Sunday, October 30, 2016

James Fallows on the latest "October surprise" -- ** UPDATED ** with an update by Fareed Zakaria

James Fallows. The Atlantic, online edition, Oct. 30, 2016. "Trump Time Capsule #150: James Comey and the Destruction of Norms."

Comes now James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic who has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He once served as a speechwriter for President Carter, and he has written frequently -- and eloquently -- over the years of the erosion of standards in American political life by celebrity culture and the demands of a celebrity-obsessed 27/ news cycle, among other topics ranging from small-engine aircraft (he's a licensed pilot) to industrialization in China. His book Breaking The News: How the Media Undermine American Democracy (1997) especially shaped my thinking.

This year Fallows has been writing a series of time capsules on the following premise: "People will look back on this era in our history to see what was known about Donald Trump while Americans were deciding whether to choose him as president. Here’s a running chronicle from James Fallows on the evidence available to voters as they make their choice, and of how Trump has broken the norms that applied to previous major-party candidates." Today's is about FBI Director James Comey's "October surprise":

The rules in politics haven’t changed that much in recent years. What has changed is adherence to norms, in an increasingly destructive way.

I made that case, using examples different from the ones I’m about to present here, nearly two years ago. The shift in norms is also a central part of Thomas Mann’s and Norman Ornstein’s prescient It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, and Mike Lofgren’s The Party Is Over, plus of course Jonathan Rauch’s “How America Went Insane,” our very widely read cover story (subscribe!) this summer. [Links, including to a subscription page, in the original.]

[Examples, mostly concerned with the U.S. Senate's refusal to schedule hearings on President Obama's U.S. Supreme Court nominee but also including Justice Ginsberg's offhand remark on Donald Trump, omitted.

* * *

The official rules didn’t change in these circumstances. The norms—that is, the expectation of what you “should” do, what you “really have to do,” what is the “right thing” to do, even if the letter of the law doesn’t spell it out—have changed. For its survival, a democracy depends on norms. That’s why the shift matters.

And that is the context in which I think about James Comey’s plunge into electoral politics, with his announcement about whatever “new” Clinton-related email information the FBI may or may not have found.

No one knows what this will mean for the election. Millions of people have already voted; in the nine days until official election day there’s not enough time to fully vet and consider what Comey may have found. Will the announcement re-energize Hillary Clinton’s supporters, making them worry that the race may be tightening again? Depress them? Motivate team Trump? Bolster the “they’re all terrible” case for third-party candidates?

We don’t know. But anyone experienced in politics, as Comey obviously is, would have known for dead certain that his intrusion would change the process in a way that cannot be undone. This is apparently what other officials in the FBI and Justice Department were telling Comey before he took this step. Two former deputy attorney generals—Jamie Gorelick, who served under Bill Clinton, and Larry Thompson, who served under George W. Bush—made that point in a new Washington Post essay that lambastes Comey for his self-indulgent decision (emphasis added) ...

[Extended quotation omitted]

* * *

Last week I mentioned the ongoing cultural/“norms-enforcing” challenges that had plagued the Philippines, which I’d written about back at the end of the Marcos era in a piece called “A Damaged Culture.” The rules by which the Philippine Republic is governed are fine. A big problem involved norms—the things that powerful people did, just because they could get away with it.

The rules of American governance are still more or less OK, despite the increasing mismatch between the 18th-century structural decisions built into the Constitution and the realities of 21st-century life. It’s time to worry about the norms.

Fareed Zakaria. "America's poisonous politicized path" CNN, Oct. 30, 2016

(CNN)There are so few details provided by FBI Director James Comey that it is impossible to know what to make of his decision to inform Congress about new emails relating to Hillary Clinton's server. The timing is unfortunate, since Justice Department guidelines expressly advise its officers to be careful not to do anything through action or announcement that could interfere with elections or the democratic process.

It also raises a larger issue. The United States has gone too far down the road of criminalizing public policy. When your opponents do something wrong, even profoundly wrong, in politics, it is often best to treat it for what it is -- bad judgment, bad policy, bad ethics -- and make the case to the electorate to hold those people accountable. It should not be standard practice to instantly begin searching for ways to treat that behavior as criminal.

This has been a bipartisan problem. When Democrats controlled the legislature under the Reagan administration, they turned the Iran-Contra affair into a legal matter, which resulted in the appointment of an independent counsel, years of inquiries, and bitter partisan divisions. Then came the Clinton years, when this zeal exploded. The investigations of Bill Clinton consumed public attention, cost tens of millions of dollars, and resulted in an impeachment that was totally unrelated to the alleged original offense, Whitewater, on which no charges were ever filed. I realize that in some of these cases, laws were broken or circumvented and people should be held accountable for that. But when you appoint special prosecutors with unlimited mandates and budgets, who inevitably define success as finding a crime, you are changing the basic codes of Anglo Saxon law.

* * *

The last two presidencies have seen something of a respite from these witch hunts, though there were some Democrats who wanted to try George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld as war criminals. In any event, it seems we are ramping up again for a round of criminalization of partisan differences. House Republicans are promising years of hearings and inquiries should Hillary Clinton be elected president. This would be a terrible outcome for a country; it would mean gridlock, venom and a political system consumed with depositions and trials rather than serious public policy.

The FBI and Justice Department in particular should stand as independent institutions and not be swayed by demands made by partisans of either side. James Comey seems like a fair-minded person, but his decision to provide color commentary on his decision not to indict Clinton, to testify to Congress about it, to send Congress raw FBI data, and now fire off this vague letter are all a break with longstanding practice and established procedures. Not since J. Edgar Hoover has an FBI director positioned himself as a player in the political realm. It does not help Republicans or Democrats to have the FBI at the center of a bitterly fought election.

The power to use the state to put someone in jail is an awesome authority; it should not be used in any way that might appear to be partisan. This is why I have always been suspicious of elected attorneys generals, who have the ability to use the police powers of the state to further their political careers.

Again, I know that sometimes there are real high crimes and misdemeanors. But that has become an excuse to turn every political divide into a search for a crime. And it has had ruinous effects in American politics. It poisons the public arena and makes politics a life and death affair, where people don't just want to defeat their opponents but to jail them. It reminds one of third world banana republics, not an advanced democracy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Peace Lutheran, contemporary service, Saturday, Oct. 23, Pentecost XXIV (Reformation Day)

Matt Maher - Holy, Holy, Holy (God With Us)

Here is the music for this weekend's service:

Call to Worship/Gathering: "Faithful" - Adam and Jamie will lead, we may add some voices on the chorus -- let me listen to this one some more

Worship Songs:

  • "Holy is the Lord"
  • "Holy Holy Holy (God with Us)" - be sure to listen to the rhythm on this one - we're tending to drift back to the traditional hymn style
creed: "We Believe" (Newsboys)

sung "Lord's Prayer"

during communion distribution: "The Table"

Closing Song: "Forever"

Look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday. This is Reformation Weekend.

Forever - Michael W Smith - with Lyrics

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pope Francis: Who is better, Catholics or Lutherans?

Pope jokes in ecumenical meeting: Who is better - Catholics or Lutherans? *ROME REPORTS in English


The pope met in the Vatican with this group of Catholics and German Lutherans who have traveled to Rome together.

The pope had the scarf for Catholic pilgrims, and it was symbolically tied to the one worn by Lutherans, so he wore both at the same time. Later, the pope held this funny dialogue with them, where they tried to trip him up with "trick questions."

"One important element of this meeting is the anticipation of the spirit with which Pope Francis will travel to Sweden in late October, for the start of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation." [Boldface type in original.]

Source: "Pope jokes in ecumenical meeting: Who is better - Catholics or Lutherans?" Rome Reports, Oct 13, 2016.


* ROME REPORTS,, is an independent international TV News Agency based in Rome covering the activity of the Pope, the life of the Vatican and current social, cultural and religious debates. Reporting on the Catholic Church requires proximity to the source, in-depth knowledge of the Institution, and a high standard of creativity and technical excellence. As few broadcasters have a permanent correspondent in Rome, ROME REPORTS is geared to inform the public and meet the needs of television broadcasting companies around the world through daily news packages, weekly newsprograms and documentaries.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Star of the County Down" -- ** UPDATED ** w/ some mountain dulcimer clips and a painless intro to the Dorian mode

Star of the County Down -- Lizzy Hoyt

Lizzy Hoyt performing at the Canadian Folk Music Award Nominee Showcase on December 3rd, 2011 at Hugh's Room in Toronto, ON. Lizzy's album HOME was nominated for Traditional Singer of the Year. To hear samples of her nominated CD, visit:

* * *

Star of The County Down - Van Morrison and The Chieftans


Since it's a slow air, it can be played in different keys to accommodate a singer's voice. (Yea!) The Session website has two setting in A minor and one in E minor, and most of the players who commented seem to play it in Am. xxx has it in Bmin, although I think it's actually in B dorian. It plays well on a mountain dulcimer in either mode,

Mountain dulcimer

  • Dorian Mode-Kingsfold ("Star of the County Down")-DAG tuning. Played in the Dorian mode (using DAG tuning) on an all cherry 5-string dulcimer. A traditional English tune thought by some to date back to the medieval period, it is probably most famous today as the tune for the Irish folk song "Star of the County Down" (lyrics by Cathal McGarvey ca. 1890s-1920s). It is also the tune for several sacred songs, including "O Sing a Song of Bethlehem" and "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say."

  • Kingsfold in DAA ("Star of the County Down") Dr. Bill's Mountain Music - Appalachian Dulcimer Demo's -- Played on an all cherry 5-string dulcimer. I have played this song drone-style in minor modal tunings, but I wanted to show that, by use of chords, it can also be played in standard DAA tuning. Ionian, Dorian, and Aeolian are modes of play based on scales, NOT methods of tuning.

  • Star of the County Down (My Love Nell) Katie LaRaye Waldren -- Katie arranged this beloved Celtic tune on the mountain/lap dulcimer using both finger picking and strumming styles. Tune to DAD, capo on the first fret.

Dorian mode made easy

Well, that's "easy" like if you're really, really into music theory. Also known as Diversus And Lazarus, Diverus And Lazarus, Dives And Lazarus, Gilderoy, Kingsfold, The Star Of County Down, The Star Of The County Down March, When First I Left Old Ireland. ... As Dives and Lazarus.

Among the comments: Many songs to that tune This is the plain tune of the song and has little to do with a reel. The melody is used for quite a few songs. Amongst them: Crooked Jack, Dives an Lazarus … The list ist longer but I would have to do a longer search.

# Posted by Ranks 11 years ago. ... Anyone ever play this as an air? Being a bassoonist as well, I’ve played Vaughn Williams’s "Five Variants of Dives and Lazarus" and the melody sounds great slower, and I think it could be really heart-wrenching given the right inflection. ...

Re: The Star Of The County Down The melody is in English County Songs, 1893, collected by John Maitland, later harmonised by Ralph Vaughan Williams as the hymn tune Kingsfold and used with words by Horatius Bonar, "I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto me and rest’ ".

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bob Dylan awarded Nobel Prize for Literature

Mr. Tambourine Man (Live at the Newport Folk Festival. 1964)

Shared to my Facebook page: "Well-written tribute by the editor of The New Yorker. But the links are why I'm posting here, from Newport 1964 to last week. Also audio of a 2001 press conference in Rome."

I hadn't suspected David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, has the exquisite timing of a borscht-belt comedian. But his tribute to Bob Dylan, posted to the magazine's website when it was announced today that Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, was pitch-perfect. He even tied in an oblique reference to Donald Trump, deftly implying a contrast between the worst in American popular culture and the Swedish Academy's recognition of the best.

The setup:

God is a colossal joker, isn’t She?

We went to bed last night having learned that the Man Who Will Not Go Away was, according to the Times, no mere purveyor of “locker-room talk”; no, he has been, in fact, true to his own boasts, a man of vile action. The Times report was the latest detail, the latest brushstroke, in the ever-darkening portrait of an American grotesque.

And then, as swiftly as a standup comic, the punchline:

Then came the news, early this morning, that Bob Dylan, one of the best among us, a glory of the country and of the language, had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ring them bells! What an astonishing and unambiguously wonderful thing! There are novelists who still should win (yes, Mr. Roth, that list begins with you), and there are many others who should have won (Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov, Auden, Levi, Achebe, Borges, Baldwin . . . where to stop?), but, for all the foibles of the prize and its selection committee, can we just bask for a little while in this one? The wheel turns and sometimes it stops right on the nose.

Like they say, timing is everything.

Source: David Remnick. "Let's Celebrate the Bob Dylan Nobel Win." New Yorker. Oct,. 13, 2016.

Bonus track (linked to Remnick's post)

A distillation of Dylan at mid-career, with a long, rambling intro that builds into call-and-response with his backup musicians, calling to mind the black gospel tradition, and ends at 5:50 with "Slow Train Coming."

bob dylan speaks to crowd toronto 1980

Contemporary service music, Faith Lutheran, Saturday, Oct. 15 (Pentecost XXII)

Chris Tomlin - Made to Worship LIVE w/subtitles and lyrics

Here is the worship music for this weekend.

Call to Worship: "My Savior, My God" - Adam and Jamie

Worship Songs:

  • "Made to Worship" (with congregation) -
  • "We Fall Down"
  • "Open the Eyes of My Heart" -

creed: "We Believe"

sung Lord's Prayer

Closing Song: "How Great is Our God" -

Monday, October 03, 2016

diddley bow

Scott Ainslie plays cigar box guitar at the Ships of the Sea Museum

Blues Musician and Historian Scott Ainslie playing his "Didley-Bow" and a Museum model 3-string cigar box guitar at the Ships of the Sea Museum in Savannah Georgia on April 7, 2011 in advance of a building workshop on August 20, 2011. For more information, email or visit For more info on Scott, visit Michael Jordan

Shane Speal -- "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" Concert footage along with lessons for cigar box guitars, deep blues, performance secrets and taking the music industry back to the people.

  • How to Play Diddley Bow pt. 1 "The Magic Note"

  • How to Play Diddley Bow pt 2: "I'm a Man riff"

  • How to Play Diddley Bow pt. 3: Play Shane Speal's song "16 Miles to Saltsburg"

  • How to Play Diddley Bow pt 4: "Using your ear"


... how to play it with feeling, and how to play it with attitude"

Beat the Crap Out of Your Cigar Box Guitar