What the &%$#? Election Musings.

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In the wake of recent Electoral Events, I will be posting a series of Commentaries, probably beginning next week through early December. I truly hope to contribute to the dialogue, and invite your comments on my posts.

Unlike the Republicans during President Obama’s administration, I do not hope for and will not work for a failed Trump Presidency. I hope he jettisons all of his campaign rhetoric and does a great job, and I support him in any good things he will do.

These blogs will be for perspective, and for going forward.

Note: I have strong opinions and statements, and I back up what I say with evidence. If you share ideas, please back them up with evidence, not just feelings. I’ll outline that in my blogs. You are free to have feelings, but feelings ≠ (do not equal) evidence.

I do not believe—no, I know—that there are not two sides to every story (there are sometimes, but not always). Sometimes one side is true, and one side is false, and no amount of believing will make the other side true: e.g. Earth is round: Case Closed. Our Media must realize this and act accordingly.

God Bless America!

Future topics:

  • Theoretical Methodology. What are facts and Truth, as opposed to Truthiness?
    • A Reading List that will allow you to understand exactly what is taking place
    • The creation of Idiot America where the gut rules, and intellect is despised.
  • The context of this election against the understanding of the Eleven Nations of North America.
  • How I dealing with my stages of grief.
  • How the 2016 Election results happened.
    • How the Republican obstructionist, the Tea Party and Movement Conservatism opened the door.
    • How Trump manipulated the electorate
      • Dog Whistle arguments
      • Enlisting White Rage
      • Enlisting Misogyny
      • Rhetorical techniques
      • Who is Trump after all?
    • How the Democrats were asleep at the switch
    • The Media’s epic failure to cover this election equitably
      • What’s wrong with the media’s approach of two sides to every issue, when there are really not?
    • Extra-campaign factors
      • James Comey and the FBI: motivations
      • Wikileaks
      • Putin and Russia
      • The European phenomenon of whites-first politics (Brexit, Austria, Hungary, Finland, et al.)
  • How Movement Conservatism has bamboozled America (It’s a Con of awesome proportions, let me tell you!)
    • How they have created a state of Invincible Ignorance in almost half of our nation’s people
      • How to invade and conquer Invincible Ignorance
  • Exposing the Right-Wing efforts–successful–to suppress voting
  • The guilt of Fundamentalist and right wing Protestants, and Right-Wing Catholic Bishops in this whole mysoginistic mess as they betray Christ and drive people away from Him and toward the Right-Wing.
  • How we can neutralize the Electoral College without a Constitutional Amendment or Convention, and  enter 21st Century reality.
  • How we progressives can and must work humbly and contritely to convince America that our agenda is good for Everyone!

Steven A. Armstrong

 

Update: Here’s a posting I sent to friends (real friends) on Facebook:

 

OK my (real, not FB) friends, since you’ve all been in the discussions.  I’m not going to belabor this, since I am preparing probably a month of Blog Posts putting forth my whole argument. See the preview at www.stevenaarmstrongsf.com . Here are my basic points:

 

  1. I love you as my friends, and nothing will change that. Bottom line.
  2. The Donald has to prove himself to me. See #9 below for how he’s blowing it so far. The clock is ticking.
  3. I have messaged the poster of the homophobic car note and asked him to verify. He is an Episcopal Priest. I have heard back and the note is genuine. I have verified it. This happened to a real Gay Episcopal married priest, not the poster. Shame!!
  4. I’m sorry the college student lied about the Hijab. That’s wrong, and perhaps actionable. She made a very bad mistake which then plays into the other camp’s hands.
  5. Anything I post, please fact-check. I want to be accurate about facts.
  6. I can assure you—and you know me to be an honorable man—there are millions of us out here who are terrified at the promises DJT made during the Campaign. If you don’t accept that, I don’t know what to say. Talk to people outside your circle.
    1. I must be honest with you. A vote for Trump viscerally feels to me like a repudiation of everything I have worked for my entire life. Sorry, but that what it feels like to me. It doesn’t mean I don’t still like my friends who voted for Trump, but this is personal for me.
    2. We are particularly terrified at the possible effects on SCOTUS. God help us!
  7. I heard a very wise statement the other day: “Those who took Trump seriously, did not take him literally. Those who did not take him seriously took him literally.” I take the man at his word…and it scares the hell out of me.
  8. I cannot for the life of me understand how we listened to the exact same Trump rallies and speeches and tweets, and you don’t see how hate-filled his whole campaign was with Dog Whistles everywhere.
  9. World perspective: White Europeans and their descendants are trying to claw back the power they have lost since they conquered the world in the 16th-19th Centuries: see Brexit, Austria, Hungary, Finland, Russia, and now us. As a Sion of Spain, Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales, I reject this movement: Anathema Sit!
  10. I cannot for the life of me understand how we listened to the exact same Trump rallies and speeches and tweets, and you don’t see how he either lied or just made stuff up as he went along. No drought in CA, no Climate change, and so forth and so on. No contact with Russia, when Russia affirms his staff was in contact.
  11. I cannot for the life of me understand how when you see the gang of thieves, cut-throats, white supremacists, homophobes, and cronies he is loading his transition team with, you are not as appalled as I am. My heavens, Steve Bannon, the very heart and soul and enabler of the evil Alt-Right! How can you countenance that?
    1. Doesn’t it bother you that White Supremacists and the KKK laud him? They know his true agenda.
  12. I do not care in the slightest that George Soros may be assisting the protests. The Koch Brothers do the same thing with the Tea Party, etc. I’m a Soros fan! Thank God we have some rich guys on the peoples’ side.
  13. One of the ways Trump won was by the racist voter suppression laws in many States which are tantamount to a resurrected Jim Crow. I believe that the US should issue a free National ID Card to all actual citizens, and that all citizens be compelled to vote as in Australia. They can vote a blank ballot if they want. Any one—like Fr. Deacon Paul Weyrich, with whom I served at the Altar, one of the founders of Movement Conservatism and its unholy alliance with Right-wing Christianity—who says “We don’t want everyone to vote” is un-American. I pray for his repose. He died of a terrible illness. A great Deacon, a terrible politician. We both loved trains. You see, I have been at the Heart of the Beast and understand it from the inside.
  14. Some of my basic principles:
    1. There are not two legitimate sides to every story. The media does not have to give time to “both sides” when one is demonstrably false by any valid test. For example, Pence says tobacco doesn’t cause cancer. Sorry Mike, you are just wrong. No justification for listening to you on that. The world is round: No time need be spent on alternate theories.
    2. The greatest evil threatening our nation is “Movement Conservatism,” which is a quasi-religious Cult. I’m not talking about ordinary conservative thinkers. I mean the doctrinaire cult that brought us trickle-down economics, etc., and now has control of Congress. Far more dangerous to us and to the world than Daesh or Al Qaida. And the Republican Party, once the dignified GOP of Eisenhower and Rockefeller, is its biggest victim.
      1. Example: The Left and Right are not equivalent. Liberal think-tanks were created to examine problems from a purely objective standpoint and avoid all partisanship, finding fact-based solutions. Conservative think-tanks eschew all objectivity and were created solely to press for the Movement Conservative agenda. The first is genuine, the second is partisan hogwash.
    3. The New Deal is the greatest achievement of our Nation’s social policy. Of course it had flaws and needs updating over time, but I stand by Our Father and Mother among the Saints, Franklin and Eleanor. I will fight every attempt to destroy it.
    4. The Left, and in particular, the Democratic Party, has made many mistakes. I do not claim infallibility for them at all. In particular, in this election, they did not take account of the rise of White Rage, the disaffection of many of the white middle-class, and the fickleness of minority voters. They did not effectively get out the vote.
      1. The rule by experts of Kennedy and Johnson administrations had many missteps. It’s still the right way, but we need to humbly admit it needs work.
    5. Finally, I intuit very deeply that we are in mid-1930s Germany.
      1. Trump wants to keep holding rallies! Can we say Nuremberg and Reichsparteitag?
      2. He has no concept of how a Democracy works. Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer.
      3. Here are the key notes of Fascism. They sound like DJT to me:

Nationalism: Fascism seeks to solve economic, political, and social problems by achieving a millenarian national rebirth, exalting the nation or race above all else, and promoting cults of unity, strength, and purity

Totalitarianism: It opposes liberal democracy, rejects multi-party systems, and supports a one-party state, which we now have with all the power with the Republicans.

Economics: Some of this does not fit Trump. I am an honest guy. But this part does: Fascists criticized egalitarianism as preserving the weak. They instead promoted social Darwinist views.

Action: Fascism emphasizes direct action, including supporting the legitimacy of political violence, as a core part of its politics. See his rallies.

Age and gender roles: His misogyny, sexual abuse, and a retrograde gender view.

  1. My conversations with my European and other foreign friends confirm that everyone else in the world already sees this. Those who cannot see it here are simply self-deluded. I’m sorry, I must be blunt. There is no American Exceptionalism.
  2. This is my credo. I will not be silent:
                                  First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. — Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

 

                                               i.

I am doing this for you, to save all of us! You have no idea the evil that has been loosed upon us.

Enough for tonight. I will continue my battle tomorrow and the next, and the next until we have built Jerusalem in America’s green and pleasant lands.

 

Please God, Truly bless America, and make her The City set on a Hilltop.

My modern adaptation of the Troparion of the Holy Cross in my Byzantine Christian tradition:

“O Lord, save Thy People and Bless Thine Inheritance,
granting to Thy People Victory over any who oppose Justice!
And by the Power of Thy Cross, Preserving Thy Commonwealth!”

Here’s the video:

NB: Some of the accents are wrong in the Greek–not my doing! They forgot the rule about grave accents on the ultima before other words. Ah well!

The sacred meaning is still intact!

 

Christmas Music Matters: Twelfth Night

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Welcome to the 12th Day of Christmas: The Holy Theophany and Epiphany of Christ.

Since the Christian Day, like the Jewish Day, begins at sundown, last night was Twelfth Night!

Christmas is not only on December 25. Here’s the story:

Originally, most Christians had one feast for all of the Revelations of Christ: The Expectation of Christ’s Birth, The Nativity, the visit of the Magi, the Circumcision and Naming, the Baptism, and the Encounter with Simeon and Anna in the Temple. All celebrated at once, usually around January 6.

Gradually, in a kind of Liturgical “Big Bang,” different Churches began to distribute these Feasts over several months. To make a long story short, here is how they ended up in the Roman (Western) Tradition, which includes Anglicans and many Protestant Christians, on the one hand, and in the Byzantine Greek Tradition:

Western:

  • Four Weeks of Preparation: Advent
  • The Nativity: Christmas Day: December 25
  • The Circumcision: January 1 (no longer on the Roman Calendar)
  • The Visit of the Magi: Epiphany: January 6 (now the nearest Sunday for RCs). Twelfth Night
  • The Baptism: January 13 (or nearest Sunday)
  • The Presentation in the Temple (February 2)

Byzantine:

  • 40 Days of Preparation: The Christmas Lent (begins November 15)
  • The Nativity & the Visit of the Magi: Christmas Day: December 25
  • The Circumcision: January 1
  • The Baptism of Christ: Theophany: January 6
  • The Encounter with Simeon and Anna in the Temple (February 2)

It should be noted that Dec 25 corresponds to the Winter Solstice, the Birth of the New Light, and February 1-2 is the ancient Fire Festival of Imbolc, at which the Goddess Bridget becomes the nursemaid for the New Light born at the Solstice. It is therefore most natural that the ancient observances would shine through both these Christian calendars. The Feast of St. Bridget is also on Feb 2!

The Christmas Season of celebration, therefore, has its core at December 25-January 6 (The Twelve Days of Christmas), and continues until the formal close with the Feast on February 2.

In Rome, the church Christmas decorations, including the manger scenes, remain until February 2. Try as I might, I can’t convince Chris to leave the Tree up that long! In New Orleans, Twelfth Night (January 5/6) is the beginning of Mardi Gras Season, which runs until midnight between Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

So…that having been said, how about some appropriate music?

First, let’s listen to the Byzantine Chant for the very important Great Feast of the Theophany:

Russian Tone (English):

Greek Tone (Arabic and English):

The Great Blessing of Water at Theophany in the Orthodox Church of Japan (Russian Tones, sung in Japanese):

Greek Tone (English-Arabic) Great Blessing of Waters in Virginia:

(I hope my point is getting across, that the Byzantine Tradition is not something distant and foreign. It is thoroughly planted all over the world, including here in the U.S.!)

Great Blessing of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers:

Now, on to the reveling!

Shakespeare (whoever he was, he was certainly associated with the Rosicrucian Movement) wrote a play for the end of the Christmas Season (Feb 2), and called it Twelfth Night for the Feast of Jan 5/6. I was lucky enough to be part of a production of the play at Yale years ago with Jim Kramer.

Here are some selections to conclude our musical journey that we have taken together this Christmas:

Twelfth Night begins with this wonderful soliloquy by Duke Orsinio:

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken and so die.
That strain again! It had a dying fall;
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour! Enough; no more;
‘T is not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou!
That, notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,
Of what validity and pitch soe’er,
But falls into abatement and low price,
Even in a minute! so full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.

Twelfth Night, Act I Scene 1

And a musical setting by John Gardiner:

The Clown has four songs in Twelfth Night:

Come Away Death:

Come away, come away, death,
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
O, prepare it!
My part of death, no one so true
Did share it.

    Not a flower, not a flower sweet,
On my black coffin let there be strown;
Not a friend, not a friend greet
My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown.
A thousand thousand sighs to save,
Lay me, O, where
Sad true lover never find my grave,
To weep there!

O Mistress Mine:

O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O, stay and hear; your true love’s coming,
That can sing both high and low:
Trip no further, pretty sweeting;
Journeys end in lovers meeting,
Every wise man’s son doth know.

What is love? ‘T is not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

I am gone Sir:

I am gone, sir,
And anon, sir,
I ‘ll be with you again,
In a trice,
Like to the old Vice,
Your need to sustain;
Who, with dagger of lath,
In his rage and his wrath,
Cries, ah, ha! to the devil:
Like a mad lad,
Pare thy nails, dad;
Adieu, goodman devil.

The Play then ends with the Clown singing this ditty:

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

     But when I came to man’s estate,
With hey, ho, &c.
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,
For the rain, &c.

     But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, &c.
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain, &c.

     But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, &c.
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain, &c.

     A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, &c.
But that’s all one, our play is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

Twelfth Night, ending song. Act IV Scene 3

Here are all four by Garth Baxter:

And a Madrigal setting:

Thus we come to an end of our musical journey. I have shared the music I know. I invite you to share yours!

To end, we’ll take our cue from another of the Bard’s plays, The Tempest:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare
From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

Merry Christmas!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Exeunt Omnes.

Christmas Music Matters: Christmas Laughs

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Happy 11th Day of Christmas!

Today, something for a laugh and some social commentary!

Comedians love to poke fun at the foibles of society, and Christmas comes in for its share of laughs. Today I wanted to share some of my favorite ones with you.

Green Christmas by Stan Freberg (1958):

I got turned on to Stan Freberg recordings in High School, and have had a love affair with them ever since. In a larger sense, it was my introduction to humor in music, a topic I’ll do a series of blogs on at another time. Needless to say, I am a hopeless Doctor Demento fan.

I’ll step aside and let the hilarity begin with this skit:

Tom Lehrer – A Christmas Carol

Tom Lehrer was a master of music satire. Here is his “Christmas Carol”:

PDQ Bach – A Consort of Choral Christmas Carols

P.D.Q. Bach is the brainchild of musician Peter Schickele. (Remember him as Joan Baez’s collaborator on her Noël? There will be a quiz on all these blog posts, you know!) He has given us 50 years of musical hilarity with his antics.

For Christmas, PDQB penned some carols:

http://www.schickele.com/composition/consortchristmas.htm

Here they are:

“Throw the Yule Log On, Uncle John”:

“O Little Town of Hackensack”:

“Good King Kong Looked Out”:

“Weird Al” Yankovic – Christmas At Ground Zero

What can I say?

And as a bonus:

Bob Rivers – The 12 Pains of Christmas

Since we are doing the 12 Days of Christmas here:

Stephen Colbert – Another Christmas Song:

From our new master of comedy!

Celtic Elvis – Kill a Tree for Christ

Satire from California’s Celtic Elvis:

Lon Chaney, Jr. – Monsters’ Holiday (1964)

Elmo & Patsy – Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer

Finally, the classic:

I hope these brought a smile to your ears!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Christmas Music Matters: The Carols of Alfred Shaddick Burt

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Happy 10th Day of Christmas!

Alfred Burt (April 22, 1920 – February 7, 1954) was an American Jazz Musician who is best known for the composition of 15 Christmas Carols.

Some of these you will know, and others you may not:

  1. “Christmas Cometh Caroling” (1942)
  2. “Jesu Parvule” (1943)
  3. “What Are the Signs” (1944)
  4. “Ah, Bleak and Chill the Wintry Wind” (1945)
  5. “All on A Christmas Morning” (1946)
  6. “Nigh Bethlehem” (1947)
  7. “Christ in the Stranger’s Guise” (1948)
  8. “Sleep Baby Mine” (1949)
  9. “This Is Christmas” (also known as “Bright, Bright, the Holly Berries”) (1950)
  10. “Some Children See Him” (1951)
  11. “Come, Dear Children” (1952)
  12. “O, Hearken Ye” (1953)
  13. “Caroling, Caroling” (1954)
  14. “We’ll Dress the House” (1954)
  15. “The Star Carol” (1954)

Burt died less than 24 hours after finishing “The Star Carol,” and all of them were produced posthumously. I first hear them on one of my favorite’s  Tennessee Ernie Ford‘s Christmas specials and albums, and  Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians and Nat King Cole also sang some of them.

They have been covered through the years by many artists. All of them are available at the  Family’s web site http://www.alfredburtcarols.com.

Here are some outstanding examples:

“Some Children see Him” sung by the incomparable Tennessee Ernie Ford:

Simon and Garfunkel’s 1967 recording of “The Star Carol”:

“O Hearken Ye”:

“Caroling, Caroling”:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Christmas Music Matters: Carols at the Symphony: Carol Symphony

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Welcome to the 9th Day of Christmas!

Victor Hely-Hutchinson composed his Carol Symphony in 1927. He was “a British composer, born in Cape TownCape Colony (now in South Africa).”

Wikipedia conveniently gives us the outline of this fun and delightful symphony:

This selection has the symphony itself, complemented by wonderful visuals. You can learn about the visuals here.

All very British, that!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Christmas Music Matters: Carols at the Symphony: Fantasia on Christmas Carols

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Greetings on the 8th Day of Christmas!

Ralph Vaughan Williams published his Fantasia on Christmas Carols in 1912. In musical parlance, a Fantasia is a loose musical form which more closely imitates improvisation.

In this meditative piece, Vaughan Williams uses “English folk carols “The truth sent from above“, “Come all you worthy gentlemen” and “On Christmas night all Christians sing” (i.e. the Sussex Carol), all folk songs collected in southern England by Vaughan Williams and his friend Cecil Sharp a few years earlier. These are interposed with brief orchestral quotations from other carols, such as The First Nowell.”

Enjoy this beautiful meditation on Christmas Carols as the joys of the Season continue!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Christmas Music Matters: Carols at the Symphony: Messe de Minuit

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Dear Readers and Listeners,

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day is the 7th Day of Christmas, in Western Liturgical terms, the Octave of Christmas. In the Christian West nowadays, it is celebrated as the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God among Roman Catholics, and among Anglicans, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. On the Jesuit calendar, it is the name day of the Society of Jesus.

In the Byzantine East, January 1 is the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ (and His naming day), as well as the Feast of St. Basil the Great.

Today, while we are still in the 12 Days of Christmas, but a bit removed from the Feast itself, I thought we’d listen to a symphonic piece connected to Christmas.

Around 1694, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, the “maître de musique (music master) to the Jesuits in Paris, working first for their collège of Louis-le-Grand and then for the church of Saint-Louis adjacent to the order’s professed house on the rue Saint-Antoine,” wrote a Midnight Mass for Christmas, based on carols.

The task is quintessentially Jesuit: to use things that are beautiful and familiar to speak to the common people about the Sacred.

In this excellent recording, we first hear the original French Carol, and then how Charpentier uses it in his Mass:

In this more traditional recording, we have the Mass itself without the original carols:

Enjoy, and have a blessed 2016!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant