Saturday, May 11, 2019

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie - Limetown

This isn't a link to one radio play, it's a link to a site where you can listen to both the first and second season of the quite superior audio-drama Limetown from Two-Up Productions.  I linked to it before the second season was issued

I'm not posting the credits because they're different for different episodes. 

Google Is As Much A Part Of The Billionaire Gangster Attacks On Democracy As Facebook

After writing about it the other day, I decided to experiment by googling the names of Democrats prominent in the effort to save the country from Trump and his patron, Putin and in every case I came up with the first screens of response were full of Republican-fascist, neo-fascist sources smearing them.

It is clear that there is a coordinated effort to googlebomb Democrats in the House and Senate as well as Democratic nominees for president.  I think it is obviously something that would cost a lot of money and is obviously a coordinated effort, this isn't that boob Dan Savage doing it to one guy, it's a blanket effort that has not been part of a social media campaign.  I wouldn't be surprised if it were either a result of Putin or some other billionaire crime syndicate-government or domestic billionaires like the Mercers or Kochs or a combination doing it but it is clearly being done.  

American democracy has clearly been made vulnerable by social media and even by the algorithms that search engines are based in being vulnerable to such manipulation.   If something is not done to change that, and it will probably have to be a constant effort to keep ahead of fascist, neo-Nazi and billionaire ratfucking efforts, American democracy will be a dead artifact of the ink on paper past.  

If the 18th century concept of the "free press" is not brought up to date on the basis of hard and bad experience, it will validate one of the Founder's more well known sayings, "Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other." Only, our legal community - at least the part of it not engaged in ratfucking our democracy - elite law scholars, their students,  the "civil liberties" industry, the Supreme Court most of all have proven to be too stupid to even learn in that hardest of hard schools.  Why should they?  They don't have to live with the consequences.   Neither do the rich members of the media or the tech billionaires, the lords of Google and Facebook. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

Dusan Bogdanovic with Matthew Greif, Guitar Talk

Dusan Bogdanovic with Matthew Greif, Guitar Talk Improvisations, from “Permanent Transition” Matthew Greif with guests Dusan Bogdanovic and Andrew York. Recorded in 1996

1. (Red) Chameleon, H. Hancock
2. Good Stuff, Bogdanovic-Greif, 2:13
3. Shards of Blue, Bogdanovic-Greif, 4:46
4. (Blue) Chameleon, H. Hancock, 5:56 

Courage Of His Convictions? Footnote on Those Hard Laws Of Nature

Apparently, when it comes to shilling for donations, Richard Dawkins doesn't believe his own science.  Here's what you get when you click on the Richard Dawkins' Foundation site


Someone sent me a link to a recent piece by the putrid Max Boot declaring that we need an "unapologetic atheist" as president, seems the Richard Dawkins club reposted it.  I read the piece at another site and decided this was more interesting than the piece.  

As to Max Boot, you can keep the jerk.  I have no doubt but that we already have an unapologetic atheist in the presidency, a worshiper of himself, a golden-mooncalf.  You cannot serve both God and Mammon and Trump's the most unapologetic in a series of Mammonists who have held that office.  As Stephen Colbert pointed out listening to him mouthing a bit of verse off of the teleprompter, he's never read a word of the Bible before then.   If I wanted to spend more time on this I'd note the uses of insincerity in the pursuit of self-interest linking it to Dawkins' shilling for donations in that way.  But why bother? 

"Awful But Lawful" Doesn't Cut It In This Age Of Shameless Treason

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.  U.S. Constitution Article 3, Section 3

We need to define and insert a crime of Presidential Treason into the Constitution.

One of the most obvious imposed weaknesses in the law of the United States facing the power grab of Trump and the Republican fascists is that idiotically insufficient definition of treason given in the Constitution.  I think it was one of the dumbest things that the Founders did apart from the anti-democratic time-bombs they inserted into the thing to enhance their own ability to amass wealth and power.  I think the continuation of that section, while expressed in terms of the innocence of the children of traitors (in itself a good point to make IF THEY ARE, IN FACT INNOCENT) it included the protection of the estates of traitors, no doubt including the ill gotten gains that could provide a motive for treason. 

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

My continuing study of the Constitution has led me to suspect that every part of it which has been exploited by the crooks and gangsters of the billionaire-millionaire class and their servants was placed there for similar purposes by the slave-owners and northern merchantile and banking crooks who wrote the thing for their own advantage. 

Now that Rudy Giuliani is openly doing what little Donald and Mr. Ivanka and Paul Manafort did during the 2016 campaign, making common cause with foreign leaders to extend the Trump regime, it's clear that they are openly practicing treason against The People of the United States.  

While the Founders definition of treason might be safe for common People, maybe even for some of the oligarchic class, when it is practiced by a presidential candidate who has dictatorial ambitions and who has shown himself to be enthusiastically ready to make common cause with the likes of Putin, the Saudi Royal Family, the ruling Israeli fascist leadership and others foreign despots, what Trump and his brats and his minions are doing must be defined as treason. 

Someone as powerful as the American president has been allowed to become is a danger to any democracy, certainly, now, under Trump and Republican-fascism, the democracy of the United States.   With Rudy Giuliani on his way to Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and others for the Trump 2020 campaign, what he is doing should be considered treason and he should end his filthy, hypocritical career in prison, his estate as well as that of the despot he serves confiscated if he dies before that action can be taken.  I doubt that anything short of that will protect us from what we are seeing happening right before our eyes. 

Update:  Personal profit is the strongest motive of a traitor.  Even if their heirs are innocent of actual treason - something I don't think most of the Trump children are - if they were to inherit the money paid to the traitor, they are enjoying the fruits of treason.  I don't think a traitor should be allowed to pass on to his chosen heirs the proceeds of treason, that ability, to leave that estate is, as well, a powerful motive for committing treason. 

Something Out Of The Ordinary Happened And It Changed History

The exposition of reasons for modern People to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus in Hans Kung's book, On Being A Christian comes about three-hundred fifty finely argued pages into the book.  This second difficulty assumes you read Kung's discussion of reports of miracles in the Second Testament from the point of view of a person acculturated into an assumption that science is the measure of all such phenomena.  This is a series of arguments from that point of view, not from one which assumes the freedom of God in such intervention in the regular operations of the physical universe.  While even few scientists of a secular outlook acknowledge the fact, even the methods of modern science, far more than 18th and 19th century science, has to account for a far wider range of possibilities than fit into the confines of scientistic materialism. Outliers are regularly thrown out of the considered data, especially in those sciences which purport to deal with very complex phenomena. 

Second difficulty.  We tried to understand the numerous miracle stories of the New Testament without assuming a "supernatural" intervention - which cannot be proved - in the laws of nature.  It would therefore seem like a dubious retrogression to discredited ideas if we were now suddenly to postulate such a supernatural "intervention" for the miracle of the resurrection;  this would contradict all scientific thinking as well as all ordinary convictions and experiences.  Understood in this way, the resurrection seems to modern man to be an encumbrance to faith, akin to the virgin birth, the descent into hell or the ascension

The reverse side.  It is possible that the resurrection has a special character preventing it from being placed without more ado on the same plane as other miraculous or even legendary elements of the primitive Christian tradition.  Virgin birth, descent into hell and ascension are in fact listed together with the resurrection in the "Apostle's Creed," which stems from the Roman tradition of the fourth century;  but in the New Testament itself, in contrast to the resurrection, they appear only in isolated passages and without exception in later literary strata.  The earliest New Testament witness, the Apostle Paul, never mentions the virgin birth, descent into hell or ascension,  but firmly maintains the resurrection of the Crucified as the center of Christian preaching.  The resurrection message is not the special experience of a few enthusiasts, the special teaching of some apostles.   On the contrary, it belongs to the oldest strata of the New Testament.  It is central to the Christian faith and at the same time the basis of all further statements of faith.  The question therefore may at least be raised as to whether in the resurrection we are faced with something absolutely final, an eschaton - something which doesn't not face us in the Virgin birth, descent into hell or the ascension - where it is no longer appropriate to speak of an intervention within the supernatural system against the laws of nature.  We shall have to look into this more closely

The research biologist and scientist, Rupert Sheldrake has pointed out that the modern materialist cosmologist insists on having one free miracle, the Big Bang,  before they explain everything in the absences of miracles, or, rather, what such materialists understand miracles to be.  I'll deal with that part of this passage, first. 

If the stumbling block is "the laws of nature" the assertions of modern cosmologists, especially the atheists among them, are chuck full of violations of such laws, created, explicitly or tacitly unstated, so as to get past the incredible improbability of that "one free miracle" the Big Bang and all of its known consequences in our one and only known universe, including our lives,  which would have to have come from incomprehensible and unknowable conditions which cannot be covered by any humanly known "laws of nature," the only such laws that we can consider in any way or even know.   At the most fundamental level, almost all of those who invoke such arguments from "the laws of nature" fail to even understand that those "laws of nature" are the product of and entirely dependent on the limits of human imagination.  The lay public is even more confused as to that. 

As I've pointed out a number of times many if not all of the mutli-universe scenarios which seem to be created at will violate that ban on miracles, the original multi-universe scheme created, explicitly to get past the implications of Big Bang cosmology in relation to the first several verses of Genesis insists on universes being continually generated not singly but in myriads of constantly generated universes with all mathematically expressible alternative universes generated out of nothing but equations. Where Genesis asserts one such miracle, modern science is quite prepared to generate quadrillions if not actual infinities of such miracles, many of them generated by even unconsidered human activity.  I would love an explanation of how that squares with the classical laws of nature dealing with the conservation of energy and matter.  Though certainly not all multi-verse lords of creation believe that first articulation of the theory, it has not been booted out of science as they come up with even other, as problematic creations of universes based on nothing but equations which they insist be considered as candidates as "laws of nature".  In fact, the late Stephen Hawking demanded that inclusion without any possibility of confirmation of them on observations of nature.  "Natural law" without nature is considered a respectable concept among such scientistic atheists. 

Other currently pursued things within professional science are as unparsimonious with the reproductions of miracles and other things which violate the "laws of nature" even as the same scientists assert those when it suits their purposes.   

I have also pointed out how such widely held theories within science such as Hamiltonian claims about something called "altruism" contain in them numerous contradictions which are held to violate what are, at the same time held to be "laws of nature."  The example of that which I believe I was the first to notice was in the, then, high priest of scientistic atheism, Richard Dawkin's famous "first bird to call out" fable which would have to violate the very thing it was invented to support, Darwinian natural selection, not to mention such things as the speed of sound and, even more obviously, the properties of the numbers system.  You'll have to indulge me, I'm rather proud of that piece

Such expositions of the "gene selfishness" of as much of "altruism" as such scientist atheists are prepared to comprehend is to try to shoehorn the clearly un-Darwinistic phenomena of unselfish behavior among humans and animals into their claims that the theory of natural selection, based in the allegedly brutal self-interest of organisms, is a universal explanation of the evolution of species (actually the extinction of species) by transforming self-sacrificing generosity into a rather meat-headedly incompetent assertion of selfishness, as I pointed out, sacrificing everything from the properties of numbers up to and including the claims out of which the theory of natural selection was made to seem plausible. 

With such clear violations of "laws of nature" the far more durable laws of mathematics and even the foundations of all of those in the rules of logic, their citation of "the laws of nature" in these arguments strike me as them insisting on having it both ways at once. So, it's clear that scientific, modern People are quite willing to accept all kinds of things, even within science, which violate "the laws of nature".   


But as this is a matter of faith, based in the text of the Second Testament the part of this which I find most interesting is Hans Kung pointing out the different status of the accounts of the Resurrection in relation to The Virgin Birth, The Ascension and the descent into hell.   His assertion that the Resurrection appears in the earliest strata of the texts is interesting to consider.  Kung's several instances of friction with the Vatican have generally included his insistence on distinguishing what the New Testament says as opposed to what later, medieval theology held, when those are in contradiction.  

I think the strength with which such obviously brilliant thinkers as Paul and the author of Luke and the Acts insisting on what must have seemed ludicrous to their contemporaries, their reliance on the witness of people alive at the time, some of them named as still being alive when those earliest claims were made, some of them asserted to be credible is some of the strongest evidence that something happened.  Paul, who identified himself as a member of the Jewish intellectual class, a Pharisee acknowledged that he was asking people to believe something which neither Jewish nor gentiles, the other ambient intellectual culture, Greeks, would have led them to expect in a risen messianic figure. 

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1: 21-25

That earliest of expositions of the Resurrection of not only the claim that a Jewish peasant had been raised back to life but that a criminal, condemned by authorities both religious and civil who had been put to the most shameful death that the terrorist imperial power could contrive had been raised to a state which was more than that, indeed raised to a status unique in human history.  The extreme disinclination to believe that is all something that Paul would have known would inform the minds of those he was trying to convince, both his fellow Jews and the gentiles who would have almost certainly have been far less inclined to believe it.  The sheer audacity of such people as Paul and Luke in making those assertions, especially Paul who confessed to being an opponent and oppressor of the earliest believers in the Resurrection and whose continued activity shows every sign of being competent - I doubt any other kind of traveler such as he was would have survived his recorded itinerary. 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Gretchen Parlato - WEAK

Gretchen Parlato, voice
Taylor Eigsti - Piano & Keyboard
Burniss Earl Travis II - Bass & Voice
Kendrick Scott - Drums

A Snob? Me?

If I were a snob I wouldn't have been happy to have this going through my head all afternoon.

Memphis Minnie

Hate Mail - On The House Voting To Confirm Members Of The Supreme Court

I disagree.  Making the confirmation of Supreme Court "Justices" dependent on confirmation by the whole Congress, the House as well as the Senate, will not cost us more than just having it in the Senate which has proven to be a big part of the present disaster. There is more of a chance that Republicans will not dominate both houses with a Republican president inclined to put fascists on the court than that there will be a Republican Senate at that time.  

Under both most of the George W. Bush regime except for the last two years and the first two years of the Trump regime, it wouldn't have made a difference.  If one of the non-fascists on the Court should die before Trump is out of office, if the House had to approve of his nominee, he could not get through another Federalist fascist.   If I were in charge of the House or even the Judiciary Committee in the House and they needed the confirmation of the House, I'd say Trump no Trump nominee gets through as a balance to McConnell's and the Senate fascist's nullification of Barack Obama's presidency.  

If the Supreme Court can nullify the duly adopted and signed laws passed by the House by a 5-4 vote, or anything less than a unanimous decision, it is ridiculous to not require the House to confirm Supreme Court nominations.  For five "justices" to be able to overturn the decision of the most democratically constituted part of the government - who are often entirely more equipped to understand the issues relevant to the laws they make than any of the frequently and uniformly math and science ignorant ivy-towered "justices" -  is not only morally outrageous that they can't confirm them, it is profoundly and dangerously anti-democratic. 

If the Constitution isn't amended to give the House an equal say in the matter, I think requiring a unanimous vote of the Court to overturn Congressionally adopted laws should be adopted.  There is nothing in the Constitution that says 5 Supreme Court members get to overturn such laws adopted under the explicit methods set out in the Constitution.  Those demigods in black robes need to be taken down a few pegs. 

There was nothing wise about the choice of the fabled founders in giving that power to the Senate, who they had no intention of ever being elected but appointed, it was part of their foolishness in thinking that such chosen Senators would be wiser and of better moral discernment than the members of the house who were popularly elected.  The putrescent history of the Senate as well as the Supreme Court proves that was never true. 

I would contrast the behavior of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, yesterday, with that of Senate Judiciary Committees even under Democratic control.  Especially emetic in memory was that body under the leadership of Joe Biden with its decorous, hypocritical pretensions of gentlemanly comity covering up their cave-ins to the Republican president as he allowed his good friends, the lying, vicious Republicans to smear Anita Hill like the Republican fascists smeared Dr. Blasey-Ford last year.  Then there was the pose of such accommodation as they got off of Jeff Flake as the best they could get last year.  In retrospect, they should have railed against that as the fraud it was instead of accepting it as "fair".  Senators strike me as being, in many cases, more likely to cave to those kinds of pressures than House members who are closer to their constituents.  There is no case that that regime was superior to the one on display in the House, yesterday. 

The Abject Failure Of Jefferson's Theory Of The Free Press Is Entirely Worse Than You Think - Thoughts After Yesterday's House Judiciary Committee Debate

Yesterday's debate on holding William Barr in contempt of Congress for his refusal to honor the valid subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee proved that the Republican-fascists in the Congress, the party which has control of the Executive, the Judicial and half of the Legislative branch,  are, in fact, a fascist party, one in support of the worst president in American history.  I would propose the media's once and former figure-head exception to that, Susan Collins as the pin-up girl of Trumpian fascism, but that's a small point, at this point. 

Not even Trump's demonstrable collusion with the dictator of Russia to attack American democracy, working with and praising  the leader of a crime syndicate that is one of the worst and most deadly in the world, a dedicated destroyer of democracy is enough to elicit the patriotism that such Republicans so frequently strike in poses, even as their actual words and actions show that to be a fraudulent gimmick.  Not even his underling henchman, the overtly declared unitary-executive fascist William Barr destroying the prerogatives of the Congress is enough to shake the wall of Republican collaboration with him.  Not to mention the collusion of Republican billionaires in the same effort. 

Anyone who maintains a membership in the Republican Party as of today is a part of the congealing fascism under Trump, including Robert Mueller.  By this stage in the development of fascism you can't claim that those who cling to a party affiliation out of tradition or sentimentality can be held to not be supportive with the actual majority of that party.  And in 2019 America, that actual majority is close to 100%. 

American democracy is in the crisis that some of us have been warning was coming for decades, back when idiots in the media were pooh-poohing the warnings.  

The "free-press" have not worked as Jefferson thorized it would.  Freed from the obligation to not lie, the free-press has lied for the enrichment of its owners, its sponsors, its managing staff, its "opinion journalists" and even its reporters - the only actual ones who can honestly be considered to do journalism.  The reporters, with very few exceptions, have followed the trends of their professional culture which includes the assertion of the rights of the liars to lie on the mistaken belief that if they were stopped from lying then, someday, real reporters would be stopped from telling the truth.   Now, in the media we have, today, it is the ability of real reporters to tell the truth that has been put in dire risk of suppression through the lies that their lying colleagues have told for decades, the lies told by every level of the media, from the New York Times down to the Murdoch filled sewers about Hillary Clinton over a quarter of a century the most telling and relevant specimen of that.  

The third to two-fifths of Americans who are the totally debased and willing suckers of Donald Trump and his Republican-fascists are the product of that half-century regime of lies as brought to them by the media.  Donald Trump, like Ronald Reagan before him, as a public figure is 100% the product of the media.  

The theory that absolute freedom of the media to say anything has not produced a more perfect union, dedicated to the proposition that all People are created equal.  That Jeffersonian media, in reality, in fact, has not been a bulwark against dictatorship and fascism, it is the engine that drove the United States farther into it.  

We are farther into fascism than when the production code and government regulations of broadcast media were in place and vigorously enforced.  Yesterday's  spectacle in the Judiciary Committee as in the entire Republican-fascist party is not just demonstrably worse but entirely worse than it was during the legendary red-scares, the reaction to which informed the foolish reaction of declaring the media entirely free to lie any lie they wanted to.  

In whatever aftermath that comes after this, if those legal rulings and the corruption inherent in the Constitution of the United States, the Electoral College, the anti-democratic constitution of the Senate, the idiocy of giving the far less democratically constituted Senate the sole power to confirm judges and others, are not fixed, they are just setting things up so those who have brought us to the frontier of facism under the prevailing state of the law in 2016 will do it again, learning how to do it better, the next time. 

People, a country that doesn't learn from disaster AND WHO DO NOT CHANGE THINGS THAT BROUGHT THAT DISASTER will pay with that failure with a repetition of that disaster.  When a democratic country fails to change and aboloish such obvious venues for introducing fascism into their country, when it piously maintains the traditions and forms and institutions so useful to the undermining of democracy, that were so useful to the fascists, when they idiotically hold that fascists have a right to a fair chance to pitch a democracy into fascism, they are not going to hold onto democracy. Such people have shown they value equality and democracy less than those things and such people will not be able to maintain democracy. 

Our country, led in that direction by the secular left of the post-war period will either learn those lessons and make those changes or the fascism by our even stupider Mussolini, our more ridiculous and stupid maybe dictator  will be a product of our own stupidity and our own ridiculousness.  It certainly won't be a product of intelligence and realism informed by the hard lessons of history. 

Waving Off An Old Waver

Another idiot (yeah, that one)  throwing a hissy over my dissing of the idiocy of "auteur theory" and my point that movies (actually I said "art") are generally crap in inverse proportion to the cost of their production and the number of people involved in making them, brings up the double-movie Les Enfants du Paradise based on a scenario by the popular poet Jacques Prévert, directed by Marcel Carné.   I looked for how much the production cost and saw a figure of 55 million francs, about twice what was originally estimated for the cost.  Since Les Enfants is, actually, two movies, I think to compare it with some other movie you should probably halve the figure when comparing it to another movie.  

A lot of the cost of the movie was due to it being a historical costume drama which, involving the construction of sets, some of which had to be rebuilt when they were destroyed - the movie was made in the last days of the Nazi occupation of France and, if I recall correctly, as the Allies were landing at Normandy and advancing on Paris.Not to mention the costs of things like costumes.  I would argue that sets and costumes are of little importance in determining the artistic quality of a production.  And there were large numbers of extras - some of them members of the resistance in their day jobs who, for artistic purposes, add little more to the substance of a production than objects on the sets.  

It is an interesting thing about the production, made under the Nazi collaborator Vichy government that even as it employed Jews in hiding from the Nazis and members of the resistance in hiding from the Nazis (no doubt adding to its legendary status), other members of the production, some of the starring roles, were collaborators who were tried for that even as the movie was being shown.  Clearly even if you take that to be the great movie that it is held to be - I was kind of "meh!" as I generally am with costume drama extravaganzas - it is clearly not typical of big, high cost movies.  I was unable to figure out the equivalent of 55 million 1945 francs (assuming the figure I found was given in those) in 2019 dollars so I have no idea what the guesstimate of that would be. 

I would argue that there were many, far more modestly produced movies that are as great or greater art, or at least as much art as movies ever are.  I have read that the fashionable French movie ideology,  La Nouvelle Vague the thing I criticized was inspired, or so I've read, in part in outraged reaction to the eminently true and eminently sensible statement by André Malraux about the movies being as much an industry as an art. And that was back when there were large numbers of people working in it who had worked as either legitimate writers of artistic and even superior popular fiction and plays.  And then a lot of those wrote out of bitter experience about how Hollywood was good for making money but it could destroy you as an Artist.  The French New Wave were, like Brecht, inspired by Hollywood crap, ironically enough.  

Malraux, trying to encourage more of the art through relieving the industrial character of the movies through public funding and promotion, and to compete with the universal hegemony of Hollywood, ironically ended up helping to produce some of the worst of the New Wave junk.

The modern history of the French cinema is the history of its protection and advancement by the French government. Immediately after the Second World War, France imposed quotas on the importation of American films and reserved a certain number of weeks per screen for French films. Paradoxically, it was a discerning passion for Hollywood movies that launched a young band of critics at Cahiers du Cinéma into notoriety and inspired them to make movies that made them famous under the journalistic rubric of the New Wave—and it was the sudden rush of creation in the late fifties that led France’s then-Minister of Culture, André Malraux, to introduce a series of measures intended to promote the production and distribution of French movies not just as commercial ventures but as works of art that would be fundamental to France’s cultural heritage. The New Wave directors themselves, at least in the early years, hardly benefited from this system, which, however, reinforced their critical legacy—that of the auteur, the individual creator, as the key element in movie production—as the image of the French cinema as marketed to the world.

I don't think it worked the way he hoped it would.  The excesses of that "auteur" who wasn't the writer but the friggin' directors, generally more interested in the spectacle than in ideas and morals, who drove things.  The last French movies I saw that I thought were good were Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. But I've pretty much given up on the movies since the late 80s.  As I recall, late 70s Hollywood junk killing off any inclination I had to sit in a theater.  But that will set him off if I go into details. 

As I said, I was talking about art in general when I made the comment about the inverse proportionality between cost and quality.  I would guess that I could name a hundred novels written in the 20th century that are more artistically, intellectually and morally significant than that movie, art that I would guess cost, in terms of money, little to nothing its creation and even the editing and printing and distribution taken into account wouldn't even have cost a week's production of most movie extravaganzas. I could name at least a dozen plays you could probably say the same about and some books of poetry of around that time.  Even the top part of Eugene O'Neill's production of plays from the war years, alone, are greater art than any of the movies produced in that decade.  Then there are the compositions, classical and jazz, I don't think any director produced greater art than Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, the early bop musicians, did, than Olivier Messiaen was writing or Henri Dutilleux was about to start writing.  Or Luigi Dallapiccola or Arnold Schoenberg or Bela Bartok were or had just written.  I'd certainly include Roger Sessions and Aaron Copland in that list. though much of their greater work was to come.  

I have gone back and looked at some of the movies I'd liked back when I watched movies.  I like Ignmar Bergman's movies, none of which I'd guess  would be considered big productions, as movies go.  I liked some others. But my reaction to movies, these days, is like Groucho said his reaction to TV is, when someone turns one on I go read a book.  If I had to sit and look at a screen while I was listening, I don't think I'd listen to my beloved radio dramas, a medium that gets more of the actual author's work into the final result than the movies or theater are likely to do.   I don't think even the movie in question comes up to Marilynne Robinson's Gilead novels.  I don't think it even comes up to Steinbeck, to tell you the truth. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Even Everything We Think We Know Requires Reasons To Believe

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is worthless, and so is your faith. In that case, we are also exposed as false witnesses about God.  
1 Corinthians  15:14-15

Here is the beginning of Hans Kung's handling of difficulties in coming to an honest belief in the Resurrection of Jesus in the modern era, continuing on where I started last night.

First difficulty.   What is true of the Gospels as a whole is particularly true of the Easter stories;  they are not unbiased reports by disinterested observers but depositions in favor of Jesus submitted in faith by supremely interested and committed persons. They are therefore not so much historical as theological documents;  not records of proceedings or chronicles, but testimonies of faith.   The Easter faith, which characterized the whole Jesus tradition from the very beginning, obviously determined also the Easter accounts themselves, thus creating extraordinary difficulties from the start for a historical scrutiny.  It is in the Easter stories that we must ask about the Easter message.

The reverse side of this difficulty is that this is the very way in which the central importance of the Easter faith to primitive Christendom becomes clear.  At least for primitive Christendom, Christian faith stands or falls with the evidence of Jesus' resurrection, without which there is no content to Christian preaching or even to faith.  Thus Easter appears - opportunely or inopportunely - not only as the basic unit, but also as the permanent, constitutive core of the Christian creed.  Even the earliest brief Christological formulas in Paul's letters, if they amount to more than a title, are concentrated on Jesus' death and resurrection.   

The first objection to this first difficulty, I'd guess would be that the Gospels and the accounts of the Resurrection are not in some alleged way, objective.  That they don't fulfill the modern idea of what history is supposed to be and, therefore, are not to be believedMy objection to that would be we unadmittedly do that all the time in all other areas of life to no such objection. 

I come to my skepticism about the status of knowledge as opposed to belief through the atheist Joseph Weizenbaum, as I've stated before.  If you want to blame someone for it, blame him because what he wrote on that demolished my previous assumptions about that to the bedrock.  Thinking about his obviously true statement that even what we might claim to know about mathematics is based, not on an absolute holding of absolute knowledge but is based in a fabric of things we are persuaded of and accept on the basis of previously believed things led me to be entirely skeptical of the business of being able to actually discern a difference between knowledge and belief.  I have come to conclude that there is no such sharp line, that that distinction is, itself a belief based in the desires of those who claim there is such a distinction.  There is, though, an obvious difference in beliefs based only in what is desired to be true and what you are forced to believe in even though you might not like it.  I think that when it's honestly applied within the limits that it is really capable of producing reliable statements about things, science is a good method of coming up with both welcomed and unwelcomed things to believe in and quite often those things we would rather not believed are accepted because not accepting them would weaken or destroy belief in other things believed even more strongly.  

History, too, can be a method of coming to beliefs of enhanced reliability about far more complex events and phenomena that science is incompetent to analyze, though science can provide information and clarifications on some details that are part of the historical discourse.  There are hard facts that history is able to discern that surpass factual knowledge of science.  The date of Hitler's invasion of Poland is a fact of history that can be known with absolute precision, I would guess it is far more reliably known than even some of the laws of physics and chemistry and far more the holdings of biology.  I would dare say that virtually every holding of the social sciences is less reliably held to be known than some of the hard facts of history. 

Though none of that will lead someone who doesn't want to believe in the Shoah or in human caused global warming to believe in it, no matter how strong the evidence is.*   Clearly even those hardest of factual, massively evidenced events and phenomena are subject to the desires of those who are willing to accept them or those who are determined to deny them.   I think the desires that lead to denying both of those hard truths have far more in common with many of those who are unwilling to entertain the possibility of the teachings of Jesus than they would like to admit, on either side.  

The fact is that most of pre-modern historical narrative does not use or assume the same motives or methods or even expectations that modern history does.  While you can find reliable information in some of the historical writing and contemporary reporting of the classical period, some thematic motive, some polemic or persuasive motive was what led the historical writer to set ink down on paper.  That is still true of history, it is true of all human discourse about things that are the most real of real things in human experience.  You can only find the most reliable beliefs about things, the most universally acknowledged things that people ask other people to believe about the most abstract of all objects, non-physical ones in the objects of mathematics and the simplest and most easily described and defined entities in the physical universe.  And those are often just as much a product of human imagination as falls within human experience.  

The Gospels, the letters of Paul, those ascribed to John and Peter and James constitute a record of a Jewish peasant of no social or political status that rivals that of many of the most potent rulers and figures of that period. I think if anything, Hans Kung was downplaying the facts so as to avoid his admitted "prejudices of faith" giving an accounting biased to the side of the prejudice or unbelief.  I think he did so to ultimately persuade the reader that "these are surmountable difficulties."  I think that method even for that purpose is entirely legitimate within even entirely secular intellectual discourse.  It's what scholars, even scientists do all the time though they seldom admit it. 

I will also admit that reading Hans Kung on The Resurrection has forced me, old as I am, to finally understand the absolute importance of the belief, especially in adding persuasive power to the moral teachings of Jesus for those who are not disposed to accept those in a durable and effective strength, to make them not do what they might want to do and to do things they would rather not do.  As another respected atheist scholar, Jurgen Habermas said, nothing else feeds and nourishes egalitarian democracy and the holdings of universal rights to a decent life, even today.  I didn't want to believe that but I have come to the conclusion through the history of democracy, the history of the struggle for equaity, the abolition of slavery, the equality of Women, the civil rights struggles, that if you're willing to give up that propulsive force of religious belief, you will revert to the static, pagan world of Pharaohs and forms of violence and inequality based gangsterism, only the titles and the weapons used will be different. One of the absolute distinctions of the Jewish tradition that both Christianity and Islam come from is that God is not a material entity subject to scientific discernment, that God works in history and that history is progressive, not static.  That the arc of history bends in the direction of justice.  Even that form of materialism that most openly mimics that tradition, Marxism just claims it is progress toward a predetermined end that is a product of physical causation, not human discernment. I look at the history of Marxism in practice and believe, completely, that to remove God from history to remove moral obligations from life, making People into "masses" considered a mere physical force of materialism is not going to move anyone in any direction except one that leads to a Putin gangster regime or one led by a Xi Jinping or a member of the Kim regime. 

*  If you, as I do, want to convince those disposed to not accept the reality of even those hardest of hard facts, you had better take into account what their non-acceptance is really based in.  You had better also take into account the methods and practices of the Nazis and extraction industry shills who are the ones who succssfully dupe people into believing those things, using mass electronic media to do that.  Pretending that all you need to do is present "just the facts" might make you feel superior to those YOU NEED TO PERSUADE but it's not going to do a single thing to lessen the danger of allowing them to be lied to using all of the tools of deception developed by the advertising industry and American television. 

"Auteur" He Said

Cut the "Auteur" crap.   For crying out loud, give me a friggin' break.  "Auteur theory,"  based in what for French film critics apparently was the huge discovery that movies have directors, what led the movie critic turned director,  New Wave meathead Jean Luc Godard to declare Jerry Lewis a genius because, due to pure business expediency, he directed himself in The Bellboy, something that the whoredom of the French worship of fashion has propagated itself for more than half a century.  He actually said, "Jerry Lewis is the only American director who makes progressive films. He is superior to Chaplin and Keaton."   I mean, have you seen that piece of shit?  

Image result for the bellboy

There actually are French intellectuals, there are actually French artists who produce art, especially among composers.  There are even some good French movies,  not many, the percentage of movies that are made that aren't crap is mighty small.  Quality in art is inversely proportional to the amount of money it costs or makes and the number of people involved in its production, its likelihood to be intellectually substantial, even more steeply, so.   France is a lot like America in that.  But you aren't going to find them among the ones who get written up or covered in the pop media, where the vedettes and intellectual frauds get publicity.  I think anyone who uses the word "auteur" in that way is signing that they're an idiot. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Even Just The Idea Of The Resurrection Isn't What Atheists Think It Is, It Isn't Even What Believers Think It Is

How did a new beginning come about after such a disastrous end?  How did this Jesus movement come into existence after Jesus' death, with such important consequences for the further destiny of the world?   How did a community emerge in the name of a crucified man, how did that community take shape as a Christian "Church"?  

Those three questions precede an entire page of related questions in Hans Kung's On Being A Christian, hard questions that I doubt any skeptical scholar could exceed in exigency.  And the way Hans Kung deals with those questions is as exacting as the questions, themselves.  I'm going to go through his response to those questions over a few days.    

In a word then, we are faced with the historical enigma of the emergence, the beginning, the origin of Christianity.  How different this was from the gradual, peaceful propagation of the teachings of the successful sages, Buddha and Confucius, how different also from the largely violent propagation of the teachings of the victorious Muhammad.  And all this was within the lifetime of the founders. How different, after a complete failure and a shameful death, were the spontaneous emergence and almost explosive propagation of this message and community i the very name of the defeated leader.  After the disastrous outcome of this life, what gave the initial impetus to that unique world-historical development:  a truly world-transforming religion emerging from the gallows where a man was hanged in shame?

Psychology can explain a great deal in the world, but not everything.  Nor do the prevailing conditions explain everything.  In any case, if we want to interpret psychologically the initial stages of Christianity, we may not merely presume, postulate, postulate, work out ingenious hypotheses, but we must consult without prejudice those who initiated the movement and whose most important testimonies have been preserved for us.  From the latter it becomes clear that this Passion story with its disastrous outcome - why should it ever have entered into the memory of mankind?   -  was transmitted only because there was also an Easter story which made the Passion story (and the story of the action lying behind it) appear in a completely different light. 

But, far from ceasing, the difficulties only really begin at this point.  For if someone wants to accept what are known as the resurrection or Easter stories literally with simple faith, instead of trying to find a psychological explanation, that will not be the end of it.  A little reflection, any kind of reasoning, will bring him up against almost unsurmoutable obstacles.  Historical critical exegesis only increases the embarrassment, as it has done ever since the most acute polemicist of classical German literature - Gotthold Ephraim Lessing - two hundred years ago brought to the notice of a bewildered public those "Fragments by an Anonymous Person" (the Hamburg rationalist H. S. Riemarus, died 1768) among which were "The Aims of Jesus and His Disciples" and "Concerning the Story of the Resurrection."  If, as men of the twentieth century, we went to believe in some sort of resurrection not only halfheartedly, with a bad conscience, but honestly and with conviction, the difficulties must be faced squarely and without prejudices of faith or unbelief.  But it is just at this point that the reverse side of the difficulty is revealed.  These are surmountable difficulties.  

I will be going through the difficulties one after another as both a demonstration of what I said about the depth of honesty, intellectual integrity and good faith of Hans Kung and as a demonstration of one valid avenue into one of the most difficult aspects of Christian faith.   As I pointed out, Kung's investigation of the central aspect of Christianity is more stringent than the flippant stuff of current scientistic atheism.  Kung's theological scholarly method can be summed up in his requirement stated in this passage, that all questions are to be, "faced squarely and without prejudices of faith or unbelief."   It's one of the weaknesses of every bit of atheist handling of this question that they almost never face the claims or arguments of serious religious believers and they never approach the task without prejudices of unbelief.  

Short Rant - A New, Time Saving Regular Feature

I will not be listening to the link to Thom Hartmann you sent me, I don't trust anyone who has worked for the Putin propaganda outfit RT or those who are linked to it.  As far as I'm concerned, that's pretty much a declaration that someone is in the hire of the Putin criminal organization.  I suspect a number of people on the fake left likely have financially compromising relationships to billionaire oligarchs, foreign and domestic, Greenwald, Poitras, several of the pseudo-lefty ersatz news organizations.  I don't have direct evidence of that but anyone in the American alleged media who has been pushing the line that the Putin ratfucking of American politics is a non-story, a neo-cold warrior lie, "over" is certainly doing their work, I assume they've got a motive and at this point it's not a matter of ideology.  I wouldn't be surprised of Taibbi is doing it out of sheer cynicism but, then, someone that cynical is probably not above profiting from it.  Though, for a large part of the atheist-secular left, I think some of it is just the habit of reflexive anti-Americanism or the as base motive of trying to get and keep a Patreon or Youtube audience of play-lefty suckers. 

RT is how they say "FOX" in neo-neo-Stalinist. 

Machine Intelligence?

Here's kind of thing I get in my unmoderated comments that leaves me wondering why someone would want me to post it.  

Thank you for the auspicious writeup.  It was an amazing account it. Look advanced to more agreeable from you!

My question is if this a sincere message that I can't understand from a real reader for whom English is not a second language, perhaps a product of machine translation?  Or if it's spam that I can't begin to see a motive for?  I get up to five of those every day and I can't, for the life of me, figure out why.   

Though it's not like the ones I get that make the absurd guarantee that I'd need a crane if I used their geezer whoopie pills.  Where those are coming from is pretty obvious.  I will note that much of the clearly intentional junk in my unmoderated comments leaves me in no confusion as to its motives, some of the humans who leave that are extremely stupid but they're clearly smarter than a computer. 

Google - The Folly Of Of Putting Your Naive Faith In Algorithms

When it was in the news that Youtube had been messed up during the burning of Notre Dame, mixing that up with the 2001 September 11th attacks by the artificial stupidity of an algorithm their search function depends on, I was thinking of writing about it.  I'd not long before pointed out the fact that algorithms were operations limited by the limits in thinking that their creators are the embodiment of.  Artificial intelligence is not intelligence though it appears it is eminently dupeable, that is probably as close to human thinking as machines will ever get. 

I have stopped using Google to do web searches because I'm disturbed by having FOX, the Washington Examiner, and other right-wing to neo-fascist propaganda entities come up at the top of the list of results.  Those clearly don't come up as a result of my activity, I don't have time to spend monitoring neo-fascist lies.   It's clear Google has been Googlebombed by Republican-fascists or their domestic and foreign allies in the same way Dan Savage pioneered to make "Santorum" a dirty word (Rick did that, himself, but in a different way).

If Google wants me to start using its search engine again, they can fix that.  Until it does I would urge everyone to consider using one of the less used search engines that doesn't produce that effect.   I'd be happy to continue using Google if they showed any sign of being interested in keeping that from happening. 

I Friggin' Hate Some Judges Sometimes - Hate Mail

Wouldn't you love to know what the judges and justices who proclaim the rights of violent brats to be in classrooms they repeatedly and violently disrupted would do if such children were in their courtrooms attacking them or the staff of their courtroom?  I wonder if the rules for handling such violent children described by teachers and administrators were the same for courts, bailiffs staff, lawyers, JUDGES were the same as those they impose on schools if those idiots, so many of them and their own dear children the product of prep schools that would have booted such kids out in a heartbeat or never taken them on a students, might get a real education in real life if they had to live by the rules they make for public schools, teachers and which even the very youngest students have to live with. 

Only you don't have to wonder because judges would throw such disruptive children out of their courtrooms, never tolerating what they order schools to do. 

The hours of class time to recover from severe, repeated disruptions are not only not infinitely expandable, they're not expandable at all.  The recovery time of children from being traumatized by violence in their classrooms isn't infinite, their ability to go back to learning after such an incident might disappear altogether for a long time. 

There are children who do not belong in a general classroom because they are dangerous to the other students and teachers and other staff.  There are children who do not belong in a general classroom despite their right to a public education BECAUSE THEIR BEHAVIOR PREVENTS NOT ONLY THEM BY ANY OTHER CHILD IN THAT CLASSROOM FROM BEING EDUCATED.   I guess you have to be an elite lawyer or judge or shrink who likely has never attended a class required to pretend that the unrealistic commands of such people are true to keep pretending that such things as infinitely extensible time can be fit into the very limited time that schools have to try to educate children in safety.  

That there is some theoretical danger that in some cases such things might be badly administered and have  a discriminatory effect does not a single thing to mitigate the fact that such judicial unreality discriminates against all of those under their regime of unreality, preventing the safe education of even the very youngest of children. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Brats Don't Have A Right To Attack Teachers Or Students Maybe Lawyers and Judges Who Claim They Do Should Be Made To Monitor Them

It would probably have been less disgusting if they had canceled "National Teacher Appreciation Week".  At my sister's school they're celebrating by administering the sixth round of testing that they do in the school, no teaching is going on as the testing industry rakes in the bucks for doing their part in ruining education.   She is leaving the profession next year, happy to be leaving the increasingly screwed up schools she'd devoted her life to as bullshit testing and bullshit crap pushed by university education departments and professional bullshit shoveling consultants and the requirements of judges destroys the public schools.  And there is worse. 

Last month when I heard Michael Enright's incredibly frustrating interview with Anna MacQuarrie, an "inclusion rights" pro or semi-pro arguing for the right of repeatedly violent children to remain in the classrooms they terrorize, I listened getting angrier and angrier to her grotesquely unrealistic conceptions of the limits of public school classrooms.  It seemed that she imagined they had unlimited numbers of staff, unlimited money to expend, unlimited time in which to accomplish both dealing with her disruptive children AND all of the myriad and expanding things that parents, the media, the government, COURTS demand be included in the curriculum as well, hiring what amounts to a private teacher for every kid who is has not only entirely reasonable non-disruptive disabilities but for children who are a danger to other children and teachers and who clearly shouldn't be in a classroom they can't resist throwing into chaos or danger.  

It's tempting to entirely blame someone like MacQuarrie for being grotesquely and childishly unrealistic as to the very real and very serious limits of time and other resources available to schools to do what they need to do, especially as they compete with media for the limited attention span of children who they are charged with educating.  A lot of the nonsense that she spouts comes right out of the mouths and pens of lawyers and judges who not only have never been teachers, dealing with the problems of teaching overcrowded classrooms but many who are the product of elite education and have never been in a school which has to meet those challenges, sending their children to private schools that can turn away kids who not only have expensive needs to serve but who can kick out brats who are violent and disruptive.  

Unreality is the hallmark of of elites, people who don't have to deal in the real realities of public education which is inadequately funded even for the needs of non-special students and others who are not disruptive and are anything from disposed to moderately indisposed to being educated.  I'm not saying that mentally ill children who are sometimes or often violent have no rights to a public education, I'm saying that such children, for their safety and the safety of other people, students, teachers, etc. should not be in the general classroom.  There is no right these children have which is superior to the rights of non-disruptive students, both those without special needs and those with them but who do not disrupt classrooms.  Things are bad enough in education without that nonsense being inserted into the mix.

I went to pubic schools my entire educational career in a working class town which didn't especially value education, which funded it at an inadequate level and in which I doubt I ever was in a classroom with fewer than 32 students, one teacher, no such thing as a teacher's aid or much more than one principal extra, not counting the part-time janitor-school bus driver.  There were kids I was in school with who were, certainly, mentally ill, some violently so.  Oddly, I never, once, in 13 years of K-12 remember a student ever attacking an adult.  I don't even remember any of them intimidating an adult.  I don't think in a lot of those cases it was a matter of them fearing their parents, some of the parents were as bad as their kids were.  But they knew that there would be consequences that a lawyer and a judge wouldn't overturn, there was no expectation that such behavior would be tolerated.   It was bad enough for children who were picked on to have to worry about being the target of violence, knowing that there was some chance a teacher would be there to protect them.  Now, under this regime of insane declarations of rights of brats to be violent to the teachers AND THE TEACHERS BEING KEPT FROM EVEN DEFENDING THEIR STUDENTS AS WELL AS THEMSELVES, DUE TO THE LIKES OF THOSE "RIGHTS" ADVOCATES,  the worst brats dominate things.  

Jail Them In The Capitol Cells

I hope when William Barr doesn't turn over the full Mueller Report and, probably more importantly, the evidence that underlies about an hour from when I started typing this out,  Jerrold Nadler and the non-colluding majority on the House Judiciary Committee start contempt proceedings against him.  If there is someone who richly deserves to face justice, it's a crooked law man and William Barr is the crookedest one who has had that position since at least the Nixon years.  That's certainly not for want of trying, Bush II's felonious AG Roberto Gonzales committed perjury - something which Robert Mueller revealed to congress, if I recall correctly - and Barr's two Trump regime predecessors are criminal scum, too, though their unillegal crimes might not be technically illegal. 

I actually hope that if this obstruction campaign continues Barr and a number of others involved in the cover up of Trump's crimes, Mnuchin, high on that list, might face imprisonment by the House.  I suspect that seeing someone in this criminal regime being brought to justice and jailed other than underlings such as Mueller prosecuted or got to plead would have a very salubrious effect on the resistance to Trumpian fascism.  I think it would do Democrats a world of good. 

The time of laying out a record of attempted accommodation for future judical proceedings is about run out, or at least the patience of those who want equality under the law is.   I would warn the House leadership that I'm hearing a lot of my fellow Democratic news junkies are beginning to tune out in frustration with the snails pace of things.  If Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have the Republican fascist court in place that they want we'd better find that out sooner than later.  If the Supreme Court and lower courts want to disgrace themselves and discredit the judicial branch, it's better that we know that than merely suspect Trump might be right.  What we do if that is the case may become far clearer in that emergency than it is in this holding pattern.   


Defund NPR And Kill It

As I am typing this NPR's Morning Edition has on Republican-fascist establishment nepotism beneficiary Jonah Goldberg.

Do you really need details?  

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Stupid Mail - If Those Old Movies Didn't Work With An Audience They Wouldn't Show Them

The assertion that the product placement of cigarettes in Bogart-Bacall movies, some of the sexiest scenes in any movies ever made, is not effective when shown on cable-TV venues in 2019 is about the stupidest thing I've ever read anyone claim about classic movies.  That they were filmed almost eighty years ago doesn't diminish their unstated message associating smoking with enormous sexual desire anymore than the other aspects of Bogart's and Bacall's acting, the direction and noir cinematography or any other aspects of what makes people want to watch those movies, today. 

The same idiot who made that claim was, a couple of years back, involved in a long brawl with me over the ersatz greatness of the entirely inferior Ken Tynan peddled* sex goddess Louise Brooks, someone who stopped working in movies before Bacall started and never held a candle to her.  Anyone who thinks Bogart and Bacall weren't entirely better and more charismatic actors is the same kind of idiot who claims that those old smoking scenes aren't still able to influence the gullible and impressionable into thinking cigarettes are a quick and easy way to get some of that sex appeal for themselves.  Hell, the Marlboro ad cowboy image of the mangy and as-dead  Darrell Winfield - one of a number of those cowboys who were eventually killed by the coffin nails they peddled, works the same somewhat creepily necrophiliac way, today.  For those who are susceptible to that kind of cowboy mange.  You saying Bogart wasn't sexier than he was? 

Those old product-placements work as well today as they did at the time to peddle that message, the only difference is the weak effect of later anti-smoking campaigns and restrictions that came largely as a response to the success of such tobacco peddling in the 40s and after in selling death.  Bogart's for example.  If the science, evidenced based "more speech" of anti-smoking campaigns worked to counter it, no one would be smoking, today.   The fact is that smoking promotion through Hollywood and ad campaign tactics works, it's designed to sell and it does and it's still done with exactly the same motive as it was in the 20s and 30s and 40s.  

*  I can't remember where I read that Tynan's line of crap in that regard wasn't even original but something he'd copied from earlier idiot French cinema scribblers who made that bull shit line fashionable for a time.  She was a pretty gal and sometimes call-girl whose alcoholism would have ended her career if her lack of talent and unreliability hadn't.  

Update:  Apparently the TV stupid Teanecker believes that they stopped the promotion of smoking in movies and TV shows in the 1940s.  This temporary indulgence will end soon.  As I said when I swore off, it felt like taking advantage of the retarded.  I suppose I should feel ashamed of myself for giving in. 

Update 2:  If anyone wants to look into the phenomenon of post literacy in the early 2000s, the comment threads of Duncan Black's blogs constitute a typical specimen of it among those who hold college credentials. 

The Permission Given To American Billionaires To Destroy Democracy Is What Putin's Mob Used To Do What They Were Doing

I have been stating for a number of months now that the exclusive concern over the Russian billionaires of Putin's crime regime interfering in American elections is too narrow, it's not all that much worse when a gang of Russian billionaires do it than when American billionaires do it.  That's not to say what Putin did was any less of a danger, it is to point out that when American billionaires are allowed to do it, under the First Amendment, it is as dangerous to egalitarian democracy. 

If you might argue that when the courts and the laws allow American billionaires to sway elections they at least have the foreign policy interests in common with the good of the United States that is certainly not true.  Many of our worst and most consequential disasters in foreign policy have been at the behest and in the interest of wealthy oligarchs, disasters that have cost enormous numbers of lives, enormous numbers of people maimed, and enormous expense in rapidly descending order of moral significance.  

The critics of the Citizens United ruling warned before it was handed down that it opened up the United States to the manipulation of foreign powers - something the "Justices" voting in favor of that soi disant free-speech ruling certainly knew of when they made that ruling.  It clearly didn't bother them that they were opening up our country like a sardine can, why would it, they've been doing that for domestic oligarchs and gangster-billionaires their entire careers.   And, as can be read in briefs filed by such so-called civil liberties groups as the ACLU, it doesn't really much bother them, either.  Since I am a liberal and I write from the far left of traditional American liberalism, I am never going to not point out the collusion of the pseudo-left as embodied in the ACLU with the fascists in this matter. 

I have also, in recent weeks, expressed my show-me skepticism that a fixture in the same legal establishment as all of the above, a Republican insider law man, Robert Mueller will turn out to be the savior of American democracy that so many are holding him up to be.  Even if he were one of those legendary "good Republicans, good conservatives" of the kind that so many were holding Rod Rosenstein out as being, I doubt he has the inclination to really consider the depth of danger that we are under from billionaire-millionaire attacks on democracy, I think his prep-Ivy league credentials make that far less probable, not mitigated by his atypical military service.   I think it will turn out that someone like Robert Mueller is not who is needed to save us.  

Though, now that he is the focus of Republican-fascist attack, perhaps he will understand more fully the level of danger we are in and have been in for much of the post-WWII period.  Perhaps his good friend William Barr's behavior will be what wakes up the guy in his eighth decade and he will redeem himself from skepticism like mine and he will sacrifice his official respectability to achieve something far greater and tell the truth, the whole truth about what he did find, what he looked for, what he did not look into and what he gave to other entities to look into because he lacked the time or he wanted to distance them from the corrupt clique at the head of Trump's Department of Justice so as to preserve evidence.   And if he really wants to achieve that level of greatness, I doubt he's going to do it by sticking to "just the facts, ma'am" he's going to have to give an honest analysis of what it means, if someone of his background is able to imagine that.  If I were having this conversation with him, I would point out the limits of imagination shown by so many of his former Department of Justice colleagues when it came to imagining William Barr and Rod Rosenstein's willingness to damage American democracy for the likes of Donald Trump and his agenda.

One of the more velvet glove attacks on Robert Mueller I've seen or heard was on the Lawfare site, posted by one of its co-founders Jack Goldsmith.*  It is a good example of how a lawyer can defend the indefensible, William Barr's conduct in regard to the Mueller investigation and Report, using all of those outs and dodges that lawyers are trained to find to turn its clear purpose around to face the other way.  I think that's what Jesus meant when he said the letter of the law leads to death even as its spirit gives life.   I don't think a better case can be made for William Barr, ignoring the fact that he blatantly lied, blatantly deceived, blatantly misled Congress while under oath and that he is clearly part of the cover-up Trump hired him to conduct.  The excuse that under William Barr's interpretation of Article II of the Constitution, the president has dictatorial powers of the kind the Founders wanted to avoid as they wrote it, is no excuse at all.  The Constitution made the president merely the executor of laws the Congress made, Congress, the entity to whom Barr lied, was clearly the superior authority under the Constitution.  The Congress is (allegedly) given the power to remove a president or a Supreme Court justice, no president nor even the Court is empowered to remove Congress.  

I have heard a lifetime of conservatives whining about the authority given to departments of the executive on the basis that their rules and regulations lacked congressional adoption and now, under the unitary executive, even more expansive powers, even to break the law, even to sell us out to enemies foreign and domestic, are claimed for the same executive.  

No one should be under any, possible impression that any of that right-wing discourse has been honest and above board, it has been, all along, academic babbling towards the end of destroying democracy in favor of oligarchic domination, changing completely, depending on the desired result.  The "unitary executive" theory that Barr holds is a view of things that is an overtly fascistic view of the presidency.  According to Goldsmith, that view of things has been common on the right:

Barr’s views on executive power are not shared by everyone, of course, but they basically reflect a standard conservative legal interpretation of Article II for almost fifty years now

I would imagine that if you point out the fascistic nature of the unitary executive its proponents would point to the mythic power of impeachment of the president, something which has never been followed to fruition in the conviction and removal of a sitting president, something which requires a super-majority in the Senate to accomplish and which in reality will never be achieved as the history of that alleged power proves.  Those who are clamoring that the House impeach Trump are both right and wrong, he is eminently impeachable, they are wrong if they say that House Democrats will be giving up the power of impeachment if they don't impeach, that power to accomplish the removal of a president doesn't exist in reality.  As a protection against the overtly fascistic nature of the unitary executive view of presidents as articulated by William Barr and all of the rest of the Ivy League trained lawyers and law scholars, impeachment is a figment of the imagination.  The unitary executive theory is one that is so dangerous and, according to Goldsmith, so widely held by conservatives that unless and until it is abolished by law, by constitutional amendment, if necessary, it is as dangerous to us as Citizens United and Buckley v Valeo are.  

Goldsmith's article is a skilled construction meant to obfuscate the real character of the Trump obstruction as executed by William Barr.  It is a lawyer's argument for why the most obviously wrong things should be allowed, a defense of the indefensible.  It is the kind of thing that, I hope, will become moot as the Congressional investigations subpoena the Mueller Report and Trumps financial records and whatever else they need to do things that I am entirely confident Mueller didn't and wouldn't do.  Things that the Department of Justice regulations and the oversight of Rosenstein and Barr would have impeded him from looking at.  I hope that Willaim Barr is prosecuted for the perjury he committed under oath while holding the office of Attorney General acting as Trump's mafia lawyer.  

But until the full danger of billionaire-millionaire manipulation of our politics and the media are ended, this is going to happen again and again until they succeed in totally destroying the possibility of equality under the law in a democracy. 

I don't know if Robert Mueller is one of those conservatives who held the same view of the presidency that his friend William Barr did.  If he did, I hope he sees where that leads, now.  Maybe he'll be asked about that, maybe he'll talk about it.  If he doesn't condemn it, I wouldn't count on him getting to the root of what is so dangerous about having a president working hand in glove with the Putin crime regime.  It wasn't much better when we had one working hand in glove with American billionaire gangsters. 

*  To give you a good idea of where he's coming from, here's his bio from Lawfare:  Jack Goldsmith is the Henry L. Shattuck Professor at Harvard Law School, co-founder of Lawfare, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Before coming to Harvard, Professor Goldsmith served as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-2004, and Special Counsel to the Department of Defense from 2002-2003.