Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

Copyright Notice

Everything that appears on this blog is the copyrighted property of somebody. Often, but not always, that somebody is me. For things that are not mine, I either have obtained permission, or claim fair use. Feel free to quote me, but attribute, please. My photos and poetry are dear to my heart, and may not be used without permission. Ditto, my other intellectual property, such as charts and graphs. I'm probably willing to share. Let's talk. Violators will be damned for all eternity to the circle of hell populated by Rosanne Barr, Mrs Miller [look her up], and trombonists who are unable play in tune. You cannot possibly imagine the agony. If you have a question, email me: jazzbumpa@gmail.com. I'll answer when I feel like it. Cheers!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

History In a Nutshell

Update, 8/24/15:  Quote of the day, via Robert Reich on Face Book:

"In all civilized as well as barbarous countries, a few rich and intelligent men have built up nobility systems by which, under some name and by some contrivance, a few are enabled to live upon the labor of the many. These ruling classes have had many names -- kings, lords, priests, fund holders, bankers -- but all are founded on deception, and maintained by power."

-- Amos Kendall (1833)

A Brief Summary of Human History

History is the chronicle of human cruelty.   There are two over-riding and inter-related themes:  Oppression and War.


In every place and time there has been a struggle between a small elite group possessing wealth and/or power and the rest of the population.   The elite use their advantage to dominate, oppress and exploit the labor of the majority for their own gain.  Although there have been brief, occasional, exceptional periods when the playing field might have appeared to be more or less equal; by a large margin, the elites have stayed way up on top.   The tools they use to maintain their advantage are execution, incarceration, overt brutality, brainwashing, propaganda and scapegoating minorities.  And there are always willing servitors to do the dirty work of the elite in exchange for some advantage in status or creature comforts. These advantages are large from the perspective of those who come to enjoy them, but insignificant from the perspective of the elites, who grant them with the flick of a finger. Sadists and sociopaths naturally migrate into those rolls. 

[As an aside, I’ll mention the U.S.A in the few decades following WW II as one of those exceptional times.  I can’t pin down a specific date when it ended: historical corners are never turned in such a crisp and definitive manner.  But if you peruse the tool list above, it’s clear that the exceptional period is over and the oligarchs are once again in the driver’s seat.]


War is armed conflict between or among differing groups. There are three types of war: conquest, civil war, and revolution.


One group, usually a nation, state or tribe, wants something that another group has - material wealth, land, natural resources, a population to be enslaved - and engages in armed conflict in an attempt to take it away from them.  Generally, the aggressor group uses some cover to incite the population and get them ready and willing to die on the next hill.  Nationalism, racism and religion, alone or in combination are usually all that it takes.  

Civil War

One group inside a country or region wants to dominate the other group.  In general, neither group has any particular merit.  Death, rapine and mayhem ensue until one side is either destroyed or gives up.  Regionalism, clannishness, racism and religion, alone or in combination are usually all that it takes.


This one is different.  The oppressed minority somehow manages to acquire enough man power and weaponry to challenge the ruling elite and their servitors.  Usually, by the time is’s all over, there are no good guys left.

So there you have it: all of human history in a nutshell.  Did I nail it or slam the hammer down on my thumb?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In Which Trump Proves My Fallibility

A few months back I predicted that by September Donald Trump would be the Herman Cain of the current Rethug presidential field - a quirky, mildly offensive, moderately amusing performance artist whose star quickly rises, then goes poof in the middle of the night. Well, we’re only 1/3 of the way through August and I have to admit I got this wrong. And not by a near miss, either. My prediction was the the very antithesis, the exact polar opposite of correct.

Draft dodger Trump broke St Ronnie’s 11th commandment by speaking ill of a fellow Rethug, and in the process dissed the military service and PoW status of one who in conservatard circles is considered to be a war hero. And his poll numbers went up.

Trump has made a series of blatantly stupid and gratuitously hateful statements that are either racist or misogynist. And each time his pole numbers went up.

Now, he has taken on Fox news - that bastion of right wing punditry and thought control - and Fox backed down.

Let me make this crystal clear: Trump feuded with the official propaganda arm of the Rethug party, and won!

Presumably it was H. L. Menken who said, ”"No one in this world, so far as I know - and I have searched the record for years, and employed agents to help me - has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”

Well it wasn’t my money on the line, but I certainly failed to underestimate the intelligence - or perhaps gullibility, or maybe the amorphous bitterness and self-defeating, wrong-headed bigotry and hatred of America’s plain citizens, those simple people of the earth, the common clay of the right wing - you know: morons.

"Now that Donald Trump and Roger Ailes have reconciled after a brutal 96-hour-long estrangement in which both sides said many things they lack the moral capacity to regret, the GOP presidential hopeful was free to appear on 'Fox & Friends' this morning to complain about, among other things, ISIS’s superior Internet connections."


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Religion in the Modern World

This morning I had a tiny epiphany regarding the IOKIYAR [It’s OK if you're a Republican] cliche.  Of course, this is just tribalism - that much has always been obvious.  What struck me today is the connection of Tea Party Rethuglianism to Christian religious fundamentalism.

The basic concept of Christian fundamentalism is that once you accept Jesus as your personal savior, you’re in - you’re saved, you’re going to heaven: end of story.  They way in which you live your life - your sins vis-vis your good works - becomes irrelevant.

Implicit in this concept is the notion that Jesus will inform your life in such a way that you will then live it according to the ideals that Jesus preached constantly and exemplified continuously in his own life: love one another, take care of those in need, forgive, and don’t judge.

But we all know how that works out.  

Of course, the antitheses of all of these is greed and hatred. What I see among self-righteous, self-professing Christians in the pubic sphere is boundless greed, hatred on steroids, utter contempt for those in need, and harsh - indeed merciless - judgement for those who do not meet their approval, for whatever reason.

Then what I see among the Christian community at large [with the notable exception of the current Pope and his minions - but the fundamentalists don’t believe Catholics are real Christians anyway, so that doesn’t count for much] and most notably the Christian right, is agreement with and approval for every bit of this. But since they’re saved, it’s all good.  

So here’s the connection: when you’re in the tribe, whether it be the Christian or the Rethug Tea Party variety, anything you do is OK, because - well, just because.  And, to a large extent, these two tribes are really just one.

So now you see Donald Trump making stupidly outrageous comments on a wide variety of topics, and surging in the polls.  Because he is not only a Rethug, but playing to the ignorance and prejudice of a base which is largely the religious right.

The hypocrisy - it burns.