Saturday, November 23, 2019

Without Further Comment

It figures his imaginary friend would be as big an a-hole as he is. 

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Katie Hims - A Small Piece of Silence

By Katie Hims

A Small Piece of Silence started out in a very different way to most radio plays. After David Bower's striking performance as Quasimodo in Radio Four's production of The Hunchback of Notredame, the producer Susan Roberts suggested a contemporary play be written specially for him. After many initial conversations with David who plays the lead character Joe in the play, Katie Hims' story began to emerge.

In A Small Piece of Silence, Joe who has been Deaf since he was born , works in an ordinary council office . Every day he makes the same journey to work on the bus, seeing the same people . Then one day a young girl signs her name to him. A_N_G_E_L.

Joe has been working in the council's housing office for 17 years. Apart from one small promotion he has remained in the same job surrounded by the same people . Vernon has been there for the same amount of time. He eats Joe's food and talks too fast in the pub ..but Joe goes along with it.

Into their world comes new office recruit Shelly who begins to fall for Joe. Until Joe realises that she is having a relationship with Richard Humble , the leader of the council

At the end of Shelly's first week there is a huge fire in a nearby block of flats. Joe learns that Angel was one of the people who has died.

And so Joe's life is changed forever as he embarks on a quest, turning detective to find out what has happened.

A Small Piece of Silence is a love story, detective story but, using sound, it attempts to give us a picture of the world of someone who can't hear. It examines the issues around how society deals with Deafness through the character of Joe.

Joe ..... David Bower
Shelly ..... Maxine Peake
Vernon ..... Ralph Ineson
Brigitta ..... Deborah McAndrew
Marion ..... Ruth Alexander-Rubin
Richard/ Bus Driver ..... Terence Mann

Music composed and performed by Liran Donin

Artistic consultant Isolte Avila . Developed in partnership with Signdance Collective .
Directed in Manchester by Susan Roberts.

Liran Donin provides specially composed music and a soundscape that illustrates Joe's view of the world. Joe suffers from Tinitus. Liran, underscores this condition in sound.

David Bower is one of the creative directors of Signdance Collective , an international dance music theatre company lead by Deaf and physically disabled dance theatre artists working alongside composer musicians.

Katie Hims

Saturday Night Technical Problems

Was all ready to post the radio drama I'd planned on only to find out that the Internet Archive where it is posted is down for scheduled maintenance.   I will look for an alternative drama to post in the meantime.   

They Should Require Show Biz To Tell The Truth

Talking with a friend who knew one of my relatives who drank himself to death, last night, we talked about seeing a late-stage alcoholic at the supermarket buying a huge quantity of rot-gut vodka even as the seeping  psoriatic skin and nail lesions shocked and terrified the cashier who had to take his money.   The exact relationship of those with late-stage liver disease caused by alcoholism is not explained but it's something I recognized all too well having lived with it for over a year.  And those were only two of the worst symptoms my brother lived with for years before he died.  He, no doubt, had shocked a previous cashier as he bought his rot-gut vodka, sold in the handy handles by the companies that cater to the hard-core alcoholic market. 

Psoriatic nail dystrophy | Psoriatic nail dystrophy

Anyway, talking with him I deplored the fact that in all of the many movie and theatrical bits with actors playing alcoholics they never showed you the reality of end-stage alcoholism with its myriad of horrific, ugly and painful consequences.  He said that if they really showed reality they wouldn't get liquor and beer companies to advertise.  Which is probably true, though if they really showed people what they presented with such levity, more often, or such cleaned-up drama, less often, played by healthy actors without seeping, bleeding skin and nail lesions, who carried the deadly rotten odor of feteor hepaticus, who was decaying as they were still alive, I can't imagine they'd get the audience to watch.    It doesn't look as pretty as Jack Lemon and Lee Remick.  There's nothing funny about it, take your pick of the famous comic drunks.   The movies, even good ones, lie.   They don't show reality, they are lies. 

The Real Left Of Reality Has To Dump The Duplicitous Play-Left Of Ideology

My disillusion with the American atheist-secular left has been a developing thing.  It first started even before I knew what it was in my realizing that I'd put my faith in a bunch of the biggest bumblers, losers, liars and idiots who were never going to win an election but had, as of then, already lost several to Republican-fascists that should have kept them out of office.  That part of it started fifty-one years ago in the election that brought Nixon into office.   It continued in 1972 in an election that one of the most decent men to have ever gotten the nomination of a major party lost to the man who, up to that time, was the most criminal of men who had been elected,  George McGovern who, in his later years, was honest enough to say that his candidacy in that election was a disaster based, in no small part, on the reforms of the nomination process he, himself, had a big hand in.  Like I said, George McGovern was one of the most decent men to have ever gotten the nomination.

It continued in the Carter Presidency as the left continually overshot in their demands and who weakened Carter from the left even as the Republican fascists were from the right.   That classical American liberal,  Edward Kennedy running a primary challenge to him was certainly not helpful, neither were the media even before the Iranian gangsters took hostages in the American embassy and Ted Koppel, really the entire media, used it to end Carter's presidency and put Ronald Reagan in office, the man who, up till now, has held the record for most appointees to be indicted and convicted of serious crimes while in office.  

I could go through the entire thing, up to and including the role that Nader and the Greens had in helping Republicans ratfuck the 2000 election and in 2016 as the secular-atheist left proves it is incapable of learning from the hardest of experience, something it is proving in a superfluity of evidence  as we work up to 2020.  

The secular-left never learns a fucking thing no matter how bad and hard the experience gained from its fuckups gets,  the affluence of many of them, shielding them from the worst of that hard experience is certainly a part of it, most of them are white, middle class or upper class, when not filthy rich, have security and live in the kind of bubble that wealth brings you.   Many of them have tenure, a few of them have regular media gigs where they ratfuck the real left that might win elections from the left,  some of them on TV and the radio, some of the online, some of them in the archaic ink on paper media.  

This is all a prelude to me pointing out that though the wealthy owner of The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel, has given up the editorship to D. D. Guttenplan, remaining as its owner, um, "publisher", it still regularly gives her husband, the Putin asset,  Stephen F. Cohen space to spew his pro-Putin, and so pro-Trump propaganda.  On the 14th, in a piece of Putin's luggage titled, "Why Are We in Ukraine?" (Honoring Dr. Hill's request, I will not link to Cohen's fictions, anymore)  Cohen rather jaw droppingly says: 

For centuries and still today, Russia and large parts of Ukraine have had much in common—a long territorial border; a shared history; ethnic, linguistic, and other cultural affinities; intimate personal relations; substantial economic trade; and more. Even after the years of escalating conflict between Kiev and Moscow since 2014, many Russians and Ukrainians still think of themselves in familial ways. The United States has almost none of these commonalities with Ukraine.

Which is also to say that Ukraine is not “a vital US national interest,” as most leaders of both parties, Republican and Democrat alike, and much of the US media now declare. On the other hand, Ukraine is a vital Russian interest by any geopolitical or simply human reckoning.

I'll break in here to note that you could say the same thing about Germany and France in 1938 or 1941, up to and including the day after Pearl Harbor when Germany, honoring its pacts with the Japanese fascist government declared war on the United States.  Big countries are rather notable for interfering and dominating and engulfing smaller countries they share a border or region with. You could argue the same thing about Poland or any of the countries where a slavic language is spoken.  

Why, then, is Washington so deeply involved in Ukraine? (The proposed nearly $400 million in US military aid to Kiev would mean, of course, even more intrusive involvement.) And why is Ukraine so deeply involved in Washington, in a different way, that it has become a pretext for attempts to impeach President Donald Trump?

A "pretext for attempts to impeach President Donald Trump,"  there you have it, The Nation, by proxy, carrying water for Donald Trump in the form of vanden Heuvel's husband,  Stephen F. Cohen.  "Pretext?"  THAT Donald Trump broke any number of laws rather blatantly with a huge involvement with gangsters foreign and domestic apparently is unimportant to The Nation magazine as owned by vanden Heuvel and as regarded as a premier organ of the secular-atheist left media in the United States.   I don't look at it nearly as much as I used to, mostly because I don't trust them and I certainly don't trust anything said from that ideological cover-job without serious fact checking, anymore.  

If it were possible I would love to know what information might have been collected about Stephen F. Cohen during the Brezhnev era when he was excluded from the Soviet Union, the subject of his academic specialty.  It might explain why he has emerged as such a big fat fan of Putin and his water carrier at The Nation.  Though I think the phenomenon he represents isn't that rare on the left, as I noted they've been ratfucking elections with the result that Republican-fascists win over and over again for more than half a century, now.   Researching this article I came across an article by one of Cohen's defenders who is moving the idea of Bernie Sanders running an independent candidacy when he inevitably loses the Democratic nomination, something that, as he pointed out, is already being prominently pushed inside the official Bernie Sanders campaign. 

On October 23rd, an extraordinary article was published online at Newsweek, but merely as “Opinion,” and this not coming from Senator Sanders’s Democratic primary campaign for the U.S. Presidency, but only from a supporter: “‘BERNIE OR BUST’ IS A WARNING—IGNORE IT, AND TRUMP WINS | OPINION”. It would be a historic article if the Sanders campaign endorses it. And, on October 27th, they seem to have done just that, by allowing its author to send it on October 27th to the campaign’s enormous email list (which includes me). . . 

Either the Sanders campaign blundered to provide their email list to the article’s author, or else this statement now IS a warning that comes from the Sanders campaign. (I have emailed the sender, asking how he got my email-address, and there has been no reply yet. I also emailed Faiz Shakir, the Campaign Manager for Bernie Sanders — likewise no answer yet.)

And if that isn't enough, this ass gives a pie-in-the-sky scenario in which, COMPARING SANDERS TO ABRAHAM LINCOLN, NO LESS, he encourages the idiot Sanders folks to imagine him becoming president through a three-way race.

If he runs a third-Party campaign, he actually could end up drawing more Electoral-College votes, and even more voters’ votes, than either of the other two Parties’ nominees would. He could possibly end up doing, to American politics, what Abraham Lincoln did in 1860: replace one of the two existing Parties by a new Party. Instead of replacing the Whigs by the Republicans, as Lincoln did in 1860, Sanders could replace the Democrats by the Greens in 2021. It would be American politics for the 21st Century, transforming away from the billionaire-monopoly politics ever since 2000 if not since 1992. Then, with the Clintonized (mega-corporate-controlled) ‘Democratic’ Party finally becoming replaced by a progressive-populist Democratic Party (up against Trump’s conservative-‘populist’ billionaire-controlled Republican Party), America might actually become a democracy again — a politics in which ideology (instead of interethnic and gender differences) will be providing the basis for voters’ political choices. The billionaires would likely lose their existing control over the U.S. Government.

Sanders definitely wants to become a Democratic Party U.S. President, but, if that Party rejects him yet again, he could actually win even bigger as an independent, who goes up against the two billionaire-controlled Parties. Perhaps he, now, finally, knows this.

If Sanders were to buy that scheme, one thing we would know for certain, he is as ego-maniacally, vangloriously and senescently demented as Donald Trump.  And what you can say for Sanders, if he were to believe that, you can say for the man who wrote that and the people who believe it.   Yet that kind of crap is common on the secular-atheist, college-credentialed play-left as read in the magazines and, even more so, as seen on the Patreon sites and Youtube channels of the idiot play left, continuing into this next half-century since they tipped the election to Nixon. 

The play-left, the secular-atheist left has more than a century of proving they are a total disaster for the real American left - not to mention lefts in many other countries - they are ideological cultists and fools who never, ever learn anything from the worst results of their previous activities.  Considering they are, to a person, pretended champions of scientific method and empirical observation, they are totally indifferent to it preferring the kind of dime-store appeal to authority that comes from the publishing houses and media outlets of that side.  They are worse than undependable, they are the enemies of the real left that has an actual track record of, at times, gaining power and producing results.   The real left has to dump them, attack them and discredit them because they will destroy egalitarian democracy - something which few of them actually prefer over Marxism or anarchism or some anti-democratic distortion of socialism.  Like Trumps fundamentalist supporters, they support their ideology over anything in real life, only their fundamentalisms are really based in two different aspects of Mammonism, materialism, the vulgar and the snooty styles of it. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?

I used to write a lot of limericks here, in comments to make fun of people who attacked me.  My rule is that it had to be done within five minutes of me starting it or it was taking too much time.  That one almost didn't make it in on the end of the last line but it snuck in under the five minute mark. 

Maybe I should do more of that again.   Used to do BurmaShave style poems, scores of them during the Bush II regime.  That was a more forgiving form.  all lost to the old Haloscan system that went down long, long ago.  I doubt I've thought about them even once for years. 

Update:  I said "neiges d'antan," not merdre d'enfant.   I'll leave the latter to you. 

A once ersatz hipster, senescent
Whose wit's long been stuck at pubescent
His idea of "relevant"
E'er comes from his fundament
And jokes, always used, always low rent.  

Grouchy Mood Post

A while back I had time to waste so I clicked on one of those stupid click-bait things about what "celebrities" get up to and what-not.   What was not was the celebrity status of the people on the list whose bad antics were supposed to be the reason you wanted to keep clicking.  I think I knew who two of the people were, most of them were faded stars who were never very bright to start with, most of them in movies and TV from after the time I stopped watching that crap.   I think I've mentioned before that when I was younger one of my goals was to be able to skim the gossip column in the Parade magazine that came with the Sunday Boston Globe and to not know a single one of the names on it.  I haven't looked at that piece of crap probably since the 70s but I'm pretty sure I'd get there most weeks now.   Do they still have it?

I happened to go to a relatives house to ask their advice on buying a very small TV to use as a computer monitor and the person I had to ask had on the TV watching a movie which was such a piece of crap I couldn't believe she had it on.  Though I didn't say anything.   There has always been a ton of crap churned out by the movie industry, it has gotten steadily worse as the venues for watching movies when from theaters to VCRs to DVDs and now on streaming media, all of which seem to demand far more and ever stupider crap to take up the attention of ever more Americans making us stupider and stupider, more and more materialistic and ever less capable of self-government.   If you want to know where it comes from, watch what takes up the largest amount of peoples' attention.   I don't seem to be able to find a TV small enough that I'd want to have the thing in my little house.  

We have a finite number of hours in a day, in a week, in a year, in a decade and in a life.  Time spent on degenerate crap is time that will never come back to be filled with the imaginary "more speech" that will be more ennobling or merely more edifying.   The destruction of our democracy is led by the entertainment industry even more than the propaganda industry.   Somewhere, in my orgy of watching old clips of the late Molly Ivins to cheer me up, sometime in the early 1990s, she bemoaned how not only the TV news, so called, but also the major daily papers and magazines had adopted tabloid practices.  And that was almost thirty years ago, it was before Murdoch started FOX "News" to do what Republicans let the Aussie-Brit smut peddler in the country to do, turn us into a fascist oligarchy.   We've been on that road to ruin well before then, I think it started in the local happy-talk local news format that I first recall wanting to puke over in the early 1970s.  Shit tabloid fare like E!* set the pace, the media being all about making money.  

I've been wondering if people getting together and reading through 2-hander  scripts wouldn't be more fun and interesting than watching that shit.  I wonder if there are people who do that, there are certainly enough of them around online.  I'd imagine lots of them are better actors than the "celebrities".   I wonder if it ever occurred to actors to do that kind of thing, certainly not the stupid ones, so that means a good majority of them. 

* Which prominently covered Eric Swalwell's fart - if it hadn't shown up all over my in-box I wouldn't have known that piece of tabloid shit was still stinking.  

We Are In Far More Serious Trouble Than I had Thought A Month Ago And I Wasn't No Optimist Then

Now that the Trump regime's own henchman, Gordon Sondland has thrown everyone under the bus, right up to and including Trump, Trump's butt-boy in the Senate, the shame of all gay-Americans, now Putin's whore-boy Lindsay Graham is starting the phony inquiry into Joe and Hunter Biden that will make the antics of the disgraceful old HUAC pale by comparison.  Lindsay's whoring for Trump, considering he's Putin's tool in the American Presidency, is more a betrayal of the United States and the Constitution he swore to protect and defend than anything the pudding-headed old commies - the real ones that HUAC managed to call - ever did.  

This is the most massive act of what should be considered treason since at least the secession of the Confederates and their attack on the federal government which began the Civil War.   The Republican Party is full to the top with neo-Confederates like Graham and Putin's Bitch,  Mitch McConnell and they are working hand in glove with billionaire oligarchs and millionaire gangsters, not only in the United States but in foreign countries to subvert the United States.  

With the proof now coming from the mouth of the tool of Trump, his own henchman, confirmed by two witnesses who heard Trump on the phone, from Mick Mulvaney in a public press conference, of myriads of witnesses of the highest credibility who confirm the corrupt actions of other of Trump's tools, including Pompeo, Perry, Giuliani, Pence, and so many others, the Republican Party is the most subversive force in the history of the country.   Considering how it began and its first successful presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln being the excuse for the slave power to secede, how it was the party which used accusations of foreign subversion to gain power and to keep it,  it being a bunch of neo-Confederates who are active agents of subversion on behalf of THE DICTATOR OF RUSSIA is the most enormous irony in the history of the United States.  Coming in second is the role that the American media, the vaunted "free press" has played in creating Trump and putting him in office and which shows every sign of enabling to remain in office, certainly during this term and, especially if a real Democrat runs against him, for another term of laying waste to democracy and even the United States, itself.  

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Dave Stryker Trio - Live At Google

Dave Stryker - guitar
Jared Gold - organ
Mark Whitfield, Jr - drums

Over impeachment hearinged,  I'll write something tomorrow.   I've got to say, it makes me feel a lot better about the people working for the State Department, or who used to work for it.  I think it's a remarkable contrast that it's largely people who are in foreign service and the military and who aren't lawyers who've stepped up to protect and defend democracy and the United States.  If I'm being unfair to the lawyers, I don't feel ashamed.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Satyricon America: The Stinking Scum That Rises To The Top

That the Republicans demanded yesterday afternoon's two witnesses, Kurt Volker and Tim Morris proves that they got nothin'.   Volker walking back his earlier testimony and attesting to the sterling charcter of Joe Biden, both of them making some absurd comments,  Morris claiming he found nothing wrong with the infamous Trump bribery shake down call - even as he went straight to the lawyers about it and a long line of clearly dishonest testimony artfully skirting clear lies.  The best assessment of those two came from Ned Price on Lawrence O'Donnell's show, 

It's these things that really don't square that I think paint a really unflattering portrait of people like these who are in polite society in DC and want to stay there regardless of the cost.

They could have been a greater contrast to the two morning witnesses,  Lt. Col Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams but the quality of the morning patriots and the cocktail hour courtiers was enough of one to underline Price's statement.   
The attacks on Lt. Col Vindman by the clown car of Republicans from Devin Nunes and Jim "singlet sniffer" Jordan to the boob of a lawyer they have doing their expert questioning were disgusting, shameful and a clear attempt to benefit from the Republicans anti-semites.  To raise the old canard of dual loyalty to a decorated American war veteran who is Jewish is so obviously disgusting and shameful that it's clear they decided to do it to take advantage of those Trump called "good people" on his side after the Nazi rally at Charlottsville.   I'd like to say that is as low as they can go but I doubt there is a bottom to that.   

I have to wonder what Sondland will do today, after that use of antisemitic smears yesterday.   It will be curious to see what he does, especially since he's had to change what he said under oath before.  I have read that he was on again off again on again during the 2016 campaign over some of Trump's more offensive smears.  So I'm not expecting any kind of morality from him, he doesn't have the kind of moral fiber that's made of.  I'm open to being surprised but I doubt I will.   Maybe trying to keep his ass out of jail will do it, I doubt he's terribly concerned about his position in polite society, the stink of corruption is always overcome by money among the elites.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Old Whine From Old Wineskin

I suspect if I referenced and excerpted something from the Democratic Socialists of America again (I'm sure I've referenced and likely excerpted from members of the DSA, before) I am sure that no one would bat an eyelash.   The entire membership of the DSA, from the latest figures I could find from 2018 was 31,271. That is after a huge influx of new members after Trump became president, who knows what the figures will look like in ten years. 

In looking into numbers for this, I found that just one of the groups listed under "liberal Baptist" groups, the Progressive National Baptist Convention is estimated to have 1,500,000 members and there are other groups of Baptists who, I'm sure, would find  Baptist News Global congenial to their beliefs, at least one other of those as large.   

Unlike the play left, I can count.  

America As Baal Through The Vacuum Of Morality In Modernism

It is one of the most atrocious consequences of the short-shrift that the "founders" gave the Bill of Rights that its language can be so easily twisted for malignant purposes.   The terse, minor 18th century poetry of the First Amendment, alone, has been used by Supreme Courts and lower courts and lawyers and parties with personal and financial interests (probably the strongest of malignant forces relevant to what I'm saying, since the "Justices, judges, lawyers, etc. partake of those even as they disclaim them) . . . it has been very useful in pushing some of the very worst things in American life today which we are seeing destroy democracy.    

"Freedom of speech" is a slogan that, through the absolutizing force of the likes of Oliver Wendell Holmes jr. a cynical, cruel and aristocratic fan of Darwinian brutality in the law, the ACLU working on behalf of the enemies of egalitarian democracy, later and rather pudding headed Supreme Courts who not only made lying with impuity impune, they enabled it through setting up impossible to meet standards based on the superstition of psychology.   As it turns out, consulting the biographies and writings of the members of the ACLU, I don't trust their motives,  I think they were hoping their preferred ideological gang could gain power through the power of lies, imagining that "the masses" were invulnerable to the lies of their ideological opponents, the neo-Nazis and neo-fascists and white supremacists who they officially opposed (even as they provided them with free legal help in promoting their anti-egalitarian, anti-democratic, anti-freedom agendas).  

 I do think that on the part of many of them,  Holmes and the ACLU, certainly, there was more than a bit of anti-religious, more specifically anti-Christian motivation behind much of what they did and their ideological platforms, especially.   There were lots of rather stupid and gullible religious people who bought into that as if enabling lies, pornography, the promotion of Nazism, the KKK, other forms of fascism - most dangerously - and Marxism - in the idiotic pipe-dream of so many involved with ACLU style idiocy - I think a lot of that was the people who got divinity degrees and studied theology in college and grad school didn't want to be left behind in the cultural wave of modernism.  

The worst expression of this is that it leads poeple, those with educational credentials, people who believe they favor egalitarian democracy, people who have a vague notion of being "leftist" or "liberal" or "progressive" to adopt exactly those ideological positions and habits which are as counter-productive to producing what they believe they want as they are totally unnecessary.   I have been pointing out the sheerest idiocy of the pose of modernistic, educated niceness and free-speechyness that holds that we owe the Nazis the chance of doing again what they did in the 1920s and 1930s so they could do what they did starting in 1939 and which it took the combined forces of all of the Western democracies working with the moral equivalent of the Nazis in the Soviet Union to put down.  

There is no more obviously stupid and amorally irresponsible stand than the one that holds that the total suppression of neo-Nazism is not only impossible to do decently BUT THAT IT VIOLATES some kind of necessity of "balance" or "fairness" or some notion of liberalish scrupulosity BECAUSE IF WE SUPPRESS THE RACISTS WHO ANNOUNCE THEIR INTENT TO COMMIT GENOCIDES ALL OVER WE ARE SOMEHOW IN DANGER OF DOING WHAT THEY WANT TO DO.   

There is nothing that more clearly shows up the idiocy of that regime of modern thought than that notion that we are powerless or incompetent to distinguish between people who announce their intent to gain power to murder, literally, billions of people and liberals who have no such intention.   Such idiocy was what led the Clinton administration to thwart the call for bombing the radio tower in Rwanda as it was sending out information to the mass murders, telling them where the people they were calling for them to kill were hiding so they could be murdered.   The people in our government, IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY who made that genocide enabling call so as not to be guilty of violating the scurple about "freedom of the press - freedom of speech" are some of the most shameful civil libertarians in the spotty history of that ideological camp.  

I have been finding in the past day that I'm finding the site Baptist News Global to be a totally unexpected and enormously important source of things to consider.  I would call them a "liberal Baptist" site but I'm losing my belief that such categorization is at all accurate in this area.   If someone told me 20 years ago that I'd be depending on Esquire, MSNBC, and such things as Baptist News Global for some of the most important information now, I'd have told them they were crazy*.  

Here is an extremely important and interesting article by H. Stephen Shoemaker about the idea that we must divorce politics from morality.  

Politics and moral values belong together. Jesus and the Hebrew prophets warned of the separation of religious practice and the political realm. Righteousness includes both personal morality and social morality – that is, where we seek the well-being of all people in a community and nation. Moreover, Hebrew and Christian scriptures urge special concern for the poor and most vulnerable in our midst, those whom Jesus called “the least of these.”

History has shown the destructive consequences when the realm of the sacred is divorced from the realm of politics. Into such a vacuum rushes totalitarianism. The “two kingdoms” theology of German Lutheranism so completely separated allegiance to God and allegiance to the State that it helped prepare the way for Hitler.

History has also shown the dangers when religion has sought to align itself with political power, preferring to rule rather than to serve – what some have called “Constantinian Christianity.” The founders of our nation were concerned to avoid theocracy in America; hence the First Amendment to the Constitution, which preserved freedom of religion and forbade the State’s establishment of one religion.

Religion serves best when it sees politics as an approximation of the values of the kingdom of God. When any religious or political group sees itself as THE expression of the kingdom of God, it turns idolatrous: “Politics as Baal.”

“Politics can be an awfully seductive substitute for God.”

In ancient Hebrew thought, the Baalim, or Baals, were the false gods that people worshipped, the “gods that are not gods” to quote the Apostle Paul. When our politics takes on divine pretension, it becomes idolatrous. Theologian Paul Tillich, who watched the rise of Hitler first hand, defined the “demonic” as when anything “finite” claims to be, or is taken to be, “infinite.”

When, therefore, the political realm itself is taken to be the final or ultimate realm, politics becomes Baal. Such is the danger of all totalitarian regimes and all political religions. Protestant Reformer John Calvin said that the human mind is a “perpetual idol factory.” Politics can be an awfully seductive substitute for God.

I think the secularization of American culture is the equivalent of that "two kingdoms theology".  Only here, it is not theology but political dogma based on a particular ideological - fundamentalist reading of the "no establishment" clause and the First Amendment.  One of the most astounding things I have discovered about the idiocy that results from the sciency, moderny, atheist, secularist, "left" is that their anti-religious ideology leads them to claim that morality can be divorced from politics.  As if every claim of possession of rights does not depend not only on claims of moral absolutism but are as dependent on someone endowing us with rights.   Nature does not exhibit such an endowment, the ideology of scientism is as guaranteed as Nazism (a scientistic ideology) to deny such an endowment. 

 As if every claim that a wrong has been done to someone doesn't absolutely depend on there being a moral standard that identifies acts as wrongs (sins) and the right of people to not have those done to them.   It was a bolt from the (baby) blue blog when a self-identified Lesbian Of Color complained that she was so sick and tied of all of the talk about morality - with the other mostly college-credentialed lefties joining in to whine about morality in politics, in the law, in society.   As I recall I pointed out that literally every political position that was advocated by the collected lefties there was absolutely based in claims of morality.  As I recall I concluded I may as well have been speaking Loglan.   They literally could not deal with the concept that they were continually spouting moral claims - the idea being so declassé and unfashionable. 

I think it's as much a contributor to what has happened here in the past fifty years as it was in Germany leading up to WWII.   I think not only Donald Trump, but the "white evangelical" heresy that supports him is a result of the vacuum that the secularization of American politics imposed by academic dogma, legal dogma, popular culture.   It is analogous to what the creators and champions of "more speech" ignored, that the other side was there and they would take advantage of the amorality that was pushed by such things as privileging lies in the way that only the truth should be privileged, of the enforced secularization of politics on the more lefty side - the side that doesn't even seem to know that its very basis of existence is dependent on a source of morality and the moral absolutes that flow from our Creator.   There is literally no other source for them.

I strongly suspect I will be leaning on the Baptist News Global site, it is deep and rich and,  I suspect, indispensable. 

*  I still had a subscription to The Nation and In These Times, neither of which I'm finding to be anywhere near as useful or dependable, even with vanden Heuvel and her hubby a reduced presence.   The Boston Globe is the wreck of itself I expected the NYT corp to make of it.  I'm finding much of the "new media" that I read then is better as an example of what a bunch of idiots had grabbed hold of the left since 1964 than they are reliable. 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Terrifying Confirmation

Let the legendary journalist say it. 

Legendary broadcaster and one-time Baptist preacher Bill Moyers says for the first time in his 85 years he fears for America.

Asked on the eve of impeachment hearings if he fears for the country, Moyers told CNN’s Brian Stelter: “For the first time in my long life – and I was born in the Depression, lived through World War II, have been a part of politics and government for all these years – yes, for the first time, because a democracy can die of too many lies, and we’re getting close to that terminal moment unless we reverse the obsession with lies that are being fed around the country.” . . . 

Haven't I been saying this for the past couple of decades? 

“All presidents lie. It’s a defense they use,” he said. “But not all presidents lie systemically. Not all presidents lie constantly.”

“But what we have now is a culture of lying, not only from within politics, but from within media that is determined only to protect and save the president of the United States, Donald Trump, and they lie” about things big and small.

“You don’t know what to believe anymore,” Moyers said. “I still believe that facts matter, but they’re trying to change the facts on us. And that’s where a few journalists and a few media outlets have a real role to play. It’s to always put on the table the evidence against the lies that are being told by the people who have a vested interest in lying.”

I will go farther than Moyers did and say that the legal regime that permits the media to lie will destroy democracy and I see absolutely no liklihood that even those who are being lied about most constantly realize that there is absolutely no reason for that to be the rule.  We are so totally suckered by the line of "free speech - free press" absolutism that was invented in the 20th century out of the carelessly chosen words of the first Congress that it is one of those thought crimes which I am ready to commit to even acknowledge that is happening all around us.   The lies told by the Republican-fascists, the billionaires and their hirelings are too sophisticated in their marketing to allow.   They will destroy equality, they will destroy democracy and as long as some pantomime of voting by those who buy their well crafted lies poeple will call American fascism "democracy".   That didn't start with Trump, it started with the Supreme Court "liberals" in 1964 and the New York Times and it was called "The First Amendment,"  "Freedom of the press,"  Freedom of speech."   And it's destroying democracy lie by lie by lie . . . 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Anti-Brexit Campaigner Lord Buckethead Becomes Count Binface

He's a more serious candidate than Boris Johnson or Donald Trump.  

Obama As Kingmaker Is A Really, Really Bad Idea

Here is the estimable Jack Holmes on the announcement by former Massachusetts governor Patrick Duval for president: 

There are a number of good reasons why this is a bad idea. The field is too full. There are too many centrists already. It’s too late in the process. Patrick missed his window the last time around. Patrick has made a lot of money repping industries that are anathema to the Democratic primary base. He presently works at Bain Capital, and if there’s one thing guaranteed to alienate the rising progressive power in the party, it would be nominating a guy who works for Mitt Romney’s company.

"Asked about a number of policy issues that have divided the Democratic candidates, he outlined a set of positions that, taken together, place him closer to the ideological center than the left. He said he did not support “Medicare for all,” but did support a so-called public option; that he was in favor of eliminating or vastly reducing student debt but believed there were “other strategies than we’ve heard about” to do that; and that a wealth tax on the richest Americans “makes a lot of sense directionally” but that he would push for “a much, much simpler tax system for everyone.” “I don’t think that wealth is the problem. I think greed is the problem,” he said, noting that “taxes should go up on the most prosperous and the most fortunate,” but “not as a penalty.”

Well, that’s a pile of mush, isn’t it? Joe Biden could say that stuff, and has. Pete Buttigieg could say that stuff, and has. Cory Booker could say that stuff, and has. Hell, John Delaney could say that stuff, and has. What sense does it make to have another candidate trading in liberal-lite policies and don’t-run-in-the-hallways politics? There is one significant reason: the Obamas want him to. 

You can read the rest of Holmes' piece laying out why he believes the Obamas are behind this daffy idea that is more likely to create new problems than diminish them for getting the goddamned Republican-fascists out of office.  

Several times I asked how much of a price having Barack Obama as president Democrats and the country had to pay.   And anyone who denies that having him as president cost us is lying.   Obama was never a liberal in the classic American sense of the word, an egalitarian with tendencies to do for the least among us, is an elitist who never set foot in a public school as a student, who was reluctant to fight for the bill that will be considered his best legacy, the ACA "Obamacare" to those who wanted to harness the racist backlash to his color and name.   I could go down the entire history of Barack Obama in public office, in the Illinois Senate, in the United States Senate, as President and demonstrate that he was guaranteed to be what he turned out to be, a mediocre Democratic president who was capable of inspiring personal loyalty and adoration based on tropes of Jack Kennedy style lore but who was notably more interested in gaining the admiration of Republicans than of Democrats, far less interested in rallying the Democratic base on behalf of other Democratic candidates down the ticket.  I still hear grumbling about the refusal of his campaign to share information and resources from Democratic politicians and workers. 

Holmes notes that Obama has pushed Duval Patrick before and that he and his wife have held back on endorsing any of the other host of centrists in the race, including, notably, the man still riding on his coattails,  Joe Biden.  

So far in 2020, the Obamas have studiously avoided anything that vaguely looked like a public endorsement of any of the current candidates. If they are behind the sudden re-emergence of Deval Patrick on the national scene, it would surprise practically nobody. After all, the former president is no fan of the Sanders-Warren wing of the field, and his former vice president is wet tinder, and the idea of passing over a group of experienced woman and minority candidates in favor of a 38-year-old white mayor of a mid-sized city can’t be sitting well, either. If anyone can find another way the Patrick candidacy makes sense, I’d like to hear it.

I think Holmes is looking for the wrong kind of reason for it,  I think it's obvious that Obama is looking to relive his personal glory days vicariously through Patrick, a man who in many ways is like Obama - race certainly not an insignificant part of that.   But it is his biography which, as soon as he was sent through the A Better Chance program to Milton Academy mirrors Obama's prep-Ivy story.  I won't touch the fathers abandoning both of them, though it is another curious parallel.   

I think the parallels wouldn't stop there.  If the notably less attractive Patrick did become president I think we could look for the same self-made weaknesses with which Barack Obama pissed away the best hand a president had been given since Johnson's landslide of 1964, something which Johnson used to change the face of America, without which neither Obama nor Patrick would have had the careers they have had.  Obama didn't grow much in office in terms of political skill or savvy,  he was always reluctant to take on the Republicans in any hardball manner - considering how much of Obama's thinking is structured through competitive sports, it's odd that he showed none of that fighting spirit once inaugurated.  Hell, he started giving the store away during the transition in 2008.   I will guarantee you that in Duval Patrick, you would have the same kind of president.  Holmes' noting what Patrick has done after his governorship should tell you exactly why that would be. 

I think the best thing the Obamas could do would be to fade into the background and stay out of the role of king making.  He has nothing to offer the next Democratic President except as an example of how to not do it.