Saturday, August 20, 2016

Letter To An Old Illiterate

Update to the post below: As a literate person could have gathered from what I wrote, Chopin is not my favorite composer. However, his music is an important part of the piano literature so a piano major could hardly get out of a reputable piano program at a university without playing him. It's a difference between a musician and a toodler that a musician can play music he doesn't especially love, doing what the composer asks be done and being able to produce an acceptable performance. Orchestral musicians are regularly asked to do that as they don't get to decide what they're required to play.

Another trait of a real musician is that they can respect a composer whose music they don't particularly like, acknowledging, as I can the music of Chopin, its originality for its period, its inventiveness, its audacity and its technical competence if not brilliance. A toodler thinks it's all a matter of preference and if you don't like it - or more likely think that you're not supposed to like it, toodlers don't usually have very mature personalities. Especially not when they're trying to get themselves out of having made a fool of themselves in public. The bigger fools among them are quite able to do that over and over again without learning from the experience.

Let me just say that I have more respect for the opinion of Robert Schumann,(Hats off, Gentlemen, a genius!), Johannes Brahms, Debussy (“Chopin is the greatest of all. For with the piano alone he discovered everything."), Bartok (hear the example linked to), not to mention a huge number of some of the greatest pianists to have ever touched the instrument .... than for a washed up, third-tier, pop-music reviewer. I don't have to like Chopin's music in preference to others, but I have no problem admitting that it is great music. Anyone who doesn't understand that, in just about every way, Chopin was a greater composer than Gottschalk, Grieg, Granger,.... is a silly billy.

Update:  You give me material and I feel like using it, I'm going to use it, Stupy.  

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Clean Sweep by Alf Silver - Seven Crows A Secret

Still dealing with my sick dog, I'm superstitious or I'd say he seems better.  I won't go into the gruesome details, but I caught what he has with most unpleasant symptoms.  That is what will happen when you're dealing with such things in the middle of the night when you're not thinking clearly.  Let's just say I've eaten more tapioca in the last two days than I did in the past two decades.  

I'll try to get around to finding a longer play to post in the coming week.

Update:  Here's another episode.   

"Rien n'est plus beau qu'une guitare, sauf peut-être deux." Chopin

Frederic Chopin:  Mazurka op. 24 no. 2 Mazurka op. 17 no. 4 Mazurka op. 41 no. 3

Another of those superficial composers who mixed up ethnic and classical style

There was a time I'd be very skeptical about arranging Chopin for guitar, but, then, I found out he said that.   As far as I'm concerned, it constitutes his permission to make the arrangements.

These performances of three Mazurkas are very good, this duo is magnificent, probably one of the best guitar duos in the history of the ensemble.  If it were me, the one who plays the accompanying part to the melody should play the rhythm strictly, the one playing the melody playing rubato in the bel canto style.  That's what Chopin's instructions were.

 I never performed his music much except for those times I was assigned to in college,  It can be said, though, that I knocked them dead with the Nocturne Op 27*. no 1, though I'd rather have been playing something else. **

* Not this well though, she is wonderful

**  The fragmentary recording of Bela Bartok playing what must have been one of the greatest performances of the piece in the 20th century is incredible.

Here's more of the Kupinski Duo

Sergio Assad - Tres Cenas Brasileiras

Dušan Bogdanović- Sonata Fantasia

Kupinski Guitar Duo: Ewa Jablczynska & Dariusz Kupinski

Dušan Bogdanović's Jazz Sonata, Two Reviews

“…(Jazz Sonata) There are evocations of the late jazz pianist Bill Evans’ introspective style with snatches of serialism. The relentless, haunting melodies embrace popish tunes, while the repetitive and simple folk-like modulations become hypnotic. The end result is a successful collage of fast and slow rhythms, full of beautiful sonorous sounds juxtaposed with prickly chords. Bogdanovic proves himself an able composer, an imaginative experimenter and a sensitive artist.”
The Los Angeles Times, USA, 1984

Wow. A guy "fusing classical, jazz and ethnic music" on the guitar?

You can hear that trite new age crapola at every hair salon in the first world. And he's your important composer, Sparky?


Washed up pop-music scribbler for an ad flyer, Steve Simels August 19, 2016

Notice that Stupy's "quote" isn't anything I said, it came out of his mind.  I said, "Bogdanović has absorbed and assimilated a large range of influences, the music that comes out being all his own," which is something you could say about most composers of any ability in any genre.  Bela Bartok and Igor Stravinsky, certainly could be accurately described in that way.  Not to mention Charles Ives.  And even Schoenberg incorporated jazz elements into his music, his opus 33b for example.  

But the way Simps puts it?  I don't think it sounds like anything I'd say.  I don't know if I've ever used the word "fusing" in that way but it doesn't sound like something I'd keep unless I was pressed for time and didn't edit closely.  I don't think I'd put it the way the reviewer for the LA Times did either. 

But I invite you to do what Simps didn't, listen to it (posted below) for yourself, and you decide.  Oh, and here's another, general assessment of his compositional abilities.

“Dusan Bogdanovic is a composer of masterful craft with a genuine clarity and purity of vision. His music is distinct to the extent that it would be nearly impossible to mistake it for another’s- and he happens to play the guitar… The opening piece, titled Crow, is a ballet-poem scored for tenor, flute, double bass, and guitar. It was commissioned by the Pacific Dance Company in 1990, and included nine dancers. Bogdanovic’s setting of Ted Hughes’ poetry is as powerful as it is challenging. A score that balances tension and rhythmic energy with moments of serene beauty, ever present is the silken smoothness that characterizes Bogdanovic’s music… The Gruber/Maklar Duo should be commended for a performance that is nothing short of astounding. Bogdanovic should be congratulated for writing what may be the finest piece of contemporary music for two guitars… The back cover of this disc states “Dusan Bogdanovic proves again to be one of the true originals of the guitar. His music shows a complete mastery of ethnic folk, jazz, and classical traditions.” While every bit of that statement is true, what this recording really demonstrates is the work of a composer who not only has rich experience with many kinds of music but who has cultivated his musical experience and reveals it by means of a truly individual, and exceptionally powerful voice.”
Guitar Review, USA, 2002.

Update:  Simps is whining that he didn't say that himself, he's quoting Wikipedia.  Well, dopey, if you will spend your time looking at that stuff instead of listening to the piece you're going to show what an ass you are.  The point is that I didn't say it.  

Simples, Didn't they ever teach you to make citations at the ad flyer?  But, my guess would be your list of citations for borrowings would have been longer than your pieces. 

Update 2:  Freki is Stupy's biggest competition for the biggest liar at Baby Blue, I choose not to decide.   If they wanted me to feel nervous about what I've said the fastest way for them to do it would be to agree with me.   Together, what they don't know about music is pretty much everything. 

Update 3: I'm done with this one, as Stupy goes on longer, he only grows wronger.  He's at the stage where he knows he's lost so he's just making it up and it isn't very creative. 

Answer To A Question - Why Are You Obcessed With Whether Or Not Assange Dyes His Hair

I reject "obcessed" it took me long enough to mention it when it's been apparent for years. 

With his attacks on Hillary Clinton, obviously personal and, I'm convinced, based in his misogyny and the misogyny of his sponsors and colleagues, I'm giving him equal treatment based in what Hillary Clinton gets. 

And he's told some rather transparent lies about it being some kind of result of a teenage mutation caused by some experiment with radiation gone wrong.  When I look at different photos, from different years, of the adult Assange, that is transparent crap.  He colors his hair like the preening, superficial dandy he is.  He is not a credible person so I have no problem bringing up one of his more transparent deceptions in how he presents himself to the gullible press and a fawning public.  

I have some sympathy for Chealsea Manning, in prison, I have no sympathy for Assange hiding out in a London Embassy, the man who hung Manning out to dry for his own fame and adulation.  Though I have no problem with admitting that both of them broke the law and are rightly held accountable for what they did.  Manning released so much information to WikiLeaks that he risked giving them stuff that could get people killed.   That kind of thing is, rightly, a crime, especially for sworn members of the military or government who have to be entrusted with keeping secrets. even when they believe they are doing it for the most moral of reasons.  Their putting themselves at risk to release well-chosen information is in a different class of crime from what was done. Though I believe Manning's crime was made worse by him releasing stuff he couldn't have reviewed or considered, hi motives seem to have been honest.  I think he was way too unstable, way too naive and way too young to have been given that kind of trust, no matter what his computer abilities were.   Assange is a scavenger, feeding off of what naive people  entrust him with.  He is hardly an honest person, certainly not someone who should be trusted in identifying his own motives or in presenting something as true. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Dušan Bogdanović - Jazz Sonata

Marcos Araújo, guitar

The audio quality isn't as good as some of the other recordings but he plays the whole thing and the performance is very, very good.   It's clear that Bogdanović has absorbed and assimilated a large range of influences, the music that comes out being all his own.  If his theoretical writings weren't o friggin' expensive I'd certainly be reading them.  They sound fascinating, especially his book about counterpoint, a practical instead of a merely theoretical exercise.  But at $70 US I'm going to have to pass.

He is certainly an important living composer.  We not only have those but we have quite a number of them around these days.

Update:  Simps, in a world where little is certain, you can be counted on to say something stupid about music that goes over your head, as so much of it does.  I'm sure he'd probably not be too worried about your dismissal of his music, after a long career of having the respect of his colleagues in composition and a large number of performances and recordings by some of the best guitarists in the world.  I think he can do without the good words of a washed-up pop music repeater of the common dumb-whizz who - as can be seen by his alleged description of it - didn't even bother listening to the piece.

"1945 Sci-fi Magazine Illustration Predicts The Internet"

1945 sci-fi mag illustration predicts the Internet

From "Lint"

Hate Mail - Tell Us Which Of These Things Being Sold With Sex On Porn Sites This Month Are Compatible With Democratic Morals

Filthy 卐 Brutal 卐 White

Reblog if you want it Unsafe Insane and Non-Consensual 

via Degradation and Destruction 

Drugged, raped, and pozzed [to be intentionally infected with HIV]

Yeah, we make snuff movies glad you could come over tonight.

Rape me like a faggot 

Superior white men

This site is dedicated to the restoration of the rights of the straight white man that have been stolen by faggots over time

Live your fantasies [That one comes right after encouraging raping and killing a young "man" who looks about 12]

Those are accompanied with porn photos, gifs, videos, that are intended to sell the messaging with sex.

And that's just on one site.  Tell me why letting this stuff be posted online, where any psychopath can get their worst inclinations encouraged with sexual imagery is good for democracy or how any prosecutor or judge couldn't figure out that it's encouraging fascism, racism, violent domination, harm, rape and murder.  Or  why you are afraid that coming to that would endanger the right to encourage the opposites of those?  .

The lie that we aren't capable of regulating those decisions by courts and so we MUST allow this kind of stuff, and, believe it or not, far worse, to be considered to have the right to be distributed to the susceptible, is so willfully stupid that you have to be even more willfully stupid to pretend you really believe that.   Somehow, the Franklin Roosevelt administration, with all of its enormous advances, the advances in civil rights during the 1950s and early 60s happened in a country where the distribution and sale of that stuff would have been illegal and gotten you a prison term, and yet democracy was advancing during that period.   It's in the period when the Supreme Court permitted its distribution without restriction that has seen the destruction of civil rights progress, the corruption of democracy, the putsch that stole the presidency and the elevation of a TV created fascist strong-man to be within one woman from the presidency and the ability to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will obliterate democracy.

You people are total fools if you can't see the problem.  I don't want to be part of any "left" that pushes lies like that.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dušan Bogdanović - Sonata No. 1

Pablo González guitar

Balkan Miniatures

Zoran Dukic, guitar

" the evangelical alternative to the predatory economy is to come to an awareness that the goal of our life is not to have more but the goal of our life is to have the kind of trustworthy relationships that will sustain us in our fragility and our mortality"

I wanted to continue with what Walter Brueggemann said about Psalm 73 in the Sunday school lesson that was posted below.  As I mentioned, it's not what most people think of when they use the phrase "Sunday school lesson" because most people have the most incredibly superficial notions about The Bible, church, religion, etc. And they are encouraged to have an incredibly superficial notion about it, both on the right and the alleged left.   Some of that is the fault of churches, which depend on making things too easy so as to not turn off a lot of people who want it easy and self-gratifying even at the cost of betraying the whole reason for it.  The institutional churches are often guilty of that kind of thing.

But I'm concerned in this post about the real alternative to the commodification of life.

And the secular, materialistic society, it's vulgar right-wing and its pretentious, alleged alternative to that right-wing are opposed to that.  When those materialists use religion as a career or money making opportunity, they are the source of the greatest scandal and discrediting of religion.

But "the left," the materialist left, in so far as it presents itself as the alternative to Brueggmann's conception of the church is also rightly seen in relationship to its fidelity to its asserted morality.   There are those materialists, both vulgar right and intellectual left, who that doesn't exactly sit, completely, well with.  The materialist left that has a vague or even a somewhat developed feeling that there is something wrong with how that is going, sometimes makes a weak protest against it.  I've mentioned Katha Pollitt's article protesting the commercial commodification of women being taken up as "feminism" and its consequences for women, generally,  when what you would have to do to get to the point of deciding that is wrong takes far more than the materialism she, otherwise, pushes as the basis of her ideology.  You could say the same thing for any materialist, on the deputed left or the all too real right, whose feelings, notions and even developed expressions of moral values is, fundamentally, at odds with the exigencies and vicissitudes of materialism.   Just pretending, as so many on the right do, that their worship of Mammon can be squared with a worship of GOD - and, as Brueggemann pointed out that always implies and requires fidelity with other people -  when they have no less of an authority than Jesus who said it can't be done.

I do think one of the biggest dangers of neo-atheism, of the academic and media program of de-religionizing our society, our politics and our minds is that there is no alternative in this society to churches doing what Brueggemann says they should be in the business of doing.  Telling the truth, telling the truth about the consequences of the commodification of all life.  The increasingly libertarian "left" certainly won't take that up, it's too busy being kewl with the sex industry, the entertainment industry and excusing the history of leftist acceptance of genocidal killing, when done by the right despots, as being OK because their economic motives were good.  

It was exactly my coming to realize in the 1990s that point in relation to pornography and prostitution, that they weren't evil because of the sex, they were evil because of the commodification of people, that was my turning point.  If it could turn someone like Katha Pollitt, I don't know.  I suspect her time going to Marxist study groups, her personal investment in the atheism industry - such as it is - and her status in the New York scribbling and publishing world might be an effective road block to her further exploring the consequences for her materialism for her feminism.  But maybe I'm wrong.  It would be interesting to see how she could explain how, without making some phony, smoke screen argument about that infinitely flexible slogan, "natural selection", that could explain why a the worst misogynists are wrong to do what they want to do when they can get away with it.  I think anyone who asserts you can come up with a real reason for that in materialism is willfully superficial.

From about 35:00 on the video.  Any problems in the transcript are mine.

So I think it's not unreasonable to think that this fourth segment of the psalm is a reflection on [the fact that] that finally you have to put your buckets down in relatedness and that include finding GOD faithful and it includes being faithful to to neighbors. 

So it is our custom to take such psalms as this as a kind of an intimate personal reflection and it it certainly will function that way and one can imagine people like Solomon who wake up in the middle of their life and that kind of a thing.  But what I want to accent is that that I think it is a script to diagnose the pathologies of our society and the predatory economy into which we are generally seduced.  

I think that we now live in a predatory economy that believers that acquiring commodities and wealth that might properly belong to other people is the goal of life so that our banking regulations and our tax laws are all rigged toward the accumulation of more commodities by those who can accumulate. 

 And that the evangelical alternative to the predatory economy is to come to an awareness that the goal of our life is not to have more but the goal of our life is to have the kind of trustworthy relationships that will sustain us in our fragility and our mortality

And I believe that the worship life of the church is exactly the pivot point of verse 17.  I believe that there are fewer and fewer possibilities in our society to have a place to spend to do a critical assessment of what is happening in our society and to imagine an alternative to it.  And I think it is the function of the church.  It is the function of the church to maintain a sharp critique of the predatory economy that wants to reduce all of life to the accumulation of commodities.  And it is the work of the church to imagine what a life of authentic fidelity might look, like that we are at the edge of forgetting in our society.  So I might add Solomon,  late in his life, coming to [such] an awareness and then I take to heart with that act of imagination that in Solomon could imagine [ a just society.  

You may remember this last comment then I'll finish in Luke 12 when Jesus tells that parable about the guy who tore down his barns and built bigger barns.  He's called a fool.  He's given his life over to commodity pursuits and he's condemned because he was not rich for God, he was rich for self. And then in the next paragraph Jesus gathers his disciples, he's such a good teacher, and that little procedure of having what we call  in seminary a critical incident, the Parable is a critical incident.  And then you have critical reflection with the seminarians and you open the critical reflection by saying, well what did you notice?  

And that's the moment at which all seminarians know to avoid all eye contact.  And then Jesus waits a little while and they don't say anything.  So there he says, you know said guy that's filled with anxiety because he didn't have enough yet, therefore I tell you, do not be anxious.   Jesus wants his disciples not to participate in the anxiety of the commodity system.  Do not be anxious for what you shall eat or what you shall wear or where you shall live.  For which of you buy hustling can add a nanosecond  to your life.  And then he says, "Look at the birds and flowers."  And then he says, "Yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his commodity apparatus was not as well off as the birds."

I hope to do more of this.

The Truth Will Make You Free Not Glenn Greenwald Not Edward Snowden Not Oliver Stone

The current spate of stories about Russian agents or organized crime, if there is a need for a conjunction, WikiLeaks, the bottle-blonde Aussie punk in the Ecuadorian embassy, etc. doesn't seem to have made much of an impression on people about the fact that absolute privacy on the internet is a delusion.  If the DNC can be hacked, if the government can be hacked,  you certainly can be.  I'm pretty sure I've been hacked, even with one of the better lesser known malware systems on my computers, I've become aware that someone got into one of them in the past.   So I don't use my computer for anything I wouldn't want my real-world self to be associated with.

I understand that Oliver Stone is selling a movie about Edward Snowden,  I probably won't watch it but I've read a few articles about it.  Stone, like everyone who pimps himself in the big-time movie industry, is looking for something that will get him fame, money and opportunity, using the legend of Edward Snowden as interpreted by the man Snowden made even more semi-famous, Glenn Greenwald and, wouldn't you know, Snowden's version of himself as the basis for it.

Somehow I have doubts that the thing will be the "bio pic" or the substitute for objective reporting or scholarship that it will be considered in the minds of even the college educated viewership it will likely get.   The abject failure to combat the suckering of the TV-movie mis-educated public, making them critical instead of passive consumers of propaganda is one of the reasons allowing those media to lie is so stupid and dangerous.

One of the articles I saw was about how Stone pushed his movie at Comic-Con, he wants to get in touch with the youth market.  You would think that age cohort, who have been the most indoctrinated in the make-believe as reality nonsense, would be those most in need of a huge jolt of the reality that the idea their online communications can be reliably believed to be secure and private, though they live in the reality that they can't be, every day.  Yet they are buying the basic premise of Greenwald, Snowden, and now Stone that they can be.   Considering the second of those worked for the NSA, presented as being in the business of violating privacy, the very substance of what all three are peddling and that he violated the secrecy, or PRIVACY, if you will of the operation he was working for by stealing huge amounts of that collected "private" material and took it, first to China and then to Russia, two of the worst and most capable governments in doing exactly what Snowden, Greenwald and Stone claim to be against.

If anyone doesn't think that Edward Snowden didn't likely trade not being extradited to the United States by either of those governments by giving them the information he carried with him, they are too stupid to be taken seriously by anyone.  The United States government certainly had things they could have traded to either government in exchange for Snowden that Snowden would have had to have topped in any attempt to prevent them sending him back.  The only thing he had was the very private material that he had stolen, the very stuff that we are supposed to believe he is concerned that the NSA was collecting.

That Edward Snowden ISN'T IN AN AMERICAN PRISON is best explained by him buying his way out of that by giving China and the Putin government what he had to trade.   I am pretty confident that him taking it on the lam with him to Hong Kong instead of some other place would lead a rational person to believe he intended to sell it to make a lot of money.  Only he was too stupid to not get caught by Chinese intelligence.  The Chinese are very good at that kind of thing, you'd think he'd have known that.   I doubt that any of that was among the things Oliver Stone asked about when he met with Snowden in Russia.  Nothing about that has been mentioned in any of the articles I've read about the movie.    I wouldn't be surprised if none of that possibility even occurred to him as a possibility, he'd have been too busy thinking about how he could alter the story to make it more sellable.   I can't understand how anyone who is so daddled with the story as told by the entirely self-interested Greenwald, Snowden and now Stone, couldn't have asked those questions, though I have yet to see anyone consider what the travels of Edward Snowden mean.

Edward Snowden should certainly be considered a property of the Putin regime and its agent now.   That would be the Putin regime which has murdered journalists, opponents, destroyed freedom of speech and freedom of the press in ways that only the most paranoid of movie treatments could imagine happening here.  Yet this is the kind of stuff that is being inserted into an election year by a director on the make, a year in which it is becoming ever more obvious that Donald Trump is in bed with if not owned by the same kleptocratic Russian oligarchy headed by the big KGB guy.    Now, that's stuff they'd never believe if you put it in a movie and tied the loose ends together with story telling.

The mixture of show biz with politics is really bad and has had really bad consequences.  Ronald Reagan was sold to the American people by Hollywood and the right-wing establishment that really owns it.  Donald Trump is its creation.   No one who is trying to sell themselves and make a lot of money by making a movie should be considered reliable, their phonied up history - especially as told by the criminals who have every reason to lie - is a delusion which is destructive of democracy.  Oliver Stone is no exception to that.  Pretending that story telling is the same thing as rigorous reporting is just another marketing gimmick, it's all all of it is, marketing.  Marketing movies, marketing stories, marketing self-serving narratives, not infrequently criminals and white collar thugs peddling them.  In short, movies are full of lies that are sold with marketing designed to gull the most people.  In the mean time, reality remains real and the acids of it steadily wear away at the democracy that depends on The People, the very People who are those marketed to, knowing the truth that will make them free.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dušan Bogdanović - Sonata 2

Jérémy Peret, guitar
I'll be posting all of Dušan Bogdanović's sonatas that I can find.  Along with such other composers as Leo Brouwer, he is writing some of the most interesting solo-instrumental music being composed, today.  The modern, classical guitar has really come into its own, little noticed by the wider world.  This is music that isn't merely significant in terms of the repertoire of the instrument, it is also significant as musical composition.   I keep up with music as best I can and I wasn't aware of Bogdanović's music until a few days ago.  It makes me curious about his ideas about composition, though his book on that topic isn't easy to get hold of.  If I were a young guitar student I'd find out how to get hold of it.

Hate Mail - I Stand By What I Said

In one of my first blog posts I declared, in detail, that I won't be fair to fascists, I won't be nice to Nazis and everything I've studied and looked at since then has led me to decide that I won't cover up for commies, either,  because their body counts are no less horrific.  "Our" mass murderers and "our" SOBs are not any less criminals because their victims are not less dead or enslaved or harmed.

The insane delusion that liberals "owed" fairness to those whose every expressed idea, whose ever fervently stated intention would mean that, if they gained influence in the population and political power, that they would abolish all rights of those they chose to deprive of them, who reject the idea that they have any moral obligation to respect those rights and they would start killing, enslaving and oppressing people, is one of the things that has discredited the left.   It has discredited us needlessly and to the benefit of our illiberal domestic opponents whose targeted intentions of violating rights has not harmed them.  The "free press" has aided that effort of enhancing the chances of Republican-fascists by exploiting the idiotic defense of Marxists and communists and through exploiting such insanity as such allegedly liberal institutions which have promoted the alleged rights of fascists and Nazis, white supremacists.....  and, yes, communists, to attack and endanger the rights of people and to promote those in other countries who have.

There never was any reason to pretend we or courts couldn't tell the difference between the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the American Nazis.  There was never any reason to pretend that courts couldn't distinguish among non-violent groups and groups which glorify war and murder, only that is what they have been allowed to pretend in order to give groups such as the Phelps cult the "right" to rob people of their rights to so much as bury their dead in peace.

So I reject that whole line of tripe, the line that says there is any rational reason to be tenderly concerned with the rights of such poeple to try to destroy democracy.  There is certainly no obligation or any rational interest in the left coming to their aid, comfort or assistance.   I have no obligation to lie and cover up what I've concluded by watching things like the ACLU fighting for the "right" of Nazis to terrify the people of Skokie while, at the same time, fighting for the "right" of the media to lie us into a state in which a Donald Trump has gotten the nomination of one of our two major parties.  If you comfort yourself that we've dodged the bullet that the insane, fascist reality TV star poses, ask yourself if you can be so confident that the next time, when it will be Ted Cruz or someone as bad that we'll dodge that bullet again.  Especially after the "free press" does what it will do to Hillary Clinton as president.  A Cruz-fascist government has every prospect of being more dangerous than one under the control of a loud-mouthed mad-man who will make himself a joke.  Look at how they turned such unpromising material as George W. Bush into the two-term worst president in modern times.  They do it by lying, they get to lie with impunity thanks, in no small part, to the activity of the ACLU and "free speech" lawyers like Joel Gora, held up as heroes by the lefty media.

That making decisions about what is true and what is false, what is dangerous to democracy, what is innocuous and what enhances democracy is, sometimes, very hard, is sometimes somewhat true.   But those hard decisions have to be made and sometimes we will get it wrong.  But using those instances as an excuse to allow what has happened to this country, through the media, in the past half century is a supreme act of civic cowardice and monumental malfeasance.  It is an act of self-interest on the part of those who make money from the media and those who hire on as its lawyers and paid legal promoters and an act which blatantly favors the wealthy who are in a position to buy them all off*.   Whining like a college freshman "That' haaaaarrrrd!" doesn't matter because that's what it takes to preserve democracy from people being sold lies that destroy democracy.  The choice is between allowing lies and having democracy because you can't have both.

*  The very same lawyers and legal thinkers and judges who act as if making those kinds of decisions is too hard have no problem with judges making decisions about their copyright, trademarks, contracts, etc. being violated when, at times, the issues involved are far more obscure and require judicial decisions about matters entirely outside of the realm of competence of the judges making those decisions.  It's mostly a matter of where money is to be had or protected, which is where this really all gets down to, in the end.

First, Pressure Ecuador To Expel Assange

I am not, by inclination or moral persuasion, a violent man but if I were to meet Julian Assange I don't think I could keep myself from punching him in the face.  His smug, bottle blond visage is looking out from the interview up at NPR, a venue which has never been slow to promote anti-Clinton ratfucking as if it were reliable information.  I am tempted to go through the text to point out how much of it is self-serving of Assange who is, clearly, an agent of Putin's political machine these days, intent on either getting Donald Trump - who is also a totally owned property of the neo-Soviet kleptocracy - elected president or seriously damaging Hillary Clinton if she is.  I think Assange either hopes to get a pardon from Trump or to blackmail Hillary Clinton into not pressing for his extradition to the United States, fearing what WikiLeaks might accuse her of.   It is the massive ego of Assange that he would, really, be willing to wreak the damage to countless millions that a Trump presidency would be so he can avoid manning up to face the consequences of his various crimes, his activities as a sexual creep or his espionage.  It is a oddly modern kind of irony to be able to point out that the macho Aussi is "less of a man" than Chelsea Manning who has paid the price for stealing and passing on huge amounts of classified information. 

NPR's motives in putting up that piece are quite similar to those of Assange, they, as fully invested members of the Washington, DC elite, prefer Republicans in office who will lower their taxes and otherwise profit them as parts of the six-figure income bracket.  And they know their carrying Julian Assange's dirty water will win them social points with others in their elite circles and, perhaps, jobs in its better paying cabloid and broadcast media.   And it will be popular with the fat cats who fund them.   That they are acting as part of anti-American interests, foreign and domestic, won't count against them.  It's never unpatriotic to slam Democrats in that establishment, especially when the Democrat is a Clinton and especially when it's Hillary Clinton who has always had a special place in their list of those who are to be automatically vilified.   Even those on the "left" of that elite were more favorable to Bill Clinton.   Don't for a second allow yourself to suspect that her being a woman doesn't account for easily half of that. 

I would favor Barack Obama, in the rest of his term, putting maximum pressure on Ecuador to expel Julian Assange from its embassy as an agent of a foreign government attempting to undermine the United States.  I would favor his extradition to the United States and his prosecution for espionage against the American People - with his activities in this election campaign, acting as an agent of the Putin dictatorship, there is no question that is what he is about.   I would like to see him opened up to real scrutiny in a courtroom with evidence presented and tested.  I don't much cotton to the likes of him trying to mess with our elections.   If he is convicted I favor him receiving the maximum sentence allowed by law and he wanted to negotiate something less, see what he's got to trade. 

More so, though, I would welcome some real investigation into the motives of the American media in this incredible scenario in which Republicans are running, in effect, a KGB asset aided and abetted by a man who has been presented as a hero of human rights, press freedom and privacy rights - also working for the Putin regime, one of the premier practitioners of violating those rights, and aided by the American media which would be the first to wave the flag and proclaim their devotion to the American system of governance which is being attacked by all of them.   The media in the United States is the primary failure in American democracy, it, from farthest right to alleged left have discredited themselves, over and over again, with few exceptions, especially in the media with real power, TV and radio.

And that is only a very partial and very simplified presentation of the Gordian knot that these intertwining issues are. I haven't mentioned the rumors about Ivanka Trump's vacationing in Croatia with Wendi Deng Murdoch (Rupert's ex) who is now Vladimir Putin's girlfriend.  Imagine if a Democrat did that, what the press would be making of it.  Imagine what messages they might have passed for those close to them.  I doubt WikiLeaks will be revealing anything like that. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dušan Bogdanović - Sonata no. 3

Xavier Jara, guitar

The notes say that this won Jara the 2014 Boston GuitarFest competition.  It's pretty impressive playing.  I don't know Bogdanović's music but I will certainly be listening to more of it, now.

A Reliable Left Would Be A Far Stronger Force In American Politics Than The Children They Too Often Are

The lefty magazines are such frantic places these days.  First they were frantic because Bernie lost the nomination, then they were frantic because of the leaked e-mails that foolish people at the DNC sent to each other saying mean things about Bernie as his campaign was saying meaner things about the people working at the DNC who were venting about it.  All the while, as they were slamming Hillary Clinton for being ahead and winning against the long-shot, Quixotic, campaign for the major Democratic nomination of the neophyte Democrat, Bernie Sanders, they were frantic about Donald Trump and, before he faded, Ted Cruz, while slamming the person who it was going to be obvious for just about the whole time would be the only person between us and either an insane fascist or a Elmer Gantry fascist as president.

Now, even as they are, in some articles, frantically trying to get Hillary Clinton elected to prevent the dystopian, fascist future which a Donald Trump presidency would be, they are in a major tizzy that, even as the Republican right declares they'd rather vote for her than Donald Trump, that she should reject their support and diss them.   Let me break it to you guys, much as I have longed to see Henry Kissinger brought to The Hague in leg irons to answer for his many crimes, that's not going to happen.  Sometime in the near future he will die and you'd better hope you're wrong about an afterlife and a price being paid for such unrepented crimes, or he will escape punishment, entirely.  That is a pattern that has repeated itself over and over again.  Some of those massive criminals, some of them who make Henry Kissinger look like a minor neighborhood thug, were guys you or your predecessors at your magazines, liked and supported.  I'll give a list of your contributors who did, if you'd like one, it's hardly as if the information isn't public.

Let me also clue you into something, a politician has to get elected by getting votes, especially Democrats.

Let me also clue you into something, the left has been seriously weakened through idiots who scribble articles for your magazines encouraging "the left" to be a fickle, willful, unreliable source of votes for Democrats,  Your magazines have created the very vacuum that candidates hoping to win elections will have to hope are filled by someone else who will vote for them.  If you want an example, read your archive of articles for the past ten months to a year.  For you to think that you can act as you have and then someone who has taken the brunt of those attacks will refuse the support of other people on your say so is amazingly stupid, shortsighted, egotistical and arrogant of you.

If "the left" wanted to be a stronger force in real politics, the politics that wins elections, takes office and makes laws, it would, first, have to be a far more reliable source of votes for politicians.  If "the left" were what reliably provided the winning margin for Democrats, it would be a force to be reckoned with, instead of a force you can't rely on.  The infantile strategy of withdrawing support, of refusing support, of getting pissy and testy and threatening to hold your breath till you turn blue - voting for the Greens, in short - has only worked to weaken the left.   It, in one form or another, is what has weakened the left in the United States over the past century.  And it is a form of stupidity tat we came up with all on our own, though international influences, such as from the idiotic Internationals and the Soviet Leadership, through various "third parties" encouraged that, too.

The Village Voice Probably Won't Tell You This. I Don't Think You're Likely To Read It In The Nation or Hear The Young Turks Say It Either

From at about 30:00 in the Sunday School Lesson posted below:

So this guy, the Psalmist is reflecting in his heart, reflecting on his capacity for decision making. And what I'll suggest is that this Psalm (is about) consumption as a script for the kind of crisis that our society is now facing. And if I am very simplistic and reductionist I would say verses 2 - 16 are life lived in pursuit of commodities you know commodities can mean anything from stock options to more electronic equipment to the best beer in town, whatever.  And we live in a society that reduces everything and things and every one to a tradable commodity on the assumption that if you have enough of the right commodities you can be safe and you can be happy.  And what this Psalmist is describing is the powerful attractiveness of a life that is lived in pursuit of commodities.  

A friend of mine has pointed out to me that almost all television commercials promise you that you can find safety and happiness if you buy THIS!  But they also, all these ads also reprimand you by saying [You've failed to] get out and get it,  or I wouldn't be trying to sell to you,  so you, so far, have failed to get the right commodity.  So market ideology judges us for not having bought enough, spent enough, owned enough, used enough.  Therefore you'd better hustle.  So I think that it doesn't take much imagination to see that this is a useful Psalm for describing the central seduction of a market ideology that believes that the accumulation of more goods is the way to live a good life.

And the fourth part of the psalm then, verses 17b on, is an acknowledgment of kind of a cleaned up vision of faith that the pursuit of commodities no matter how successful you are at it will never give you the life you want.  You ought to quit pursuing them.  So the alternative to commodity in verses 18-28 is communion.  That is the awareness that what counts is a relationship of fidelity and this speaker has found GOD to be that faithful partner.  Now you will observe as I observe that there is nothing here about fidelity to the neighbor, it is all a vertical relationship to GOD.  But as we know from Jesus's teaching when they ask Jesus what the great commandment was – you will love GOD with all your heart, soul…. mind.  and you shall love your neighbor as yourself, so in the covenant tradition the love of neighbor is also always implied and always comes with the love of GOD.  

I'll try to get round to transcribing more of it.  I'd like to have gone on from here but don't have the time right now.   It's hardly the only part of the lesson that is worth typing out.

This Wasn't My Grandfather's Sunday School: Walter Brueggemann Teaches On Psalm 73

The Psalms have never been my favorite part of the Bible, in this past seven months of reading and listening to Brueggemann, I can see that's because I had an entirely superficial view of them.  That could be due to most of my exposure to them having been those chosen for the Catholic lectionary, just about always in abbreviated form and recited with an repeating response said by the congregation.   It had never occurred to me to ask the question that he starts off with, asking who had said this, originally - having to imagine what in someones life would elicit that kind of poetry - and imagining who I know who might say it today.  As he also says, this particular Psalm is full of contemporary relevance in our lives, attempting to live the right way in a society in which "the good life" is a life of consumption based on a regime of exploitation, plunder and destruction.  He mentions Donald Trump prominently in the course of the lesson.

As so many of these lectures and talks and sermons, I'll be listening to this a number of times.

Monday, August 15, 2016

I Was Pretty Much Over Monty Python The Third Rerun In The Early 70s - I'd Rather Watch Reruns of Bless Me Father*

Oh, so you're quoting old Monty Python gags like an uncreative and really obnoxious 14-year-old a-hole?  What next?  The 9th iteration of Hitchhiker's Guide ? His estate has really milked that one trick of his to death, didn't they.  

I have said that the new atheism is a symptom of the decline of literacy and intellectual activity due to TV and pop culture.  You don't do a thing to disconfirm that.  I'm not surprised so much of it came from Britland, the home of so much of the kind of mythology mentioned in that post. 

*  The one with Arthur Lowe.

Update:  I'm not surprised that you don't get my humor. It's hard to get the point of humor when you're just its butt.   

The Profitable Practice Of Shifting The Blame For Environmental Destruction Is Widely Practiced

Like much of North America and some other places, my area of New England is in what could become a catastrophic drought, it has had a major impact on agriculture here, I've lost a couple of my most important crops.  Bela Bartok once said he was puzzled over an old Hungarian peasant curse, "May you buy your bread."  until he realized that a Hungarian peasant who had to buy their bread had had a catastrophic grain crop failure, well, I'm going to be buying beans and with the price of beans these days, it will have a real impact on me.  For some reason the bean beetles have had a very good year, up till the time they wiped out my stressed bean crops.  What is a financial setback for me, in other places must mean starvation, destruction of wildlife, endangered species, etc.

It became fashionable in the early 1970s, with the publication of the article by Lynn White mentioned below, to attribute the massive destruction of nature under the domination of Europeans to Christianity.  I think that to ignore that those involved in the destruction were aided, at every step, by the science and technology that arose in the late 16th and onward, blaming the very religion that is both accused of impeding that, through setting aside the actual historical record in favor of an explicitly anti-Christian mythological presentation as history, and which is presented as being destroyed and superseded by it is absurd.  In our world, since at least the 19th century, the most serious damage to the environment has happened with the participation of scientists, with the use of their technology and, often, with the false assurances of scientists that what will make them, their employees, their universities and their countries money, will have no serious effect worth delaying a product line, a technological innovation, a massive construction project or the deployment of policies and military resources while it is studied more.

Compared to the power of those secular, "Enlightenment" institutions, things such as science, technology, capitalism, modern systems of investment and return.... there are few weaker forces at work in the socieities and the world which is destroying our planet than religion, especially those religions which are the least to blame for it but which it is fashionable to indict in such a dishonest way.

Scholars, even some of them Christians, knew and know there would be no price to be paid and lots to be gained by blaming the activities of scientists, engineers, those who hired them, and a host of others on the authors of the Bible, long dead theologians or even living ones whose refutations would be ignored in the secularized academic and popular cultures.  

Here is the passage in the video I posted yesterday that started me thinking about this.  Note, I don't know and can't find a reference to the author of the book which Walter Brueggemann makes reference to, if anyone can tell me who and what book he's talking about,  I'll be grateful.  The passage begins at about 21:45 on the video.  I think I got it pretty close to what's said in my transcription.

Arni Zacharissen: A lot or a big part of the praise that is directed towards God in the Psalms concerns nature and creation.  And you could tie it back to the counter-world thing the picture of creation presented in the Psalms is very different from the scientific picture that we talk about in, you know, the modern west, you now dead matter and also scarcity. That has all sorts of implications.  Can you maybe talk about the contrast between those two.

Walter Brueggemann:   Well I think there's no doubt that the Bible is articulated in poetic and pre-scientific categories and I don't think we ought to use any of our energy pretending otherwise.  But what that pre-scientific stuff does is remind us that the creation is not simply a technical problem to be solved,  it is a mystery to be honored and that no matter how much scientific control you think we can manage in the end the world does not belong to us and we are not free to do with it what we want to do with it.  So I think that  Biblical faith has a strong ally in responsible science but I think it is also a great caution to Promethean science that thinks we can do anything we want to do.  I think the whole environmental crisis and global warming and all that is a reminder that the world does not belong to us and that there are non-transgressible limits to what we are able to do.  So, there is a good argument going back to Bacon and Descartes, at the beginning of the Enlightenment period that's the kind of destructive science that thought the world was autonomous and I think creation faith will of of its doxologies is a great protest against that kind of autonomy.  

Arni Zacharissen:  Sometimes Christian theology gets blamed for a lot of the problems that we are in, environmental problems would you you know ….

Walter Brueggemann:   Well I think that's right.  I can't think of the  the author who wrote that famous article that blamed everything….

Arni Zacharissen: Lynn White

Walter Brueggemann:  Yeah, that's correct.  I think that's clearly wrong.  There is a book written by a guy named Librow (?) that's not received much attention but he traces out Bacon and Descartes and the shifts that came in the 16th   and 17th  centuries that unleashed this kind of autonomous science and I think Lynn White has it exactly wrong about where the destructive permissions came from.  I think they did not come from the Bible,  Descartes and people like that may have found the Bible useful but that's not where they came from, they came form Enlightenment rationality and I think … I personally think that's beyond argument.

Q  Yeah,  It's the creation isn't….   is clearly not mechanistic when you read the Psalms

Walter Brueggemann:   That's exactly it, that's exactly right.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Transformative Power of the Psalms: An interview with Walter Brueggemann

I just listened to this interview as I was doing some housework and am astonished.  It is one of the best of those I've listened to in the past five years.  It shows such a more informed, more intelligent, more inspired way forward for the left than anything I've read in the lefty magazines or heard on Democracy Now, it makes The Young Turks sound like whining babies.

The Addiction of "The Left" to Ballot Box Poison And Its Tender Regard For Anti-Democratic Ideology Discredits The Real Left: part infinity

I began blogging as a political blogger and I continue as one.   My political position is that only egalitarian democracy and equal justice, civic, economic and social justice are the only legitimate form of government, the only legitimate economic and judicial systems, the only legitimate goals of any society.  I am convinced that those can't survive if a majority of people are not actually convinced of that, that where the moral and intellectual basis of such a society and, so, such a political system can arise only when those are written on the heart of The People.  I am convinced through reading history and being old enough to have witnessed and experienced some of it, to have concluded that any force, any legal theory, any kind of thing which undermines that social, intellectual and cultural substrate of egalitarian democracy must not only be rejected, but resisted.

People have equal rights, their ideas don't and should not be treated as having equal rights.  There is no even logically coherent reason to not acknowledge that ideas that reject equality are not due to be held as equally deserving of the encouragement or even protection of society, of social institutions or of democratic political institutions or courts - all of which have their only legitimate function in protecting egalitarian democracy.  It is one of the most lunatic of ideas on the phony imitation of a liberal left that ideas such as Nazism, as Stalinism, or Trotskyism or other democracy denying, democracy destroying ideas should be given an equal chance to gull the susceptible as the idea that all people are created equal and endowed with equal rights and moral responsibilities by The Creator.

The idea that ideas that would lead to the destruction of democracy deserved equal time to be heard and considered out of some irrational assumption that allowing such ideas to, very possibly, gain currency in the culture was "good for democracy" is sheer lunacy.  I grew up with many intellectuals who puzzled, endlessly over the question of how Germany, with one of the greatest of scientific, intellectual cultural elites, could have gone for Nazism as they, themselves refused to look at the power of the most evil, insane, irrational and hate filled ideologies did, in fact, have that power to rule over such a nation and wreak the most horrible results.   The fact is people, in the absence of sufficient and effective  moral restraint will, too often, allow that to happen.  It doesn't much matter what the details of that are.  Some of our most evil ideologies, our most evil inclinations are fully in accord with some of our stronger desires and our willingness to ignore the obvious consequences of pursuing them.  Allowing such ideas equal time out of some automatic and ill considered notion of "fairness" to the people who want to promote those in order for them to achieve power is worse than criminally insane, it is willfully insane.

The right to destroy or risk destroying democracy for your personal gain or even edification does not exist, any "right" that it might have to be heard is extinguished in the self-generating acid of its own denial of rights which relieves anyone opposing that idea of granting it equal rights.

I think the left was gulled into ignoring the definitive, qualitative and realistic self-condemning features of such ideas out of the daffy notion that Marxists were being treated unfairly.   I think the way that Marxists achieved that was by co-opting the language economic democracy of the original socialist ideals of workers control of the means of production when, in practice, they not only wouldn't put that into practice but the anti-democratic features of Marxism would prevent that from happening.  That is certainly how it has worked out in practice.

The legal theorists who pushed those notions of fairness to fascists, niceness to Nazis and the such to the red-fascists of Marxism had their own personally enriching, personally enhancing reasons for doing so.  Their actual goals were not the protection, promotion and advancement of equal justice or they would not have refused to notice that the clients they were enabling were the very people who would extinguish equal justice and who would impose a tyranny that would deny the very rights they sought for everyone else.


American liberals are the victims of their own sense of niceness and the slogans of fairness matched with an unwillingness to decide, once and for all, that some ideas are good and some are not only merely bad ideas but evil ideas with evil intentions.   While there were the full range of equal rights held by the people who held those bad and even evil ideas, allowing the possibility of their evil ideas to gain hold and to exert power was as stupid as it was intellectually lazy and morally irresponsible.   There was never any reason to allow any of the mass murdering ideologies of the 20th century any kind of chance to gain currency, those held to be vulgar and distasteful like fascism or Nazism or those with better PR due to the status of their supporters with college credentials.

Any good that mid-20th-century liberalism held was damaged through the association with Marxism in ways that conservatism was not harmed by its association with fascism and even Nazism - when people were so impolite as to point that out.   That is because liberalism is either for the values of equal justice, of economic justice and for the equally held moral obligation to practice those or it is an incoherent and impotent blob of rhetoric.  I think the ideological program of the "fairness" fools made the resultant liberalism appear insipid and foolish, it rendered it inspid, foolish and unable to wield power.  I think there are very good reasons that the strongest political figure in post-war American liberalism was Lyndon Johnson and not the figures of the North Eastern elite who were more wedded to the "intellectual" liberalism of Adlai Stevenson.  I think if he hadn't been roped into the war in Vietnam - by figures from the Kennedy administration - Johnson's liberalism stood a very good chance of being effective.  The Lyndon Johnson who was a ruthless, master politician as a Senator, once freed from being tied to the local interests of his state, would have been the most liberal of them all.  And he was a real, genuine, anti-Communist.


The Progressive magazine has a strange little piece in it about the antics of the atheist "Satanic Temple" a "religious group" whose real purpose is to promote atheism through ridiculing Christianity and to claim that it is granted a privileged status.  The issue is after-school religious groups being allowed access to school property and promotion among students.   I always held that the Supreme Court majority was up to no good when they allowed sectarian groups access to public property, that it would lead to all manner of trouble and that liberals would bear the brunt of the consequences.  And that groups like the "Satanic Temple" atheists would be the venue through which that damage was done.   Grandstanding, attention getters love to use the vulgar, the immoral, the baddest of the baddest symbolism to gain themselves attention.   If the atheist group had been honest as to their atheist identity, they would not have provoked the reaction they do by adopting the symbolism of evil, itself to get them attention.

That kind of attention-getting antic through intentional offense and eliciting fear is about as politically stupid as anything the play-left has been addicted to.  And it is exactly the kind of thing that the Republican-corporate right has used against the real left, over and over again to rather impressive success.  Impressive to anyone who really cares about making political progress, you would think - though with such lefty magazines as The Progressive stupidly and counterproductively advocating that crap, that hard reality gets blunted, in reality.   That it gets publicity for the atheists of the "Satanic Temple" is, of course, their goal.  They don't care if they turn off more people than they attract because democratic government isn't their real goal.

The goals of lefty self-promotion and the commercial need of lefty organizations and publications to create a buzz and get publicity have, more often than not, been more in line with making liberalism ballot box poison than not.  This year, as every year, the electorally counter-productive features of the lefty magazines show that they and the poeple who run them are incapable of learning from experience and observation of recent history.   My response to a lot of what they have published this year is a dismissive, bahh!

The magazine piece begins with something I'd object to, as well, but not on the same basis that the author does.

For two straight weeks this summer I noticed something odd when I dropped my step daughter off at day camp. Although the facility that hosted the camp was run by Prince George’s County, Maryland—a government entity—loud gospel music was constantly blaring from camp speakers.

I wasn't personally offended, but it bothered me that it didn't seem to occur to the camp administrators that not everyone using that facility is Christian. And, is it really appropriate for government-run facilities to spread religious messages?

What the hell is a summer camp doing "blaring" ANY MUSIC over speakers?   Summer camp with canned music?   What an awful thing to do to children who should be being exposed to life without background music. If I were a parent, I'd agitate to turn off the sound track.  American children need to be relieved of the constant programming their lives consist of.  Though I wonder what "gospel music" it was and if it was really "gospel music" and if it was "constantly blaring" from speakers.  I'd like names of artists and songs before I decided the description was accurate.   I would also like to know the nature of the "Christianity" the children were alleged to be indoctrinated into because I can well imagine many Christian parents would object to what passes as a lot of "gospel music" these days.  Much of what I've heard are more Hollywood torch songs and TV advertisements than anything to do with the Gospel of Jesus.  Blaring music from loud speakers robs or impedes the experience of observation and of  thinking.  I'd fight like hell to get them turned off in any public venue but especially those which are supposed to serve children.


The easiest, cleanest thing to do would be the traditional erection of a wall of separation between even the appearance of any official government entity and involvement with religion, though that easy and clean barrier is not going to ever be achieved because the very people who are the basis of any moral authority the government has will, often, want to breech that barrier.

And it is inescapable that the strongest force in the United States that promotes the very morality that egalitarian democracy depends on is religious and, in most cases. that religion will be Christian in character.  To the extent that Christianity is "privileged" in the United States, it is "privileged" due to the fact that it is the affiliation of the majority of citizens of the United States.  That is a fact and a given.  And I don't think that fact is unrelated to the achievements of democracy, such as we have accomplished.  It has been, and I assert, still is crucial in the extension of rights through an assertion of equality and moral obligations.

It has been my experience that while atheist and other entities hostile to religion will be big on the assertion of THEIR rights - even as their materialism refutes the existence of such metaphysical entities and the source of them - they aren't so hot on the notion of absolute moral obligations to respect those rights.   The fact is that almost all Americans who hold that most basic of political moral absolutes, that you are to treat other people as you would have them treat you,  hold that in the context of their religious belief that THEIR CREATOR imposed that moral obligation on them.  Where the RELIGIOUS basis of that belief has corroded, the feeling or inclination to practice that is merely a matter of exterior constraint.  And, as our legal system demonstrates in a shocking number of cases, that kind of secular constraint is hardly reliable.

I doubt that it is possible or in any way desirable to try to maintain any kind of wall between the moral absolutes that democracy is based in or the religious basis of those moral absolutes, though there is the possibility of not having government in the business of establishing one denomination WHICH HOLDS THOSE MORAL ABSOLUTES over another one.  It certainly doesn't have any kind of realistic legal requirement to not distinguish between those which do hold those values and any religious or ideological entity which denies or rejects them and which work to undermine them. It certainly has a moral obligation to not allow their promotion using public property.  The anti-religious Hitler Youth movement or its equivalent in Stalinist Russia translated into American English, using American symbolism should certainly never be allowed access to the public schools.   Any "liberal" who would hold that such stuff should be allowed is an idiot, an ass or a willing tool of the anti-democratic ideology that such a group is pushing, no matter how long they've worked with any alleged "civil liberties"  group which has, in fact, done such damage to democracy.

I don't think that any country in which some religion which holds that moral absolute is NOT  a requirement imposed on us by GOD will attain, practice or retain democracy.   Nothing else suffices, even when it is an absolute moral assertion of religion it is hardly something you can count on happening at any given time.  And that is a religious holding, there is, literally, nothing in atheism to make that out of, there is everything in materialism, especially in neo-Darwinian materailist dogma, that undermines that as a real, effective force in human society.  The high priests of that atheist creed, from Ernst Haeckel to Richard Dawkins* have admitted that, the high priests of its physics based sect sometimes do as well.

Like it or not, in the United States, democracy is intimately and inseparably connected to the belief in religion.  In most cases that will be Christianity, though I am fully comfortable with any religion that holds, firmly, to the position that our Creator endowed us with those rights and moral obligations could achieve and sustain democracy.   I think secularism, as an ideology and as a cultural norm corrodes democracy through weakening and destroying an effective belief in them and their manifestation as a cultural and, so, political phenomenon.   Vulgar consumerism is the self-centered religion that generally replaces it under the tepid, self-interested secularism that has been promoted in the post-war period.

*  I have written many posts on that topic, you can find them by searching this blog using appropriate search terms.

Update:  Well, while I don't say that I'd go so far as to an accusation that The Progressive magazine has a purpose of promoting atheism through attacking Christianity, I do know that back when I had a subscription, the mis-spelling of my name on my address label from them started appearing on entirely unsolicited"Skeptical Inquirer" and "Freedom From Religion" junk mail.  It was one of the reasons I dropped my subscription to that magazine before I did some of the others.   That junk mail in my pre-computer years was my first introduction into the actual nature of the Paul Kurtz-Corliss Lamont myriad of groups which were actually anti-religious, especially anti-Christian promotions of atheism.  I hadn't read enough to understand its actual connection to Stalinism through Lamont, the trust fund Last Stalinist who managed a somewhat hostile takeover of the Humanists when they fell on hard times, launching the Kurtz empire through that smokescreen.  That's where neo-atheism got its start.