Untruth and Falsehood do NOT Deserve Equal Time

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A blogger for USNews, Peter Roff, wrote this back in 2013, and it is worthwhile to examine it once again:

Now comes a study from the George Mason University Center for Media and Public Affairs that demonstrates empirically that PolitiFact.org, one of the nation’s leading “fact checkers,” finds that Republicans are dishonest in their claims three times as often as Democrats. “PolitiFact.com has rated Republican claims as false three times as often as Democratic claims during President Obama’s second term,” the Center said in a release, “despite controversies over Obama administration statements on Benghazi, the IRS and the AP.” http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2013/05/28/study-finds-fact-checkers-biased-against-republicans

I have no doubt at all that the Study was correct. The fact checkers most probably do rank Democratic Politicians as more truthful about 3 times as often as Republican Politicians.

(I say politicians because Democratic and Republican American ordinary Citizens are NOT the subject of anything I am about to say.)

There is a simple reason for this, and it is not bias (although of course some bias can always creep in).

The reason is this:

The Democratic Politicians ARE three times more truthful and accurate than the Republican Politicians.

We Americans, and in particular the press, have gotten a funny–and dangerous–notion into our heads: In ANY argument, the two sides have equal validity, and must be given equal time and equal acceptance.

This of course is a corollary of the Laws of Idiot America that Charles Pierce discovered:

  1. Anything is good/true/valuable if it moves units (sells things/makes money).
  2. A fact is what enough people believe.
  3. Truth is how fervently they believe it.

From these also flows the idea that any one’s opinion about something is the equal to an educated opinion from a bonafide expert in the field, and indeed opinions Trump® (actual) Facts.

Read Pierces’s book for the whole horrible story:


A fact-based decision making process, a requirement for our Democratic Republic as the Founders knew, is scarcely to be seen.

We progressives of the Yankeedom-led coalition are not blameless in how experts came to be distrusted. During the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, we attempted a wholesale reliance on “experts” to run our society, and they made some whopping mistakes.

We need to admit this and work to restore the legitimate place of expertise in our National Discourse.

(For the coalitions that make up the United States, see these two works:



…and more.)

Nevertheless, the meretricious and lying scheme to bamboozle the American People into believing falsehood was cooked up to keep on selling tobacco long after the Tobacco Industry knew it was deadly.

Pierce outlines how the Tobacco Industry called on a Madison Avenue Advertising firm to help them, and a strategy of subterfuge was plotted to create a false “scientific” controversy about the effects of tobacco with falsified studies, purchased “experts,” calling any one with an MS a “Scientist,” and generally pseudo-scientific skepticism.

It worked for a long time. Hey, the GOP VEEP candidate, Mike Pence still believes it:

“Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill,” he wrote on his old Mike Pence for Congress website in 1998BuzzFeed first reported more than a year ago.

(And don’t forget, if Trump® wins, he and Trump’s kids are actually going to running the country…you don’t think The Donald® wants to work that hard, do you?)

More recently, the Creationists and the Climate Change Deniers (the Fossil Fuel industry) have used the same strategy with great success. So too the Birthers, the Speed Boaters, and the “Crooked Hillary” crowd. (Fact Checkers–remember them?–rate her the most honest of all the candidates in this cycle.)

In a perverted mockery of the Fairness Doctrine, the Media have decided that on any issue, both sides deserve equal time, regardless of the factually demonstrated falsity of one side. However:

  • Creationism is not an alternative scientific theory. It is a religious and philosophical viewpoint that belongs in a different classroom, not in science curriculum.
  • Humanity’s effect on the global climate is the clear consensus from the vast majority of real scientists and studies. We see the effects all around us. Must we wait for Florida to become an Archipelago to act?

Once the falsity of claims like these and those of the Birthers, the Speed Boaters and the “Crooked Hillary” crowd are shown to be false, the media should stop covering their politically-motivated supporters who don’t have the civility to shut up. Falsehood, Lies and Untruth do not deserve a voice.

I am not suggesting that they should stop speaking—thank God and the people of New Netherlands that we have Freedom of Speech—I am suggesting that we, and our media, ignore them.

There are answers—actually scientific, factual answers—to the questions that face us today. We must stop letting our “gut” rule us, and get back to listening to the Head—and the Heart!

Enough ranting for today! Thanks for reading!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Ave Atque Vale: The 564th Anniversary of the Fall of the Roman Empire

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Hieromonk Mark Ciccone, S.J. at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco

Hieromonk Mark Ciccone, S.J. at Our Lady of Fatima Byzantine Catholic Church, San Francisco, serving Divine Liturgy in continuity with the Roman Empire in 1453. The Legacy continues.

Ave Atque Vale: The 564th Anniversary of the Fall of the Roman Empire

Hail and Farewell!

I cannot let today go by without commemorating one of the most pivotal events in history. On Tuesday May 29, 1453, at about 2:00 in the afternoon, the walls of New Rome (Constantinople) were breached by the Ottoman Turks, and the Roman Empire, whose legacy stretched back through the Republic to the Kingdom to 753 BCE, the founding of Rome. 2100 years of Ῥωμαιοσύνη–Rōmaiosúnē–Romanness, which, of course, by 1453, was Greekness, came to an end at its center.

Romanitas (the Latin equivalent of Ῥωμαιοσύνη) had been withdrawn from Western Europe earlier, with the Fall of the Old Capital of Rome in 476, and then after its recovery, the final loss of Roman power there after the Emperor Justinian’s reconquest, was complete. Western Europe was in darkness.

Today, Ῥωμαιοσύνη is perpetuated not only in the Churches, but in every Nation which has an

Russian Double-Headed Eagle

Russian Double-Headed Eagle

Eagle as its standard (the early single headed eagle, as in the United States, or the later Roman Double-Headed Eagle used by Russia), uses the Fasces as an emblem, and builds its National structures in the Roman fashion. We are children of Alexander, and heirs of Rome. 

I am only mentioning this briefly this morning as I commute on CalTrain to Rosicrucian Park, as I have blogged extensively about this before to commemorate this watershed event. The two events, Tuesday May 29, 1453 and October 12, 1492, when Columbus rediscovered the New World, are the end of the ancient world and the beginning of the modern world.

So much flowed from these two events. From the Fall of Rome, the ancient wisdom and mysteries were communicated to Renaissance Italy. These had been preserved in the East, and in Islam, and fueled the Renaissance fascination with Hermetism and other mysteries. From Columbus’s landing on Hispañola came the massacre of millions of New World Natives (there were as many people in North and South America as there were in Europe at the time), and the beginning of the war of conquest waged by Europe against the rest of the world which has resulted in the world as we know it.

An excellent video and documentary on the lamentable Fall can be found here: http://www.crashonline.eu/darkest-day-in-history-of-hellenism-fall-of-constantinople-29-may-1453-video/. Link to this page, as they have linked to us!

The Fall of the Roman Empire?

Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins

Those educated in our school systems are probably now asking themselves, “Didn’t the Roman Empire fall in 476? That’s what they taught us in History Class?” Well, I can only relate an anecdote about what authorities teach us:

Molly Ivins, the late, and much missed Journalist and Author, tells the story about how her parents taught her to only drink from the “Whites” fountain in public places like the train station, and not to drink from the “Coloreds” Fountain, because “it was dirty.” One day at the depot, she walked past the “Coloreds” Fountain and saw that it was pristine. She then wondered…”What else have they been lying to me about?”

As she put it: “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point — race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.”

Your History teachers weren’t so much lying, as they and their teachers had been lied to. No one puts it better than Kelley L. Ross, PhD, whose site Rome and Romania is my hands-down, absolute favorite for the subject of the Roman Empire and many other historical items. He and I might disagree about some modern political ideas, but I applaud his forthrightness, and agree on our allegiance to the Constitution. On history, I know no better source. Bookmark it! I quote from his preface at length because he nails it:

Hagia Sophia, The Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople as it was in the 12th Century. For Real: Stop this from being converted into a Mosque!

Hagia Sophia, The Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople as it was in the 12th Century. For Real: Stop this from being converted into a Mosque!

What most people would probably regard as an obscure and possibly unpleasant footnote to Mediaeval history, the Byzantine Empire, was in fact still the Roman Empire, known to Western Europeans, “Latins” or “Franks” at the time, as Romania, already the name of the Empire in Late Antiquity. In the Middle Ages, the Greeks used the Classical word for “Greeks,” Hellênes, Ἕλληνες, to mean the ancient pagan Greeks, as the word is used in the New Testament–sometimes the Latin word for Greeks would be borrowed, as Graikoi, Γραικοί, if this was needed for contemporary reference, as for the language. In 1354 Demetrius Cydones even translated the Summa Contra Gentiles of St. Thomas Aquinas into Greek as the Book against the Hellenes. Mediaeval Greek speakers, and the other citizens of the Empire, whom we would now regard as different nationalities, Armenians, Albanians, Vlachs, etc., were themselves always Romans, Ρωμαῖοι, Rhômaîoi, and the Empire was always ἡ Ρωμαίων Ἀρχή hê Rhômaíôn Arkhê, ἡ Ρωμαίων Βασιλεία, hê Rhômaíôn Basileía, “the Empire of the Romans,” or even Ῥωμανία, Rhômania, as in Latin. (See the “Note on ‘Romania‘”.)

It is then natural that Classicists, to whom the Romans were the last people who proudly weren’t Christians, would prefer the hostile modern neologism “Byzantine” for the continuing Empire, rather than pollute the memory of Augustus and Trajan with that of Justinian, Heraclius, or Basil II. Yet even Justinian wore no beard and was still speaking Latin — and what Classicist will dare, and I dare them, to fault the others for speaking Greek? The very people, as it happens, thanks to whom we possess Classical Greek and its literature. Indeed, even Edward Gibbon, who actually called Mediaeval Romans (and he does frequently call them that) “a degenerate people” [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, Modern Library, p.299], nevertheless, when speaking of the replacement of Latin by Greek in the Law, Court, and Army, referred to “the Greek, whose intrinsic merit deserved indeed the preference” [p.295, boldface added]. So we find that Gibbon was a Hellenophile.

Historians sometimes note the humiliation of the Greeks in being conquered by Rome, and sometimes the irony of the Romans admiring and adopting Greek thought, architecture, literature, etc. — Horace said, Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit, “Captive Greece captured the wild victor.” But I have never seen the stark truth put this way: The Greeks inherited the Roman Empire, without, however, ceasing to identify with it. Why does no one say that? They must be thinking that those Christian Greeks are no longer really Greeks, who by definition were pagans. Of course, Basil II and Alexius Comnenus would agree. They are no longer Hellênes; they are Rhômaîoi. But if, to historians, they are neither Greeks nor Romans, what can they be? Oh, let’s make up a word. They are “Byzantines” — and we all know how nasty that is. But the Romans, who were the last Classical people who were not Christians, were also, as it happens, the first who were. Classicists, as with Gibbon’s “triumph of barbarism and religion” [ibid. p.865], seem to choke on this simple truth.

… I have in fact never seen a book or treatment of the Roman Empire that addresses it as an institution with a continuous history from Augustus to Constantine XI. Classicist “Roman” historians lose interest in the 4th century and throw in the towel in the 5th, while “Byzantinists” generally begin with Constantine. This is a distortion due to modern prejudices, written by historians whom the Romans would have dismissed as “Franks.” The Rhômaîoi themselves possessed a strong sense of their identity and the continuity of their history, which is reflected in the popularity of continuous histories and chronicles written by Mediaeval historians in Constantinople. For instance, John Zonaras, writing in the 12th century, produced an Epitome, or abbreviated history, starting with the Creation, that was so popular that 79 partial or complete manuscripts survive today. Zonaras, drawing on sources that are now often lost, such as much of the history of Cassius Dio, divided his treatment in half, with Book II running from 106 BC down to his own day [cf. Warren Treadgold, “John Zonaras,” The Middle Byzantine Historians, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp.388-399].

Read the whole study here, you won’t be disappointed!

So refuse the lies of Edward Gibbon and those classicists who follow his lead. The truth will set you free to think for yourself!

Remembering Rome

There is always so much to say, but this is enough for today. Remember Rome, as did William Butler Yeats:

Sailing to Byzantium (1926)

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the treesSail
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon‐falls, the mackerel‐crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire

Byzantine Mosaic

Byzantine Mosaic

As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing‐masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant

Important Books to Understand Our America Today

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This will be an uncharacteristic Blog Post, since its point is to offer you several amazing resources to understand why our Nation and North America seem to be going crazy right now. I have added some additional resources in this version of the Blog Post.

Please, whether on the Right or the Left, read these books!

The Four Folkways of America

The first is a ground-breaking, seminal volume of American Colonial History, Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer.


Using meticulous folkways scholarship (history from the ground-up, the history of real people, not just of princes, kings and presidents), Fischer demonstrates that the four great migrations from Britain and Ireland during Colonial times have decisively shaped the character of our Nation, even down to the present day.

Briefly, and in a much compacted description, here are those groups:

The Puritans of New England, who believed in Ordered Liberty. While originally quite severe religiously, their legacy is one of an ordered society, with freedom, but also justice for all, and a hallmark of care for the poor and the downtrodden. It is an obligation that those who are more well off must assist those who are less-well off. Education was prized. Greater New England is the northern tier, all across the United States. I was initiated into the ways of New England during my time studying in New Haven and Cambridge. Their ways are inspired by their deep Biblical Faith. The entrepreneurial spirit was strong in New England. Sam and John Adams were Founders from New England. Athletic Competition was encouraged in a balanced way, and both Baseball and Football have their origins in New England, especially at Yale and Harvard.

Yale in New Haven, CT

Yale in New Haven, CT

The Quakers of the Delaware Valley, who believed in Reciprocal Liberty. Before Quakerism turned in on itself and withdrew from active society, it was a major religious and social movement in the 17th century Colonies. The Quakers set out to create a deliberately diverse society where I respected your Liberty and you respected mine. Service of the community, and especially of the poor and weak, were powerful ideals, and those who did not do so were punished. They were also avid entrepreneurs. Education was welcome, if not as highly prized as in New England. Their legacy is one of a fair, equitable society, highly competitive in business, and with social supports for all. Benjamin Franklin was a transplanted son of this culture.

The Delaware Valley

The Delaware Valley

The Cavaliers of Virginia, who believed in Hierarchical Liberty. These Royalist Anglicans were often brave men and women, and some of our most revered Founders, such as Washington and Jefferson came from this stock. Their take-away from the culture was that of the heroic leader, the self-made man. However, Virginia Cavalier society had many very dark aspects. Hierarchical Liberty meant that the higher up you were in society, the more liberty you had. The King was the most Free person, and African and Indian Slaves, at the bottom, had no liberty at all. At each rung of society, men had more liberty than women. You were actively encouraged, even obligated, to dominate those beneath you, socially, economically, verbally, and physically. Beatings of underlings were common, and perfectly legal.

The majority of the population were poor white workers. The higher-ups dominated society. The preferred sport was killing. The higher you were in society, the more noble the animal you could hunt. Even race slaves killed animals, who were beneath them. Children were trained to kill insects and small animals, only to graduate to larger game later.

Education was prized for the upper classes, but those same upper classes were terrified of education for the lower classes, and did everything they could to prevent it.

Jefferson's Monticello

Jefferson’s Monticello

The Borderers who prized Natural Liberty. The Borderers came from the Borders of Scotland and England, and also from Northern Ireland. These areas had been in virtually perpetual warfare for hundreds of years. Their areas were known to be hotbeds of thieves, brigands and roving gangs. Coming to North America, they were shunned by the other three groups, and pushed to the Border highlands, the mountains such as the Ozarks and the Appalachians.

For Borderer culture, you could do anything you were strong enough to do. Natural Liberty meant virtually no restraint on personal actions. Andrew Jackson, one of our most horrendous and barbaric Presidents came from this stock. The famed feuds of the hills marked this culture. Education was disdained as a waste of time. Fighting and feuding were sports. This culture gradually moved west throughout the Southwest to Southern California. It was an intensely clannish society, and anyone not from your immediate family and friends was automatically though of as a foe and treated that way. Anyone different in race or culture was the enemy.

Interlocutors on Facebook and elsewhere who champion unlimited and completely unrestrained gun rights are clearly sons and daughters of the Borderers. “My Rights” clearly trump “Your Rights” in this view.


As other immigrants came to the Colonies and later to the United States most imbibed one or more of these cultures. New York, and especially New York City, originally a Dutch Colony, was in some ways separate from this schema, and became a place where all could interact, as it is today.


Fischer traces these folkways through our history, and into the late 80s when the book was published. It is easy to extrapolate to our own day.


Today’s American Progressive factions are the cultural descendants of the New England Puritans and the Delaware Valley Quakers. The aristocratic wing of American Conservatism (Bush, et al.) are the cultural heirs of the Virginia Cavaliers, while the Trump mob, the Tea Party, and their ilk are the societal scions of the Borderer culture.

tea party funding

Fischer convincingly demonstrates that to date, there has been only one time in American History when the four factions came together, united and cooperated fully: World War II. The respective strength of each faction was needed to defeat the great evil of the Axis powers. If you’d like to terrify yourself to see what it would have been like if we’d lost, read Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castleand/or watch the Amazon Series based on the novel.


One would hope that we could pull together once more to battle the evils of fundamentalism and fanaticism.

In 2008, Fischer continued his folkways work with Champlain’s Dream, about the French and their North American influence.


The Eleven Nations of North America

Journalist Colin Woodard’s 2011 work American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America builds on, extends, and updates the work of Fischer and others. (There is a good literature review in his introduction.)


Woodard convincingly argues for 11 separate nations that exist within Canada, the U.S. and  Mexico, all of which are Federal States.

Here is a map from the excellent blog by JayMan. There are many other maps at this very well-done blog which illustrate both Fischer’s and Woodard’s works:


Woodard freely admits that his book cannot  cover everything, and notes that he is not dealing with Hawai’i, which is part of the nation of Polynesia, and South Florida, which is part of the nation of the Spanish Caribbean. He also does not work with the distinctive nations of the core of Mexico and Central America, which would include Hispano-Aztec, Greater Mayan, Anglo-Creole, etc. One work can only do so much.

Woodard is nuanced and careful in his analysis and traces the 400 years of our history down to 2011. In the politics of the 21st Century US, we have essentially chosen up sides. For the most part, the alliances run something like this:

Yankeedom, New Amsterdam, and the Left Coast face off against the Deep South, Greater Appalachia, Tidewater, and the Far West. El Norte and New France are frequent allies of Yankeedom’s coalition as well. The Midlands go both ways.

I should note that in this book, “nation” means a group of people with a common cultural and–if you will–folkways heritage, while “State” means a governmental entity.

I can vouch for this schema. I myself came from a Border City, Phoenix, on the edge between El Norte and the Far West. My parents are from El Paso, part of El Norte. I was then initiated into the ways of Yankeedom at Yale and in Cambridge MA (Weston, Harvard, Holy Cross), and into the ways of New Netherlands at Fordham. I taught in Phoenix, L.A., both connected to El Norte, and then moved permanently to the Left Coast in San Francisco. It is no wonder that I am firmly part of the Yankeedom alliance.

One of the most important things in both Fischer’s and Woodard’s studies is that our current divisions are not new. The fact is that these North American Nations have ALWAYS been in conflict with one another, and this has shaped the histories of Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

As for the United States and Canada, as we have noted earlier, the alliance that was formed to defeat the Axis in World War II was perhaps the only time that all these nations pulled together for a common effort. Time will tell if we can do it again and take common cause for the good of all.

The Union Won the War, but Lost the Battle

Two books by James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me, and Lies Across America, lay bare another seething wound that our Nation has not yet fully recovered from: Racism.



These books are about many other things as well in American History, but the most salient point for this discussion is that White Supremacy (=supremacy of the descendants of Northern European immigrants) has been, and still is, an enduring evil in America. Loewen has many other works on similar themes. (Loewen is white, Harvard trained Sociologist.)

(Roediger’s Working Toward Whiteness elucidates how certain other European and other ethnic groups have been included in the designation of “White.”)

In brief, Loewen convincingly shows that the “others” in America, Native Peoples and those of African descent, have routinely been put down. I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip here, we just need to be honest about our own history if we are going to change it.

The tragedy of the extinction of Native peoples and cultures is well-known. Charles Mann’s 1491 explains the unprecedented loss to humanity that the extinction of the Native peoples and cultures of the Americas caused.


Concerning Race Slavery, and in particular, African Slavery in the U.S., we know that this issue came to a head in the Civil War. And yes, the Civil War was primarily about Slavery. The Union won the War, and African-Americans gained full citizenship, legally and in the Constitution. During Reconstruction (1865-1877) a great deal of progress was made in equality. However, after Reconstruction things began to fall apart. 1890-1940 was the nadir (low point) in race relations in the U.S.

How did this happen? The primary engine of reversing the gains of Reconstruction was the success of the forces of the Neo-Confederacy. Northern Progressives lost interest in supporting equal rights, and the Neo-Confederate forces, such as the Daughters of the Confederacy and others waged a wildly successful campaign of disinformation which transformed the mental landscape of America.

United Daughters of the Confederacy

United Daughters of the Confederacy

They lied bald-faced about the Civil War and Southern Society. The Bizarro World version that they convinced America of lasts to the present day. Here’s how their lies go:

  1. The South was a beautiful and serene culture where loving Plantation Owners cared for their beloved Black Slaves and kept them happy. The Blacks were only too happy to receive this largesse and enjoyed being Slaves.
  2. The Civil War was not about Slavery at all, it was the War of Northern Aggression based on economics and social norms.
  3. Southern Whites and Blacks united to defend their States’ Rights and their Southern Way of Life. Outgunned, this noble endeavor was The Lost Cause. Monuments across the Country commemorate their nobility and bravery.
  4. During Reconstruction, Northern “Carpetbaggers” came to the South to take advantage of the defeated South, and enriched themselves corruptly.
  5. African-Americans, too newly freed, could not handle equality and failed because of this.
  6. American Society settled into a correct balance, with superior Whites leading, and happy “Good Darkies” playing their expected roles.
  7. After more than 100 years of “Freedom,” the problems in the African-American community demonstrate the truth of the Confederate beliefs.
Uncle Jack, the "Good Darkie"

Uncle Jack, the “Good Darkie”

Each of these points is easily disprovable by black-letter history, and Loewen’s work in these volumes and others provides ample evidence of this. Here’s a summary:

  1. Blacks hated being Slaves, and were badly treated. They were literally treated as property. Southern Plantation Owners were cruel and hateful. Gone With the Wind is a big lie. Most of the population of the South were poor Whites. Only the upper classes prospered.
  2. The Civil war was all about Slavery. The documents of succession prove this conclusively.
  3. The South was actively against States’ Rights. They wanted the Federal Government to suppress the Rights of other States to refuse Slavery, and to not enforce laws on the return of run-away Slaves. They insisted that Slavery and all its laws be imposed on all States and Territories. Only a very, very few Blacks fought willingly for the South. Most revolted as soon as they could. There was nothing patriotic or noble about the Confederacy. The monuments erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy and others lie, and honor traitors and racists.
  4. Northern Republicans came to the South and did the right thing. Reconstruction failed because legal and political equality was emphasized over economic parity.
  5. Freed African-Americans did very well with freedom. They excelled.
  6. After Reconstruction, and especially during the Nadir (1890-1940), all means were used to disenfranchise Blacks, especially in the South, to segregate them and keep them down all over the U.S. Persecutions, lynchings, the KKK, et al.made it very clear that Blacks had better stay down, or they would be killed. Amazingly, some remarkable African-Americans succeeded even under those conditions. The “Good Darkie” is a lie. Blacks were (understandably) terrified of Whites.
  7. Even though African Americas had “legal” freedom, it was virtually worthless in any real sense of being able to succeed equally. It was not until 1940 and the War that things really began to change. Even today, people think that the Battle Flag of Northern Virginia (the “Confederate Flag”) stands for the Noble South. It stands for treason, racism and hatred.


The Confederacy had won the propaganda battle. It is time to end the myth of the noble Confederacy and eliminate the idea that descendants of European Whites are superior once and for all. We need everyone to band together to fight the evils of our days.

Idiot America

Finally, there is a very funny, and also frightening true book that I recommend to everyone:


Journalist Charles P. Pierce traces the history of how “stupidity became a virtue in the Land of the Free,” convincingly. He correctly deduces that American Society is being run on three principles today–at least in the popular discourse:

1) Any theory is valid if it sells (books, or candidates)

2) Anything can be true if proclaimed loudly enough

3) a) Fact is that which enough people believe

b) Truth is determined by how strongly they believe it

I do not care in the slightest whether my friends and interlocutors are “liberal” or “conservative,” whatever those terms mean today. But our discourse, especially our national political discourse must be ruled by reason, and guided by genuine expertise. Without this, we are lost in the nightmare world of the superb comedy Idiocracy.

Along the way, Pierce is at turns mordant and funny. I love that he uses my favorite crank from American History, Ignatius Donnelly, as an example of how important cranks were in our history, and the place they played. Unfortunately, cranckery has been mainstreamed today, and so has lost its social value.

In this election year, this is once again a very important work.

Please read these books and open your mind to the truth of our history, and what a wonderful world we can build if we face things square on and fight for change.

Thanks for Reading!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant.

1st Time Available–Online Tutoring and Consulting!

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10492233_10155810937740103_2119835989172665975_nLanguage For All is delighted to now offer Tutoring and Consulting world-wide via Internet Video Conferencing.

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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:


  • 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)


  • 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:


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