Uncommon Sense

September 18, 2021

Lies and Truths

Filed under: Economics,History,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 12:57 pm
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Consider the following quotations:

“(T)he question of their necessity (trade unions) is really superfluous. As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in a social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people’s health.

“Both of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do not feel themselves to be members of the national community as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness grow profound evils for the future.”

“For in politics, as in other fields, the use of economic pressure always permits blackmail, as long as the necessary unscrupulousness is present on the one side, and sufficient sheep-like patience on the other.”

“Otherwise he (a nascent politician) runs the risk of either having to change his former position on essential questions, or, contrary to his better knowledge and understanding, of clinging to a view which reason and conviction have long since discarded. In the former case this is most embarrassing to him personally, since, what with his own vacillations, he cannot justifiably expect the faith of his adherents to follow him with the same unswerving firmness as before; for those led by him, on the other hand, such a reversal on the part of the leader means perplexity and not rarely a certain feeling of shame toward those whom they hitherto opposed. In the second case, there occurs a thing which, particularly today, often confronts us: in the same measure as the leader ceases to believe in what he says, his arguments become shallow and flat, but he tries to make up for it by vileness in his choice of means. While he himself has given up all idea of fighting seriously for his political revelations (a man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in), his demands on his supporters become correspondingly greater and more shameless until he ends up by sacrificing the last shred of leadership and turning into a ‘politician’; in other words, the kind of man whose only real conviction is lack of conviction, combined with offensive impertinence and an art of lying, often developed to the point of complete shamelessness.”

“If to the misfortune of decent people such a character gets into a parliament, we may as well realize at once that the essence of his politics will from now on consist in nothing but an heroic struggle for the permanent possession of his feeding-bottle for himself and his family. The more his wife and children depend on it, the more tenaciously he will fight for his mandate. This alone will make every other man with political instincts his personal enemy.”

Comments of the Trump era or on our current politics?

Actually these are attributed to Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf, which he wrote in 1924. He was by no means done creating himself, so his opinions may have changed over the next twenty years. It is hard to say.

Many people refuse to read this book, as they assume it is all lies. I argue that were it all lies it would have had little traction with the German people. Yes, there were plenty of lies and misconceptions and errors of thought, but there are also many observations that seem as true today as they were a century ago. Hitler also has a disarming way of admitting he had been wrong, many, many times, but that may have been a ruse to establish a position of “I may have been wrong back then, but I am dead right now.” Again, hard to tell. It is rare to get into the mind of a ruler, so books such as this one, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and a few others are worth reading.

September 12, 2021

The Two Most Basic Questions In Religion

Filed under: History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:23 am

I was reading a Medium.com post (Occam’s Razor) that began:

Let us start from the two most basic questions in religion:
• Can we prove there is a God? No.
• Can we prove there is no God? No.

My first reaction was: are these true? I suspected that neither was. Regarding the second, current descriptions of the Christian god often are self-contradictory, which “proves” that that god cannot exist, as well as does not exist, but it is the first question I wish to address.

Can We Prove a God Exists?
My first thought was sure, we can. Well, the god itself has to do the proving, otherwise it is just another god believer flapping his gums.

Just have the god show up to be examined. While we interact with this god, scans show that there is nothing there! This god can tell us what we are thinking, with extreme accuracy. This god can tell us what will happen tomorrow. This is done by making a written description or a recording of the events of tomorrow and sealing them in a box. After tomorrow comes and goes, the box is opened and we can see whether this god knows the future! (He could throw in winning lottery numbers for a lark.)

This god could heal sick people while being scanned. It could regrow amputated limbs to silence all of those annoying critics saying it couldn’t do that. It could tell us that it was receiving a prayer from a believer in Iowa and could share that prayer word for word. Then we could call that person and quote her prayer back to her and then the god could answer her prayer while she was on the phone! (Look, little Timmy is all well!)

Need I go on?

A topper is that this god could do this simultaneously in 100 countries around the world.

Is that proof enough? Just have your damned god show up and stand and deliver. How hard could it be? Why is the task of proving its existence left to us? It should do the job itself, being the only entity which could.

September 2, 2021

GOP Crocodile Tears Over Taliban Haul of US-Built Military Equipment

There hasn’t been this much hand wringing and pearl clutching in the GOP since the Mr. Potato Head controversy! The Taliban collected a massive haul of U.S.-built military equipment, owned by the Afghanistan government, by the way, not us, and the Republicans are losing their minds. We have just equipped our enemy with the latest and greatest war-making equipment! Argh!

Calm down, idiots. I know it is a struggle, but do try to put your thinking caps on first. (You have to take the dunce caps off first, otherwise the thinking caps won’t fit.)

Now, we were quite unsuccessful in training the Afghans in their army (ex-army?) on how to use this “modern” equipment. What makes you think the Taliban are going to master the intricacies of that equipment being trained by the people who didn’t learn about it in the first place?

But, okay, let’s say the Taliban found instruction manuals on the Internet, had them translated into Pashto, Dari, Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, Hazaragi, and Nuristani and have taught themselves how to use that equipment. The other thing to consider is these things were made by Americans for our own American military, consequently they were built around the primary American construction principle of planned obsolescence. They are going to need repair technicians, spare parts, and a lot of ingenuity to keep that stuff running, even in the short term. I assume you noticed the Taliban are using AK-47s as their basic field rifle. The reason for this is that they still work, even though that rifle was designed in 1947. So many were sold and are still available, along with spare parts, that they can be depended upon for many more years. Think Taliban-owned Abrams tanks will still be working in two years? in one year? I don’t think so. How about fighter jets? (Right. . . . )

Basically, Afghanistan is not a threat to the U.S. or our allies and would not be a threat if we flat out ignored it. What . . . but, but, but won’t they train terrorists? Maybe, but they don’t exactly have the best terrorist training facilities. Theirs are certainly not anywhere near as good as Pakistan’s or Saudi Arabia’s. The 9/11 group apparently did most of their planning and training in Germany.

Terrorists don’t need Afghanistan as a training site and Afghanistan has real problems it needs to address. Outside of opium traffic, Afghanistan doesn’t have an economy. The best it can do is to allow its citizens to create subsistence livings and even that is going to be difficult. As the U.S. was pumping billions of dollars into their economy over the past twenty years, the population exploded. I doubt whether subsistence farming or herding can support a population that large, which means there is trouble ahead for any Afghan government. There is no tourism, native industries, native crops (other than opium poppies), mining opportunities that translate into population-wide prosperity. Every country that has tried to extract minerals or other natural resources from Afghanistan has found out the reality. There is no government per se. You “negotiate” with local “officials” (aka warlords) and strike a deal for which there are no courts to enforce it nor any police to protect it and your assets. You are at the mercy of the demands of the locals and if you complain too much, they will just take your operation over. So, how many resource extraction companies are lined up to get them some of that, do you think?

I think the Afghanis have earned to right to be left alone and I think we need to carry that to an extreme. Leave . . . them . . . alone . . . and allow them to create whatever society they wish without foreign help or interference. There is no danger, other than that we create by meddling.

August 25, 2021

Raising Questions

I am reading Diarmaid MacColloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years and am enjoying the read, but as always I tend to take a step back.

The author is treating this monumental history as if the scriptures that have survived until now are actually histories. He doesn’t swallow them hook, line, and sinker, but the main threads are just assumed to be true. He does offer some fascinating tidbits along the way, however. I am going to do a full review after I finish it but last night I read this:

We have to remember that the vast majority of early Christian texts have perished, and despite many new archaeological finds, there is a bias among those that survived towards texts which later forms of Christianity found acceptable. One expert on the period has recently estimated that around 85 per cent of second-century Christian texts of which existing sources make mention have gone missing, and that total itself can only represent a fraction of what there once was. The documents which do survive conspire to hide their rooting in historic contexts; this makes them a gift to biblical literalists, who care little for history.” (p. 112)

Of course, I also viewed the documentary Contradiction recently, so there are several threads of questions that pop up to me.

From the documentary, it is emphasized that to many Christians “Jesus’s blood ‘washed away their sins’” and that to gain entrance to heaven you have to “accept Jesus as your Lord and master” or “accept Jesus into your heart . . .” not your brain, your heart.

This entire house of cards has a very weak foundation. The first is “original sin,” which is apparently due to Adam and Eve’s “rebellion” against Yahweh. As a consequence, every human being born thereafter has been born a sinner, which means they will be consigned to Hell unless they get help. Why is it that tiny babies born thousands of years after an event are being made to pay for the event is not explained, but it sure does support the power of a religion which claims to have a “cure” for that “disease.”

So, the mystery of original sin needs a better explanation that it being a “curse.” Do you believe in curses? No? Well, you can’t be a Christian then. Plus, it would be nice to have an explanation as to how this “sin” is transmitted. (Is it genetic? Is it just magic?)

Next, Jesus’s sacrifice. The stories do make it seem as if Jesus was hell-bent to get hung out to dry in Jerusalem. He is portrayed as having foreknowledge of the event and went anyway. Then he provides provocation to both the Temple elites and the Romans. Maybe this chapter in the gospels should be titled “Death Wish 0,” without Charles Bronson . . . see how it all began! Now playing.

A step back: Why do the Romans come off so well in the gospels and Acts? Did they not nail up Jesus, kill him for claiming to be the King of the Jews and thus an insurrectionist? Maybe they were being rewarded for executing their part of God’s plan.

Another step back: Why were the Pharisee’s so vilified in the gospels? When the Jews revolted in 68 CE, the insurrectionists did as one of their first acts was to do away with the Sadducee Temple elites. They were the collaborators with Rome, not the Pharisees.

Okay, so “the blood of Christ” . . . not so effective against COVID-19 but supposedly removed the sins of all believers. How does that work, exactly? How does the blood of one man-god being spilt remove the sins from an entire people? Now the people who were making this claim were also making the claim that burning parts of the animals sacrificed in the Temple was their practice because their god reveled in the sweet, sweet smell of the smoke (barbecue?). But if God were in Heaven, and Heaven was closer to the orbit of the Moon than to Earth, how did the smoke get there, through the vacuum of interplanetary space? (I have already written that the godly power of omnipresence is not only impossible but also unnecessary in that such a god doesn’t need to be anywhere to do anything. He already knows all and has seen all and can do all, so eavesdropping isn’t necessary.)

So, the mechanism by which the blood of the Christ forgives sins is a mystery, but it is also a conditional mystery. In other words, it doesn’t work unless you believe something (that Jesus is fit to rule and run your life). And how does that work? This is another form of curse, one that works backwards. And, not surprisingly, one that provides power to the various religious sects.

I have mentioned before that the story we have been given is full of holes. For example, Jesus walks around Jerusalem for 40 days after his resurrection, and the Romans don’t get wind of it, even though Jesus apparently is drawing large crowds.

Can a god die and resurrect itself? Where’d He go for the two days he supposedly was dead? If his “soul” stuck with his body, could he have fooled the people washing his corpse for burial into believing he was dead? Did his soul hang out in Hell? (“Always wanted to see this place. That lake is amazing, but it is pretty noisy, what with all of the screaming.”) Did it float above the city, taking in all of the events? What does dying mean for such a being?

All of this blood magic in the Bible, and it is blood magic (menstrual blood can make you unclean, don’t you know), makes it sound like a fantasy thriller. Does anyone today believe in blood magic? No? If you don’t you can’t be a Christian.

Maybe that is a task I will take on some day, making a list of all of the things one must believe to be a Christian of one stripe or another that are at their very best mysterious and worst, hokum.

Why? Enquiring minds want to know, that’s why.

August 24, 2021

Contradiction—A Review

Filed under: Culture,History,Race,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:20 pm

Contradiction is a 2015 documentary available on Amazon Prime. The subtitle is “A Question of Faith” with the primary question being this: there are more black churches serving the black community than any other community claims and the observation made was the poorer the community, the greater the number of churches. Is one the cause and the other the effect and which way? The documentarian seemed to believe that the effort supporting such a large number of churches is at least a drain on their community’s resources that would be better invested in helping people out of poverty and drug addiction, etc.

I am recommending this documentary to you because while it relates to the black churches of the U.S., the same questions need to be asked of all of the other churches.

My position is simple: civilization was created by a small group of people, the elites, coercing labor from the masses to support the interests of the elites. If the elites are not going to be working the fields and what not, somebody has to replace that labor. Apparently the number of volunteers willing to do extra work to take up the slack weren’t enough to make up for the labor lost, so large scale slavery started up when civilization did.

Plus, if slaves or unwilling “citizens” were to be forced to do this labor, guards would be needed, which swelled the ranks of the “elites” (those not growing food and supplying shelter, etc. but instead providing governance, art, music, etc. largely only for the elites but it was what it was and is what it is) which only increased the demand for coerced labor.

Also, if there were religious as well as secular elites, they soon realized that they were both better off supporting one another than contesting for elite status, so religion became the tool of coercing the labor. (They were sometimes all-in-one priest-kings, or separate “rulers” with one subordinate to the other, but they always were working together in their coercion, no matter how they fought among themselves.)

This was reinforced by the history of American slaves who were forcibly converted to Christianity and the preachers of black churches were given points to reinforce, the primary one was the “pie in the sky” promise, that their reward would come after they died. (The others being “slaves, obey your masters,” and, well you know.

It is hard to conceive of why black people are so loyal to their churches and to the baby Jesus. If I trace my ancestors back in this country, on both my father’s and mother’s sides, I find Christians all of the way back. But if African-Americans were to do the same, I would guess the number of their ancestors who arrived in this country as slaves who were also Christians, would be <1%. Their native religions were stripped from them and Christianity, a very limited Christianity (no Jesus tearing up the temple courtyard in their sermons), was forced upon them (with beatings, etc.) by “their masters.” Then to hear so many black women say that the most important thing in their life was “accepting Jesus as their Lord and Master” was shocking, very shocking.

This is quite worth watching, highly recommended.

August 22, 2021

Make Earth Sacred Again

Note—It is Sunday Sermon Time again, boys and girls! S

The title above is a proposed solution to greedy capitalists processing everything we need to live into profits. The Medium.com post was “Make Earth Sacred Again” with the subtitle “Reverence for Nature could stop Big Money’s destroying the world.” (Note I wish these people would stop saying “destroying the world/planet.” It is us they are destroying, not the world. The world will still be spinning on this same path long after humans are all dead.)

I have to assume that some sort of Native American religion is going to be involved in such an effort, because the dominant religions in the U.S. today don’t seem to possess this attribute.

Devout Christians often do say foolish things like this, “the Earth is sacred; we have the stewardship of the entire planet on our shoulders” and, my favorite “life is sacred.” (No, it is not.)

First “life is sacred.” Really? Says who? Certainly not the God of the Bible, responsible for killing millions upon millions of humans and at one point 99.99999+% of the plants and animals in the entire world.

To show you how far we have come from our hunter-gatherer roots as a family or at most a small tribe (<100 humans), consider this: is your life sacred? Sure. How about your spouse and children, your immediate family? Yeah, right on! How about your neighbors on your block? Well, kind of, I guess. How about all God-fearing Americans? Yeah, damned straight. How about Canadians? Well, I guess? How about Mexicans? Hell, no! The Taliban? The Chinese?

Basically, the farther a person gets from being a part of your family, by being adopted or born into, the less sacred their lives seem, no? So, since our hunting and gathering phases, we have changed not at all in this, other than in the capacity to know that other people exist quite a few kilometers away (and farther away). They are still “others” and are categorized as such, and they are not on the same level as you and your family. Moving back to the “Make Nature Sacred Again” bit . . . was it ever sacred? Certainly not to any of the imported Americans. One could argue that many native Americans had a concept like this but that also might just be a way of expressing what they knew to be pragmatic: take care of your environment and it will take care of you.

In my native state of California, archeologists dug up immense mounds of mollusk shells near the S.F. Bay. What they finally concluded was that a tribe of Native Californians would move to the area and eat everything in sight and then would move to another location to do the same there. While they were gone, the oyster beds and mussel beds recovered so that when they came back years later they could do it all over again, and being pragmatic, they always discarded the shells in the same place, which grew to the size of small hills. Not exactly careful husbanding of nature, but not totally destructive, either.

In the New England states, the Native New Englanders were careful to husband their crops. They would burn off the weeds and shrubs in controlled burns which encouraged grass and trees to grow and deer and other game to congregate to eat their produce. The Native Americans and the deer and whatnot ate a lot of mast, nuts from the trees, and whatever grew in the layer at the base of the tree (mushrooms, etc.). By being careful, they could make it through even a harsh winter, by losing a few pounds before things harvestable started to grow again and deer and other game came looking for the grasses and mast they could gorge upon in their hunting grounds.

Then came the “new” Englanders. Told that the streets were “paved with gold,” usually in the form of being able to hunt deer and moose out your back door, and harvest nuts and wild fruits a short walk away, more than a few “Christians” set up lodgings there. They didn’t do controlled burns and objected when the natives did. They over hunted, over fished, and over harvested and, within just a year or two, the entire regional system collapsed.

And the reason they did this is they believed their fucking God “would provide.”

The Native Americans new that the land was to be taken care of if they wanted it to take care of them. They thanked their prey when they shot a deer and used every tiny bit of it to honor the sacrifice of that animal. The Anglos, on the other hand, slaughtered millions of bison to provide lap robes for rich English people.

This solution to our existential problem will not work because the concept of sacred doesn’t exist in the American mind, especially the Christian mind. And there is no vehicle, that is no religion, that enough people subscribe to that can implement that concept. And, even if there were, the fucking greedy capitalists would allow it free rein, as it would hurt their bottom lines. They would mobilize the Evangelicals against the “pagan religions” that could save our asses and that, would be the end of that.

Whatever happened to the inventive capitalists who looked to the future and anticipating change, embraced it to make new profits. Today’s capitalists have no creativity, no imagination, and are sitting where they are like the buggy whip manufacturers when automobiles began to take over, wringing their hands and using their fortunes to prevent anything from changing. They, like the buggy whip makers before them, will have no luck in those endeavors. The future belongs to the prepared.

August 21, 2021

What “Today’s Conservatives” Really Want

I am not at all sure that conservatives still exist, certainly not the conservatives of my youth, but the label is still bandied about, so I will work with it. What do “today’s conservatives” really want?

Recently someone said that conservative Americans want to have decent lives. They want to work, worship, raise a family, and participate in public affairs without being treated as insolent upstarts in their own country. Gosh, might these new conservatives have something in common with today’s liberals and progressives? Gee, I wonder what it could be?

Often as not the 1950’s are mentioned wistfully as such an age.

In the 1950’s, again often as not, the nuclear family (no, not that nuclear) had a male “head-of-household” as breadwinner, a stay at home mom, and wholesome kids who walked or bicycled to a decent school.  I say “decent school” because back then we didn’t know there were “good schools” and “bad schools” to choose from. You went to the same schools your siblings, and often your parents, did.

So, what went wrong?

You can lay in the lap of then conservatives most of the wheels coming off of this blissful state: Ronald Regan presided over a huge shift in stay-at-home moms to the workplace. Women went to work in droves in the 70’s and 80’s because one income didn’t hack it anymore. But, how come? Why were incomes no longer sufficient to raise a family on just one? Over the last 50 years. American worker productivity has gone up and up and up, but wages barely at all. Why was that? It is called “wage suppression,” boys and girls, a conservative effort that paid big dividends for the rich. So, “conservatives” suppressed wages, making many, many women have to seek jobs to maintain a decent standard of living for their family and could, therefore, no longer be at home raising the kids. (Remember the “latch key kid” issue?)

Another feature of the 1950’s was the explosive growth of the suburbs. If you do not remember “sub-urbs” were areas outside of the urban areas we tended to live in. In the urban areas, we didn’t get to always choose our neighbors, but in the suburbs, all the white folk got to tell the black folk that “their kind weren’t wanted around here,” and the federal government helped! (Remember redlining in real estate and bank loans for housing?)

Today’s conservatives are aligned against the Democratic Party because the Democrats want to give away honest taxpayer’s money to undeserving people, people of color! Of course, if you add up all of the money spent to try to lift people of color out of poverty, it is a pittance when compared to the money dished out to white rich folks. And it is still a hallmark of “conservative” federal administrations. Consider the recent Trump Tax Cuts: in 2018, the average tax cut for the richest 1 percent was $51,000 and the average tax cut for the bottom 80 percent to be about $800. Of the total loss of tax revenue to the federal government in the first year, the bottom 90% of taxpayers, including you and me, got 6 billion dollars. The top 10% got 34 billion dollars, with the bulk of that going to the top 1%.

The money “given away to the “undeserving” (code for colored folks) is a pittance compared to the money given away to ordinary white Americans, which is a tiny fraction of the money given to rich people and major corporations (run by rich white people). (Which segment of the American populace has benefit from Social Security? Answer: OWLs, old white ladies. Black folk don’t live long enough to really cash in on SS.)

Those conservatives used a racist smokescreen to cover up the nature of their real aims, to make sure the rich got served first . . . and more than anyone else.

This is not to say that the liberals and progressives are much better. They are better but are also serving the rich first. As far as the rich are concerned, a good politicians is one who stays bought.

So, if you haven’t noticed, this is a racist country. Back in the 1950’s if you watched TV, you didn’t see people of color. The Kramdens didn’t have any black or brown neighbors. Neither did the Nelsons, or the other families shown on TV. The Ricardo’s got away with Desi being Cuban, but that was okay because he was an entertainer and we allowed “coloreds” to entertain us. But they didn’t have any black neighbors or co-workers, either.

This is the 1950’s that many of “today’s conservatives” pine for. None of those “dangerous people” in our neighborhoods. (If you didn’t notice, an extensive media campaign was waged to paint black people as violent and dangerous, especially young black males, so they could be locked up out of sight. If you weren’t aware of that look up the “New Jim Crow.” Oh, and many of the prisons full of young black men were privatized, so rich white people could profit from the scheme.

Let’s see . . . part of the wage suppression efforts was the defanging of labor unions, labor unions which were racist but making progress a little faster than the general public, so that was a “two-fer.” The decline of unions (again, people, not an accident or based upon anything they did) decreased worker power, so wages and working conditions, but not profits, suffered.

So, what do we see in the news today that reflects this? We see people acting out from their powerlessness. Their jobs are insufficient to support the American Dream anymore. (Remember the American Dream: a house, with a white picket fence in a good neighborhood with good schools . . . and white neighbors?) Ordinary American’s credit cards are maxed out trying to stay afloat. When I was young, ordinary people couldn’t get a credit card, they just weren’t available. Today, credit card debt, along with student loan debt (student loans when I went to school had little to no interest) are heavy balls chained to the ankles of everyone of us. We cannot afford to get out of line because we could be ruined financially, so no protesting for a union for us.

We see people proclaiming bizarre beliefs, expressing their powerlessness. They are basically saying “See, I can believe nonsense and you can’t stop me,” so “You can’t make me toe the line on masks and social distancing” is part of a general pattern. Jewish Space Lasers, fire them up! Vaccine micro-chips, yep, they are in there! Hillary Clinton’s child porn ring in the basement of a pizza parlor? Sounds reasonable to me! Overturn the electron results because Donald Trump didn’t like them? Sure, it is only right.

Modern conservatives are in real pain, fomented by faux conservatives. The people behind all of the changes bemoaned by conservative Americans today are the “conservatives,” who are not real conservatives as the only thing they are trying to conserve is their bottom line. They are super-rich wolves in conservative sheep’s clothing.

If you don’t believe this, ask yourself this: if an ordinary American were shown a night of Tucker Carlson and the rest of the Fox News goons, what do you think their reaction would be? They would be flabbergasted. They would blubber “But they are making stuff up, and lying. They can’t do that on the public airways!” (Remember the public airways and standards for news reporting? Done away with by conservatives.)

As I have mentioned before: I didn’t start the class war, the “conservatives” did. And now that they have won, they will work like beavers to keep it this way.

How to you like the world our “conservatives” created for us? This is their vision of the American Dream: profits over people, no opponents to their will in sight, ah . . . reminds me of the 1950’s . . . not.

August 20, 2021

We Lost in Afghanistan?

I see article after article using the phrase that “we lost in Afghanistan.” Apparently they are using a different definition than I use for the word “lost.”

Consider a playground scenario: some kids are playing pick-up basketball and the kid who owns the ball says, “I have to go home.” The other kids, disappointed, ask if he could leave the ball or if a friend could bring it over to him later. I never heard anyone say “Sure, take your ball and go home, that means you lost and we won!” The reason I never heard that is it doesn’t make any sense.

So, when we arrived on the scene in Afghanistan (the first of a long string of mistakes we made), the Taliban fought back a little here and a little there. Once their leaders realized we were assholes who would take out an entire wedding party to kill someone we thought might could be a Taliban leader, they suddenly became very hard to find. They would occasionally engage in a little action, but only when the odds were very much on their side and only to send the message “Don’t forget about us.”

So, the U.S. (Us!) finally realized that the Afghani government was playing us for the cash we provided, and we got out. (It only took twenty years when it was obvious after six months . . . because Bin Laden was in Pakistan and there wasn’t much of anything in Afghanistan.) President Trump cut the deal (he did do a few things that were correct) and President Biden pulled the trigger, honoring the deal. That the Taliban just walked back into the seats of power showed that the whole thing was just the milking of a cash cow and that the “good Afghani government” never was a serious entity; they were just in it for the money.

So, we took our marbles and went home (making more mistakes as we went—the Taliban punishes screw-ups and replaces them; our military and government promotes them).

So, did we “lose?”

If so, what was the game? I still don’t know what our objectives were/are. G.W. Bushes “democracy making” was a joke, the Quran doesn’t allow democracy. Did anyone know what the game was other than a dick swinging exercise for American politicians and our military? (They punched us in the nose and we kicked their ass!) Of course, many of the 9/11 perps were Saudis and I didn’t see any sanctions there.

And which were the teams? On this side we have the American military, occasionally supported by foreign partners . . . er, team members. And on the other side? The Taliban did not play the game of war with us. They played a little Hide and Go Seek. They played a little Find the Bomb We Left for You. They played a little Firefight in the Desert Night, but there were no battles after the earliest phases; there were no set pieces from which we might be able to determine what the effing game was.

This is called asymmetrical warfare, and it was definitely asymmetrical, although I am not sure of the warfare. If it had been a chess game, one player would see all of his pieces on the board, but his opponents pieces are not visible and neither is the opponent. The Players I saw were Swinging Dick Politicians and war profiteers. The money spent in Afghanistan was a pittance compared to the money spent inside of our borders to the military industrial complex. And now that there are no official wars on the books, I am expecting those greedy whiny MIC bitches to be whining about getting our next adventure in Foreign Diplomacy—Arms Style under way.

There was a loss in Afghanistan. We lost the respect of many servicemen soldiers for spending their lives so uselessly.

July 27, 2021

The Conundrum of A Chosen People

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:22 am

When I was young I wondered, just a little, about the idea of a chosen people. In the Jewish-Christian narrative Adam and Eve were “the first people” but then there were those folks off where Seth and Cain found wives, so it is a bit confusing, but these are not the “chosen people” per se as they are all wiped out in the Great Flood, which is roughly 1600+ years after Adam and Eve’s birthing. Yahweh makes a covenant with Noah that he will not again wipe out all of humanity, but that doesn’t make Noah and his offspring Yahweh’s chosen people, I think that doesn’t happen until Abraham comes along about 420 years later. The Abrahamic covenant is the one that makes Abraham and his descendents Yahweh’s chosen people. But then, I could be wrong.

Still, the idea of a chosen people seems wrong. Two thousand years of the 6000 year history of people (according to the Biblical narrative) pass before Yahweh decides to implement the policies regarding the Hebrews being his chosen people? Why? Why then and why the Hebrews?

If I were going to pick a people to concentrate my effect upon from 4000 years ago it wouldn’t be an obscure people in an obscure corner of the world. What was Yahweh’s point? Did he not want to rule over the entire world? Did he not want to be recognized as the one and only god? Why the Hebrews? Better would have been the Egyptians or the Chinese. More developed, more of them, better in every way to spread the word of the powerful and mighty god, Yahweh.

Is great puzzlement!

But fundamentally, why a chosen people? How does it make you feel that you are not one of the chosen? How does it make you feel when you find out that the chosen people has two sets of rules: one for insiders, one for the rest of us. The chosen people are forbidden to kill insiders, but Yahweh orders the Hebrews to kill all of the outsiders where he wants to plant his chosen people. They not only can kill them without penalty, but Yahweh rewards them for doing so! Yahweh created almost an entire world of second-class people, by adopting the Hebrews as his chosen people.

The really perplexing thing is: why just the one? Why not dozens of chosen peoples? Surely and all-knowing, all-powerful being with tens of thousands of supernatural messengers could handle a dozen chosen people. But then why not all of us, why exclude anyone from his favor?

A “Jesus character,” for example, could show up and work his wiles in many, many places. If Jesus is actually god, as Trinitarians claim, Jesus could perform that role all over the world himself.

This is so perplexing, it almost seems as if the chosen people came up with the idea that they had been chosen to bolster their own egos (yes, Church Lady, they are “Special”). But if those people made that up, well religions all over the world would show signs of being made up by the people who felt special to have the attention of a god. And if that were true, surely human one-upmanship would result in some groups having more than one god, eventually leading to other groups having many gods. (I have more gods than you, neener, neener.) Wouldn’t it? Gosh, it does seem kind of like that, doesn’t it?

June 24, 2021

Things Are Always Simpler Than We Think

Have you ever noticed that when populism rears its ugly head, it is attacked from all sides. Currently, the anti-populism script is sticking very close to the script that was created for the American Populist movement in the nineteenth century. None of the criticisms, of course, are based in fact.

So, why the vituperation of a “people power movement?”

If you have read even a little of what I have written, you are aware that I characterize civilization as a movement in which the secular and religious elites coerce the labor of the masses to serve the interests of the elites.

So, the tension is between the elites and the masses, and any tension between various bands of elites is a side issue, a much smaller issue.

In the era of American slavery, Southerners were deathly afraid the “darkies” would rise up and kill them in their beds. In some of the Southern states, there were more slaves and free men, so this wasn’t an idle fear.

That fear has driven racial hatred of “minorities” by “whites” ever since, ultimately being a manifestation of a fear of “others” who are not understood and hence formed a danger.

The current “hatred” directed to Critical Race Theory is another manifestation of this same fear. The hatred of labor unions by the conservative arms of the elites is another “fear and loathing” expression of “people power.”

The so-called “Founding Fathers” of the U.S. Constitution were deathly afraid of the common people wielding power that they warned about even the “middling sort” from acquiring any. (The “middling sort” is what we would call the middle class today. Back them it referred to tradesmen, printers, etc.) The founders instituted many a check on, ugh, democracy, in the Constitution (the Electoral College, the Senate, etc.), pointing out that democracy has always failed everywhere it was tried. (The FFs were elitists, if you didn’t know, and I never use that term lightly.)

So, the current condemnation of populism from both the left and right? It is being made by the elites on the left and right who see “the masses” as a common enemy who need to be kept under control so as to continue to serve the interests of the elites.

If you look at current events through a lens of there being a contest between “the masses,” aka the people, and the elites a lot that appears confusing is actually quite clear.

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