Class Warfare Blog

February 19, 2017

Has Our Logic Function Been Disabled?

There has been quite a flutter about a comment coming from Kyrie Irving, the All-Star guard of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. According to Mr. Irving: “This is not even a conspiracy theory,” he said. “The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. It’s right in front of our faces. I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us.

Why this is upsetting to many is beyond my comprehension. My thinking goes like this:
#1 Mr. Irving makes well over $1,000,000 for less than a year’s work and has for quite some time.
#2 That makes Mr. Irving a Republican.
#3 Therefore Mr. Irving believes:
• the Earth is flat
• Climate Change is a hoax perpetrated by greedy scientists
• the Earth is only 6000 years old
• autism is caused by vaccinations, and that
• Donald Trump is a bright, successful businessman.
All of the facts being to the contrary, all of these must be true because “they” lie to us.

This is believable because … Fox News. (Apparently “they” does not include Fox News.)

So, why are people shocked? I do not understand.

 

 

February 17, 2017

So, Now It Is Obvious?

From the Naked Capitalism web site (“Grantham: ‘Twas Capitalism That Killed Capitalism” posted by Yves Smith, text attributed to Jeremy Grantham):

An extraordinary, large exit poll run by Reuters/Ipsos in which 45,000 people participated took place in the early evening on election day in the US. To say this was a detailed poll is an understatement. The spreadsheet for each question in small print runs the length of a generous dining room table, 11 feet! … The critical statement polled, in my opinion, was this: ‘America needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful.’”

The response to that question: 74% agreed.

“The lack of class war or economic war in the US has always been a fiction,
but it has been mostly hidden, and deliberately so,
by the side so completely winning the undeclared war.”

By this time some readers may be asking for a profile of the 74% of the final 45,000 who voted against the rich and powerful. Who are these people? Well, they are us. All of us. I have never heard of a vote so uniform: whether Republican 72% or Democrat 77%; Male 74% or Female 75%; White 75% or Black 74%; Rich 70% or Poor 79%; Christian 74% or Muslim 72%; Graduates 68% or not 76%; they all agreed. They have all had it with the rich and powerful. And as for me, I don’t blame them. I think capitalism has lost its way. And has badly diluted the value of democracy along the way. We can only hope it is very temporary.

“I think capitalism has lost its way.
And has badly diluted the value of democracy along the way.
We can only hope it is very temporary.”

The lack of class war or economic war in the US has always been a fiction, but it has been mostly hidden, and deliberately so, by the side so completely winning the undeclared war.

This is what got us our current President. It was either him or Mrs. Status Quo. Unfortunately the biased selection process got us the wrong man. We needed Bernie Sanders to even begin the correction process.

If our current President believes he has a mandate, can you see anything in the actions of the current administration that equates to “taking the country back from the rich and powerful?”

No? Neither do I.

February 13, 2017

… Missing the Point … Still

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:02 am
Tags: , , , ,

I have been viewing (John Oliver!) and reading (Andrew Sullivan and several others) recently about President Trump’s lies and lack of connection with reality. All seem puzzled, shocked, agog. I suggest that we shouldn’t be puzzled and that we are missing the point … still.

Yes, it is important that national policy shouldn’t be built upon lies, so lies do have to be countered, but how that can be done effectively is a problem.

There is no mystery where Mr. Trump’s strategy regarding “The Truth™” comes from. It comes from Fox News. Fox (sic) News rode a strategy of “lie and when called out on it double down” to riches and The Donald™ pays attention to wealth creating strategies, even if he isn’t particularly good at following them. BTW, he is not just making these things up. He seems to be plucking them out of the “alternative media” which his supporters are also doing, strengthening the connection he has with them, confirming what they are told by the likes of Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh.

If we spend all of our time debunking Trump’s lies, we are giving him what he wants (Hint: attention) and not paying attention to what counts even more, which is what is going on behind the scenes.

For example, do you remember the issue in North Carolina in which Duke Energy was poorly maintaining coal waste “ponds” (they became ponds because they didn’t properly control water entering and leaving their waste dumps) and that very toxic waste was flowing into North Carolina streams and rivers … to the point that whole communities couldn’t drink or bathe in municipal water? Do you remember that? Do you also remember the Obama administration severely limiting the dumping of coal waste into streams?

If you do, did you notice that Congress just killed that regulation, so that it is now back to what it was before (perfectly okay for a bit of runoff to poison local watersheds)? This puts North Carolinian lives at stake, so I consider this important. And I do not remember a promise to poison North Carolinians being prominent in the campaign, so I suspect this action has to do with money and political favors.

Donald Trump is the gesturing hand the magician uses to distract you from what his other hand is doing. I recommend you reduce what you read and say about Mr. Trump to only official actions taken by The Current Administration. Do not … do not forward any of his Tweets. Do not quote him. Do not mention his name. For example, when “he” claimed that the murder rate is higher than it has ever been, just mention off hand that the per capita crime rate has been falling for centuries and the current murder rate is similar to that of the 1960’s and half what it was in the 1980s. (Real information has its “ups and downs” but the crime trend line is downward, ever downward.) When referring to actions taken, refer to the actual actor: Congress, The Current Administration, etc. Even if the President signs a bill, he does not author them, maneuver them through Congress, etc.

Pay attention to the waving hand and you will miss what is important.

February 12, 2017

Why Are We Still Legislating Religion?

The talking heads crowd is predicting that we will shortly see new legislation that will expand “religious freedom” in the U.S. This is shocking to say the least since we have had religious freedom for quite some time. Apparently “religious freedom” doesn’t mean what the words say. (Not quite equally shocking is that there will be legislation and not just executive orders.)

My guess is that the “new” legislation will expand the “right” of religious people to discriminate against people who they are doing business with. The highlighted case so far that has become an iconic example is the poor baker who didn’t want to make wedding cakes for gay couples getting married.

I can understand churches refusing to host gay marriages and I respect their right to do that, but a bakery? It seems now that many “Christians” are claiming that they are running “Christian businesses.” This is a smokescreen at best. I suggest to you that all businesses are secular in nature, that they have nothing to do with religion. And in this I include stores that sell religious artifacts and books, e.g. Christian bookstores, etc. They are not religious activities, they are commercial activities. They offer goods and services for sale in simple commercial exchanges. I have gone into religious bookstores and purchased items. As an avowed atheist, shouldn’t they have refused me service? Actually, the law prevents them from even asking me if I am an atheist, ironically under the religious freedom provisions of our laws, so I suspect they are ignorant to this day that they served a raving atheist. (It is hard to tell us apart from “true Christians,” is it not? They even elected one of us President.)

Any business claiming to be a Christian business had better show me they really mean it. In their incorporation by-laws I expect to see policies like “all debts will be forgiven on New year’s day” and “if we are robbed, we will turn the other cheek,” and “when it comes to paying our business taxes, we will render unto Caesar, that which is Caesars.”

If they can show that their business is truly linked to their religion, then the laws protecting religious activities should be triggered. Otherwise they are just selling cupcakes like every other baker.

It looks, though, that the current administration is seeking to sell indulgences, in this case a get out of jail free card for denying service to customers you do not approve of religiously. This is fascinating in that one of the core causes that resulted in the Protestant Reformation (which was a precursor to the formation of Evangelical Christianity) was the abhorrence for the corruption in the Catholic Church, including the selling of indulgences. The Catholics were selling “get out of purgatory” cards and “get into heaven” cards, which makes the current suggested sale of indulgences seem almost trivial, but it does seem as if we have come full circle.

 

February 10, 2017

Democrats Retreat!

The Democrats had their annual (?) retreat recently and the major topic was . . . reframing their message?! WTF? That’s right, reframing, not reforming. Apparently they think all they need is a catchy slogan or two and they are good to go.

They apparently also cannot figure out why they lost to the likes of a Donald Trump. Let me explain. The two candidates running were the only two with any chance of winning. One candidate promised “more of the same.” The other promised to “drain the swamp.” And they are surprised at who won?democrat-donkey-with-head-up-ass

The Democrats need to dump their “corporate wing,” the one sponsored by Goldman-Sachs, and get back to pursuing what ordinary people want. It was the Democrats themselves who, without prompting, dumped organized labor and targeted “professionals” as part of their core constituency. This was apparently done because of arithmetic in that the number of union jobs had shrunk so much over the last 40 years. This may be news to the Dems but the reason the numbers of union jobs has shrunk so much is because of the relentless attack on unions by the plutocrats and conservatives and the total lack of defense put up by Democrats. (It didn’t happen in Canada where the numbers of union jobs has stayed a constant fraction of all jobs.) Is it any wonder that “working people,” including union working people, fled running from the Democrats message of “More of the Same, More of the Same.”

They would have been better off with “Four More Years, Four More years” but still lost.

February 5, 2017

Trump Fatigue

Recently I advocated that we ignore Mr. Trump. I continue to advocate that.

The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda.
It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth
.” Garry Kasparov

Think about it.

If you focus on the magician’s gestures, you will miss the sleights of hand. Ignore Mr. Trump.

February 3, 2017

Ignore Trump

Filed under: Politics,The News — Steve Ruis @ 12:37 pm
Tags: , , ,

Yes, I am advocating that we do just this, at a time when people are running around with their hair on fire screaming “Trump wants to do this … Trump wants to do that.”

Ignore him I say.

There are two good reason for doings this. The first is that Trump doesn’t have an ideological or policy-driven mind. He has no ideas. He takes other people’s ideas that seem to resonant and attract attention and runs with them himself, but the ideas are not his.

We need to be laser-focused on what members of Mr. Trump’s administration are doing, though. (How that term ever got promoted is beyond me, lasers can’t be focused.) Mr. Trump himself is the embodiment of distraction. If we watch him, we miss how the magic trick is done. Ever second we watch him, is a second things are done out of out sight.

Pay him no attention.

This is the second of my two points: Mr. Trump seems to need attention … more than anything else and that includes money. If we withhold our attention, then maybe … maybe … we can get him to do something for us, rather than his current work for his puppet masters.

It is a long shot, but it might work. If not, you will have the satisfaction of denying him his heart’s desire.

So, from now on, do not use his name. Talk about “this current administration,” or “this official” or “that agency,” do not use his name and pay no attention to his antics. If you do, we lose.

January 31, 2017

Why Conservatives Hate Unions, Part 3451

So, which state in the U.S. has the largest, most thriving economy, right now? Silly question! It is California. Governor Brown has eliminated their massive budget woes, while dealing with a massive drought (a really big problem in an agricultural state), and dealing with the after effects of the Great Recession. Employment is way up. Wages are up. All is good.

One other thing that California leads the country in is … wait for it … union jobs. The number and percentage of union jobs lead the country.

But … but … wait, conservatives have been telling us for years that unions are bad for the country, bad for us, bad, bad, bad … and they still are saying it (the President never fails to mention how bad teacher’s unions are when he addresses education).

Gosh, do you think they might have a hidden agenda?

Golly, I guess I am kinda curious about why they would oppose in a blanket fashion, organizations devoted to helping working people. All unions are bad, they say, there are no good unions and bad unions, all unions are bad, bad, bad.

I wonder what they could possibly have against working people?

May I suggest one answer to that particular question: they dislike the fact that they have to pay workers for their labor. They would be much happier if they did not. And failing the return of outright slavery, their idea of a minimum wage is just that: wages should be the minimum that could possibly be paid. The idea that it be illegal to pay below the minimum wage makes them cry. And the idea of raising the minimum wage makes their head’s explode. Why, why … paying more to laborers would reduce profits and you know how bad that would be!

Really, how bad? Maybe the Walton kids would have one billion less to split. Or the Koch brothers wouldn’t be able to afford all of the Congressmen and senators they wanted to buy. It would be really bad!

And California? Don’t look there, say the Conservatives. They’re all freaks. They even like unions!

A Pop Quiz That is Telling

Quickly: Which U.S. President presided over the creation of:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The Consumer Product Safety Commission
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Mining Enforcement Safety Administration
and expanded the powers of the Federal Communications Commission
as well as launched the Employee Retirement Income Security Act?

Got it?

Times up.

That would be Richard Milhous Nixon, a self-proclaimed conservative Republican.

Did Mr. Nixon actually give a rat’s ass about any of these things from an ideological standpoint? Apparently not; he was an almost pure political animal. He appointed William Ruckelshaus, a safe Republican, as the first administrator of the EPA with the warning that he was “not to be captured by that bureaucracy.” Ruckelshaus reported that Nixon was neither knowledgeable of or even curious about environment issues. “He never asked me the whole time I was at the EPA: ‘Is the air really dirty? Is there something wrong with the water? What are we worried about here?’” said Ruckelshaus.

Nixon did not give a rat’s ass about the environment but he did care about votes. He was much more conservative when an election wasn’t on the horizon.

Fast forward to today. Unlike in Nixon’s America, the GOP no longer has ultra-conservative and liberal “wings” attached to a stolid conservative center. All of the liberal Republicans as well as the stolid centrist Republicans have been purged or morphed (for survival purposes) into what then would have been called ultra-conservatives. A similar process has occurred in the Democratic Party, except there the liberals weren’t purged they were just told to sit down and shut up.

So, if you combine all of this with GOP voter suppression (Democratic voters anyway) and gerrymandering of the Congressional districts, the only barrier to election for most Republicans is now getting nominated, which means the votes of any but the now wholly right-wing Republican Party do not count. And voila. The fear of the voters has been eliminated. Behavior like Nixon’s has been eliminated. Compromise has been eliminated.

And we allowed this to happen through our apathy and clinging to myths. (I do not exclude myself in this condemnation.)

So, when are things going to improve?

Guess, just guess.

Trump’s Advisors Strategies

Why all of the furor? Why all of the teeth gnashing? Most of President Trump’s executive orders are toothless, but the immigration ban is not only equipped with teeth, but it is patently illegal, violating not only our own laws but international agreements that are very fundamental to who we are as a people (Geneva Conventions, etc.). So, is the new administration that incompetent or is there another game being played?

Ah, this makes sense. If you combine the slowness with which the new administration is placing people into positions in the government, they are now, by their immigration actions, smoking out those who will act to oppose their will later, so they can be culled. Keeping many agencies short on manpower and/or short on leadership will weaken those agencies, a longstanding goal of the GOP being to create “smaller government.” Finding out the identity of potential opponents in government positions for culling … priceless!

Oh, why do I imply that this strategy is of Mr. Trump’s advisors? Simple. Mr. Trump is not bright enough to have pulled this off himself.

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