Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Bad Faith and Dead Kennedys

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

When Galileo was compelled to recant, it is said that he muttered inaudibly under his breath: "...but it does move". Earth, of course. The Catholic Church had maintained its doctrine of an unmoving Earth in unmoving space, from a noumenal 'God's eye view'. I may recant if someone holds a gun on me, but I will always be in danger of muttering too loudly and blowing my cover. Galileo was threatened with death.

If I should be compelled to recant my liberal, progressive views of both politics and metaphysics, it will be because the American right wing will have created and enforced a dictatorship of both the very stupid and those who choose to be ignorant, a 'faith based dictatorship' , a 'faith based tyranny'.

Those who know better but rationalize their accommodation with such a dictatorship epitomize what Existentialists call 'bad faith'. Any school curriculum, any dictatorship derived from either deliberate ignorance or 'bad faith' must be opposed, nipped in the bud, eventually overthrown, crushed and replaced upon true democratic and egalitarian principles subject to reality checks, pragmatic expectations, good sense, good faith.
Belief in God is one of many forms of "bad faith" (mauvais foi). Bad faith, according to Sartre, is the human attempt to escape from freedom and responsibility — and from the anguish, forlornness, and despair that are the existential consequences of freedom and responsibility in a world without God. This escape [or] evasion may take place through the vain attempt of theistic religion to synthesize the in-itself with the for-itself in the concept of God
--Notes on Sartre
My views are entirely consistent with religion based upon 'good faith'. Is there such a religion? I am at odds with 'bad faith'. Faith, itself, does not require proof or even meaningful sentences. Faith is just that: faith. Logically, 'certitude' --which is certainly the best word to describe the more militant fundamentalist churches --is inconsistent with faith, though fundamentalists claim to have it. They don't. They have certitude which is inconsistent with faith,

One cannot have faith if one is certain and if one is certain faith is not required. Many modern fundamentalists profess a 'faith' called Christianity but insist that the tenets of that 'faith' are 'factual' and must, therefore be taught in public schools at public expense. If that were true, why do evangelists preach 'faith' under tents and/or super churches? Which 'way' do they prefer their fundamentalist Christianity? Forced upon a populace or freely chosen by free people?

'Militant Christians like Sarah Palin cannot have it both ways. Either their beliefs are a matter of faith and therefore inappropriate in a science curriculum. Or they are a matter of truth or falsity: if proven true, they are taught! If proven false, they are banned from public schools for that reason alone. For that reason alone the teaching of a religious dogma in any guise is inappropriate in a science classroom.

By definition, religion must not be militant. When it is, it ceases to be religion. Even the fundamentalist baptist church I grew up in 'preached' that the acceptance of Christ must be chosen freely! It follows, then, that if coerced or induced through brainwashing or social pressure, the choice is not free. Like a bad vaccination, it doesn't 'take'. Religious views of any sort may be taught dispassionately in Anthropology curricula. It is completely inappropriate, however, to teach in public tax supported school systems any religion as anything other than a sociological or anthropological phenomenon.

That brings up the matter of William Jennings Bryan who was, in many respects, a very admirable and honest person. But at Dayton, TN he supported efforts of the state to impose upon a curriculum a religious agenda. As I have pointed out: by definition, 'faith' cannot be imposed. Any oath imposed by law or coerced at the point of a gun or threat of excommunication is invalid. The very notion is self-contradictory.

A more recent example is Sarah Palin who has a record of trying to put 'creationists' on School Boards so that local school districts may be forced to teach 'creationism', a pseudo science which has no business in a public school system. This is not a matter of faith; said 'creationists' believe their theory to be fact not merely the religious faith that their acts seem designed to conceal. They have made this a political issue! It is now fair game for debate, fair game for richly deserved ridicule, fair game for uncompromising opposition, fair game for unapologetic scientific refutation.

As John McCain sought the Presidency, Cafferty said of Sarah Palin "this woman is one 72 year old's heartbeat away from the White House and if that doesn't scare you it should." It is no less frightening than the inquisition, no less frightening than the Pope who forced Galileo to recant, no less frightening than a bad ruling in Dayton, TN where Clarence Darrow had defended the rights of a young teacher to present to his classes the Darwinian point of view.

As 'science', the 'creationist' ideology is easily disproved. David Dawkins was challenged recently to prove creationism false! I do not recall Dawkins' response but my own was but one sentence: if we can look up at the sky at night and see Andromeda, 'creationists' are wrong! Andromeda has been proven to be some 2 million light years distant. This result can be duplicated easily enough by scientists but even amateur astronomers can achieve the same confirmation. With a bit of Trig and parallax, the distance to Andromeda can be determined even by amateur astronomers. We see Andromeda as it was some 2 million years ago; therefore, the creationist belief that the universe is very young and the earth itself just six thousand years old is very, very wrong. To make the point: if we can see Andromeda at all, 'creationism' is not only wrong, it is not science ---but faith. At last, every galaxy and every nebula, every object seen in the Hubble Deep Space photo to the right utterly disproves Sarah Palin and her followers and it does so decisively. There are many more objects much more distant than Andromeda and they are easily discerned by the Hubble telescope. That we can see them, Palin is disproved.

The 'creationist' position with regard to the teaching of 'creationism' in public schools is a straw man. Every curriculum I have ever seen teaches all science as method, theory and verification. If it does not do this, it is not science. But creationism is not science, not even scientific theory, subject not to verification but religion, accepted upon 'faith' and requiring no confirmation as a result of observation and scientific method.

Because of the genius of our founders, people are free to act upon their religious convictions and may worship in the church of their choice –or not! Nevertheless, a 'religious conviction' must never be confused with a verifiable fact. A religious conviction must never be taught or compelled of anyone at tax payer expense.

There are many things in which I have faith. But, I would hope never to make the mistake of trying to prosecute those do not share my faith. In the meantime, both of us are free to argue until the last dying, red sunset.

While the Left has historically challenged us to think for ourselves in matters of science and reason, the right wing aligns with superstition, certitude and the authoritarian imposition of both. That is the very definition of 'right wing'. One is what what does and 'right wingers' in almost every instance oppose experiment, pragmatism, science and the corollaries --free speech and inquiry. Right wingers oppose, therefore, the very tenets upon which Western Civilization rests.

I respect those who profess a faith in 'good faith'. Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertolt Brecht addressed what it means to have integrity far more persuasively than any 'bible thumping' fundamentalist preacher that I had been forced, as a child, to endure. Both Sartre and Brecht addressed the issue of bad faith, essentially, the 'condition' in which an individual appropriates a false notion of self and as an inevitable result, the world. Bertolt Brecht summed it up bluntly: "A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot but a man who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a crook". The fashion photographer Richard Avedon was more succinct: "You cannot expect another man to carry your shit!"

The GOP --as a whole --is premised upon 'bad faith' derived either from 'religion' espoused in 'bad faith' or GOP exploitation of religion to get votes. The names Reagan and Bush come to mind. To that extent much or all organized religion in America --especially the 'super churches' -- is but a mass manifestation of 'bad faith'. I believe it to be dangerous and subversive.

People do not seek religion because they wish to be moral. People seek religion because they are fearful –fearful of truth, fearful of responsibility, fearful of dying! I doubt there is any statistical correlation between the espousal of religion and morality except the incidental one that in order to pretend to be moral, you cannot afford to be caught being immoral. Many a tel-evangelist has been caught with his pants down or fly undone having earlier told his 'flock' to keep their own zipped up!

I am in good company when criticized for raising doubts among the faithful. Upon his conviction on similar charges, Socrates was forced to drink hemlock. He might have saved himself had he recanted --a tactic favored by the establishment. The tactic is a Faustian bargain in which one trades his soul for his life. Because he believed that "a man's soul is his self" –an existentialist point of view --St. Thomas More turned down the offer. In Robert Bolt's great play A Man for All Seasons, More tells his daughter, Meg:
"...when a man takes an oath, Meg, he's holding his own self in his own hands. Like water and if he opens his fingers - he needn't hope to find himself again".
A description of 'bad faith'.

Later, when More is sold out by the ambitious Richard Rich: "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... But for Wales ----?"

Another great existentialist play from the period is Jean Anouilh's Becket; ou l'honneur de Dieu. As the title suggests, Becket, having first served his King with distinction, found his 'honor' in the service of "God". To act contrary to that would have been, for Becket, the supreme act of 'bad faith'. Forced to make the existential choice, Becket chose the honor of God above his duty to his King. Simplistically, he lost his life --murdered in the Cathedral --but saved his soul. By contrast, poor Galileo saved only his life.

I saw both 'Beckett' and 'A Man for All Seasons' in the same year in which I heard Stokely Carmichael address an audience at Cullen Auditorium on the University of Houston campus. It was historic --Stokely Carmichael's promise to keep alive the revolution that the assassinations of RFK and Martin Luther King Jr seemingly ended. With them, the 'dream' died.

JFK could have, might have made the Faustian bargain with the Bush crime family that even then, via the Sr Bush, directed the CIA effort against Cuba. Instead, JFK refused to provide air cover for the abortive 'Bay of Pigs', a CIA operation. He also promised to 'smash the CIA into a thousand pieces'. Whomever benefited from the murder of JFK is guilty of it. With some effort and the utter rejection of the obvious cover stories, JFKs killers would most certainly have been brought to justice. The guilty are always most motivated to lie about a crime and the most pernicious lie about the JFK assassination is the magic bullet theory.

RFK threatened the same people. Just recently, a BBC documentary established that RFKs 'killers' were most certainly CIA. Martin Luther King, of course, represented the 'black' revolution that would have rocked the establishment. He too was a threat to the CIA. Many years later, a little known self-professed 'liberal', Steve Kangas, would publish to his website, 'Liberal Resurgent', an article exposing a sordid history of of CIA crimes and interventions from Guatamala to Cuba, from Iran-Contra to Watergate. The article is entitled: The Origin of the Overclass. Kangas would be found dead in a men's room in the Pittsburgh office building owned and occupied by Richard Mellon Scaife, the spider behind the effort to impeach Bill Clinton. Kangas, it is said, committed suicide by shooting himself twice in the mouth! It is a story that one must accept upon bad faith.

All of this 'odd' history is explained easily enough: coincidence. It is only coincidence that the dead Kennedys had also been a threat to the CIA. It is only coincidence that Kangas had zeroed in on conservative crimes and BS just as Scaife was bankrolling a jihad against Clinton. It was just coincidence that Bush Sr was hanging around the front entrance to the Texas School Book depository just minutes prior to the murder of JFK. It was just coincidence that tramps looking like E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis et al were arrested for just hanging around the rail road tracks that run north and south just behind the grassy knoll. It was just coincidence that Martin Luther King Jr seemed to have prophesied his own death with his 'I Have a Dream' speech.

If a man's soul is his 'self', then one may never find it in 'organized religion', a standardized tour through preconceived dogma. By definition, every individual must take this journey and experience it for him/herself. Because it differs with each individual, it cannot become scripture. However, the 'form' seems always the same: the 'individual, in crisis, is given a choice: his life or his soul. It is no coincidence that this 'form' is likewise the structure of almost every work of literature worth reading or watching. It was Jean-Paul Sartre who summed it all up in one sentence: 'A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself!'

Darwin, Darwin and Dayton

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shoveling Shit in Louisiana?

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The mantra du jour is that Obama hasn't undone 'Bush'. Ergo --Obama is just as evil as is Bush, or Bush Sr, or Ronald Reagan. Not so and not possible! The false analogy misses the point, a strategy designed to deflect attention from the endemic corruption of the right wing party --the GOP; It is a false analogy that might have been tested in a focus group on K-Street. It has certainly caught on as have many another 'successful' mantra, slogan, or buzzword. And it's just as worthless!

One of my recent critics had clearly caught the 'but Obama is just as bad as Bush' virus and posted the following comment:
I used to really enjoy your blog when W was in the White house - most of your commentary was spot on (except for the part about Bush being an idiot - I don't give damn who his father is, the USAF does NOT let morons fly jet fighter planes)
Flying an airplane is not evidence of political genius. I have known lots of pilots and would not trust one of them to run the nation, supervise a federal budget or negotiate a peace with a nuclear power. The idea that Bush was smart enough to be prez because he could fly a plane is idiotic.

A 'Democrat' is in the White House! But WHAT has changed? Are we out of Iraq? Is the government no longer owned by the Axis of K-Street and the M.I.C.? Did anyone suspect that the mere election of someone whose campaign was financed by the ruling elite of just one percent of the nation would suddenly decide, upon his election, to release their choke hold?

Where can I can find that press release to that effect.
Yes, they're criminals, but O has continued virtually every criminal republican policy instituted by W. And anyone failing to hold the current president accountable, is no better than the GOP slime who enabled Bush to get away with murder.
At last, I am sick and tired of trying to explain to people that Democrats are just another wing of a single right wing party --the capitalist party aka the fat cat party! It's the only party in the U.S. that wins elections. The system is so skewed that their bets are covered whomever wins the election. Get a clue, folk!

Both parties are financed by the same capitalists, a ruling one percent of the total population, a group --in fact --created and enriched by right wing GOP policies --not Democratic policies. While both parties line up for monies from the same source, Democrats get less. It is but a sop!

Many whine about O. But where is the revolution? Who is going to do anything about it? Who is going to put up or shut up?


Many have missed the REAMS of cold hard stats that prove that of the two, the GOP is endemically evil while the Dems reduced to sloppy seconds, merely tolerated for appearances. Who is going to do anything about that?


Wealth and power are concentrated in America, a trend begun, in earnest, with the end of the Civil War. Labor lost its most important battle in 1910 in Los Angeles. It lost a FINAL battle under Ronald Reagan --a Republican whose administration must bear the responsibility for the most recent trend of income and wealth disparities. That record is available to anyone willing to search the archives of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Commerce Department-B.E.A. But --who is going to do anything about that?


A 'progressive history' is obviously neglected in public school curricula. So-called modern 'progressives' in name only come up with a whiny: "...but Obama hasn't changed anything!" My response to them is: well, what the fuck have you done lately?

In the early days of the 20th Century, real progressives were willing to fight for what they believed in and many suffered head cracks and broken bodies because of it. Modern progressives will whine about Obama but none --I daresay --are wiling to pay the price required to effect a real change. And no one in the 'Obama is just as bad' camp has a plan, a strategy, a frickin' clue! No one wants to get his/her head cracked, or shot to death as was the case at Kent State in the 60s. I'm not happy with Obama but wasting time and energy blasting Obama while the 'real killers' maintain power over every aspect of our lives is just plain stupid. I have no respect for and would never go into battle with any S.O.B. who is not smart enough to know who the real enemy is!

Bloggers may be forgiven their impatience when no one seems to pay attention, when the MSM gets thousands of 'gross rating points' with a single airing of just 30 seconds on prime time and every blogger I know (myself included) gets but a fraction of that over a period of eight years or more. That's how long it took to be rid of Bush and --still --the message has not gotten through. Fact is, we failed! Bush served out his term and has not yet been tried for 911, Abu Ghraib, or war crimes and crimes against humanity throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan. I wonder, how much good has blogging done but for the 'feel good' factor among bloggers and those who read them.

Who created this situation? Democrats??? No --the concentration of media in the hands of just four or five major corporations is the result of Ronald Reagan policies and I can prove it. And Ronald Reagan --last time I checked --was not a Democrat at the time he was Prez. Reagan was, in fact, a Democrat but only before his official corruption. The concentration of wealth among a ruling elite of just one percent began with Ronald Reagan and his policies. I have proven this with the government's own stats time and again over the last ten years or more. Yet another article may be read by a few, perhaps hundreds or even a thousand. Fox will reach that many in a less than a minute and that many again in another minute. In the course of one hour, the Fox audience of millions will have 'turned over' many times. Each turn-over is called a 'cume'; it's measurable.

Of my 'critic', I ask: what do you want to hear? What do you want me to write or say? What makes you feel better about yourself? What makes you feel better about living in the fall of empire --a fall that is directly the result of right wing policies! Not Democratic ones.

It is symptomatic that only two Democratic candidates espoused anything resembling a 'progressive' platform: Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. That's because Democrats must raise even more money than GOP incumbents if they wish to unseat them --monies that come from the same well-heeled sources. Such monies finding their way into a Democratic coffer are a hedged bet. It is not really intended to win him/her the seat! Think of it as insurance.

Neither Gravel or Kucinich had a chance of becoming President and I took heat --liberal (progressive) heat --because I dared say so. I was misunderstood. I was not criticizing either Gravel or Kucinich but the evil, corrupt system that kept either man out of the White House. I was, rather, pointing up the inequities, the built-in institutionalized unfairness. I was damning a skewed and phony hologram of right wing creation!

Raising the kind of money it takes to win the Presidency requires a sell-out, a Faustian bargain, the sale of souls to the Axis of K-street and the MIC, a sacrifice to Moloch. So --sure --Obama is compromised. It goes without saying! That he 'won' is evidence of it. That's what we've come to; that's what our nation has become: a periodic auction of the offices of government! But it is not Obama's fault. It is an endemic evil that must be addressed and changed and carping about Obama 'ain't' making it. Carping about Obama utterly misses the point! I suggest 'progressives' read Shakespeare and, by doing, prove to conservatives that a progressive education is money well spent:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings."
Does anyone really think that these BIG BUCKS come from the grassroots? Haven't the American people figured out by now that the ruling elite of just one percent --created by the policies of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr primarily --is not going to fund a progressive like Mike Gravel or Dennis Kucinich --both smart, honest men? Personal attacks on Obama are, therefore, stupid and counter-productive and help ensure that the system that kept kept Kucinich and/or Gravel out of contention will maintain the crooked status quo. And if either Kucinich or Gravel had won, what would they have done, what could they have done that Obama has not? What miracles might have occurred that would have undone an accretion of bureaucratic infrastructure spanning some 50 years or more?

Of my critic, I asked: would it make you feel better if I said the Axis of K-Street/MIC no longer existed? Would it make you feel better about yourself if I scolded Obama for having been bought by the same cabal that bought Bush JR? Would it make you feel better if I raised some other strawman, some other distraction while the real crooks finish off the rape of Iraq, Afghanistan or --for that matter --the rape of the American people by robber barons and an elite of just 1 percent of the total population?

Would it make you feel better about yourself if I lied and wrote --in the spirit of equal time --that the MIC was created by Obama? It was not!

Would it make you feel better if I lied and said that Obama was as stupid as Bush JR? He is not! And I won't say that he is!

Would it make you feel better about yourself if I lied and stated that it was really Democrats or Obama who plotted with Dick Cheney to carve up the oil fields of Iraq?

Would you feel better about living in the last days of American empire if I wrote that Obama had sat in on GOP planning sessions in which he conspired with them to transfer wealth to just one percent of the U.S. population? Clue: he didn't! And I will not lie and say he did! So --just get off this 'Obama is just as bad' shit!

I don't buy it!

But Ronald Reagan may have and if he didn't his evil minions did, the same evil minions who sold out to the Axis of K-street/MIC, the modern Moloch, the system! His tax cut of 1982 enriched only the upper quintile and everyone else lost ground. It was a payoff to Reagan's base, later Bush's base. The same guys. Am I supposed to lie about that in the interest of 'equal time'? Am I supposed to say that The Democrats were just as bad as Reagan in spite of the fact that the trend that was thus begun reversed in the Clinton administration and, clearly, as a result of Clinton's democratic policies?

Did it ever occur to Clinton's progressive critics, that it was the GOP who ramrodded his impeachment; it was the GOP who told every lie and pulled off every dirty trick to get him OUT of the White House? Would the GOP have bothered to do that had he failed? Would the GOP have bothered if Clinton were really no different than the crooks of the GOP? Would the GOP have bothered if Clinton had really been doing their bidding? Would the GOP have bothered if Clinton had been a GOP plant as is often said of Obama because he's black? And why have so many said that Clinton was 'America's first black President?' I am convinced that it was floated up by a GOP consulting firm whose focus group results discovered that closet bigots thought it funny! I say that based upon my experiences 'inside' GOP consulting firms. I learned how the sonsobitches think!

I used to think goppers were stupid! Lately, whenever I heard the 'dems are just as bad' argument that I begin to understand how the GOP always manages to outsmart the progressives. Hence my advice to progressives: quit being stupid! Learn to identify catch phrases and slogans --memes --that most certainly originate in GOP right wing think tanks and focus groups! Unless you do, you will ensure the election of another GOP, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but soon and you will regret it for the rest of your sorry fucking lives!

If I could reverse the GOP trend of wealth upward, I would happily procure blow jobs for Clinton! I frankly don't gave a damn and have no interest in what he does with his wang on his own time. It was another distraction that kept 'progressives' and 'Dems' occupied while GOP power brokers plotted to steal Iraqi oil as soon as they could get 'their man' in the White House. Now --I know a thing or two about the oil business. There is not a Democrat to be found in the executive offices of any of them. If you think you know one, please send me his email address or phone number. I would like to know why he has turned down all the offers he must have gotten for his very soul! Everyone else has sold out long ago!

There are no articles to be written about 'lessers' of two evils and I am not inspired to write one. Obama is neither the creator of the frickin' disaster he inherited nor --sadly, realistically --will he be the savior that undoes it all. That's just the way it is. So --I ask my critic --does it make you feel better about yourself and the Kafkaesque situation in which you have found yourself awakened as a cockroach to take it out on a blogger who has not made a goddamned dime on this blog nor taken a goddamned dime from the MIC/K-STREET axis? No one owns me! And if you had brain, you would focus your misplaced frustration on 1) someone who gives a shit what you think; and 2) some one who could do something about it from inside the DC bureaucracy. Clearly --if I were in a position to wave a wand, I would have done so years ago and spared myself the grief.

What makes you feel better about yourself?

Perhaps, I should write some crap about how Obama is just as stupid as Bush Jr! Forget it! If that's what makes you feel better, you're outta luck cause I will not sacrifice an ounce of intellectual integrity to assuage a fragile, progressive ego.

In the meantime, it would help if the American people would could break out of their matrix. Just turn off the stupid TV! READ! Throw a rock through Big Bro's telescreen! Just say NO! Turn off FOX! Turn off CNN! Stop repeating the stale, stock phrases that pass for analysis! Wake the fuck up! De-hynotize yourself! Get a brain!

And then --when the empire falls, you will have at least learned the source of your demise. Or --to paraphrase Gen Patton to his troops --when your grand children ask you what you did during the fall of the 'great' American Empire, you won't have to say 'Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana!"

Right about now --a lot of Obama detractors are just shoveling shit and totally missing the point!

See: For the GOP If You're Not in the Top One Percent You Can Drop Dead!

Bill 0'Reilly's 19th Nervous Break Down Rapped (What an Idiot!!)
Why I moderate comments

  • SPAM: 'comments' that link to junk, 'get rich' schemes, scams, and nonsense! These are the worst offenders.
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