Monday, July 13, 2009

of some non-catholics, non-democrats, and non-democrat catholics

This is my 400th post. I can continue, and comment about many things, but I only comment on some. But, even obvious things are not, admittedly, seen and understood. People will disregard truth, and, even, more loudly affirm falsity. The thoughtful, accurate, statement is derided, and dismissed, in favor of the loud and cocky, though often bullshit, statement.

In one endeavor after another, I have seen a form of steam rolling. I have, and am experiencing it. It is a situation resembling a mixture of Alice trying to debate with characters in Wonderland (Humpty Dumpty, White Queen), and the chicanery of the bush-cheney régime.

Now, I am proud to be a Catholic. I am proud to be a Democrat. I have continually seen, heard, and read many Democrats ignorantly, obnoxiously and falsely deride catholicism. I have continually seen, heard, and read many Catholics ignorantly, obnoxiously and falsely deride (*) democracy and Democrats. I feel revulsion for such practices, and their practitioners.

In the american public the more noticeable, and frequent, of these parallel behaviors is the defamation committed by the self proclaimed ‘conservatives’, whom are just intense Republicans, and as such combine several unpleasant, even vile, qualities. Another parallel is, when these [Republicans] are supposedly religious claim catholicism, they are a party of pharisees and hypocrites.

Now, Benedict has just released an encyclical, which amongst other things, blasts capitalism. Benedict and John Paul II were 100% against bushs war, and certainly, cheneys torture. These conservatives have not heralded these, and other, positions clearly stated by the Magisterium. No, they have their own cafeteria, where they pick and choose the selections, and other diners are not welcome. Such is the way of pharisees and hypocrites.
postscriptum: some similar mini-essays can be read at:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cindy Sheehan at St. Colman

Yestereve, in the basement of St. Colman's (Cleveland, O.), there, visited Cindy Sheehan. She is on a national speaking and book tour. The local media, here and elsewhere, have maintained a blackout on the events. As is usual, a few peace groups sponsored the event, and presented an-anti war art exhibition, and disseminated literature. Ohio has had 177 troops die in bush's iraqui war. The empty boots signifies their absence.

Cindy was in good humor, feisty, impassioned and slightly disorganised, perhaps on account of fatigue. She affirmed her position as the "biggest bugger of george bush", and fully stating this war criminal should not escape constant reminding of his crimes. She also pointed out, Obama has not changed the course bushjr started.

Ms. Sheehan had some special animus for Nancy Pelosi, of whom, she invited the audience, of about three hundred, to hiss. She, also, spoke about the myths of America. The chief and foundational myth being that this is the greatest nation in the universe. This myth, as the others, benefits the robber class, which controls the country, and which creates other myths to sustain itself. It is virtually identical with the military industrial establishment. The robber class is united, and they divide the rest of the country into quarreling amongst itself.

She quoted Ralph Nader, in that, there is not two political parties in the US, but only one with two wings. She also echoed Nader in urging people to focus on their localities, where they have far better chance to effect change.

Ms. Sheehan also spoke of the lie of the volunteer army. In voluntary organisations, one is not imprisoned for attempting to leave. Also, with the "stop gap" programme enlistments are extended beyond the legal contract and agreement of service. The US government's prime focus is the support of a militaristic empire. The peace movement that stands up to it is weak and disorganised. She wishes for a better America, but seems to recognise, that, it will be what it is.

Monday, July 6, 2009

mess of pottage

Perhaps some people are familiar with “Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.” This ‘mess of pottage’ showed in three protestant english bibles, two generations, before the authorised version (KJV). In the last three centuries those were not commonly read. Yet, some people may recognise ‘mess of pottage’. Bergen Evans edited a Dictionary of Quotations, wherein he commented, "the retention of this phrase is a remarkable instance of the transmitting power of speech."

Esau was cheated by his brother, or Jacob bested his brother in a quick bargain. It is a matter of perspective. Esau gave up something valuable for something very minor. Esau was hungry NOW and wanted to eat. ‘Mess of pottage’, has come to mean: something considered of little value. The phrase is colorful, and evocative. It is one of many turns of biblical phrase that lingers in the idiom and vernacular.

Genesis xxv. 29-34.
And Jacob boiled pottage: to whom Esau, coming faint out of the field, Said: Give me of this red pottage, for I am exceeding faint. For which reason his name was called Edom. And Jacob said to him: Sell me thy first birthright. He answered: Lo I die, what will the first birthright avail me. Jacob said: Swear therefore to me. Esau swore to him, and sold his first birthright. And so taking bread and the pottage of lentils, he ate, and drank, and went his way; making little account of having sold his first birthright. ―DRC

Coxit autem Jacob pulméntum : ad quem cum venísset Ésau de agro lassus, ait : Da mihi de coctióne hac rufa, quia óppido lassus sum. Quam ob causam vocátum est nomen ejus Edom. Cui dixit Jacob : Vende mihi primogénita tua. Ille respóndit : En mórior, quid mihi próderunt primogénita ? Ait Jacob : Jura ergo mihi. Jurávit ei Ésau et véndidit primogénita. Et sic, accépto pane et lentis edúlio, comédit et bibit, et ábiit, parvipéndens quod primogénita vendidísset.

And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright. ―KJV
Mess refers broadly to food: its amount, softness, mixture, companions at table, and location of table. Pottage is a soft, semiliquid food; a simple, boiled stew.

Now, in the english, ‘pottage’ is used thrice. In the latin: pulmentum (appetizer) is used first, coctióne hac rufa (this red cooking) next, and finally, pane et lentis edúlio (bread and lentil edible). Pottage is not much used to-day in english, potage is in french.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Successful fictions

Old propaganda becomes mythologised. When a claim is invented and it appeals to a mindset it joins that fabulous tableaux. I live in a waspish culture. So it is their cache of tropes I was immersed in. My misfortune is, I have no comfort in it. Several of the tropes are utterly false, while others are highly debatable and suspect. Yet, they are resistant to change. Several of these show up, and rattled off in, even, college history survey courses. They are so accepted, that they have become proverbial. They have become successful, so successful that, even, those whom they are directed against believe them. The following are certain, anti-catholic chestnuts. Now, there are other believed fictions in the non-religious sphere also; they are frequent in fields where opposing camps have divided themselves, such as in politics*. When factual corrections, and logical, even irrefutable, evidence is given, the false position, often, withstands the assault of reality.

angels on a pin's head, or needle's point

Isaac D'Israeli (1766-1848), the father of premier Benjamin Disraeli, wished to ridicule Thomas Aquinas and other scholastics and he, not they, brought forth this argument. He may have been familiar with a handful satires written between his time and Thomas' time. He is the author of this fiction. Saint Thomas tells us that angels are non corporeal, so the question never was his.

mediæval flat earth
The man who invented Rip van Winkle, and Ichabod Crane, invented this one. Washington Irving wrote a book on the voyages of Columbus. Salamanca, the spanish university, in 1486 had a discussion on the circumference of the spherical earth, not whether the earth was spherical. The american 'mediæval' mind created this theory in 1828.

adam's belly button
Some people, fundamentalist protestants, are upset with Michelangelo's Sistine painting of Adam. Adam has a navel. This was neither a renaissance, nor mediæval dilemma. God created man (Adam) completely and perfectly intact. Before people read the Bible, in certain protestant manners, and thought processes, this issue was unthinkable.

bibles were kept locked and chained to prevent reading
Bibles, and other books, were chained, in part, for the same reasons some reference books in twentieth century libraries, telephone books in booths, registry books in guard shacks and hotels were--so that people didn't walk off with them, and that the next person could use them. Also some of these mediæval tomes were very valuable, and artworks in themselves. Further, before movable type and the printing press, literacy rates were lower. Further, access to cheap books for a mass public was a nineteenth century phenomenon, as was still greater rates of education and literacy. The rationale depicted in this myth is easily demonstrable as ridiculous, but its true purpose is to project a successful slander.

luther's theses
Luther and the church door posting is a fiction, that, Luther in his own time denied. It is a dramatic, theatrical invention to trumpet his rôle.

spanish inquisition
In some versions 50 million or more were executed. Spain has not that population now in a far more populous world. Where did the bodies come from?

The spanish inquisition went on for centuries. Many real historians would cite the number of executions from one to ten thousand. This is part of the black legend that elizabethan propagandists used to slander, and libel, the spanish enemy. The tudor queen had an extensive terror, torture, and killing operation. A chief difference, between the two, was that the spanish institution allowed for legal defenses for the accused, while much of the english persecution was secret, and extra-legal, confere the tactics of the busheviks.

Galileo was under a condition of house arrest, not torture, nor execution.

mediæval burning of witches
The greatest number of witch trials were during the age of reason. The first english witch was executed in Elizabeth's reign. The scots first executed a great number of supposed witches beginning in 1590, in North Berwick. They were tortured and burnt. James VI was the instigator. Even greater numbers (a few thousand) during the seventeenth century. Calvinists, on both side of the Atlantic, hunted witches. Twenty were executed (nineteen hanged, one crushed) and five died in detention, all in Salem of Massachusetts Bay Colony, during 1692-3. In November of 1688 the irish, catholic, gaelic speaking, ex-slave, Mary Glover was hanged in Boston. Cotton Mather judged her guilty for all that she was as proof of being a witch.

dark ages
In this, supposedly, ignorant span of centuries the church created the university and the hospital as institutions. As a corrective one can read Régine Pernoud († 1998). Her quick, enjoyable read is available in english translation, Those Terrible Middle Ages
(1997). Pernoud points out many historical fallacies, including the mussulman civilising influence, protestantism as liberating (in great contrast to a recent guest, Serene Jones, on the most recent Bill Moyers Journal, where she propagandised on Calvin as I turned on, and then off the set; usually Mr. Moyers has more accurate and credible guests), modernity as freedom and so on.
Republican talk radio is substantially of this nature, as is Fox television. John McCain had to tell a disbelieving woman that Obama was a christian, and not what she had heard. The false issue, that doubts his citizenship is of like nature, but this has always been the modus operandi of the Republicans. Oft told lies, especially appealing lies, are convincing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Senator Sam Ervin

The Watergate hearings began on the 17th of May 1973, and were widely watched. Some people thought they were a commercial soap opera programme. At times they had high tension. Slowly, but steadily, it was shown that all about Richard Nixon's circle, there was corruption that was willing to smash the guaranteed, legal freedoms of the nation, and its citizens.*

They were chaired by a veteran of the war to end all wars, a Harvard educated lawyer, who greatly studied, and valued the Constitution, a man, who often referred to himself as ‘a country lawyer.’ Samuel Ervin, senator from North Carolina, slowly spoke, and stuttered in a southern speech pattern. He was very capable.

John Ehrlichman was the chief advisor on domestic affairs to president Nixon. Ehrlichman gave authority to burglarise Daniel Ellsberg's doctor's (Lewis Fielding's) office to gather evidence on Ellsberg on reasons of national security. Ellsberg had been a Pentagon analyst. He came to the opinion, that, the war was wrong and should be ended. He lobbied Senators to release certain information, they did not. He went to a New York Times reporter. The story of the Pentagon papers broke, and Nixon and his cadre wanted revenge. In the hearings explanations were called for.

This was one of the many topics discussed in the senate hearings:
Senator Sam Ervin: The foreign intelligence activities had nothing to do with the opinion of Ellsberg's psychiatrist about his emotional or psychological state.

John Ehrlichman snottily: How do you know that, Mr. Chairman?

Senator Sam Ervin: Because I can understand the English language. It's my mother tongue.
The parry and thrust of Mister Ervin's words, in pique, were devastatingly effective. Ehrlichman's haughtiness was deflated by an obvious answer, an almost reflexive tautology, to an insulting and stupid question.

Richard Nixon was a troubled man with ability, and more than a modicum of decency and dignity. There has, hardly, been a better Republican since. Nixon abused the Constitution, and deserved impeachment, and a guilty sentence, and removal from office. He saved the country, and himself, some of the ignominy by resigning. That being said, the events of the régime that seized power during the eight years, that have recently ended, deserves greater scrutiny than anything concerning Nixon and Watergate. It is a great scandal that there has not been many investigations.

The price of freedom is vigilance. Justice has not been active. Obama is but an amelioration of bushjr. The nation deserves more. To-day is the anniversary of our declaration of freedom, the Declaration of Independence. One can recall, on this remembrance of that clarion day, the freedom of our civil liberties against a corrupt, and tyrannical government. Senator Sam Ervin did his nation much service.
*What people remember as, “there’s a cancer on the presidency ”, was:
"I think, I think that, uh, there’s no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we’re, we’ve got. We have a cancer–within, close to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily. It’s compounding, it grows geometrically now because it compounds itself."--John Dean, (21 March 1973 to Richard Nixon)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Governor resigns

Friday afternoon, on the day before Independence Day, many people are already engaged in holiday mode, not that much work is done in many parts of the US of A. If one is to make an announcement, at that point of time, it would not get a full impact of attention. Now, if one were to read, say last night, that a controversial Republican governor resigned, one may think--Mark Sanford. Remember Sanford?

He was missing, for several days, incomunicado. O, he was returning from Argentina. He was returning after a tryst with a paramour. He is not relinquishing office, after all, King David continued. O, he loved her more than his wife. O, there were other women, that interested him. Are there more self revelations?

O, it is not Sanford, who is resigning. It is Sarah Palin. What? Well she does not embarrass. Government in Alaska is not a full year of business (the legislature meets for three months). If she eyes the presidency, it is early; the new president has not been in office for six months. She has no problem being combative. Many ethics complaints have been filed against her, she alludes to that in her resignation announcement, in which she used both ‘folksy’ chat, and meaningless clichéd political jargon. Something (scandal) of some magnitude may soon emerge*, if she is not just crazier than an outhouse rat. As Johnny Carson would often say, “sometimes it’s just rip and read”:
“Hi Alaska...It's pretty insane - my staff and I spend most of our day dealing with THIS instead of progressing our state now. I know I promised no more "politics as usual," but THIS isn't what anyone had in mind for ALASKA. If I have learned one thing: LIFE is about choices! And one chooses how to react to circumstances. You can choose to engage in things that tear down, or build up. I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity. I choose NOT to tear down and waste precious time; but to build UP this state and our country, and her industrious, generous, patriotic, free people! Life is too short to compromise time and may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: "Sit down and shut up", but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and "go with the flow". Nah, only dead fish "go with the flow". No. Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious BUILD UP. And there is such a need to BUILD up and FIGHT for our state and our country. I choose to FIGHT for it! And I'll work hard for others who still believe in free enterprise and smaller government; strong national security for our country and support for our troops; energy independence; and for those who will protect freedom and equality and LIFE...I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade - as so many politicians do. And then I thought - that's what's wrong - many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and "milk it". I'm not putting Alaska through that - I promised efficiencies and effectiveness!? That's not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old "politics as usual."...Let me go back to a comfortable analogy for me - sports... basketball. I use it because you're naïve if you don't see the national full-court press picking away right now: A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket... and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can WIN. And I'm doing that - keeping our eye on the ball that represents sound priorities - smaller government, energy independence, national security, freedom! And I know when it's time to pass the ball - for victory....In the words of General MacArthur said, "We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction."
noto bene: this is an abbreviated script[...],the eccentric punctuation is her operation, the red highlighting is mine.
*postscriptum: as of 13 July '09, other than mental instability, a scandal, other than possible avarice, has not become evident.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shakespeare knew it

How much more would Shakespeare have written if he had a typewriter? Thirty-seven, extant, credited plays, and the other poetry, of verbally dense work are studded with a myriad of gems. There are so many famous quotations, and beyond that many important insights of thought that are overlooked in the vast bounty.

In this one sentence, that has not been memorised by millions, Shakespeare destroys a baseline argument of the busheviks and the condoners of torture:
PORTIA: Ay, but I fear you speak upon the rack,
Where men enforced do speak anything. — The Merchant of Venice III. ii. 33-4.
Perhaps, every person literate in english should be familiar with about a dozen plays of Shakespeare. He is meant to be read out loud. Film adaptations of his plays are not all that common, but some of them are excellent, and can be viewed while having the text near by.

Some versions can compare to each other, film to film, film to print, and less at hand--live version to film, print or another live performance. As You Like It was filmed in 1936 and 2006. Elisabeth Bergner and Bryce Dallas Howard played Rosalind. Leon Quartermaine and Kevin Kline played Jacques. Bergner was a european german, and even though, she clearly pronounced each word, one could hear the teutonic tone from a distance, while Howard was brilliant and quite fetching. Quartermaine spoke the seven ages of man speech, in, virtually, the same tone, emotion and rhythm as I did off the page. It was almost unison, i was vainly impressed. Kline played the role far more lackadaisical.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1935 was a delight, and one highlight was the hilarity of James Cagney as Bottom turning into an ass. Kline played the part in 1999. There are several fine, and great, actors appeared on film in Shakespeare. The wonderful part is, that, one can see the performances again and again. Richard Burton’s live performances on stage are not so recoverable for another look and listen. Film on disc is a great service.

But, back to the rack, the elizabethan english employed the rack and other forms of torture, and Shakespeare was fully aware. He had relatives tortured and killed. He himself was occasionally imperiled. Come Rack! Come Rope! (1912), a novel by Robert Hugh Benson, was written concerning that late elizabethan and early stuart time. Men could be broken to say anything true, imagined or fantastic; or for the pleasure of the torturers.