Thursday, December 29, 2016

Without Shoes inevitable Year End List

Year-end lists may seem tedious.They are easily perceived as the privilege of self proclaimed authorities & taste purveyors. Though this may be entirely wrong as humans of every age seem to have a passion for organizing things. In a sense, the end-of-year list-maker is adult version of the toddler who lines up his toy cars into neatly arranged rows for no reason other than that it is satisfying to make order out of chaos.  End-of-year lists illustrate our human tendency to order time by arbitrarily marking December 31st as the end of the year, and in doing so we like to order experience by forming a compendium of events we associate with this time frame. Ultimately, year-end lists are a manifestation of our deep urge to impose order on experience. And it's something of a mirror as well.
  The sorting out movies or albums does more than impose order on material goods; it also imposes order on the social world. By proclaiming which items are the year’s best or worst, we ultimately are categorizing ourselves. What do we value? Who are we? What concepts do we embrace and which ones do we reject? It reflects us both personally and as a society.
 Our world is an ever hastening fragmented place. At every turn, we are inundated with options: Television, movies and music crop up just long enough to be supplanted by new options only moments later. How do you make sense of the year when it’s always receding in the shadow of the next great thing? It's even harder when the most artistic or important bits can easily be subsumed by artless absurdity or populist claptrap. The junk food of human endeavor, while perhaps serving some function; creates very unhealthy conditions if consumed instead of actual nutrition.
  The New Year evokes visceral feelings, both positive and negative about time passing.
Year-end lists are if nothing else, a way to manage the psychology of the experience. Make your own list, it can be anything that merits your attention. Your list fills in the gap, completes the experience, expands horizons or organize pleasures. The listmaker offers a positive sense of control (real or perceived). And viewing the recommendations of others we respect facilitates a quick catch-up, an on-track feeling of moving forward with a sense of “done” and “will do!”

  List-making actually has a calming effect on the mind. The inner swirl of desires, goals, choices and concerns is an overwhelming experience. If nothing else list making evokes a sense of containment of the past and joyful anticipation of whatever comes next.  Also, when we read others lists, the recommendations allow us to feel protected with a bit of assurance that our time or money will not be ill-spent on unsatisfying goods or art. When someone does some thinking for you, you feel cared for somehow.
 Selection can be hard for people who are very open-minded, indecisive or too consumed by other obligations to stay abreast of culture. I would argue this is how we ended up with a demagogue overgrown toddler in the white house, there was no curator of any merit to actually evaluate political realities and signal got drowned out by the noise....but that's an entirely different post.  As human beings, we need art and culture to protect health. Studies indicate that personal self-expression or identification with an artist’s work boosts mood, decreases stress and seeds hopefulness.  Creativity has been defined as a combination of divergent and convergent thinking and list-makers employ this thought process. Your year end list is an offering of sorts and in a sense it can save  time and money and minimize disappointing experience. Also it is sort of a ritual, all cultures have rituals to deal with turning points. While New Year may be a cause for celebration, the somber awareness that we cannot turn back exists. Fear of regrets, letting go, loss or change can be unsettling. Year-end lists allow us to take stock, accept, evaluate, or  alter what we can do in what is forthcoming.
Here then is my list of musical journeys that I found fulfilling this year.
Maybe you've missed one of these.

Best Albums Of  2016 -

1.)  Blackstar, David Bowie
A wonderful parting gift, but much more than that. I listened to this astonishing 25th studio album on the Friday in January it was released, which also happened to be his 69th birthday. I spent that weekend working through the album's somber horns and avant-jazz experimentalism, the mystical, indecipherable allusions on tunes like "'Tis a Pity She's a Whore" and those multipart, Tony Visconti-aided arrangements such as the mind-blowing, challenging title track. Two days later, Bowie suddenly died and we were all were forced to re-examine/re-think the album's most curious, WTF lyrical moments like, "Look up here, I'm in heaven" (on "Lazarus") and "Where the f*** did Monday go?" (on "Girl Loves Me"). Re-hearing eccentric songs like "I Can't Give Everything Away" as existential commentary turned Blackstar into more than the final bit of punctuation on Bowie's multi-decade career.  This is a jazz-backed rock album with a melancholy ruminations on death, on identity boundaries, on fame, on the universe and astrology, on love, religion and on the limits of the popular culture. Blackstar also happens to be a richly musical offering, more sonically generous and full of boundary-exploding ideas than one might ever expect to hear from any terminally ill musician. The most endearing feature of Blackstar to me is that it refuses closure: It becomes something new every time you deeply listen. It's the most powerful parting gift a great artist could have ever given us. Whatever else one may say of Bowie's work, he was a creative genius, one of the most significant artistic forces in our lifetime. And this is an easy choice for best album of the year.

2.) - In Movement,  Jack DeJohnette / Matthew Garrison / Ravi ColtraneThis record is just enjoyable. Even without knowing any of the tunes, or the players, or their history it's solid on it's own merits. It's full of spacious slow numbers that eventually reveal gorgeous melodies. At other moments the energy is turned up, sometimes with raw abstraction, other times with dark funk grooves. Texturally and intellectually there's a little bit of an elusive and mysterious quality to the proceedings, a lot of coloring outside the beat. Ravi Coltrane (saxes) and Matthew Garrison (bass) are the sons of John Coltrane (saxes) and Jimmy Garrison (bass), and drummer Jack DeJohnette has known them since they were kids because he played with John Coltrane and Jimmy Garrison. Some of these tunes salute DeJohnette's heroes like Jimi Hendrix ("Two Jimmys"), Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire ("Serpentine Fire"), and bandmate Rashied Ali ("Rashied"); others were famously performed by John Coltrane ("Alabama," "Blue In Green"). The roots run deep, and you can read whatever interpretive intentions you wish from that. Or you could just enjoy the music.
Fantastic album.

3.) Stranger To Stranger, Paul Simon
Paul Simon may be our greatest living songwriter. His songs are portraits, thoughtful snapshots on the human condition and, more often than not, Skillful observations on Americans and American culture. His consistency as an artist is unparalleled, going back fifty solid years to those early Simon and Garfunkel records. From its opening track, his masterful 2016 album Stranger to Stranger explores our fears as a culture...fears of the future, of the unknown. Every instrument, every sound effect, every vocal is finely detailed and crafted to serve the song. And those songs are more often created not from the usual three chord acoustic guitar repertoire but from the feet of flamenco dancers and electronic beats, found sounds, etc. then sculpted and changed and polished beyond recognition into these memorable musical jewels, each one gem in it's own right. He mentions having been inspired by attending a Harry Partch recital in the liner notes. While I could not detect any of the micro-tonal sonority Partch pursued in this record, I do hear the willingness to use unexpected sounds as musical instruments in the texture. It's a great album. Paul says it's his last...and he certainly owes us nothing. But we'll see. I hope he enjoys a break, but comes to be inspired again.

4.) "let me tell you" - Barbara Hannigan/Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons
There is a synergy between music, words and performers that rarely rises to the extraordinary level as we find here in Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen's 35-minute song cycle, let me tell you, which features soprano Barbara Hannigan with Andris Nelsons conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. The text, by Paul Griffiths, adopts all the words (about 480 of them) Shakespeare allotted to Ophelia in Hamlet, shuffled about to create a fresh, confident character with cracks of fragility. Sung by the fearless Hannigan, Ophelia divides her story into past, present and future, speaking of a time without music, the inadequacy of language and a transformative love. When she sings "you have sun-blasted me," the orchestra shatters into twinkling shards of sound. The final scene finds Ophelia calmly walking out into the falling snow. Hannigan's high C, plucked direct from the frigid air, might be the most beautiful note you'll hear all year. Fantastic album.

5.) Beautiful Lies, Birdy
Beautiful Lies, is the third album from Birdy, and it's evolved. She began as an acoustic covers singer at the young age of 14 but she's truly a confident and powerful artist now...19 when the album was recorded. On the lush opener "Growing Pains," she incorporates East Asian-influenced melody into a swelling, powerful chorus that echoes Del Rey with a little Kate Bush sprinkled on top. That refreshing quirkiness is also present on the wistful "Silhouette," which includes a surprising flourish that wouldn't be out of place on a Joanna Newsom or Regina Spektor track. Beautiful Lies' there are powerful uplifting moments in "Keeping Your Head Up" and the urgent "Wild Horses". There are nods to her origins on the piano ballads "Lost It All," the soothing "Unbroken," and the closing title track, a sparse beauty that ends Beautiful Lies with a kiss goodbye. "Turn out the light, there are no more surprises to come," she sings, as the album drifts off into silence. This is a work full of life and texture. Arrangements are great and her singing is top notch. The entire album exudes an inspiring attitude. Beautiful Lies is Birdy's declaration that she is more than able to make her mark in the big leagues and join the ranks of the alternative pop pantheon.
There is something wonderful going on here.

6.) Still Come The Summer Rains,  Ben New
Ambitious wide and ranging collection of songs brilliantly executed and expertly arranged.
This is a rare amalgam of thoughtful lyricism, inspired composition, and virtuoso performance. Deeply committed to art, expression, and quality, Ben's music encompasses diverse influences and he dissects them to their irreducible minimum;  then reassembles them into new metaphysical entities.
This is an an LP in the classic sense, a weighty serious thing made by someone who transcends jingles and singles yet brings the finer elements of that world to the arty party. This is the real deal, music that can act as a key to doorways. Part wild-eyed Romanticism, part pragmatic observation. Compassionate at times and aloof at others, this is a reading of the historical moment into disconcertingly ambivalent songs, most of which grow on you... and like Bowie's last album, these pieces always seem to have something fresh to offer with each new listening. Still Come the Summer Rains is the right album at the right time. From the hope of "Calling Out" to the stark brooding of "House Of Fear" this album never disappoints! One of the year's very finest. You need this.

7.) A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead

While it's obvious this album doesn't have the brooding guitar noise of Radiohead's earlier records, or the vast conceptual scope and studio alchemy of the band's more recent work. What it does have is a tremendous amount of heartache,  It's quite a reflection on where the band finds itself after reaching middle age with 30 years of making music behind it. The songs are more restrained, more introspective and certainly among the most beautiful and deeply affecting of anything the band has ever recorded. A Moon Shaped Pool is a bit of an acquired taste I'd say but I'd also say it will likely, in time, be considered one of Radiohead's masterpieces.

8.) Good Times! The Monkees
Yes, it's miraculous enough that there even is an album released in 2016 of all new material from the Monkees. But the truly amazing thing is, it's actually one of the very best albums of the year.
The project was initiated by Rhino executives John Hughes and Mark Pinkus, who were excited about a 50th anniversary album for the band. Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne was hired to produce the album, with tracks by the three surviving Monkees, initially unreleased songs by the songwriters they used during their initial run including Neil Diamond, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Harry Nilsson and Tommy Boyce with Bobby Hart and contemporary rock songwriters Schlesinger, Rivers Cuomo, Andy Partridge, Ben Gibbard, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller.
The title track was written by Harry Nilsson and a surviving demo from the late 1960s was used incorporating Nilsson's vocals posthumously in a "duet" with Micky Dolenz. Davy Jones is heard on the album on one track despite being dead, he performs the Neil Diamond-penned song "Love to Love" which was actually recorded in 1967 for the Monkees' third album in a Don Kirshner-supervised session while the group was trying to gain musical independence from Kirshner.
Once Kirshner was removed, the song was discarded in favor of recording an album of songs written sung and played by the group itself. The resultant album was Headquarters. For its inclusion on Good Times!, Dolenz and Tork contributed new backing vocals.
The first single from the album was "She Makes Me Laugh". Penned by Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, it was released on April 28 along with a lyric video. The second new track to be released was "You Bring the Summer" written by Andy Partridge, which was debuted by DJ and Monkee-fan Iain Lee on his radio show on May 2, followed by it being made available by Rhino.(Personally my favorite sounds like what it is, a cross between XTC and the Monkees.)
Musicians on the album include Fountains of Wayne members Adam Schlesinger (guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, percussion), Jody Porter (guitar) and Brian Young (drums, percussion), as well as Mike Viola (guitar, bass, background vocals), and band members Micky Dolenz (vocals, drums), Michael Nesmith (vocals, guitar) and Peter Tork (vocals, keyboards, banjo).
The album brings elements that we love about music from the 1960s but it also brings the element of fresh and current sounds to the table, it's inspired and the songwriting is simply top notch.
Truly a contemporary pop music masterpiece! Kudos to all involved.

8). Under The Sun, Not For Pussies
 From the opening strains of "Ice Queen" a tale of transformation, acceptance, and redemption to the closing track "The Code", an epitaph of sorts for the loss of empathy and the rise of inhumanity on the cusp of the new year, this album is full of thoughtful lyricism and inspired musicianship. Not For Pussies is a duo from Perth that has a remarkable catalog of quality music that never fails to engage.
There is a unique style that pervades this, as well as their past albums. It's rock, it's heir to a great progressive tradition, but it's also ethereal and otherworldly. What I like best about their music is that it's not only intelligent, and well arranged but sublime and very personal. Something about the vocals and harmonies chosen brings a bit of the great Scottish folk traditions to the table as well. And the vocals themselves are lush and superbly executed by Jan Kidd. The instrumental tracks are layered and arranged delicately and artfully. This is a work that brings together ideas about our humanity, our myths and our modernity in collectives and as individuals. A must have album.

9.) Invisible Din, ESP
Tony Lowe and Mark Brzezicki may have released the BEST new music in progressive rock in years. From the opening song  “Overture” to the closing “Almost Seen” every piece is simply superb.
 The work is sometimes specular and reflective while also sometimes just purely jubilant. the incredibly melodic aspect shines through at every turn and like all music that I personally enjoy, it bears new insights with repeated listeningObviously the work of consummate professionals who have spent many long hours perfecting their craft. This is frankly the type of music that is sorely needed and generally not found much in today's world. Make every effort to hear this. Great work!
The album is written and produced by Tony Lowe who recently co-produced the ‘Starless Starlight‘ album by David Cross and Robert Fripp. Notable contributors are violist David Cross (King Crimson), the impeccable saxophone of David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator), the bass artistry of Phil Spalding (Steve Hackett, Mike Oldfield, Simon Townsend), Acoustic guitars from Steve Gee (Landmarq), keyboards from John Young (Lifesigns), Pat Orchard, Alison Fleming, the pure and outstanding vocal work of John Beagley and electric harp from Yumi Hari. One of the best albums of 2016 and maybe of the decade.

Emily's D+ Evolution, Esperanza Spalding
"Good Lava," is the first track and it's also a mission statement. A beautifully dissonant guitar riff,   and the lurching time signature make it sound a bit like a dare to stick around. These are exuberant, confrontational songs, amplified in a sort of rock/funk/jazz informed hybrid style.
After winning a Grammy she took two years off feeling commercial pressures beginning to stunt her growth. On this outing she lets her alter ego speak to her more extroverted, creative side. Spalding sings through a muse named Emily (her middle name). Emily wants you to buck the system, to fight for peace and tranquility. She wants you to reconnect with your spiritual center, to avoid facades.  Recorded in front of a small studio audience in Los Angeles, you can almost see Spalding act out these songs as the band—comprised of guitarist and Christian Scott collaborator Matthew Stevens, producer/drummer Karriem Riggins, and others—create thick textures that provide plenty of space for her. People will likely call this art-rock or performance art, but D+Evolution advocates an almost indescribable ethos. The harmonic language remains rooted in jazz, but there are folk elements, prog, rock and funk elements... but like "Emily" herself, the music doesn’t seem to be "from" anywhere: It seems most concerned with establishing a space, and creating room for possibility. Even the more conventional songs like "One," "Noble Nobles" and "Unconditional Love" are expansive and rich.
There are traces of Bitches Brew, Captain Beefheart, and King Crimson in here. But not in an overt way. The best aesthetics have no zip code. And if there is an underlying theme here, it's one of  personal freedom.  Spalding shrugs at societal constraints, urging you to "live your life" on the chorus of "Funk the Fear" and shed preconceived notions of who you're supposed to be. On "One," she embraces emotion with bravo but uncertainty. The lyrics are a bit elusive at first, sprinting about behind fast-moving songs, delivered in impressionistic conversational bursts that have some common bonds with the delivery of Joni Mitchell. Listening to this wonderful album one senses a fearless generosity behind the proceedings, the message is loud and clear. Spalding has defined an already singular career, dictating a vision entirely on her own terms. And I for one am certainly thankful she has! This is one great album! You need this.

Honorable Mention - -

Car Seat Headrest - Teens Of DenialAn interesting punk outing that is highly ambitious work if nothing else. Not only is this album compelling in scope, it is frankly executed brilliantly. Teens Of Denial is something of a masterpiece. Epic in its vision, each track mumbles and roars with life, building monumental guitar noise and intricate, multi-layered wordplay before receding again to more ruminative shadows. It sounds at times like the ramblings of a madman others it's pure genius as a song suddenly (and repeatedly) careens in multiple directions depending on whatever thought or observation is being processed in the labyrinth of melodic seas.  Teens Of Denial is the kind of album future 20-somethings will obsess about if there is a god...or not.

Monday, November 28, 2016

To seek the quality of mercy in the post truth moonlight...

Here in the ludicrous post truth era, American Nazis and Fascists have finally gotten a place at the table, thanks to President-elect Trump.
Trump's senior advisor is a Nazi who for years has operated a white-supremacist/Nazi website.
The Klan is marching again.  Swastikas are appearing all over the country, on signs and banners and defacing public and private buildings. But, we beat these bastards once, and we'll beat them again.
American Fascism is not new. There were plenty of Nazi sympathizers in this country going back to the 1930s and they have changed tactics and masks, but have never gone away.  They plotted to overthrow president Roosevelt and install a fascist state. They murdered people and generally do what fascists do.

The fascist ideology conditions children to fear nonconformity and to blindly obey which ensures their continued obedience as adults. The challenging task of engaging in how one makes moral choices, or how to accept personal responsibility, or how to deal with the chaotic reality of human life is handed over to God-like authority figures. This process makes possible a perpetuation of childhood. It allows adults to bask in the warm glow and magic of  imagined divine protections. It hides the array of human weaknesses which include our deepest fears, our dread of irrelevance and death, our  uncertainty... our vulnerability.  Belief systems such as this make it difficult to build mature, loving relationships.  Fascism is in a sense, not a political ideology but a religion.
The believer is told it is all about them, about their needs, their desires, and above all, their protection and advancement. Relationships, even within families, splinter and fracture. Those who adopt the belief system, who find in the dictates of a fascist movement or a religion; a binary world of black and white build an exclusive and intolerant
camaraderie that shuns and condemns the “unbeliever.”

People are not valued by their intrinsic qualities. They are not judged by their actions, capacities, nor compassion. They are valued for the rigidity of their obedience. Obedience defines the good and the bad, the patriot and the traitor, the Christian and the infidel. This obedience is a blunt and effective weapon against the possibility of love that could overpower the dictates of hierarchy. In many ways it is love itself, that the leaders fear most. Love unleashes passions and bonds that defy the carefully constructed edifices that keep followers trapped and enclosed. And while both fascists and self appointed religious leaders may speak often about love, as they do about family, it is the cohesive bonds created by family and love they actually wage war against. It is only through the destruction of these bonds that humanity can be divided into these black and white, good and bad factions. It is only through the destruction of truth, logic, and compassion that fascism thrives.

America's religious right was ripe for picking by fascists. They have a lot in common actually. Both utilize teachings that friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members who do not conform to their ideology are gradually dehumanized. They are painted with the despised characteristics. This attack is waged in highly abstract terms, to negate the reality of concrete, specific and unique human characteristics, to deny the possibility of goodness in those who do not conform. Some human beings, their message goes, are no longer human beings. They are "types". The exclusive community fosters rigidity, conformity and intolerance. In this binary world, segments of the human race are disqualified from moral and ethical consideration. How else could the barbaric treatment of protesters at Standing Rock occur? How else could the news of such events be tolerated for one second? It's because fundamentalists of all stripes including fascists live in a binary universe.  Their capacity for seeing others as anything more than inverted reflections of themselves has been destroyed. If they seek to destroy nonbelievers to create a Christian America, then nonbelievers must be seeking to destroy them. If they seek to destroy democracy to prevent some abstract 'liberalism" then in their minds liberals are plotting against them to destroy it first. If they conceive of science as an enemy, then science must be evil.
If you are taught that education is your enemy, then education is evil . This type of belief system negates the very possibility of an ethical life.

The "believer" fails to grasp that goodness must be sought outside the self and that the best defense against evil is to seek it within. When a group of people come to believe that they are immune from evil, that there is no resemblance between themselves and those they define as their enemy, they inevitably grow to embody the very evil they believe they fight. It is only by understanding one's own capacity for evil, one's own darkness, that we hold the capacity for evil at bay. When evil is purely external, then moral purification always entails the eradication of others.
Human kindness is deeply subversive to totalitarian creeds, which seek to thwart all compassion toward those deemed unworthy of moral consideration, those branded as internal or external enemies.
To fight fascism, one thing you, yourself can do...every day is be kind.
To find compassion.
To seek the quality of mercy.

The fascist is a fundamentalist, and fundamentalists do not commit evil for evil’s sake.
They commit evil to "make a better world". To attain this they believe, some must suffer and be silenced, and eventually all those who oppose them must be destroyed.
The worst suffering in human history has been carried out by those who preach or believe this claptrap.  In a serious twist of irony, it is indeed an idealism that leads radical fundamentalists and fascist followers to strip human beings of their dignity and their sanctity and turn them into abstractions. Yet it is only by holding on to the sanctity of each individual, each human life, only by placing our faith in tiny, unheroic acts of compassion and kindness, that we survive.
Both as communities and as individual human beings.
These small acts of kindness are deeply feared and subversive to these idealists.

  On Thanksgiving I tried to find something to be thankful for.
I came up short.
 It's costing American taxpayers $1 million per day to provide security for Trump and his family in New York City.
 Ben Carson has accepted or is considering the office of Secretary of HUD. Carson has absolutely no experience in public housing or urban planning and has shown no interest whatsoever in it.
From what we've seen during the 2016 when he was running for the GOP nomination, he's pretty much an ignorant, bumbling fool.
 Betsy Devos will head up the Education department.  There couldn't be a worse choice.  She and her 
billionaire husband have devoted their lives to the destruction of public education through privatization and charter schools.  She is an ultra-right wing fanatic Christian who hates that public schools are the foundation of  democracy. She thinks education should be only for those in the upper classes who can pay for private schools, and seeks to destroy public schools by diverting their funding elsewhere...this is the tactic that will also be employed to destroy medicare and social security. Probably everything that citizens value about their citizenship.
 Trump's business entanglements make it impossible to function as president.  He has already compromised his ability to deal properly with foreign interests, owing hundreds of millions of dollars to Russian oligarchs, banks in China, and other countries.  The other day while speaking with President Erdogan of Turkey, Trump promoted his business partner in that country, a clear abrogation of his presidential responsibilities. This is a nightmare.
Trump's advisor on "Space" wants to defund NASA's climate work.
 Although Trump knows nothing about foreign affairs or even how our country works, he is blowing off the daily intelligence briefings. He's attended two such briefings in the past two weeks. But then he has been awfully busy twitting about his dislike of the cast of "Hamilton," and Saturday Night Live.
In a move to reward a supporter with a governorship, Trump appointed Nikki Haley, the governor of South Carolina, as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN.  Haley is an ultra-right wing "birther" politico with no experience or expertise in foreign policy, the United Nations, or anything else of importance.
 Last, but far from least, is Trump's appointment of Jeff Sessions, the Alabama crackpot, as Attorney General.  Sessions was rejected as a federal judge previously because of his blatant racism. 
He is a bigot extraordinaire and an out-and-out racist wanker.
Enjoy your holiday folks. (Try not to get indigestion!)
Remember, acts of compassion and kindness are blows against this empire.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It CAN happen here...American Fascisim

American Nazi Rally, Madison Square Gardens. 1939
 American Fascism Isn't New
Elites in both of America's major political parties acted on behalf of corporations and carried out a savage assault on the working class. Their duplicity has succeeded for decades. These elitists spoke the language of values—civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class—but all the while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters.
There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites, who are rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal - neoconservative policies and political correctness imposed on them by elites from both political parties: These people; largely lower class whites, are quite willing to embrace an American fascism.

These particular Americans want a sort of freedom—but it's a freedom to hate. They desire the right to use vulgar words like “niggers,” “kikes,” “spics,” “chinks,” “ragheads”, “faggots" etc.
They want the freedom to idealize violence and the gun culture. They want the freedom to have enemies, to physically assault Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, homosexuals and anyone who dares criticize their cryptofascism. They want the freedom to celebrate historical movements that the college-educated elites and general decency condemn, including the Ku Klux Klan and the Confederacy. They want the freedom to ridicule and dismiss intellectuals, ideas, science and culture. They want the freedom to silence those who have been telling them how to behave decently. And they want the freedom to revel in faux hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These qualities are the core sentiments of fascism. These sentiments are engendered by the collapse of the democratic state.
While Democrats frankly blindly played a very dangerous game by anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate because she epitomizes the real or perceived double-dealing of the elites, those who spoke of "feel-your-pain" while selling out the poor and the working class to corporate power.
The Republicans, conversely became energized by America’s reality-star version of Il Duce, Donald Trump, have been pulling in voters, new voters.
Richard Rorty in his last book, “Achieving Our Country,” which was written in 1998, predicted where our postindustrial nation was headed:
"Many writers on socioeconomic policy have warned that the old industrialized democracies are heading into a Weimar-like period, one in which populist movements are likely to overturn constitutional governments. Edward Luttwak, for example, has suggested that fascism may be the American future. The point of his book The Endangered American Dream is that members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words “nigger” and “kike” will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated and/or dis-informed Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet."
Fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the “losers” who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment. The sociologist Émile Durkheim warned that the disenfranchisement of a class of people from the structures of society produced a state of “anomie”—a “condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals.” Those trapped in this “anomie,” he wrote, are easy prey to propaganda and emotionally driven mass movements. Hannah Arendt, echoing Durkheim, noted that “the chief characteristic of the mass man is not brutality and backwardness, but his isolation and lack of normal social relationships.”
In fascism the politically disempowered and disengaged, ignored and reviled by the establishment, discover a voice and a sense of empowerment.

The fascist movements in Europe in the 1930s recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people which other parties had abandoned as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who had never before appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods of political propaganda as well as indifference to the arguments of political opponents. Fascist movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been ‘spoiled’ by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the control of reason. This would have been a shortcoming if they had sincerely entered into competition with opposing political movements; but it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties. 
Fascism is aided and advanced by the apathy of those who are tired of being conned and lied to by a bankrupt establishment, whose only reason to vote for a politician or support a political party is to elect the least worst. Fascism expresses itself in familiar and comforting national and religious symbols, which is why it comes in various varieties and forms. Italian fascism, which looked back to the glory of the Roman Empire, for example, never shared the Nazis’ love of Teutonic and Nordic myths. American fascism will reach back to it's own traditional patriotic symbols, narratives and beliefs. Hitler and Mussolini, after all, had not tried to seem exotic to their fellow citizens. No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of allegiance. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting internal enemies.
Fascism is about an inspired and seemingly strong leader who promises moral renewal, glory and revenge. It is about the replacement of rational debate with sensual experience. This is why the lies, half-truths and fabrications by Trump have no impact on his followers. Fascists transform politics, as philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin pointed out, into aesthetics. And the ultimate aesthetic for the fascist, Benjamin said, is war. The amorphous ideology characteristic of all fascist movements is the leader’s mystical union with some imagined historic destiny of his people.
The fascist leader promises to bring his people into a higher realm of politics that they will experience sensually the warmth of belonging to a race now fully aware of its "identity", historic destiny, and the thrill of domination.

America is now in exactly the same place politically the Wiemar Republic was when the political hacks & oligarchs of that time installed Hitler as Chancellor....they thought he was their dupe, that they could use him, that he would be their lap dog. They were wrong.

As for the disenfranchised lower classes who came out in droves to support Mr. Trump, it's doubtful he will do anything to improve their lot. America voted to gamble on someone who promises change... we all understand that yearning. But he's surrounded himself with the worst of the usual hacks from rightwing extremism.  Despite yearning for change, America also voted nearly all the same universally despised representatives & senators back into power so it doesn't follow that it really wants change, or is it just plain stupid? Change is inevitable, but not all change is the last living memory of a world on the brink thanks to fascism fades away, as the generation that remembers WWII and the Great Depression disappears... history is poised to repeat itself.
For those Americans who so desired this freedom to hate, it's a great day...not so much for anyone else in the world.
I wish us all luck. And I'm afraid we'll need it. 

There is only one way left to blunt the yearning for fascism that coalesced around Trump. It is to build, as fast as possible, movements that declare war on corporate power, engage in sustained acts of civil disobedience and seek to reintegrate the disenfranchised—the “losers”—back into the economy.  If this movement does not come out of the Democratic Party, then a different party should be empowered for the task...(though as things stand, there is no path for a 3rd party to win a national election...if the apparatus of the Democratic Party can not be re-engaged to be the vehicle, then the difficult task of funding and creating a COMPETITIVE infrastructure, as well as removing the Electoral College must begin immediately. (The Electoral College gave us the last two Republican presidencies despite those candidates losing the popular vote...Clinton will have won the popular vote by roughly a million votes this election for instance) Not only does the electoral college give us presidents who didn't win the majority of votes, but it prevents any 3rd party from being viable due to it's winner take all construction. I've no doubt that if Clinton won the electoral college, Trump probably would have just disappeared, but the fascist sentiments he exploited would have only expanded. And another Trump, perhaps even more vile, would be vomited up from the bowels of the decayed political system. We are fighting for our political life. Tremendous damage has been done by corporate power and the political class elites to our democracy. The longer the privileged elites, who oversaw this disemboweling of the country on behalf of corporations—who believe, as does CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, that however bad Trump would be for America he would at least be good for corporate profit—remain in charge, the worse it gets.
Is the hour too late?
It just may be.
Henry Wallace

Consider the words of Vice President Henry Wallace in 1944.
The Danger of American Fascism
By Henry A. Wallace
The New York Times
From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 259.

Sunday 09 April 1944

On returning from my trip to the West in February, I received a request from The New York Times to write a piece answering the following questions:
What is a fascist?
How many fascists have we?
How dangerous are they?
A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military, clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.
The perfect type of fascist throughout recent centuries has been the Prussian Junker, who developed such hatred for other races and such allegiance to a military clique as to make him willing at all times to engage in any degree of deceit and violence necessary to place his culture and race astride the world. In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. Every Jew-baiter, every Catholic hater, is a fascist at heart. The hoodlums who have been desecrating churches, cathedrals and synagogues in some of our larger cities are ripe material for fascist leadership.
The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.
If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.

American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.
The European brand of fascism will probably present its most serious postwar threat to us via Latin America. The effect of the war has been to raise the cost of living in most Latin American countries much faster than the wages of labor. The fascists in most Latin American countries tell the people that the reason their wages will not buy as much in the way of goods is because of Yankee imperialism. The fascists in Latin America learn to speak and act like natives. Our chemical and other manufacturing concerns are all too often ready to let the Germans have Latin American markets, provided the American companies can work out an arrangement which will enable them to charge high prices to the consumer inside the United States. Following this war, technology will have reached such a point that it will be possible for Germans, using South America as a base, to cause us much more difficulty in World War III than they did in World War II. The military and landowning cliques in many South American countries will find it attractive financially to work with German fascist concerns as well as expedient from the standpoint of temporary power politics.
Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.
Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after “the present unpleasantness” ceases:
The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination against other religious, racial or economic groups. Likewise, many people whose patriotism is their proudest boast play Hitler’s game by retailing distrust of our Allies and by giving currency to snide suspicions without foundation in fact.
The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy. They use isolationism as a slogan to conceal their own selfish imperialism. They cultivate hate and distrust of both Britain and Russia. They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.
Several leaders of industry in this country who have gained a new vision of the meaning of opportunity through co-operation with government have warned the public openly that there are some selfish groups in industry who are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage. We all know the part that the cartels played in bringing Hitler to power, and the rule the giant German trusts have played in Nazi conquests. Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.
It has been claimed at times that our modern age of technology facilitates dictatorship. What we must understand is that the industries, processes, and inventions created by modern science can be used either to subjugate or liberate. The choice is up to us. The myth of fascist efficiency has deluded many people. It was Mussolini’s vaunted claim that he “made the trains run on time.” In the end, however, he brought to the Italian people impoverishment and defeat. It was Hitler’s claim that he eliminated all unemployment in Germany. Neither is there unemployment in a prison camp.
Democracy to crush fascism internally must demonstrate its capacity to “make the trains run on time.” It must develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels. As long as scientific research and inventive ingenuity outran our ability to devise social mechanisms to raise the living standards of the people, we may expect the liberal potential of the United States to increase. If this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.
The worldwide, agelong struggle between fascism and democracy will not stop when the fighting ends in Germany and Japan. Democracy can win the peace only if it does two things:
Speeds up the rate of political and economic inventions so that both production and, especially, distribution can match in their power and practical effect on the daily life of the common man the immense and growing volume of scientific research, mechanical invention and management technique. Vivifies with the greatest intensity the spiritual processes which are both the foundation and the very essence of democracy.
The moral and spiritual aspects of both personal and international relationships have a practical bearing which so-called practical men deny. This dullness of vision regarding the importance of the general welfare to the individual is the measure of the failure of our schools and churches to teach the spiritual significance of genuine democracy. Until democracy in effective enthusiastic action fills the vacuum created by the power of modern inventions, we may expect the fascists to increase in power after the war both in the United States and in the world.
Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.
It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction. But if we put our trust in the common sense of common men and “with malice toward none and charity for all” go forward on the great adventure of making political, economic and social democracy a practical reality, we shall not fail."
Apparently we have failed.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Lady Or The Tiger?

The Lady or the Tiger?" Most of us know the short story first published in 1882 by Frank Stockton that tells of an unusual punishment imposed by a semi-barbaric king in which the accused must choose between two doors. Behind one door is a maiden and behind the other is a tiger.
hile there is no shortage of memes or impassioned bloggers trying to convince people to vote for outlier parties in the presidential election with appeals to emotion primarily or perhaps fair play or even ideology purity. Is there any path for any of these outlier candidates to win?

It is not a coincidence (see the power structure article) that in the many years since this country’s establishment of democracy, no more than two parties have ruled national elections and the senate. Although 43% of Americans today are classified as political independents and despite the present preference of an emergent third party among voters, the Libertarians and Green Party members struggle to find support nationally and could not get enough signatures or forgot to file the paperwork, or couldn't raise the 5,000 dollar filing fee to even be on the ballot in 12 of the states.
That alone prevents them from even having a path to winning a national election.
But that's not the only thing that stops them from possibly winning.
This, as I say is no coincidence,
it's in the mechanics laid out in our constitution.
The rules strongly encourage a two party system.
I do not like this any more than staunch believers in libertarian-ism
or any of the 150 some political parties in the US do.
It isn't "fair", it isn't "good"...but it is so.

I'm betting most people would find policy positions much closer to what they personally would choose somewhere in that array outside of the 2 major parties.
If one votes for policy only with no regard for viability, (the possibility of actually winning)
there are compelling reasons to do just that,
yet most people want to ACTUALLY effect policy
and to do that you have to win elections.
Currently friends, an outlier party can not win.

The closest an outlier party has ever come to the presidency was Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 Progressive party campaign where he won 27.5% of the vote!
That only occurred as conservatives wrangled control of Republican party chasing the Roosevelt progressives away. Which led eventually to the Democratic party becoming their home.(as faulted as it may be, the Democratic party has been the sole source of all progressive legislation since 1930. It's been the source of all legislation that dealt with civil rights, women's rights, infrastructure investment, funding education, the arts, social services, national parks, etc. All these matters were supported by the Democrats and opposed by the Republicans).
The reason outlier parties simply can not win is primarily the structure of the nation’s voting system and the simple concept of Duverger’s law.

The electoral college, created to formally elect presidents, requires an absolute majority of at least 270 votes, and this requirement in itself makes third parties nonviable.
Winner-take-all systems which 48 of the 50 states use for the electoral college make it impossible for a third party to emerge with any chance of gaining considerable electoral votes.
It's that simple.
Wouldn't we all LOVE to do away with the electoral college?
I imagine all but the staunchest conservative who has no faith in democracy , but dreamily longs for the good old days of feudal states would agree.

Getting rid of the electoral college requires rewriting the US constitution.
That my friends is a very big hurtle to any change.
It's not impossible, but it requires a 2/3s YEA vote in both houses (votes from people who benefited from the existing system), AND ratification from 2/3s of the states.
I would love to see plurality myself, but I will not vote for someone who simply can not win and hence not effect any policy at all.
In local and state elections, it may well be another story.
And if enough elections are won at that level by an outlier party
a network can begin to be built to supplant one of the larger parties.
(the possibility of converting the existing system at the federal level to a plurality are slim as we have supplanting is the more likely scenario).

The populace realizes this statistical improbability of outside party success, and most third party supporters coalesce around the largest party with whom they identify the closer election day comes.
They form an allegiance with this party although they identify more with the smaller party, in order to defeat the largest party of their ideological opponents. Those who go against this process will be blamed for lost elections by splitting votes and guaranteeing success of the major opposing party. This process happens in countries where plurality is the norm more so than the US actually.
(Look at the un-natural alliance of the Liberals & the Tories in England for instance).
Candidates and supporters of outlier parties deny this, but the data just does not support their claims.
Social Scientists studying the matter as it applies in the U.S. agree the net effect of voting for outlier parties only helps whichever of the major parties is least like the outlier one a person votes for.
Could we become more pluralistic like the UK or Canada?
Not without amendment to the constitution.

Differences in voting processes explain why the United Kingdom normally has three or more parties that have a fair chance at elections while the US does not.
With our winner-take-all system , proportionality is tossed aside no matter how close the plurality of the vote actually is.
In the UK, though it may not be direct proportionality, more than three parties get a certain amount of seats in the House of Commons. In the US, anything other than a Democrat or a Republican is rarely seen, (only two independents in the Senate. None at all in the House of Representatives.) Unfortunately, both systems end up being troubled by some form of gerrymandering, but far more so in the US.

There are further restrictions other than absolute majority in the electoral college that put further severe dampers on any third party efforts. The amount of private money and funding in forms of Super PACs and other organizations leaves other parties little to work with in terms of competition.
Parties who do not have significant funding compared to the standard billion dollar benchmark of the large parties are surpassed immensely in efforts of marketing, a requirement to spread the message and even existence of the party. Private funding also means the GOP and Democratic Party receive an easy pass when it comes to the eligibility requirements of raising at least $5,000 in 20 states while third parties struggle to meet it. (Those are state by state rules...again the constitution gives states this power).

You have to remember that the political parties are nothing more than private clubs. They have no official state function, nor any requirements to behave in a democratic more so than a yacht club or a golf club. Furthermore, the Democrats and Republicans can even be seen working together to disenfranchise smaller parties. One example of this is the Committee of Presidential Debates that determines who is allowed on the highly-watched general election debate stage. Rules and regulations are often imposed to shut out smaller parties instead of allowing the nominees from the third and fourth largest parties to debate, effectively creating a monopoly on these debates.
Again this problem arises because they are no more than private clubs that are not controlled by government any more so than the process of  selecting Grand Poobahs at the Flintstone's Waterbuffalo Lodge.

These are unfortunate truths but they are truths none the less.
America’s two-party system is a result of its electoral structure.
Its electoral structure is not a result of its two-party system.

Possible solutions
Instant Runoff.
The current political process leaves many Americans longing for more choices of candidates and hoping for election reform. One voting process that may prove to be a more inclusive solution is an instant run-off.
Instant run-off elections constitute candidate ranking by the voter.
The voter would list over three candidates starting with the most preferred.
If a voter’s first pick candidate received the least votes, their vote would then be given to their second pick.
With this process, though it is not flawless, no blame could be placed on a voter of a third party for splitting votes and the winner take all effect at least could be overcome.

Public Financing
Removing the effect of private capital on elections would transform the process entirely.
It would create a level playing field where no candidate could garner advantage.
It would also eliminate the institutionalized graft where politicians owe their financiers favors.

Want to reform the process?
That's how you do it.
Want to vote for someone other than a major party candidate and have your vote actually HELP your cause?
That's how you do it,
Until then, it's casting the first your own face.

As to T
he Lady or the Tiger?
Sutton never solved the riddle...he left it up to you.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sex, Politics, Religion, & Baseball

The Real Reason Trump Has Evangelical Support:
They're Just Not That 'Religious'
As long as I can remember, conservative commentator George Will has never impressed me with his political pieces, though oddly perhaps, I have often read his columns because he does know and love baseball and writes very well about the game and it's history as well as his experience as a long suffering Chicago Cubs fan. (At least there's something he can be pleased about this year).
    I would often cringe as I witnessed Mr. Will struggle to find ways to make arguments for George Bush's policies, particularly the choice to invade Iraq, since the rationale changed almost daily for doing so and none of it made any sense whatsoever to me at any point.
George Will is an avowed conservative, I am not. So it's not surprising that in political matters we seldom agree. But giving credit where I feel it is due, this last year George Will has been one of the earliest and most vocal critics of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
In an article for National Review, George Will writes:
"the tape revealed nothing about this arrested-development adolescent that today’s righteously recoiling Republicans either did not already know or had no excuse for not knowing. Before the tape reminded the pathologically forgetful of Trump’s feral appetites and deranged sense of entitlement, the staid Economist magazine, holding the subject of Trump at arm’s-length like a soiled sock, reminded readers of this: “When Mr. Trump divorced the first of his three wives, Ivana, he let the New York tabloids know that one reason for the separation was that her breast implants felt all wrong.
His sexual loutishness is a sufficient reason for defeating him, but it is far down a long list of sufficient reasons. But if it — rather than, say, his enthusiasm for torture feven “if it doesn’t work,” or his ignorance of the nuclear triad — is required to prompt some Republicans to have second thoughts about him, so be it."
Trump's faux masculinity, or.rather cartoon version of masculinity;
is frankly an ironic gift to feminism. 
One of the plethora of shams in the skeletal essences
is the counterfeit piety found among Donald Trump’s supporters.
As Yahoo News reported-
“Leaders of religious conservative groups largely stood behind Donald Trump on Saturday, the day after vulgar sexual comments he made about women surfaced online, but some expressed concern that the U.S. Republican presidential nominee’s remarks could depress evangelical turnout on Election Day."
Trump brags about groping women and trying to seduce a married woman. Vice presidential poodle Mike Pence said he could not defend Trump’s words. But he forgives him. (Fine, actually that is admirable...but I wonder if he also forgives his political foes...judging from the legislation he pushed for in his state allowing businesses to refuse service to gays or Muslims...anyone they don't like really if they claim it's against their religious belief; I'd say not.)
Gary Bauer, chairman of the Campaign for Working Families, said “I continue to support the Trump-Pence ticket.”What the above-quoted story doesn’t mention is that Gary Bauer is currently president of an organization that named itself American Values.
Considering all of the vile things that Donald Trump has said, one wonders of course,
just what values that Bauer considers to be American values.
And is the working FAMILY he claims to represent the Manson Family?

Jerry Falwell Jr. proudly continues to endorse him (though thankfully students at the Liberty University campus, which he is president of, generally do not.)
James Dobson of Family Talk radio condemned Trump’s comments but called Clinton’s support for abortion rights “criminal.”
Overall, politically active Christian conservative leaders across the country said they were worried that Trump’s comments could depress turnout, but have no problem apparently with the pernicious comments Trump has made throughout his campaign regarding women, "the Blacks", people of other faiths, Mexicans, admiration of dictatorships, flippant calls for violence ("I'd like to punch that guy's face in" "Anyone who beats that guy up, I'll pay your legal fees"), etc.
I have to think they must own completely different "bibles" than any I have ever seen in my lifetime.

Why would so-called “Evangelicals” be supporting Trump?
Rebecca Cusey explains in her commentary published by The Hill:
“Who knew obscure Biblical knowledge would be so handy in this election?
With Evangelicals remaining,
at least as far as we can tell in the rapidly changing environment,
a solid block for Trump,
those stories of old echo into today.

Evangelicals are a funny bunch, prone to tease points out of – to all others – irrelevant Biblical passages and apply them to current events.

To this point, an idea has been circulating in Evangelical circles
that paints Donald Trump as a modern day Cyrus
— the ancient king of Persia who sent Jews home to Israel from captivity
as told in the book of Ezra (among other passages).
By accounts in and out of the Bible, Cyrus was a generous and just ruler,
instituting (relatively) fair laws and religious freedom in his vast empire.

Cyrus was a pagan and yet God used him to restore the people of Israel, so the pro-Trump argument goes. Though Trump is not a Christian in the way Evangelicals would ever really accept, it continues, God is raising him up to fulfill God’s purposes.”

In short, Trump can act like a pagan,
but that doesn’t matter as long as he isn’t Hillary Clinton."

Others who stand by Trump are Ralph Reed,
a member of the campaign’s evangelical advisory board.
He's the former partner of the imprisoned lobbyist-racketeer Jack Abramoff,
and the founder of the Faith n' Freedom Coalition.

  Perennial feces huckster and televangelist Pat Robertson also stands fast with Trump.
The above-mentioned Trump supporters
preach that piety requires one to support Trump over Clinton. 
They are, as they always do; promoting counterfeit piety.
First off, these so-called “evangelical leaders”
are certainly not promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Instead, they are promoting a hybrid of religious legalism
somewhat like Sharia Law and their political philosophy
which favors corporatism and wealth concentration.
Oh yeah,  Dobson rails against abortion,
but the Bible never mentions abortion.
The Bible is silent about that subject.
The Bible is silent about all the things that Trump’s religious supporters rail about.

The faux piety within the GOP is troublesome.
  I have known plenty of devout practicing Christians who are Democrats
and who would never support Donald Trump.
  Are they somehow less pious than the Republican Christians?

And why do obvious hucksters like Pat Robertson or Ralph Reed
get to define what Christians should believe about the Bible?
And which parts they shouldn't?
The one very clear message I think we all can clearly see
in the New Testament,
Is Love One Another
As much as I try to see any sort of way to correlate that edict
to any policy of the GOP
or anything Trump has said
I can not find even an inkling of similarity

That's ok because...
the Christian faith is politically neutral.
We all should be abhorred by any attempt to mix Christianity with politics.
We all should reject false piety.