Class Warfare Blog

February 16, 2018

The “Right-to-Try” Scam

There seems to be a movement to disrupt or remove “regulations” on pharmaceuticals. I mean why should those poor companies have to jump through all of those hoops to get a drug to market? This is called the “right-to-try” movement. Even President Trump has heard of it (ergo Fox (sic) News reported on it).

So, would people who are in need of some medical help be given the right to try unproven pharmaceuticals? This has been on option for richer citizens for quite some time. At the peak of the AIDS epidemic, people who could afford the effort were heading for Asia and Mexico to try all kinds of “therapies” to save their lives. I am unaware if any of these proved a source of drugs that ended up actually helping people so afflicted.

Or, is this just a cynical scam of “let’s try out drugs on desperate poor people?”

I’ll guess I’ll believe it when these assholes suggesting this shortcut to the clinical trials needed to verify a drug’s effectiveness line up to test out those drugs themselves. I suggest that what they see in this future is unproven pharmaceuticals are “tried” and then anecdotal evidence of cures is available (or fabricated) and sales soar through the roof. When problems occur (ineffectiveness, horrific side effects, deaths, etc.), the companies can pleas “How could we have known? They had a “right-to-try” and exercised it. We thought it would work. It is sad; our thoughts an prayers go out to the afflicted.” Typical of plutocrats it is: heads I win, tails you lose.

Assholes.

(Try a key word search for thalidomide.)

 

 

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More on Civilization

In recent posts I have been parsing the claim that, if I may use Karen Armstrong’s words again, “… historians argue, without this cruel arrangement that did violence to the vast majority of the population, humans would not have developed the arts and sciences that made progress possible. Civilization itself required a leisured class to cultivate it, and so our finest achievements were for thousands of years built on the backs of an exploited peasantry.

If one accepts this argument as being valid, then I must ask: why is it necessary that the coercion and exploitation of the masses continue as it has? Isn’t it time to say, well now that we have civilized societies all over the globe and extended the benefits to all people, poorer people should no longer be exploited.

Basically, I am asking if this coercion/oppression is the driver of civilization, will it ever end?

Will it? Will we say “Enough!” loud enough to get the elites to drop the whip? Or do we need to, as Charleton Heston once inferred, “Pry it from their cold dead hands.”

The answer to this question may revolve around crafting a new role for the elites. If we, for example, were to laud “Stewards of Humanity” enough, might it become attractive enough to elites to have them stop the exploitation and start helping people instead or would people, like the Koch brothers, think “that’s what we have been doing all along.” Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt any more, and I suspect that we would need to be very, very clever to pull something like that off.

Have any ideas about what attributes someone would have to have to qualify as a Steward of Humanity?

January 7, 2018

If the Elites Might Benefit, Then Sure, They are For It

In today’s NY Times an article (Medical Research? Congress Cheers. Medical Care? Congress Brawls by Robert Pear) states that there is some bipartisan support for science in our Congress. Here’s the introduction:

“WASHINGTON — They cannot agree on subsidies for low-income people under the Affordable Care Act or even how to extend funding for the broadly popular Children’s Health Insurance Program — two issues requiring urgent attention as Congress returns to work.

“But a more exotic corner of the medical world has drawn rapturous agreement among Republicans and Democrats: the development of new treatments and cures through taxpayer-funded biomedical research.

“For the third straight year, lawmakers are planning to increase the budget of the National Institutes of Health by $2 billion. In the process, they have summarily rejected cuts proposed by President Trump.

“The push for additional funding reflects a fascination among legislators with advances in fields like molecular biology, genetics and regenerative medicine, even as they wage bitter battles over just how large a role the government should play in financing health care and providing coverage.”

When the shade the politicians have thrown is illuminated, it is clear why this support is bipartisan. New medical procedures, even those which prove to be very costly, will help keep the elites alive longer. The elites have told us over and over that “America affords us the finest medical care in the world.” What we didn’t focus on was the use of the word “us.” They were referring to the elites as only they can afford the finest. The fact that our medical care system only ranks somewhere near the middle of first world countries is irrelevant and they know it. Those results are based upon average health outcomes and the elites are paying for treatments and health outcomes that the top 1% get. They do not care much at all about the poor health outcomes that the poor and middle class can afford as those do not affect them directly. But there are many of us and few of them, which means they are more than willing to take our tax dollars to pay for their cures.

Everything you need to see is right in front of your eyes. We only need to believe what they are saying, what they actually are saying and not what we wish to hear.

December 30, 2017

We Can Trust Corporations As They Would Do Nothing to Besmirch Their Reputations, Part 298

As reported on the Naked Capitalism website:

“’A unit of Caterpillar that repaired railcars at a Los Angeles facility pled guilty last week to a federal environmental offense of dumping parts into the ocean to conceal that it was performing unnecessary and improper repairs for several railcar operators’ [Corporate Crime Reporter]. ‘As a result of illegal conduct that spanned the years 2008 through 2014 – including the unnecessary and improper repairs on railcar adapters, brake beams, grating platforms, brake shoes, friction castings, hand brakes, roof liners and side bearings – United Industries earned at least $5 million.’

 

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.

 

 

 

November 13, 2017

Thoughts and Prayers: Do They Work?

After the most recent large scale mass shooting (in Texas) Republican lawmakers said … over and over again … that thoughts and prayers were appropriate and that “prayers work.” David French of National Review, for example, argues prayer can be the most rational and effective response to such happenings. So, the question is, have these “thoughts and prayers” been effective? Did they work?

Apparently, we have a natural experiment going right now. Let’s start by looking at the number of mass shootings that occur in the U.S. There is an immediate problem with this topic. The first number I ran into is that there have been 307 mass shootings in 2017 (so far). The next number I found was that there have been 10 mass shootings in 2017 (so far). Obviously different definitions as to what constitutes a mass shooting are involved.

The 307 number was compiled by the Gun Violence Archive, which compiles data from shooting incidents, a “mass shooting” according to them is any incident in which a gunman … shoots or kills four or more people, in the same general time and location. The 10 number was determined using the U.S. federal government’s most commonly accepted definition in which one only counts incidents where four or more people were indiscriminately killed in a public place. Since the federal government is in the pocket of the NRA (or rather the NRA’s money is in the pockets of the federal officials) and would then rather be serving to downplay such incidents, I am inclined to not use the federal definition. I am further disinclined to use the federal definition in that it makes a distinction as to selectivity (indiscriminately) and location (public place). So, if someone guns down four or more people on private property, that doesn’t make it a mass shooting according to the feds, but if they were in a park across the street, it would? Also, I suspect the people shot or shot and killed probably don’t care whether the shooter was discriminating or not, they would just rather not be shot.

“Please, all of you ‘thoughts and prayers’ people, please stop praying; you are making it worse!”

Here are the numbers according to the Gun Violence Archive (using the “liberal” definition)

2017    307 (so far)
2016    383 mass shootings
2015    333 mass shootings
2014    273 mass shootings

And, of the 30 deadliest shootings in the United States dating back to 1949, 18 have occurred in the last 10 years. These are just from the U.S., not from the rest of the world. (Not that it would matter a great deal as we are by far the world leader in such events.)

One can presume that since Christians constitute 70+% of the American population, that after each of these events there were thoughts and prayers for the victims, the victim’s family, maybe the shooter’s family, and I would hope prayers to beseech the ruler of the universe, the one, the only, all-powerful god of the Christians to prevent such horrible events from ever occurring again. This is just an assumption, but these are the people who claim that prayer works and I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t ask to have these events eliminated from the future. If they did not pray so, one would really have to ask why.

So after each and every one of these mass shootings, hundreds and hundreds of them, we can assume that those inclined to pray, prayed fervently, at least in part for such events to not occur again.

And the results (so far)? Mass shootings have been increasing in number.

Please, all of you “thoughts and prayers” people, please stop praying; you are making it worse!

 

November 12, 2017

God, Jesus, and Vietnam

The NY Times is running a history of the Vietnam War series, highlighting the experiences of individuals. In a recent piece a gentleman told of how he went to Vietnam with his faith and came home without it (God, Jesus, and Vietnam).

The story is quite poignant and I recommend it to you, but the author’s main point was that one couldn’t go out and sin for six days and then ask God for forgiveness on the seventh and then go out and repeat that cycle again and again, something had to give. (There was more, but that was the crux of the matter.)

What struck me as just as fascinating were the comments. Here are a couple:

… there is in fact a Judgment Day, I have no doubt that this man will get off the hook of his own conscience and that Christ will intercede for him.

So, this gentleman is convinced that there will be a judgment day and Jesus will “intercede for him.” Intercede with whom? Christians who are trinitarians (the bulk  of them, actually) seem to facilely switch between “Jesus is God” and “Jesus is the Son of God” states, often it seems when there is bad shit happening that they don’t want Jesus to get the blame for. So, Jesus will apparently intercede with this poor slob who lost his faith with the Judge on Judgment Day. And who is the Judge you ask? Of course, it is Jesus. Why is it that the Christians who are oh, so sure, of what will happen because scripture, never seem to know what it is?

A second commenter included this as part:

But knowing the Lord is the incommensurable good: no trouble, no loss can be compared to the good of knowing him. Furthermore, we will be with him forever.

So for this gentleman, his god is so good, no thing, no body compares with him. Let’s look at the “Good God’s” track record. According to the Christian time line. the entire universe was created and the first man in a matter of a few days. After a few more days woman is created and after a few more, they are banished from the Garden of Eden and cursed, along with all of their children … forever (circa 4004 BCE).

Then. their god decides he has made a mistake want wants to wipe the slate clean, and so about 1550 years later, he creates a big flood and kills off almost all of the animals on the planet (I used to say land animals, but the volume of water involved is so great, that if it were fresh water (no reason for it not to be), it would have changed the salinity of seawater drastically, right where all of the oceanic life forms were, so basically all animals were killed, including tens of millions of men, women, and children along with the deer, zebras, koalas, and dolphins.

From the eight surviving humans, a new crop of humans was grown, this time under more (better?) guidance from Yahweh (it is hard to tell). A little under 2500 years later, Jesus comes, dies, and saves us all. So, apparently it wasn’t going so well with the second crop in that it took massive divine intervention to fix the problems.

So, where is this “incommensurable good” demonstrated? The history, according to the Christians, shows a bumbling god who can’t get it right, who makes mistakes, piled one atop another. Again, Christians seem to be making it up as they go.

The fact that this soldier’s religious faith put him in a quandary in which the only way out was to reject his faith is quite telling. That his religious leaders were supporting him on a mission that made no sense to anyone, that involved atrocious behavior being required under the penalty of one’s life being ruined (court martial, dishonorable discharge, conscientious objector status all ruined lives) but was okay with god, shows that the army had chaplains as part of the secular and religious control mechanism entrapping these poor soldiers.

I used to be puzzled about the Garden of Eden stories. A key question I had was why did god punish Adam and Eve for making a decision that couldn’t be made correctly as they had no knowledge of good and evil (that was what the fruit gave to them). It makes sense now, now that I see religion as it truly is; it was not a decision that Adam and Eve were to make, they were to obey, just obey, and the price of disobedience was the wreck of the entire human species. The message is “obey or suffer.” Is there no better statement of the true motivation behind that religion?

It is all there in the Bible. Yahweh’s point over and over is “obey me, properly, or else.” And for the sniveling sort who say, “but that is the Old Testament god, Jesus is different,” these folks seem to forget that their faith, almost always, says that the Old and New Testament gods are one and the same … and even if they were not, Jesus had Hell invented on his watch (Hell is not in the Old Testament). Obey or burn in Hell is a New Testament twist to the Old Testament threat.

 

 

To Kneel or Not to Kneel During the Anthem? WTF?

In an article entitled “Star-Spangled Banner: how the anthem became central to the story of American sports” a number of very interesting points were made by the author Bryan Armen Graham.

Here are just a few:

“Professional sports needed to define themselves as patriotic in order to be seen as part of the war (WW1) on the home front and center for morale rather than as an expendable entertainment which is how they were initially,’ says Mark Clague, an associate professor of musicology at the University of Michigan who is one of the nation’s foremost experts on The Star-Spangled Banner, lest we believe anything but the owners’ self-interest made the anthem into the ubiquitous tradition we know today.

“Clague says the development and proliferation of stadium technology enabling the playing of pre-recorded music combined with a groundswell of patriotism during and after the second world war has given the anthem an almost continuous place in baseball in the years since. Football was similarly keen to wrap itself in the flag with NFL commissioner Elmer Layden in 1945 calling for a league-wide adoption of the anthem, saying: ‘The national anthem should be as much a part of every game as the kick-off. We must not drop it simply because the war is over. We should never forget what it stands for.’

“Oh, it was all about money! I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!”

“Says Clague: ‘When world war two happened, professional sports had really figured out that patriotism was good for their business and it protected them against this question of being defined as a non-essential occupation.’”

and

“The bombastic pre-game spectacles of patriotism that had become commonplace at NFL games began to make sense in 2015, after a report by Republican senators John McCain and Jeff Flake revealed the Department of Defense had spread $6.8m of taxpayer money among more than 50 professional teams across the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS and NASCAR. In return, the teams promised organized displays of national pride including the honoring of members of the armed forces, surprise military homecomings and on-field color guard and reenlistment ceremonies. The co-opting of America’s most popular institutions as recruiting tools went by an easy-to-remember name: paid patriotism.”

Oh, it was all about money! I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!

And as usual, the gullible rubes are brainwashed into enforcing the will of the elites, to make them even more money.

Oh, who created this article?  It was created for The Guardian, in the U.K., of course. Nothing like this would be produced by a U.S. news organ … that would be telling, now wouldn’t it.

November 9, 2017

Lying for

Filed under: Culture,Morality — Steve Ruis @ 12:30 pm
Tags:

I came across this compelling quote a few days ago and have been unable to determine its source. (I don’t really care, it is just about proper attribution.)

If your point of view requires you to lie through your teeth to get other people on board, maybe it’s time you rethink your point of view.”

My immediate thoughts ran to Creationists, Intelligent Design proponents, Christian Spin Doctors (aka apologists), and now paid Trump supporters (“paid” in the sense that if they don’t support him, they may no longer have a job). Do they know that they are “stretching the truth” or outright lying? Could that many people just be deluded? Since many of these folks have “monetized” their beliefs, the only conclusion I can come to is that for some, if not all, of these folks, this chronic lying is on purpose, and the people who are involved in it know what they are doing.

No doubt the folks who do this feel justified in all this deliberate lying but …

November 7, 2017

Shocking News! White House NRA Spokesman Lies

White House NRA spokesman Donald J. Trump added that if “Good Samaritan” Stephen Willeford had not had a gun, “instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead” in reference to the latest mass shooting in Texas.

Uh, this doesn’t quite add up. At the scene and in the perpetrator’s vehicle, authorities found at least 15 empty 30-round ammunition magazines along with two handguns, a Glock 9mm and a Ruger 22, found in his car.

I do not want to diminish the bravery of the two gentlemen who distracted the shooter, but if he still had enough ammo to shoot “hundreds more” why did he run from two guys, one of whom was unarmed? No mention has been made of any full ammo clips fitting into his AR-15 clone being found, so was he going to shoot down “hundreds” with the Glock and Ruger .22?

As usual the NRA spokesman told these lies in a easy, comforting, reassuring manner, as all NRA spokesmen do. Later he added, “There’s nothing to see here. Move along” and “In lieu of actual legislation, people are urged to send hopes and prayers that this won’t happen to them. In God we trust! he can protects us! Except, well, in schools, and churches, and music concerns, and movie theaters, and … well, you know.”

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