Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Dick Riley - The Middleman Out

The production is a bit late 70s but I liked it.  Actually, of the plays I've posted this is one of my favorites. 

See Also:

If You Like Raymond Chandler Avoid This Book Like A Bed Bug Motel

Five days ago I finished reading one of the Philip Marlowe books I'd not read, Farewell My Lovely. It was a big mistake.  That is if I ever wanted to go back to reading Raymond Chandler.  The book is a total mess, the plot is ridiculous, absurd, rambling, more than just confusing and, at times, for most of the book, it's non-existent.  The number of times Marlowe gets knocked out is worse than entirely implausible, it is monotonous  And the alcoholic Chandler has him drink enough to kill a big band.  I don't think the author of a super-hero comic book would try to pull off that level of concussive, brain poisoning implausibility.

The racism that pervades the book is repellent from start to finish.  There are the "n" bombs which at least have the excuse that that's probably how most white cops and detectives in LA talked.  On top of that are the scene at the "shine bar" the "Indian" who stinks, the Asian fakir, various servants, ...  And then there is the sexism but that's typical of the genre.  And, if you haven't read it yet, the forest of florid similes in that book will probably do more to put you off of Chandleresque similes than you could imagine possible.  I'd give you a wise crack simile right now but I've already given you one and I don't want to develop the habit.

I hadn't read Edmund Wilson's two controversial short essays about detective novels before finishing Chandler's book but, finding them online, he mentions this book in particular.   While giving Chandler a compliment on his ability, he says that he found this book, in particular, a let down at the end.   From WHO CARES WHO KILLED ROGER ACKROYD?

On the other hand, it seems to me—for reasons sug­gested above—a fantastic misrepresentation to say that the average detective novel is an example of good story-telling. The gift for telling stories is uncommon, like other artistic gifts, and the only one of this group of writers—the writers my correspondents have praised— who seems to me to possess it to any degree is Mr. Ray­mond Chandler. His Farewell, My Lovely is the only one of these books that I have read all of and read with enjoyment. But Chandler, though in his recent article he seems to claim Hammett as his master, does not really belong to this school of the old-fashioned detective novel. What he writes is a novel of adventure which has less in common with Hammett than with Alfred Hitch­cock and Graham Greene—the modern spy story which has substituted the jitters of the Gestapo and the G.P.U. for the luxury world of E. Phillips Oppenheim. It is not simply a question here of a puzzle which has .Been put together but of a malaise conveyed to the reader, the horror of a hidden conspiracy that is continually turning up in the most varied and unlikely forms. To write such a novel successfully you must be able to invent char­acter and incident and to generate atmosphere, and all this Mr. Chandler can do, though he is a long way be­low Graham Greene. It was only when I got to the end that I felt my old crime-story depression descending upon me again—because here again, as is so often the case, the explanation of the mysteries, when it comes, is neither interesting nor plausible enough. It fails to jus­tify the excitement produced by the elaborate build-up of picturesque and sinister happenings, and one cannot help feeling cheated.

I got the let down in the implausibility of those stories and the stereotypical and racist characterizations from the start, not to mention the fist fights.  And there were the similes, if he'd used the word "like" one more time it would have worn through to the next page.

In Wilson's essay he implies that Chandler developed as a writer past the who-done-it but Farewell was only his second Philip Marlowe book and I don't think it's as well developed as some of the earlier authors Wilson criticized.  Some of his later ones are, in fact, better but I don't think he really developed that far. He drank too much to manage that.  Even his best book that I read,  The Long Goodbye has a rambling plot that is also, honestly, quite implausible but it's at least there.  Despite what we're supposed to think about the great Chandler, I think a real master of detective fiction, the one who really surpassed the "form" as they put it, was Ross Macdonald. Of course Wilson couldn't have read him because he hadn't started writing yet.   If they'd made movies of his books with Bogart in them, in black and white, people would transfer a good part of their affection to his books, I think  Though, Paul Newman was in one or so, as I recall.

The only other experience I ever had like this one,  reading one book that likely put me off of reading any more of the author was the month I spent sick in bed reading A Shropshire Lad.  I haven't been able to stand A. E. Housman ever since and I have a strong feeling I will never be able to read Raymond Chandler's writing with pleasure again. I should have stopped with The Big Sleep.   Farewell My Lovey has every one of the known defects in Chandler's writing and beats them to death.   I don't know if the couple of his others which I haven't read would have the same effect but, if you like Chandler and haven't read it, steer clear of the second of the Philip Marlowe books.   It almost made me wish I still drank or, rather, that he hadn't.   I strongly suspect that if Chandler didn't drink he would have been a far more productive writer and his books, even his admittedly good ones, would have been better.  Or maybe he just should have admitted to himself that what he really needed was one good man, one who didn't need to pretend that he was a tough guy but who would protect him.  It's obvious to me that what he most feared was what he most wanted and he destroyed himself over that internal conflict.

I think if I continue this project of reading detective novels, I'm going to read  Dorothy B. Hughes. I've had my fill of comic book tough guys, for now.

Update:  Dopey, if few people read Edmund Wilson I can guarantee you that the number of those who do is scores of hundreds of times more than who look at your archived oeuvre.   And there are probably hundreds of obsessive readers of the cosy school of who-done-its for every one who reads old ones of the hard boiled type.

There's a reason that the good writers of crime and detective novels always seem to aspire to transcend "the form" the "conventions" the "style" of the Hammett-Chandler type of novels.  I think Chandler, in his better books, pretty well wore that out.  I'm curious to see if  Dorothy Hughes, who didn't credit them but people like Faulkner and Graham Green as her literary heroes, was able to move things in a different direction.  I'm especially fascinated at how her story In a Lonely Place where the wife of the police detective and the girlfriend-neighbor of the killer figure it out got written out of the radio adaptations as important actors and how they pretty much destroyed her story to make the movie with Bogey.  That's not an adaptation, it's vandalism.   I will go so far as to say that that one book of hers I've read is better than any of Chandler's.  But I'm willing to read more of her before I go into it.

Update 2:  I do love offending your tender sensibilities and your knee-jerk upholding of the official, real, right way to think about things.

I think anyone who believes that Raymond Chandler was the greatest writer of his time probably never read anything anyone else wrote, they probably didn't read Chandler but watched the movies and read the PR bull shit.  Raymond Chandler was a good writer, in some of his books, he wasn't a great writer.   He sure as hell wasn't as good as Steinbeck or Faulkner or Katherine Anne Porter.

Update 3:  Yeah, I can tell a googled list when I see one.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Béla Bartók: Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csik District

Balázs Szokolay

The same played by the great, sadly late Zoltan Kocsis

I'm not sure but I think the claim that Frank Zappa's music is "academic" has to be one of the five stupidest things I've read about music in this millennium.  It might be #1 on that list.   You might think that if your academic career stopped at 7th grade and your vocabulary merely extends to having read or heard the word without knowing what it means.  But, then, see my post containing the definition of "scapegoat" from the other day.

Mind you, I haven't dipped into Henry Pleasants since the 1960s or so.

Oh, yeah.  I am entirely in favor of it being illegal to spout hate speech, especially that which incites discrimination and violence, in the media.  On TV, on radio, in movies, in books.  I support the removal of any broadcast license to those who spout hate speech and the banning of those entities which carry it. 

I think one of the lessons that we're receiving in the wholesale assault on American democracy is that fascism can happen here, it can happen aided and abetted by the permission to lie and spread hate in the mass media.   I think it's most likely that when such stuff has the status of legal protection and permission that fascist destruction of democracy is almost inevitable.  

I'd look at the law Canada had on such stuff, though I will admit I haven't looked at its fate in the Harper years.  At least something like that is what I favor.  I'm entirely in favor of deNazification and deStalinization.  Those ideologies should never be given a second chance to mount a repeat. 

Dealing With The Lies Of Pathological Liars Isn't Always Nice But It's Necessary

If there is one thing we might have already learned from the Trump phenomenon it is that when you are dealing with an irrational liar with no connection to reality, answering what they claim with evidence and reason isn't always simple.  I will point out that I've found the same to be true dealing with the pathological lies from other people, something I've found myself doing mostly dealing with traditional conventional lefty narratives online.  Many of those don't stand up to fact checking and truth testing much better than some of the crap that spews from the Trump-fascist geyser of lies.

The same boob who has been spouting antique communist lore, claiming that the Rosenbergs were the victims of antisemitism, antisemitism apparently at the hands of their Jewish prosecutor, Roy Cohn in a trial, conviction and death sentence handed down by the Jewish Judge Irving Kaufman (who claimed he went to his synagogue for guidance from God to do it) in a state which had had Jewish Supreme Court justices, including Cohn's father who was elevated to the higher court by a Jewish governor, Herbert Henry Lehman, decades earlier, the same boob who repeats that piece of Communist nonsense has sent me something from the variably (un)reliable Alternet about a recent pro-Trump rally in Arizona to show that that state is an antisemitic hell hole.  It was part of his ongoing snark to the comment I once made in response to a vicious ethnic slur by him that the world would probably be a safer place if a Jewish Homeland had been made on land donated by the United States instead of on land taken from Palestinians.  I mentioned the idea that land in Arizona might have been a safer place to locate such a homeland than Palestine.  I mentioned other possible locations, including my own state for such a thing.

Well, ever since then it has been important for this dope to depict Arizona as Nazi Germany, a stereotype which all too many Arizonans don't discourage by their being massively bigoted and horrible and electing a series of some of the worst politicians in the country.*  Though I doubt many if any states don't have those kinds of people winning elections.  But how would you really measure such a thing if it were a question of where in the country are Jews the victims of antisemitism?   Well, if  the most recent study by the Anti Defamation League I've looked at is any indication maybe this guy should be leaving his home state.

Continuing a consistent trend for many years, the states with the highest totals of anti-Semitic incidents were those with large Jewish populations. Once again, New York and California topped the list:
New York, with 198 incidents in 2015, down from 231 in 2014;
California, with 175 incidents, down from 184;
New Jersey, with 137 incidents, up from 107;
Florida, with 91 incidents, up from 70;
Massachusetts, with 50 incidents, up from 47.

n the full, state by state listing, you can compare the 198 such incidents in New York State to 4 in Arizona, the same number as happened in my home state, Maine.  By the way, four is way too many, some states have the right number 0.  I will note that among the states reporting no incidents are some such as Idaho and Kansas.  Which makes my point that trying to characterize states in that way is likely as fact free as anything Trump or FOX "news" or Alex Jones says.

Somehow, I don't think you would find too many people who would identify New York State as a hell hole of antisemitism in the United States, not to mention the other states listed as those reporting the most incidents on the list. Maybe, if my troll's method of discernment is accurate, Jews in his state would be better off moving to Arizona or Idaho or Kansas.  I can't imagine that the political character of any state wouldn't do anything but improve if that were to happen.  Maine might actually turn into the liberal state so many people mistake it for if that were to happen.  Susan Collins would likely be voted out of office.   Somehow, I doubt that my troll is going to flee the state he claimed was the locus of homicidal antisemitism in his earlier snark.

You could, I would note, go by actions by state and local governments hostile to the civil rights of Jews and come to a comparison of such actions taken against other groups, both ethnic groups or how diligently such crimes were investigated and those punished,  Crimes and actions against women, LGBT people, and see where the facts took you.

The Trump-fascist regime has certainly unleashed antisemitism as well as every other species of bigotry and hate, none so much as anti-Muslim, anti-Latino and anti-Black hatred, hatred against transgender children.  That the bizarre nature of the Trump-fascist crime family includes major participation by his Jewish son-in-law, the real-estate crime-family prince, Jared Kushner makes the neoNazi support of his campaign and regime even weirder.  That Kushner and his wife, touted as a convert to Orthodox Judaism, apparently feels no need to push his father-in-law to take action against the antisemites just adds to the bizarre nature of the whole thing.

But I refuse to take any blame for this, I'm not the one who has favored the creation of the media environment that created it.  And it is, almost entirely, a creation of the free media.

You might remember that I've been calling for the deNazification of the United States for more than a decade, for the lies that are the basis of their empowerment to be made actionable by those they lie about, to the derision and dismissal by old-line lefties on the basis of "free speech - free press".  Well, what you've got now is a result of that regime of lies.  Don't blame me for it, blame those who support the liars and the absurd idea that anything good comes out of allowing Nazis, fascists and Marxists free reign to spread their lies.

*  Though certainly not all, I will note, if you forget, that Arizona sent Gabby Gifford to the Congress

Update:  You can make a lie that's easy to tell, telling the truth is often not easy.

"Let's see if I got this straight"....

A. You couldn't get it straight if you used a straight edge, nor would you want to because,  B. your only intention is to misrepresent what I said, C. you only prove my point that lies can be constructed to be easy to consume, the truth is often more complex which, D. shows why lies are especially dangerous in politics and the law.

What you can get straight is that you and Trump have a similar relationship with truth in so far as neither one of you seems to be capable of telling it.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Trump’s Amazing Speech Sure Didn’t Age Well

To My Trolls

Hey, I'm sure you're one of those people who figure H. L. Mencken had it all figured out, at least you did back in the 70s and 80s when quoting him was tediously fashionable.   I'm not all that impressed with him - he was a real jerk, but he did say a few things that were true, like this old chestnut:

For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.

only he didn't mention the ones that are lies as well.  That would be everything you say. 

Update:  Duncan Black is a writer for people who can't read and Eschaton is a blog for people who can't think. 

Update 2:  "Rock journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't talk, in order to provide articles for people who can't read."   Frank Zappa

Update 3:  On the contrary, I believe I heard every Frank Zappa album up till about 1976 enough times to become very familiar with his stuff because one of the people I lived with was a huge Frank Zappa fan.  I have a very, very good memory for music, a memory for music was essential to being a music major in college.  I can even name who it was he copied in his concert music, pieces that some of his bigger rock-fans never heard.   I even heard the Wild Man Fischer album which was inexcusable.  I was never exactly a fan of his music but I know his music.  He certainly got rock "journalism" right, perhaps he was familiar with your stuff.

Update 4:  So he COULD have been talking about you when he said it.  I figured that.

Something To Remember As You Read Accusations About "New Cold-Warriors"

I was working on a piece to be posted later but in listening to clips from radio and TV I decided to move it up.   Please listen to this Youtube before you read what I wrote below.

It is a bit early for me to write my nearly annual post about what clueless, anachronistic, stupidity the Left Forum has in store but I was curious to see if there was anything up on their website yet so I looked at its theme statement for 2017.   Apropos of my contention that the habits of ineffective, discrediting and cluelessness of the old-new left are still in full flower,  here is the one paragraph that mentions the regime that attacked our democracy:

The dangers are easy to name – the ascendance of the highly organized, racist, misogynist right to an office in the White House; Republicans in lockstep, ready to fulfill their dream of the final dismantling of the public sector and the welfare state; an authoritarian American president looking to find like-minded thug cronies across the globe to make deals to vacuum out the last iotas of resources and profit from a planet in deep crisis. Sadly, Trump’s most institutionally powerful opponents are those who desire a return to the glory days of cold war with Russia, not to mention the military manufacturers, contractors, and press operations for whom war and conflict remains the most profitable racket. Other opponents are the Democrats, useless even when they haven’t just totally ignored a populist moment to ensure the nomination of probably their least popular, most militaristic, and big-money friendly candidate over a popular socialist who could, no doubt, have beaten Trump at his own game.

"Trump’s most institutionally powerful opponents are those who desire a return to the glory days of cold war with Russia,..."  That is the only mention of Russia in the document, the country whose dictator attacked our elections process and helped put his puppet into the presidency.   You can look at the statement, yourself searching for the words "Putin", "hacking", "Wikileaks" "Assange" and see that nothing about that appears in the document.  You can also see who they do blame for him, Democrats and, not by name, Hillary Clinton, the one and only person who stood between us and Donald Trump as so many on the loony left voted for that other dinner companion of Vladimir Putin,  the Green Party spoiler 2017, Jill Stein.

Since Bernie Sanders is mentioned, not by name, with the claim that he "could, no doubt, have beaten Trump at his own game,"  I'll point out that later they claim,

A democratic socialist got very close to the White House.

nly, he didn't.  He didn't even win the nomination of the party comprising the demographic most likely to have been able to do that if they'd chosen to,  the Democratic Party, the largest liberal leaning entity in the country.   A democratic socialist got no where near even getting a major party nomination.  In fact, Sanders got a lot of slamming from last year's Left Forumites for saying if he didn't get the nomination, as it was clear, by then, he wouldn't, that he would endorse the one and only person who stood between the world and a Trump presidency.   I credit him with a level of realism that the Left Forum has never embodied, endorsed, or countenanced.  It is a lunatic exercise from start to finish.

The Left Forum in 2017 is going to be just another year of total bull shit, posing and posturing in total and counter-productive impotence just as it has been every single year of its existence going back into the fading past.

My bigger question is about the articles I'm reading in lefty magazines and those from lefty sources who don't seem to think that there should be any kind of action taken against Vladimir Putin's ratfucking of our election and his world-wide campaign to enable white-supremacist, far right and blatantly anti-democratic parties and organizations and movements on the claim that those opposing his overt war on democracy as wanting to "start a new cold war".  

One of the revelations of the brief period of open information in the soon-to-be former Soviet Union and the aborted democratic Russia was the evidence that the American Communists, as late as the Brezhnev period and, likely, after, was that Moscow was, in fact, funding the Communists in the United States, including such figures as Gus Hall.  The American Communists and their dupes among lefties and liberals who believed them, were not right about that.   I put that out there as a question of why these latter day lefties are including a call to not oppose the neo-fascist-white-supremacist funding Russian dictator today.  Both here and elsewhere, Putin and his Trumppuppet are opposed to the full range of the litany of lefty items they claim to be for at the Left Forum.   Why would they include that in their ridiculous theme statement for the Left Forum in 2017 that Putin's activities shouldn't be opposed with all of the revelations of the white-supremacy, neo-fascist Trump regime and its ties to the Putin regime?   What is their motive?  Long established, knee-jerk, pro-Russian habit?

That Was the Week that WTF

Before the pivot of the media as heard on NPR this morning, let's remember where we were a little over a week ago, the last time they were pivoting for Trump.

Scummy Lawyers Lying For Those With Power

The, as they say, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey is providing Donald Trump with cover.  When Kellyanne Conway cites someone's comments to that effect, you can be sure what he says is probably meant to deceive and distract from real crimes.   Reading about him online, he comes from the same murky legal environs that Rudy Giuliani does, he and his family have professional-political relationships with Giuliani in and around the New York legal system.  Apparently his son specializes in defending white-collar criminal gangsters.  Do I hear an echo this morning?

Anyway, the claim of the slime ball, um, former Attorney General, is that there might, possibly, have been some surveillance of Trump Tower, his claim based on the same total lack of evidence that Donald Trump's tweets are based in, only, made by a sleazeball lawyer who they'll ask to be on Morning Edition to bat a few soft balls pitched by Steve Inskeep, they'll give the Trump supporters something to hold on to. 

Last Call For This Topic, Too

Perhaps the many movies and PBS shows they've done about the Rosenberg case never included the fact that many, perhaps most of the people involved in their prosecution and execution were Jewish but that is a fact.  It is a fact that far from being a powerless and persecuted minority in New York State, Jews, like every other majority white ethnic group which faced some discrimination, when compared to people who aren't white, had a relatively discrimination-free path to gaining an education, entry into the professions and, with the benefits that come to white people through their white skin and with voting power, achieved political and legal power.

Roy Cohn is an interesting example because he was a gay man - a group which was, white or not, subject to massive discrimination and attack.  He was known to be gay, as can be heard in the recordings of the Army McCarthy hearings in 1954 when Joseph Welch  certainly alluded to Cohn's sexual orientation, making it clear that he would expose him explicitly if he got rough.  For that, Cohn could have suffered the kind of penalty he would not have for being Jewish.  Nevertheless Cohn's path to power and money was made smooth by the fact that his father, Albert C. Cohn, was made a member of the New York Supreme Court in 1929.  He was elevated to the higher court by New York governor Herbert Henry Lehman, who was also Jewish, in 1937.  The idea that Jews were the victims of the sort of discrimination claimed at that time is far fetched.

I will admit that as a totally amoral and willing tool of the super-rich and super-powerful, Roy Cohn's career benefited enormously from his lack of morals and shame.  But that's no different from any lawyer for organized criminals.  If a lack of morals can be considered a talent, he had it. 

The contention that the Rosenbergs were the victims of antisemitism is just another layer of myth spread over them to turn them into super-martyrs by Communists and the kind of lefties who were prepared to be duped by that effort mounted primarily through the history-twisting world of theater and movies.   And you know the golden rule of Hollywood, if you made gold out of something, do a remake.  

We now know that they weren't victims of anything on the basis of innocence though it is certainly arguable that it is possible, though hardly certain that Ethel Rosenberg was overcharged and, by the laws of the time, over-sentenced, something her husband was in the strongest  position of anyone in the world to do something about.  

What they were were victims of the death penalty system, but no more so than anyone who was murdered by the state for any other crime.  But they don't write books and plays, movies, TV shows, magazine articles, etc. about even those known to be innocent, at least not in the numbers that they've made them about the Rosenbergs. You have to wonder why that is, especially those many, many innocent victims of the death penalty who weren't white and middle-class with jobs that allowed them to have clean fingernails.  

Now, hasn't this been fun, kicking over the phonied up history of this case that is the stock and trade of such a big part of for-profit leftyism.   I wonder if they'll rehash it for the fourth decade and counting at that phony fun fair of futility, the Left Forum, this year. 

But I'm going to ignore your taunts and concentrate on encouraging the exposure of the Putin Regime's attempt to hijack our government and destroy democracy here and elsewhere for his crime family's benefit.   It's remarkably resonant with Stalin's attempts to do that which the Rosenbergs and the other American Communists were a part of.   I find what we can learn about the enduring similarities between Communists and white-supremacist-fascism and their usefulness to Republican-fascism interesting.   

Egalitarian democracy, in all its pedestrian glory and metaphysical, non-scientific foundations, is the real alternative to fascism and its cousins, it's no surprise that Putin wants to see it end.  He's no different from Stalin, just less pretentious in his criminality.   A totalitarian despot for the TV era.

Update:  Oh, no, on the contrary.  The Communists and other Marxists and such associated jerks as anarchists have done enormous damage to the United States.  But it is in their role in associating themselves with the genuine American left and so discrediting the egalitarian-democratic left, weakening the real left, disempowering the American left, distracting it from its real obligations and goals.  One of the most effective and, so, worst ways they did damage to the American left is through duping the democratic left into feeling sorry for them and championing them and a raft of stupid positions that were either stupid or counter-productive.

It is in the egalitarian-democratic left, traditional American liberalism being damaged, discredited and disempowered by the Communists that their real damage to the United States came, not through idiotic bumbling attempts at old-fashioned espionage and their absurd Socialist-realist-Eastern-European agit-prop bull shit.

It's Stalin's ideological grandson, Putin, who has managed to do what he did to us and a lot of that was done through the tools handed to him by the dupes in such groups as the ACLU and the "free speech" industry.  Those. American trash TV and computer technology did what Stalin could never have done.

If liberals had sensibly rejected Marxism and anarchism and realized they were the enemies of egalitarian democracy from the start, we'd have a far, far better country right now.

Update 2:  If traditional American style equality and democracy liberals were damaged by their getting suckered by the Marxists, socialism was pretty much entirely trashed by the same thing.  We can't even start to realistically hope for a restoration of socialism, which must be egalitarian-democratic if it is to exist as a legitimate entity, until every aspect of the terminal cancer of dialectical materialism is removed from it.   Especially the materialism of it.  Materialism is fatal to egalitarian democracy.

Personally, as a non-anti-Marxist socialist, I suspect the old ideas of socialism will need to give way to an entirely new framing of economic justice and democracy.  The old framing was too easily hijacked. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

You're a "Typical Catholic - Anti-Semite" - Hate Mail

Nonsense, what I'm being is consistent, applying the same standards to people who were put up as phony heroes on the left that I would people who I wouldn't ever have been gulled into thinking were innocent when they weren't.   

No more lies, no more double standards.  That they were Communists doesn't mean that their crimes aren't crimes and that the crimes they covered up for their fellow Communists weren't crimes.  As I said, if someone involved with the Trump-Putin sabotage of our elections ratted on their fellow rats, I'd respect them as much as I do John Dean for exposing the criminality of those in the Nixon administration he worked in.  

I don't care how many fucking movies you've seen about it, those were the kinds of lies that Trump tweets like clockwork, they're just lies told for the spies of the pre-Putin regime in Russia. 

Update:  I didn't break my resolution to not post his comments.  I don't know if he's the one who sent what I'm answering.  It's a fact he uses sock puppets, not the only one of Duncan's bigger liars who does, JR does too.  I'm going on the assumption it's someone else.   Most of the hate mail I get goes right into the spam file and I never respond to it.  I love getting hate mail, I'm very fortunate in the low quality of my detractors. 

I Don't Know How You Spell A Raspberry But Consider Yourself Raspberried

It is amazing to me how, today, in the United States, someone from the biggest city in the country and holding a college degree can not possess even the dictionary skills that we were taught in 4th grade in a small, rural elementary school in a town of fewer than 2,000 residents.  Never mind a 7th grade level of sophistication in using reference materials. 

Definition of scapegoat
1 :  a goat upon whose head are symbolically placed the sins of the people after which he is sent into the wilderness in the biblical ceremony for Yom Kippur
2 a :  one that bears the blame for others
b :  one that is the object of irrational hostility

Julius Rosenberg was absolutely, clearly, guilty of the espionage he was charged with, Ethel Rosenberg is almost certain to have had knowledge of it and was found guilty of aiding him in his espionage.  Both of them could have avoided execution if he and perhaps both of them had admitted to what they were convicted of and they knew it.   They chose to not reveal if the spy network they were a part of went farther than was discovered.

They bore the blame for their own crimes.  Given that they were involved in a plot to give Stalin the bomb, there was nothing irrational about the hostility shown to them.   If they had been involved with a plot to give the bomb to Hitler no one would hold a torch for them, even if they'd been tortured before being executed.  No one seems to hold much of a torch for both the Rosenbergs and the victims of Stalin's many torture-murders.  Or did I miss that movie? 

Me, I think executing them was a. immoral because the death penalty is immoral, b. stupid because if they didn't choose to talk then, they might have chosen to talk later and more could have been learned from them.   I think it's very possible that there could have been others involved in it. c. I think both Roy Cohn and Judge Irving Kaufman had political and professional motives in playing the game of chicken with the Rosenbergs that they lost but which ended up with the Rosenbergs being given the chair.  

Julius Rosenberg had it in his power to, certainly, deal for his wife's life and likely his own.  As I pointed out yesterday, Harry Gold, who was probably a bigger fish than the Rosenbergs and David Greenglass both got out of a death penalty that way.  Given that they would have been exposing a spy network for one of the most massive and criminal dictators in history, exposing it would have been an entirely moral act.   I would certainly not fault any of those involved in ratfucking our election for Putin finking on their co-conspirators, today and that's a far cry from conspiring to give Stalin the bomb. 

It's not my fault that the legal system and culture of New York State was so full of corruption that it gave rise to a Roy Cohn, who, among his many evil and corrupt acts, was one of Donald Trump's slime ball lawyers.  Every state has them but New York is one of those places where they can really prosper.   It's also not my fault that New York gave in to Thomas Edison's anti-AC campaign and instituted state murder by electrocution.   In my little, unsophisticated, backward state we got rid of the death penalty in the 19th century. 

Lawyer Sessions: I Didn't Think I Was Obligated To Correct My Lie Because You Didn't Catch Me In It Before Now

After reading Jeff Sessions latest letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, I've got to conclude he is not only a massive liar he is also massively stupid.  

For him, a lawyer, a Senator for a long time, someone who has been a U.S. Attorney, someone who was nominated for a federal judgeship to claim that he didn't think he was required to correct a lie he told during his sworn testimony because the committee didn't ask him why he lied BEFORE THEY KNEW THAT HE'D LIED, UNDER OATH ....  Can you imagine a seventh grader who came up with that excuse in front of a class?   They'd be laughed into shame by their seventh-grade classmates. 

I think Jeff Sessions is an idiot who got a law degree and rose in a pretty abysmally run state and in a pretty corrupt party through carrying water for the right people and for racists and who was rewarded for doing his part to try to re-segregate Alabama and to put the Jim Crow system back into place.  He has clearly shown that he didn't get to where he is today on the power of his intellect, moral fortitude or even common sense.  

I am beginning to suspect that Chuck Grassley is also an idiot who got where he is through party service.  He outrageously attacked Al Franken yesterday, accusing him of asking that lawyer, that long-time Senator and member of the Judiciary commitee, the former U.S. Attorney a "gotcha" question that led poor, unaware Jeff Sessions to tell a massive lie, which he certainly knew was a lie unrelated to Senator Franken's question.  

The idiocy on display in the Senate is really revealing.  We've had idiots there before now, people who like Sessions and Grassley and, let me add, Susan Collins, who really aren't that bright and aren't at all bound by any sense of morality.  In Senator Susan's case, she has maintained a pretty right-wing Senate career on the basis of the almost entirely Republican-managed Maine media helping her gull a margin of independents and, I'm sorry to say, Democrats into looking at the false front instead of what's behind it.  We've had them before now but in the age of Trump when the stupid is on full display, their stupidity isn't overshadowed by it, it's enhanced.  

The Republican Party is obviously intending to cover up the massive Trump crimes, even selling us out to the Russians.  They are so morally deficient that they'll do that, counting on each other and the American media and, I'm betting, the Republicans in the judiciary covering for them as they do it.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Crisis of Trump's Conspiracy Theories

The Last Resort Of A Movie Informed Lefty Without A Leg To Stand On 2017

Now the troll is claiming that the Rosenbergs were executed because they were Jewish, not because, as just about every scholarly piece I've read on it holds, they refused to confess.  The claim that it was because they were Jewish is rather ridiculous,  considering they were prosecuted by Roy Cohn and the death sentence was handed down by Judge Irving Kaufman who claimed he had gone to a synagogue to help make his decision.  From his New York Times obituary:

Judge Kaufman had let it be known that before imposing the sentence he had gone to a synagogue to pray for guidance. Justice Frankfurter's first law clerk, Joseph Rauh, said Justice Frankfurter considered that "unjudicial conduct," a blatant effort to obtain publicity in his drive to win the "Jewish seat" on the Court.

Justice Frankfurter wrote to Judge Learned Hand: "I despise a judge who feels God told him to impose a death sentence. I am mean enough to try to stay here long enough so that K will be too old to succeed me."

In sentencing the Rosenbergs, Judge Kaufman called their crime "worse than murder." Later, he denied judicial clemency, despite what he called "a mounting organized campaign of vilification, abuse and pressure." He complained of threatening letters and asked for and received police protection for himself and his family.

Roy Cohn and the rest of the prosecution apparatus that killed the Rosenbergs were far more interested in either getting the Rosenbergs to name more of their accomplices or to scare others into revealing more of the spy network.  That Cohn was willing to kill the Rosenbergs if he lost the game of chicken with them certainly is in keeping with the rest of his foul biography.  But his greatest help in doing that lay on no one more certainly than Julius Rosenberg.

Julius Rosenberg could, certainly, have saved his wife and likely himself by confessing to what we now know he was guilty of.  He could have dealt for her life.  If she were guilty she could have, as well.  I don't know if, as some have speculated, that they were under orders from higher-ups in the communist chain of command to not talk, if they did they also share in the responsibility for their executions.   We know, for a fact, that Julius Rosenberg was willing to make their sons orphans for Stalin, it's entirely likely that Ethel was, as well.  I don't think people like that deserve to be considered heroes. I don't think anyone holding them up as people who people on the left are required to pretend were innocent is credible.  Those, today,  propping up the traditional lefty claims surrounding this case are entirely discreditable.  They've done enormous damage to liberalism in the United States, discrediting and weakening liberalism as certainly as Republican-fascists have.  Liberals have got to stop playing sucker for such people.

Update:  Oh, for crying out loud.  Here is a list I found online of those who were convicted as part of the same spy ring the Rosenbergs were in.

Joel Barr, Abraham Brothman, Klaus Fuchs, Vivian Glassman, Harry Gold, David Greenglass, Ruth Greenglass, Miriam Moskowitz, William Perl, Morton Sobell, Ethel Rosenberg, Julius Rosenberg, Al Sarant, Andrew Roth.

The Rosenbergs were the only ones executed, everyone on the list except Klaus Fuchs was Jewish, if that's the reason they were given the chair, how did the others escape the same bitter end?

Update 2:  Now the idiot is holding up Klaus Fuchs as someone who didn't get the electric chair when the Rosenbergs did.  Apparently the idiot doesn't realize that makes my point BECAUSE KLAUS FUCHS AS WELL AS PEOPLE LIKE HARRY GOLD AND DAVID GREENGLASS TALKED BUT THE ROSENBERGS WOULDN'T.

Really, there were some degrees handed out to entirely unqualified people in the 60s and 70s, many of whom couldn't reason their way through sorting a pair of socks.  That matched.

And about David Greenglass, See Also

While I worried that he would wallow in self-justification, Greenglass did just the opposite. Over and over, he patiently revisited his Sophie’s Choice, how he chose to sacrifice the sister who helped raise him over the mother of his two children.

“My wife is my wife,” he said. “I mean, I don’t sleep with my sister, you know.”

First, in confessing to the F.B.I., he inadvertently implicated Ruth (who was at least as complicit in the espionage conspiracy as Ethel). Then, to protect his wife from prosecution, he began cooperating with investigators. He fingered Julius, whom prosecutors hoped would confess if they threatened Ethel with execution. Finally, only a week before the trial was to begin, with the government desperate for evidence against Ethel and with Greenglass himself still hoping for a suspended sentence, he averred that maybe Ruth was right in her own recollection a few days earlier, that his sister had typed his handwritten notes for delivery to the Soviets. He testified to that effect. Ruth corroborated his sworn account, and the prosecutor declared in his summation to the jury that Ethel had “struck the keys, blow by blow, against her own country in the interests of the Soviets.”

Except that Greenglass admitted to me that he lied, that he couldn’t recall then or now who typed his notes, that he confirmed Ruth’s account only because he didn’t want to label her a liar. Then, he added a stunning coda: “I frankly think my wife did the typing, but I don’t remember.” Without that testimony, the single most incriminating evidence against Ethel Rosenberg, she might well have been acquitted much less executed.

Just as I was completing “The Brother,” I interviewed Herbert Brownell, who served as assistant attorney general while the Rosenbergs were appealing their conviction. What happened to the government’s strategy of leveraging the charges against Ethel to get Julius to confess? I was stunned by Brownell’s candor - and cynicism. “She called our bluff,” he said.

As to your accusation that I've committed the crime of doing research, I have no idea, I just have really good recall for things I've read a long time ago.  Maybe that happens when you read more than you watch TV.

Last Update:  You ass, you're proving exactly what I said about ideologues not caring about the truth. There is no question that Julius Rosenberg and almost certainly Ethel Rosenberg were guilty of espionage for Stalin in his case and at least knowing about what her husband was doing in her case. It is entirely possible that she was as involved as he was.  Guilty people aren't scapegoats, or don't you know what that means either.  Here's a clue, you have to be innocent to be a scapegoat.

I think if they were innocent they wouldn't have acted as they did leaving two sons orphans and doing so much damage to the American left.   As it is, I also think the entire thing proves that Marxism is the enemy of egalitarian democracy, they did the most damage to that, just as the former Soviet apparatchik, Putin has.

The Analysis of History By The Methods of Hollywood Westerns

In yesterday's exercises I did come to one conclusion and that is that there is a definite coercion on the left to answer, as the song demands, "which side are you on."   That might have been an easy question to answer about the terrible Harlan County War in Kentucky in the 1930s, most questions are not as clear cut as that but the insistence of those who are more lefty than thou is that you declare yourself and that you declare yourself on "the right side".  Even before you know any actual facts in the case.

In specific cases in and around the red scare period there seems to be a demand that anyone who was prosecuted for espionage or on charges related to that must immediately be deemed innocent of whatever wrongdoing they were accused of, even those cases you have never read anything about.  That has been an ongoing theme on the American left since the 1950s but it is rather stupid and in no way does it serve learning the truth.   But, Marxists, as most ideologues, aren't especially interested in the truth, especially if it is inconvenient.

In particular, in the activities of the communist hunters in New York State in the 40s and 50s, it revolves around the conviction and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg whose entire innocence was a required article of faith on the literary, theatrical, musical and journalistic left for most of my life.  The names of the people defending them were held up as heroes, those involved with their prosecution and execution were the lowest of the low.  You had to maintain that those involved were either angels of light or the worst of demons.  Only, as even their own children now admit, Julius Rosenberg was just about certainly the spy he was convicted of being and it is quite likely that Ethel Rosenberg at least knew of his espionage activities.  That he was a spy on behalf of Stalin, one of the most horrible and genocidal murderers in human history, a man whose legal system railroaded many thousands of actually innocent people, whose system acknowledged no rights of anyone who fell under suspicion or even of the casual, almost random system of state police terror which kept him in power, was certainly not to be considered.   Of course, if he had spied on behalf of Hitler, the white and black hats would have had to change heads.

There are two issues involved, first, the question of whether or not some particular person is guilty of having committed a crime, in many cases a serious crime or, as in the case yesterday, one that may have covered up the commission of a serious crime.  The only way to know actual guilt or innocence is through a fair and impartial trial.  That isn't always done in a formal court of law with all of the fact gathering apparatus, the opposing councils, rules governing fairness, etc.  And if they can't do it reliably, I sure as hell am not going to pretend I'm equipped to do it on the basis of dislike of Roy Cohn and Irving Kaufman*.

The other issues are more general and political and on that, the pro-communist side is as sleazy and dishonest as the anti-communists were.  The hypocrisies of American Communists, who lock-stepped support for Stalin and, later, other equally horrible dictators, are as massive as those of the Red Channels creeps.  I DON'T HAVE TO CHOOSE IN FAVOR OF EITHER SIDE. THEY BOTH STINK.  

Yesterday, I proposed a hypothetical scenario for consideration, what would have happened in a United States that adopted the desideratum of the Communist Party that the Rosenbergs, the people who were prosecuted in the cases discussed yesterday, and so many other American lefties who got into trouble in the red scare had, in fact, supported.  What if the United States were run under the same rules that these American Communists were entirely willing to have the people in the Soviet Union and the states they occupied live under.  

In the Soviet union the police and much of Stalin's legal-terror apparatus were under the control of the sadistic murderer, Lavrentiy Beria. Among the casual, random arrests of people who were tortured into confessing, given a for-show trial, if that, then murdered, were girls he would choose during curb crawling sessions to be abducted and brought to him where, if they wouldn't agree to have sex with him, or, perhaps, if they did, he would rape them and murder them.  When his home in Moscow became the Tunisian embassy, the bones of young women were dug up from his garden. Some of the girls who resisted being raped by him were later arrested by his terror police.   The full range of the crimes of the Stalin regime, not to mention those of Lenin and other Communists, the identities switched, look not much different from the crimes of the Nazis.

That, dear lefties, was what those idealistic American Communists really supported.  Those who didn't elect to live in their workers' paradise that many tens of millions had to experience, personally. The ones who, here, in this hell hole, sometimes, in a relatively few cases, got things like two-year sentences some in country club prisons and some in far less hellish conditions that prevailed under Stalin.  And, who, then, sometimes had the same trouble that plain old ex-cons had when they stole something they needed or who were really railroaded by police and prosecutors.  Believe me, being an ex-con on a minor charge while being poor or black or Latino was far harder than anything the Hollywood 10 suffered.  The Rosenbergs stand out because they were the only ones who were killed for espionage - which, of course, they shouldn't have been**.  That they were likely convicted for crimes they'd actually committed for one of the worst and most oppressive dictators in human history, is a separate question.   Under the Stalinist regime they favored, you can multiply those two by a huge factor to come to a comparison.  And a lot of those represented by that far larger number were entirely innocent.

I am becoming increasingly interested in how much damage the communists did to the American left and how that damage persists, this kind of crap, the kind of mental straight jacket that by gentle coercion, often, entirely cinematic propaganda based, not even read, is one of the things that discredits the real left on behalf of the romance for an ideology which is now extinct except among the keepers of the foul, stinking, polluting flame in their dilapidated club house.  The American left paid an enormous price for us being conned by the communists, it is entirely irresponsible to keep that up now.  Our responsibilities are to poor people, to people who are discriminated against, to the environment we all depend on.  Not to the stooges of Stalin.

*  One thing I got out this was finding out that Irving Kaufman was appointed by Truman and, years after the Rosenbergs were executed, elevated by Jack Kennedy.  If everything he touched is to be considered corrupt, the right to parody (Berlin v. E.C. Publications, Inc.), the rights of foreign torture victims to sue in American courts (Filártiga v. Peña-Irala) and John Lennon avoiding deportation would have to be suspect.  In the last case Kaufman said that the government had singled out Lennon for political reasons and that invalidated their case.  I would certainly not say that Kaufman's record exonerates him for what he did in the Rosenberg case but life hardly ever gives us the same uncomplicated characters that hack writers produce for Hollywood.

Roy Cohn, now he was a total piece of scum, as was Thomas Dewey.  About the only time I can remember my mother ever commenting on someones' appearance was when she said Thomas Dewey was " a nasty man with a nasty moustache".

**  If you want an example of a guy whose railroading by the legal establishment in New York State is a total travesty of justice, you should look at the largely forgotten Isidore Zimmerman who was framed for murder by Thomas Dewey to further his political ambitions, put on death row, nearly executed, held in horrific conditions in hell holes for decades, before he was entirely exonerated on the charges, with no questions about him being railroaded.  Then, after the state legislature voted to give him compensation for his indisputably wrongful conviction and incarceration, Governor Nelson Rockefeller vetoed the bill, three times.

"It is difficult to sue the state, however, because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The state will waive that right for tort claims such as damage caused by a pothole in the road, but for wrongful imprisonment it will not. For that, you need an act passed by the state legislature. We have that bill before the legislature now. As a matter of fact, such a bill has been passed on his behalf three times before, in 1969, 1970 and 1971. It was vetoed each time by Gov. Rockefeller. We believe that this bill will pass, and that Gov. Carey will not veto it, and that we will win our suit for damages."

If you can find a copy of it, his long out of print book, The Guardians: The True Story of The Saints of Dannemora, is entirely worth reading.  Only, if you're like me, you'd better take it in short spurts with time for rage to dissipate in between.  I won't demand you make up your mind about the case until you read it.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Russian Developments That Matter Most

Last Attempt To Make The Moron Understand

"I don't know if she was innocent or guilty" does not mean "she got what she deserved".  It means I DON'T KNOW.  

If she didn't know they intended to lie, she was unjustly convicted, if she did know they intended to lie, she was justly convicted.  I don't know which is true and neither do you. You didn't even know what they convicted her of. 

Really, dopey, it isn't even a hard distinction to understand. 

My Troll Is Becoming Deranged On THAT I'm Willing To Come To A Conclusion

The illiterate and idiot who doesn't understand that you're not obliged to have an opinion about something you have insufficient information to have one on is apparently spouting venom at me over my refusal to pretend I know what I have said I don't know.  Apparently not doing that when you don't know enough to decide is wrong.

As I said, I have no idea if she was guilty of the obstruction of justice she was convicted of or not, I have no idea if she obstructed justice or not, I have no idea if she deserved to be convicted or not.  Nor am I especially interested in pretending that any possible opinion I would express as to her innocence or guilt would be worth any more than the kind of opining out of ignorance that the idiot who started this practices. 

After reading his latest pod of idiotic comments, I do know one thing, he doesn't know much more about it than I do. In fact, he obviously knows a lot less than I learned since about 4:00 this afternoon.

He claims that she couldn't be guilty of passing secrets, but that's not what she was accused or convicted of doing, so he doesn't even know what she was convicted of.  He claims that she couldn't have been guilty because she was a teacher when AT THE TIME SHE ALLEGEDLY OBSTRUCTED JUSTICE SHE WAS NOT A TEACHER, SHE DIDN'T BECOME A TEACHER FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES AFTER THAT.  Obviously this idiot troll doesn't even know what the case was about. 

This is from a website friendly to her case.

At the age of 34, Moskowitz, a secretary, became involved with a married man, Abraham Brothman, a chemical engineer whose known associates included Harry Gold, a U.S. citizen and admitted Soviet spy. The Red Scare was front page news. The FBI began following her while they brought in and interrogated Brothman and Gold, trying to tie them together as co-conspirators involved in espionage with the Soviet Union.

Gold initially told the FBI that Moskowitz was not involved in any espionage. To escape the electric chair, however, Gold agreed to deal and described Moskowitz as a co-conspirator along with Brothman. Her conviction was solely based on the grand jury statements and FBI interviews with Harry Gold that were not available to her original attorneys for use in cross-examination.

Moskowitz believed she was innocent and refused to testify before the grand jury because it would expose her relationship with the married Brothman. At the trial, Brothman and Moskowitz were charged with conspiring to lie to the grand jury and federal agents investigating a suspected spy plot involving Gold. Later Gold was charged with espionage. Brothman and Moskowitz were found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison. Gold was sentenced to 30 years but served only 15 years because he testified against the Rosenbergs.

After their release from prison in 1952, Moskowitz and Brothman broke up, and her life as a convicted felon began. Hounded and harassed by the FBI, Moskowitz couldn’t keep a job because agents constantly questioned her activities and patriotism. She “found it painful to reveal [her] past” and tried for decades to maintain a “low social profile” to avoid drawing attention to herself. Finally, desperate and depressed, she contemplated suicide.

Her life finally took a turn when she got a job as a junior high school math teacher in 1970. A longtime violinist and violist, she began playing in chamber orchestras. “It was the greatest time of my life. I have never known such bliss,” Moskowitz said. She told the Los Angeles Times that she still regrets that she was never able to serve on a jury, never had any serious romances, and never had any children.

Well, I'm sorry that things went badly for her, I've known several people whose lives were ruined by having gone to jail, lots of people who go to jail have it a lot worse than she did. One who had their conviction overturned. As I said, if she'd been accused of the same in the Soviet Union it would have gone even worse for her because she'd almost certainly have been dead.

I don't get why he's accusing me of being insufficiently willing to pretend I know what I don't know or why I should have an opinion about something I don't know about on the basis of Moskowitz being Jewish.  So were the people who prosecuted her, the putrid Roy Cohn and the infamous Judge Irving Kaufman, the man who gave them the basis of her prosecution on obstruction Harry Gold - perhaps to save his own ass from getting fried - her boyfriend who wasn't man enough to protect her, Abraham Brothman*.  Their ethnicity is of absolutely no relevance to my refusal to pretend that I have a right to have an opinion on the case.  To the dolt who is trolling me, I don't know why you should accuse me of making my decision on that basis.  Well, I lie.  I do know why you're saying that, it's what you say when you've got nothing else, as you never do have.

Is that why you think I said I didn't know if Mumia was innocent or guilty, too?  

*  About the only people on both sides who were involved in the accusation and prosecution who weren't Jewish were the spy who put them onto Harry Gold, Klaus Fuchs and the sleazy, drunken Vassar-Columbia gal, ex-Communist spy who turned against them for her own self-interest, Elizabeth Bentley, who testified against Abraham Brothman.   I just thought I'd get that in for an Ivy League connection.  I do loathe the Ivies.

Why Do You Expect Me To Have An Opinion On A Legal Case I Know Nothing About?

I don't know anything about this lady, Miriam Moskowitz, except what I've read since you sent me the snarky comment this afternoon.  I don't know what you expect me to do with the link.  I listened to it and read a few articles about her book and her failed attempt to get her conviction overturned.

From that I gather she was fingered when the infamous spy for Stalin, Harry Gold fingered her boss and lover, Abe Brothman, as his associate in espionage and he said she knew that he and her boss intended to lie about their involvement in something that might not even have been illegal.  Apparently she didn't say she knew that to the FBI and she got arrested and convicted for not telling them they were planning on lying, a crime.  One of the things I read said that things might have come out better if she'd testified on her own behalf but it would expose the fact that she'd had an affair with Abe Brothman,

Among the things Moskowitz sets straight is one of the reasons that she and Brothman did not testify on their own behalf: they did not wish to expose the fact that they were having an affair. (Time reported that they “sat mute and unblinking as dummies in a waxworks.”) “He was married,” she said the other day. “I had no right to do that. And I was overcome, I guess, with humiliation that I had ever let myself get into that.” Moskowitz, who grew up in Bayonne, and attended City College, says that she was bowled over by Brothman. “I was very flattered,” she said. “When he talked, he made such sense. He interpreted the universe. . . . It was like getting a secondhand education without cracking the books open.” Had it not been for her affair with Brothman, Moskowitz says, she might have testified on his behalf. The question of his testifying on her behalf never came up. “I never thought of that—sixty years later, and I never thought of that,” she said. “The lawyers never mentioned it. I didn’t count.” Her admiration for Brothman rapidly diminished after she was reunited with him, upon her release, in 1952, from Alderson federal prison, in West Virginia, having served two years. Brothman served a similar sentence. “He came to see me at my house,” she said. “We embraced, and as he embraced me he said, ‘I have had such a terrible time.’ And then everything got clear.” (Their relationship ended soon thereafter; Brothman died in 1980.)

I don't know how dumb a decision that was, to not testify on her own behalf so she could keep her affair a secret.  It was, of course, a different world about such things, though she did have the affair. That was her choice at the time and if it is why she went to jail she's had to live with it.

As I said this morning, I have no idea if Mumia didn't or did kill the policeman he was convicted of murdering, I don't know if this lady lied that she didn't know her lover and Gold planned on lying when they were questioned.  I don't have any obligation to pretend I know if her conviction was unjustified or justified.  I don't have to pretend that I have any kind of valuable opinion on that.

Apparently she and her lawyers weren't able to convince a judge in 2014 that her conviction should be overturned.  On that rests her contention that she's "a victim of the McCarthy era".  Not everyone who went to jail at the time was a victim, not those who were involved in espionage and other crimes.  From what I can see she was victimized by Harry Gold who fingered her, her boyfriend who didn't shield her and her own decision to not testify.

I wish her as well, if she's still with us,  as I would any other person who served their sentence and didn't hurt anyone as a free person.  I don't believe in eternal damnation.  What she was accused of wasn't a mortal sin, it was, at best, merely foolish.  I remember when Judge Irving R. Kaufman died, I think my reaction to that was similar to hers, he was a slime ball.  I certainly didn't think more highly of Roy Cohn who was even slimier. 

I will point out that if she were merely accused of what she was in the Soviet Union the Communists she ran with supported,  she would almost certainly have had a short show trial, if even that, and been shot. Most likely she would have been tortured to get a confession from her instead of her having the right against self-incrimination or choosing to not testify at her trial. Though, apparently, from what she said, she was already in the process of becoming disillusioned about that, herself.   I can't see why we're supposed to look back fondly on the Stalinists who lied for him as the world knew the nature of his regime, the mass murders, the show trials, the mass starvation in Ukraine, the oppression, the violations of every right in our Bill of Rights and other rights our own 18th century aristocrats didn't include in it.  I certainly deny that we should pretend that the people who spied for him were any better than those who spied for Hitler.

Update:  Oh, so you didn't even bother to find out why she'd been arrested and what she was convicted of, you don't know anything about her except what that little movie showed.  It's not my fault you're so stupid that you don't understand that in order to know what something is about you have to find out what it's about.  Let me get this straight, you did actually get past the fourth grade and someone graduated you from college?   I guess rural public schools had higher standards about doing research than where you went.

Reading The Bad Plays

Update intro:  I am also getting a lot of whining about me pointing out that the falsification of history can be politically dangerous.  You would think that anyone who could witness the Hollywood-TV creation and installation of Donald Trump on the delusions of tens of millions of voters, based on what they believed from seeing him on TV would realize that's what we're seeing.  But my time reading blogs like Baby Blue have opened my eyes to the shocking fact that even being a college educated, alleged lefty won't brake the hold that the entertainment industry has on the TV addled American mind.

 I don't have time to go into a specific response  but the only thing I've ever written about the "historical plays" hardly endorsed them as accurate history.  Here it is.

I have revived a project that an old friend of mine and I started, twice,  of reading all of those plays by xthat most people don't get around to reading.  We read several of them together before she died, Love's Labours Lost, Pericles, Measure for Measure and a few of the more often read ones.

I read King John over the weekend and have to say that it is an incredibly frustrating play in many ways, containing some extremely beautiful verse that you can't help but regret is so wasted on such a messed up play filled to the top with such horrible characters,  The quote that is most famous put in the mouth of the putrid King John's son as he was about to become Henry III,

I am the cygnet to this pale faint swan,
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death,
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.

Considering what a total piece of slime his father was from the start of the play (and in history) it is extremely frustrating to have such such beauty said on his behalf.

The play, itself, was probably doomed to be ineffective due to the scope of complexity of the subject matter.  The Plantagenet/Angevin crime families, their crimes, their infighting, etc. couldn't be dealt with in a years long TV series.  Heck, you'd need a long TV series just go get through the public life of King John and his equally putrid brother, Richard.  Trying to do it in a single play is bound to falsify the real history of it by having to leave most of it out.  It is futile to try to find anyone involved  who deserves our sympathy.  What with the various governments, all of them ruthless crime families who could give our worst Eastern European, South Asian or American Republican crime families something to recognize.

Every dramatic presentation of the figures in those intrigues has falsified them.  The Lion in Winter, with the benefit of James Goldman not having to placate members of the crime family which ruled England several centuries later, written when modern history of the period had laid out how truly awful those folks were, still presents them as romanticized cartoons.  The movie with Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn is absurd.  There were simply no good guys to be had, not even when you have Katherine Hepburn play one of them, turning Eleanor into a Connecticut aristocrat - as she did every character she ever played that I'm aware of.   I dread to think that there are probably large segments of the allegedly educated population who believe Eleanor of Aquitaine was Hepburn.  The presentation of them as some kind of enlightened rulers with any sympathy to the people they tyrannized and bled for money in their petty attempts to keep territory and steal it only shows how thoroughly Americans have bought into the bull shit pageantry of English kings and queens.

George Orwell made the most interesting point about the play that I've ever seen, in the context a truly wonderful essay about how literature goes in and out of relevance depending on current events.

The obvious explanation of this sharp difference between the dominant writers before and after the war of 1914-18 is the war itself. Some such development would have happened in any case as the insufficiency of modern materialistic civilization revealed itself, but the war speeded that process, partly by showing how very shallow the veneer of civilization is, partly by making England less prosperous and therefore less isolated. After 1918 you couldn't live in such a narrow and padded world as you did when Britannia ruled not only the waves but also the markets. One effect of the ghastly history of the last twenty years has been to make a great deal of ancient literature seem much more modern. A lot that has happened in Germany since the rise of Hitler might have come straight out of the later volumes of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Recently I saw Shakespeare's [sic.] King John acted — the first time I had seen it, because it is a play which isn't acted very often. When I had read it as a boy it seemed to me archaic, something dug out of a history book and not having anything to do with our own time. Well, when I saw it acted, what with its intrigues and doublecrossings, non-aggression pacts, quislings, people changing sides in the middle of a battle, and what-not, it seemed to me extraordinarily up to date. And it was rather the same thing that happened in the literary development between 1910 and 1920. The prevailing temper of the time gave a new reality to all sorts of themes which had seemed out of date and puerile when Bernard Shaw and his Fabians were — so they thought — turning the world into a sort of super garden city. Themes like revenge, patriotism, exile, persecution, race hatred, religious faith, loyalty, leader worship, suddenly seemed real again. Tamerlane and Genghis Khan seem credible figures now, and Machiavelli seems a serious thinker, as they didn't in 1910. We have got out of a backwater and back into history. I haven't any unqualified admiration for the writers of the early nineteen-twenties, the writers among whom Eliot and Joyce are chief names. Those followed them have to undo a great deal of what they did. Their revulsion from a shallow conception of progress drove them politically in t he wrong direction, and it isn't an accident that Ezra Pound, for instance, is now shouting antisemitism on the Rome radio. But one must concede that their writings are more grown-up, and have a wider scope, than what went immediately before them. They broke the cultural circle in which England had existed for something like a century. They re-established contact with Europe, and they brought back the sense of history and the possibility of tragedy. On that basis all subsequent English literature that matters twopence has rested, and the development that Eliot and the others started back in the closing years of the last war, has not yet run its course.

For me the best part of the play, the most revealing and intellectually honest is the second act, when the competing armies of Austria on behalf of prince Arthur, John's nephew and a claimant to the throne, Phillip of France, King John, his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine and various others are poised to pillage the city of Angiers,  When they demand that the Citizens of Angiers declare which of the various factions they recognize as the legitimate ruler, John or Arthur (who John is often believed to have mutilated and murdered - perhaps with his own hand, not fell off a wall as the play says) or whoever, they essentially say they don't want any part of the royal intrigues.   In the whole play, the brief appearance of the representatives of the people of that beleaguered city are the only ones with any real claim to our allegiance because they are the ones who are most like us in the hands of our ruling elite.

I would describe how the poor Citizens of Angiers try to get out of the royal cross-hairs by getting John's niece Blanche married off to King Phillip's son, Louis, but the intrigues involved are better read than described.  They're far from obvious if you haven't reviewed the background information.

The author was biting off way more than an honest person could turn into a play.  It's doubtful anyone could have done it.  If couldn't, who could?  The overall meaning of the play is the corruption of power, the insanity of it.  It is regrettable that he included the death of John - you feel like giving a medal to the monk who allegedly poisoned him.   I am afraid it is a lot more relevant to contemporary politics in the United States than it should be.  The Republican pack, the Republicans in congress and the triangulating establishment Democrats aren't much more rational or honest.

*  I'm inclined to think X was Bacon.  I will not pretend that that illiterate guy who couldn't spell his own name as he drew out the letters wrote the plays, especially as I'm sure this will infuriate the usual fly-specks.

Note:  From what I know of Henry III, in addition to voluntarily reissuing Magna Carta, he spent a lot of his early reign trying to prove he wasn't as awful as his father.  The pattern for screwed up English politics, though, had been cast and they still haven't gotten over it.  The great insight into history by William Faulkner is true.

The Aspirational Paranoia Of The Loony Left And The Supposedly Serious Lefties Who Are Suckers For It

I am still getting whiny, angry flack from the commies for my apostasy, only I never was a commie so I can't be an apostate to it.  I can, though, be an apostate if what I've abandoned is being a lefty sucker for the commies.

This old piece by Mark Oppenheimer in which he tries to pursue an interview with total nut-job, paranoid, narcissistic, self-appointed leader of world revolution Bob Avakian is amusing in his futile pursuit to get a meeting through the nut cases that are in his  Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. But its origin in an ad they got in to the New York Review of Books with the typical signatories of "free speech" petitions made some important points.

Many of the men and women who signed the ad are respectable scholars - the list also includes Harvard's Brad Epps and Timothy Patrick McCarthy - and I knew it was not possible that they were all actually devoted to Avakian. In fact the ad is lukewarm, at best, on the man's actual politics: "While those of us signing this statement do not necessarily agree with all of [Avakian's] views," the ad says, "we have come away from encounters with Avakian provoked and enriched in our own thinking."

Curious, I began to call around. The first few signatories I tried to reach, including [Cornel] West and Michael Eric Dyson, a prominent African-American studies scholar at Georgetown, did not return my calls or e-mails. Rickie Lee Jones's management company promised to pass along my number, but I never heard from her.

But as I reached others, it became clear that what Avakian represents to them, more than his role as one of the last true believers in revolutionary Maoism, is the ideal of truly free speech...

... Epps, a Spanish professor, sent an e-mail confirming that this is why he lent his name to the ad. "My support has more to do with freedom of speech than any substantive ideological adherence," he wrote. McCarthy, a historian, said that he signed the ad to show his support for free speech, adding, "If my signing the statement is in any way taken as supporting the views of Bob Avakian, I would reject that."

In the age of the Patriot Act, in the aftermath of a war caused partly by the quiescent media's fear of asking hard questions, liberal and left-thinkers have naturally been quick to defend anybody's free speech. As well they should.

And if this is the person whom so many have chosen to rally around - even though nobody seemed ready to defend Avakian's actual views - then, I figured, he must be quite a remarkable figure.

After a lot of build-up, worth the time to read it,  including some really funny details about the weird aspirational paranoia of his true believers that their god-replacement is as dangerous and so imperiled as they hope, Oppenheimer makes his point about how pathetic it is that allegedly major figures on the left have hitched their wagon to such a tin-foil star.

The followers of Bob Avakian want to believe that their chairman is important enough to be hunted. Because if the only people looking for Bob Avakian are Scott McLemee and me, then he hasn't had much of an impact on the world. Which means, too, that if the mainstream left is hitching its free-speech cart to a mule like Bob Avakian, it has even bigger problems.

"It does make you wonder about the acumen, shall we say, of those who sign on," said Todd Gitlin, the sociologist and former president of Students for a Democratic Society, who knew Avakian slightly in the late '60s. "This is a marker of the ludicrous feebleness of the unreconstructed left."

Those who don't agree with Avakian but signed the ad anyway think that voices like his are being suppressed. And some surely are. "Quite frankly," Slate, the LA radio host told me, "we live in an era of Norman Finkelstein, we live in an era of Ward Churchill, we live in an era of Joseph Massad" - academics whose careers have been threatened in part because of their controversial views.

But perhaps such real cases are insufficient rallying cries, even for the oppressed themselves. No one was more certain of Avakian's silencing than Churchill, the former University of Colorado professor who was much attacked for writing in 2001 that "the little Eichmanns" in the World Trade Center were not innocent in their own deaths. I wrote an e-mail to Churchill, who signed the Avakian ad, suggesting that nobody was conspiring to deprive Avakian of the right to speak. He replied, in part, "I mean, you can't possibly be that naive, can you?"

The petition-signing left has many reasons for enabling Bob Avakian's personal mythology. He's a living link to the '60s, an era when American campus radicalism reached its apogee of influence. And he was an outspoken atheist back in the day, too, before Christopher Hitchens and others found bestsellerdom in unbelief; one professor told me he admired Avakian's stand against religious fundamentalism. But above all the Avakian narrative allows civil libertarians to register a vote for free speech, even if they have to ignore the fact that Avakian's speech is in no danger of being suppressed. Rightly concerned about Guantanamo and the Patriot Act, they figure that Avakian is a good proxy fight, or good enough.

You do have to wonder about a figure who is so silenced that his "party" is mostly in the business of maintaining bookstores in several cities, dedicated mostly to the works of Bob Avakian and many others who no one in their right mind would bother reading, a newspaper, other publications, websites... The last time I heard that level of clueless whining about being silenced was Steve Roberts whining about it on the old Diane Rehm show on national radio.

But you have to wonder, even more, about the clear emotional need of lefties to pretend that such a pathological nut case who is not being silenced or pursued is being silenced or endangered when he obviously isn't.  What deep habits of emotion lead to people to pretend this in the American left?   And, in line with some of my recent posts, you have to wonder why they'd champion such a cartoon martyr of free-speech when he champions a political ideology and, specifically, such dictators as Mao and, to some extent, Stalin who were probably the world's most ruthless and effective silencers of free speech.   Pretending they can't tell the difference between an advocate of such Hilter level murderers and oppressors and The Reverend Martin Luther King jr and Malcolm X is totally loony and should discredit them as serious people.

Is the left so bereft of rational leadership that it can't find people who have the sense to not sign a petition for the Bob Avakian cult?

I wrote about Avakian and his devoted lunatics before.

Update:  Well, I can think of one good reason for a lot of lefties to pretend that if only they could speak (which they can) "the masses" would buy their product of Marxist (or something) revolution. As long as they can pretend that's all that stands between them and "the masses" embracing their vision of the atheist-materialist future then they can pretend that "the masses" aren't already aware of that and sensibly see nothing in it for them as well as the moral atrocity such lefties are really selling.

And also, well, I remember one night on a blog when a lawyer who had looked at the case was so careless as to express a belief that Mumia did it.  Needless to say, those who knew exactly as much as they had read on a tee shirt about it were hardly open to hearing his arguments.  He got banned.  Such is the dedication of such a tee-shirt slogan left to such "free speech".

Update 2:  Oh, for crying out loud.  I DIDN'T EXPRESS ANY CONCLUSION THAT MUMIA DID IT.  I have no idea if he was guilty of the murder he was convicted on and didn't express a view on that today or the evening of the blog brawl I mentioned.  My point is that such champions of "free-speech" as infest the alleged left aren't any more open to free speech when they don't like it than Mao or Mussolini or Hitler or Hoxha.  Believe it or not I found an actual American communist party (or, more honestly, cult) that is dedicated to the political thinking of the Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha.

Update 3:  Well, I can speculate that some such people as might sign such petitions might do it if asked because it makes them feel more important than they realistically fear they are.  The shame is that it only makes them look foolish to most people who are aware of what it is they're signing.  I mean, has anyone got any reason to pay any attention to Ward Churchill?

Kellyanne Conway 2.0 AND THE LIE BOYS Should All Get Called Out On Their Lying

I hadn't caught her act before this morning but Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas governor, professional candidate and lie-radio spokesman Mike Huckabee would seem to be Kellyanne Conway 2.0.  Her method of lying on camera is slightly different from Conway's - faux outrage replacing faux smiling - but she does the same babbleonian stream of words to get out of answering questions - she couldn't even get away with it when she tried it on George Stephanopoulos yesterday.

A Republican spokesliar isn't shocking, especially when it comes from the farthest right and the lunatic Trump world.   What is remarkable is that she's an alleged Christian minister's daughter, one who got her start in politics working for his political operation.   

I am a little bit encouraged that the massive lying of the Trump regime seems to have made even the TV figures a little more antsy about being blatantly lied to by the hired liars of those with power.  If that continues it certainly is better than their former practice.  But don't hold your breaths.  Not a week ago they were all talking about Trump's "pivot" after he read a speech off of a teleprompter that was chuck full of lies.  I hope it's not just the gals they hire to go out and lie their lying heads off on camera who are going to get that treatment, they should but the guys should get called every time, too.   Sean Spicer, Stephen " reincarnation of Goebbels" Miller, everyone I've ever heard sent out as a spokesman for the Trump crime operation are as big a bunch of liars. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

W.A. Mozart: String Quintet in G minor, K.516

Benjamin Bowman
Sini Simonen
Michel Camille
Steven Dann
Ursula Smith

Duncan Blah,blah

"Duncan Black has more readers in a day than you'll ever get in a year."

- First, having readers requires something Duncan gave up a long time ago, writing.  

- Second, one of the most obvious things we know from TV and pop culture is that content free crap sells.  That's why you can come across lists of most famous bad writers and they're the most famous better bad writers who didn't sell a fraction of the best selling churners out of crap.  

- Third, he doesn't care at all if his for-profit blog carries lies.  That makes him a total jerk.  

I'm not shocked that a few generally good writers have, mostly in the distant past, had nice things to say about his blog, mostly based on that distant past.  Bad habits are easy to develop and hard to break.  

As I'm writing this the radio tells me that LA Theater Works is having on the total piece of crap "Amadeus" by the total horse's ass Peter Shaffer.  I wish I had a dollar for every mid-brow, college grad who has believed that piece of total nonsense was accurate history.   I'll bet that easily, by at least a hundred to one, more of such people are familiar with that piece of theater-cinema crap than who would voluntarily listen to one of Mozart's Quartets or Quintets or who have ever listened to anything more than his ten most popular works.