Saturday, January 6, 2018

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Saturday Night Radio Drama - Peter Whalley - When I Last Saw You

Jane - Lyndsey Marshal
Mike - Graeme Hawley
Neil -   Will Ash
Cath - Nicola Ferguson
Detective - Kate Coogan

Producer - Director - Pauline Harris

This isn't an easy play to listen to if you're expecting it to separate the sympathetic, good person from the evil one.   I think it might be a really good illustration of how expecting that doesn't take the possibility of change and maybe even redemption into account.  But it also shows how desperate someone traumatized by violence can be for justice.  What should the consequences for the original act have been?   Does the inability of the system (though not life) to punish the guilty make the second crime less wrong?   At the end, I felt sorry for both of them, though the solution was clearly wrong.  It's one of the best ones I've posted.

Peter Whalley was a really good playwright, wish I'd known his work while he was alive.  I'd have sent him a fan letter

Posted early as the wind is howling outside and there's no guarantee the power here is going to stay on.

Mikolaj Zielenski - Vidimus Stellam

"We have seen his star in the East, and we have come with our gifts, to worship the Lord."

Camerata Silesia, Concerto Polacco

You will want to turn the volume down, the acoustic of the recording is overrich.

Here is the Gregorian chant, with one of the most elaborate Alleluias in that repertoire.

Hate Mail - You Planning On Golden Parachuting Into Catalonia Or Something, Trust Fund Boy?

I am not interested in going over that again for about the jillionth time but you did lead me to look at what Duncan's written today:

And He Just Published It
It's petty, but watching Maggie Haberman and her NYT fellow travelers turn their brand to shit has been fun.

I believe if the comment threads were up I was telling Duncan et al that the NYT was crap before they ever noted it, I've probably held that opinion since before boy Duncan was born.  I recall writing on what a bunch of jerks they were right after Stonewall.

More interestingly, looking up the legacy hire at the NYT (her daddy was Clyde Haberman, previous NYT hack) she's a product of the Ethical Culture Fieldston School (the famous atheist Ivy prep school in NYC) which, considering that she's a major water carrier for Trumpian-fascist Republicanism put an interesting light on "Ethical Culture" a sort of antique version of "Humanism".  Just to keep with the theme of the morning.  I'm finding it really an eye opener just what the ideological and pseudo-religious background of such people are.  If you want more of an example, here's the irrepressible Wonkette (post by Evan Hurst) on what a dick she is.

Duncan saying that what's going on in the United States, getting his laughs out of the newspaper that got permission for the media to lie for the richest bidders [Duncan is a free speech-free press absolutist, on record as opposing such things as the Fairness Doctrine] is fun?  Maybe if you were brought up with a silver spoon up your ass and are one, yourself. 

The Utter Dishonesty of Academic Atheism

One of the consequences of living long enough to get old is that, if you're paying attention, you notice the attrition rate in the consequence of people held in high esteem in your youth but whose influence and even reputation sinks like a stone at their deaths.  I've mentioned a number of authors of would-be serious novels and other works who were all over the place in my young adulthood but who I doubt anyone reads anymore.  I've said I suspect that Gore Vidal will be one of those.  I strongly suspect Harper Lee's first published novel will be read even as her friend and mentor Truman Capote fades.

I remember talking with a lady I knew in her mid-80s, so more than forty years older than I was, she was lamenting that this particular author I'd never heard of and whose name I don't recall, was someone no one read anymore.  One of his novels was in the library donation box and I was in charge of culling out the ones which would go into the book sale or to be pulped.  I looked at the book and its c 1920s, entirely conventional, Brit academic post-war high purpose and entirely conventional Brit secularism was something I knew wasn't going to ever circulate.  I didn't discard it out of respect to his admirer and out of not wanting to have to put up with the consequences of not putting it on the shelf.  That sweet little old lady could operate like Louella Parsons if you crossed her.  I strongly suspect it hasn't stayed there as now other people are in charge of culling the collection and she's long dead.

That's a long way round to saying I doubt most of the current big names in new atheism are going to be any more durable and for what you can say about them that goes double for the literature of "Humanism".   How many people do you really believe read anything that Paul Kurtz [five years dead] wrote?   The younger up and coming atheists had already started scrapping him while he was still alive and cognizant enough to complain about it.  And even more so the scribblings of his sugar-daddy, the owner of "Humanism" after he bought it in a sort of friendly buy-out, Corliss Lamont. The literature of "Humanim" is, by and large, intellectual pablum which, as the sour-putrid but more honestly and misanthropically nihilistic critic of it, John Gray is based on a dishonest discrepancy between its two legs.  Naturalism is at basic and total odds with the melioristic progressive sugar coating that people like Kurtz* and even some of the real philosopher who pushed it, such as John Dewey (before the Lamont buyout) put over what was irredeemably the nihilism that must come with materialistic naturalism.  None of them, even Gray, is willing to really take their monistic ideology to its logical conclusions - and in order for it to be true, it MUST be taken to its end or it is false.

“Today, liberal humanism has the pervasive power that was once possessed by revealed religion. Humanists like to think they have a rational view of the world; but their core belief in progress is a superstition, further from the truth about the human animal than any of the world’s religions.”

John Gray:  Straw Dogs

I disagree with everything Gray says about that topic, though, because he, like all advocates of naturalism, holds out that there is such a thing in the holy religion of naturalists and materialists, science, when to be logically rigorous, the basic claim that everything is a product of material causation, including our thoughts are determined, the same regime of debunking the significance of all of our thinking must include science since that is just another application of the same debunked minds.  He did claim that, he said, "Outside of science, progress is simply a myth.”  How he could claim that the same deluded minds he debunks, individually and especially in the common consensus among a collection of deluded minds, could have in that one frequently applied, frequently debunked methodology have achieved the progress he denies in all other instances, is a colossal failure of honest rigorous thought.  I haven't come across how Gray proposes the methods of science (which were invented by people and whose boundaries formal, professional science often transgresses) escape his program of discrediting but it must be by resort to a claim of real magic or it is merely dishonest.

If you haven't read any of Gray, and if you do you might want to keep the suicide hotline number as the bookmark, you can get some inkling of his thinking in this interview in the New Humanist, but an even better take on it is this critical review of his most read book, Straw Dogs, by Terry Eagleton.

I think Gray's effective critique of such neo-atheists as Richard Dawkins and such other "Humanists" as A. C. Grayling is, actually, a debunking of Gray's own claims.   In his writing, he isn't an entirely rigorous practitioner of his own, claimed methods.  What he has done is attempted to free himself of beliefs, perhaps of dispelling the "shadow of the Buddha" that Nietzsche said would be the shadow of the dead God which would loom over humanity for, perhaps many centuries and, as Nietzsche knew, but few others dared to carry on as far as he did, leads to complete moral and intellectual nihilism, nothing survives it but power and will.   Gray stops short of the logical end of his programe because  he's set up science as a shadow of the very same thing he derides.

Looking back over my own progress away from such elite academic bull shit over the course of the last quarter century or so, the more the entire enterprise of modernity, which was based in a similar illogical, overextension, overselling, misrepresentation of what science was, what it could do and what it could not do, and a misrepresentation of huge numbers of claims which could not meet a rigorous definition of science and an attempt to impose its hegemony over the entirety of academic and human thought and life, all of that was no more than an illusion of light.  They didn't get rid of a shadow or drive back a "dark age" which is more a polemical ideological lie than anything else, they replaced the enhanced ability of some of science to make things on the success in figuring out some basic means of predicting and controlling physical regularities.   It's not magic and its extension past where it can really be done achieves what success it does on the basis of hunches and people forgetting when such hunches and the sometimes catastrophic results were sold as science.

The Selfish Gene and the rest of Dawkins' production will, I am fairly confident, be less and less read in the future but I'm thinking of going through it to find more examples as dishonest and bad as Dawkins' famous "first bird to call out" nonsense and the claim I noticed that at one time genes enjoyed the "freedom" to swim about independently in the sea - something so incredibly stupid that I can't believe someone hasn't called him out for it before now - at least not in anything I've been able to find.  I can't believe someone who has held a chair in the "Public Understanding of Science" has been able to peddle two such ideas as science, that someone who is considered a geneticist could claim that genes had an existence independent of living cells, not to mention the incredible assertion that genes "enjoyed freedom" that Dawkins and any other serious naturalist-materialist must deny to human beings.

Materialism-naturalism-"physicalism", etc are a symptom of intellectual decadence and, when those are expressed as science, as they are, constantly, today, a symptom of the intellectual decadence that scientists have brought science into.  It's a terrible tragedy because their doing that has made perhaps the most difficult and important task science has ever legitimately taken on, keeping us from destroying our biosphere with carbon pollution of the atmosphere and other industrialized destruction harder and that effort at saving ourselves through our minds couldn't be more desperately necessary.   Atheists have trashed the credibility of science, that has to end.

* I wish I'd kept the review of Kurtz's magnum philosophical opus "Exuberance" which compared his writing to Shirley Maclaine's.

Friday, January 5, 2018

McCoy Tyner - La Habana Sol

with Aaron Scott drums and Avery Sharpe Bass.

More hot music to ward off the cold.  This is one of my old standbys. 

Grassleys And Grahams, All Of Them, A Shameful Party With No Shame

With the news that senators Chuck Grassley, shame of Iowa and Lindsay Graham, from South Carolina, a state which has had little to no shame since it joined with Georgia to make the Declaration of Independence slave friendly in 1776, have told the Justice Department that Christopher Steel, the researcher and compiler of the dossier into Trump collusion with Russia should be indicted for lying about his contacts with reporters, they join in the coverup of the most serious treason by an American president in the known history of the country.   They are hardly the only congressional Republicans to do that,  Nunes, Rohrbacher, etc. have also been part of an obvious concerted effort with the Trump crime gang to cover up his crimes and stop the investigation.   The exemptions for the arrest of members of congress listed in the Constitution specifically and sensibly include treason as well as self-enrichment, what these traitors are doing should certainly be included in treason and if it isn't, the stupid Constitution should be changed to make it treason.

The Trump regime has done one thing beyond any question, it has torn the false front off of the Republican Party to show that it is the prime source of corruption and criminality in the government of the United States.  It has been for a long, long time.   All of the poses of patriotism and originalism and Constitutionalism and law and order and morality and virtue have been shown to be a total fraud.  The most cloyingly sanctimonious members of the Senate, among whom are Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, and the shame of Maine,  Susan Collins, have all shown that their public persona was a fraud covering up the basest of opportunists and the pettiest of partisans. 

Chuck Grassley is one of the biggest and smelliest old assholes in the Senate right now, a man who combines a prissy, phony sanctimony with a stinking mean and petty streak a mile wide.   It would take a Sinclair Lewis to write an apt description of him.  For his role in this coverup, he is the one who should be under indictment for treason. 

If anyone was expecting that there would be a group of principled Republicans who would tell Trump that it was time to resign or face impeachment, they haven't been electing men like that to the Congress for decades, now.  They're all Grassleys and Grahams.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Hate Mail

One of the meatheads (use of this term will become clear later in this post) of Eschaton sent me this with a taunting message just now.

Humanists UK‏Verified account 
Follow Follow @Humanists_UK
Atheism 'must be criminalised and categorised as contempt of religion because atheists have no doctrine... It is necessary to enact laws that deter people from violating the natural instincts of man and punish those who have been seduced into atheism' says Egyptian lawmaker

Of course, I wouldn't approve of such a thing, however, I was a regular, wasting my time at Eschaton in December 2006 when the then hero of many an Eschatot, Richard Dawkins,* was one of many atheists who signed a petition, the text of which was given by the popular atheist blogger Ed Brayton as:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Make it illegal to indoctrinate or define children by religion before the age of 16.

In order to encourage free thinking, children should not be subjected to any regular religious teaching or be allowed to be defined as belonging to a particular religious group based on the views of their parents or guardians.

Taking heat, the, then, high pope of English language atheism (before his sexism and racism gave him the cooties) retracted his signature, though by then it was a matter of public knowledge.  I don't have a list and wonder how many atheists didn't retract their signing on to something not much different from the thing in the "Humanists" tweet.   I don't know the relationship of the "Humanists" with such things but having recently mentioned the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" it wouldn't surprise me if not a few "Humanists" would sign onto something like that.

And, in fact, in the 20th century, there were millions and millions of religious people murdered by atheists in the anti-religious campaigns of the Soviet Union, Communist China, etc,  Many an atheist in the West, including Britain and the United States held up the leaders of those regimes as heroes for the west to emulate, none more so than the trust-fund atheist godfather, last of the Stalinists, Corliss Lamont, who bought the "Humanists" lock stock and barrel.  And those murders by atheist regimes are ongoing.

Oh, and as for the "meathead" reference, notice this part of what Richard Dawkins signed onto (before he chickened out when he got too much heat for it).

In order to encourage free thinking, children should not be subjected to any regular religious teaching

As I mentioned in that piece about the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" a week or so back, Richard Dawkins as a materialist and a biological determinist, of course, doesn't believe there is any such thing as free thought, he is a determinist, having peddled a particularly infamous statement of that atheist faith, as science in The Selfish Gene:

They [genes] did not die out, for they are past masters of the survival arts. But do not look for them floating loose in the sea; they gave up that cavalier freedom long ago. Now they swarm in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, communicating with it by tortuous indirect routes, manipulating it by remote control. 

They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.

And you can find the same and similar claims debunking free thought all through atheist literature, only those who choose to not deal with the ultimate logical consequences of being a materialist don't make those claims because free thought is impossible under materialism where everything, every aspect of reality has to be determined by the consequences of material causation.  Which, as I pointed out, means that all of it is meaningless or, at least, has no more meaning than any banal physical motion or chemical reaction.   Dawkins doesn't seem to think these things out very carefully, but, then, neither do most atheists.   I used to have a higher opinion of atheists before I read their thinking unedited and as babbled by large numbers of them.

* I remember one boring day when a number of the Eschaton gals swooned over how sexy Richard Dawkins was and the boys slobbered over Lalla, his then wife.   I figure people get to have the taste they choose (though atheists wouldn't logically be able to say it was a choice) but I always found Dawkins to be smarmy - nothing turns me off like a Brit Received accent.   Lalla Ward, I prefered the tough, smart Romana, Mary Tamm, sort of like I liked the original, tough cooky, Lois Lane.

Update:  Reading Dawkins' credo about "lumbering robots" again, I wonder when he believes genes "gave up that caviler freedom" of "floating loose in the sea".   That idea strikes me as so incredibly stupid that I can't believe I've never read of him being called on saying it before.  The fact is, there is no evidence genes ever existed outside of cells as independent entities.  They don't function outside of cellular chemistry in living cells.  What an amazingly stupid thing for him to have said and even stupider that no one called him out on having said it as science.

LIttle Miss Higgins - Middle of Nowhere

I had to post it again, considering what's going on outside.

Carla Bley - "Syndrome" -Mike Abene - Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw

White hot music to keep you warm.  Or at least me as the wind howls the cold air right through the walls.   Boy is my piano ever going to need tuning after this.

Trump's Creation Followed The Roadmap of The Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell.

“You can do nothing until you’ve reached the masses, in order to reach them without money, without status, without a public platform, you have to become a dramatic figure”.

To get your puss on TV and your voice on the radio, in other words.  

Yep, that's how the media created Trump, with help from the promoter of neo-Nazism in Europe, North-American and elsewhere Putin, American's own billionaire-oligarch-Mafia and such lackies of that as Bannon.  Only I don't think Trump actually realized that's what was happening.  He's their Chatty Cathy doll dictator.  Well, more Tweety Cathy (Tillie?).  

The paper I read that in is about the origins of William Pierce and The Turner Diaries.  It's scary reading though I knew a lot of it already.   I expect I'll be citing it soon. 

The transformed life of Israel, in contrast to the dominant values around them, focuses on justice and righteousness and steadfast love, that is, on compassion for the weak, on fidelity to human persons, and on the ordering of life which transcends self-aggrandizement and self-securing.

The common atheist-materialist-scientistic slogan that religion is static and never changes is, of course, not true.  An example of that can be seen in the subtle but unmistakable development of Catholic social teaching from the time of Leo XIII through Francis  Leo XIII, a deeply intellectual man of his time focused on a revival of Thomist concepts in making his arguments in favor of social justice in the modern period, something which subsequent Popes, most of whom were deep intellectuals in their own right, deemphasized or didn't use to make their arguments developing Leo XIII's encyclical, Rerum Novarum.

There is one willfully distorted thing in Leo's arguments that has been used by Catholic reactionaries, distorting even what John Paul II, who they claim as a hero, into supporting the very neo-liberal and libertarian policies of such people as the Ayn Randian fanatic, Paul Ryan.   Subsidiarity is the principle that governmental and institutional power should be decentralized, higher levels of institutions and governments shouldn't do what lower levels of the same can do effectively.  Pay special attention to the last phrase "do effectively" because on ignoring that the Randian-libertarian, Republican-fascist use of Catholic social teaching is entirely dependent.

Paul Ryan has no intention of governments doing exactly those things which local and state governments, private institutions, including religious institutions have shown they are either unable or unwilling to do.  His policies are depraved and couldn't be more obviously anti-Christian, nevermind in opposition to the past hundred twenty-six years of explicit Catholic social policy.  That's so true that even a rather conservative group*, the "distributists" based on the improbable duo of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, has had to point out the grotesque abuse of the concept of subsidiarity doesn't mean what such people make of it.   The principle doesn't contenance inaction or neglect or worse, it wasn't a means of inhibiting or preventing the possibility of government or institutional action.

BUT ITS PROPOSED IMPLEMENTATION ALWAYS INTENDED THAT THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE,  INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES, COMMUNITIES, AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AND EVEN SMALL BUSINESSES AND ESSENTIAL SERVICES BE PROVIDED BY WHATEVER APPROPRIATE LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS.   Paul Ryan, in his public life, isn't practicing Catholic social teaching or Christianity, he is practicing the teachings of the depraved atheist, materialist psychotic Ayn Rand.  And Catholics and others who pretend he is following the teachings of these encyclicals or even the Bible is simply lying about that.  There is a lot of that kind of lying in American politics and there has been from the first second a European invader violated the morality contained in the scriptures on this continent.  There is nothing new there.  But for someone to practice Randian politics while claiming the mantle of Catholic social teaching is fairly new, though Ryan didn't invent it.


In this passage of chapter 6 of Walter Brueggemann's The Bible Makes Sense, you can see what I meant.

Conversion – Both Communal and Personal

It is especially the prophets of Israel, who lived five hundred years after Moses,  who most vigorously call Israel to conversion.  By that time the people of God had become thoroughly encultured.  They lived by the norms and values of their Canaanite environment.  The prophets call for a fresh embrace of their covenant with the Lord, insisting that this covenant is a workable form of life, even in the context of urban imperialism.  Thus Amos for example. 

Seek me and live . . . 
See, the LORD and live . . . 
Seek good and not evil . . . 
Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate (Amos 5:4-15).

And this is echoed by Isaiah, his contemporary:

Wash yourselves;
make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seen justice,
correct oppression;
defend the fatherless,
plead for the widow (Isaiah 1:16-17).

Hosea,  their near contemporary, is less precise ethically but makes essentially the same call:

Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is time to seek the LORD, 
that he may come and rain salvation upon you (Hosea 10:12).

So you, by the help of God, return, 
hold fast to love and justice,
and wait continually for your God (Hosea 12:6)

It is evident from these statements that conversion is not something confined to a spiritual or private agenda.  Rather a decision is called for that has urgent political and economic implications.  The prophets believe that all of life,  including public institutions,  can be reoriented so that they serve the purposes of the LORD to whom Israel has made covenant vows.  The transformed life of Israel, in contrast to the dominant values around them, focuses on justice and righteousness and steadfast love, that is, on compassion for the weak, on fidelity to human persons, and on the ordering of life which transcends self-aggrandizement and self-securing. 

I'm rather unenthusiastic about adopting any more -isms or declaring myself some -ist or other, I think that we need a moratorium on creating ists and isms and ideologies, I don't think the tendency of those to generate orthodox programs that become more important than the exigent needs expressed in the Prophets and their present day commentary by Popes, Old Testament scholars and even our greatest novelist present is a good thing. 

That said, when you're talking about these things, the categories of right-left break down.  The word "liberal" often becomes useless without modifiers because the way most of the world uses it is in complete variance with the original use of it in the United States which was explicitly a means of providing for the widows and orphans, the poor, the sick, the disabled, the alien among us.  In The Bible, that list, of course, extends to the working poor in such passages as those dealing with leaving grain, olives and grapes for them to glean, three of the most economically important entities.

So, I'm not encouraging anyone to become a "distributist" any more than I am that they become a socialist.  Creating ideologies is probably something that should have been left behind in the 20th century. Probably earlier would have been a good time to do that.  Too many, way, way too many.

Democrats Should Start Thinking Of What To Replace ICE With Now

If Democrats ever manage to wrest control of the government from Republicans one of the first things they should do is get rid of ICE and seriously consider getting rid of the Department of Homeland Security.   At the very least they should deNazify both the name and the mindset that is obviously way too common in those entities.  That Thomas Homan, the Acting Director has gone way past what is tolerable for a democracy, calling for the jailing of Democratic Politicians for not cooperating with the SS tactics that ICE has been using since Trump was inaugurated. 

Homan has found within himself an authoritarian knob that turns way past 11. He wants to throw California Governor Jerry Brown in jail, along with any other elected state official who adopts a “sanctuary” policy in the area over which they have jurisdiction. New York caught Homan chatting this plan over with Neil Cavuto of the Fox Business Network.

In an interview Tuesday with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto, Homan said political leaders in sanctuary cities, which don’t cooperate with ICE officials looking to make immigration arrests, are breaking the law when they “knowingly shield and harbor an illegal alien.” “That is a violation of 8 USC 1324. That’s an alien-smuggling statute. I’ve asked the Department of Justice to look at this,” he said. “Can we hold them accountable? Are they violating federal law?” When Cavuto pressed Homan on what he’d do if the Justice Department decides that federal law is being violated, he suggested that politicians be held “personally accountable.” “We’ve got to take these sanctuary cities on. We’ve got to take them to court and we’ve got to start charging some of these politicians with crimes.”

That is a guy who should be on the SCLC watchlist of dangerous fanatics, not heading the abomination that the Bush II regime created in response to 9-11, giving it the Nazi-sounding name, they should have spelled it "Heim" and been honest about it, though nothing they did was ever honest. ICE is a disgrace that should be disbanded over their activities in the past year.  Policing and law enforcement in this country, in almost every place, needs to be drastically changed.  The swatting death in Wichita, Kansas is a terrible example of the kind of deadly tactics that have become common, especially when used against people with brown skin and those are, by and large, the same people that ICE targets.  It is clear that its recruitment and training AND ITS LEADERSHIP is incompatible with egalitarian democracy and decency.  I would guess a large number of both its officers and the leadership of it should be fired and replaced by people who aren't so inclined to fascist tendencies. 

Last Response To An Angry Socialist

Let me guess, you're a member of the Spartacist cult.   

I invite any normal people here to look up the Spartacist League, not because you're going to read anything important but because they are typical of the cults of they type who hijacked the term and some of the positions and fatally wounded socialism.  Those groups all do us the favor of documenting their insanity in millions of insane words full of the kinds of slogans they put in place of thoughts, buzzwords they love the feel of in their mouths, shibboleths of bull shit group membership  

They are a bunch of lunatics who,  as Noam Chomsky said, when confronted with a lying diatribe against him by one of them in a Q&A, don't want to live in the real world but who want to live in some eternally conducted seminar somewhere.  I think that could pretty much be said of the entire Marxist-Anarchist, etc. pseudo-left and is one of the reasons I think getting the left out of an academic bubble and into real life - not least of which would be churches and groups involved in the actual, get your hands dirty, difficult and hard work of delivering real things that real people need,  is so important.  

As I repeated recently, much as I dislike their position on LGBT rights, much as I dislike some of their theology, much as I dislike the militaristic trappings and as much as I pretty near totally dislike their founder, the Salvation Army has actually, at times, and imperfectly, been entirely more radical than the Wobblies, the I.W.W. about the only (former) member I know of who did the same was Dorothy Day after she converted to Catholicism and joined with Peter Maurin to form The Catholic Worker movement.  I certainly have my problems with some of what they THOUGHT but I greatly admire WHAT THEY DID.   The pseudo-left does nothing except distract, divide, mislead, AND DISCREDIT any left silly enough to pay attention to them out of some misguided feeling of "fairness" to them.  The lefty magazines, in my experience, are way too often suckers for them out of some kind of romantic nostalgia for the futility which is their history. 

Update:  Oh, if I'm alive and they're still holding that stupid thing, you can count on me mocking the Left Forum 2018, if there is an emblematic entity that should stand for the futility of the academic-pseudo-left, it's the Left Forum.   Their motto should be "steadily seeking tenure while the world goes to hell". 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Wednesday Night Radio Drama - Peter Whalley - The Second Son

A chilling psychological mystery drama about identity, fraud and self belief. A son tracks down his estranged father only to discover that someone has beaten him to it. A stranger has taken his identity and claims to be his Father's only son.

Robert - Jason Stone
Laura - Gillian Kearney
Bob - Stephen Fletcher
DI Pine - Stephen Fletcher
Henry - David Fleeshman
Elaine - Denise Black

I chose a bad day to have computer problems, what with Bannon falling out with Trump.  And the big storm's starting and with what the public utilities commision has let the power company get away with, who knows if I'll be online after it starts.

In the mean time, this was a pretty good drama.  I've decided to post more radio dramas during the week.  I hope you enjoy it.   Peter Whalley isn't a bad playwright. 

Moving Forward From A Fatally Wounded Ideology - Answer To An Angry Socialist

On the contrary, I haven't abandoned the ideals that socialism was supposed to originally have been in favor of, I support those more than I ever have.   Those are so important - including the opposition to capitalism and, especially, neo-liberal capitalism - that I'm saying socialism shouldn't be allowed to become the be-all-and-end-all goal.   Since the word "socialism" and many of the claimed goals of it have been fatally co-opted by Leninists, Stalinists, Maoists, Nazis, some other species of fascism, such atrocities as Fabianism and the clown car of various socialist, Marxist, Maoist, etc. parties and entities in the United States and other places (some of which have murdered scores of thousands even as they never gained power) . . . it can never be cleaned up to remove the anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, justice denying crap that buried it.   Pretending that the pursuit of socialism is a viable political position in the United States is more useful for the fascists here than it is even the most successful of socialists.   That hasn't been a viable political position since the communists, under order from Lenin destroyed the old Socialist Party in 1919, a date that should be commemorated because it was the final proof that in real life communism wasn't up to any good. 

I'm still in favor of workers having the ownership of the means of production, of an egalitarian living wage as Tommy Douglas said, those things which are vital for the life and well being of The People in the hands of a DEMOCRATICALLY CHOSEN government,  of universal single-payer health care, of universal good quality education - I INCLUDE EDUCATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT OF A BELIEF IN THE MORAL PREREQUISITES OF EGALITARIAN DEMOCRACY AND A DECENT LIFE FOR EVERYONE, I think that's probably more important for them than learning algebra and the current thinking on evolution.   Anyone who believes that democracy and decency can survive when the government and schools figure indoctrination in equality and decency are forbidden because of non-establishment, well, it wasn't an accident that when that idea spread that we got Nixon, Reagan, two Bushes and now the florid Neronic degeneracy of Trump.  We were suckers for the ACLU line on that.  The People have a right to create, for the creation of the social conditions that lead to instead of away from egalitarian democracy and decency, they have a right to the schools, the media and other governmental and social institutions not thwarting that effort through promotion of amoral and immoral depravity.   

So, you see, I didn't abandon socialism, I left it behind in favor of economic justice under egalitarian democracy.   Socialism is dead, despite what the Bernie Sanders campaign would lead you to believe because it not only was never enough, it got hijacked and ruined.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Not Harshing Your Mellow But Heating It Up

Nope, that's a mellophone, a mellow brass instrument, not a cheesy electric instrument.  I looked up online for recordings made with a Mellotron and the longest one I saw was 18 cuts long, almost all of which I'd suspect no one would recall.   I wonder if the times a slide whistle was used would be a longer list, it would include the several numbers Louis Armstrong recorded with slide whistle. 

Anyway, here's one of the few jazz players to make much use of a mellophone, the multi-instrumentalist

Don Elliot playing Gershwin's Strike Up The Band 

Don Elliott, mellophone
Hank Jones, piano
Wendell Marshall, bass

Shadow Wilson, drums

Of Hatch Retiring

I used to wonder if Orrin Hatch and Phyllis Schlafly weren't the same person, I didn't know which was the more vile and hypocritically sanctimonious one.   Still don't.  

He is vile, he is a hypocrite, this year with his falling in line for the most degenerate, immoral, criminal and traitorous man to have held the presidency in the entire history of the country is the poisoned cherry on top of it.   His votes on healthcare and taxes, enriching the billionaire oligarchs even more obscenely than they were before, killing, literally killing, poor people and driving more into desperation is what he should be remembered for.  

Several years back I did tell some "elders" who were about half my age that he discredited their religion.   He is an emblem of shame whatever is associated with him. 

TRIO Soleil au SUNSET "Lendépendans"

Franck Nicolas, trumpet
Nelson Veras, guitar
Sonny Troupé, drums
No idea who the dancer was

Hate Mail

As it is, I actually detest the right wing media priest Robert Barron and just about everything he stands for.  Any Catholic priest who could distort Paul Ryan's sociopathy into being in line with Catholic social teaching since Leo XIII is simply a liar in support of sociopathy.  

And I've told him so.  Or at least his comment threads.  

I'm far more in agreement with Marilynne Robinson and Walter Brueggemann and so many others than I am with probably, still, a majority of the US Catholic Conference of Bishops.  I'm with the late Fr. Richard McBrien in so far as that's concerned, its full of anti-pastoral, hierarchical hacks. Barron is just one of those. 

Socialism Is A Trashed And Ambiguous Term And Even When It Wasn't It Was Never Enough To Start With

After being in the hands of the Marxists, the National Socialists, and almost as bad, such socialists and socialist parties as the Fabians and various so-self-named futilities in the English speaking People and around the world, I don't think the word "socialist" is useful anymore.  And I don't think it's promotion on the left is either desirable nor workable.  Not if promoting what I've been talking about is the goal instead of any of the terrible governments which have asserted their socialism and which has made it a dirty word among its detractors and a signifier of even worse among many if not most of "its" proponents.

I don't think most of the ideas called "socialism" either were desireable or stood up to real life conditions - that what should have been the most egalitarian and just of economic theories certainly hasn't worked out that way in most "socialist" states.   

As I said yesterday,  socialism shouldn't be seen as an isolated end, a theory, a dogmatic catechism it should be seen and only really means anything good if it is the economic manifestation of egalitarian democracy, and that's where I think we should find its replacement in "economic justice".  As see in even the words of the late, arch-conservative, Pope John Paul II, economic justice makes democratic demands on how money, property, goods and services in the form of their just distribution so far superior to present day civil law in the United States, Britain and just about everywhere that its implementation would be the most radical improvement of the lives of everyone it touched.  Apart from the billionaires and millionaires who would be leveled to a level in which they could not exert the force they have wherever they arise, swamping the good of the large majority of people.  Equality is not simply a matter of providing the least among us with the bare subsistence they need so their untimely deaths aren't counted as a scandal, it's a matter of insuring that the ultra-rich don't destroy democracy as they have in Russia and China and in most poor countries (they are often the reason for the poverty, now that they can't make the excuse of colonial domination) and, undoubtedly now, in the United States.  

Clearly, if you read the theorists of socialism, by an overwhelming majority they are anti-democratic and, in practice and often in explicit pronouncement (such as the putrid literature of Fabianism) anti-egalitarian.  British socialism is imbued with a combination of old line aristocratic class system or an equally snobbish substitute for that based in self-bestowed merit.  Beatrice Potter Webb's  declaration that she was the cleverest member of one of the cleverest families in the cleverest class.... was an explicit statement of what so many of them believe.   You can find the same attitude among many if not most of the socialists in the United States.  I have long had the feeling that the elite, academic socialists primarily saw the poor, racial minorities, etc. as a vehicle towards their own empowerment, often doing real damage to the real interests of those groups when they have associated themselves with their struggle for equality.   

So, it's time to face the whole reality of where we are and the counter-productive baggage that "socialism" has acquired both from the words and deeds of the socialists but also the response to their extravagances if not depravities.  Socialism was never a worthy goal in itself, the real goal is equality, democracy and economic justice.  Democracy, also, was not the ultimate goal, it was a means of providing the same things and whatever decency in life results from the equal distribution of the goods of life and access to services.  A decent life for everyone in a sustainable environment is the goal, not socialists to be able to say "we rule, man!," before their struggle to violently stay in power begins. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years Night Radio Drama - Gerry Jones - Time After Time

One of the best plays ever written for radio - a traveller, suffering from amnesia, checks into a hotel. But it is like no other.... the staff are evasive; and no-one will tell him where he is. The conversations he has are odd, too; is it his imagination, or has he heard them already? After a while he decides to leave the building, to get his bearings, but each attempt leads him back to his room, and the same conversation he had ten minutes ago....

This play has been broadcast in three versions; two by the BBC and one by ABC (Australia). Both BBC R4 broadcasts were directed by Martin Jenkins.

Starring:  John Pullen, Nigel Anthony, Sarah Badel

Dusan Bogdanović - Unconscious in Brazil

Kamil Jaderny, guitar

Dusan Bogdanovic - Tres Nubes (Three Clouds)

Santiago Gutiérrez Bolio and Santiago Lascurain

An Example Of What I Said Below

The late University of Notre Dame professor of theology, Fr. Richard McBrien could hardly be accused of not being a rather exigent critic of Popes John Paul II, and Benedict XVI (especially as Cardinal Ratzinger, JPII's right-hand man) I've noted that before. 

While it is certainly the case that John Paul II’s pontificate included many achievements (his three social encyclicals, the renegotiation of the Lateran Pacts, his outreach to Jews, his interfaith gathering and prayer for peace at Assisi), its two major deficiencies were his grave mishandling of the sexual-abuse crisis in the priesthood and his appointment and promotion of exceedingly conservative bishops to, and within, the hierarchy.

Both deficiencies continue to define the Catholic Church in our time, and account for the severe demoralization that afflicts so many in the Church today. 

They also explain why so many thousands of Catholics have left the Church in recent years, so many in fact that in the United States ex-Catholics would constitute the country’s second largest denomination if they constituted a church unto themselves.

Therefore, it is the case that, on Blessed John Paul II’s watch, the greatest crisis to hit the Catholic Church since the Reformation was allowed to grow and to fester, and the bishops appointed during his long reign were unable to offer the kind of pastorally effective leadership that the crisis required.

And he didn't wait for them to die before he made his criticisms which were widely printed in Catholic newspapers, many under the control of the local bishop and cardinals.

That said, here is what Fr. McBrien said in his massive, well respected textbook of Catholic theology, Catholicism, said about a Pope he had criticized repeatedly: 

Pope John Paul II advanced Catholic social doctrine substantially with his three major social encyclicals,  Laborem Exercens  (1981),  Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (1988), and Centesimus Annus (1991).  "One of the greatest injustices in the contemporary world," he wrote in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, "consists precisely in this:  that the ones who possess much are relatively few and those who possess almost nothing are many.  It is the injustice of the poor distribution of the goods and services originally intended for all" (n. 28).  He applied this principle to the international order as well, pointing out that " the stronger and richer nations must have a sense of moral responsibility for the other nations: (n. 39;  see also Centesimus Annus, n. 35).

But Pope John Paul II's most explicit statements about the role and responsibility of government are to be found in Centesimus Annus.  Invoking the name and authority of Pope Leo XIII, whose pioneering social encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) John Paul's own encyclical was commemorating, he declared that "the more that individuals are defenseless within a given society, the more they require the care and concern of others,  and in particular the intervention of governmental authority" (n. 10).  He also appealed to Leo in criticizing the view that "completely excludes the economic sector from the state's range of interest and action" (n. 15;  see also n. 48).  

John Paul II spoke of the economic rights of workers that are to be guaranteed by the state:  social security, pensions, health insurance and compensation in the case of accidents, unemployment insurance, a safe working environment, the right to form labor unions (nn. 15, 34).  In a society which upholds "the absolute predominance of capital," justice demands that "the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the state so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied" (n. 35).  The state also has a specific right and duty to intervene to protect the common goods of all, especially the environment (n. 40). 

He cited additional purposes for governmental intervention in the economic order:  the sustaining of business activities to ensure job opportunities, the regulation of monopolies,  exercising a "substitute function when social sectors or business systems are too weak or are just getting under way and are not equal to the task at hand" (n. 48).  The range of such interventions in recent years, he pointed out, has acknowledged its positive and negative aspects, and invoked the principle of subsidiarity to help curb the latter (n. 48).  

Love for others and "in the first place" love  for the poor is "made concrete in the promotion of justice."  For societies, for individual governments, and for the world political community it is "not merely a matter of "giving from one's surplus,"  but of helping entire peoples which are presently excluded or marginalized to enter into the sphere of economic and human development.   For this to happen, it i not enough to draw on the surplus goods which in fact our world abundantly produces;  it requires, above all else a change of lifestyles, of models of production and consumption,  and for the established structures of power which today govern societies" 

Many of these teachings have been recapitulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) in its discussion of the Seventh Commandment.  

None of which you will expect the present government of the United States to follow or advance - any who tried would be attacked in the harshest terms by the American free press -  all of which is a refutation of Milton Friedman's line of economics, the de-facto state religion of the United States, the media, much of academic economics, etc.  Even this, in so many ways, reactionary Pope, far more conservative than Pope Francis, Pope John Paul I (of blessed memory), Pope Paul VI and certainly Good St. Pope John XXIII, was a glowing if not flaming radical in economics and social justice.  And that's not to mention in things such as opposition to the death penalty, opposition to the invasion of Iraq, etc.  Though, granted, on women's' rights and LGBT issues, he was hardly as progressive, though all of those people (WE People)  would have been beneficiaries of his economics and social justice.   Women and LGBT people have to make a living, eat and be cared for in their inability just like everyone else. 

And the Catholic Papacy is, in some ways, often many ways, to the right of much of  the mainline Protestant thought and action on such matters.  Make that ACTION, doing what the words say in real life.  That is when it becomes real in the real world which is, afterall, what it's all about.  Lots of Catholic religious, nuns and brothers, Priests around the world are putting that into effect, as are many other Christians.   I'm certainly more influenced by Brueggeman and Marilynne Robinson and Joshua Heschel than I am JPII.  Though JPII did make some good points and arguments. 

The pie-in-the-sky version of atheist-materialist liberalism is never going to get here, where it has been tried the results have been anything but that.  The idea you're going to convert most people to atheism THEN things will get done is lunatic delusion.  The more realistic option is to convert those who are already disposed to take The Law, the Prophets and the Gospels seriously.   Especially if you think they're going to be converted by snobs insulting them and what they think. 

The Scriptures In The Modern Period Are A Firmer Foundation For Democracy Than Even The Idols, "The Founders"

Anyone who reads the comments here might have noticed that the quote I gave from the greatest socialist North America has yet to produce, the Baptist minister Tommy Douglas, Premier of Saskatchewan and Member of the Canadian Parliament, the father of universal healthcare in Canada contained an error.  Either the person who published his remark made a mistake or the great man himself did, Pope Leo XIII didn't write Quadragesimo Anno, Pius XI did on the fortieth anniversary of  Leo XIII's certainly, for it's time, and I would assert in many ways for ours, radical encyclical, Rerum Novarum which successive Popes have built on.  The conservative Pope John Paul II wrote another on the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo's encyclical, and Paul VI wrote one on the eightieth anniversary of it.  Most if not every subsequent Pope made references to it in many encyclicals.    I think it's fair to say that Pope Leo inaugurated the modern period of Catholic social ethics, producing encyclicals that have impressed even some hardened atheist-materialists,  Richard Feynman heaped lavish praise, especially from him, on Good St, Pope John XXIII's Pacem in Terris, Pete Seeger included reference to it in a protest song.

While there are points in each of the line of encyclicals that sound conservative they are, in every case I'm aware of, conditioned by the elevated status of all individuals under Christian belief in ways that set them against "enlightenment" laissez-faire, Malthusian depravity, Darwinian natural selection and its expression in economics, social-Darwinism and various other secular-materialist political economic theories.  In just about every way even the "conservative" content of that series of letters and other documents is more radical than the official academic-secular radical alternative to that series of capitalist-conservative theories.  And there is also content in the documents that, as I said, would be considered ultra-radical by the American free press, the corporate-academic intelligentsia and the rest of the secular American realm of allowable thought.  In the case of the radical content of those, especially in the ones that were written after the Soviet Union started to prove what a violent, oppressive disaster Marxism would be in practice (as well as before in its theoretical forms) the various authors have tried to point to ways of understanding that radical content as in opposition to the injustices that those advocating similar ideas showed they were entirely capable of using, especially to gain and maintain power, which history shows was the actual intention and goals of such radicals.  I disagree with Emma Goldman on most everything, very strongly, now that I've read a lot more than the slogans put on tee-shirts, but she was right, if Trotsky had won in the power struggle with Stalin, he had already shown he was capable of a horrific level of violence to suppress any opposition.  I wouldn't be surprised if he would not have mounted the kind of terror-state tactics as Stalin did, building on efforts of the same kind by Lenin.  Other Marxists gained and maintained power the same way.

Any government that exists relies on prerequisite conditions being in place to allow them to get and maintain power.  Even the most thuggish tin-pot despot relies on an armed group to hold it in place.

In the case of Trump it was a dumbed down segment of the electorate, dumbed-down and successfully  propagandized through the mass media to consider a fascist strong-man - albeit as seen on TV - to be a model of the American president.  And to consider the thoroughly investigated, repeatedly exonerated, massively competent and qualified Hillary Clinton as being the devil, herself, and if not that just, somehow icky.

The Soviet dictatorship rested on a population used to autocratic rule under the Czars and, as we are seeing in the Post-Soviet period, the cultural habits and cynical fatalism of that kind, once instilled into a people takes longer than the 1990s to give up as they expect more of what they already know.  Similar though not identical conditions led the Chinese people through a horrific imperial despotism, a short series of awful ones leading to the Communist dictatorships (among if not the most violent and, at times, oppressive in the history of the species), and the same in other places.

Nazism depended on a confluence of propagandizing the population through a 19th century regime of nationalism - largely instigated through, of all things, romantic era linguistics - and Darwinist natural selection.  Mixed with the disaster of the First World War, a ruinous regime of peace terms imposed largely by France and England, the horrific inflation followed by the depression, etc.*

I think the prerequisites for egalitarian democracy are also knowable and, even more than an accurately informed public in possession of enough truth to make good choices in their governors, more so depends on a belief in the kinds of moral absolutes that will lead them to elect a government that produces equality, equal justice and perpetuates those through a firmly believed in set of moral obligations the we are bound by and whose violation by the government, by the courts, under law cannot be set aside or ignored and their remedy cannot merely be discouraged or neglected.  Well educated, well informed people are capable of an enhanced efficiency in pursuing their advantage over all others when they have no sense of moral restraint.   I think that the reign of error the left promoted in the 20th century under enforced secularism, the whole range of consequent matters, permitting the media to lie with impunity, the permission of them to include morally depraved content (though Hollywood writers, lacking ideas and talent and facing deadlines did a lot of that all on their own) the removal of any kind of moral assertions, even the most watered down versions of those in education, and a long list of the inverted virtues of secularism were certain to produce someone like Trump on the cusp of fascism.

Socialism, the real thing in which the economic means of production are controlled by the workers instead of capital and the economy is conducted for the common good instead of producing billionaire oligarchs, is best seen as, not a dictatorship of the proles but as the economic expression of democratic life. 

That would work in Canada with it modern Constitution, which had the enormous advantage over the United States of not having a deified series of "founders" who saddled us with the awful United States Constitution.   And the Bill of Rights, which has, paradoxically, produced and enabled the oligarchy and the production of a Nixon, a Reagan, two Bushes and a Trump, enabling the election of the deeply flawed Bill Clinton and prevented the election of the vastly more qualified and vastly less flawed Hillary Clinton - even though she had more than three million more votes than Trump.  That last fact, alone, the Constitution in three instances handing power to the loser of an election, in each case one of our worst presidents, two since 2000,  shows that the United States under the secularist regime in place since the Warren Court has not made things better but has made things steadily worse.  The free-press, left to its own devices - when you include the mass media in that - left to pursue its own profits and the profits of its owners and their class was bound to have this effect.

You will hear the assertion that Marxism didn't fail because Marxism wasn't tried, though it was in many different forms in many different interpretations and all of them have failed to produce anything better.  That is unless your definition of "better" includes the murders of tens and hundreds of millions of people and the oppression of hundreds of millions and well over a billion.  Which no rational or moral definition of "better" could.  And you can say the same about the sciency Darwinist regimes which also produced the conventionally Darwinist "good" of dead in the same range of numbers.

Taken together, the modern secular alternatives,

- the system of the United States under the absolutist, literalist, fundamentalist interpretation of "free speech" "free press" "separation of" not only "church" and state but state and any assertion of morality or ethics, even to a large extent the entire history of the slavemaster-capitalist Constitution,

- Marxism

- Fascism-Nazism

all of them are as catastrophic as the earlier monarchies and empires, either gradually, as in the United States, or immediately.  Though, as I've recently pointed out, for Black slaves, for Native Americans and others the American Constitution was an immediate and ongoing disaster - as the post-Soviet Union still lives with the spiritual and intellectual damage of Czarist rule, we live with the spiritual and intellectual damage of racism, sexism and other forms of moral depravity.

We have always walked a narrow line, the American democracy has always depended on the narrow margin of people who, sometimes, voted on the basis of morality instead of self-interest, on the basis of the truth instead of carefully nurtured fears, bigotry and superstition - some of our most cherished superstitions being anti-religious as well as those involving the supernatural.  When the power of that narrow margin is diminished in numbers and in the strength of its morality, the Constitution, its institutions and least of all the free press don't provide a fall back, as can be seen in how Trump won while losing, the Constitution and its institutions are more likely to help the immoral and depraved, the media can, mostly, be counted on more to try to normalize fascism than fight it.

I am planning on reading and studying that line of encyclicals which Popes generally write in consultation with theologians and other experts, not all of those they consult being Catholics,  but which always begin in the morality of the Law, the Prophets and the Gospel and the apostolic literature which is far more likely to produce egalitarian democracy in the modern period, now that the dead hand of monarchs and emperors doesn't influence that.

Christianity has a chance to finally make serious efforts to implement "do unto others as you would have them do unto you - that which you do for the least among you you do unto God and that which you do not do for the least among you you don't do unto God - love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, . . . " and if they can convince a majority of those who profess Christianity to do that, the results would be a far more egalitarian democracy and economic justice than pseudo-scientific enlightenment scientism does.  I think the trial period of "enlightenment" government proves it's more likely to end up either not doing that (the original American Constitution certainly didn't) or in its implosion, as we see in the patched up, half-hearted reform of it resulting in Trump.

* I, to a large extent, do agree with Normal Finkelstein that after the crushing defeat of Nazism the part of Germany which escaped Soviet Domination did develop into one of the most stable and, n many ways, responsible democracies in Europe - though the same certainly isn't true of East Germany under Soviet domination.  We might learn a lot by studying what was done right in Germany after the war up till the recent resurgence of fascism and Nazism.  Some say that Nazi resurgence came about especially in the part of the unified Germany which was under Soviet domination, certainly encouraged by the Putin mafia regime today.  Anyone who looks to Marxism as something to be hoped for is as depraved as anyone who wants a resurgence of Nazism.  The American Left in its secularist-atheist form, in so far as they promote either the developed results or the prerequisite building blocks of them is not really much better than the alt-right.  In so many ways, they are its tools.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Years Eve Radio Drama - James W. Nichol - Midnight Cab: The Outdoorsman

Carla Bley - Intermission Music - Gary Burton Quintet

Vibraphone: Gary Burton
Guitar: Mick Goodrick
Guitar: Pat Metheny
Double  Bass: Steve Swallow
Drums: Bob Moses

We need a survival guide for thinking because we're bad at it

I liked this segment from the CBC program Spark, an interview with Alan Jacobs of Baylor University.  It was about how to think, now to think effectively.  One of the things that struck me was what he said about how Trump deflects attention from important issues and news by his tweeting.  He suggested that when Trump does that to distract from important things we don't repeat his tweets. 

It's a good interview with practical advice, the kind of stuff the next cog-sci-neuro-sci guy they have on NPR probably won't give you.

I won't  suggest it to my detractors, at almost 28 minutes, they don't have the attention span for it.

Biblical Economics As Opposed To Neo-Liberal And Lefty Economics And Why Believing That People Are Not Objects Makes All The Difference

It's too bad that we're reliant on theories instead of explicit documentation about how the books of the Bible and their ordering came to be what they are because it would be interesting to know how the people who gave us those books and that ordering thought of what they did.

In his lectures you can hear on Youtube, Walter Brueggemann points out something that I'd never noticed about the story of Joseph, the one with the coat of many colors who was betrayed by his brothers, got brought to Egypt as a slave, who rose though his ability to interpret Pharaoh's dream of the fat and lean cattle to become Pharaoh's food Czar in the famine he told Pharaoh his dream was predicting.  What Brueggemann points out is that far from Joseph being a great exemplar of Jewish morality, he administered the people, especially the Jews who had fled to Egypt during the famine, into slavery.   He points out that it didn't occur to Pharaoh or his food Czar to give food from their surplus to starving people for free, he required first their property and when they were financially ruined, that they become his slaves.

I don't think it can be an accident that after the story of Joseph ends Genesis, the very next book is the story of the Jewish slaves, their misery and their liberation from slavery by God.  And once they are in the wilderness, free from Pharoah's proto-neo-liberal economy, they are given food for nothing by God.  There are many interesting facets to the story, Brueggemann points out that right after they've had the miraculous escape from Pharaoh and his gangster army, finding freedom doesn't have the easy security of slavery* some of them want to go back to slavery.  It's not a simple, linear, Hollywood kind of story, no matter what Cecil B told you - I doubt most of the people who saw the movie ever read the book - but the contrasting parallels between the details of the Joseph narrative and the Exodus narrative that immediately follows it are too striking.  Joseph signing on with Pharaoh, Moses breaking with Pharaoh (his adopted uncle, apparently),  enslavement of the hungry through extortion through food, freeing of people and giving them food for free,  the cagey move of storing up an abundant surplus of food and the economics of selling high in time of need (we do that through stock shares and lending and the such) and telling people to not hoard more than they need for the present except for the Sabbath.  Brueggemann points out the centrality to Sabbath in the Exodus narrative as a contrast to the grinding and unreasonable production quotas of the Pharaonic security state.


I will repeat that I didn't consider John Paul II to have been a very good Pope and I still don't.   He was a terrible pastor as were the large majority of the Bishops and Cardinals he appointed, being more interested in centralizing power and authority in the Papacy and the Vatican than he was in administering to the needs of the Catholic People.   His narrow, European context of thinking and, I suspect, his relationships with the American government when he was in Poland led him to totally misunderstand the struggle of liberation in Latin America against the equivalent Pharaonic enslavement and his scandalous treatment of The People, especially of those Central American countries in which the Reagan administration and others mounted terror campaigns to prevent anything like democracy, liberation from the most grinding poverty enforced by violence and mass murder which John Paul II and thugs like Bernard Law either tacitly or explicitly went along with supposedly to oppose communist expansion.

The many sins of John Paul II, and there were many, led me and leads me to the conclusion that his canonization as a saint without addressing those sins as part of it is a scandal in itself.

And I didn't particularly like the cult of personality that he seemed to enjoy.  That was disgusting.

That said, even John Paul II, by force of the Biblical narratives and their meaning, wrote some truly radical documents on economics, I would hold that, in the end, they are far MORE radical than Karl Marx's view of economics because even John Paul II puts people and their needs to maintain decent lives over and above all other considerations  The idea of both the humane production of wealth and its distribution, including the provision of services, the concept of both individual and communal rights and dignity AND THEIR CONSCIOUS SERVICE THROUGH ECONOMIC ACTIVITY  puts it entirely above the materialist theories of Marx which, in practice, turned out to be both impractical and which led to horror where that was tried.  Marx's pseudo-scientific materialism guaranteed that individuals would certainly not be the central focus of any Marxist applied economics and that "the masses" would be more a mass of slaves maintained for the benefit of the system - mention of the fact that those in control of the system would inevitably turn into dictators and generate an oligarchy of, eventually, inherited privilege was discretely left out of it on the theoretical level but that's something which lasted even after the pretenses of communism were given up in places like Russia, the other Soviet States and China.   The Communist-created oligarchy is, ironically but not surprisingly, its most enduring legacy.

If the economic theories of Laborem Exercens and other documents issued by the two conservative, even reactionary Popes were made law in the United States, the results would be considered intolerably radical by the free-press, large parts of academia our billionaire oligarchs and their lackeys and those who hope to become rich in the lavish corruption of our eutrophic imperial system**.   And there are many other pastoral letters by other Popes and bishops and councils of Bishops (though not so much the US Catholic Conference of Bishops since JPII) not to mention other clergy and theologians, etc. of other denominations, Jewish, Christian and perhaps as much if not more so, Muslims. 

The American left, where I wasted the larger part of my adulthood, is even more pathetically corrupted by a snobbish, elite materialism that pretends to be better than the vulgar materialism of the billionaire oligarchs while being largely its servant and, through its devotion to foreign dictators, communist and post-communist and the Marxist system that produces them, its dupe.

The total and complete failure of the left that either is in the hands of or led by or can accommodate  materialist ideologues for a half-century is proof in the laboratory of real life that a left that is materialistic will be no alternative, at all.   They won't even prevent the worst that can happen under our system, they will weaken the chances of the least bad in favor of the very worst.  The presidential election of 2017 which pitted the most investigated, most vetted example of our politics, probably the most competent and proven candidate against Trump who was known to be totally corrupt, totally incompetent and totally compromised and that American left did its best to defeat the least bad candidate we have had since 1976. 

The  hoax of the would be "Constitutionalists" widely accepted on the left that the sensible requirement of disestablishment by the government in its official acts and practices means that the left must be secular (for that you can read "atheist')  has defeated us over and over again.  The last real progress made by traditional American liberalism, the Civil Rights struggle, was empowered largely through the Churches, when it deviated from that in the late 60s, under the influence of more academically fashionable and anti-religious figures, it started to fail.  The same has been true of every other part of the left.  That's even true of the LGBT rights movement.  It was through the deep involvement of churches in my state which led it to be the first state in the country to secure marriage equality through the ballot, the most reliable means of securing rights, far more reliable than depending on courts for that.

I don't think there is any evidence that a non-religious left can ever succeed and the cases where anti-religious, alleged lefts have succeeded in gaining power, well, those results are, when not enforced through violence, temporary,  mixed in the best cases and horrific in the worst of them.  The "leftist" governments they produce are horror shows, not any liberalism a moral person would ever want to support and which no sane person would choose as their government.  The snobbery of the college credentialed "left" for which atheism is part of the admissions requirement is enough to ensure they will never be elected except where there is a big enough college or some other anomalous population.

It doesn't work, it hasn't worked, pretending it is going to suddenly - though without a miracle which atheists aren't allowed to invoke - start happening is luancy.   A left that isn't hostile to religion would at least not alienate people who are religious, which is, by and large, most people, it would have the means of asserting the rightness of equality, equal rights and the binding moral obligation to provide those. It wouldn't mistake The People for "the masses" as a natural resource to manage instead of the possessors of rights, the image of God, though not necessarily the voice of God.  A left that never gave that up in favor of pseudo-scientific scientistic materialism would have held power and persuaded far more people of its preferability.  We can be fairly confident of that because of the result of the past half-century of their domination of the official American left.

*  The claims of Thomas Huxley that emancipation only meant that slaves could now be killed or allowed to die because they weren't valuable as property is an assertion of the same thing.   As the billionaire oligarchs, our present day Pharaohs, can replace more and more workers with robotic machines, they have less of an interest in maintaining what they and their thugs in the Congress, Executive and Judiciary consider human dross, surplus people.

**  I doubt even the Pharaonic system of Egypt would have allowed in or kept a Donald Trump in place as long as "American democracy" has.   To pretend it hasn't all gone to hell or that that capacity is built into it through the Constitution is to collaborate in supporting its.  I'm not going to lie about a Constitution and Bill of Rights that produced and maintains a Donald Trump or a Mike Pence or a Paul Ryan or a Mitch McConnell or a Supreme Court that can contain the likes of Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.   Their presence at the very head of the government is all the evidence anyone needs that the Constitution should be replaced because it can lead to where we are now.