Saturday, December 16, 2017

Second Feature - Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe - Before I Die

Adapted and Produced by Ron Hartman
Music by Don Gillis
Starring Mavor Moore as NERO WOLFE
and Don Francks as ARCHIE GOODWIN
with Cec Linder as Inspector Cramer
Frank Perry as Fritz
Alfie Scopp as Saul
August Schellenberg as Dazy Perrit

I know it's August Schellneberg who played Dazy Perrit because I'd know his voice anywhere. He played lots of heavies.  I know shortly before his death he was in an all -First Nations production of King Lear that I wish I could hear because I can imagine him doing a really good King Lear.  I imagine it was recorded but I've never come across it. 

I can't place the other voice and, unfortunately, I can't find a cast list and the recording cut off the credits that I know they always gave.

I might have posted this before but this recording is much clearer than the others in this series I've found online.  I might post all of these in the next few weeks. 

In Which I Invent A New Word Because I Don't Think They Quite Got Burrough's World View Into One Word

Oh, joy.   I don't think I'd known that someone did a claymation of William Burrough's A Junky's Christmas.  Someone recommended it to me, an online kew-el kid.   William Burrough's world view isn't improved by his, for once, mixing sentimental fantasy into his mispanthropic* schtick, so thrilling to the pathologically eternally adolescent.   The same thing that makes people pretend that Lovecraft was a genius.   No, not thrilling, gratifying.   It means you don't have to try any more. 

I'd rather drink eggnog.  I hate eggnog.  And I'm allergic to milk.   

Where did people ever get the idea that there was anything remotely progressive or liberal or attractive or good about reading such nasty stuff?   Burroughs was a hypocritical asshole right-wing reactionary whose favorite journalist was the putrid Westbrook Pegler, who pretty much ended up a drunk working for crypto-Nazis.  Burroughs' world view and writing is directly related to his pathological political viewpoints.  It's not lefty or progressive.  It doesn't even make it as boldness, there's nothing bold about a view of life that's unrelievedly and unrealistically dreary and awful.  

You're just bringing it up to get attention like a little boy who belches at a Christmas Party. 

Grow up.  Nihilistic pessimism is for self-obsessed teenagers, adults know there's more to life than that.  

* I just invented it, meaning "hates everything".  

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Laura Bridgeman and Charles Lambert - Dogfood Diary

A heartbreaking and heartwarming seasonal drama. 
Twelve year old Dean has been left home alone. It seems great at first but Christmas is coming and there's no sign of Mum. Where is she?

Choir ..... Jordanhill School Senior Choir

Dean        Daniel Kerr
Shauna       Millie Innes
Tommy        Kieran Lynch
Peg                Wendy Seager
Fiona         Wendy Seager
Mum         Julie Austin
Mrs Burgess Julie Austin
Craig        Kenny Blyth
Kyle        Kenny Blyth
Headmaster  Kenny Blyth
Bruce        Sean Graham
Curtis        Leo Graham
Writer       Laura Bridgeman
Writer          Charles Lambert
Director       Gaynor Macfarlane
Producer      Gaynor Macfarlane

Hate Mail - You Are Such A Sucker The Play Left Is Made Mostly Of Them

Or If You Have To Ask Yourself Why The Republicans Are About To Vote For A Massively Unpopular Tax Bill, We've Got Government Buy, and so For The Billionaires Thanks To "Free Speech" And Some Of The Stupider Ideas Lefties Pushed

Hey, it's not my fault you stopped paying attention to "Clean Gene" in 1968 when he was peddling his phony PR image and shitty poetry as he first helped get Nixon elected, as he took the path that Joe Lieberman would take later, as he failed to get the Democratic nomination in 1972 (as I recall helping in the sandbagging of the possible winner against Nixon, Ed Muskie) and turning on the party, convincing idiots in a number of states, such as mine, to make ballot access easier for many guaranteed losers to act as spoilers in future elections - Paul LePage's election here was thanks to such an effort to "make it fairer" - to slam the next Democrat who succeeded in winning the presidency - Jimmy Carter - as "the worst president" in American history before going on to endorse Ronald Reagan in 1980.

It's not my fault that you were grooving on the 70s rock and your sub-minor celebrity to have been paying attention to things back then.   I'd already figured out that such figures and their pseudo-moralistic claims about victory through enabling Republican fascism was a guaranteed loser, and that was before the asshole joined in that landmark on the way to fascism,  Buckley vs Valeo, in which the Supreme Court idiotically handed the country to de facto billionaire oligarch.   I've read recently how that case led to the largely forgotten First Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti - which enabled corporations to use their "free speech" to fund ballot issues that they had a direct financial interest in,  the recent enough to be remembered Citizens United decision that made things worse and the McCutcheon decision which pushed us farther along the road to fascism. 

Byron White, in his dissent to part of Buckley vs Valeo pointed to the fact that what the Court was doing on behalf of Buckley, McCarthy etc. was to reimpose a mortal danger to democracy that the Congress had tried to prevent after Nixon had exposed how dangerous it was in Watergate:

The act of giving money to political candidates, however, may have illegal or other undesirable consequences: it may be used to secure the express or tacit understanding that the giver will enjoy political favor if the candidate is elected. Both Congress and this Court's cases have recognized this as a mortal danger against which effective preventive and curative steps must be taken.

But Eugene McCarthy knew he couldn't fund his vanity runs for president without big money from somewhere - probably Republicans looking to carry out Nixonian ratfucking - so democracy be damned.   And every attempt the Congress and many that state legislators made to avoid that danger has been overturned or undermined by Republican-fascists on the court, in at least one case I remember joined in by what I can only believe was the temporary insanity of the kind that the culture of the law leads otherwise sane Democrats into. 

So, yeah, Eugene McCarthy was a total asshole, a pseudo-liberal and a Naderesque figure instead of the great champion of liberalism that superficial and stupid 60s liberals remember because they weren't really paying much attention.   His supporters then and those who hold the light stick, in lieu of a flame, for him today are dupes, idiots and attention deficient fools. 

That whole line of idiot liberalism that enabled Republicans through spoiler candidacies that divide the left vote, that put their idiotic concept of free speech absolutism over the needs of egalitarian democracy and the real liberal agenda have been a plague on the American left for a long time.  The effects of Buckley v Valeo, which we live with in the form of Trumpian Republican-fascism ruling the country, occupying the court is the direct result of asses like Eugene McCarthy making common cause with the likes of James Buckley.   And don't get me started on Common Cause and their idiotic treachery in such things as them joining with Newt Gingrich to attack Jim Wright.  

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ajit Pai Is Such An A-Hole.  

As I recall the only time the congress was able to successfully override the veto of a bill during the Bush I administration was when they tried to screw the consumers of cable TV through deregulation.   I suspect Pai's degrees from Harvard and the U. of Chicago haven't prepared him for what he's in for now. Though I'm sure the scum bag has already got a golden parachute option ready for himself. 

Why The New York Times Should Look In The Mirror As They Tut-tut Trump's Lies

If there is one thing that is obvious about the regime of Donald Trump, that is indisputable, it is that the Donald Trump that people voted for was 100% a creation of the American media, the American "free press" which these days means "free camera," talk show, "news", and most of all entertainment media through his various TV appearances and the "reality show" he was the star of.   Oh, remember that word,  "reality" it turns up again later in this post.

I have at times had people react with puzzlement at the many times I've cited the famous Sullivan v New York Times decision of the supreme court as the beginning of Republican-fascist ascendancy.   It was the ruling that said that politicians had an all but impossible task to face when they were seriously lied about in the media.   Here, from a description of the case at what appears to be a minor player in the civil liberties industry,

The Times appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court. The newspaper argued that it had no intention of hurting L.B. Sullivan. The newspaper had no reason to believe that the advertisement included false statements, so it did not check their accuracy. The Times argued that if a newspaper had to check the accuracy of every criticism of every public official, a free press would be severely limited.

In a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York Times. In order to prove libel, a “public official” must show that the newspaper acted “with ‘actual malice’–that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard” for truth. The Court asserted America’s “profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.” Free and open debate about the conduct of public officials, the Court reasoned, was more important than occasional, honest factual errors that might hurt or damage officials’ reputations.

That innocuous sounding decision opened the floodgate for lies about liberals, Democrats, by the corporate media which has had the actual effect of turning the word "liberal" into a dirty one and which led to the country, in the very next election first having Lyndon Johnson decide not to run, for the press - with the help of the left - sandbag Hubert Humphrey and install Richard Nixon who began to appoint horrible members to the court among other things, before his criminality and evil caught up with him in the Watergate scandal and the marginally law abiding Republicans - of a kind which don't seem to much exist anymore -  forced him to resign or face certain impeachment

The timeline between Nixon losing the election in 1960 and him being elected in 1968 is almost divided in half by the Sullivan decision, among the things people want to notice in this fall from the height of American decency in one week in 1965, not the one in which the Sullivan decision was issued but the week that saw passage and adoption of more decency and democracy than we have ever seen before or after in the history of the country, to the election of a liar, a crook, a war criminal and the man who cynically mounted the Southern Strategy to convert racists into Republican voters.

This is worth mentioning because of this passage in yesterday's New York Times editorial about how much Trump lies jumped out at me

“Trump is different.  When he is caught lying, he will often try to discredit people telling the truth, be they judges, scientists, F.B.I. or C.I.A. officials, journalists or members of Congress. Trump is trying to make truth irrelevant.”

Yes, he is and he's succeeding, with the help of hate-talk radio, shock-jock radio, FOX and CNN and, lest it be forgotten, all that free time MSNBC gave candidate trump pn air to boost ratings, with the gutter press, including that owned by Murdoch of FOX, the Wall Street Journal and everything up to and including those ad spots they have during the hours when more lies are told in the media than any others, the ones in which talking heads and politicians and political operatives are lying all over TV instead of going to church. 

And unlocking of the door to all of that lying was The New York Times in the Sullivan Decision the same editorial column was bragging about a few years back on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary.  That the period since that permission was given by an idiotic Supreme Court which was addicted to setting up landmarks by that time, exactly coincides with the long period of traditional American liberalism being in the political wilderness.  That is no accident, it was the foreseeable intention of the corporate owned media having carte blanche to lie about liberals. 

The war on reality began when the Supreme Court said the New York Times could lie about public figures and politicians with a practical level of complete impunity, setting an impossible hurdle for a lied about politician or public figure to stop lies told about them.   It continued in other "civil liberties" rulings that freed the media, especially the electronic media, to lie on behalf of the owners and ad buyers and the class of people who the owners, publishers, editors and so many of the writers either were in or aspired to join.  The court could have let the Times' penalty for carrying minor falsehoods - which they didn't fact check - stand and said that the punishment should be a minor payment to the creep they lied about and a prominent retraction.  Instead they opened the stops on the streams of poison that have led us to Trump. 

A lie is an attack on reality, you can't both be against lying and and its results, one of those being Trump's current war on reality while crowing about how you made those lies possible.

The Donald Trump people thought they were voting for was a creation of the media AND THE HILLARY CLINTON THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE VOTING AGAINST WAS ALSO A CREATION OF THE MEDIA, ONLY NOT WITH HER HELP.   The media, perhaps most of all, the New York Times created the "scandals" a quarter of a century ago that painted the most vetted, the most prepared, the most competent candidate we have probably ever had get the nomination of a real political party as a cartoon villain.  The rest of the media which had the same permission to lie that the Times ran with in her case, including everything down to the gutter level of Jerry Falwell peddling videos accusing her of murder, but it started with the Great Gray Whore doing what the Warren Court so stupidly allowed the media to do.

Note:  I got some whining about what I said about Eugene McCarthy the other day.   Apropos of todays' post, "Clean Gene" along with the New York Conservative Party and its defacto leader,  James Buckley and some others, including parts of the civil liberties industry, were the ones who brought us further along to fascism in the Buckley vs Valeo ruling.   He railed against Jimmy Carter, calling him "the worst president" we've ever had and supporting the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.   Eugene McCarthy was a Nader sized ego with Nader sized resentment and desire for revenge but without a Green Party fraud to help him install more Republicans.   Eugene McCarthy was as phony as Paul Ryan but without the effort. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

You don't think I Knew You'd Try To Make Me Feel Embarrassed About That Bit of Esperanto*?

"For a long time I was ashamed of the way I lived." 

"You mean to say you reformed?"  

"No. I got over bein' ashamed.”

Mae West:  Goin' to Town

Try your hardest,  I'm not going to feel embarrassed about what the kew-el kids think they think because they don't think much and they're not my readers. 

*Why do you think I put it in.  I mean, other than its relevance to the point I was making. 

I Love Amber Ruffin - Amber Explains How Black Women Saved America from Roy Moore

Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Exodus 15:11 "He is not, in his characteristic way, by himself. He is for others."

In that video I recently posted of someone reading from David Bentley Hart, he discussed the absolute uniqueness of the one God of monotheism, the Creator of the Universe and how God (capital G, God) is totally unlike the many pagan gods who, even in the theogonies and pantheons of paganism are more like angels or demi-gods who are created and who have their ends and who are of the Universe and not the eternal Creator of the universe.  He noted that even many, officially polytheistic religions, including some forms of Hinduism, there is a similar figure who is above all of the local and minor figures of deity.   It's something I heard a priest and scholar of Vodun say about that much misunderstood religion, that there is the Bondye who he said is identical to the Jewish-Christian-Islamic God.  So all the snarky cracks about Christians being atheists in regard to Zeus are pretty clueless.

This impromptu Advent series I'm doing of excerpts from The Bible Makes Sense could easily lead to me just typing the whole thing onto my blog because, as I've been typing the book out, all of it is so interesting and provocative.  I'm sorely tempted to go on with what I posted about food and its centrality to the entire tradition,  posting the entire chapter.  But I will encourage you to read the book and to do the exercises in contemplating passages listed for consideration, reading Brueggemann's notes on those an asking yourself the questions he poses for thought, some of which I have had a very hard time doing.  If you use the book as a curriculum for study, it is a lot more challenging than you might at first suspect, but, then, he said at the start of it that the Bible isn't an easy book to approach or to use because it asks us to step outside of our day-to-day pragmatic, self-centered thinking all the way to questions of ultimate meaning.

In Chapter Four, which I'll concentrate on for the next few days, he gets to the heart of those questions.

4   The Center of the Odd Perspective of the Bible – God

There are many peculiar characteristics of the Bible which do not fit our conventional notions about religion.  Sometimes these peculiar features are an embarrassment to us,  but they are also precious to us  The most important peculiarity – hardest to understand, most precious to us – is not about literature or culture or history.  It is not about the strange customs of people or the strange turns of political history  Rather it is about God

The God of the Bible is the strangest thing about the whole Bible.  He* is the only one of his kind.  In all the history of religion, there is no other like him.  And that is hard to understand.  So the people who dealt with him in the Bible always wanted to relate to him as though he were like all other notions of God.  And in every time, even ours, we are tempted to force him into other categories as though he belongs to a species of similar agents.

But he is not like any other.  And his strangeness is in this  He is with his people  He is for his people   His goodness is not in his great transcendental power nor in his majestic remoteness nor in his demanding toughness but in his readiness to be with and for his people.  And his being with and for is not a matter of bribery or deception or intimidation.  He simply wills it so.  He is not, in his characteristic way,  by himself.  He is for others.  

As we suggested earlier,  a central theme of the Bible is covenant,  the notion of making commitments and keeping them,  of making promises and fulfilling them.  This theme emerges as central in the Bible because God revealed himself as a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God+.  That is who he is.  That is how he meets Israel and relates to the Church.  That is how he relates to his creation as a faithful covenant-keeper.  That is how he defines our world for us as a process of covenant-making and covenant-keeping.  And that is the good news of the gospel,  that he is faithful to his covenanting. 

In the Old Testament we may observe four dimensions of God as the covenant-maker who gives his people the strength and joy of life in covenant.

+  In the Hebrew Bible,  the Name by which God describes himself to Moses on Mt. Sainai is written YHWH..  The Jerome Biblical Commentary sums up a long discussion of the meaning and use of this Name by saying that it is “the Israelite name for God by which the association of Yahweh and Israel is mutually accepted and proclaimed” (p 738).  The more than twenty-five hundred year-old reverential custom of substituting the word “Lord” for the sacred Name YHWH is followed in this book  

The practice of modern Biblical scholars to add credibility to passages from the Gospels for judging their authenticity of giving unexpected, even embarrassingly counter-cultural content strikes me as probably a good idea.  If someone has to include something even if they know they'll get heat from it because they believe it, perhaps even contrary to what they'd be expected to like,  it's probably not included for personal edification.  The very strangeness of the Hebrew conception of God, the often contrary acts attributed to that God - such as when they haul the Arc of the Covenant into battle to claim God is on their side and he lets them not only lose the battle but lets the Philistines take the sacred Arc in their loss - tends to be convincing to me.  But no where near as convincing as the commandments to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, to visit the prisoner, etc.

More tomorrow.

* One thing to note in this, at least for me, is that the book was written 40 years ago, before the inclusive language movement had taken much.   Of course God is not a man, or a male (or a straight-white, man, to fit in with my theme of the day) and it is the lack of unsexed nouns and pronoun in languages that deprives us of something we can use that is better than "he".  There was a proposal by the always interesting Claude Piron for Esperanto to adopt a God specific pronoun  that would have fixed that.  My translation.

Ne estas facile klarigi tion, ĉar Dio estas trans ĉio, al kio taugas homaj vortoj kaj konceptoj. Jam la kutimaj pronomoj ne taugas, pro tio, ke Dio estas nek "Li", nek "li", nek "ŝi", nek "ĝi". Tial mi uzos la pronomon "di", neologismon, kiu laŭ mi estas la sola akceptebla. Kio sekvos, tio montras, ne tion, kio Dio estas, sed kion (kiun) mi perceptis, renkontis, ekkonis.

It isn't easy to clarify this, because God (Dio) is beyond everything, to what fits into human words and concepts.  So the usual pronouns don't work, from that, that God isn't “He” (Li) nor “he” (li) nor she (ŝi) nor it (ĝi).   For that reason I use the pronoun “di” a neologism, for me that is the only acceptable alternative  That follows that show, not that, what God is, but what I perceive, recall and realize. 

 Having something like that in English would make typing these passages out easier to our 40 years progression towards equality.  The God of Moses if not that of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah as well as their children, is certainly best referred to by pronouns and words specific to God. not human beings and not with reference to biological gender.  We just don't have those in English, yet.

Oh, For Pity Sake, This Isn't Hard - Appealing To Those Who Can Be Persuaded To Vote With Us Is A Deep 50 State Strategy

"You're a fucking idiot if you think that you're going to get redneck racists who voted for Roy Moore to vote for Democrats." 

For crying out loud.  You guys drive me to despair. 

To start with, not everyone in Alabama who could have voted, did vote.  There were certainly poor White People who aren't racists who didn't vote, for one reason or another. Some who are discouraged on the basis of what politicians have won there as Democrats on a national level gave up in such places.  Including some who could have been persuaded to vote for Doug Jones.   People you would stereotype as "redneck racists". 

There are also "redneck racists" who didn't vote but who might be persuaded to go out and vote for Roy Moore when someone shows them what you and the Rude Pundit said about them.  I'll bet there were people who voted for him in Alabama on the basis of not much more than through the appeal of regional resentment that you guys have been stoking all along.   The great Samantha Bee called out to that later group on her last show before the election when she begged them to prove they were better than "us Yankee assholes" believed.  Samantha Bee is smarter than you guys, she gets it.

I never said we needed all of them, we just need the ones we can persuade to be with us on the basis of equal rights, equal dignity and equal justice.  We have been doing badly without them for a long time, now.

And there are a lot of White Voters, even those under the apparent moral incapacity of having  college credentials and a white collar job, who do vote for Democrats and more who could be convinced that they should vote for Democrats.   Maybe even some who have voted for Republicans.   If the write in vote had gone for Roy Moore - I assume most of those votes cast by White Republicans or Republican leaning voters who couldn't stomach voting for him but could vote for someone putrid but less putrid like Luther Strange - Roy Moore would have won. 

This isn't about converting the entire set of people you like to put in the White Working Class into liberal Democrats, it's about convincing enough of those people, many of whom don't fit into your self-congratulatory, self-gratifying stereotypes, to vote for Democrats.    The most morally and politically potent way to do that is by showing them their interests are the same as Black Working Class people who are used up and thrown away in much the same way.   White Women were the largest class of people to benefit under Affirmative Action - the huge secret that racists have successfully buried - White Working Class People would be a large class of people who benefit from Democratic governance.  If the crude Lyndon Johnson who on occasion used offensive language  BUT WHO DELIVERED THE GREATEST ADVANCE IN CIVIL RIGHTS OF ANY PRESIDENT hadn't been suckered into escalating the war in Vietnam by the Harvard boys, if he hadn't been sandbagged by those promoting Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy*, he would have been reelected in 1968 and his Great Society program would have transformed the country and American politics.   A lot of what was used to undermine Johnson in the Democratic Party was based in the kind of regional snobbery that you're still undermining the Democratic Party with today.

How do such stupid people get away with selling themselves as smart?

Oh, yeah, and the extra capitalizations that annoy you.   I think Voters should be capitalized because the Voters are the most important part of the government, the roots and trunk that are what the other branches depend on.  Voters role in government is in need of boosting, especially these days as the "three branches" are all attacking Voters and Voting.   And I think The People and the various constituents of The People deserve capital letters as well, what with the cog-sci, soc-sci, psy-sci attack on us, our dignity and our very self-conception of ourselves.   I'm getting better at remembering that.  We have suffered under academic attack for too long and we need to raise our consciousness - ourselves, not allow them to be dismissed.   Letting me know you're annoyed by those capital letters is no way to get me to stop doing it.

* The treachery of Eugene McCarthy after 1968  is an interesting case to consider, as is that of Ralph Nader.

Why Doug Jones Is Smarter Than The Rude Pundit And So Many Others

I don't have any problem at all with the people who are noting who it was who voted for Doug Jones and who have been the most reliable groups of people for Democrats and that if Democrats want to inspire them to come out and vote they have to give them a reason to be enthusiastic.   Black Women in Alabama, when considered as a demographic group, voted for Doug Jones by a large percent, White Women there, when considered as a demographic group, voted for Roy Moore.   As Newsweek put it,

On average, women preferred Jones by 57 percent, according to CNN, but the breakdown differed greatly by race. Black women were a particularly important demographic for Jones’s win, turning out in big numbers in a way that was reminiscent of Democratic turnout for former President Barack Obama.

Ninety-eight percent of black women voted for Jones, while 63 percent of white women voted for Moore. About 30 percent of white voters overall chose Jones, CNN reported.

Which is certainly an important thing to consider and, as a politician, a Democrat who won a Senate seat from one of the most Republican of states* Doug Jones and those who turned out the vote for him know that better than anyone.   Charles Barkley had every right to say what he did on that count though why the websites and magazines only have pictures of him looking angry attached to it, I don't know.  It was a reasonable thing to say and I'm certain that it was already known by the guy who reportedly risked his life to bring Klan members to justice.  Clearly Black Women, Black People in general, are about the most loyal and dependable groups in the large Democratic coalition and their issues must be addressed.  Why anyone thinks that is not exactly the same interest of us all, equality under the law and in society, justice, especially criminal justice and most of all economic justice, is what led to me writing this.

When a group is asking for equality, they are making the entirely reasonable demand that they be treated like the best are treated, that isn't a "zero-sum game,"  the way it's generally presented in journalistic and pundiotic presentations of it. 

The problem of the United States has, from the start, been that various classes of rich, powerful men have rigged things so they can steal stuff from poor people.  Slavery was a legal system of slave owners stealing the products of slaves labors.  The same can be said in the wage-slavery that was never officially abolished.  That those are just variations on the same thing is how effectively chattel slavery went to a brutal model of wage-slavery in the confederate states after the slaves couldn't be bought and sold as property - that was the only real difference that emancipation made for a lot of people, a great difference but far from freeing people. 

To do that the wealthy, those who owned and own the media, used racism, other forms of local bigotry, regional resentment and derision, they had to find a way to distract groups and set them against each other so they could benefit.

It is a bad habit of thought that the left is hardly immune to.  I got the feeling that some people on the alleged left were relishing the chance to assert negative regional stereotypes so beloved of Northern snobs, especially those with college credentials.   It's certainly what you can see in what we get as a lefty pundit class, such as the self-designated "Rude Pundit,"  they do it even when they're making otherwise intelligent points.

As I've also said repeatedly, fuck the white working class. Fuck them. When their needs cross with those of the non-white working class voters you're courting, then great. And you know what? Most of those needs do cross because they are class-based. They need health care, poverty programs, jobs programs, decent education. Democrats keep wanting to pretend that racist fucknuts can be appealed to based on class. It's a comforting lie that is proven to be bullshit time and again. Roy Moore got 92% of the white vote, and that motherfucker was a wretched candidate before it was revealed he finger-fucked a 14 year-old. This country doesn't belong exclusively to white people anymore. The Republicans are fighting a desperate battle to try to maintain that white dominance. They will lose.

Apparently it didn't occur to him that Doug Jones got 30% of his votes from White Voters and that if he had been able to convince more White Voters to vote for him - INEVITABLY MANY OF THOSE PEOPLE OF THE WHITE WORKING CLASS - his security in office would be far stronger and his win far less narrow.    I listened to Steve Kornacki on election night at my brothers' and he kept noting that one of the big surprises was that districts with large college educated populations didn't do what they normally do, vote overwhelmingly for the Republican.   I don't remember people dumping on the college grads, you know, People like Us Pundits,  who voted for Trump** or Moore like in the same way they relish talking about "working class" people.

If there were some way in this century for Democratic politicians to put together a winning margin by convincing enough white voters in even the "reddest" states that their interests were the same as Black people Latinos, LGBT people to vote with the Democratic coalition, it would lead to the greatest advances in the rights of all since the last period when that was possible, in the mid-1960s.  That is something that would be the worst nightmare of oligarchs here and around the world.

It never ceases to amaze me how some of the would-be best and brightest among us think you can win elections by offending people, that you can win people over to your side by insulting and shaming them.   But such brilliance, more gratifying to snobbery than electoral success, is hardly rare on the alleged left.

But that's the difference between being a pundit-snob and a politician.   Doug Jones, if he hopes to win reelection will know that he has to increase his base, not shrink it.   He has to do that by convincing enough of the Voters of all demographics that equality means everyone gets what they need, everyone gets their due.   And it's clear that while many a lefty pundit, many a blog babbling, tweeting twit can use this in about the stupidest possible way,  which does more to endanger a Doug Jones than help him, he, as a politician who knows holding the office depends on votes, gets it.  He said so, on election night:

"I am truly, truly overwhelmed. But, you know, folks, and you have all heard me say this at one point or another in this campaign, I have always believed that the people of Alabama have more in common than to divide us."

THAT'S how to rebuild the Democratic coalition and win elections.   It's how to do it everywhere.  Yeah, I used to find the Rude Pundit funny though not much now, we agree on a lot of things but he's got little to no clue how to win elections,  pass bills, make laws and improve life.

*I read somewhere that Alabama is actually not the "reddest state" but that it's the sixth most Republican state.  You can, actually figure those kinds of things out because you can get an accurate count of party affiliation and votes (see second footnote below for context).

**  The idiocy of believing in surveys, in any of the methods of self-reporting that pretends to be social science, is that it leads people to pick and choose the results they like so to reinforce their existing prejudices.   If you love to feel superior to and hate on a group, you ignore the often quite large percentage of that group who voted with you while using an often narrow majority as reported in a survey to tar all of the members of that group.   Which is why so many snob-pundits never diss on the large percentage, often a definable majority of upper-class, college credentialed groups that vote Republican.   Those Republicans are more people like them - often going to the  same schools.

And there's more than a slight amount of class bias and cowardice in that, it's always easier to stigmatize poor people than people with money. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Halsey Stevens - Magnificat

The Good News Singers of Los Angeles, performed on February 17, 1973 at the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. Kent Kimball, conductor. Rob Skinell, trumpet. Becky Edwards, piano. Sopranos: Claudia Haynes, Norma Krummel, Peggy Schmid. Altos: Valerie Loskota, Gail Ferris, Becky Edwards. Tenors: Charles Bunnell, Hayden Jones, Rob Skinell. Basses: Mark Stevens, Huey Weatherby, Darrel Estel.

Text in English

The conductor of this performance posted it, I like how he gave full credit to everyone, wish they did that more often.  I also like how Halsey Stevens and his wife were acknowledged at the end of the recording.

Halsey Stevens was a very good composer and scholar, probably most known for his biography of Bela Bartok and editor of a collection of his letters.   You can, at times, hear the influence of Bartok but Stevens' style was always original enough so that you could hear his music was his own.   I wish people recorded more of his many choral works because those I've seen and the few I've read through are very fine. 

A Standardized Paper Ballot Marked By Hand, Counted And Kept Is The Only Standard That Is Acceptable In A Real Democracy

About the corrupt, Republican dominated Alabama Supreme Court ruling that allowed the destruction of the voting record in yesterday's election.  Here's what I said in 2008

We can't ignore this any longer. It's not exciting, it's not trendy, it's not sexy, it's entirely clear how it could be fixed so no one is going to gain a reputation for brilliance and become the toast of the scribbling class over it. It's only a question of whether the United States is a nation of laws and not of richmen, a democracy or a despotic oligarchy.

- We need one national ballot form for the national constitutional offices, President, Vice-President, Senator, Congressman. These are the only four offices that have a direct impact on us all. The citizens of the entire country have a right to these four offices being filled in a completely honest way. Everyone has a right to know that every congressman was chosen honestly, even in the district farthest from where they live. They make the laws that govern all of us. There is an overriding interest in the citizens of the entire country having an honestly chosen federal government strong enough to overcome constitutional objections. This is THE question of national integrity, not a detail of petty federalism.

- We need one form of ballot for those offices, no butterflies, no esthetic tampering. One form that a child learns in fourth grade and that doesn't change for as long as our form of government doesn't change. President, Vice-President, Congressman, Senator. One ballot for each office if there are that many candidates in a district but one form that is as familiar to a voter as a Lincoln penny.

- We need those ballots to be on paper, marked clearly by hand with an X or a check mark, either a valid mark. One ballot form, one thing for the voter to do. Both have worked for decades and there is no reason to fool with it. People unable to mark their own ballots is an issue, but it is one that can be solved without recourse to unreliable machine voting. 

- We need them to be counted by hand with observers from all parties. Those ballots are to be counted honestly, everywhere, every time. If local officials can't run a clean election it will be run by a higher level of government. If you don't like that, look at those clean, honest, simple and quick elections they've got in Canada run by Elections Canada. You can go to their web site and see how those practical people have managed simple methods for dealing with problems of disabled voters. Look now before the Conservative government starts trying to copy cat the United States to steal elections for themselves. They manage to pull it off in a matter of weeks, our system, designed for corruption, can’t get it right in as many months. 

No electronic voting for the federal constitutional offices is to be tolerated. We have seen that electronic voting and vote tabulation is certain to give an inaccurate count and that's even when it isn't rigged to steal the election.

The results of two almost certainly stolen presidential elections in a row are all the proof anyone needs that a crooked election gives us a crooked government. We might get a crook in an honest election, we are certain to get one from a crooked election. The elections of 2000 and 2004 have given us the disaster of Iraq and will produce at least one more disaster, probably in Iran. The Republicans who stole these elections are costing us in blood, in honor and in money. We cannot afford to nickel and dime democracy, the cost is staggeringly high if we continue to cheat ourselves out of honest elections.

Computers and modern research have allowed the Republican Party to destroy the last and best hope for a free people to govern themselves. We aren't living in an age where genteel comity and a bit of indulgence of petty theft can be smiled at. If the DC-NY scribblers and the law professors had the blood of their children and themselves at risk they might see it more clearly. It is only a matter of who lives and who dies. 

As The Knots In My Spine Relax In Relief

Until it had unknotted when I heard that Doug Jones had narrowly won over Roy Moore in Alabama, I hadn't realized how tense I'd gotten over the Senate race there.   Alabamans have proven that they are better than Steve Bannon and the billionaire oligarchs who fund his fascism hoped they were, they also proved they are better than Republicans who managed to barely make it over that lowest of bars but still hoped for Moore's vote or to use his victory to install an appointed Republican in the seat. 

I am all in favor of encouraging Alabamans to realize they've deserved better all along.  To look hard at their recent history of incredibly corrupt politicians and judges and to use this as their turning point away from that, proving to the country that in every state there are people of good will and good intentions.  Alabama is hardly the only state that has had terrible corruption and terrible people elected,  I know, Paul LePage is still governor here. 

The coverage of the election said that Doug Jones ran a very aggressive campaign with a huge get out the vote effort - one Alabaman I heard said he'd had to build that up from nothing.   I took that to mean that this is another vindication of the 50-state-strategy that Howard Dean implemented only to have it destroyed by Rahm Emanuel and, let's face it, Barack Obama who was faulted for refusing to share resources with lots of Democrats down the ticket from him. 

It was a defeat for Republican depravity but it was also a defeat for snobbery, especially regional snobbery which has given Republicans a tool with which to gull a margin of voters in many places targeted by snobs to win over and over again.  That is something which they've been doing successfully for decades, now, and the snobs have bought us nothing but defeat.  Smart people who wanted decency to rule would have learned a lesson by now, the snobs aren't smart people and they don't care about decency as much as their high opinion of themselves. 

There isn't any time to lose, I heard a Republican from Alabama say that Doug Jones will lose the seat in 2020.  I hope that Jones gives such great constituent service, that he is such a good Senator for his state and the country that that is wrong but Republicans will be trying to make lies and hate and resentment and bigotry work for them.  If they can be blocked from doing that in Alabama it will be a huge defeat.   There would be nothing greater than to see things turn back in the direction of decency, the pivot back based on Alabama. 

Right now, there's a terrible tax bill to defeat,  Susan Collins and one or two other Republicans have to be talked out of voting for whatever deparavity they cook up in conference, there are lots of Republican House members from "blue states" that need to be convinced to vote for The People, not for Steve Bannon's patron. 

Duncan, Know Thyself

I don't know if Duncan was referring to the series I've been posting with passages from The Bible Makes Sense,  I don't know if he is aware of more about what I do here than what a few of his regulars misrepresent and lie about on his blog, I am certain he knows about that because it happens there every day.   That post where he accuses Christians of not knowing, as he put it in his jr. high level way, the "buy-bell" made me think first of the time Richard Dawkins embarrassed himself on BBC 4 while declaring that most Christians weren't Christians because they didn't know the Bible or were unable to answer questions about it.   When pressed by the Rev Giles Fraser to state the full title of On the Origin of Species, after assuring him that he could, he couldn't do it.   And he's the self ordained high priest of Darwinism.

To take just a typical example of the same kind of thing among the atheists and secularists, I can guarantee you that almost none of the Darwin fan club, including those among Duncan's regulars have read him or understand his theory of natural selection and his own support for its appalling social and political applications and the rest of what I was shocked to discover over about the last decade and a half.   I know that because I was both one of the regulars at his blog and I was someone who bought the common received wisdom about the phony, post-war Charles Darwin which fell apart as soon as I did what I hadn't done before, read the first hundred pages of his second book,  The Descent of Man and realized that his citations proved I'd been sold a whopper of a lie ever since high school.   A lie which  I would guess, most American atheists believe with all their hearts, though I'm certain Dawkins knows better because he certainly has read the books and read Darwin's glowing endorsements of Galton and Greg and Haeckel and made his own assertions about the great benefits of letting poor people, sick people, the disabled die of neglect if not by outright slaughter, complaining about the dysgenic effects of vaccination, medical care and the horrifically bad level of support given the destitute by the work houses of Victorian Britain.  It's right there for all to see. 

In short, Charles Darwin would have fit right in with the worst of the Republicans on economics, provided they didn't oppose the teaching of evolution.  It was one of the first things I realized,  that Darwin's belief in his own theory led to him agreeing with the worst of economic theory.   And if Richard Dawkins bothered to read the fifth and sixth editions of On the Origin of Species, he would know that Darwin, himself, said that Natural Selection, proper, was identical to Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism and that he said so at the urging of his co-inventor of the idea,  Alfred Russell Wallace.

As any number of people who have read the scriptures could tell you, the economics laid down in the Bible not only might serve as the source of American liberal economic thinking (I'm convinced it is the actual origin of it), it is more radically redistributive downward than anything that any radical economic expert ever thought of.  In practice the theories of Marx produced a horror.   It certainly makes the program of the British Labour Party, even today, look like the trafficking in pittances that Marilynne Robinson pointed out it was in her great and neglected book,  Mother Country.   Darwinian economics are so brutal and so awful that even Richard Dawkins has said the human society they produced is one no one would want to live in.  I'd add no one except the most depraved of the Darwinists*.  And those have, actually, shown us what can happen when you base a political regime on Darwinian biology.

So, are the regulars at Duncan's blog who don't know that because they never read any of Darwin's science not true believers in Darwinism?   Not to mention the other, enormous areas of science that they believe in on pretty much the same basis as a devotee of some alleged supernatural apparition believes in that?  That's something that we all have no choice in doing because no one, not even the most accomplished scientists can know more than a small bit of science and have to take most of what they accept as knowledge in that area on faith.

And when it comes to the social sciences, what a naive faith it must be because the social sciences are about the most faith-based academic fields there are.  I do find it funny that someone whose claim to intellectual credibility is based on his PhD in economics would fault someone else for faith in something that is too big to know and which is, pretty much, in the business of selling assertions about a huge and mysterious phenomenon they neither can know or understand.

So much more could be said about the house religion of Duncan's regulars but I've got to get back to regular business.   I think we could agree on one thing, too many people who profess Christianity aren't very good at knowing it and doing it - something, which, by the way,  Jesus predicted and warned about - if American Christians really believed that they were to do unto others as they would have done unto them, American democracy and a genuinely traditional American liberal economics would flourish.  The entirety of egalitarian democracy with economic and social justice is warranted under that saying and reinforced and extended by others.  Atheism provides nothing similar, materialism undermines and rejects it.

*  Including his own son who ran for a seat in parliament on a Darwinist program, including opposing vaccinations.   Luckily he lost.   But I will point out again that as Francis Galton's successor as the leader of British eugenics,  he agitated for Germany to adopt eugenics, despairing that they wouldn't until he was thrilled as could be when the Nazis came to power and instituted their eugenics laws.  If Duncan missed me pointing it out,  Leonard Darwin said in April of 1939 that his father's thinking had led to Germany being turned "in the right direction".  The same year they started the actual, industrial program of mass murder and started World War Two to implement an overtly Darwinian program of replacing the population of Poland with "Aryans".

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Do You Have To Have It Spelled Out For You?

Jack Benny:  I know this is awful sudden, Marilyn, but will you marry me?

Marilyn Monroe: Marry you?   But look at the difference in our ages!

J.B.  Well, there isn't much difference, Marilyn,  You're 25 and I'm 39. 

M.M.  Yes!  But what about 25 years from now?   When I'm 50 and you're 39?

Jack Benny:   Gee,  I never thought of that.  

I was tempted to post the video from Youtube but I'm sure it will be lost on the idiots who troll me that Jack Benny was making fun of male conceit and ego in his daydream of being with Marilyn Monroe.   I'm sure it would be taken the wrong way because even TV comedy of that era depended too much on it's audience knowing something.   She was a great comic actress too, such a tragedy. 

Update:  I adored Jack Benny, anyone who didn't love Jack Benny has no soul. 

Extra Hate Mail

So, let me get this straight.   Simps says he'll stop lying about me at Duncan's if I'll apologize for him? 

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is A Professional Liar

As Al Franken is hounded out of the Senate on the basis of just about nothing,  Think Progress got the list of the exoneration witnesses that Sarah Huckabee Sanders said cleared Trump of the multiple accusations that confirm what he  bragged about doing  on tape and publicly on Howard Stern's radio show, grabbing women by their genitals and walking in on young girls in a dressing room because he owned the pageant they were dressing for.

Katie Blair 
Katie Blair is offered by the White House as an “eyewitness” who disputes the account of Samantha Holvey, who alleges “Trump personally inspected each of the contestants” at an event prior to the 2006 Miss USA pageant. Holvey said it was “the dirtiest I felt in my entire life.” She also said that Trump went into a dressing room while some of the contestants were getting ready.

Blair, however, was not even a contestant at the 2006 Miss USA pageant and has not publicly commented on Holvey’s claims. She was the winner of Miss Teen USA in 2006, which is a different event. Miss Teen USA was held in August 2006 in Palm Springs. Miss USA was held in April 2006 in Baltimore.

Blair spoke out after “multiple other former contestants claimed he walked in on girls changing during a different pageant in 1997.” Blair said that nothing similar had happened to her. She did not rule out that Trump come into a dressing room while contestants were changing but suggested that, if it did happen, it’s because the women wanted to expose themselves to Trump. “[I]f anything like that ever occurred, the women involved were probably ‘well aware’ that Trump was coming back there,” Blair told the New York Daily News.

Melissa Young
Melissa Young was also offered as an “eyewitness” who disputes the account of Samantha Holvey. The White House list describes Young as someone who “Also Competed In The 2005 Miss USA Pageant.”

But Holvey was not a contestant in the 2005 Miss USA pageant. In fact, Holvey represented North Carolina in the 2006 Miss USA Pageant, while Young represented Wisconsin in the 2005 Miss USA Pageant. (A different contestant named Chelsea Cooley represented North Carolina in 2005; she won.)

An inquiry to the White House press office about this apparent error was not immediately returned.

Young has not publicly commented on Holvey’s account. She says that Trump was kind to her several years later when she had a blood clot that sent her to the hospital. Young described Trump as a “gentleman.”

Notably, one person who says Trump walked into dressing rooms while beauty pageant contestants were changing is Donald Trump himself.  Here is what Trump told Howard Stern in 2005:

Well, I’ll tell you the funniest [sic] is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know they’re standing there with no clothes… And you see these incredible-looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.

Trump’s language, that he “inspected” the contestants, matches Holvey’s account.

Anthony Gilberthorpe
Anthony Gilberthorpe first emerged during Trump’s presidential campaign and claimed to be an eyewitness disputing the account of Jessica Leeds, who says Trump groped her on an airplane in 1980. Gilberthorpe’s name does not appear on the document provided by the White House, which simply refers to him as “an eyewitness.”

Gliberthorpe’s specific claim about Leeds has no independent backing but is based on his “self-described excellent memory.” He claims that, as an 18-year-old British boy, he was in the first class cabin of a U.S. domestic flight. Although he claims “nothing inappropriate” happened, he says he remembers the interactions between Trump and Leeds exactly and monitored their behavior the entire flight. According to Gilberthorpe, Leeds was flirting with Trump. Later Gilberthorpe claims that Leeds, then in her 30s, confided in him (an 18-year-old stranger) that she wanted to marry Trump.

But even more significantly, as ThinkProgress has previously reported, Gilberthorpe is a notorious liar:

In 1987, for example, he told newspapers in England that he was engaged to fashion designer in California named Miss Leah Bergdorf-Hunt. “Both our families are delighted,” he told The Gloucester Express. It was later revealed that he was not engaged. Also there was no Miss Bergdorf-Hunt. He invented the whole thing.

He later won a substantial libel judgment from British newspapers that reported he had AIDS. But it eventually came out that Gilberthorpe himself was the source for the story. The newspapers appealed and Gilberthorpe ended up settling after the newspapers agreed to offset a small portion of his legal fees. The incident left him “very much out of pocket and with egg all over his face.”

Gilberthorpe also contends that, as a young man, he was “paid to recruit underage rent boys for orgies attended by ministers from Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet.” There is no evidence to support his salacious claims.

So the White House’s list of “eyewitnesses” consists of two women who don’t even claim to be eyewitnesses and a British man with an incredible story and a documented history of deception. The White House is suggesting that these “eyewitnesses” mean the claims of more than 14 women are “totally disputed.”

So, one who wasn't there to "witness" the event in the accusation, one who hasn't claimed what she was claimed to have said and a known and court-proven liar who not only almost certainly wasn't on the plane he says he was but who, in other details, said things that couldn't possible and almost certainly weren't true.  I'd love to see what a prosecutor would do to such exonerating witnesses.

Tuesday Night Radio Drama - Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe - The Squirt And The Monkey

Stars: Mavor Moore, Don Francks, Cec Linder, Frank Perry, Alfie Scott
Special Guest Stars: Jack Krealy, Patricia Collins, Sheri Flet, David Hemlin

I was going to post this tomorrow night but, again, the electricity is flickering here and the last time that happened it was about five days before we got it back full time.   I wish the CBC would revive its audio drama department, they produced some really good stuff. 

Hate Mail - Oh, Goody, Let's Continue The Brawl Over Christmas Songs

It is amusing in a mildly nauseating way for not only atheists but atheists who are hostile to the Jewish religion (though nominally Jewish, in some cases) to be pretending they're offended about what they falsely insist is a slight against Rosh Hashanah and a shofar.   If they'd done something really offensive on some Comedy Channel show or Saturday Night Live, you'd be yucking it up like Eschatots dumping on "monotheism" or sniping about circumcision or something like that.

You don't get to have it both ways, either you get to live within your "nothing sacred" claims or you can abandon them but you don't get to pretend you really believe nothing is sacred when it suits you and then to claim what you want to - temporarily - assert  something is to be temporarily held to be sacred as you vent for show.

And since post-literate levels of reading comprehension would seem to be a major contributing factor to the current form of atheism, let me point out that the reason Keillor had to invent that absurd example - OF THE KIND OF THING HE WAS OPPOSING - is because Christians don't write disrespectful, jokey songs diminishing the Jewish Holy Days.   I've never come across anything that could serve as an example of that.  I can't imagine anyone doing that, if you can find an example, send it to me and I'll comment.

I read online that approximately half of the top of the pop-chart Christmas songs are written by Jewish songwriters, some of them not half-bad as pop songs but none of them exactly Christian in content.  I can say that my all time most hated Christmas pop song, ever, which I absolutely hate  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas seems to be the product of gentile Hollywood song hacks.

I haven't seen anything definitive but looking up that bit of trivia, I did find out that the long told story of the composer of one of the most popular of the serious Christian content Christmas songs, O Holy Night, Cantique de Noël, that Adolphe Adam was Jewish and that the Archbishop of Paris wanted the song suppressed for that reason, would seem to be a myth.   From what I've read someone who was writing on the topic for a dissertation tried to find confirmation that Adam was Jewish and couldn't find any, including that none of the people who knew Adam seems to have identified him as Jewish, as didn't the Nazis when they were compiling anti-semitic reference books about music.  I haven't read deeply on the subject but if that's true then how the myth got started and spread is more interesting than the myth, itself.  It's kind of disappointing if it's not true that he was Jewish. I liked the irony.  If I can be excused for using the "i" word.

It was thrilling, last year,  to find the recording of the great, great late 19th century- earliest 20th century French bass, Pol Plaçon singing it because he would almost certainly have known how Adam would have expected to hear it sung.

One thing is absolutely certain, the first Christmas song, the most often sung, the most widely sung, from even before Christmas was part of the official church calendar, the most translated, most often set Christmas song was composed and sung by a Jew, the mother of one of the most famous of all Jews, Mary the mother of Jesus, whose birth is what Christmas is all about, the occasion of her composing My Soul Doth Magnify The Lord.   The entire content of it is absolutely saturated with Jewish content, the original Christmas song is a Jewish song.  You can hear that passage from Isaiah reflected in what it says about the powerful being thrown down from their high seats, the poor being filled with good things and the rich sent away empty.   I really love this simple setting by George Dyson,  Freeman Dyson's father who was an Anglican church composer.


I know Dyson expected it to be sung by boys' voices but it would be nice to hear it sung by Mary's fellow  women.  We really need either a gender neutral or a female equivalent of "fellow" for just such statements .

Hungry People Don't Need To Be Told About The Centrality Of Giving And Receiving Food To Religious Practice

It's true, the observation made by John Dominic Crossan, to people who are used to not missing meals, who never had to worry about where their food was going to come from into the foreseeable future, realizing how much of the Bible centers on food can be kind of a surprise.  Our inability to appreciate that in a superficial reading of the Bible or to even get it is a good example of the position of affluent people, even affluent in the way of second or third generation middle-class Americans, as biblical outsiders and of people who can't possibly understand the Scriptures without an intentional exercise of the kind of historical imagination the sections of his book posted here the last couple of days advocate. 

The next section of Chapter 2 deals with some of the major examples of how food, its giving and receiving, of getting it in a context where that is unexpected and out of the natural realm of expectation is central to understanding the Bible and really biblical religion.   I will note that I think that since this was written, forty years ago,  Brueggemann, in his more recent talks and writing, would emphasize the role that neighborliness plays in the miracles asserted in poetic form in the Bible.  I've inserted the passages that the book cites, for the convenience of those who don't have a Bible handy, they are from the Revised Standard Verson.

Some Biblical Uses of This Story

Among the uses made of this story in the subsequent retellings are at least the following.  In Isaiah 55:1-3, a poem for exiles when the community of Israel in the sixth century B.C. is hopeless, starved for faith as well as for bread,  it is asserted that bread is freshly given and milk is for the taking.

Isaiah 55:1-3

An Invitation to Abundant Life

55 “Ho, every one who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in fatness.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.

This poet, one of our comrades in faith, has taken the manna story and has presented it in yet another form so that his contemporaries can see their situation differently.  Exile, like the wilderness sojourn, seems hopeless and without signs of life.   But for people who remember imaginatively, exile, like wilderness, is seen to be a place where God freely nourishes his desperate people.  Deathly places, wilderness, or exile are, because of Yahweh, places of life.  In this poetry of Isaiah 55, it is not self-evident that the poet consciously alludes to Exodus 16, and perhaps he does not.  But the theme floats in the life of his people, and listeners of such poetry make connections out of their stock of historical memory.  And quite clearly,  whether intended by the poet or not,  the link between the old narrative and the new poetry enlivens both.  Both take on fresh meanings which yield power and insight for a community in a seemingly hopeless situation.  

In the New Testament, the Gospel of Mark records two feeding actions of Jesus.  In 6:30-44 he feeds fie thousand in in 8:1-10 he feeds four thousand,  

Mark 6:30-44

30 The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. 34 As he landed he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the hour is now late; 36 send them away, to go into the country and villages round about and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii[a] worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down by companies upon the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Mark 8:1-10

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him, and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; 3 and if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come a long way.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these men with bread here in the desert?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish; and having blessed them, he commanded that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate, and were satisfied; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. 10 And he sent them away; and immediately he got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the district of Dalmanu′tha.

Obviously the actions of Jesus are understood quite differently because the remembering church saw his actions through the prism of the manna story, and no doubt Jesus himself also did. It is clearly intended to suggest that this old history of life-giving food in a place of death is happening again. The narrative in Mark is quite self-consciously inventive in the use of history. It is imaginative in its presentation, but its imagination is rooted in a precise historical memory. As a result, Jesus is presented not imply as a miracle-worker or a bread-maker but as the action of God transforming a “wilderness” (cf. Mark 6:35, 8:4) into a place of nourishment, a place of abandonment into one of caring power, a place of death into a time of life. Jesus, as the power of God, transforms the situation. And as the church remembered and told this story and reflected on it, she drew a powerful conclusion: We are in covenant with the transforming one It has been so since our fathers and mothers in Exodus 16, and it is so each time we eat in the presence of holy power.

It will be clear to you that in reporting this story I have handled it like an insider.  By “insider” I do not mean one who has special expertise or technical learning.  Rather I mean one who lives in and derives life from the community which believes these materials.  Insiders are all the people who believe that these memories tell us about our past and these promises tell us about our future.  Outsiders, by contrast, do not take the materials that seriously but regard them only as interesting  materials which we can take or leave as they suit us.  Only an insider would take the connections to Exodus 16 in a way which energizes and informs the Mark narrative.  This connection has been made by the narrators of Mark who are also insiders, but they do it so subtly that it takes insiders to recognize the sensitivity and suggestion of the way the story is told.  We are engaged in serious Bible study when we are alert and responses to such interactions among the texts.

The piracy of hijacking the name and what would be the identity of Christianity by politicians even as they cut food stamps, wipe out the WIC program, stigmatize and vilify those on food stamps and subject them to useless drug testing for entry into the program (they also want to cut drug treatment programs) are guilty of as anti-Christian a violation of the very center of Christian morality and its world view.   I have said recently that after decades of thinking the last book of the New Testament had been a mistake, if it can be used as a lense to give a name to this hijacking of Christianity, maybe it is of more value than I'd believed.

There is no more characteristically Biblical act than feeding people who are hungry, making sure they have enough food.   Feeding the "unworthy" probably the most profoundly Biblical act of them all.  The very concept that there could be people who are properly placed in the category of "unworthy" is a sure sign of reversion to a Roman style of paganism.   With all the talk about the "de-Christianization" of Europe, there's plenty of that among those who proclaim their Christianity the loudest.  They're obviously too removed from the experience of needing food.  Which would be in line with what it says about it being harder for a rich person to get into heaven than for a poor one to. 

More of this, later. 

Monday, December 11, 2017


Hate Mail - It's So Funny When Superannuated Jr. High Style Bullies Try To Pull That Stuff

A. I don't get embarrassed about unimportant things because I don't care a bit about peer pressure, by the way, if you were my peer I'd try to disappear.

B  If you want to try to shame me you started out in the worst possible way by giving me every reason to have no respect for you. 

C. Do your worst, I don't care.  There's no one at Duncan's whose respect I want or would miss, there is no one there whose disdain is going to cost me a second of worry.   I mean, between the whining about movies v TV shows, bragging about what you're having for lunch, invading the privacy of your cats .... the kind of things you guys use those big brains you're always on about for. 

I did think the recent whine someone sent me about Moe being pissed off over the people who discovered that cave saying they used a dowsing rod to find the entrance to it.... well, they found it,  Moe didn't.  I don't think most of you could find your own asses without someone drawing a map.  What was the reporter supposed to do?  Suppress them saying it so as not to hurt Moe's scientistic-materialist sensibilities?   And him a journalist. It's the kind of thing that reinforces point C. above.  As it is, I don't think I'd classify spelunking as a science, more of a hobby. 

Imagination without historicality tends to turn to undisciplined fantasy

Continuing on where I left off Saturday,  Brueggemann wrote a paragraph about how a biblical model of facing reality through a covenantal-historical  framework needs both imagination and historical rigor,

But the imagination of an insider is always an historical imagination.  It is not just any innovative thinking;  it is inventiveness driven and shaped by particular historical experiences  It is the capacity to return again and again to the concreteness of the past of this historical group,  Israel/the church, and to discern there new meanings.  The notions of “historical” (which means rooted in the meanings of a particular community) and “imagination” (which means open to surging pulses of meaning) are dialectical to each other.  That is,  the ideas of historical and imagination seem to move in opposite directions.  “Historical” points back to precise, concrete, identifiable experiences   “Imagination”  means to move out into new and fresh symbolic overlays from the experience.  Historical keeps the articulation concrete and particular, and the imagination loses it in unexpected directions.  But they are dialectical in that the two must be kept in tension, always correcting each other.  Historical without imagination tends to be arid and not compelling.  Imagination without historicality tends to turn to undisciplined fantasy.  

I will break in here to say that the rise of Trumpist fascism in the United States is nothing if not a product of undisciplined fantasy about history and the present.  It is a product of show-business presentations of a pseudo-historical narrative and contemporary events, that plague the United States.  The one Trumpists hold is based firmly on movie and fictional treatments of American history, in which white men, "rugged individualists" with guns are always the heroes, various others, Black people, Native people, Latinos are criminals that the heroic trail boss or some hired gun or Dirty Harry or C.O.P. S. has to eliminate.  It is one in which people with the most privileges, white males but who lack the privileges of rich white males are encouraged to focus their grievances and anger on those others with even less and to turn aspirations of equality into an attack on them when the rich deprive them of even what they once had.  Or what they imagine their fathers and grandfathers had through the nostalgic fiction of movies and TVs.  And that isn't when the movies present the KKK, the Confederacy and the slave owning - commercial pirates of the "founding fathers" in a false, heroic cinematic fabric of lies, encouraged by TV, the movies and hate-talk radio.

The war on reality, the attack on the truth decried even within the media that mounted that attack and by the professional writers and talkers on whose behalf the media was freed to lie with abandon is an inevitable result of the total freedom to fabricate a fictionalized reality, the reality that Trump supporters not only choose to inhabit but, when they are shown the truth, they feel freed by the American mythos of total and absolute freedom to reject reality.

The contrast is also in content - none of the pseudo-Christian entities that are part of the Republican-fascist, Trump-fascist or, for that matter Putin crime regime in Russia focus on the history that disciplines the kind of biblical view that Brueggemann advocates which was always centered on slaves being freed, the destitute being fed, of the common good instead of the accumulation of wealth by those who could set themselves up as Pharaohs in their own little world.  Keep in mind that the decisive difference in what is imagined must be disciplined by the right kind of historical memory or it quickly gets seduced by either a willingness to enslave yourself in the security promised by a strong man or by the temptation to try to be of the ruling class.  That accounts for way, way too much of what gets called "Christian" in the United States and other affluent countries, even by some of those who make the loudest professions of a faith they betray by their actions

It is imagination which keeps the biblical past from being one-dimensional,  dull and closed, so that it is only a boring recital from long gone days.   When handled with imagination the tradition is seen to be a live memory always pressing into the present as a demand and a resource.  It is a resource because the liberating energies given by God are found to be still given by God to the same confessing community.  It is a demand because in that tradition we always discern in new ways the expectations of God to which we are called.  Conversely,  it is history which keeps imagination rooted and particular and under the discipline appropriate to this particular community.  That discipline means that all imagination in the community of faith must be measured by the events and experiences remembers by us.  The Exodus event, for example, requires that our perception be shaped by the gift of freedom and the protest against oppression, and this community is not free to think otherwise.  Thus the imagination of Israel and the church is not any fanciful ruminating on any theme in any way;  it is reflection on a defined stock of memories which shape and inform our present perception, attitudes,  and behavior.  Being an insider means nurturing a sense of the historical imagination of this community so that we begin to perceive and reflect and act as this community has always done.

The next few paragraphs give the quintessential example of what he is talking about, centered around feeding hungry people, which is the condition we are all a few hours away from no matter how much we have, the dependency that we are all mere days away from at any given time.  I'm giving it becaue it is such a good example of what the previous material describes.

Bread In The Wilderness

Here we shall consider one such dimension of historical imagination as an illustration of how such a practice might help us understand the Bible and let us be insiders to it faith and power.  While we focus on one such dimension,  a variety of others might equally well be chosen.  Exodus 16 is the story of Israel being led and fed in the wilderness  It is a story which is very old and long treasured by Israel.  And we may believe it was an important one in Israel's historical imagination, i.e., in her inventive meditation on her particular past.  It is clear that the process of the Bible itself is a process of historical imagining exercised on stories like this one,  so that fresh nuances are continually discerned in the old story.  The narrative of Exodus 16 concerns this people having left the slavery of Egypt on the way to a land of promise  But between departure from slavery and the entry to secure,  good land, there is this long, demanding wilderness stay. 

Wilderness, a central Biblical image, is a place of precariousness without food, without defense or resource.  The center of this memory is in the wonder that,  in this place, where death seemed certain,  God himself is present,  having submitted himself also to the conditions of the desert.  He is there with surprising,  unexpected,  and unexplained food.  The Bible does not try to explain but only articulates amazement  Out of that event Israel formed a central focus on historical imagination:  the bread of the wilderness is the bread of heaven.  

That bread is contrasted with the bread of slavery which is safe but gives neither life nor freedom.  That bread is contrasted with the bread of the promised land which will be good but which we do not yet possess.  That bread is contrasted with the starvation of the desert, for Israel feared she would die and yet she lived!  Out of that event Israel learned something crucial about the Lord her God,  that he is a very present help in times of Trouble (cf Psalm. 46:1)* in order to do the strange life giving thing when it seems impossible. 

Israel learned about the wilderness of life,  that though it seems forlorn and hopeless, it is a place of nourishment because the LORD is there.  She learned something about her own life,  that she is to live in fragile dependence, not by submitting to secure slaveries nor by owning the predictable bakeries,  but by being present to the LORD eve in the wilderness and living by his remarkable bread.

That event has become a prism through which Israel and the church understand life.   It is not the only such prism,  but it is a central one among the several offered in the Bible.  The gift of manna is such an elemental event because of of us hunger and yearn to be filled:  all of us crave nourishment and sometimes receive and sometimes do not.  All of us have a chance to give food to others or withhold it.  And each time Israel/the church faced the event of feeding or being fed, this elemental story was turned to be seen in yet another way.  Israel and the church have been enormously inventive in handling this memory  but the community is disciplined and limited by the original prism :  that in a place of death,  life was given amazingly by the Lord.  This story with always new nuances is told from generation to generation among the faithful.  We live as insiders in a history in which feeding and being fed is a sign and a focus for faith.  Outside of this historical imagination,  such acts might be experienced but not loaded with these particular meanings.  But insiders discern in such moments that which is denied to and hidden from outsiders. 

will remind you that the Children of Israel got out of the wilderness after forty years, the American left has been led farther and farther into the political wilderness, led by the cult of absolute freedom from the requirement to tell the truth, the requirement to take responsibility, the requirements of The Torah and the Prophets, the responsibilities of moral, serious adulthood for half a century and counting.  The consequences of the cult of absolute freedom for even responsible, realistic, moral politicians is that they are severely limited in what they can possibly accomplish because the moral center that allowed compromised politicians to do great things in 1964 has shifted through people being entertained out of it since then.

*  Psalm 46:1 
God is our refuge and strength,  a very present help in trouble.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Staunching The Leakage From Post Literate Prats

I am taking a break from not mentioning Simps because he's got all of Duncan's "Brain Trusters" (they really do call themselves that)  in a swivet over a sentence in Garrison Keillor's piece and they're too stupid to understand what the snippet that Simps used means and are too lazy to come and look at the context of it. If they weren't slamming Keillor over what I'd posted, I wouldn't do it.  What Simps got the tots all worked up over, I've given in blue.

Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism, and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write "Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah"? No, we didn't.

Christmas is a Christian holiday - if you're not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don't mess with the Messiah.

If you want to see the wider context of the passage you can by doing what the Eschatots didn't, reading the short piece I posted earlier today, below.  If you did you would see that passage comes after several paragraphs excoriating Unitarians for various and well earned reasons - by some of them, not all of them. Some UUs are peaches, lots of them are full of themselves - he referred to two of the number of holiday songs written by Jewish pop music scribblers AND POINTED OUT THAT NO CHRISTIANS HAD EVER WRITTEN OFFENSIVE SONGS DISTORTING AND DIMINISHING ROSH HASHANAH. 

Jeesh, you guys are so stupid that you couldn't see he wrote the words as an example of the kind of thing that is offensive but that gets written about Christmas by non-Christians (and some Christians and ex-Christians, Unitarians) all the time.  It was an example of the kind of offensiveness of the kind he was protesting against.

For crying out loud, didn't you ever learn about analyzing literary texts for meaning by 11th grade because that's the kind of thing we were at least exposed to in my rural, primitive high school.  And this isn't a Steinbeck short story* where you have to analyze the language and the structure to get the meaning.

I know Simps isn't so good with the old reading comprehension thing, he looks for stuff to take offense at so he can go get attention at Duncan' Daycare For Attention Seeking Geezers but I'd thought some of you knew how to read for meaning instead of distorting.   I know Tlaz is too stupid to know how to read from the time I quoted Feynman with a citation and a link to the source and the dumb dolly thought I'd written it, saying it showed I knew nothing about science.  But I guess I know how the rest of you can stand to spend time among your fellow post-literates.

It reminds me of nothing more than the time the "good Roger Ailes" a superior, former liberal-lefty blogger wrote about some bogus survey they did of bloggers eleven years back:

Twenty percent of blogs don't use text, but only ten percent don't invite comments from readers. That means 10 percent of blogs invite comments from readers without using text. How do they do it, with a friggin' rebus?

No, just stupid stuff.  No pictures needed.

I will bet he wouldn't have guessed that his friend in Philly would have provided a practical example of that kind of blogging eleven years later.

Now, back to ignoring Simps.

*  How well I remember Mrs. J.'s brilliant analysis of  The Flight, how the style of the story,  its language created the meaning of it in my 10th grade English lit. class.   She said she'd taught the story for more than 20 years and was finding new points to consider in it.   It was largely wasted on brats like us but it started something for some of us.