Saturday, November 18, 2017

Alan Bennett and Judi Dench perform a short radio play

Alan Bennett and Judi Dench perform a short radio play

This is fun and fun is good. 

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Graham Greene - Stamboul Train

Dramatised by Jeremy Front

Myatt Joseph Millson
Coral Abbie Andrews
Czinner Sam Dale
Josef Nicholas Murchie
Mabel Jane Slavin
Janet Isabella Inchbald
Petkovitch Simon Ludders
Ninitch Samuel James
Hartep Philip Fox
Mrs Peters Ellie Darvill
Mr Peters Charlie Clements
Actor Tayla Kovacevic-Ebong
Actor Adam Fitzgerald
Actor Gary Duncan
Actor David Reakes
Actor Kath Weare

Director Marc Beeby

I understand they've made the, what is it, 17th version of Dame Agatha's Orient Express?   Just what the world needs.  Two years before that cynical, formulaic, uh .... she wrote her book, the entirely better author Graham Greene wrote Stambol Train as one of his "light" books.   It has a far more complex plot, far deeper characters and far more interesting implications   I don't ususally post adaptations but I figured this one was worth it.

The Madisonian Origins Of Today's Neo-Serfdom, or Neil Gorsuch Tells A Joke About The Time He Wanted To Freeze A Trucker

Son of a criminal, Neil Gorsuch, made a really disgusting speech to the Federalist(-fascist) Society and waxed hilarious about his infamous dissent in the case in which he said that a company was within its rights to fire a trucker because he didn't choose to freeze to death as instructed by someone sitting in a heated office, somewhere.  Here, from Think Progress:

Which brings us back to Gorsuch’s Thursday night speech to the Federalist Society, an influential group of conservative lawyers. The premise of Gorsuch’s joke is that he was unfairly attacked during his confirmation hearing because he reached a result that was required by the law. A judge may be presented with a law, Gorsuch began his joke, and “immediately know three things.”

"One, the law is telling me to do something really, really stupid. Two, the law is constitutional and I have no choice but to do that really stupid thing the law demands. And three, when it’s done, everyone who is not a lawyer is going to think I just hate truckers."

The joke was a hit with the gathered Federalist Society members, who laughed and clapped uproariously after Gorsuch delivered his punchline.

But here’s the thing. Either Gorsuch is wrong, and his vote in TransAm Trucking v. Administrative Review Board was a cruel swipe at a man who, after nearly freezing death, was illegally humiliated by his employer. Or Gorsuch is correct, and what happened to Alphonse Maddin is the horrible consequence of a terribly worded law. Maddin’s case is neither an easy win for Maddin nor the slam dunk for Maddin’s employer that Gorsuch thinks it is, but whoever is right about the law, this case is a human tragedy.

Or, if you are Neil Gorsuch, it was an annoyance that briefly stood between you and a powerful job in Washington. And now it is something to joke about.

And such is the quality of asshole that the Republican-fascists are putting on courts, these days   But, one thing to notice is who is standing behind Gorsuch as he made his funny joke about how he was required by the friggin' Constitution (or his employee murdering interpretation of it) figuratively, at least, as well as in the Societies emblem on the podium.

Image result for neil gorsuch federalist society

That's goddamned James Madison, from whom you will be hearing more next week on this blog.  If you want to see where the assholim of Gorsuch and the Federalist-fascists was born.

I Don't Think It's About Two Dimensional Tic Tac Toe It's Just About The Dough

If Duncan meant me, I've never implied that his blogging, after about 2006, was about much other than lack of ambition and providing income for him.  I remember him as a bright, chipper protege of the Media Whores Online owner and thinking he had promise only to see that quickly dwindle down to Tweet length posts, most of them about either the entirely obvious and already said to just inanity.  And that's when they weren't bot generated.   If he didn't sponsor libel against me just about daily, I wouldn't bore people with mention of him, his blog or the rump of regulars that comprise what was once a far larger, far more varied and far more adult bunch.  I think it was about the time HaloScan went away that it started getting really stupid, then there were the Obamaite-Clintonite wars of the 2008 primaries, what a friggin' disaster that was.  

I was never a critic of him until about 2012, on the contrary, I was one of those who encouraged him to try harder.  He didn't try harder.   He's an Ivy League PhD slacker, not a mastermind. 

Last Thing I Hope To Say About This

I haven't seen Al Franken or anyone I know to be close to him bringing up Leeann Tweeden's history of modeling, though I have seen it brought up in regard to yesterday's big distraction.   As far as I've seen Franken's side has taken a high road in that regard and so should everyone else.  Whatever you think of the kinds of photos she posed for - which may not have been entirely in her control, I have no idea what kind of power she had to refuse to do them - those are irrelevant to the issue.  

I still think the kissing accusation, which happened as part of a rehearsal for a skit (skit comedy, geesh!), might have been a misunderstanding or the kind of off-color joke that isn't unheard of among actors of all genders, the photo, about which it's not even clear he ever touched her kevlar vest, was sleazy and, yes, as well the kind of "joke" engaged in among show folk.   And I think the whole thing might be a sort of misunderstanding between two cultures, one which I've seen quite a lot of, actors, and one which I have seen very little of.   I think I knew a grand total of three people, one young man and two young women,  who got paid as models and couldn't form any kind of conclusion on that basis.  

I'd think it wiser to cut out all physical contact in such stuff but since that can't be done outside of my favorite form, audio drama, they should at least cut the joke part of that out, entirely.  Knowing actors and that a lot of them aren't models of maturity, that probably won't happen.  They should have the wit to avoid bringing in outsiders who aren't familiar with the habits of actors.  I don't think adults in show biz should ever be with underage people without witnesses, for the protection of the children but, really, for all involved.  

The women who have come to Al Franken's defense on the basis of their work history with him and his record of advancing women's rights and opportunities is another contrast between him and most of those who have been accused of everything up to entirely worse behavior.  It is a total and complete contrast with the child molesting Roy Moore and Donald Trump.  That, as well, leads me to believe what happened was probably due to the kind of culture of show biz in which that kind of joke is common and that Al Franken knows such behavior isn't permissible in real life.  It would be better if it didn't happen anywhere, I hated it when I had to rehearse with people who did things like that and, unless it happened in a large group I performed in, I didn't choose to work with people prone to that kind of thing.   But music is a harder, more intellectual and more disciplined art than show biz. 

I had to throw that last bit in. 

Friday, November 17, 2017


Hate Mail

This blog is not written for people who choose to be stupid and choose to be ignorant while insisting that they are brilliant and informed.   I don't write for the kind of people who frequent Duncan's blog after about 2008.  If I wanted to write for them I'd write it in rebus using emojis and monosyllables. 

Jacques Bittner Three Pieces 1682

Roderick Blocksidge, lute

I've decided to post some French baroque lute music.   You can find a pdf of Bittner's music in tablature at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France website

To download it you have click on the download symbol on the left side panel, (the arrow pointing down) then to agree to their terms of use, the square box at the bottom of the side window that says, "En cochant cette case, je reconnais avoir pris connaissance des conditions d'utilisation et je les accepte, " pretty much the standard formal agreement, the material is in the public domain.  I did yesterday and it didn't set off my malware alarms or anything.  You will need a baroque lute or an 11 stringed guitar to play it, tuned to a baroque lute tuning.   I can't find any of it transcribed into standard notation.  It is spectacularly good and beautiful music that is too little known. 

The Terrible Tragedy of Giving Up To Those Who Want To Destroy You

In reading more of Mark Joseph Stern's work at Slate around and as background to this mornings post, I noticed he said something that I've noticed said a lot, something which I've found increasingly disturbing.  In his rather good piece of November 9th, in which he sets out his fears as a gay, Jewish journalist encountering a Nazi-like pushback from Trumpzis, he used a description of his great-grandparents and himself:

As I heard it, my great-grandmother was the one who wanted to stay. After all, they had lived there their entire lives. Why leave now? Everything they knew and loved was there.  It was Poland, 1933. They were secular Jews living a pleasant modern life. They knew about Hitler, of course, and Hindenburg’s pathetic enabling of his rise to power. They read the news. They knew about the Jewish business boycott, then the Nuremberg Race Laws, then the Night of Broken Glass—78 years ago today, as it happens. When Germany invaded, my great-grandmother insisted, we stay. Her Jewish friends panicked, fled, but she said, no, it won’t happen here. Then the soldiers moved them to the ghetto. A wealthy friend offered my family safe passage out, but my great-grandmother said: No. We stay.

Later on, after expressing his understandable unease at being subjected to overt hate at a level he had not experience before, after the rise of Trump he talks about his great-grandmother who wisely fled the Nazis

My great-grandmother on the other side of the family fled. Her family was comfortable, secular; they owned a popular photography studio, and sometimes I look at the portraits they took of themselves shortly before they packed their bags and left forever. There is no panic in their eyes. They knew what they had to do, and they did it. They weren’t especially happy when they came to America, but they were alive. They left their old lives behind, understanding that there would soon be little left of them to salvage. I am thinking of their eyes this morning. And I am thinking of my other great-grandmother, the one I never got to meet.

Do read his article, it carries important information.  Information that could save us.  The most important information of all, that not only can it happen here, IT IS HAPPENING HERE, RIGHT NOW. 

What I noticed was the pains he took to describe both sets of great-grandparents as "secular," something I always feel a little uncomfortable with hearing Jewish people say, as if it is an assurance to other people that they're not all "that Jewish" or something.   

I always feel uncomfortable when people feel the need to explain away their identity or to diminish it.  When it's a Jewish person making sure that people understand they're safely secular it's worse than when an ex-Catholic (as if there's really any such thing) talks about themselves as a "recovering Catholic" because the persecution of Catholics in the United States is far more remote in time and far less likely to become as seriously bad is it has so recently in Central America and elsewhere, I guess.   
In the case of Stern doing it, it reminds me of something especially troubling, that was the talk among the Nazis of how the Einsatzgruppen, the soldier-murderers who murdered hundreds of thousands, probably well over a million Jews by shooting them, found it easier to kill religious Jews, especially those in Poland and the Soviet Union and other places who didn't look or dress so much like non-Jewish Germans or, I'd guess, others who they might think looked too much like they thought they did.   It was one of the reasons they decided to develop a "more efficient" means of committing genocide.  I'm sure that's not something Stern would think he was signaling with what he said, indicating that, somehow, "secular" Jews were .... I don't know, it comes down to superior to religious Jews in some way.   He should certainly indicate what he means by it, especially in the context of that topic. But, as I've experienced, the declaration by Jews that they are safely secular is widespread in the United States.  It's a practice which is a lot more serious and fraught with implications and danger than someone declaring themselves an ex-Catholic or ex-Protestant.   

Having an ever growing appreciation for the depth and knotty complexity but the irreplaceable value of the Jewish scriptures and many Jewish religious thinkers, becoming convinced that it, in fact, is one of the irreplaceable foundations of modern egalitarian democracy and any hope of decent governments, certainly in the West it's horrible that so many Jews think there's something admirable or good or just - in that most superficial and inverted form of value judgement  -"modern"  to walk away from that heritage.  It's worse than tragic.  In some ways it accomplishes a lot of what the Nazis wanted to do.  They hated Jewish moral teaching, the egalitarian justice of it more than just about anything.  It's not for me to decide these things but I can express my profound sorrow at it.   The greatest hope for Christianity is to become more of what it originally was intended to be,  Jewish.  There was a huge move in Catholicism, from Vatican II to introduce more of the First Testament into the liturgy and to incorporate more of its substance into Catholic thought and life.  It would be a tragic irony for, at the very same time, the people with the greatest claim to those traditions to be swindled out of them by the trappings of modernism, the same modernism which, in the forms of Nazism and Stalinism, tried to wipe out the Jewish people and Jewish identity.   To do so just because following the requirements of equal justice and equality, economic justice is harder than being kewl and modernistic and au courant is even worse.  

Stern's justifiable fears of Trumpzi fascism are best answered by the very aspects of Jewish religious morality that should not be given up on.  They overcame other tyrants, from Pharaohs to Antiochus, after all. 

Sure Hold Franken To Account Just Make Any Punishment Proportional To The Charges

Oh, those show folks.  I expect the allegations made by Leeann Tweeden against Al Franken to be put up as some equivalence to the accusations that Roy Moore sexually assaulted adolescent girls when he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s.  In fact, I'm noticing that's pretty much how National Public Radio is using the accusation in their reporting this morning.  And I expect that to sell among more people than should buy it.  We don't know if there were ever any other incidents which Franken, unlike Moore, has apologized for, if there never were the problem for Franken is that one recorded incident, people will wonder if that's just because other women aren't talking about it.  And who knows at this point. Al Franken has said that he is sorry and admits what he's accused of is sleazy, especially the stupid stunt photo of him making sleazy motions against her while she was sleeping, strapped in an airplane seat, with helmet and body armor. 

Tweeden's description of the kiss sounds to me like the kind of thing that actors might consider a joke on each other,   I've heard actors and actresses laugh about the off color stunts like that they pulled on each other during  rehearsals.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were many incidents of actresses groping male stars subtly or not in similar situations That kind of off color joke is a feature of  life among athletes, and far more.   If the kiss was Franken pulling the kind of physical joke of that sort, it was stupid to do it with someone who didn't come from the same world, exactly.  It would be stupid even with another actor.  But it's certainly not unknown even if a bit sleazy.  Modeling and sports reporting aren't exactly the same kind of show biz that Franken was involved in.  They sometimes aren't that far apart but maybe in the case of Leanne Tweeden they're far enough apart for there to be offense given where none was intended.

The calls for Franken to resign such as the one by Mark Joseph Stern at Slate is, at this point, premature and if there are no other accusations made against him, ridiculous.  It equates one or two lapses in taste and judgement with the kind of thing that Bob Packwood did, habitually, over decades, the kind of thing that Donald Trump bragged about doing to Billy Bush on the Hollywood Access tape.  If someone who is accused of what Franken is is treated the same way that would abolish any kind of proportionality in punishment for dissimilar offenses.  The idea that any and all crimes involving sex are equivalent is ridiculous and can produce a grotesque parody of justice.  That is seen in laws that put some teenage boys on permanent display as a sex fiend because they had consensual sex with their girlfriends whose parents decided to screw him in return.  Or people who may have done something similar fifty years ago but whose records have been absolutely clean ever since.  I've known of women on such lists for such incidents.  A look at your states sex offender registry can be pretty shocking and disturbing on this count.  Especially in states that don't distinguish between dumb teenagers involved in consensual sex, sometimes decades ago, with active, dangerous predators and rapists.

It also doesn't account for the fact that Al Franken, when the incident occurred, wasn't a public official using his office to prey on women, something which, according to more than one those reporting the incidents say Roy Moore did while not only a public official but an assistant district attorney.   Also, Al Franken has handled the accusation entirely differently from the way that Roy Moore did, Moore is attacking his accusers, Franken issued an apology.   Stern at Slate apparently presents Franken's apology and call for HIS OWN investigation for ethics in the most cynical posible light.

He has called for a Senate ethics investigation into his own behavior—which indicates that he has no intention of resigning quickly. Instead, he appears to be attempting to rehabilitate his reputation by expressing penance and desire to grow.

Not only is that obviously not true, any "rehabilitation" of his reputation wouldn't, under the measures he asks to be subjected to,  depend on him, it would depend on those who conduct the ethics investigation,   His continued good behavior is the only part of that which he has control of.   Does Stern want a justice system, a concept of ethics that doesn't include the ability of someone to change their life for the better and to acknowledge that?   That assumption of eternal damnation for a select number of mortal sins - and, as mentioned without any kind of distinction among sins - a souped up form of a crude understanding of Calvinist predestination, would seem to be very popular among people who write about these things these days.   I don't think they would ever be willing to be held to the same kind of standards in their own behavior, I doubt that Stern would want any minor journalistic lapses by him or his colleagues to be punished in the same way that those of Stephen Glass were, after many lies by him were published.  But, according to his own assertions, why shouldn't they be?   If journalists who seriously violated journalistic ethics were held to account, it would probably end a lot more careers than holding politicians to the standard advocated in the Slate article.  FOX, CNN, The New York Times, etc. especially "opinion journalism"  would be practically clear cut under those rules.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Where Do They Figure The Permission To Do This Comes From?

What the hell is it with all of these men who are getting into trouble for gross sexual harassment and misbehavior up to and including the attempted rape and rape of young children?    As alleged adults?  Call me a prude but it's something that not only did I know I should never do or anything I expected was tolerable for anyone to do BUT IT'S SOMETHING I KNEW WAS WRONG AND A VIOLATION OF ANOTHER PERSON'S PERSON, THEIR RIGHTS, THEIR DIGNITY.   

Who brought up these guy?  Tom cats?   Even tom cats have more sense than a lot of them do. I would guess that easily 95% of the men I know, straight and gay, would at least know they weren't supposed to do things like that and a majority probably have been able to keep themselves from doing it and feeling ashamed and disgusted with themselves if they wanted to do it but successfully avoided doing it. 

I would like to know what their porn consumption consists of because what they're accused of is exactly the kind of behavior encouraged and normalized in pornography.   Is that what explains the epidemic?   

Philipp Franz LeSage de Richee - Passacaglia a Discretion from Suite in c minor

The player didn't list his name, I'll try to find out who this is.   I wasn't thinking of this passacaglia but it's one I found while looking for it. '

Not the one I was looking for but it's sure something.

The one I was looking for is by

Jacques Bittner, the last movement of his widely played Suite in g minor.

Nigel North, baroque lute

I think the reason I associate this music with winter is that I got an LP with it played by Michael Schaffer for Christmas one year.   Feels wintery here, today.

Why This New Fascination: The Islamic Imaginary of Modern Jewish Thought

I can't seem to shake this respiratory problem I've got, it flared up again, a mixture of bad allergies (wish it would friggin' snow, finally) and a persistent viral infection.   I think I had too much fun brawling last night, though it was hardly a heavy lift.  I'll write something later and am declaring this a troll free day, though non-trolls will have their comments posted.  The wish for more interesting or more intelligent trolls are unanswered, maybe there is no such thing.  

Till then,  here's a fascinating talk by Susannah Heschel who is one of today's most interesting lecturers on these topics.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Djavan - Um Dia Frio

OK, I'll take the challenge to post music I'm a little embarrassed to like

I had a Brazilian Esperanto pen pal who sent me a cassette tape of Djavan's music and I really liked it, especially Oceano,  wish I'd been able to meet Paulo, he had the sexiest, smoothest, bass Esperanto voice I've ever heard.  He'd have been one great voice actor.

Love that Brazilian Portuguese.

And to the North, there's Brian Hughes,  The Bridge - but if you think I'm going to tell the story involved with that Canadian adventure,  no dice


Update:  No, it wasn't Simps who challenged me.  This has nothing to do with Simps or the others at Duncan's Den of  Perfect Predictability.  The place where you always know what's going to be said, home of the totally expected since c. 2006. 

Luciano Berio - Wasserklavier

Sorry, the pianist isn't named

Here's a video of David Kadouch playing Luftklavier, Feuerklavier and Wasserklavier. 

I don't post nearly enough of Berio's music

Atheists, The Antichrist's Biggest Fan Boys

It's kind of funny for a viciously anti-Christian atheist to be whining about me calling out the supporters of the serial pedophile predator who claim to support him on the basis of Christianity, only it's my experience that atheists would hate nothing more than for Christians to act on the basis of the teachings of Jesus and his apostles in the New Testament.  If Christians, uniformly, acted out of the teachings and commandments set out by Jesus as defining his followers Christianity would be bullet proof, it would probably be the most widely admired and supported entity in human culture. That Christians have not been wildly successful in making good on their professions of faith is not an indictment of the Gospel, it's an admission that Christians are as able to be fallible human beings as any and that to profess Christianity is no guarantee that the person who says it the loudest isn't going to be, in reality, a totally sworn servant of Mammon and the Antichrist, as described in the last book of the New Testament.  

I would rather be on the same side of this argument as Reverend William Barber who noted that the "Christians" who were at that Roy Moore cult meeting were not Christians, that their statements equating Moore with religious figures are heretical.   

The thing that such atheists fear the most would be the possibility of Christians acting like Christians are supposed to act, it would totally deflate their campaign.  

Post Script To My Morning Post

In pointing out that modern Republican voter suppression, continuing the de facto Jim Crow era enhancement of the infamous 3/5ths provision that added power to the slave owning class by stealing the rights to representation of slaves and transferring it to their enslavers,  it occurs to me that today's voting suppression not only increases that fraction to 100% of the allegedly equal rights to representation transferred to the racists who suppress Black votes, it also extends that theft from other groups targeted by today's Republican voter suppression efforts, Latinos, other minority groups and the elderly and poor whites who are often excluded from exercising their right to vote through various vote suppression laws.   

I think it's important to both admit that they are reviving one of the most disgusting and rightly hated parts of the original corrupt deal made in framing the Constitution in 1787, they are perfecting and extending the stealing and concentration of power into the pockets of the modern equivalent of the slave power. 

In trying to think of how this could be overturned, I think that it is necessary to make any state's congressional representation contingent on the percentage of adult citizens who cast a vote in the previous election instead of the raw size of population of a state.  If that were done then it would not be in the interest of any state to prevent or discourage voting by American citizens, on the contrary, it would be in the interest of the states to try to get as close to 100% voter participation as they could.  

I will go into the discussion of the writers of the Constitution which is both complex and a pretty shocking eye-opener as to how far less than idealistic and moral those deliberations that produced the Constitution were.  If you want to read them yourself, I would recommend you download Wendell Phillips' book as a pdf, and read it yourself. 

The Antichrist In Alabama And Elsewhere

The "Christian" supporters of Roy Moore - including many "Christian" churches, those who covered up for him even as he was elected, TWICE as an state Supreme Court justice are proof that whoever wrote Revelations scored a direct hit when he predicted the rise of the Antichrist.   The Antichrist isn't a person, it's what we're seeing in Alabama, in places like Wisconsin, in Maine, all over the place as we can see even a pedophile predator elevated as if he were some figure of moral rectitude.   In Alabama, the inverted morality of hatred, of regional chauvinism, replaces the Gospel of Jesus, everywhere where the Antichrist has power, the god of Mammon is the focus of worship and piety.  

They aren't Christians, they don't follow the teachings of Jesus.  I'll use the King James translation that they pretend to follow to make the point:

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

They want to elect him Senator. 

Is It Time To Leave? How Bad Does It Have To Get For It To Collapse?

My reading of Wendell Phillips compilation of the notes of Madison and some other things from the various Congresses that established the United States as a country and wrote the Constitution, providing us with not only the guarantee of a Civil War but things such as the Electoral College, undemocratic constitution of the Senate, and myriad other avenues through which egalitarian democracy and justice have been thwarted, has led me to believe that many of those things which I was educated into believing were abolished have been maintained all along in other forms and under other names.  The inherently and explicitly anti-democratic features were the product of the wealthy class of slave masters both bribing and blackmailing the wealthy class of businessmen - who pretty much comprised all of the various congresses that formed the United States embedded the means of inequality, privilege and the perpetuation of the theft of other peoples' labor and livelihoods and concentration of wealth into the Constitution and other laws of the land.  And their descendants, in the form of mega-wealthy businessmen, oligarchic families, and racists, with the help of hired legal and technical expertise and the media are perfecting the suppression of the few, other less malignant aspects of that Constitution and those laws to perfect their control of the country.   The social and intellectual rot that has led to the diminution of moral restraint or the wisdom that moral restraint requires in the form of respecting other peoples rights and lives has ebbed and flowed in our history, it's at a very low ebb, today, thanks in no small part to the fact that media and entertainment, movies, TV, pop music, hate-talk radio and cabloid TV which are always most profitable when appealing to the worst and least wise parts in us, have supplanted pretty much everything from schools to churches* to just basic human decency.

Anyone who denies that things are seriously wrong and that they have never been right under the United States Constitution, even as reformed with the Civil War and other amendments, after the Constitution as read by the Supreme Court gave us the losers of two elections as president, George W. Bush and now Donald Trump, the later so bad that some people long for the days of Bush II, rightly seen as among the worst presidents in our history, proves how terribly bad things have gotten as the oligarchs and the billionaire boys club have modern technology, modern mass media and scientific research methods to aid their efforts to corrupt The People and so the vote, to rig elections through means that even the alleged protector of rights and freedoms, the ACLU have one of the largest hands in creating. 

To ignore that our corrupt 18th century Constitution doesn't still have exactly those corruptions placed in it by that corrupt bargain between slave masters and corrupt business interests who blackmailed the less corrupt among them and in state legislatures with promises of catastrophic disunion and vulnerability into accepting and tolerating the sheer evil of even slavery, the means of the perpetuation of slavery, in fact or merely by other names and extra-legally, not least among them the federal system which gave the slave states the means of dominating and controlling things, are what has enabled the opponents of egalitarian democracy, justice, even, as we can see, the maintenance of the biosphere and planetary survival - who must be counted as among the most criminally insane human beings to have ever lived. 

This started with Charles Pierce expressing understandable nervousness about the havoc that could be made by the billionaire gangsters who have bought off or hoodwinked state legislatures into calling a Constitutional Convention but, really, the thing is an ongoing disaster just as it always was for slaves, for Native Americans for poor people, for people who love democracy and justice and who can see that a sustained environment is more important than any principle of law taught at Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago or Stanford.  The Constitution, Madison, Hamilton, Adams, etc. gave us Donald Trump because it gave us the Electoral College.  It gave us FOX news and Breitbart and the means of those with the most money to rig elections through doing exactly the same thing that we know Vladimir Putin did through Facebook, Twitter and other artificial flowers of "free speech, free press".  The de facto slave power of racism has done that all along, through an appeal to regional pride and resentment and, with the advent of movies, mass propaganda.   We haven't had Pierce's justifiably feared Constitutional Convention and things have already gone to hell and with such evil men as Neil Gorsuch - son of a criminal from the Reagan administration - on the Supreme Court and such others as Trump and the Republican Senate putting there, things are already in the process of going from worst to levels of bad we couldn't have anticipated before.   And it's done so with the aid and abetting of the "civil liberties" industry and such liberals as Earl Warren and, yes, even Thurgood Marshall. 

When Barbara Jordan gave her speech about her faith in THE CON-STI-TU-TION I was as thrilled as anyone but the forty three years since she gave it, I have to say that the experience of subsequent history, the adoption of Buckley vs. Valeo, Citizens United, the Reagan, Bush I and II, the Trump regime, the flaccid Democratic administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the court which has steadily and relentlessly destroyed the progress made during the great Civil Rights struggle and the laws that Lyndon Johnson made to address the worst of the legacy of overt slavery and American apartheid, and all of that allowed by or made possibly by or explicitly attacked with the very Constitution that Barbara Jordan expressed her complete faith in, I've lost that religion, entirely.  It's not an unrelated phenomenon to how I found out that my previous beliefs about so much of history and so many heroic figures from my past were not as sold.   It required looking hard at the actual primary record and getting past the slogans that can cut both ways.  When they are wielded by the powerful or on their behalf or the Courts - on a pose of even-handedness - pretending that a level playing field in which some people have everything and some have nothing will not always favor those with everything and crush those who had nothing.

The United States Constitution has a long enough history of producing evil, of allowing evil, of being the excuse for the permission of evil to last, even against the will of the large majority and as it murders them in epidemic numbers- gun violence, for example - to show that it is not a benign force.  Even if its formation were not demonstrably a compact with evil,  lawyers, other experts in the employ of the rich would have found ways to twist it into such and, as Wendell Phillips pointed out in his introduction to his book.

If, then, the Constitution be, what these Debates show that our fathers interned to make it, and what, too, their descendant, this nation, say they did make it and agree to uphold,  - then we affirm that it is “ a covenant with death and an agreement with hell,"  and ought to be immediately annulled.  No abolitionist can consistently take office under it, or swear to support it. 

But if, on the contrary, our fathers failed in their purpose, and the Constitution is all pure and untouched by slavery,  – then,  Union itself is impossible without guilt.  For it is undeniable that the fifty years passed under this (anti-slavery) Constitution show us the slaves trebling in numbers;  – slaveholders monopolizing the offices and dictating the policy of the Government;  – prostituting the strength and influence of the nation to the support of slavery here and elsewhere;  – trampling on the rights of the free States, and making the courts of the country their tools.  To continue this disastrous alliance longer is madness.  The trial of fifty years with the best of men and the best of Constitutions,  on this supposition, only proves that it is impossible for free and slave States to unite on any terms, without all becoming partners in the guilt, and responsible for the sin of slavery   We dare not prolong the experiment, and with double earnestness we repeat our demand upon every honest man to join in the outcry of the American Anti-Slavery Society, –  NO UNION WITH SLAVEHOLDERS! 

As I said the other day, the fact is that even with formal Emancipation, even with the Civil Rights amendments, Rutherford Hayes, who was made president through the slavemaster enabling provision of the Electoral College, ended Reconstruction and so started the period of unofficial, de facto slavery and apartheid under Jim Crow and, as I also pointed out, the apartheid state governments in the South and elsewhere reinstituted an enhanced form of the infamous 3/5ths rule under which, by depriving Black people their right to vote they counted for congressional representation and, so electoral votes only, then, concentrating 5/5ths, 100% of the power through counting Black residents into the hands of the white racists.  The Supreme Court, under the vote suppressor William Rehnquist and now under John Roberts are the means of reimposing this system on behalf of the racist Republican Party and the oligarchs they serve.  Nixon's "Southern Strategy" is nothing more than the commercial interests in the Republican Party choosing to renew the original corrupt bargain made by Northern commercial interests with the slave masters of the Southern States.  No matter how much perfume the law faculties of Ivy League universities and their product on the Supreme Court want to pour on it, it stinks like a decaying corpse.

I don't see how this can be tolerable for those of us who are opposed to this or those states in which Republicans don't dominate.  If it should lead to disunion, I don't know but I do know that this is not something anyone should tolerate any longer.  Not when the results are a George W. Bush and then a Trump within two decades with a weak, Barack Obama separating them.

* The spectacle of people who profess Christian religions voting in large number for the epically immoral self-worshiping Donald Trump and supporting such as Paul Ryan and Roy Moore shows that Hollywood values have supplanted The Gospels, the Prophets and The Law even among the religious.  That isn't unprecedented in history, nominal Christianity that accommodated its morality to the horrific evils of slavery, imperialism, uncontrolled capitalism, etc. showed that like every other human institution and creation, including the United States Constitution and the secular government it gave shape to, is susceptible to the same corruptions and that those always are.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Hail, Hail Putonia ----- I Am So Over The Nation Magazine

Is there nothing whinier than a conventional lefty who gets wind of a tradtional American liberal who disses one of the icons of leftiness?   Someone is pissed off that I dissed Trina Vanden Huevel and her hubby, Stephen F. Cohen for maintaining The Nation magazine as a Putonian asset.  Which led me to go look at what the emeritus New York University - Princeton Sovietologist has been getting into his wife's rag recently.   On November 8 there is a piece titled, and I kid you not

The Unheralded Putin—Russia’s Official Anti-Stalinist No. 1

A memorial monument to Stalin’s millions of victims—the subject of intense political struggle for more than 50 years—was commemorated in Moscow by Vladimir Putin, whose support at last made it a reality.

Which contained this passage:

Cohen explains that he has spent decades studying the Stalin era, during which he came to know personally many surviving victims of the mass terror and had closely observed various aspects of the struggle over their subsequent place in Soviet politics and history. (This history and Cohen’s is recounted in his book The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin.) As a result, he and his wife, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, felt a compelling need to be present at the ceremony on October 30. Having gained access to the semi-closed event, attended perhaps by some 300 people (including officials, representatives of anti-Stalinist memorial organizations, aged survivors, relatives of victims, and the mostly Russian press), they flew to Moscow for the occasion.

Which is surpassingly weird, as the piece has Cohen's byline and apparently he's referring to himself in the third person.  

If anyone writes a biography of Stephen F. Cohen, I would suggest that a working title for the later part of it might be "The Long Tongue Bath".   

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Trump Presidency - John Oliver - This Week Tonight

What Oliver said about the Trumpian tactics of distraction, changing the topic and trying to confuse issues seems to me to be so much more generally relevant after the brawl of the day. 

Jerome Kern - Bernard Dougal - I'll Be Hard To Handle

Ella Fitzgerald with Nelson Riddle arranger and conductor

Now we'll say till something do us part
That old dad of mine ain't got a heart
Any girl who's out for pleasure
Thinks of marriage only at her leisure
As it is, they've got the horse behind the cart

When my pop said we must wed,
He kind of wowed me, still I'm read-y
But one thing must be clear
At the start

I'll be hard to handle
I promise you that
And if you complain
Here's one little Jane
Who'll leave you flat

I'll be hard to handle
What else can I be
I say with a shrug
I think you're a mug
To marry me

When you first threw me a gander
I was willing to philander
But I never thought I'd have to be a bride
Now you're gonna find tough sledding
I don't want no shotgun wedding
I was only along for the ride

I'll be hard to handle
I'm telling you plain
Just be a dear
and scram out of here
I'm gonna raise cain

I'll be hard to handle
My bridges are burned
This wedding's a gag
And you're in the bag
Where I'm concerned

I'll be hard to handle
When we've said, "I do"
See there's no hope
I just got a dope
When I took you

I'll be living my life in bed
But they always will be twin beds
And I warn you, you'll be living like a monk
Our affair is now a past one
So don't think you've pulled a fast one
Just remember, I think you're a punk!

I'll be hard to handle
I'm no ball and chain
I'll find some means
To call the Marines
I'm gonna raise cain

Gonna raise cain
I'm telling you plain
I'm gonna raise cain

Answering Questions Before Continuing On

I was asked two things, one "why do you hate Hamilton" the other, "why are you going over that stuff".  The answer to the first is that the hagiographic mythology of "Hamilton" is indoctinating a new generation into a fictitious cult of the benevolent "Founders," though, for a change, a Northerner who is widely believed to have not owned slaves - he did, through his wife and her family, some of those in New York who held the most people in slavery - and who is presented as an opponent of slavery when he was as involved in its continuation as anyone else.  Beware a writer of musicals who has read ONE biography of someone like Hamilton.  Especially one hagiographic biography.* The second is as plain as the voter-suppression, the imposition of Trump through the slavery-empowering Electoral College and so many other things that are happening right now.

The reason that it's important to go over the actual record of what James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, etc. said were their motives in constructing the United States Constitution the way it was, to investigate how many of the features it was given by them and their colleagues, both those which allegedly disappeared with the Civil War and the abolition and emancipation amendment of the 1860s and others, later and those who no one denies were retained were put there to prevent egalitarian democracy, justice, equality of access to the necessities of life, and to allow the theft of peoples labor, the product of their labor, their basic civil rights and the ability of the oligarchs to do that and to wield control and power over The People is and has been ever present in the United States Constitution and, except in the rarest of cases, courts and, especially, the Supreme Court has acted in ways that damage instead of protect egalitarian democracy, civil rights of minorities, economic justice, etc.

Saturday's short passage from that pseudo-hero of abolitionism - as seen on Broadway - Alexander Hamilton quoted him as explaining why New Yorkers who were opposed to slavery should accept the slave-power enhancing corruptions inserted by such people as James Madison and other slave masters into the Constitution so as to prevent the larger number of voters in states where the opposition to slavery was already building from abolishing the crime in the country.  He put it in terms of the slave power never agreeing to form a union with the other states AND HE PUT IT IN THE CRUDEST TERMS OF THE SELF-INTEREST OF THE WEALTHY IN NORTHERN STATES, IN TERMS OF INDIGO, TOBACCO AND OTHER VALUABLE COMMODITIES PRODUCED IN SLAVE ECONOMIES BY THE STOLEN LABOR OF SLAVES.  The specific corruption so supported by Hamilton and embedded into the Constitution was the notorious 3/5ths rule which, for purposes of apportioning Congressional representation, electoral votes, the distribution of money and other benefits, counted slaves who were not only not allowed to vote but against whom that excess of power given to the slave owners would be used.

You might think that's something that disappeared with the Civil War amendments to the Constitution but the reimposition of de facto slavery and the Jim Crow system which prevented Black People and others from voting was an effective extension of the 3/5ths provision that has found a newer form in the tide of Republican voter suppression which the Supreme Court is allowing to do exactly the same thing, now.  It is the kind of thing that on a state level was used by the Republican-fascist government of Michigan to annul the rights of mostly Black voters in a number of places and which resulted directly in such things as selling off publicly held assets for the profit of Republican's supporters and the poisoning of the population of Flint. 

If you're waiting for the Roberts Court to admit that's what's going on, the disenfranchisement by Republicans - controlled by neo-Confederates and with an actual traitor to a foreign despot in the White House - putting like minded fascists such as Neil Gorsuch on the court - you are living a fools dream, one which is promoted by the media who have normalized this under other provisions put into the Constitution as interpreted by the cream of Ivy League privilege on past and the current Courts.

The observations of Wendell Phillips, of William Lloyd Garrison, of Congressman John Quincy Adams (Not to be confused with the John Quincy Adams before his own disastrous time as president, the result of a corrupt deal which he spent the rest of his public life repenting of.) are as relevant today as they were when they railed against the corrupt Constitution because all that changed were a few words and legalistic postures.  The same malignancy that afflicted the country in the 1840s is still there, the same sources of that pathology are there, embedded in the Constitution just where they were installed in the 1780s and retained as Congresses, administrations, state legislatures and more than any, Courts, under the force of corruption, themselves, have done nothing to hurt and much to enhance those corruptions.

*  I don't recall who it was who pointed out that in the multi-volume and, at its time considered authoritative, biography of Columbus by Samuel Eliot Morrison pretty much brushed off the genocide of Native Americans that he started, he being an especially brutal, cruel and murderous murderer of them.  One thing is certain, no one who valued the lives and rights of the people Columbus oppressed and murdered would have done that, so many of those trained in academic history and biography and, most of all, the law, don't care about such people and they're the ones who write the articles and books and publish them and review them.  You often have to go back and fact check their critics to get a full picture of an historical figure.  Anyone who believes they're going to get the real Hamilton and an appreciation of how his Constitution still works from watching a stupid Broadway musical is both stupid and dangerous.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Hate Mail

Oh, I'm not surprised that they might have had someone who apparently can't read stumble into Eschaton, a blog by a writer who doesn't write and hasn't for well over a decade, he having given up because the people who go to Eschaton never read what he wrote to start with.  It's a blog both for people who won't read and don't think.

I would call Steve Simels the Corey Lewandowski of Duncan's blog but any of the pathological liars of Trumpzi politics would do as well.  Anyone who pretty much always lies.  It's a hoot that they've got a newbie who doesn't realize that yet.  I wouldn't expect it to turn into a ground swell as that hasn't been happening in the past dozen or so years of Duncan pretty much phoning it in.  They sure can grow em lazy in the Ivy League.

As for Bachrach and David, anyone who doesn't think their songs of the 1960s presented women in swinishly sexist terms has got to be an old straight man.   I mean the putrid, "Wives and Lovers"?

Hey! Little Girl
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
I’m warning you…

Day after day
There are girls at the office
And men will always be men
Don’t send him off with your hair still in curlers
You may not see him again

For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
He’s almost here…

Hey! Little girl
Better wear something pretty
Something you’d wear to go to the city and
Dim all the lights, pour the wine, start the music
Time to get ready for love
Time to get ready
Time to get ready for love

Really,  "I'm warning you"?   Any woman with any sense of not being a goddamned doormat would have smacked the asshole in the face with a frying pan, stopped bothering with the curlers turned off the goddamned last bell and said,  "To hell with this" and found happiness alone or with a woman or even the rare straight man of the era who would consider her a human being and honored her dignity, not used her like an Accujack*.  And, lest anyone forget, it's a song written by two men.   If I'd heard Jack Jones crooning that at me I'd have gone postal.

And that was only one of their songs of advice and modeling women as being rightly victims of pre-second wave feminist male supremacy.  Their thinking was exactly what made the feminism of the late 60s and 70s essential and why it still is.

Not everything they wrote was an anthem of sexism and male supremacy but anyone who tried to have a relationship on the basis of their thinking would probably end up either insane or many times divorced.  It certainly wouldn't work out well for any woman.  Their thinking was entirely conventional and banal, I mean, sure, Burt could write a tune and his harmonic sense wasn't as crappy as John Lennon's but they were pop writers and it doesn't go any farther than that.  Anyone who tried to live their lives on the basis of pop culture certainly wouldn't be anything but vapid and stupid and constantly screwing up.... they'd reach 70 and be as much of a dope as Simps.

*  Yeah, I decided to go there.


One less bell to answer
One less egg to fry
One less man to pick up after
I should be happy
But all I do is cry (cry, cry, no more laughter)
I should be happy (oh, why did he go)
I only know that since he left my life's so empty
Though I try to forget it just can't be done
Each time the doorbell rings I still run
I don't know how in the world
To stop thinking of him
'Cause I still love him so
I spend each day the way I start out?
Crying my heart out
One less man to pick up after
No more laughter, no more love
Since he went away (he went away)
(One less bell to answer) why did he leave me (oh why, why did he leave)
(One less bell to answer) now I've got one less egg to fry one less egg to fry
(Oh why, why did he leave) and all I do is cry
(One less bell to answer) because a man told me goodbye (oh why, why did he leave)
(One less bell to answer) somebody tell me please where did he go, why did he go
(Oh why, why did he leave) how could he leave me)

Anyone, female or male (I don't think Hal David or Burt Bachrach could have imagined a man thinking like that) who is in that state needs to fucking pick themselves off of the mat and say, that asshole should have picked up after himself, learned to fry his own damned eggs and stopped ringing that fucking bell!   If they're unhappy to be rid of such a jerk their problem isn't that they need that or any other such baby man in their life, it's that they need to have their consciousness raised.  Geesh, 2nd wave feminism is as relevant today as it was then or we wouldn't have the kind of asshole they modeled as normal men in the Whitehouse.

The Russian Revolution — Part 2: Ten Days That Still Shake the World

This is the second part of the CBC Sunday Morning program dealing with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath.   Masha Gessen's take on what has happened and her understanding of the Putin establishment of a mafia state on top of a totalitarian system is worth thinking about.  And there's much more to it.