the emblematic liberal economist,  the often quite cynical John Kenneth Galbraith was doing it.  Unlike most of the others who did it, I was fairly confident he'd have actually read Mencken.   I can't say that it didn't lead me to think differently of his political economics, seeing them more skeptically than when I'd first read them.   Maybe it has something to do with where I've come to, today.

What's In It For Non-Christians Even Anti-Christians For Christians To Really Believe What They Profess?

“Socialism, Puritanism, Philistinism, Christianity—he saw them all as allotropic forms of democracy, as variations upon the endless struggle of quantity against quality, of the weak and timorous against the strong and enterprising, of the botched against the fit.”

H.L. Mencken, Mencken and Nietzsche

A firm faith of this kind changes even this present life completely.  It enables you to live quite differently, with more meaning, more responsibility, with greater involvement.  In fact it enables you to live in accordance with the standard of this Christ.  With his proclamation, the way he lived, and his fate, he became the standard for those who believe in him; the standard for those who believe in him; the standard for their relations with their fellow human beings, with society, and above all with God.  To put it briefly, for believers the true man Jesus of Nazareth has therefore always been the real and clear revelation of the one God; his Messiah, his Christ, his image and his son.

But it is in this very way that he is a truly human being, the true human being.  Through his proclamation, his behavior, his whole destiny, possible for me provided a model of being human which, if we commit ourselves trustingly to it, enables us again and again to discover and to realize the meaning of our own being human, of our freedom, of our life;  in our own existence and in living with our fellow human beings.  Confirmed by God in resurrection, he thus represents for us the enduring, reliable, ultimate standard of what being human means.  What has surely become plain in recent theological disputes is that Christology, or a theory about Christ, may be important, particularly for theologians and bishops, but faith in Christ and discipleship are the essentials.  Being a Christian is the important thing.  And it is he who makes that possible for me - he, the Christ of God who is identical with the historical human being, Jesus of Nazareth. 

So that is how I would answer the question, Where do I get my Christian commitment from?   I know what I can rely on, what I can hold on to, because I believe in this Christ Jesus.  Bit in saying that I am also faced with the question which must not be passed over under any circumstances.  What does all this mean in practice? 

If you read his other work, you would immediately find that, far from being a Christian chauvinist, Hans Kung has expressed deep respect, not only for what we might consider the Jewish tradition - the religion of Jesus after all and of Paul and the rest of his earliest followers - a Roman or Syrio-Greek or Samaritan here and there, as well.  He also has spoken highly of the great Islamic tradition, as much indebted to the Mosaic faith as Christians are.  And he's said good things about other religious traditions and, as in the passage I went through yesterday, he's even expressed respect for atheists.   So this passage is not primarily an encouragement to conversion, unless you are going to consider it an encouragement to conversion of professed Christians to the central figure they claim to follow.

He presents what's in it for Christians to accept, to choose a real conversion to the faith of Jesus, my political analysis in a - thanks be to God - a pluralistic country which is losing its way needs to present the case of what's in it for non-Christians to have the large percentage of the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Australia, etc. to have Christians ACT AS IF THEY REALLY BELIEVE THE MORAL TEACHINGS OF JESUS.   

I have mentioned that I once scandalized the mostly non-Christian, mostly college-credentialed, mostly secular lefty members of what was, then, a large blog community when I said the worst thing about prohibition was that it didn't work.  The reaction I got you'd have thought I proposed putting a manger scene on public property!   

But what if a city, a state, a country, managed to achieve total and complete sobriety, total non-consumption of alcohol?   All of the accidents associated with alcohol use would not happen, the violence due to alcohol use wouldn't happen, the neglect of children, the illness that comes from even casual use of alcohol, the terrible consequences of alcoholism, including all of the above and the terrible declines into death that come with alcoholism would not afflict such a polity as managed total sobriety.  The 75 to 80% of police work which now involves dealing with the effects of alcohol would be dedicated to stopping other crimes or the number of police needed would be radically reduced.  

But as the period of prohibition in the United States shows such total sobriety turned out not to be possible in a world where other places were entirely willing to provide people who wanted to drink, organized crime handling the importation and distribution and making of alcohol.  The results of total illegalization of alcohol turned out, in the real world, to have unacceptable consequences, much as the total illegalization of drugs does.  

But what if a majority of people chose, on their own not to drink?  What if a single family chooses not to drink?   A good number of those benefits would come with that and, most relevant to my addressing this section of Kung's book, the neighbors and others would experience the benefit of having totally sober neighbors, totally sober drivers on the roads, in their schools, providing them services, etc. too?

What would the benefits to non-Christians be if all or even a majority of those who profess Christianity really did ACT OUT THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS?  

If the majority of Christians acted and voted out of the teaching to do to others as you would have them do to you, egalitarian democracy would be the result.  

If they acted and voted from their obligation to do to the least among us, the poor, the sick, the widowed and orphaned (and those roles translated into modern lives) the prisoner, the alien among us, as we would to God, the welfare state would put every single one created out of secularism to shame in their stinginess. 

And those are only two of the major teachings of Jesus which, if they became the guiding principles in the lives of those who profess Christianity and they determined the way they voted and - lest it be forgotten, those so elected governed the country - the transformation in the lives of the non-Christians living in such a country would be all for the better.  

Imagine if those much mentioned "evangelicals" who voted for Trump, who voted for the Bushes, who voted for Reagan, imagine if the right-wing Catholics who voted for them had voted in line with the actual teachings of Jesus FOR A PRESIDENT WHO, AS WELL LIVED AND GOVERNED ACCORDING TO THOSE TEACHINGS, how much better the lives of countless non-Christians would be. 

The sins of the Christians, in their jillions, are a result of not living their lives, of not choosing their leaders, of not governing themselves according to the teachings of Jesus, the man they, in their profession of faith claim to believe is everything from the ultimate authoritative voice to a co-equal part of the triune God of the trinity.   Imagine what history would have been like if all, or even most Christians actually acted according to the teachings of Jesus.  

I think there is everything in it for non-Christians to have Christians really believe and really ACT AS IF they really believed in Christianity.  I DON'T THINK THAT HAVING CHRISTIANS ACT AS IF THEY REALLY BELIEVE IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, RELIABLY, UNLESS THEY DO REALLY BELIEVE IT.  But that is the responsibility of Christians making that choice to really believe in it*,

The imagined alternative in secular, a-religious, anti-Christianity produces a world which is a brothel governed by gangsters.   

I think there is no one who best confirms my political analysis in this area is probably the most honest and developed of atheist philosophers, the proto-Nazi Friedrich Nietzsche.  Read this passage from The Genealogy of Morals remembering that he despised democracy and socialism, which he noted were both heirs of the Christianity that he, as so many a modern secular, would be lefty,  hated above all.

An investigation of the origin of Christianity in the Roman world shows that co-operative unions for poverty, sickness, and burial sprang up in the lowest stratum of contemporary society, amid which the chief antidote against depression, the little joy experienced in mutual benefits, was deliberately fostered. Perchance this was then a novelty, a real discovery? This conjuring up of the will for co-operation, for family organisation, for communal life, for "Cœnacula" necessarily brought the Will for Power, which had been already infinitesimally stimulated, to a new and much fuller manifestation. The herd organisation is a genuine advance and triumph in the fight with depression. With the growth of the community there matures even to individuals a new interest, which often enough takes him out of the more personal element in his discontent, his aversion to himself, the "despectus sui" of Geulincx. All sick and diseased people strive instinctively after a herd-organisation, out of a desire to shake off their sense of oppressive discomfort and weakness; the ascetic priest divines this instinct and promotes it; wherever a herd exists it is the instinct of weakness which has wished for the herd, and the cleverness of the priests which has organised it, for, mark this: by an equally natural necessity the strong strive as much for isolation as the weak for union: when the former bind themselves it is only with a view to an aggressive joint action and joint satisfaction of their Will for Power, much against the wishes of their individual consciences; the latter, on the contrary, range themselves together with positive delight in such a muster—their instincts are as much gratified thereby as the instincts of the"born master" (that is, the solitary beast-of-prey species of man) are disturbed and wounded to the quick by organisation. There is always lurking beneath every oligarchy—such is the universal lesson of history—the desire for tyranny. Every oligarchy is continually quivering with the tension of the effort required by each individual to keep mastering this desire. (Such, e.g., was the Greek; Plato shows it in a hundred places, Plato, who knew his contemporaries—and himself.)

So, obviously, his preference leads to a Trumpian view of life, not the one following the teachings of Jesus would.

P.S. I read that and remember the heroine of so many a current would-be lefty,  Emma Goldman adored Nietzsche for his destruction of morality, and, unlike them, she had certainly read him.  They haven't even read her. 

*  The ridiculous idea that we believe anything automatically, volition not being involved is exactly that, it is ridiculous.  I think it has led many people to lose their faith when they expected that magical, automatic experience to just somehow happen.  I think it is what Mother Teresa misunderstood that led to her long, reported dark night of the soul that, interestingly, her continued activity didn't seem to back up.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Not Exactly Live Blogging

"The Honorable" Joseph Maguire is not honorable, he's a Republican political hack. 

Update:  I am, once again, enormously impressed with Congresswoman Val Demings.  She is great. 

We Only Have Reasonable Grounds - Absolute Proof Is A Fraudulent Delusion - Chapter 4 Continued

I had been told that Euclid proved things, and was much disappointed that he started with axioms.  At first I refused to accept them unless my brother could offer me some reason for doing so, but he said,  "If you don't accept them we cannot go on",  and I wished to go on,  I reluctantly admitted them pro tem.  The doubt as to the premises of mathematics which I felt at that moment remained with me, and determined the course of my subsequent work.

Bertrand Russell:   Autobiography, volume 1 page 32

There is the other possibility; that we die into an absolute reality wich we call God, because we still have no better name for it.   This alternative too cannot be proved  nor of course can it be refuted.   Here every human being is faced with a decision that no one can take away.  We have no rational proof for eternal life.  But - as I have already said - we do have reasonable grounds.  

I'm breaking into this paragraph to dispose of the illusion of absolute proof, something which atheist-materialist most extraordinarily of all, devotees of scientism inevitably demand of all religious statements.   

I say it is most extraordinary in those who express a belief in scientism, the claim that only those things demonstrated by science are admissible as knowledge and, especially, in the extreme cases from the stupidest of sci-ranger comment thread trolls to eminent scientists holding enormous public repute, university positions, are members of National Academies of Science and are given medals and cash awards by the awards giving establishment.  To start with, and as I've noted before, their own claim is not a statement of science or demonstrable by science, so it is one of a long series of self-contradicting holdings of that most widely held of atheist faiths.

What is extraordinary about them demanding absolute proof or absolute rejection of statements is that, as one of their most illustrious figures, Bertrand Russell should have faced the fact that no such thing as absolute proof exists in even that most exacting of sciences in which something approaching absolute proof can be attained, mathematics.   His adult work with his teacher, the far more admirable thinker to my thinking,  Alfred North Whitehead sought to find such absolute proof of the universally held findings of mathematics only to have their enormous effort made somewhat moot by reviewers of it, most notably in the famous incompleteness theorem of Kurt Godel, which was confirmed and extended by some of the most eminent younger mathematicians in the 20th century. 

In the physical sciences, especially in the two most successful of those, physics and chemistry, the practical consequences of the non-existence of absolute proof has characterized their entire history.  The 19th century gradually showed the limits of the proofs of the greatest of all physicists, so far, Newton and the successors of that framing of physical reality, have demonstrated that though they might get very good at predicting things, their knowledge about even the very simplest seeming of objects is never absolute.  That has not kept them from making the most ridiculous statements about coming up with a "theory of everything" and closing the system of physics, something which the experience of mathematicians dealing with a far simpler and more precisely defined universe in the 20th century should have clued them in is an absurd quest  and an even more ridiculous claim to still be making.  

There are still many crucial aspects of chemistry which are not knowable, I was reading about the form new compounds will crystallize into a while back and why those cannot be predicted.

As the sciences deal with far more complex entities and events the unattainable goal of absolute proof grows ever more distant until it disappears EXCEPT IN THE DISHONEST PRESENTATION OF EVEN ENTIRELY UNGROUNDED SPECULATION IN THE SAME LANGUAGE THAT NEWTONIAN PHYSICS MIGHT HAVE BEEN BY A MATERIALIST OF THE MID-19TH CENTURY.  What you often hear announced on NPR as scientific knowledge any given morning is as likely as not to have a status far more like 19th century phrenology than it does modestly stated and much more reliable physics. 

But that is something that scientists should have known before they were credentialed by the colleges and universities that gave them their BS degree.  It is something which an atheist, Joseph Weizenbaum said as well as I've ever seen it said:

The man in the street surely believes such scientific facts to be as well-established, as well-proven, as his own existence.  His certitude is an illusion.  Nor is the scientist himself immune to the same illusion.  In his praxis, he must, after all, suspend disbelief in order to do or think anything at all.  He is rather like a theatergoer who, in order to participate in and understand what is happening on the stage, must for a time pretend to himself that he is witnessing real events.  The scientist must believe his working hypothesis, together with its vast underlying structure of theories and assumptions, even if only for the sake of the argument.   Often the "argument" extends over his entire lifetime.  Gradually he becomes what he at first merely pretended to be; a true believer.  I choose the word "argument" thoughtfully, for scientific demonstrations, even mathematical proofs, are fundamentally acts of persuasion.  

Scientific statements can never be certain; they can only be more or less credible.  And credibility is a term in individual psychology, i.e.. a term that has meaning only with respect to an individual observer.  To say that some proposition is credible is, after all to say that it is believed by an agent who is free not to believe it,  that is, by an observer who, after exercising judgement and (possibly) intuition, chooses to accept the proposition as worthy of his believing it.  How then can science, which itself surely and ultimately rests on vast arrays of human value judgments  demonstrate that human value judgments are illusory?  It cannot do so without forfeiting its own status as the single legitimate path to understanding man and his world.

To which I say, Amen, until the last sentence.  Science cannot honestly assume that status, even Weizenbaum in his radical modesty over-reached.  There are facts of history which are far more reliably known to be absolutely true than even very reliable science can achieve.*  Even Weizenbaum as he was disproving the pretenses of scientism couldn't keep himself from asserting that superstition.  The status that scientists love and even demand is, itself, an illusion.

There is no choice in even dealing with the physical realm but to rely on something other than proof, not less than because absolute proof is not something we can even know is possible except as an imaginary goal.  "Reasonable grounds" is, actually, what we really depend on in life and, as Weizenbaum notes, that is, itself, dependent on the choice to believe.  

Hans Kung continues.  

We can commit ourselves to this in enlightened reasonable trust.  Truly, not to console ourselves with the promise of an afterlife,  but to set ourselves all the more decisively in the here and now, in this life, in this present-day society.  And that we do not die into nothingness but into God seems to me to be more reasonable;  it seems more reasonable under any circumstances.  Think;  if God really exists and if he really is God, he cannot be merely the God of the beginning, but must be the God of the end.  Then he is our Finisher as well as our Creator.  And it is he alone, the Creator and Preserver of the cosmos and of human beings, who can be expected to have one more word to say, even in dying and at death, beyond the frontiers of all that has hitherto been experienced;  to have the lat word, just as he had the first.  If I seriously believe in an eternal, living God, I believe also in God's eternal life, in m own eternal life.  So if I begin my profession of faith with belief in "God the almighty, the creator" I may very well finish it with belief in "life everlasting".  

As I said yesterday, my primary focus in this commentary is political, in how to get the most people to treat others as they would want to be treated, even when they would rather not treat them in such equality.  So my interest in discussing the belief in the afterlife is related to the character of that future in light of it's tendency to produce good works.  I do believe that history shows that there is all the difference in the world to a society where many people believe and put the commandments of Jesus, the teachings of the Prophets into effect in their lives and the laws of their countries.  Where people became convinced that The Bible, especially the "golden rule" mandated that people not be held in slavery, that led to abolition, even having that influence on secularists who could find no basis for that in the science they were coming to consider an absolute authority.  Where people didn't accept that as an absolute moral requirement - EVEN WHEN THEY DIDN'T WANT TO TREAT SOME PEOPLE AS THEY WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED - slavery persisted and expanded.  I think in variations limitless, almost all problems of government, politics, law, are inevitably related to that commandment and its implementation.   If everyone always did it, the law, even governments would be superfluous.  However, we do not live in such a world.  Jesus said he didn't have a kingdom of this Earth. 

This statement by Kung contains the central conviction that I base a belief in an afterlife on, 

Then he is our Finisher as well as our Creator.  And it is he alone, the Creator and Preserver of the cosmos and of human being.

I think the afterlife is too much separated in our imagination from the present life.  Modern cosmology holds that our being here, put in terms of mathematical probability of a myriad of physical constants and conditions being precisely tuned to allow for intelligent life, is exhaustively improbable, requiring an enormous exponent of 10 to be expressed as a ratio of one.   The afterlife's seeming improbability would seem to be matched with a similarly large improbability of present life.  But we're here and so we don't think of that in the same way. 

I suspect that our lack of understanding of our present life and its relation to God is far greater than we suspect, as well.  Every atheist argument of that, from comparing us to the myriads of microorganisms too the vast and innumerably starred universe matches a scale of human understanding of all of it out of human limitations and imagining that all of reality exists on that anthropomorphic scale.  Making man the measure of all thing is the ultimate sort of conceit that atheists accuse religion of, especially the monotheistic traditions derived from the far more modestly and carefully expressed Hebrew Scriptures.  Those scriptures, despite being told in human experience, never to my knowledge make man the measure of all things, it explicitly cuts us down to size as compared to God, even as it asserts that God regards us and, even, that God regards all of life, even noting the fall of a sparrow.  

When someone asked Marilynne Robinson what she expected heaven to be like, she broke the dead silence that fell over the auditorium after a few seconds by saying,  "I expect to be impressed."   I expect to be surprised.  If I'm wrong, I don't think I'm going to have to get over the disappointment for long. 

I think the pretense of the attainability of absolute knowledge having in peoples' experience been serially thwarted by such things as news reporting of the absurd claims made by credentialed scientists, most glaringly and ridiculously in the fields of nutrition and health, has certainly contributed to such things as anti-vaccination mania.  It has also contributed to such things as climate change denial, though in that case the manipulation of people through lies freely broadcast in the libertarian mass media is more important to consider.  The denial of reality of the Trumpian kind is more related to that though the impossibility of achieving the golden fleece of absolute proof plays a part in that, as well.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Simps Is Still Going On About Me Pushing His Button The Other Day. I've Done It So Often It's Gotten Old For Me

Image result for your buttons pushed 

That' not his button, his is itsy-bitsy.  

faced with a clear alternative in the direction they lead their lives - The Crux Of The Matter In My Political Commentary

First a confession.   I'm pretty wicked and sharp tongued, as can be seen from what I write.  I don't live up to it.  Imagine how bad I'd be if I was still ignoring the Gospels and Epistles, the Law and the Prophets.

Ever since then, both Christians and non-Christians have been faced with a clear alternative in the direction they lead their lives. 

There is the possibility that we die into nothingness.  I would not deny my respect for anyone who adopts this position.  This is a view which sometimes demands heroism, and can certainly not be refuted.  Of course no one has proved it positively either.  There has never yet been anyone who could prove that we die into nothingness, that all our living, laboring, loving and suffering ends in nothingness and was ultimately for nothing.  And to me this possibility does not seem reasonable;  under no circumstances does it seem reasonable. 

Since, as Hans Kung says, there is no ability to positively prove the idea of surviving death either in the negative nor the positive, I think the most useful thing about it to think are the circumstances that the two positions tend to lead to in how people conduct their lives.  As the great Jewish theologian and scholar, Abraham Joshua Heschel said,  Jews like him believed in an afterlife but there was no information as to what that would be like, they tended to not think about it much.  But I do think there are important effects that come from believing different things. 

Far from what is often claimed, that those who embraced the rejection of an afterlife leading to a great and positive focusing on the here and now problems of humanity, selflessly devoting themselves to the betterment of this one and only life we have,  I have seen that choice of life is far more likely to be associated with someone who accepts The Law, The Prophets and the moral teachings of Jesus than among conventional atheists.  I've mentioned before how I saw a discussion at a Center For Inquiry blog, on a post congratulating atheists on founding a charity and was able to congratulate them on finding a practice that had been a part of the Christian tradition going back to Apostolic times.   It was at the same blog that there were angry comments made by atheists rejecting the idea of "atheist charities" because a. it implied a moral obligation that couldn't be demonstrated by reason, b. it wasn't anything atheists had any business doing.*

If the criticism that Christians who did good things were selfish because they expected to be rewarded in heaven for it is legitimate, at least if that is true it was leading them to do good things.   Figuring that there is no ultimate price to be paid other than what you can't get away with doing in this life doesn't seem to tend to the doing of good works, no matter how much more admirable it might make good works done by such ultimate nihilists, for my political purpose the relative rarity of such eventually extinguished beacons isn't something you can build egalitarian democracy and economic justice on.   It's my experience that when Christians do bad things or fail to do good things, it's because they don't believe enough, even if it's just a fear of punishment like the rich man who let Lazarus starve to death on his doorstep.  

I am also reminded of a remark Walter Brueggemann made about a janitor at one of the great universities he taught at asking him about the fashion of either denying there is an afterlife or not talking about such things in theology who said that without the hope of that future, poor people like him had no hope at all.  I'd rather hope for a heaven which I won't miss because I won't exist anymore than to live in denial of that possibility in the dull, hopeless, purposelessness that such a thing leads to.  I don't find that latter state of mind conducive to getting up and doing what needs to be done beyond my own creature comforts.  It's my experience that such periods in my life have not been my best ones.   And that experience leads me to suspect there are social consequences, political ones, certain negative consequences for economic justice when such ultimate nihilism becomes general.   I'd rather have them afraid of going to hell for sinning than figuring that anything they can get away with is permitted.  

That this tendency to act better isn't a strong one, anything that discourages it is far more dangerous than we might casually believe.  I think the Trump regime has proven just how dangerous that discouragement of believing in ultimate consequence of evil is for a society and a nation and the world.

*  I can say that if Christians said some of the things those atheists did not only would atheists use that against Christianity but Christians would mount a quick and strong internal criticism of their fellow Christians because they were opposed to the teachings of Jesus.  The internal criticism in religion fills libraries of books.   I don't recall any such internal criticism mounted by atheists being much in evidence.   

Christians who do bad things are, notably, acting more in line with the atheist doctrines of Mandeville, Nietzsche, Haeckel than anything Jesus said.  They are being thoroughly bad Christians, they are violating nothing in atheism in their badness.  They certainly aren't demonstrating a strong belief they are risking going to hell for it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A Thousand Lies Ago With Simps Might Get You Back To Late Spring

Simps is lying that a. I am opposed to women having full ownership of their own bodies, b. something about Merle Haggard who I'm prepared to believe he didn't know about till he watched Ken Burns' Country flick.   

The title of this song could be about Simps only you'd have to multiply that number by a fair sized factor to make it apply. 

Update:  It is whined that I knew to use this song to answer Simps.  Why I can't imagine.  What can I say, I've got a good memory, useful but not anything I can take any kind of credit for.  As the great Nina Simone said, it just bes that way.  When it comes to even a less than striking song I usually only have to hear it once to remember it.

More Surprises In God As Presented By Jesus

No, this God is a different God; a god who sets himself above the formal, logical, merciless correctness of the law and proclaims a "better" righteousness and may even justify the transgressor of the law;  a God for whom the commandments exist for the sake of the human person, and not the human person for the sake of the commandments;  a God who does not overthrow the existing legal order and the whole social system, but who tempers it for humanity's sake, and a God who consequently wants to have the barriers of categorization between good people and bad, friends and foes, neighbors and strangers, workers and unemployed, removed   How?  By humanity, self-denial, love, forgiveness without end, service regardless of reward, sacrifice without compensation.  In this way God puts himself on the side of the disadvantaged, the under privileged, the oppressed, the weak,  the poor and the sick, the even - unlike the self-righteous - on the side of the irreligious, the immoral, and the godless.  God is kind, wonderfully kind to human beings.

It was for this God and his wonderful kindness that Jesus pleaded.  For him he spoke,  fought, suffered, and was executed.  And at this point, of course, the question always arises  did it not all end in his death?  The cautious answer can at first be one that even the non-Christian can accept.  It is a fact of history that Jesus' death was not the end of everything but only the beginning;  that his first community, in a truly reckless fashion, proclaimed him - the heretical teacher, false prophet, seducer of the people, blasphemer, allegedly condemned by God - to be God's Messiah, the Christ, Lord, Son of an  Son of God.  And why?  According to the New Testament sources, they were convinced - and only this conviction explains the emergence of Christianity at all - that Jesus had died, not into nothingness, but into God.  That means that Jesus is living;  living through, with and in God.  What for?  For us - as hope, as obligation, for our essential values

I have come to believe, completely, that the crucial issue in the difference between egalitarian democracy and gangster governments, everything from corrupt democracy, such as America suffers from, through the kind of corrupt democracies that are ever more in danger of falling into downright gangster government - these days mostly fascist if not neo-Nazi is what people believe they are obligated to do for others when they really don't feel like doing things for them.   Of a real, effective, durable and consequential belief in the universal and inalienable endowment of People and other living beings with rights and an equally effective sense that we all have a moral obligation to be respect those rights.  

And that universal endowment can come from no other place than the one who endows us with such rights.   No one has ever articulated that truth in other than terms of belief in such an Endower.   There is no material structure that can be found by science, rights are not a physical attribute of the organism.

And that is, in every way, tied as tightly as possible to our view of human beings, as much as it also is our view of other animals.  If you view people as soulless machines made of meat - the scientistic-materialist-atheist view of living beings - you have no moral obligation to them.  You might feel something for some people or even living beings, but it cannot come out of that framing.  The extent to which any individual or the individuals in a society depart from what is, otherwise, their materialistic view of living beings is the extent to which they will treat them well or badly.   You can certainly see that in people who keep pets who they might treat as well, even better than they treat people unrelated to them, you can see it in people who keep animals for slaughter but who might select an individual from their flock or herd to keep as a pet.  The same is true of such a view of people.  I can't believe that the callousness with which they are prepared to treat animals or other people can have no effect on how they treat those they consider differently from the ones they mistreat and slaughter.  That is certainly something which has been noted in many of those who are convicted of murdering a human being, they may well have had a history of killing, sometimes quite sadistically, animals.

That attitude is possible even if you see people as ensouled beings but to whom you owe no consequential regard, you will not mind them being oppressed, enslaved, exploited, used, murdered.  That attitude has characterized the treatment of women in cultures around the world, it characterizes the widespread treatment of racial, ethnic, economic, and social minorities in most societies to one extent or another.  That is an attitude that is enshrined in that "enlightenment" document, the United States Constitution, enabling that difference in treatment to those held in slavery and women and, to some extent, originally, even white men of no property.  The very provisions doing that are the ones which have given us first a George W. Bush, now a Donald Trump, that make the Senate the most putridly corrupt part of government today.  

I will blame the organized Christian churches for a good part of the suppression of the God of Jesus as proven in the New Testament, a God such as Hans Kung describes in this chapter.  Someone who really, truly, fully believed in that God would find it impossible to both hold that view of God and the relationship of God to humanity and to enslave someone, oppress someone.  Anyone who professes to believe in the God taught by Jesus and does those things doesn't discredit God as Jesus presented God, such a person merely discredits their own profession of faith.  But the anti-Christian has little interest in that person's apostasy, their hypocritical profession of faith,  their target is God and Jesus and Christianity.   Attacking those, not the person who is two-faced or merely lying about their beliefs.  Considering the number of opportunities to call out such hypocrites,  pointing out their false profession of faith instead of using their hypocrisy to attack the faith they violate,  it's remarkable how relatively seldom it's done.  You'd be in your rights to believe this is not by accident.

Monday, September 23, 2019

I Will Never Understand Why Lefties Of The English Speaking Peoples Are Inevitably Addicted To Failures

I think Jeremy Corbyn and his closest supporters have definite and stupid dictatorial tendencies.   Anyone who could mistake him as some kind of great leader is deeply deluded in pretty much the same way so many American lefties are for equally awful would-be leaders who have no chance of ever leading us anywhere except over a cliff.

The God of Jesus is not the God that most people believe is the God of Christianity - Chapter 4 of Why I Am Still A Christian Continued

This God, as Jesus proclaimed him, is not- as has so often been taught to children - an all too masculine, arbitrary, legal-minded God, a kind of martinet, a God without maternal features.  He is not a God created in the image of kings, tyrants, and dictators.  This God really is - and I beg ou to take the word not in its superficial meaning but in its deepest meaning - the loving God who is my mother too:  that is, he is the God of love who for all his justice, commits himself unreservedly to all human beings, to all their needs and hopes (which is also important for questions about sexual morality).  He is a God who does not always merely demand, but gives;  who does not oppress but liberates;  who does not make people ill or poison their lives, but heals them.  He is a God who spares those who fall - and who does not fall?  A God who forgives instead of condemning, liberates instead of punishing, makes grace rule instead of law;  who rejoices more over the repentance of one sinner than over ninety-nine just people.  He is therefore a God who prefers the Prodigal son over the one who stayed at home,  the tax collector to the Pharisee, the Samaritan heretics over the orthodox, the prostitutes and adulterers to their self-righteous judges.  As you see, this preaching of Jesus was offensive and scandalous, not only for that time in history but for today as well, particularly since it was accompanied by an equally offensive and scandalous practice;  not excommunication but communication - even communion!  He sat down - even sat at table - with the despised and the failures, "sinners" of every kind.

In short, The God of Jesus is not the God that most people believe is the God of Christianity, both those who believe they believe and those who reject Christianity and God.  The God of Jesus is not the God of the rulers, the rich, the civil authority NOR, IN SO MANY CASES, OF THOSE WHO HOLD HIGH RELIGIOUS OFFICE.   The God of Jesus is the God the slaves found as those who kept them in slavery didn't have a clue that God was there.  The God who is not the God of much if not most of organized Christianity nor the one of their opponents to whom they have given so much ammunition, ANTI-CHRISTIANITY. 

It is obvious that this God's name of Father is not merely an echo of the experience of fatherhood, masculinity, strength and power in the world.  This is not a God as seen by the former theologian and later atheist Feuerbach:  a God of the hereafter at the expense of the here and now, at the expense of human beings and their true greatness.  Nor is this a God such as Karl Marx criticized:  a God of the rulers , of unjust social conditions, of deformed consciousness, and false consolation.  Nor is this the God rejected by Nietzsche : a God engendered by resentment, a God of pitiable weakling.  Nor is this the God rejected by Freud and a number of psychoanalysts: a tyrannical super-ego, the false image of infantile needs, a God of obsessive ritual arising from a guilt complex, a father complex or an Oedipus complex.

Hans Kung goes into detail on several of these points but for my political commentary on this book, the most immediately important is the refutation of the charge from the atheist play-left that Christianity is all about "pie in the sky" and not justice, economic as well as social justice here and now.   I am pressed for time so I will excerpt a piece I wrote contrasting a Christian denomination with whom I disagree with about much and a legendary leftist entity which still today holds the (generally uninformed) affection of so many on the left.  Though, notably, not their paid-up membership. 


In a turnaround from that old song, The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill, it is the secular left that has been promising pie in the sky, or at least in some future that never seems to get here.  And then doing everything in their power to screw up delivering on that promise.  The Salvation Army, which he satirized in the song certainly fed more people than the Wobblies ever did, they clothed more, they housed more and I dare say they contributed more to the actual welfare of the destitute and the poor than the IWW ever has in the past or present or will in the future.  I suspect that the Salvation Army have, actually, been the vehicle for improvement of lives, including working lives, more so than the Wobblies ever were or ever could have been.   I certainly don't agree with the Salvation Army's theology in places and I don't approve of the quasi-military structure of it and am aware of notable lapses between its aspired ideals and beliefs and its actual achievement of those, but I'm not going to lie about it, what it does when it follows its stated intentions.   No matter how much I dislike the quasi-military garb and ranking or some aspects of it, in every practical way they have contributed more to the actual achievement of the goals of the left in real life than the sacred Wobblies and their like. 


I would now say the same thing about most if not all of the secular left of which I spent most of my adult life in. 

A more successful critique of the Salvation Army could be made in that the God it believes in is far more susceptible to being considered a God of the ruling class than the God of those it has served.  I am not uncritical of the Salvation Army, no more than I am the Catholic Church or the Friends General Conference, a meeting of which I once very seriously considered joining and who I generally admire.  None of us live up to God as Jesus taught or to his moral teachings.   I say that, sitting here, at my computer instead of feeding the poor, clothing the naked, visiting the prisoner (though I'm supposed to go sit with a sick person later today) and giving aid to the alien oppressed by the Trump regime, so I should talk.

This section of the book which describes God as taught by Jesus is the most complex part of it, but I will comment on all of it. 

Tighten The Requirements To Get Something Put On The Friggin' Ballot! And Other Comments On 60s-70s Liberalism

Speaking of lying and the serious consequences it has in life:

Some Maine voters are saying they were duped into signing a petition that could lead to a statewide vote in March aimed at repealing a new law that eliminates religious and philosophical exemptions for childhood vaccines.

In emails to the Portland Press Herald and in posts on social media sites, voters are saying they were misled or even lied to by those circulating the petition for a statewide vote on the matter.

Other voters are writing Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, asking him to remove their signatures from the petition. Dunlap’s office provided copies of the emails to the Press Herald, with the senders’ addresses and contact information redacted.

“I was misled by the signature gatherer about what I was signing,” Scarborough voter Jamie Brennan wrote. “I am a strong supporter of the law to mandate vaccinations for kids with only medical exceptions. I was told that the referendum would further strengthen our vaccination laws, not veto the law. Granted I should have read what I was signing, but being in a hurry I took the signature gatherer’s word for it.”

Like others, Brennan was asking that his signature be removed from the petition.

But Dunlap said Friday he can’t do that under state law. Dunlap also said that voters commonly complain they were misled by petitioners after a ballot measure or people’s veto question makes the ballot. He said that’s why state law requires petitioners to have a copy of the law they want to enact or repeal available for a voter’s review as they gather signatures.

“We can’t regulate what people say about their petitions,” Dunlap said. “There is no mechanism to it and, frankly, it comes under the First Amendment anyway.”
Opponents of the vaccination law declined to comment on Friday.

The, as I recall 1970s era (error, really),  "reform" that allowed ridiculously easy access to get referendum questions on the ballot  is something that has had the exact opposite effect than the good c. 1970s era liberals intended it to have.  Why the same idiots (and I was one of them) didn't figure into how the 1964, Warren Court permission for the media (its most politically effective forms owned by big money) to lie with impunity didn't figure into things is a question worth asking.

What that idealism had done was has open up the referendum process to manipulation to those with the most money to fund signature gathering, to those who will pay people to collect signatures.  As Matt Dunlap points out, there really is no way to make sure that people are not being lied to to get them to sign something they really wouldn't agree to sign if they knew what it meant.  

There is also no way to ensure that people will read the text of the law change to be put on the ballot or that, even the rare person who might read it, will understand that's what it means. 

And if you can say that about the self-selected universe of petition signers, it's even more true of the electorate who will know only so much as they hear on the paid TV and other messaging on the ballot issue.  That is a hard truth of American politics that you ignore to your peril.

The 1960s-70s era liberalism that led to such "reforms" was often pretty stupid in assuming that most people were like dutiful readers of Consumer Reports, fact checking and researching to their hearts content and their scrupulous edification.  Most of us were rather flaky college grads who had the stupid conceit that most people were like us when any realistic view of what was going on would tell us that they were as they were.   

Why the country twice voting for the massive liar, Nixon, didn't clue us in is worth a bit of thought.  

Making it easy to get complex issues onto referendum ballots was one of the stupider things that were done by liberal "reformers" in the past fifty years.  The theoretical benefits to good government that were supposed to come out of that theoretical exercise in direct democracy have been better for bad government in most cases.  

The high point of liberalism in this country, in most hard reality, was during the Lyndon Johnson administration and Johnson was a pretty ruthless politician whose attainment of the presidency was a result of deals made in smoky rooms, though the manipulations of the, as it turned out in reality, less liberal Kennedy faction. 

Liberalism did a lot better under that hard, even cynical Johnsonian regime than it has under flaky idealism as incubated in the artificial environs of universities and non-profits.  The lives of Americans, especially those who liberalism is supposed to serve, were better off for Johnson's programs so ruthlessly pushed through  than it was made by the idealist's "reforms".   That is a fact of American history, one that any real idealist among liberals will consider long and hard before they go for the easier and more pleasantly sounding - and generally hollow - proclamations that such liberals will make and fall for. 
Update:  I would have to go to a larger library than I have access to to research when the absurd easing of the petitioning process first came in, the laws have been revised so dating when the previous versions of the laws were adopted online isn't easy.   As I recall it was during the 1970s, probably during the term of the last actual liberal governor we had, Kenneth Curtis, before the reaction to him in the form of the awful James Longley was elected as an independent (probably due to relaxed ballot requirements) in 1978.   Longley was sort of the Paul LePage before LePage became the 38% governor of my state due to the splitting of the liberal vote, itself a result of the absurdly easy ballot access, a "liberal" reform of the type I wrote about here.   Beware the real world results of such idealistic sounding "liberal" simplicities.  

I should point out that James Longley being governor of Maine led to his vile son, James Longley jr. being elected as a congressman from my state.   Another result of "third party" splitting the left in my state. 

Hate Mail - Tearing Down Science For Science Lying For It Too

The only things about parapsychology I've ever addressed* are the controlled, rigorous scientific experiments in it, the things that generations of OUTSIDE reviewers and critics have looked at honestly and, especially, further experiments that took the critiques of method and analysis into account in how those were conducted.  THAT, dopey, IS the scientific method as prescribed and practiced.  

And as I said, the psychologists who teach standard psychology, especially those who have participated in that outside critique but who, no matter how many times the researchers meet and exceed their demands, refuse to acknowledge the validity of what they have demonstrated, not only once but in repeated experiments.  Ray Hyman is the quintessential example of that, who not only will never admit that there is something that has been demonstrated, even in those experiments and analyses he has not been able to demonstrate any problems with but who, on at least one occasion stooped to suppressing evidence in the analysis he conducted on behalf of the CIA program that he killed, doing, himself, one of the things that the scientific researchers have been accused of WITHOUT EVIDENCE OF THEM EVER HAVING DONE IT.

If virtually every part of psychology which doesn't deal with a physically demonstrable aspect of physiology were subjected to Ray Hyman's, James Alcock's ,etc. requirements for parapsychological research the field would evaporate, immediately.  If even physics were subjected to the wider demands placed on that research, it would probably suffer enormous damage.  The standards of distrust placed on the scientific research of parapsychology are those of climate change denial, the anti-vaccine movement and the Republican-fascist cries of "fake news". 

The scientific rejection of the science conducted by researchers going back at least, in my knowledge, to J. B. Rhine has been some of the lowest, dirtiest and most dishonest of such rejection done by scientists.  In every case I've seen conducted out of said scientific liars by atheist-materialists in support of their atheist-materialism.   John Archibald Wheeler's infamous 1980s lie about Rhine is matched by similar lies told by another eminent physicist, Irving Langmuir in the 1940s, those and similar long ago debunked lies are repeated by atheist-materialists today.  In this area a lie by an atheist, once told, will be relied by atheists, over and over again.**   That phenomenon was one of the reasons I have come to the conclusion that for at least the most dedicated of the materialist atheists, their disbelief in sin  has a real life effect in that they figure that as long as they can get away with it, a lie, in service to their atheist-materialist ideology is better than the truth which won't benefit it.   And I have never, once, read another, less dishonest atheist-materialist address that consequence of their ideology so I have to conclude, it's pretty much OK with most of them.

I really do believe that their atheism is the most important thing to such as will lie for it like that, even their claimed rigorous upholding of scientific method and even their scientistic materialism is secondary to that prime directive.  It is certain that their claimed belief in scientific method comes in well down the list of such directives as science requires rigorous honesty and facing the logical consequences of demonstrated phenomena that they don't like and which doesn't fit into their previous and preferred pictures of reality.  I didn't accept that these phenomena had been demonstrated to exist UNTIL I READ THE PUBLISHED SCIENCE THAT DEMONSTRATES THAT.  But I was not an atheist or a materialist with a personal and emotional investment in those ideologies when I read them.  I rejected materialism for the same reason, I read the literature of the atheists and I looked critically at that sect of materialism I'd had some rather stupid and immoral hopes in, Marxism as it really is but, also, as Marx and Engels presented it.  Since doing that every time I dip into the literature of materialism and the real life results of it, there is an opposite effect.

Not only has the most rigorous critical analysis of the most rigorous experimental design done within any science which allegedly deals with human minds failed to make the demonstrated effects disappear, as I mentioned, the parapsychologists practice some of the most rigorous statistical and probabilistic analysis of the data their experiments have come up with.  That is something that has been looked into since Rhine pioneered the sophisticated use of statistics in any field related to human minds, as was said by Burton Camp, President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in the 1930s.

Dr. Rhine's investigations have two aspects: experimental and statistical. On the experimental side mathematicians of course have nothing to say. On the statistical side, however, recent mathematical work has established the fact that, assuming the experiments have been properly performed, the statistical analysis is essentially valid. If the Rhine investigation is to be fairly attacked, it must be on other than mathematical grounds.

Something which is still pointed out today by Jessica Utts, president of the American Statistical Association, and a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical statistics.   As she said in that video I posted last week, she was convinced by reading the research with the intellectual background to really understand it.  This 1995 paper by her might be the one that made me admit that there were more than adequately demonstrated effects.

*  That is the science of parapsychology.  I have also said that people who have experiences have a right to understand those experiences on their own terms, absent any damage to the rights of other People and living beings resulting from their conclusion.  A person is the only expert on what it is they experience, no one else can observe or judge their experience.  

**  I could probably come up with even more examples of scientists blatantly lying about Rupert Sheldrake, especially those in science whose CV in standard scientific topics can't begin to match his.  

Outside of Republican politics and conservatives, I think the "skepticism" industry is about the most dishonest current cultural phenomena of any mistaken repute.  Their elevation of James Randi is just part of the evidence of their real character.