Hillary & Lucifer, BFF…

It seems that, last night at the Republicker National Convention, Ben Carson asked if America was willing to “elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?”

::sigh::

What he meant, of course, was that Hillary Clinton admired Saul Alinsky, since she interviewed him and did her senior thesis on the man and his work.  And of course, as we all know, Alinsky is Satan himself.

Hold on, this gets tangled.1

Saul Alinsky was a renowned leftist community organizer back in the day.  His most famous book is 1971’s Rules for Radicals, which you can read in its entirety here.

Essentially, Rules is nothing more than a guidebook for rabble-rousing and in-your-face-itude.  In it, he says such horrific things as:

The democratic ideal springs from the ideas of liberty, equality, majority rule through free elections, protection of the rights of minorities, and freedom to subscribe to multiple loyalties in matters of religion, economics, and politics rather than to a total loyalty to the state. The spirit of democracy is the idea of importance and worth in the individual, and faith in the kind of world where the individual can achieve as much of his potential as possible.

…and…

We have permitted a suicidal situation to unfold wherein revolution and communism have become one. These pages are committed to splitting this political atom, separating this exclusive identification of communism with revolution. If it were possible for the Have-Nots of the world to recognize and accept the idea that revolution did not inevitably mean hate and war, cold or hot, from the United States, that alone would be a great revolution in world politics and the future of man. This is a major reason for my attempt to provide a revolutionary handbook not cast in a communist or capitalist mold, but as a manual for the Have-Nots of the world regardless of the color of their skins or their politics. My aim here is to suggest how to organize for power: how to get it and to use it. I will argue that the failure to use power for a more equitable distribution of the means of life for all people signals the end of the revolution and the start of the counterrevolution. [emphasis mine]

You can see why the Republickers of all stripes weep and gnash their teeth when they hear his name.

Most have never read his book, of course.  Most think it is more along the lines of this bogus email.  In other words, most Republickers think that Alinsky, in 1971, somehow specifically targeted everything they would hold dear in 2016.2   Very danger.  Much radical.

What the bogus email and Dr. Ben Carson have in common is the belief that clearly Alinsky was Satanic in his desire to DESTROY AMERICA, KENNETH, and their evidence is prima facie right there on the dedication page:3

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer. —SAUL ALINSKY

Mercy.

Let me tell you a story.

Years and years ago, when I was media specialist at East Coweta High School, the assistant principal in charge of curriculum bustled in, needing my assistance.  A mother had come in to complain that her son was being taught Satanic literature in his college-bound senior English lit class, and they wanted my recommendations for an alternative assignment.

I raised my eyebrows and pursed my lips and inquired as to exactly what Satanic literature this woman could possibly be objecting to in the British Lit textbook.  The asst. principal turned to the page and showed me.

It was Paradise Lost, by John Milton.  Right there, opposite the first page of text, was a full-page woodcut illustration of a leather-winged Satan being cast down from Heaven.  There was more: the text contained such damnéd names as Lucifer and Beelzebub. LUCIFER AND BEELZEBUB, KENNETH!

Really?  Really?? I asked the asst. principal.  We’re going to confirm this woman’s crazy, superstitious, ignorant error?

Well, Day-uhl, we have to accommodate parents’ requests, came the reply.

We’re not going to explain to this woman that she’s wrong, that in fact John Milton was a Puritan and wrote Paradise Lost to prove that Christian themes could support epic poetry?  (Leaving aside the fact that Satan is by far the most interesting and dynamic character in the whole piece…)  That her son is in a college prep English class and that he kind of will be expected to know at least something about the poem when he gets to college?

Oh, Day-uhl—as if I were the one who needed to be humored…

So I assigned him “L’Allegro and Il Penseroso“.  Served him right.

Here’s my point.  Alinsky’s “dedication”3 to Lucifer is a witty, ironic reference to Milton’s grand anti-hero Satan, not some grand, evil, bloodsoaked LaVeyan credo.  As others have commented, one could hardly expect Dr. Ben Carson to get it.

And that, unfortunately, seems to be the predominant Republicker mindset on display in Cleveland.

—————

1 This is Ben Carson’s thought processes we’re talking about here, after all.

2 Which, I would like to remind everyone, they did not hold dear in 1971.

3 Only not: it is not a dedication. The Lucifer quote —and two other quotes from Rabbi Hillel and Thomas Paine — are epigraphs, not dedications.  The book is dedicated to his editors and to his wife, on the previous page, the actual dedication page.

Dear Paul Ryan…

Dear Speaker Ryan:

If I may, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on your recent selfie with Republican congressional interns.

As you probably are aware, the Intertubes — snarky bastards that they are — immediately noticed that one thing about the photo.  Was it all the smiling, happy faces of the hopeful young, proud to be interning on Capitol Hill?  Was it your charming face?  (You are handsome, although I’d loosen up the hair a bit or regrow your stubble.) Was it your natural ease with a selfie stick?

Alas, no one seems to have given you credit for any of that.  I will, though.  Kudos for providing these young people such a great opportunity to serve their nation and a start on their path to the corridors of power.  Kudos for giving them (and their proud parents) such a cool moment to remember.  Kudos for your wit in titling your Instagram shot: “I think this sets a record for the most number of #CapitolHill interns in a single selfie. #SpeakerSelfie.”

No, the one thing that everyone noticed about the photo was how white it was.1

Can we talk?

I don’t believe for a second that you or anyone on your staff have excluded people of color from your intern opportunities, although there are some of your fellow congresspersons about whom I am not sure I could say the same.  I’m sure you can very honestly say that the young men and women in the photo are exceptional and, while probably well-connected, the most qualified for the position.

Nor do I believe that anything about this selfie gave you pause.  It never dawned on you that the rest of America might think, “Hm, that group of people looks awfully… homogeneous…”  Nor did it dawn on you that the rest of America might think, “Mhm.  Republicans, amirite?”

Surely you can see what a problem this is for your party.  Even though you did not mean to send the message, the rest of the America got it loud and clear.  Remember Ballew’s Law of Theatre: The audience is always right, even when it’s wrong.2

You’re smart enough to fix this.  You know what you have to do.  In order not to have to second guess every photo op like this, you have to have a room full of people who more accurately represent the rest of America.  And for that to happen, you have to hire those people.

But what if they don’t apply?  That’s a very good question.  Here’s another very good question, which I hope has already occurred to you: if people of color, qualified people of color, are not applying to intern for Republican congresspersons, why not?  And how can you change that?

Can you change that?

Best wishes,

etc.

UPDATE: http://crooksandliars.com/2016/07/organizers-scrambling-replace-white

Merciful Cthulhu, eat me first.

—————

1 If you like, see if you can spot the one kid of color in the photo.  It’s like Where’s Waldo? only different.

2 Dr. Leighton Ballew, the genius director and founder/chair of the Department of Drama and Theatre at the University of Georgia back in the day.

Ah, past glories…

Fellow Lichtenbergian Jeff Bishop asked me for a photo to include in his new history/compilation book on Coweta County, and I found to my chagrin that I had very few physical photos of my regime as artistic director of the Newnan Community Theatre Company (as it was then known), and the online photos I had were of low quality.

Sic transit gloria mundi, indeed.

However, I did find this photo:

Here I am, singing Count Almaviva in my own translation of Nozze di Figaro, titled Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. This was in the fall of 2002, fourteen years ago.

Mercy, what an accomplishment! I had decided two years before that I would leave the position of artistic director at the end of the 2002 season,1 and I wanted to go out with a bang.  Figaro had been on my bucket list for years, but actually producing it was always sort of out of the question.

But it was clearly a case of now or never—when else would I have the chance?  Who would ever give me a shot like this?  Me, that’s who.

So over the course of 18 months, I worked and worked on translating the thing.  It was actually fun, working out the punchlines — this opera has punchlines — and the rhyme schemes.

Then we had auditions, and wouldn’t you know it, no one suitable auditioned for the Count.  I was forced, forced I tell you, to take the role myself.

I found a reduced orchestration, from the National Opera of Wales, and hired a tiny orchestra.  Dave Dorrell designed a gorgeous set of fabric drops that made the set changes easy,2 the usual gang of angels and elves made the costumes (especially the Act IV masquerade, in which the four principals found themselves dressed in their 18th century parallels). We pulled together the missing chorus members and got to work.

And how did this ultimate vanity project, an 18th-century opera buffa masterpiece, fare with the audiences of Newnan?  Sold out, start to finish, standing room only, thunderous applause.  It was exhilarating.

In order to identify some of the performers in some of the photos I pulled up, I dug out the program and was struck by my Director’s Comments.  I will leave them here:

I always thought that someday I should like to direct opera.  Perhaps one day I shall, but in the meantime, what we’ve done with Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro will serve.

What have we done?  We have taken the world’s most perfect comic musical work and approached it as if it were a brand new script intended for our audiences.  When I translated da Ponte’s libretto, I kept an ear out for natural sounding English and made sure that that the humor  was ratcheted up to the level where it would be funny to a modern audience, not just quaintly amusing. Likewise in our staging, we’ve applied all our experience as musical theatre performers to the score and text, pointing up the jokes and playing out the sheer humanness of the characters.

For they are human, splendidly and foolishly so, as the title of Beaumarchais’s original play suggests: The Follies of a Day.  Everyone sings in the Act IV finale, “Day of fools and night of madness,” and by that point, they all understand exactly what that means, about the others and about themselves as well.  And through them, we see ourselves.

Who hasn’t had to deal with the Count, convinced that everyone and everything is out to get him when he is the author of his own problems?  Who hasn’t been Cherubino, young and in love with love even as he is tormented by the sweet newness of it all? (And who hasn’t written really bad love poetry, like Cherubino’s Act II song, “Ladies, confide in me”?)

With any luck, we haven’t ahd to suffer like the Countess does, but if we have, she shows us how to get the courage to take charge of our own life.  Figaro and Susanna show us the value of humor in a relationship, even at the moments of highest stress in their lives.

And don’t we all hope that forgiveness and completeness are possible?  Don’t we all wish that our problems would resolve themselves in a shower of fireworks and joy in a moonlit garden?  There’s the ache in the brilliant comedy: despite what we think might happen after the curtain comes down and the sun comes up the next morning, for one moment there is redemption, summed up in Mozart’s perfect little world.

That’s our goal tonight, to bring safely through all the lunacies of these wonderful characters to the final haven of the garden, and to send you out into our own night with that perfect joy now a part of your life as it is a part of ours.

Dang, I write good, don’t I?

—————

1 We ran Jan-Dec in those days; most of us were educators and opening a season along with school would have been stupidly stressful.

2 Fun story: I had in my head that I wanted the color palette to be a muted 50s kind of style, based on my favorite childhood book, The Color Kittens.  I didn’t have my original copy, so I ordered one from Amazon and was astonished to find that it was illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen, the illustrators of William Blake’s Inn!

Not hard to see it that way, indeed

Oh, Allen West, you adorable lunkhead! Here’s the deal, folks: people like Allen West got to be famous by stampeding the amygdalas, and they continue to rake in the old grift money by continuing to stampede the amygdalas.

What am I babbling about?  Here, from today’s FaceTubes: Illinois May Be The First To Do This For Muslims

Very scare. Much jihad.

Here’s the scary photo:

The writer wants you to connect that photo with Illinois.1

I think I’ve dissected a piece like this before, where the writer (in this case not actually the lunkhead Allen West himself) clickbaits with a horrific headline/cutline, then copy/pastes a straight news item without a trace of the panic that informs the headline.  You get a couple of breathless introductory paragraphs, the copy/paste stuff (boring!), and then you get a pivot to something completely irrelevant — in this case the Muslim Brotherhood, which is framed as a significant threat to the U.S.  Which it is not.

Then you get to the last paragraph:

Are councils like this part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s grand plan? Not difficult to see it that way. And once this starts happening in Illinois, how long before it spreads across the country?

Definitely something to think about, isn’t it?

Ooga — and, dare I say it? — Booga!

Allow me to summarize:

  • Here’s a thing we’re all scared of.2
  • It could be coming true!3
  • [copy/paste of completely un-scary news item]
  • Here’s another thing we’re even more scared of and which we’ve endowed with super powers of evil!
  • Are they related?  MAYBE!!4
  • You should now assimilate this into your brain-thoughts as proven fact! RELEASE THE AMYGDALAS!

If this were turned into me in a journalism class, the writer would fail.

—————

1 Spoiler alert: the photo is not from Illinois.  It is from Egypt, the super secret lair of the Muslim Brotherhood.  I forget whether they’re Marvel or DC.

2 For differing values of all.  And scared.

3 It is not coming true.

4 They are not related.

Gun free zones… if only…

So, it seems that one of the favorite shibboleths of the gun fondlers is that these mass shootings often occur in a “gun free” zone, like a school or a church or some place where, I don’t know, reasonable people might reasonably assume they’re not going to get shot.1

“Sitting ducks” is how the gunhumping crowd describes the victims who apparently assumed incorrectly that they were safe.  If schools and churches and bars and other such places allowed guns, then those very sad deaths would not have occurred.

But I have to take exception to their argument.  These zones are not “gun free,” are they?  That’s just what we’d like them to be: free of guns.  We tell people, “Hey, no guns here!” and that’s what reasonable people who reasonably assume they’re not going to be shot there will do.  They don’t bring guns.

But nothing ever prevents a person with a gun from bringing one there.  They are not “gun free” zones at all, are they?

So saying that gun free zones are useless and should be done away with so that gun fondlers can protect us from the bad guy with the gun is kind of dumb.  There are no gun free zones in this country.

Oh, wait.

There are gun free zones in this country.  Perhaps we could look at those spaces and see how many people die in them from being shot when they had reasonably assumed they wouldn’t be.

We have the U.S. Congress, for starters.  No guns are allowed there.  Yes, security has guns, but those guys are heavily trained and heavily licensed, and not even they would be allowed to bring their gun into the Capitol if they showed up with Aunt Sally for a tour, would they?  So there’s an actual, honest-to-Cthulhu gun free zone.

How many people have been shot and killed in the U.S. Congress?  Go google that.  (Spoiler alert: the only people who have been shot in the U.S. Congress are those who tried to bring a gun into the gun free zone.  It’s almost as if they intend to have no guns there.  Because of not wanting to be shot or something.)

Hey, here’s another gun free zone: The Republican National Convention  in Cleveland!  (You will have noticed that both zones are stocked to the gills with employees of the National Rifle Association, i.e., congresscritters and Republickers.)

I rallied to the cause a couple of months ago and signed the petition to allow guns in the Republicker convention.  After all, don’t they want it to be safe?  How can it be safe if it’s a gun free zone?

However, we were soon informed that while the NRA employees who are convening there might be sympathetic to our freedomz because freedom, the Secret Service made the rules and they’re the ones who have made it gun free.

Huh.  It’s like the Secret Service thinks that guns are a safety issue and would somehow complicate their job of making sure that Donald Drumpf can reasonably assume he’s not going to be shot there.  Weird.

And have you noticed that the NRA has not called to overturn the Secret Service’s rules about the Republicker convention?  Why isn’t Wayne LaPierre ranting about the restriction of his employees’ precious Second Amendment rights to pack heat on the floor of the Quicken Loans Arena?  Why is he allowing their rights to be crushed by the tyrannical overreach of the federal government?

Here’s the point: when it comes right down to it, the only way to keep people from being shot is to guaran-damn-tee that there are no guns.  That’s the bottom line, and all the whinging about Second Amendment rights cannot change that.

The only argument that the gunhumpers can make is that if they’re allowed to play Good Guy with a Gun, then the number of shooting deaths at your child’s school might only be eight instead of 26.  They do not — because they can not — promise zero deaths.

Oh, and the Second Amendment?  About that.

—————

1 You will notice that the NRA has not made that an issue with the Dallas shootings.

What a maroon.

“We’ll do plenty of stories,” Mr. Trump promised enigmatically. “O.K.?”  [NYT, 6/7/16]

With all due respect to reporters Jason Horowitz, Alexander Burns, and Maggie Haberman, enigmatically is not the word you’re looking for.  Enigmatically implies there is a secret reality that is being concealed.

There is no secret reality.  Trump has nothing in his head but the words that come out of his mouth. The word you’re looking for to describe Donald J. Trump’s response is cluelessly.

Oh, for…

Here’s some stupid:

Fox News Asks Whether the Statue of Liberty is ‘Transgender’

For real.

Merciful Cthulhu, conservatives, that’s not how art works.  Here, let Wallace Stevens explain it to you:

I

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are 
Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."

It does not freaking matter if Bartholdi used his brother instead of his mother as the model for the statue.

Let me repeat that for the hard of thinking: It does not freaking matter if Bartholdi used his brother instead of his mother as the model for the statue.

He did his sketches, and he MADE THE THING THAT IS NOT.  Those of us who are sane, who know that art is newness, and that it is not in service to your ideology, know that it does not freaking matter if Bartholdi used his brother instead of his mother as the model for the statue.

How art works has nothing to do with your fear of other people’s dangly bits.

That is all.  Go read about art: Lichtenbergianism.com

Lichtenbergianism: a new frontier

No, I haven’t written any more on Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy, and no, I haven’t done any more work on the book proposal.  But I did establish a new front in my battle for world domination.

As I posted the other day, I bought the domain name for Lichtenbergianism.com and started a trial website at Squarespace.  Within 24 hours I had ponied up for a business website; within 48 I had a new email address and a MailChimp account.  Soon I shall have a new Twitter account.

(The MailChimp account means you can sign up to have a digest email of the week’s blog posts sent to you every Saturday, i.e., you can procrastinate about learning how to make procrastination work for you!)

Now if I only had actual content for the website.  Hey, I’m working on it—every day is a glorious flood of SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION as I figure out what it is I have to offer and how to put that before the public.

Maybe a Venn diagram would help

Just kidding.  The people who make these things up are impermeable to any form of logic, even ones that involve simple pictures.

Today on the FaceTubes:

Oh, where to begin?  Let’s start with the easy stuff, the inevitable grammar errors: State Department is capitalized, please, as is Muslims, and our sentences need a period at the end, don’t they, Johnny?

Okay.  Let’s untangle the presumptions first.

#1: The State Department had an opportunity to intervene in the events of Sep 11, 2012, at the American compound in Benghazi, Libya, and for some reason decided not to, resulting in the deaths of four Americans.  The implication is that this action was deliberate, callous, and probably criminal.

#2: The feckless—and yet omnipotent—Obama administration is preparing to bring over nearly a quarter of a million Muslim refugees (a word curiously missing from the poster) and saddle our taxpayers with the cost.  The implication is twofold: a) those people are terrorists; and b) “those people.”1

The point of the poster is to convince the reader that since the State Department weren’t competent enough to accomplish presumption #1, they are likewise clearly not competent enough to accomplish #2, which in any case they shouldn’t even be doing.

First, boys and girls, before we can address the legitimacy of the argument, we should examine the truth of each presumption.

Despite the fevered dreams of the right wing, the tragedy of Benghazi was not due to the criminal masterminds of the State Department.2 To date, there have been seven investigations of the event by the Republican-controlled Congress.  The results have been published, and not one of them found that the State Department failed to take action that could have prevented the loss of life.  The most popular shibboleth amongst the brethren is that orders were given to military air support/rescue missions to “stand down”; no such orders were given.

Currently Trey Gowdy and the House Select Committee have covered themselves with embarrassment by digging and digging and digging for two years to find something—anything—that would justify its $7 million cost so far, and yet they have not issued a report despite taking longer than the Watergate investigation.  Popular opinion is that they are waiting until the Democratic convention or the election to release something embarrassing to Hillary Clinton, but I’m beginning to believe they’re stalling because they have nothing and they know if they release a report it will knock the props out from under their favorite hobbyhorse.  As long as they keep mum, then they can continue to insinuate that Clinton is History’s Greatest Monster™ without having the media call them the liars they are.

update (6/27): Called it.

As for refugees: Nope. Nope.  And nope.  And benefits?  Here you go, straight from the horse’s mouth.  (As for Social Security benefits, nope.)

So, both presumptions are lies.3

Even if we believed that both presumptions were true, however, the argument is still specious. The events of presumption #1 were essentially an act of war, as in “fog of” and all that.  Events on the ground were fast, furious, unknowable, and unstoppable.  Much hay has been made of the fact that the first official statements on the attack said they were triggered by some YouTube video, but the only stone I would cast would be to advise government officials against saying anything definite while events are unfolding.  You know, like “Donald Trump is possibly bankrupt.  ALLEGEDLY.”

Meanwhile, even if we were preparing to flood our fair nation with 200,000 terrorists, the process there is an excruciatingly deliberate 2-year process.  Plenty of time to send in rescue helicopters.  Or something.  These people aren’t good at thinking their parallel situations through.

In other words, presuming the incompetence of the State Department in handling a terrorist attack does not lead to the same presumption about a process which is part of their daily job description and which has been for a very long time.

Come on, people, peek out from behind your amygdalas a little bit and see if you can find better, more logical reasons to overthrow the government.

(And of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t examine the little attribution in the lower right corner: “Outlaw Liberalism In America.”  Honey, please.  Grammar note: it’s usual not to capitalize prepositions.)

—————

1 You know, “those people.”  The ones who get all the free stuff, and not just the pitiable amount given to our deserving (white) poor people. “Those people” get the good welfare that allows you to buy crab legs, iPhones, and new cars.

2 Where State Department = Hillary Clinton. Let’s be honest here.

3 I know, but pretend you’re shocked.

Lichtenbergianism: WHAT HAVE I DONE?

I have done a thing.

Why have I done this thing?  Because if I am seeking world domination, I have to have a platform.  Yes, I already have this platform, but I want to keep my private thoughts on a separate plane from my benevolent despot thoughts.

Here is the problem, though: WHAT THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO PUT ON THIS NEW PLATFORM?  Talk about an ABORTIVE ATTEMPT.  Just jump in there, man, and don’t count the cost.

As has been often noted, it’s not the jump that kills you, it’s the SUCCESSIVE APPROXIMATION.

So let’s think this thing through.

  • If Lichtenbergianism: procrastination as a creative strategy were ever published, of course we would want to tie it in to Lichtenbergianism.com as a marketing ploy.
  • The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published [EGGYBP] encourages you to have an online presence before your book is published.
  • I can begin to promote the idea of the book and any auxiliary services such as speaking engagements, workshops, etc., as part of the book proposal.
  • Especially if I were able to begin doing workshops and such even without the book being published, Lichtenbergianism.com would be the appropriate base.
  • With the new domain, I can keep emails about Lichtenbergianism separate from my other personas, e.g., my personal life, my burner life, etc.
    • This would also give me a separate Twitter account with which to begin seeking my minions for world domination.
  • Filling the new domain with… what, exactly?… would force me to concentrate on exactly what: blogposts, linked articles, tweets, etc.
  • Arrrgh!

You should tell me what to put on the new site in comments.  We’ll call it focus group testing.

In other news, I have done some serious work on getting the book proposal done.  Next up: get serious about finding an agent/publisher.