Thursday, April 26, 2018

Why Is This Going Through My Head Today? The Happening - The Supremes

I didn't much care for The Supremes but somehow this got into my head about 1967.  I'm shocked to find I know every word of it. 

Actually, the song's not that bad, interesting handling of the form.

Now you can kill me for giving you an earworm.

This is what I was more likely to be listening to that year. 

Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)

I've got to update some of my old LPs, innoculation against earworms.

The Green Party Should Be Required To Turn Over Everything The Investigators Have Demanded

The Green Party is and has been a total fraud, a Republican enabling spoiler of a fraud which has had a uniformly malignant effect on our politics, never so much as the role they and their candidate Jill Stein played in the installation of Donald Trump - installed with the help of Vladimir Putin's mafia oligarchy, which Stein was honored by for her help in the election, the infamous photo of her sitting across from Mike Flynn and Vladimir Putin at an RT dinner, RT being the flagship of Putonian propaganda.

 Image result for jill stein rt dinner

One of the things we have discovered is that while they are quite amorally evil, the oligarchs who control Russia (not to mention other countries) are not stupid, not in any way.   And the combination of amorality and high intelligence has allowed them to look for and find all kinds of weaknesses in Western democracies, weaknesses built into the constitutions, the laws, the media and our society which they can exploit in a campaign of lies which will do everything from inhibit to ratfuck to totally destroy government of, by and most importantly FOR the People here and elsewhere. 

In that personal reassessment I talked about in my first post yesterday I took another, far deeper, far more critical look at the American left, of which I have been a part for all of my adult life, and saw how many of those held up as heroes of that left were, in fact, dupes or willing participants in previous, rather stupidly ineffective attempts of Russian oligarchs all during the 20th century, beginning a hundred years ago last November.  Only the country became the Soviet Union and the crime bosses were called "Communists".   I don't see much of a dividing line that separates Lenin, Stalin, Kruschev, etc. from Putin except a relabeling and the decision to corrupt instead of fight the Russian Orthodox hierarchy.   In essence, seeing Putin in action in regard to his ratfucking of our elections to put Trump in office looks like just a much, much smarter, savier campaign of doing what the Communists and their bumbling American dupes did so stupidly and ineffectively.   American lefties were total and complete suckers for it, often duped by sob stories told about how rich American commies lost their high paid jobs in Hollywood for a while.

And the American left has still fallen for it in the form of the Green Party - combining the cachet of being anti-establishment while enabling the worst of the establishment with some of the most annoying of white-collar lefty sanctimony - which has had such a role in putting up massive egomaniacs like Ralph Nader and Jill Stein and selling American lefties the same kind of stupidity - generally through such perennially duped media sources as In These Times and The Nation joined by the new ass-end lefty media such as Alternet and Salon. 

Now Jill Stein is in hot water because of the role she may well have played, knowingly, as part of this most successful ratfucking of the American political system, putting Donald Trump into office.  And the same kind of "civil liberties" institutions are trying to protect her from the American People finding out just what she and her Green Party did, very likely knowingly in that regard.   I have also cast a gelid eye on the American "civil liberties" industry which has played one of the most crucial roles in opening us up to the kind of ratfucking operation that Putin so brilliantly mounted, taking advantage of the"first amendment" "free speech" innovations and, especially, the carte blanche to lie that such groups have duped the Supreme Court into giving us.  If you need to be reminded, consider the role that FOX has played in this as well as those vestigial organs of the left mentioned above.

I say it's time to open up the Green Party to look at just what it has been doing other than committing a fraud on some of the most gullible and conceited voters in the country.   They have done what those idiot Communist parties of the past could never do, actually screwing up elections on behalf of the enemies of egalitarian democracy foreign and domestic.   The sobs stories of the Hollywood 10 should be left in the dead past because this is a whole new thing and this time they really will destroy democracy.   They're doing it election after election.  If there had ever been any prospect of the old commies of doing that there would have been every reason to really open them up and expose them by showing the truth of what they were doing.   If there had ever been any prospect of those idiot scribbler commies of having to live under the rule of someone like the Stalin and Lenin and Mao they held up as heroes, they would have crapped their red diapers in fear.  They never would have wanted what they imagined they did.   There's no reason to hold them up as heroes for 2018, they should be regarded as dupes of the dead past.

We Are Being Led By A Lazy, Stupid, Dangerous Child Led Around By Some Of The Worst People In The World

Given what's coming out about Dr. Ronny Jackson, I think it's time for the world to demand a second opinion about Donald Trump's fitness to be president because I looked at Jackson's white-coat white-wash and I think he was on something when he did the whole thing.  I've seen two people drink themselves to death, close-up and a lot about Jackson's performance on that occasion now looks familiar.  Before I thought he was just bull shitting, now it's pretty clear he kisses up the chain of command as he craps down.  You've got to be pretty awful to people who work under you to get the kind of reviews he's gotten from those who worked under his command.  I have got a strong suspicion that all of those pills he was taking from the stores didn't end up being handed out to other people.  I am beginning to wonder if that wasn't the substance of the widely reported popularity he enjoyed with previous administrations. 

I have listened to several things about Trump during the visit of Emmanuel Macron and it's clear he's doing a really piss poor job of bull shitting his way on some of the most dangerous issues facing the world and the United States - probably most dangerous right now is his determination to obliterate the Iran deal because it was negotiated by a Black Man - when he doesn't know anything about it other than that he wants to junk it on that basis.  That and the psychopathological gangsterism of John Bolton, perhaps his son-in-law and whoever else is influencing him on that. 

The world owes a debt of gratitude to President Macron for tolerating the treatment he was given, for taking on the disgusting role of flattering an ignorant, perverted, petty despot in order to try to influence him when there is no reason to believe any positive effect will outlive his next TV session with FOX or his meeting with his staff of criminals or his family.

Seth Meyer's treatment of it in this segment is as good as what you're going to get from the news. That happens when things are totally screwed up as our politics are.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Untouched By Morning And Untouched By Noon - Hate Mail

My mother's cousin Ellen and her husband Jack were only children, they had no siblings, no nieces and nephews who they might have baby sat and watch grow up, they grew up mostly surrounded by people their parents and grandparents ages and people their own age.  I only knew them in middle and old age, when they started visiting us, mostly in the late 1960s up till the early years of this century.   They worked with mostly people of their own age or older, she was an executive secretary at General Electric, her bosses were older and her own age, he was a lab worker worker at GE who went on to work for the union there.  They didn't socialize with people much younger than they were and since they were childless they tended to be around people their own age.

In their case that meant when you talked to them you talked to people who were largely inhabiting the past, not the present.  They were conservative, they didn't like the impingements of the present on their largely retrospective view of reality.  They disliked the post-Vatican II church, though they attended mass every week and supported their Church.  They used 1940s slang well past the time when anyone else I knew used it.   I loved them dearly but they were mostly rather eccentric figures.  I didn't bother to try to argue out new ideas with them.  It would have been pointless.   From them you could learn about nothing but details of a past you hadn't experienced. 

There is a futility to talking to a lower-mid-brow college-credentialed devotee of the common received wisdom about anything that doesn't conform to what they thought in their early youth if not childhood. 

This is all motivated by Simps saying that Emmanuel Macron mentioning Voltaire in the diplomatic babble associated with his visit is going to bother me in some way.   I wonder why he wouldn't be upset about it since during our last couple of go rounds over Monsieur Arouet I was able to document that that great hero of the "enlightenment" and so the atheist pseudo-left was a vicious and flagrant anti semite and racist.  I know he read the quotes I produced along with citations and links which were pretty extreme.   I doubt you could find anything by the Breitbart crowd that could top them in hatefulness and bile as well as dishonesty.   If Voltaire hadn't been an anti-religious hero but a theologian or bishop he wouldn't get off the hook, they'd probably invent such statements for them if they didn't exist. 

So, congratulations,  Simps you are officially in that stage of geezerhood in which you are so stuck in your prejudices that even having the evidence thrown in your face several times doesn't make a dent.  It's pretty much the rule of those who can still tolerate Duncan's blog.  It's one of the reasons I left,  I wasn't learning anything new there.

Insisting On The Possibility Of New Hope Even As Ignorant Armies Tweet By Night

The new atheism that was given a name in the 'noughts' of this millenium have had a result unexpected by the mostly scientists (Dawkins, Coyne, Carroll) and pseudo-scientists (Sam Harris and the rest of the soc-sci figures in it) and really crappy philosophers (Dennett, the Churchlands) and what passes as a "public intellectual" these days (Christopher Hitchens, Peter Singer, etc. ) who fueled the popular attack on religion.   I felt that result myself in having to uncomfortably and finally confront the atheism I didn't have much of a concern about in a fundamental way.  For me it was on a then popular lefty political blog when one of the regulars made the declaration that "science proves that free will is a myth" and the gathered, largely infidel lefties didn't immediately see that that was a huge problem for the validity of democracy and the status of human beings as what the philosopher Paul Weiss defined as "a locus of rights".   It's no shocking surprise that a loudmouth barroom style atheist on a mid-brow lefty blog would make such an assertion, you can read essentially that claim made all over the atheist websites, from atheist scientists, it would seem to be one of the foundational ideological bases of neuro-science, cognative-science (if people still use that term) and huge numbers of associated and  allied "sciences" and the kind of philosophers who have the same relationship with science credentials that Freud claimed women had for men's penises.

If people are not capable of free thought, of free choice, of making up their own minds in a way that transcended the pedestrian, meaningless status of a chemical reaction then all of the basis of democracy is not only invalid, it is a futile delusion.  So is any claim that there is any moral imperative for equality or any kind of change in economic hierarchy.   That is blatantly and from the beginning a feature of the scientific literature of Darwinism which, itself was founded on the economic assertion of the British class system found in Malthus - ironically a man who had "his living" as a parson of the government subsidized  and degraded 18-early 19th century Anglican church.*

I think I may have sensed the trouble before that pivotal event, I'd read scads and scads of atheists going on about such stuff.   I'd read Sartre and Nietzsche and dear old Bertrand Russell, afterall.  I harbored a disgust of those only for Nietzsche because, looking back on them, he was the one who was most honest about the consequences of the widespread disbelief in God and the significance of morality and the inescapable demotion of human thought on the basis of materialism.   He lacked the inhibitions of politeness and the pretenses and respect for social norms that led more respectable intellectual atheists to not drive their claims to their logical ends or even the ends that we could expect from that claim of materialist atheism.   Nietzsche was inhibited enough to understand what that meant for all of human thought, including the science that was the motivating force of the "enlightenment" that led inevitably only into the darkness and despair of "ignorant armies clashing by night".

The consequences of a belief that "science proves that free will is a myth" are the kind of total disaster that Nietzsche presented - I think you can see that all over the place online, the "manosphere" which inspire a growing number of mass murder terror incidents is largely a place of scientistic, materialist atheism of the "new atheist" variety.   And I do think it's necessary to go there because what was tolerable when held by a bunch of contented cattle in academia quickly turns intolerable when it spreads to people with marginal social habits and emotional problems that are exacerbated when they get together online and feed each other's feelings of aggrieved entitlement and resentment and their TV-movie-videogame violent amorality.  I'm tempted to go into the atheist reaction to one of their own, Rebecca Watson, from the lowest dregs of Youtube  manosphere(Thunderf00t) to the somewhat fallen Pope of neo atheism, Richard Dawkins, to so many in between and wonder why an atheist of any intellectual rigor would have expected anything better of a movement that has within its intellectual foundation the perfect reason to negate anyone's status as a holder of rights and anyone elses moral obligation to respect their rights even to the most basic of self-determination and a right to society inhibiting or punishing those who feel a desire to violate their rights.**

Needing to "go there" in so many ways is a direct product of the new atheist agitation of the 1990s and 'naughts' because those pending questions of the consequences of materialist atheism were finally pushed to the fore.  When lots of guys really do buy the consequences of a belief in scientism, materialism and atheism the results will be a lot closer to the conclusions of Nietzsche than they will the clean-handed, clean nailed, socially adroit visions of a Bertrand Russell or A. J. Ayers.   Even the brave attempt of the existentialists to find a replacement for a morality based in religion are doomed to fail because, relieved of even a pretense of intellectual engagement by the universal acid of materialist atheism, only the tiniest and least effective of minorities of people in the world will even know such ideas exist.

That is the result of that "enlightenment" which  is held up as the great salvation, the great liberation of a largely mythical and imaginary past - most of the college-credentialed people I've ever heard on the topic are pretty deficient if not entirely ignorant of the actual history, knowing only ideological polemical cartoon versions of it.  I have come to see the later day version of that as a revision to a pagan past with the material gods being subject to the forces of nature and fate and, eventually, mortality which are quite similar in both their conception and, to an extent, a belief in materialism.  I certainly think the status of equal rights and equality, especially economic justice under both is quite similar in social and political and legal effect.  Our present day law has a lot in common with the Imperial Roman system, it is ever farther from the Law of Moses, even as the neo-pagan pseudo-Christianity that is called "evangelical Christianity" has more in common with the state religion of Rome than it does the Gospel, the Law and, especially, The Prophets.

And it was always so.  The very Hebrew tradition, including Christianity and arguably Islam, was an alternative to those paganisms.   In "An Unsettling God," Walter Brueggemann continues from where I left off yesterday.

Israelite Hope Verses Enlightenment Despair

At the culmination of Israel's portrayal of reality is a certitude and a vision of newness, a full restoration to well-being that runs beyond any old well-being.  This culmination in well-being, assumed by the resolve of YHWH, is articulated in the conclusion of most psalms of complaint and in prophetic promises that eventuate in messianic and apocalyptic expectations.  Israel's speech witnesses to profound hope, based in the promise-maker and promise-keeper for whom all things are possible.

Israel refuses to accept that any context of nullity - exile, death, chaos - is a permanent conclusion to reality.  Israel, in such circumstance, articulated hope rooted not in any discernible signs in the circumstance, but in the character of YHWH (based on old experience), who was not a prisoner of circumstance but was able to override circumstance in order to implement promises.  This hope is not incidental in Israel's life;  it is a bedrock, identity-giving conviction, nurtured in nullity, that YHWH's good intentions have not and will not be defeated.  As a consequence, complainers anticipate well-being and praise.  Israel awaits home-coming, the dead look at new life, creation expects reordering.

All of this requires confidence in an agent outside the system of defeat.  Enlightenment liberalism, which sets the liberated, self-sufficient human agent at the center of reality, can entertain or credit no such agent outside the system.  Without such an agent who exists in and through Israel's core testimony, there are no new gifts to be given and no new possibilities to be received.  Thus, put simply, the alternative to Israelite hope is Enlightenment despair.  In such a metanarrative, when human capacity is exhausted, all is exhausted.  Ultimate trust is placed in human capacity, human ingenuity, and human technology.  It is self-evident that such a trust cannot deliver, and so ends in despair, for self-sufficiency is only a whisker away from despair.  Such a reading of reality engenders fear and hate, self-hate, and brutality.  But Israel, inside its peculiar testimony, refuses such a reading.

I state the contrast as boldy and sweeping as I know how.  The drama of brokenness and restoration, which has YHWH as its key agent, features generosity, candor in brokenness, and resilient hope, the markings of a viable life.   The primary alternative now available to us features scarcity, denial, and despair, surely the ingredients of nihilisim.

To be sure, for all its venturesome witness, Israel did not always choose cleanly.  Israel accommodated and compromised.  It practiced scarcity as much as it trusted generosity.  it engaged occasionally in denial, for all its embrace of brokenness.  It lived close to despair, for all its resources of hope.  The amazing thing, in my judgment, is not that Israel compromised;  it is that Israel kept its testimony as sustained as it did amid the pressures and demands of its circumstance.  It kept its testimony enough of a coherent assertion that it was able to say, in the voice of YHWH, to itself, to its children, and to any others who would listen.

"See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.  If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess  But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to ther gods and serve them,  I declare to you today that you shall perish;  you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.  I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death,  blessings and curses.  Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him;  for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob"  (Deuteronomy 30:15-20)

I will point out to you that those three men mentioned in that last sentence were a pretty rhum lot.  Abraham in such episodes as his forays into Egypt where he denied his wife was his wife because Pharaoh was attracted to her, having an out of wedlock child with his wife's slave Hagar, only to send her and the child away when Sarah became jealous,  Jacob in how he hoodwinked his brother and father into giving him the birthright that was intended for Easu, among numerous other incidence, he wrestled with an angel sent by God, so he contested with God, in effect.   Wrestling with God and God's message is as monotheistic as that story.  It is not a stained glass view of conventional piety, it is a sweaty, sometimes bloody struggle full of every emotion from the depths of despair but also with the promise of eventual fulfillment.

This Deuteronomic assertion,derivative from the vision of Moses, provided durable enough for Israel that in its season of rehabilitation, Ezra could still affirm:  "Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God" (Nehemiah 9:31).  The choosing between construals of reality is something Israel always had to do again.  And the choosing is not finished yet. 

In the book Brueggemann points out that none of that is a guarantee and that since what is guaranteed is that people will not be consistent in keeping up with their end of it, all of the human institutions that are created, even those intended to be dedicated to doing that, will, at times fail and at times fail disastrously.   Every accusation and charge against religion, against churches, though, are a result of them failing to live up to the morality that they, themselves, hold to be true but which other systems and ideologies deny.  The promise isn't a guarantee of perfection, it is an assertion that better is possible. Change is possible, that people deserve that change because they have rights given them by God.  Atheism has nothing in it that makes such an absolute assertion of people having rights and moral obligations to respect the rights of other people and after so many centuries of they being able to find them in atheism if they were there, they have come up with nothing.

*  Typing that out, I'm struck at how Darwin's bulldog, Thomas Huxley had it as one of his foremost aims to kick out the religious figures who were prominent in the science and, especially, scientific societies of his day, a few decades after Malthus.   It is ironic that the very concept of natural selection he pushed as part of that and his wider ideological campaign against religion was founded on the assertions of such a parson-scientist, and from the most dismal of the sciences, economics.

It is also an irony that the myth of his confrontation with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce wasn't as is almost universally believed today, between an ignorant cleric and a crusading scientist, Wilberforce was a member of the Royal Society and a noted scholar of science.  In contradiction to the myth which was launched decades after the event on the basis of "recollections" of the atheists and agnostics and the reports of second-hand assertions,  Charles Darwin noted in Comeyian contemporaneous notes of the event that Wilberforce had, in fact, found every one of the major weaknesses in the first edition of On the Origin of Species.   If I had a dollar for every college-grad I've heard on the topic who misrepresents what it was and 10 for every time I'd heard it repeated in a BBC-PBS costume documentary I suspect I'd be able to afford a new laptop.

** LGBT people, Women, members of racial minorities, etc.  who think that atheism has anything to add to their campaigns for equality are mistaken.   There is nothing in atheism from which to construct any kind of durable claim for equality, for non-discrimination, for any articulation of equality.   Among the things I have had to face with the new atheism it is the fact that atheists have, in fact, argued against the status of human beings and morality that are the only basis of an assertion of equal rights and a moral obligation to observe the rights of other people when you don't want to.

The denial of equality is a guaranteed  result of any intellectual claim of biological determinism which, like the static social order of paganism, of Pharaoh, contains an excuse for inequality as it is even as it denies that moral obligations require equality or that such equality is even possible.   It really is all connected, among the foremost reasons for that is that materialism is a monist intellectual system.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Online Hate Kills People, There Is No Reason To Permit It To Operate

Yesterday was too early to write about the van attack in Toronto that killed ten people and injured a number of other people, there wasn't enough to know about why the killer did it.   Now we find out that he obviously did so encouraged by an online community of whiny-ass crybaby men who hang out online to whine and cry and rage at their virginity and to plot "revenge" - really hate crimes -  against apparently just about everyone they figure is having sex or might be having sex or who they think might be able to have sex.   I don't know why it hasn't occurred to these boys that while they are bonding with their fellow virgins, they aren't practicing the social skills and learning to increase their chances of having a relationship.  Only, I doubt that what they want is a relationship with a person so they would rather have one with their self-pity and rage.

So we find another online cult that generates horrific violence,  violence their interactions online show they encourage each other to fantasize about and incite in the few of them in the online crowd who are mentally disposed to carry out those fantasies.  We are finding out, today, that among the reported minority who are upset that they're going to take the heat from their buddy's murder there are apparently more who are grooving on it and reinforcing the ideas and words and slogans that certainly inspired the van murderer yesterday.

I hope that whoever is hosting the website that yesterday's murderer is subject to being sued into hell because they are as responsible as the character deficient boys who egged him on. 

I think one of the things that is becoming clearer is that hate groups online are dangerous and as they proliferate and more of them act on the encouragement they get from their fellow degenerates we can't just allow these groups to operate.  I think that the results of their promotion of hate will prove to be intolerable and they will have to be suppressed, those corporations that profit off of hosting their online activities open to being sued out of existence.  Until then, I hope that groups monitoring such hate groups and fighting against them expand and attack those who encourage and incite hate and the violence that is an inevitable result of that.   While you might point to 995 of the losers whose talk of "revenge" is just talk, if there are five out of a thousand of them who act, that is something we can't live with.

"I laugh at the death of normies": How incels are celebrating the Toronto mass killing

What I Listened To While I Just Ate Lunch - Sam Seder RIPS APART Jordan Peterson's Real Time Appearance

Someone in the comments wondered if Jordan Peterson was dressed so dapper because he wanted to send a message of sexual appeal to Maher.   It's good I hadn't read the comments until I ate because the image that brought up would have put me off my lunch.

I would say that Jordan Peterson has got to be the biggest bullshit artist on the current scene.  I also wonder how people listening to him could not conclude that psychotherapy isn't and hasn't always been a crock of it.   I would love to know how many people he's psychotherapized haven't ended up worse than they were before.  What would a rigorous study of that show?   You know, the kind they NEVER do to validate anything in psychology or what they teach in psych departments at even the foremost universities. 

I've got to decontaminate before I go back to work. 

Update: Is it me or is the soi disant artificial intelligence that is running blogger's spell check-correction feature a lot stupider than it was a few months back? 

the candor that assaults the system and makes newness possible

I recently got a complaint at how many of my posts over the last couple of years have dealt with things that the eminent Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann has written or said.   Why have I concentrated so heavily on what he's said? 

One is because I have been reading him after not having read him before and I find his view of the real alternative to the dominant, oppressive, destructive, deadly culture that can be written in shorthand as market capitalism but which encompasses pretty much the dominant culture of all secular and even many religious establishments and institutions   And he does it while being radically honest about the problems and ambiguities of even the scriptures he has found his own prophetic imagination fed by.  There is a story that when someone made a remark about Bach to Beethoven, Beethoven made a pun that said he wasn't a "Bach " - which means a stream or brook in German, but that he was an ocean.   That old saw of music history classes has come back to me any number of times while reading Brueggemann's work and listening to his lectures and sermons.  I could say it about others working in religious studies but I can't really think of any current figures in philosophy or science that have elicited the same response with me.

If you don't get it, I'm kicking myself for having wasted the 1970s-about 2002 with all manner of secular lefty crap when I could have been reading Brueggemann and Marilynne Robinson and Elizabeth Johnson, etc.  That is why I'm far more of a leftist than I ever was as an agnostic.

One of the things that makes him so credible is his sharp critical and often not complementary eye that he casts on the meaning of the Scriptures but it goes even beyond that because he doesn't hold out for a perfection and absolute view of reality as an alternative, he rejects those myths of enlightenment rationality which cannot  be held even  within the limited range of science when it deals with real things in real life, which cannot help but fail to achieve what mathematics can tell us about the imaginary constructs of objects and relationships that math deals with.

At the end of his current book that I'm studying right now,  An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible he starts out by saying what might shock even many religious people in a statement that would confound the commonly held stereotype of monotheistic believers and continues to a conclusion that is as relevant to our current politics and economics and the harsh reality of life for the large majority of people as anything the Biblical Prophets said.

Before I start on the text, though, I will have to point out that Brueggemann and virtually no honest, deep scholar of The Bible will pretend that all of the texts represent the same prophetic tradition, that large parts of it document the point of view of the very establishments and the moral crimes of the People of God, you have to read it with an eye out for when it is that and when it is prophesy because it's all more complex than either a pious or an impious characterization of the Scriptures will dishonestly present them as being.   The Protestant tradition may have begun with sola scriptura but its deep readings of the scriptures has surpassed the cartoon of fundamentalism that most secular people believe represents the real right way to be a Christian.  They did it by what was written in the collection and really addressing it in all of its problematic content.  It's no royal road to knowledge or salvation.

The passage I'm going to comment on starts:

We have seen, moreover, that Israel's struggle to bear true witness about this reality is complicated and unresolved.  Much of the ullity besetting the partners of YHWH comes as a consequence of sin and defiance, as punishment of the sovereign, but there is more  The partner who suffers is often perpetrator, but also sometimes victim.  Sometimes the partner is victim of YHWH's negligence, whereby the hosts of the Nihil run rampant in the earth;  sometimes the partner is victim of YHWH's mean -spirited irascibility . . . sometimes. 

In everything Brueggemann addresses in his study of the Scriptures he never loses sight that what we are reading, even if inspired by God is at no times not a human response to human experience, it is a human articulation of all human experience and emotional response to it, including anger and frustration with why bad things happen to good people, why God doesn't just fix it all for good people, that they and their lives don't prevail against evil.   One of his recurring criticisms of religious practice is with the common practice of keeping the Psalms of complaint and frustration out of the lectionary - what people will hear when they go to church.

In any case, as perpetrator or as victim or as both, the partner of YHWH must make claim against YHWH.  It is in this context that Israel voices its countertestimony.  Israel seizes the initiative against YHWYH protests YHWH's hiddenness, unreliability, and negativity.  Sometimes - not always - these protests lead to restoration and rehabilitation by the resolve of YHWH.

That is one of the really unusual things about the Hebrew religious tradition that seems to me to be generally absent in others, that their conceptions of the one God is far more than a mere king of the Earth doling out favors and beneficence to those who flatter and kow tow, that the reality of life in its total complexity apart from human preferences or aspirations or hopes or wants is part of the relationship people have with God.  And, by God's choice, it is a two-way relationship based in covenants made between God and those who choose to be included in those covenants and that what is agreed to is not entirely known by us or a universal guarantee we're always going to be happy with the results.   For someone who invested a lot of study and practice in Buddhism and its assumptions of automatic returns for doing it the right way and for a naive conception of Catholicism before that - you say so many decades of Hail Mary's and your sins will be washed away, etc.* this kind of adult conception of reality was shattering in a way I have to say I hadn't experienced before.   It's been a going on three years ride, very fast and careening through so many hair pin turns  And it was all there right in front of me the whole time.

This instance on the reality of brokenness flies in the face of  the Enlightenment practice of denial.  Enlightenment rationality, in its popular, uncriticized form teaches that with enough reason and resources, brokenness can be avoided.  And so Enlightenment rationality, in its frenzied commercial advertising, hucksters the goods of denial and avoidance;  denial of headaches and perspiration and loneliness, impotence and poverty and shame, embarrassment and, finally death.   In such ideology there are no genuinely broken people.  When brokenness intrudes into such an assembly of denial, as surely it must, it comes as failure, stupidity, incompetence, and guilty.  The church, so wrapped in the narrative of denial, tends to collude in this.   When denial is transposed into guilt - into personal failure - the system of denial remains intact and uncriticized, in the way Job's friends defended the system.  

The outcome for the isolated failure is that there can be no healing, for there has not been enough candor to permit it.  In the end, such denial is not only a denial of certain specifics - it is the rejection of the entire drama of brokenness and healing, the denial that there is an incommensurate Power and Agent who comes in pathos into the brokenness, and who by coming there makes the brokenness a place of possibility. 

There is so much that can be related to, so much in not only modern life but in life throughout human history, he cites Job, perhaps among the earliest book of the Scriptures, some believe the actual earliest one.   Far from being a product of human beings strongest desires and wishes, the Hebrew tradition contains the sobering news that all of that bad stuff is there but that it also is a part of a new possibility, whereas the Enlightenment view is that those who are broken should just be thrown on the scrap heap of history, are a cost of doing business, are the biologically inferior who those of greater fitness are destined to destroy. 

The denial precludes the participation in the candor that assaults the system and makes newness possible.   Israel, of course, knew about the practice of denial.  Israel knew how to imagine its own immunity from threat and risk;  "As for me, I said in my prosperity,  "I shall never be moved'" (Psalm 30:6).   In an honest embrace of YHWH, however, Israel did not freeze in its denial, but moved on in a way that made newness a possibility:

You have turned my mourning into dancing; 
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me in joy, 
so that my soul may praise you 
and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give
thanks to you forever.  (Psalm 30:11-12)

Which strikes me as entirely more adult, more honest, more likely to be productive of the possibility of egalitarian democracy, economic justice and the goal of those, the wide distribution of a  more decent though not perfect life based in a belief in the status of all people as deserving of those things.  More likely than the cynicism that comes from the kind of thwarted, disappointed, exhausting, unfed idealism that is the stuff of enlightenment-style secular, anti-religious, materialistic leftism.   Which, in its worst form has lead the disappointed or disillusioned or merely opportunistic fervent Marxist into fascism in only one of its more repugnant forms or the kind of leisurely, mildly dismissive semi-ex-socialism that the beloved, delightful John Mortimer sometimes wrote about but which didn't seem to concern him much in his last decades.** 

I will continue with this tomorrow.

*  A lot of what Walter Brueggemann says is also found in Catholic authors and authors in other traditions of Judaism and Christianity, it's just that I've found my way into it though his writing.

**  I don't have time to look up the actual examples from the book but the review of John Mortimer's memoir in the NYT noted it.

Every now and then, Mr. Mortimer allows himself to show his disappointment over the failure of the socialist experiment in Britain or his concern over the way children are treated in the courts, but he never allows such worries to get in the way of a story -- explaining how, for example, he discovered opera fairly late in life and went on to do a translation of "Die Fledermaus" or how he dashed off to South Africa in search of a forgotten branch of his family.

Religious faith is a mystery Mr. Mortimer refers to repeatedly and almost wistfully. Although he shrugs it off by calling himself "an atheist for Christ," he says he envies Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene and Muriel Spark their belief in a religion that "adds shape and weight to their stories." But such moments of introspection are rare and guarded.

I think they were "rare and guarded" largely because John Mortimer, as well as his great creation, Horace Rumpole, exist within the limits under which you can safely be held to be acceptable to the general milieu of secular culture in the West.  Even those who in their youth follow on the more idealistic pathway of socialism.   You could contrast those who didn't believe in a scientifically arrived at day of glory as socialism because theirs was based in religion.   And John Mortimer was among the best of the old secular socialist lefties I can think of, off hand.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Hate Mail

That never happened, as so much that Simps claims never happened.  I checked the comment threads, as I remembered I didn't post any comments on posts dealing with that personal matter.  He's got such a good memory that he can remember things that never happened.  Of course it could be show-biz alzheimer's, where everything is remembered as melodrama, often with the sufferer starring in the role of the heroic martyr.    I say "sufferer" only it's those who witness it who do the suffering. 

Questions About Abiogenesis Aren't Answered By Vague Statements About Evolution

As a longtime listener to the CBC radio science program Quirks and Quarks* which, often, has the best electronic science reporting in English that I'm aware of, I am often struck at how a close consideration of what is said on it exposes some of the most common habits of scientists and science reporters. 

Last week's listener question concerned a recent news report that claimed that graphite deposits found in Newfoundland might have been laid down by life which spontaneously arose around mid-ocean hot water vents, a listener from Ontario asked the entirely sensible and excellent question that if such life arose that way four billion years ago, "Why doesn't life continue to spontaneously occur around such vents?"  The text summary of the short segment at the Quirks and Quarks website says:

 Dr. Ali Aksu from the Earth Sciences Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland explains that life on Earth began as progressively complex organic molecules arose from non-living mater. It is quite likely that this took place around hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor about 4 billion years ago. Life did not begin in a single event, it began as a series of processes that started a constant evolution that continues today. Those processes were unique to conditions on the planet at that time. For that reason, it is not possible for life to re-evolve even though we still have active hydrothermal events in the oceans.

Given that the scientific basis of the claims leave some room to doubt the age of the graphite deposits I wouldn't be surprised if the status of the claims isn't as durable as the rocks they're based in but that's not what I'm interested in.  I'm a little skeptical as to the durability of their interpretation of what they're looking at, but that's based on questioning how much they really know about it.

I have no problem with an extremely early date for life on Earth, though I think there is every reason to believe that the earlier the date is the more improbable most of the work in the pseudo-science of abiogenesis is, all of it based on evidence from hundreds of millions if not more than a billion years after the beginning of life - much of it based on such complex molecules as RNA (used to be they made claims on DNA) which can't exist outside of an organism.   I do have to say that my earliest thoughts on this claim leaves me a little less certain of the single-origin of life on Earth theory which I have always believed on the basis of the presumed probability of life arising by chance.  Though I'm still thinking that through.

My problem is that Dr Aksu didn't answer the question, not at all.   

If the conditions around hot water ocean vents are what gave rise to life "through progressively complex molecules  (which) arose from non-living mater" (sic) why wouldn't that happen today? 

Why wouldn't it have been happening all during the intervening four billion years? 

The response to the question doesn't even begin to answer that and I'm not at all sure that either the scientist or the science reporting staff on Quirks and Quarks even realizes that the response is no answer to the question.   If such life rose once or, far more improbably, many times in the conditions on the early Earth through random chance based on the ambient physical conditions present, those same conditions that probability worked itself out into life that time have existed ever since. 

I would imagine that the number of such "complex molecules" that might have somehow assembled into organisms then is miniscule as compared to such complex molecules manufactured in organisms after life had become established and flooded the environment with complex organic molecules manufactured in living organisms.   If the scenario that Aksu presents was how it happened, as a result of random chance operating on the available material, then I would ask why with much more of such material around the odds of it happening again, once or many times  doesn't increase enormously.

The situation that is used to explain why it doesn't happen now would also make it far less probable to have happened then.

Why he would bring the entirely separate issue of evolution into it is interesting to consider.  It really has nothing to do with far more reliably established belief in the evolution of lines of organisms into separate species, the meaning of the word, after all. 

The "answer" that is given isn't given to explain why it doesn't happen, it's a dismissal of the question.   I would think that among the most logical conclusions to make about the absence of continued spontaneous creations of new life in such thermal vents is that the likelihood of it having happened in the ambient conditions billions of years ago was even more vanishingly small than the traditional estimates have been.  And that that makes a skeptical response to the traditional Darwinian claim that it happened spontaneously as a result of random, chance events far more respectably reasonable.   Though I don't think you're going to hear it even on the often excellent Quirks and Quarks.

*    In browsing the CBC website yesterday I found this blast from the 37-year-ago past, one I remember listening to.  It seems quaintly out of date now, though I am sure the issues involved have evolved on all side.  I thought it was really weird to classify Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge as somehow anti-Darwinist, though I don't remember thinking it sounded weird way back then.  Also, back then I didn't appreciate that they didn't seem to have a very close understanding of "creationism" in that they seemed to lump actual 7-day creationists in with people who accepted that evolution happened but who didn't buy the atheist dogma of it happening by random chance events.  Even some of the people who work at the Discovery Institute wouldn't fit an accurate definition of "creationist."   And I'll remind you that one of the most eminent and totally conventional Darwinists of my youth,  Theodosius Dobzhansky said eight years before that show It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God's, or Nature's, method of Creation.

Who Goes Trumpzi?

When I read Charles Pierce's short take about the whining of youngish proto-fascist scribblers about how discriminated against they are by "liberals." from their perches in the roster of writers for allegedly liberal rags like the New York Times, it rang a bell for me.  He points out what set them off, this time.

Noah Rothman gets the award for the Worst Performance By A Pundit In A Supporting Role this week for leaping to the electric Twitter machine in order to send this baby aloft.

"If there is one thing the experiences of Stephens, Weiss, McArdle, and Williamson has clarified for all objective observes, it is what true courage in writing really is. The kind with personal and professional consequences."

(Bret) Stephens and (Bari) Weiss bravely write for the New York Fcking Times. (Megan) McArdle bravely writes for The Washington Post. Kevin Williamson’s snowflakery, which apparently prompted Rothman’s tweet, appears in Friday’s Wall Street Fcking Journal. True courage, dude? Veronica Guerin would like a word, and Maxim Borodin is holding on Line 1. Jesus Christ on a three-year contract, what a bunch of histrionics.

What Kevin Williamson got slammed, then canned from the tattered remains of The Atlantic for were  his advocacy in a podcast in which,  called in effect for considering the death penalty for a quarter of the adult women in the United States who have had abortions.  That is not to mention the ones who had had miscarriages or who some massive a-hole of a county attorney or DA of elected judge decided to make use of who would have inevitably been swept up in the enthusiastic enforcement of such a ban on abortions.   One imagines Williamson would be in favor of lesser penalties (or not) for women who are convicted of any range of things which lead to a miscarriage, based on some of the prosecutions that have been brought against women for all kinds of things by such nationalization of their bodies by prosecutors, cops and judges in recent history.   Not to mention what  use employers would make use of such a legal regimen to discriminate against women and pay them even less. 

Is there any profession that has more entitled cry-babies than the media?  And are there any bigger cry-babies than the conservatives in it, especially those in the NY-DC media?   Entitlement is what they do and what they demand and even the big-fat pretend liberal organs of it like the New York Times, the Washington Post and the big magazines are only too eager to go along because if there's one thing they know, it's which side their bread is buttered on.

But what it brought to mind for me was a too little read 1941 article by one of the great journalistic heroes of the run up to World War Two,  Dorothy Thompson,*  Who Goes Nazi?   The piece is an imagined party game for an upper class household gathering in which the various people, or, rather, types, are evaluated on their potential to "go Nazi" as things go that way in the country.   I have to say that all of those listed by Pierce were recognizable to me in Thompson's examples of types.   Guess which ones (including those who hired them) I recognized in this one, not in every particular.

I think young D over there is the only born Nazi in the room. Young D is the spoiled only son of a doting mother. He has never been crossed in his life. He spends his time at the game of seeing what he can get away with. He is constantly arrested for speeding and his mother pays the fines. He has been ruthless toward two wives and his mother pays the alimony. His life is spent in sensation-seeking and theatricality. He is utterly inconsiderate of everybody. He is very good-looking, in a vacuous, cavalier way, and inordinately vain. He would certainly fancy himself in a uniform that gave him a chance to swagger and lord it over others.

I think it is a joke of history that Thompson used Trump's first initial for that one.   Though I was thinking of people in the media.

A lot of the types Dorothy Thompson imagined in the piece would have to be modified, I think a lot of the young equivalents in Trumpian fascism today have different aspirations, though social-climbing, personal enrichment and that most delightful of all vices, believing deeply that you are superior to other people is timeless and universal.  So is the urge to make things easy for yourself by conformity and going along with what those with money and so power want.   I think that's the primary motivation of the newspaper and magazine publishers and others in the media who have promoted and created Trumpian fascism - centered on money and the value of their publications and programs and networks.   The part that the media played in the creation and elevation of people like Hitler - whose earliest promoter was a publisher and Mussolini who, like the Italian Trump Berlusconi, got his big start in the media, would have to be explored far more than it has been.

I think one of the biggest things we've found out in this go round of fascist ascendency is what a total fraud the idea that the media is going to save us is.  That part of the media that has fought against it is was certainly not powerful enough to prevent the descent into Republican-fascism that has been a slow moving threat since the late 1960s, what such rags as the New York Times gave to fight it, they presented it with even more opportunities.  The electronic media has been, if anything, worse.  The archive of National Public Radio could present a few doctoral students studying the rise of American fascism with a lot to cite in that regard. 

The old saw that history doesn't repeat itself but sometimes it rhymes seems to be true.  I think we're finding out by the august and formerly august organs of the free press who hire proto-fascists using the excuse of "even handedness" "covering both sides" etc. just who is likely to go Trumpzi because they already have.  And there are lots of others, essentially not liberal but 18th century - enlightenment style libertarian-liberals in the media who accommodated and enabled it.  The most disgusting of them are the ones who presented their work for media corporations as "principled".

*  Dorothy Thompson was heroic in a way that  too few of today's media professionals are.  Her doomed defense of Herschel Grunszpan, the teenage boy who assassinated the Nazi diplomat Ernst von Rath and who was used shamefully by all sides, including those who allegedly defended him in trial,  is heroic.   That is if anything you can do while writing in relative safety can be considered heroic.  And for lots of her career, she was hardly safe and secure.   She was the first American journalist the Nazis expelled from Germany for a reason, that was because she was courageous and honest.  Lots of them hedged their coverage until they couldn't anymore.  Most all of the big figures in our media today would have folded like a wet paper doll of a crusading reporter, one made of tissue paper. 

Ignorant Idiot

Simels thinks Francis of Assisi was in the Bible, not to mention he apparently believes that the screen play for the 1961 movie "Barabbas" is a book of the New Testament.   I wonder what other dreck written in and around Hollywood and for the movies he believes is in it.  

Remember, this all stems from his good buddy at Eschaton, his fellow member of the Eschaton "Brain Trust" (they really have called themselves that)  "Freki" accusing me of not knowing anything about ancient Egypt except what I saw in "60s Bible epics".   

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Stupid Mail

The Eejit of Eschaton apparently thinks there's something shameful about having a large use vocabulary.   Well, I've figured it's been pretty much an outpost of anti-intellectualism pretending to be high-brow since about 2006.

Update:  Stups, Eschaton is the place where that distinction is erased as you and the Eschatots combine both.   

Saturday Night Radio Drama - Harold Pinter - Family Voices

Michael Kitchen (Voice One)
Peggy Ashcroft (Voice Two)
Mark Dignam (Voice Three)

Thought I'd try something different to start with, today.   This is the description of the play at a site devoted to Pinter.  

Second Feature - Dead Fishes - DCI John Stone

A young man with Down's syndrome admits to killing his mother. Then a woman turns up claiming that he was with her on the day that his mother was killed. Stone must discover who is lying and why.  

Stone : Hugo Speer
Eammon : Tommy Jessop
Jacqueline : Christine Brennan
Tanner : Craig Cheetham
Catriona : Zoe Henry
David : Andrew Grose
Jay : Andrew Whitehead
Weeks : Luke Broughton
Director Stefan Escreet.

Something a bit more conventional.   The DCI John Stone series is kind of uneven but the good ones are pretty good.

Rebecca Solnit's Article Is One Of The Few I'd Say Is A Must Read

It wouldn't be possible to give a high enough recommendation for the article of Rebecca Solnit published the other day,  Whose Story (and Country) Is This?   ON THE MYTH OF A  "REAL"AMERICA, about the huge push in the media and by so many institutions defining a mythical "real American."  Depending on the crudest of stereotypes, largely a result of the chosen models of those who do surveys and conduct polls, never taking into account that the presentation of such so-called science is dependent on the choices of such people and quite frequently a result of the desired results the "researchers" and those who hire them want.   Clearly what a lot of them want is to define a quite small and narrow range of white, lower-middle-class, conservative, rural(ish) men as that default "real American". 

There is so much in the article that an entire post or more could be drawn from that I can't deal with all of it.  Even single lines from the article serve as motivation to think hard on what she says, one of those is her point that more people work in museums than work in coal mines but that no one calls for support for the jobs of museum workers.   I'll start with one thing that touches on several of my interests, the roll of scientific racists with elite educations and how the media aids them in promoting racism and the kind of stereotypical right-wing "real American"

As an exercise I went to the PBS News Hour site to take the "bubble test" Rebecca Solnit mentioned in the article , a test for how much of an (elitist) "bubble" you were in.   The bubble defined would, certainly, include, by far, the large majority of Americans of all income levels.   The test  was designed by the think tank white supremacist Charles Murray. 

The major conclusion I got from taking wasn't the score (I'm rated at being about half-in "the bubble") it was that it was clearly designed to define life outside of "the bubble" as right-wing, White male, not only uneducated but hostile to education or anything outside of a distinctly minority cultural milieu .  I doubt that even many White male blue-collar NASCAR fans would qualify as being "outside the bubble" that Murray and, obviously, the News Hour defines.  It's clearly a test designed to get a specific result that Murray et al desired and that result isn't to find out if you have daily associations with low-income, White People. 

For example, the questions about being on a factory floor in the past year and as a worker would certainly exclude a lot of very low wage working people, most of whom don't work in factories, retail workers, workers in restaurants, people who work in agriculture or even the coal mining jobs that seem to be a particular obsession with the chatter among the News Hour staff and those who control the New York Times and Washington Post.   Virtually every question on the thing was designed in a way that excluded large numbers of working class people who would not fit into the desired stereotype being drawn up.  I suspect that the kind of people who design and present such tests wouldn't realize that because they, themselves, are not familiar with the real lives of such people, depending on the view of them from the media and sociological hacks.

Given the general aims of Murray's test which is to obviously define people outside of "the bubble" as male, the question as to whether or not you'd bought an Avon product was clearly a pathetic attempt to make it seem like he's talking about women.   And it is quite clueless.  Given this article in Fortune magazine, I think it's pretty clear that the assumptions Murray pushed in his test had problems, one which his Avon question highlights.

Avon CEO Sheri McCoy took the helm in 2012, convinced she could turn things around and adamant that the already faltering U.S. business was key to the company’s identity. She still thinks that. “I do believe it’s fixable,” McCoy told Fortune in an interview on Thursday.

But in her nearly four years on the job, Avon’s North American sales have continued to collapse, falling by more than half between 2007 and 2014 (see graphic below), and the number of sales representatives, commonly called “Avon Ladies,” have shrunk each quarter.

McCoy has done everything from try to improve the commission structure, to introducing new computer systems to improve order management and payment for the reps, to a late effort to tap the Hispanic community. And yet results continued to disappoint.

That last point was given as one of the "five reasons Avon's business faltered"

Late to the Hispanic market: Though Hispanics have long made up a sizable part of the U.S. population and are proportionally big spenders on beauty, Avon was late to discover that segment. It was only in 2014 that Avon created marketing materials made specifically for its Hispanic reps, who sold far more products than non-Hispanics on a per capita basis.

wonder how many of Murray's assumptions, if depended on by corporate executives in planning, would also lead to failing the financial test.  Solnit's assessment of the test and PBS's motives is excellent as are her points about just who is in a bubble, who chooses to be in a bubble.

The quiz is essentially about whether you are in touch with working-class small-town white Christian America, as though everyone who’s not Joe the Plumber is Maurice the Elitist. We should know them, the logic goes; they do not need to know us. Less than 20 percent of Americans are white evangelicals, only slightly more than are Latino. Most Americans are urban. The quiz delivers, yet again, the message that the 80 percent of us who live in urban areas are not America, treats non-Protestant (including the quarter of this country that is Catholic) and non-white people as not America, treats many kinds of underpaid working people (salespeople, service workers, farmworkers) who are not male industrial workers as not America. More Americans work in museums than work in coal, but coalminers are treated as sacred beings owed huge subsidies and the sacrifice of the climate, and museum workers—well, no one is talking about their jobs as a totem of our national identity.

PBS added a little note at the end of the bubble quiz, “The introduction has been edited to clarify Charles Murray’s expertise, which focuses on white American culture.” They don’t mention that he’s the author of the notorious Bell Curve or explain why someone widely considered racist was welcomed onto a publicly funded program. Perhaps the actual problem is that white Christian suburban, small-town, and rural America includes too many people who want to live in a bubble and think they’re entitled to, and that all of us who are not like them are menaces and intrusions who needs to be cleared out of the way.

There are so many points in just those two paragraphs that could be expanded into a post, with supporting evidence.   I recommend reading the article, at least twice.  I'll have more to say about it.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Geri Allen Trio - 1, 2, Goodbye

Geri Allen, piano
Ron Carter, bass
Lenny White, drums

Dark Prince 

Geri Allen, piano
Ralph Armstrong, bass
Ralph Penland, drums

So great, so missed. 

What Hecate Said

I might have my disagreements with Hecate on some issues but what she said about James Comey the other day is one of the best takes on it I've seen.

But it’s worse than that.  Comey showed his agents, months before the election, that it was OK to break the rules in order to injure Hillary.  After a long investigation into what were always bullshit issues about her use of a private email server, Comey was unable to recommend that Hillary be prosecuted.  In other words, he couldn’t make a case that she’d broken any laws.  FBI/DOJ procedure in that case calls for a simple announcement that there will be no prosecution.  It’s specifically against practice to do what Comey did — go ahead and scold the subject of the investigation for behavior that isn’t illegal.  But that’s exactly what Comey did to Hillary.  A simple, “There’s no basis for a prosecution; nothing here,” would have been too helpful to her.  So, instead, Comey broke the rules and gave a long lecture about how Clinton’s behavior didn’t break any rules but was still irresponsible.  His speech was designed to hurt her as much as possible, given that he couldn’t find any illegal behavior.

Well, as we all know, leaders lead by example.  And the example that Comey gave to the members of the FBI was that they didn’t have to follow procedure when it came to harming Hillary Clinton.

But it’s worse than that.  Comey realized that the NY FBI office would leak the information concerning Huma Abedin’s computer.  He apparently didn’t think he could control his own agents.  So he decided to announce the information himself.  Why?  Certainly not for the reasons he gives.  Comey said that if he hadn’t shared the information, Clinton would have been an “illegitimate” president from day one.  (Not sure what that even means nor how it squares with the DOJ’s policy against releasing damaging information just before an election.)  No real explanation for why the same concern wouldn’t apply to Trump.  And, if Comey’s out-of-control NY office was going to leak it, he didn’t need to.  Further, having the information come from Comey made it MORE damaging to Hillary than if it had simply come from some “unnamed source.”

So Comey’s actions make no sense and, even all this time later, he doesn’t have an explanation that holds water.  Shall I tell you why I think he did it?

He did it for the same reason he went out of his way to hurt Hillary as much as possible when he announced they couldn’t find a reason to prosecute her.  Comey may not consider himself a sexist, but his unconscious sexism really shows.  He may not have liked the idea of Trump as president, but powerful, ambitious women — Hillary, Loretta Lynch — really rub him the wrong way.  If Hillary was going to be president — and he admits that he expected her to win — then she needed to be taken down a peg.  Made to pay.  Taught a lesson.  Kept from getting too uppity.

Listening to him on Rachel's show, she did a good job of getting him past the self-serving sanctimony that has been so revolting,  I'd love to hear Hecate grilling him.  His claimed motive of wanting President Hillary Clinton to not have a cloud hanging over her is Trump-Michael Cohen level bull shit. 

The New York office of the FBI should be under investigation for political interference.  I wonder if we can count on some of them leaking stuff to Rudy Giuliani, that is if he wasn't one of their conduits during the campaign.  Clearly Comey suspected them and he was the director.   I suspect that apart from the large number of FBI personnel who are Republicans and who likely had possible political motives in what Comey suspected them of doing, a lot of the largely male population of the FBI had related reasons of blatant sexism. 

Mary Magdalene: Elizabeth Johnson

I have been reading more of the eminent theologian Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ and am being changed with her deep readings of the Gospels , Acts and Epistles, pointing out the central role of women as leaders, and explicitly named as Apostles that was right there in the texts as those roles have been denied to women from the early centuries of Christianity.   I will note the irony of much of that evidence, really some of the strongest, coming from Paul's Epistles and, especially his repeated praise for women's role in preaching - she goes through the often cited passage in which Paul says women should be silent in, well they weren't churches, noting that he was giving his opinion on what was obviously an ongoing practice in the earliest church.   Considering the role of women in the ambient pagan cities he was writing to, that passage might have shown he was nervous about women being freed causing a reaction.   I can very well imagine that women taking leadership and preaching must have seemed even more outrageous to Roman era pagans and intellectuals than the idea of a risen Messiah.

This lecture is a good introduction to that part of her work that deals with revealing how the evidence of Womens' central role in the beginnings of Christianity has been buried or suppressed, though, aside from one woman's name being changed to a man's name, the evidence has been laying there in the text, in plain sight awaiting a hermeneutical method for seeing that evidence and, in fact, overt testimony. 

The recording is echoy (I turned it way down) but her voice is strong and her articulation is excellent so you can hear what she says.  I don't believe I missed a word.   I think that the signs are that this information has taken root and it will grow fast and really change large parts of Christianity.   The resistance to it has already been mounted, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have condemned at least one of Elizabeth Johnson's books, though in her response she pointed out that she hadn't said what she was accused of saying and accused of holding positions she rejects.   The boys who don't like girls are nervous.   But they've done such a disastrous job and made such a mess of things that I don't think they have any credibility, certainly no moral credibility and no real arguments except a corrupted tradition that is as bogus as the view of Mary of Magdala that Gregory I gave the Western Church.


I listened to Lawrence O'Donnell's interview with Trump's self declared most trusted lawyer Jay Goldberg, it did nothing to dissuade me that sleazy New York City lawyers have got to be some of the sleaziest in the country.   I don't have a very high opinion of the profession, though I've known some really honest lawyers, not many and few between, but I can't say that I've ever met one who would buck their profession over the generally sleazy professional standards and dishonesty that is rampant among them.   I've known more ex-lawyers who have left the profession like that.  

But that said the utter sleaze of the lawyers who have worked for Trump and his cronies disgusts me.   

Note:  I'm having serious eye problems this spring, sorry for the editing problems.  I'm experimenting with big fresnel lenses, we'll see how that works. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

it may gain such hegemony that it comes to be regarded as normal and there really is no dissent

After I extolled the radicalism of that recent talk of Walter Brueggemann here the other day I listened to it again and this passage from the first few minutes really jumped out at me.  I've decided to transcribe it from the recording and to go over several points, making one slight disagreement on one thing and pointing out some further applications of what was said.

I take preaching to be a word of life in a world that is bent on death . . . 

The phrase "a world that is bent on death" might seem over the top but look at just about the entire culture of the West and its fascination with death and violence, and if not with that then denying that life, even our minds have any significance over that of inanimate objects.  In my lifetime I've seen the culture of the United States go from the macho-death worshiping culture of the militarized post-war period, the arms buildup, the nuclear sword of Damocles constructed over all of life to the reaction to that in the late 60s and early 70s, feminism, the kind of man personified by the Alan Alda, probably reaching its high point with the attempt at a moral presidency by Jimmy Carter, and the enforced reaction against that, the public relations campaign of derision of its weakness and femininity and more than just implied association of that with latent homosexuality in order to suppress that.  The ever increasing fascism of that reaction is what we are in the middle of right now.  It is so powerful that it not only dominated straight culture but it pretty much dominates gay culture, now, as well.

So, first of all extended comments on context which will be about half of my presentation.  In six points.  First I take the word “totalism” from Robert Lifton who has studied the absolutizing regimes of National Socialism in Germany and the war machine in Japan.  Lifton understands a totalizing regime as one that wants to gain a monopoly of technology and a monopoly of imagination so that nothing is thinkable or sayable or imaginable or doable outside of the totalism, The totalism may be coercive in a way that punishes any dissent or eventually it may gain such hegemony that it comes to be regarded as normal and there really is no dissent.

I would associate this with the rise of scientism, also in reaction to the loosening of that totalism in the culture of the late 60s and early 70s, the aggressive and suppressive organized atheists - they call themselves "skeptics" - and its largely successful campaign to make many things unthinkable, unsayable, or unimaginable or undoable.   Though that campaign worked most effectively on those with a stake in that hegemonic totalism in the media and in academia, its success with the majority of people in the United States is far more mixed.  I think the new atheism of the post 9-11 period is its high point up till now.   It is heavily invested in the same system.

So my judgement is that we now live in the United States in the totalism of market ideology in which nothing is imaginable outside the reach of the market.  Thus the market has morphed from a venue for the exchange of goods to a regulatory principle that governs all social relationships as real social relationships are monetized, persons are cast as commodities and inevitably there are dispensable persons in a monetized system.  So it's easy to see how this relates to the theme of racism because those who run the totalism are ready to make Blacks dispensable because they do not produce enough to qualify for the monetized system.   

Here I both agree and disagree with Brueggemann.   I think it had great validity, in par during the period before the rise of the international market system before they sent so many jobs from the United States to oversees.  When Thomas Huxley wrote his putrid response to the Emancipation Proclamation, that now the slave owners and white people in general would, finding no economic utility in black people,  they would feel it was advantageous for them to exterminate the former slaves, which he presented as a scientifically reliable inevitability.  And others certainly followed suit, though the reimposition of de facto slavery in Jim Crow made that idea moot, or it did until the modern Civil Rights movement.  I've come to see the Jim Crow period and system as just an informal, extra-legal reestablishment of slavery and that the aspirations of the present day Republicans is to turn back any progress made fifty years ago. Huxley also underestimated how readily black people would be absorbed in the wage-slave system that that kept white and other workers in conditions of virtual slavery if not actual slavery in such systems as share cropping and company store towns and non-unionized factories by generalizing desperate near destitution and destitution as a threat to hold over workers.

Now, I think the more relevant phenomenon of racism is more a tactic of playing poor white people off of poor black people,  Latinos, etc. in order to use them to gain political and legal control.  That is certainly how Republicans used racism to win in virtually every election they have prevailed in since 1968, its worst forms made even more useful to Republicans after the election of Barack Obama.  In that scenario it's a question of relative value to those who control the totalism.  If black people were of more utility to them than white people, they would have no hesitation to set up that in another way, as, in fact, the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe did and which may be the way that South Africa is going.  Though it's possible that they will opt for economic justice, which I hope for and which was needed in both countries, not to mention here, I'm not hopeful.  In other countries the uses of ethnic rivalry by those who have only a hope of rising in the totalitarian system, will vary as local conditions present them with opportunities.

The ideology of the market touches everything.  It seeks to assure the good life measured in marketable goods.  It depends on a strong military to assure the disproportionate flow of goods and it relies on a doctrine of exceptionalism to legitimate a guaranteed line of endless satiation as a gift to God for God's chosen people.  

In short, the conformity that has been taught to us by TV and the movies and general coercion since the glorification of war in the post-Vietnam period, perhaps a lot of it in reaction to Alan Alda's M.A.S.H. Something which even many formerly anti-war celebrities have participated in and which made the careers of many a second rater.  As George M. Cohen said,  the flag has saved many a bum show.  I can guarantee you that dissent on those was far more possible a half-century ago than it is today.

In order to test the grip of that totalism that is intolerant of dissent one on only need to try to critique the US military or US exceptionalism in any local congregation that I know.  You cannot do it and you must.

That, "you must" points out that the Church is about the only hope we really have for an influential institution to bring up these things, to oppose them.  Only they're going to have to do a lot better job and it isn't going to be easy or safe or fun.   I have pointed out that even the most reactionary of Popes, John Paul II and Bernard XVI, in their economic writings, in their writings on war and peace, in their opposition to things like capital punishment are radicals as opposed to even the most liberal of American politicians, though their appointments to the American hierarchy have belied that line of moral teachings.   Protestants have certainly had a similar record of success and lack of success in following that moral imperative. 

I will point out that the Black Churches, many other congregations and even some in Catholicism and mainline Protestant have lived up to it.  When the Reverend Jeremiah Wright gave his most controversial sermons, what made people the angriest was exactly in those lines.   You're never going to get that in secularism. Certainly not in any politically effective way.  The secular left was tried and failed, abjectly.