Uncommon Sense

February 2, 2023

Now Black Cops are Killing Young Black Men

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Race,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 12:05 pm
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One of the tasty topics on display currently is the Death by Cop of a young black man, Tyre Nichols, in Memphis. All of the cops in the execution squad were Black. Conservatives heads exploded, “See, see, just what we have been saying all along; it is not a race issue!”

But it is.

There has been a decades long campaign to demonize young Black men. Sending them to jail keeps them from voting, at least it had. And there was money to be made running jails, you know. And well, they are just nig . . . you know.

This demonization was so great, and focused on law enforcement, that even Black cops have come to despise young black men, no matter how squeaky clean they might appear. Think about Black cops who view themselves as “good guys,” yet who still suffer racial discrimination, think about the current situation. It is likely they are thinking: if all those young Black men were not forming gangs and dealing drugs, we wouldn’t face so much blow back. It is all their fault. They themselves fell victim to the propaganda of the “Dangerous Young Black Man.”

January 24, 2023

Modern Day Villains

We, as a society, consume a great many entertainments, many of which are visual: videos, shows, concerts, etc. In the “movies” many plots require some dramatic tension and a good guy-bad guy axis. Someone to root for, someone to root against. And the villains fall into somewhat nice categories: we have sociopaths and psychopaths, whose thinking is bizarre to us, but fascination, currently we have quite a few zombies who have no personality but pose an existential threat nonetheless. (Nobody tries to figure out why the zombies are doing what they do, they just run.) And the usual coterie of “bad guys” includes drug dealers, people who cheat on the spouses, etc. It is rare that a new bad guy, like Hannibal Lecter comes along.

By far the most common bad guy in today’s videos is . . . drum roll, please . . . corporations, evil corporations, not just corporations that run over you because they didn’t see you in their driveway. Corporations that are driven only to make profits and to Hell with any opposition to those efforts.

Here is Bernie Sanders chiming in on one such corporation (Cal-Maine Foods):

Bernie Sanders (Twitter)
@SenSanders
Corporate greed is the producer of Egg-Land’s Best, Farmhouse Eggs & Land O’Lake Eggs, increasing its profits by 65% last quarter to a record-breaking $198 million while doubling the price of eggs & reporting no positive cases of avian flu. Yes. We need a windfall profits tax.
11:37 AM · Jan 15, 2023·
2.4M Views

And these corporations haven’t exactly been subtle about their machinations: the CEOs of America’s largest companies got on their quarterly investor calls and chortled about the willingness of “consumers” to blame inflation for the prices they were jacking up . . . because they could.

Republicans stickered gas-pumps up and down the country with Joe Biden “I Did That” stickers, even as gas companies declared record profits and boasted to investors about how they were able to tap directly into drivers’ wallets under cover of inflation.

It doesn’t look like any other villain will knock corporations out of their #1 spot at all soon. They just can’t help themselves, reinforcing their “bad guy” image over and over and over.

As I had said often enough, the Achilles’ Heel of capitalism is that it places no restriction on greed.

December 30, 2022

OMG, Making Trump’s Tax Returns Public! It is an outrage!

No.

It is not.

These are government documents and citizens have a right to see those not marked Top Secret or above.

In an actual civilized country, Sweden, any citizen’s tax return can be acquired by any other Swedish citizen who goes to a local tax office, fills out a form, and pays a small fee (for duplication costs). In Sweden, all tax returns are public documents, as they basically are here, except in the minds of those who want to hide their crimes. Or who want to lie about how much they make or about how much wealth they have.

Think about it. We are asked by our government to fill out extensive forms to determine how much tax we should pay. Why would those forms be secret to all other taxpayers, who may be suspicious that fraud is occurring elsewhere in the system? The answer is short—they should not.

Oh, did you see where Trump wrote off a $70,000 “business” expense for “hair care”? Any claim of him being a good businessman should end at that fact right there.

December 20, 2022

Jan 6th Committee Punches Up!

The hapless Republicans keep shooting themselves in the foot. When the House of Representatives decided to investigate the “Attack on the Capitol” the Republicans decided to play ball, the Republican Way. They nominated clear Trump loyalists/fan boys but those appointments were nixed by the Speaker of the House. Then they decided to not play ball at all and told their caucus to not serve on that committee. But the Committee was formed and it had two Republicans on it! Of course, there were consequences to those “rebellious” Republicans; neither will have seats in the next House.

But that didn’t deter the Republicans. They labeled the effort as a “partisan witch hunt” (and continue to do so to this day).

So, the Repubs refuse to appoint honest Republicans to that committee (maybe they couldn’t find any) and then claim that the committee’s work is political and biased and “partisan.” Brilliant. Trump even whined after one of the hearings that none of the committee members were defending his viewpoint. (Duh!)

The Committee held hearings on TV with the vast majority of those being heard were Republicans, including officials in the administration and Trump family members. (Trump declined to testify and the Committee declined subpoenaing him.)

Five Republican members of the House were asked to testify and when they declined, subpoenas were issued. All five spurned the subpoenas and so the committee referred them to the House Ethics Committee as such is a violation of House Rules, and well, you know, the law. (Only four were referred as one of the five had already left the House.)

Since the committee was investigative in nature, they could only make recommendations: recommendations for changes in governmental policy, the election laws, etc. And they recommended that the Department of Justice consider criminal proceedings against the main perpetrators. Many of the little perps are already in jail, but none of the masterminds are. If the DOJ pursues those cases, that may change.

One of the charges recommended by the committee is that of aiding or abetting an insurrection and that was leveled at former President Donald John Trump (all major criminals are referred to with their full names, e.g. Lee Harvey Oswald, John Wayne Gacy, John Wilkes Booth, etc.) and potentially many others. And a provision of the Constitution is that anyone convicted of insurrection-related crimes is no longer eligible for public office. This is being called into dispute, I presume by Trump loyalists. They claim this provision may be unconstitutional.

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 3:

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Now that is a hoot. The Constitution may be unconstitutional! The Constitution states all kinds of restrictions as to who can run for office. These involve age (you must be this old to ride this ride), to being a “natural born citizen” (we don’ need no stinkin’ immigrants). (Being white and male weren’t explicitly stated but were unofficial qualifications early on.) Why disallowing oath breakers and insurrectionists would conflict with the other parts of the Constitution seems bizarre, but with the current version of the Extreme Court, aka the Rogue Supreme Court, I guess anything is possible. The Repubs worked like beavers to get those political hacks installed on the SCOTUS bench and they seem to be betting that they will do their bidding no matter how ridiculous.

November 22, 2022

Really?

I just saw a post in The Guardian with the title: “Amy Coney Barrett urged to step away from gay rights case because of faith affiliation” and subtitle: “The US supreme court justice’s history with the People of Praise raises questions about her impartiality in upcoming case.”

I understand the effort, but really? Does anyone expect Justices Alito or Thomas to be “impartial” in such matters? Consider the majority opinion in the Dobbs case, that overthrew the Roe v Wade decision, which was largely incoherent, stating thereby “We are going to decide this the way we want because we want to” and had nothing to do with impartiality or even precedents.

Note—I was under the miscomprehension that recusals were rare at SCOTUS, when in fact they are very, very common, so this “request” is not at all bizarre. I suspect that it will not be granted because if it were, then that Justice would have to recuse herself from a great many issues upcoming that she would rather not.

November 5, 2022

How Can You Atheists Be Moral Without God?

Catholic Diocese Totally Screws Up Handling Sexual Abuse

Get back to us when you have figured out how to be moral with your god.

October 14, 2022

Litigious Idiots

Filed under: Culture,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 9:45 am
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A recent news report exposes one of the many facets of our idiot litigious society.

Fast-forward to September 2021, when a California man named Phillip White bought a $3 bottle of Texas Pete at a Ralph’s supermarket. He apparently wouldn’t have bought the sauce, but he was totally taken in by the brand name and the little red cowboy on the label. White later learned that Texas Pete is made in North Carolina — and has been for well over 90 years — and responded to this information by calling an attorney.

As first reported by USA Today, White has filed a class action lawsuit against T.W. Garner, alleging that the company has “cheated its way to a market-leading position in the $3 billion-dollar hot-sauce industry at the expense of law-abiding competitors” and shoppers who “incorrectly believe” that Texas Pete is made in Texas.

White’s complaint also accuses T.W. Garner Foods of “[concocting] this false marketing and labeling scheme specifically because it knows the state of Texas enjoys a certain mysticism and appeal […] and is known for its quality cuisine, spicy food, and hot sauce in particular.”

Imagine this poor sod’s amazement when he finds out that:

Mars Bars are not made on Mars
Moon Pies are not made on the Moon
Milky Way Bars are not made out in the galaxy
Frankfurters (aka Hot Dogs) are not all made in Frankfurt, Germany (for that matter “hot dogs” are not made of real dogs)!
Baked Alaska, well you know.
Buffalo Wings . . .
Belgian Waffles . . .
Boston Cream Pies are not all made in Boston, oh my!
Denver omelets . . .
Philadelphia Cream Cheese . . .
Fig Newtons not made in Newton, MA?
St. Louis ribs . . .
Texas Toast . . . Texas Toast, people!
Parker House Rolls are not all made in the Parker House Hotel.
Monterey Jack Cheese is not made in Monterey (CA or Mexico).
Anaheim peppers are not grown in Anaheim, CA.
Key Lime Pies are not made in the Florida Keys.
Nashville Hot Chicken is not all made in Nashville, TN
New York Strip Steaks often come from Texas!
Manhattan Clam Chowder has been known to have been made in Boston!
and . . .
Rocky Mountain oysters are not even oysters and are not from the Rocky Mountains!

Line up the lawyers!

Postscript I will be amazed if this case gets any traction at all. I especially want to hear how the plaintiff was harmed so that he has “standing” to sue. But SCOTUS being what it is today, I guess I shouldn’t be shocked if the case reaches the Supreme Court under considerations of religious freedom.

October 9, 2022

Public Displays of Religious Identity

Filed under: Culture,Religion,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 10:42 am
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You may have heard that the French government has banned the hijab, and you would be right (sort of), but do you know why?

Recently (Feb 5, 2022) the French Senate voted 160 to 143 in favor of a ban on wearing the hijab and other “conspicuous religious symbols” in sports competitions. Oh, just sports competitions, uh, but wait there is more.

In April 2021, the French Senate passed an amendment that would make it illegal for girls to wear the religious veil worn by Muslim women.

And, in April 2011, France became the first European country to impose a ban on full-face veils in public areas.

The motivation behind these measures is called laïcité which is the constitutional principle of secularism in France. Article 1 of the French Constitution is commonly interpreted as discouraging religious involvement in government affairs, especially religious influence in the determination of state policies.

France may be picking on Muslims in particular but they have also banned the wearing of Muslim headscarves, Jewish skull caps (Yarmulke/Kippah), or large Christian crosses in public schools.

But, surely there would be religious exceptions in these regards, no? Actually France rejects such exceptions in favor of an ideal of “equal citizenry.”

Allow me to focus upon the school age youth bans. Here what were banned were large tokens of religious identity. These are symbols, like hats, scarves, ritual knives (Sikhs), jewelry (crosses on necklaces), etc. The French say they want all school kids to be viewed as equals in the eyes of the other children. Overt religious displays of identity say the opposite. They say “I am a member of a special group (and you are not).” They help others of similar identification to identify the wearer. Think of a guy with a beard wearing a dress. Do you or do you not categorize him?

They certainly do not help school children to see one another as political equals.

I think there is a solution and that would come with the codification of an “age of consent.” This concept used to exist outside of the law when it came to religious identification. But as efforts to proselytize our children were intensified, the age of consent, the minimum age one could be to declare a religious identity, became lower and lower.

I suggest that we ought to codify an official age of consent of somewhere near 18-20 years of age. This would rule out references to Catholic babies, and confirmation ceremonies for children, and baptisms of children too young to speak. (BTW There is still an ongoing battle between Baptist Christians about whether children should be baptized at all.)

At that age, I suggest that children undergo a ceremony in which they could declare an adult name of their choosing, a religion of their choosing or no religion at all, they could even declare a political affiliation (imagine the Elephant and Donkey Mylar balloons!). At this age they will have gone through puberty and experience the gamut of what nature intended for their bodies. They would be in a position to make some monumental choices (none of which are irreversible, but no one likes to have others choose their responses to important matters—imagine a husband who tells his wife to apply to vote by mail and then demands she give him her ballot so he can fill it out—if you don’t bristle at that, you are probably a member of a fundamentalist religious sect).

Prior to the age of consent there would be no wearing of crosses or beanies, or hijabs, etc. as the school children will not have yet chosen to identify as one of those communities. Of course, the indoctrination pressures will be immense as they get close to that age of consent, but at least the kids will be partially equipped to fight back if they desire. I am also sure we will need more half-way houses for these young adults thrown out of homes for not following the wishes of their parents.

The Difference Between Having an Opinion and Having a Say

My topic is politics. Recently the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS), in its infinite wisdom, has declared two bizarre things: one is that money is a form of political speech and the other is that corporations are “people” in the political arena.

This has led to the current situation in which corporations are able to make unlimited donations to political campaigns, despite the fact that there is no aspect of a corporation that possesses a political identity. If the CEO determines the political identity of a corporation, does that mean if the CEO is an atheist or Christian that the corporation is an atheist or Christian entity? If the CEO is a Republican, does that make the corporation a Republican? If the corporation hires a new CEO, are the new CEO’s politics and religion examined as part of the hiring process, to see if the CEO candidate is aligned with the corporations identity? If so, the law is being violated.

There is a broader problem in these matters and the SCOTUS seems to be oblivious to it. In a corporation, say one giving heavily to the Trump campaign, if an employee feels differently, what about their position? Well, in that case the employee has a right to have an opinion, but he has no say in the matter, because the CEO (or Board, or . . .) has the say as to the political stances of the corporation. SCOTUS seems to think that free political speech belongs to everybody, when it clearly does not, and declaring money to be a form of free speech complicates the Hell out of the situation.

If you come to a political discussion and espouse your opinion, I have the ability to evaluate your position. If you say “Don’t elect so-and-so because he is a filthy Jew.” I can see clearly that you are an anti-Semite. “If you says “Don’t elect so-and-so because he is a tax and spend Democrat,” or “Don’t elect so-and-so because he is anti-guns,” I can evaluate your opinion. If you say “so-and-so” is an atheist and the guy goes to my church, I might even speak up and provide that counter-evidence and undermine your speech. But if all he does is send money to the opponents of “so-and-so” I have no idea what his opinions are. (He may be donating so he can suck up to his boss; I can’t tell!)

Now expand your thinking to “the guy with the opinion” is from another state and he is arguing against voting in a candidate for governor. He attends the political discussion and says “I am not from here, I am from California, and I don’t think you should elect “so-and-so” as your governor.” Now your reaction is different. You might ask why he is butting in on your debate time, because all he has is an opinion, he doesn’t have a say. The people who have a say have a vote in that governor’s election. The people with just opinions do not. By showing up and identifying himself as someone who doesn’t have a say changes your opinion of the value of his speech. But political donations aren’t things we can evaluate, in fact often we cannot identify from whom they come. They are a form of “free speech” (Not!) that cannot be categorized by the “hearers” of said speech.

Our political system would have a much better chance of surviving is we limited political free speech to those who have a say, those people in the district of the candidate. They have a say or could have, not voting is a say, but outsiders can’t even protest by not voting; they are forbidden to vote outside of their electoral districts.

This should be applied to political money as a start. Candidates can only collect funds from people they will represent, no others. If a corporation doesn’t have its headquarters in a candidate’s district (as an approximation of its “permanent address”) it cannot donate money to those candidates because they are practicing influence peddling pure and simple. (Studies show that big donors are served more readily by politicians no matter where their interests lie.) Corporations may have outlandish power in the places their headquarters are located, but that is better than allowing them outlandish power in every state in the union. That is the equivalent of letting people establish a post office box in each state and use that as a permanent residence to have “a say,” even to vote in that state.

Oh, and if you are wondering where our current path leads, all you need do is look at the current crop of national politicians and candidates for those offices. In the history of this country we have had a long, slow increase in the social standing of politicians and in the quality of people in those offices, except of late when a great deal of regression along those lines has occurred. All the oligarchs need from politicians is obedience to their needs. They do not need or want politicians who care about people, who carefully research issues and craft public policies that benefit all citizens. For example, other civilized countries have institutionalized health care. e.g. Canada. We do not. Why? Because the oligarchs are making obscene profits from selling insurance and pharmaceuticals to desperately sick Americans. As another example, a large majority of Americans want better regulation of gun purchases and usages, either by enforcing the laws already on the books that are not currently enforced, or by writing new laws. No such efforts are currently being made. Why? Because the oligarchs are currently making obscene profits selling guns to anxious Americans, anxious because there are so many guns floating around to be used by who knows who.

The oligarchs have all the government they desire right now and are grinding away to have less of it. Government is the only entity capable of standing up to the massive influence and wealth of the oligarchs and they want it out of the way. Their fifty year campaign is almost complete. If we don’t take a stand soon, I am afraid the Great American Experiment in Self-governance will be over.

September 11, 2022

How Would He Know?

Filed under: Culture,Morality,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 10:26 am
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Ex-president Donald Trump is back on the stump branding the FBI and Justice Department as “political monsters” and has labeled President Biden as an “enemy of the state.” All of this is based upon his interpretation of the search warrant legally and quietly executed at his tacky Florida “mansion,” Mar-a-Lago. Part of his initial claims was that the FBI planted the documents in his rooms. (Note—It was Mr. Trump who announced this news item to the world, not the FBI; they were being discrete.)

The question I suggest we need to ask and keep asking is “How would he know?” Mr. Trump was not present when the search warrant was executed. His lawyers were, so he could have gotten some information from them as first-hand observers . . . and we all know how competent Mr. Trump’s lawyers are. You know the brilliant legal minds he has on retainer, including the one who signed an affidavit that all of the government-owned documents had been surrendered, before the raid, and the ones who keep filing law suits getting thrown out of court because they are incoherent.

As the frenzied Mr. Trump lashed out against the FBI, he didn’t explain where the FBI was supposed to have acquired the top-top-secret documents they supposedly planted. Mr. Trump, apparently, assumes people can pull all kinds of things out of their asses, since he does regularly. (And apparently even those empty folders have tracking numbers on them, so they are traceable as to where they were last.)

Mr. Trump’s tirades are inciting many, many more threats and attacks on law enforcement agents. When does this become illegal incitement to violence? Our Constitution guarantees that political speech is free in this country, but there are limits, e.g. yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire is not speech that is considered free. So, when do Mr. Trump’s bald-faced lies become illegal incitement?

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