Class Warfare Blog

December 12, 2017

One of Our Attorneys is a Jew

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:22 am
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I so hope that Alabama elects Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate. No better proof of the GOP’s moral bankruptcy will ever be needed. It might also stir the rest of us to action who are just waking up to the reality of a war being waged upon us by the elites (the 1%, the 0.1% whatever).

As concrete proof of this, nothing more needs to be promoted than how the Moore campaign has dealt with claims of its racism and anti-Semitism. At a rally on Monday night, Moore’s wife, Kayla, rejected accusations of anti-Semitism, offering as proof: “One of our attorneys is a Jew.”

She could have said, “some of our best friends are Black,” too.

I believe I have commented before that during the Renaissance, Jewish doctors were forbidden to treat Christian patients … well, except for the Pope, that is. During this period, every Pope had a Jewish doctor on staff. When it comes to their health or managing their money, only the best will do for the elites, be the service provider Jewish, Moorish (yes, pun intended), Asian, whatever.

So, whenever an elite claims to have associates who are members of minority groups, you can be assured that there was no white guy who was better, because if there were, he is who they would of hired.

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December 10, 2017

Why Is Trump After Mueller?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:16 am
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The Guardian is currently running a piece under the title of A Battle for Public Opinion: Trump Goes to War over Mueller and Russia by David Smith in Washington and Ben Jacobs in Pensacola, Florida. The subtitle is “In recent days, the right-wing media and Trump loyalists have been scrambling to discredit the special counsel and smear his Russia inquiry as a liberal plot.”

But Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed there is “no there there” regarding the investigation. So, if Mr. Mueller finds as Mr. Trump claims, that there was no collusion between himself and/or his minions with Russia to rig the election, he also wants that finding to be under a cloud? WTF?

There is no way to parse this definitively. Mr. Trump is acting as if there were “some there there” and he wants the investigation stopped before finding it. Or one could argue, that Mr. Trump is so facile in making up “facts,” that he projects onto Mr. Mueller the same behavior and fears what he might make up. Or, there actually is something there and Mr. Trump doesn’t want it found. Or Mr. Trump’s primary purpose is to keep the plates spinning in a novelty act while the real Republicans dismantle the New Deal while voters like you and me are chasing the laser point dot of Mr. Trump’s mind. Or …

One has to ask what Mr. Mueller’s motives would be to count coup on a sitting president using drummed up charges. Mr. Mueller is no liberal per se (U.S. Attorney + Deputy Attorney General (under G.W. Bush) + Director of the FBI (under G.W. Bush) + confirmed unanimously by the Senate + liberal = a political unicorn?). He has a solid reputation as a prosecutor which would be besmirched were he to fake such a prosecution. His epitaphs would all start with such a scandal. What possible benefit would Mr. Mueller earn by making such a “hit?”

Also, Mr. Trump hasn’t shown much, if any, subtlety or savviness in his business dealings or in politics. His approach is typically a blunt force approach of always looking for a bigger hammer to bludgeon his opponents with.

I guess we will just have to stay tuned. I am inclined to await something happening, because too much destruction is being wreaked upon our public lands, tax codes, and protective regulations by one hand of the GOP, while the other, Mr. Trump, makes gesticulations that are mere distractions.

 

 

That’s Not a Liberal, This is a Liberal!

One of the most memorable scenes in the movie Crocodile Dundee is when ole Crock and his lady friend are accosted by a mugger with a knife. The lady friend is alarmed and can’t understand why Crocodile Dundee is not, “He has a knife,” she says, to which Mr. Dundee says “That’s not a knife, this is a knife,” as he pulls his own, more formidable blade from its sheath.

So the kerfuffle was based upon a misunderstanding of what a real knife was, you see … uh, not. The scene was a variation of the older adage, namely, don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.

In our current political climate, the Republicans are still slurring “liberal” opponents. This is an old campaign, begun when the GOP still had liberal and conservative wings, but times have changed. The GOP has purged all of its liberals and almost all of its moderates, leaving only conservatives and archconservatives. (Actually, if you look back at the election of Barrack Obama and the emergence of the “Tea Party,” it is easy to see that the Tea Party was the hard core conservative center of the GOP. That core rarely got anything but pandered to (where else could they go) but the exposure of this bedrock was probably driven by the retreat of many more moderate Repubs not wanting to participate in a system that would elect a Black, aka liberal, president.) The Democrats then made a move to “occupy the center” that the GOP vacated, thinking they would have both the liberals and centrists and be in an overwhelmingly commanding position. After all, it isn’t as if the liberals will vote Republican, they have nowhere else to go. So, the Dems abandoned labor and racial minorities as a focus of their efforts and became centrists.

Basically there are no liberals left in federal office. If there are, they are extremely few.

But the GOP keeps banging the drum that has served them so well, so now the centrist Democrats are “liberals.” They’ve effectively demonized the term for half the political body, why not keep using it to demonize all opponents? So, if you are running outside of the GOP, you are automatically a “liberal.”

But then Bernie Sanders showed that there is a place in American political discourse for true liberals, even if Bernie is a tepid one. I would very much like to see some real liberals come out of the closet and run for office to see how they would fare.

A real liberal would reclaim the term “redistribution.” Republicans have vilified “redistribution” as some kind of crazy, against nature, Robin Hood fantasy, while at the same time practicing high level income and wealth redistribution from the poor and middle class to the rich. Republicans have vilified diplomacy in favor of war making. This a true liberal would not abide. Republicans want to privatize public education and have been joined by centrist Democrats. This would not be acceptable to true liberals who rightly see public education as a pillar of our democracy, a democracy that will crumble if the foundation is degraded. Republicans favor corporations over people because they say we can trust corporations as they would do nothing to besmirch their reputations as those reputations are the very foundation of their success. Real liberals read the news and know that this is not true or even close to being true. To the contrary Republicans worship shareholder value above reputation and, really, any other corporate goals you might mention. Republicans aren’t in favor of regulations, while true liberals realize that good sets of working regulations are necessary for the functioning of society’s institutions. (The question shouldn’t oscillate between “too much regulation” and “too little regulation” but should be focused on finding “just right.” Doesn’t Goldilocks teach any more?) Does no one else perceive the GOP’s demand for “no rules” as being antithetical to true conservatism? Where are the true conservatives? Apparently not in the GOP. The GOP has been captured by faux conservatives in the pay of wealthy interests. That the Democratic party seems helpless to hinder them shows the rot at its core. Maybe us liberals can help with that.

December 9, 2017

Why All the Angst Over the Trump-Russia Investigation?

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 12:46 pm
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We have had only a few months of this investigation, one into whether a foreign power, Russia, significant affected the outcome of our most recent presidential election, and whether there was any collusion on the part of Americans in that effort.

Just this one investigation. Why all of the fuss?

Okay, there was a House Intelligence Committee hearing, but that hardly qualifies as an investigation. Compare this with the recent seven (count ‘em, seven!) full investigations into the “Benghazi Incident” which took place over a three year period. (I do not use the term “Benghazi Scandal” as no scandal was proven. I leave that to “non fake-news” channels like Fox (sic) News.) These, by the way do not count, the Department of State’s investigation (in-house, so always suspect) and the Pentagon’s investigation.

Benghazi Investigation 1:
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Benghazi Investigation 2:
The Senate Committee On Homeland Security And Governmental Affairs
Benghazi Investigation 3:
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Benghazi Investigation 4:
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Benghazi Investigation 5:
The House Committee on the Judiciary
Benghazi Investigation 6:
The House Committee on Armed Services
Benghazi Investigation 7:
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Could the difference be that those were generated by Republicans trying to discredit a Democratic administration? And those were, to some extent, bipartisan (although the GOP often denied information and decision sharing to Democrats). This Russia investigation is entirely sponsored by the GOP. So, is this based upon not having Democrats to blame for “fake news” or “false facts?”

One of the principles of defense attorneys is to make sure their clients do not “act guilty.” President Trump claims there is nothing there to discover, so should he not just relax and appear to be not worried? As someone who is known to make up facts of his choosing, is he projecting this ability on to others and is therefore worried when he shouldn’t be? Or . . .

The good thing about soap operas is you can ignore them for weeks and then drop in and feel as if you haven’t missed a thing. This has that feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Are Still at It

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:11 am
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Pope Francis recently came out with a complaint, actually more like a whine, that the Lord’s Prayer is mistranslated into English. Since the prayer’s source is Jesus, this is a bit problematic. The line the Pope complains about is the one “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” The prayer is directly to “the Father,” and the only difference in the original Greek (the NT was written in Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic) is that all of the verbs up to the point of “lead” are in imperative mode, which is a bit tetchy when addressed to a god, with the “lead” being in a mode making it a request not a demand. But still, the prayer asks Yahweh to not lead us into temptation. Pope Francis wants no part of that, the tempter is Satan, not Yahweh … in his book.

It is all Greek to me!

Unfortunately, this ignores the myriad other times in the Bible that Yahweh is a source of temptation or evil. The entire Book of Job is one example that cannot be ignored, one in which Yahweh collaborates in evil with Satan over a bet. (How can Yahweh not know the outcome of any bet? How can Satan deny that Yahweh doesn’t already know the outcome? How stupid is the entire book?)

The problems with monotheism are being worked out … still. The major problem with having but one god is that to be able to claim that god is the source of all good, it must also be the source of all bad and evil. A god which is not a source of good is basically useless. In order to avoid this problem, Satan was invented. While Satan has god-like powers, he is not a god. (He is God’s enemy! How the heck can a god who can think a being out of existence have an enemy?) At some point a being with god-like powers gets a little confused with actual gods, you know the ones, the ones that … uh, hmmm.

There are all kinds of substantive issues brought up by reading the Bible, which is why the Catholic Church made damn sure you could not read it by forbidding the translation of the Bible into a language you could read. People were burned at the stake for the “sin” of translating the Bible into English. Now, the Pope himself is whinging about the quality of the translation. (How translating the Bible into English can make the trip from being a heinous sin warranting the death penalty (and a hellish demise) to being a subject of open discussion with the Pope is beyond me.)

Many people are unaware that monotheism in the Bible began with Abraham (Abraham stories, anyway) and wasn’t official policy of Israel until the sixth century BCE, which means that polytheism was common among the Hebrews up to that point (even beyond). Remember the Hebrews worshiping Baal while Moses was up on the mountain, hobnobbing with Yahweh? Ever wonder why they were so perverse? Could it have been Satan? (Shut up, Church Lady!) No, it was normal. Much of the Pentateuch is devoted to Yahweh beating the stubborn Jews into being monotheistic. Whether this concept was being pushed by the priestly class to give them more power (priests of Yahweh, anyway), it is hard to tell. But it does created the problem of one god being responsible for all supernatural and natural phenomena.

They are still working on it. (Hey, it has only been 2500 years or do! Things take time to work out.)

I can’t but help think about scientists in the same position. When a bit of theory comes up which is self-contradictory, that fact is stated loud and clear along with “there is something wrong at the core of this argument,” and “we are open to suggestions as to how to get out of this quandary.” Somehow I don’t see the Pope asking for similar help in this manner.

December 8, 2017

Evangelicals Embrace Antichrist

Evangelical support for President Trump is unwavering, which is mildly shocking because all Mr. Trump has done in his tenure in office is to establish his credentials as the Antichrist.

The recent “tax reform” plan clearly favors the rich (estate tax reduction, private airplane support, reduced business taxes, etc.) and will result in increased taxes on the poor and middle class in short order, and in this it seems that the GOP is running counter to what Jesus taught.

According to scripture, Jesus said “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven” which seems important enough of an utterance in that it appears in Mark, Luke, and Matthew. It’s meaning is clear enough. Since wealth in the first century was seen as proof of God’s approval, it was commonly taught by the rabbis that rich people were blessed by God and were, therefore, the most likely candidates for heaven. (The religious elites always support the secular elites.) Jesus destroyed that notion, and along with it, the idea that just anyone can earn eternal life. His disciples had the appropriate response to this startling statement. They were utterly amazed and asked, “Who then can be saved?” in the next verse. If the wealthy among them, which included the super-spiritual Pharisees and scribes, were unworthy of heaven, what hope was there for a poor man? What hope, indeed?

Even the Ten Commandments are no barrier to the naked greed of this administration. One of those states: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The GOP’s policies are transferring wealth from a great many poor and middle class “neighbors” into the coffers of a few rich people. This is covetousness on a massive scale. At the same time, more money is being spent on our war making capacity while programs to assist the poor are whittled away.

Jesus also said: “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” But the GOP under Trump only heard the first four words and so have refused to refund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that up to now had bipartisan support and was considered a very successful program to combat childhood illness.

The political behaviors of Mr. Trump’s crew and the stated beliefs of the evangelicals couldn’t be more at odds with one another.

I can only believe that this is a perverse manifestation of those evangelicals who want to hurry on to the End Times, those who just cannot wait for the Rapture. Since I think that desire is highly imaginative, I do not expect that reality, but the GOP is taking a wrecking ball to the Great American Experiment in Self-government, turning over the reins of government to those with great wealth, in order that they accrue even greater wealth. Apparently the path to Heaven is lined with gold. The End Times are for the U.S. as a paragon of democracy and any hope of being a Great Nation again.

 

 

 

December 5, 2017

The Big Lie, Latest Version (Film at 11!)

The current GOP tax bills (there are two that have to be merged into one and voted on again) address the issue of corporations holding money “offshore” to avoid U.S. corporate taxation of the money.

I understand why the government would want those earnings to “come ashore” and be taxed, but why would the corporations?

During the Bush administration, a deal was offered on the repatriation of such funds, and there was a flood, er, well, actually a trickle of funds that wound their way “home.” So, what’s the deal?

It is simple, really. The money is not “off shore.” There is no Scrooge McDuckesque money bin in the Bahamas filled with American cash. The money is mostly in New York, invested in stocks and bonds, even Treasury bonds (tax free or at least minimally taxed profits on earnings).

These corporations are making record profits and have been making record profits for years and are sitting on small mountains of cash. By the last count, there is something of the order of $2.5 trillion in cash in corporate coffers that could be spent at the drop of a hat, should those corporations desire to expand capacity, add workers, or whatever. They are not doing this. They did not do that during the Bush experiment in repatriation of offshore funds. Why would they, they are making huge amounts of money now, why pay more tax than they need to? Why hire more workers when there is no demand for their products? And, they do not need cash, they have plenty, thank you. This is why they arranged to have those funds “earned” overseas (by various accounting tricks as well as by shifting corporate activities overseas) in the first place.

So, this offshore funds repatriation effort in the GOP tax bills will not have any effect, just as the last effort had almost no effect.

The only reason they are doing it I can think of is they never met a tax cut they didn’t like. If I were even more cynical, I would suggest they might be trying to create the appearance of acquiring tax revenues that the government is reasonable owed by these corporations, but I do not think they are that smart.

The whole system needs to be dynamited. Corporations should be taxed on the amount of business they do inside the U.S., just like sales taxes are “point of sale.” Who cares where the corporate offices are? Apparently nobody because some of these corporate offices exists in a hypothetical mail slot in an small office building in the Bahamas. (I say hypothetical as there is not enough room in the building for each corporation claiming to have its headquarters there to have even a small mail box.) So, if people want to move their production capacities overseas to take advantage of lower wages, they shouldn’t get to claim their income was made in those other countries when the sales take place here. They should be able to deduct their business expenses that occur in the U.S. and pay taxes on the money made in the U.S. … period. Their business expenses in that foreign country can be deducted off of their taxes in that country on the money made in that foreign country. Easy peasey.

December 4, 2017

Read It and Weep (GOP Tax Legislation Reality)

Now I come to the crux of the matter. Corporate profits are currently at an all-time high, in absolute terms. Most market watchers expect to see even higher corporate profits next year, even without the proposed tax cut. Of course the economy has grown, too, but as a fraction of GDP, corporate profits after taxes (red) have increased from 4.5% of GDP in 2001 to more than 9% of GDP in 2017. Meanwhile salaries and wages (blue) have declined as a fraction of GDP, from about 47 % of GDP in 1994 to 43% of GDP in 2017. The relationship is not perfectly symmetric over long periods, but since 2001 most of the dollars added to corporate profits have almost literally come out of the pockets of employees. The notion that future increases in corporate profits will simultaneously add to employee paychecks is contrary to both experience and logic.” Robert Ayers

If one were to look at the data, one could conclude that we need a corporate tax increase and a middle class tax decrease to bring the economy back to some sort of balance.

So, just why are we doing the exact reverse?

December 3, 2017

Viewpoints and Mindsets

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:19 am
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I love NPR. On the way home from work on Saturday I got to hear Karen Armstrong being interviewed. The topic of the show was compassion and the prolific Ms. Armstrong had written a book on the topic (Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life).

If you do not know her, Ms. Armstrong started out wanting to be a nun, but ended up a drop out. She didn’t become an atheist but she eschewed religion for a time. She then ended up devoting her life to studying and writing about religious belief. (I recommend her books; I can’t think of one I read that I didn’t find fascinating.)

One of the most interesting things she said during the interview was that she was in Jerusalem working on a video on Christianity when she decided to read up more on Judaism and Islam and realized that compassion was at the core of all three religions. I almost drove off of the road.

Clearly Ms. Armstrong still has a soft spot for religion.

At another point, she claimed religion had gotten highjacked and used to support wars and terrorism, etc.

Apparently she also believes religions had benign intents from their beginnings.

Once one adopts a different mindset and sees religions as social control mechanisms in the service of secular and religious elites, one comes to different conclusions. Clearly the intent of religions is to control the behavior of the masses. In western religions, the elites never behaved according to the strictures of the religion, those were for the rubes. I believe I have already commented that, during the Renaissance Jewish physicians were forbidden to treat Christians, except that every Pope had a personal Jewish physician to provide him with the highest quality medical care. The first order of business for medieval and later Popes was to make his relatives and himself wealthy and then create a legacy through public works or warfare. No humility was involved. The rules for the masses just do not apply to the elites. This was true then and is true now (consider the criminal sexual predation of today’s elites, both secular and religious, and we end up debating whether the predators are to be punished; no such discussion were to occur of a plebe were to so break the rules).

Once you realize that religions exist to control the behavior of the masses, everything looks different. For example, all major religions involve something of the order of the Golden Rule, which apparently existed prior to any of the religions currently in vogue, so it was appropriated for their wisdom literature. With regard to this core precept, “treat others the way you wish to be treated” (the positive version) and “do not treat others in ways you do not want to be treated” (the negative version), do you see this as a behavior of the elites? Me, not so much. This is something the elites want the masses to embrace. If you get into a donnybrook with your neighbor over how you treated him or he you, one of you may be hurt in that fight and not be able to show up for work the next day and that would hurt business. What the elites desire above all things is obedience, but obedience is a hard sell. Even in religious orders in which it is legislated, there are constant battles over whether to obey or not. (The Vatican bureaucracy is famous for resisting Popes, whom they have sworn to obey. As I said, obedience is a hard sell.) So, instead of strict obedience, there are “social norms” and rules and laws of how we should behave toward one another and especially with regard to our “betters.” Social disorder is bad for the elite’s profits.

So, is compassion at the core of all religions? Consider the first four of the Ten Commandments of Judaism and Christianity (and Islam as it approves of “the book”), the first four of which might be stated as:

  1. And God said all these words: I am – the Lord, took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the prison-house. You are to have no other gods but me.
  2. You are not to make an image or picture of anything in heaven or on the earth or in the waters under the earth: You may not go down on your faces before them or give them worship: for I, the Lord your God, am a God who will not give his honour to another; and I will send punishment on the children for the wrongdoing of their fathers, to the third and fourth generation of my haters; And I will have mercy through a thousand generations on those who have love for me and keep my laws.
  3. You are not to make use of the name of the Lord your God for an evil purpose; whoever takes the Lord’s name on his lips for an evil purpose will be judged a sinner by the Lord
  4. Keep in memory the Sabbath and let it be a holy day. On six days do all your work: But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on that day you are to do no work, you or your son or your daughter, your man-servant or your woman-servant, your cattle or the man from a strange country who is living among you: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and everything in them, and he took his rest on the seventh day: for this reason the Lord has given his blessing to the seventh day and made it holy.

In other words: worship me, as I demand, or else.

I do not detect any compassion in this at all. In fact if one goes through the other six commandments, there seems not to be any compassion there, either. Basically, there are just a lot of “do’s” and “don’ts.” These are all dictates to keep people religious and under the control of religious elites, secular elites also, behaving obediently to the desires of the elites: go to work, do your job, and shut your mouth. If you do this, then those who were your enemies will be punished when they die and you will be rewarded when you die … but while you are alive all you have to do is shut up and do as you are told.

At the core of Judaism and Christianity is one core concept: obedience. Ask yourself: why was Lucifer was kicked out of Heaven? Answer: disobedience. Why were Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden? Answer: disobedience. Why did Yahweh punish King David over and over? Answer: disobedience. There are myriad other examples of divine retribution for disobedience. There is little else in those scriptures.

The core of the Abrahamic faiths is not compassion, but obedience. I wonder who that serves?

Senate and House Reps Meet to Reconcile their Two Tax Bills

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