Class Warfare Blog

October 26, 2019

Over and Over and Over. . . .

In the news yesterday were a couple of stories showing that our “justice systems” are anything but. The first involves a trial concerning the actions of a group of Catholic peace activists, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. In April 2018, they broke into the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia, where they carried out what they claimed was an act of symbolic disarmament in protest against the U.S. military’s continued possession of nuclear weapons. As Sam Husseini wrote in The Nation, “[they] brought hammers, small bottles of blood, spray paint, and crime scene tape, which they strung across the facility.” Charged with several federal crimes, they face more than twenty years in prison if convicted. (Source: Rewire News web site).

The second item, well the title tells it all “Video shows officer shooting fleeing Fresno teen in the back of the head.” (Go ahead, guess what color the teen was . . . I’ll wait.)

In the first case . . . twenty years in prison for vandalism? The focus of the piece was on whether a religious exception for their behavior should be allowed, but I say it should be on whether the possible sentences fit the crime. No real property damage, just a janitorial bill, and no people were hurt. What say we publicly shame them for their poor choice of actions and make them clean up the mess, while video taping it for public distribution? How about putting them in a situation where if they do it again, they will be automatically punished more severely. Twenty years of someone’s life for an act of vandalism is bizarre.

In the second case, police officers seem to be willing to employ lethal force at the drop of a hat. The oft-cited reason for this is that if an officer fears for his life, he may use lethal force justifiably. This, “fearing for one’s life,” is a bogus justification for anything as it cannot be verified by anyone outside of the officer him/herself. Plus this creates a legal standard based upon a fear level that cannot be quantified or even examined. Plus, isn’t the job basically to manage one’s own fears to keep society safer? In this case, the 16-year old victim was a member of a small group already in custody, so it should have been a priority of those officers to make sure they were unarmed, no? Then the kid bolts and runs away, only to have one officer calmly put a bullet in his head from 35 feet away, then walk up to his unmoving body and handcuff him.

There is a very short list of criminal offences for which the death penalty can be applied (after due process, of course). Why then do we allow police officers to mete out the death penalty for trivial offences? In this case the young man was wanted for “questioning.” We need to change that rule for justification of lethal force. Lethal force should only be available for crimes for which the death penalty is available. If that kid had pulled out a gun and shot at the officers, they would be justified in shooting back because he would have been attempting to kill an officer of the law, for which the death penalty is available in many states. Running away from the police should result in him being chased, not shot and killed.

How many of these cases showing our criminal justice systems are really quite broken must we see before we take reformation of these systems as a serious priority?

October 11, 2019

Something is seriously wrong with this system.

Filed under: Economics,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 10:04 am
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Over at the Naked Capitalism site there is a significant post on the costs of healthcare insurance—Wolf Richter: How Employees & Employers Get Bled by Health Insurance.

It is no secret that the healthcare insurers figured out that union-negotiated healthcare insurance was a spigot to tap the wealth of the nation so as to flow into their coffers.

The unions thought that they were negotiating a “fringe benefit,” a non salary-based benefit and that this would make sense for one and all. Everyone needed access to healthcare services, so making it a fringe benefit made sense. It also allowed a larger “purchase” to be made, thereby holding down the costs.

But insurers recognized that the prices they charge were made invisible to the employees and so they used the specter of employee unrest to jack up prices wholesale. Even employers were caught off guard.

Here’s a taste of the article, check out this graphic. It covers only a 20 year span, in which healthcare “costs” increased at a substantially higher rate than, well, anything else. (Why? Because there was no one in charge?)

As a contrast to this consider the school textbook market. All states buy textbooks for their schools. Some states, like Texas and California, are so large that textbook publishers cannot lose sales to those states, so they cater, fawningly over the states with the most buying power. Imagine if there were one giant healthcare insurance customer. Imagine the buying power. Imagine the ability to oversee this entity (as there will be only one customer, with only one suite of paperwork, one set of reports, etc.). Imagine the pressure on drug manufacturers and all of the rest to make sure they get their piece of the pie.

Can’t possibly work, you say? Well it is working . . . in numerous places around the globe . . . and even right here in River City. In the form of Medicare and the Veterans Health Administration.

 

 

 

August 16, 2019

A New Slant on the Second Amendment Debate

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
(Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution)

Quite a few people are unaware that until quite recently most people and most Supreme Court Justices viewed the Second Amendment as addressing other than an individual right. Since its ratification, Americans have been arguing over the amendment’s meaning and interpretation. One side interprets the amendment to mean it provides for collective rights (of militia members), while the opposing view is that it provides individual rights.

Until quite recently, this was considered mostly a collective right, not an individual one, with few Supreme Court cases addressing that matter (in effect, they were hiding from an definitive decision). That all changed with District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008. (Yes, 2008, eleven years ago, peeps! Pay attention!) The case centered on Dick Heller, a licensed special police office in Washington, D.C., who challenged the nation’s capital’s handgun ban. For the first time, the Supreme Court ruled that despite state laws, individuals who were not part of a state militia did have the right to bear arms. As part of its ruling, the court wrote, “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home” (Empahsis mine. SR).

So now the Second Amendment addresses the government’s ability (inability, actually) to control an individual right. And that will be the case until a reversal of this opinion is had, so basically forever.

But, consider this. If you strip out all of the militia verbiage (which creates the collective vs. individual brouhaha) and just look at the rest of it, it says:

“. . . the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Keep and bear. “Keep” refers to people who already have an “arm” and that they are to be allowed to keep (store, house, etc.) those arms and “bear” means to carry and, in this case, use the arms involved. But it says nothing about the government infringing upon the right to acquire firearms. (None other than Antonin Scalia stated in that 2008 decision the opinion that for him, “to bear” was simple enough, meaning “to carry.” And “arms” were just weapons. He conceded that there was an idiom, “to bear arms,” which meant to belong to an organized military force. But this was only a possible import of the phrase, not its core meaning. So, while establishing this new individual right, he also established with the terms “keep” and “bear” were in this amendment.)

So, while the government cannot infringe the right to keep and bear arms, it is free to legislate who can acquire arms and for what purposes. We can limit what arms can be acquired, how many, how much ammunition, etc. and the conditions that need to be met to be able to acquire them, which includes having a license, passing a training program, being sane, providing insurance against criminal use, etc.

Well, what do you think?

July 24, 2019

We Don’t Need Regulators, Corporations Would Never Do Anything to Harm Their Reputations

Filed under: Business,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 8:47 am
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The Big Lie is a lie so obviously untrue that people would not accept it unless it became “common knowledge” which it does if the BL is repeated over and over and over.

We have been told by the “De-Regulators” that all of these regulations and regulators are unnecessary, that “The Market™” will take care of all of the bad actors. And, certainly major corporations would never, ever do anything to harm their reputations.

How many times do we need to see this is not only not true, but very, very false?

Read this!

Capitalism gone wrong: how big pharma created America’s opioid carnage

The biggest drug epidemic in the U.S. created not by human weaknesses but by the profit motive. (Read this sentence again!)

April 21, 2019

Jail Birds Fly Free … Well Some Do

One of the parents who conspired to get their kid into an elite college the old fashioned way (cheating, bribery, influence, etc.) has been on trial and that trial is in the sentencing phase. The prosecution wants something a little less than a year in prison and the defense wants something closer to a month in prison.

So, this is the justice system we have. People go to jail for cheating on college admissions requirements, for possession of small amounts of marijuana, etc. but if you do something really big, like bring down the financial system of the U.S. and the world, or defy the orders of a federal judge, you get swept under the rug as being “too big to fail” or, gosh, you get a presidential pardon. I understand that some banks might be too big to fail but are they too big to be broken up and sold off? Are the executives too big to go to jail? Do we need bigger jail cells? We used to send bankers to jail and did so as recently as the savings and loan debacle in the 1980’s. But now, gosh, it would be just so sad to do that, so let’s just give those executives a bonus and let them retire or, heck, just let them keep doing what they have been doing.

Obviously justice in this country has always been predicated upon the color of your skin and your socioeconomic status. If Bernie Maddoff had bilked a bunch of poor people or a bunch of people of color, would he have gone to jail? He had the bad taste to bilk white people who had been rich, so his fate was sealed.

This is sad.

March 5, 2019

SCOTUS … Wandering … Wandering

Filed under: Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 11:32 am
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The US Supreme Court decided to stay out of a case from New Jersey about taxpayer funding of the historical preservation of churches. This leaves in place a decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court that held the denial of state funds to religious establishments did not violate the church’s free exercise rights.

Of course, the unwise and unwary justices couldn’t leave well enough alone:

“At some point, this court will need to decide whether governments that distribute historic preservation funds may deny funds to religious organizations simply because the organizations are religious. … [B]arring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion.” Justice Brett Kavanaugh

He says “discrimination” as if it were wrong. In this case discrimination is right. The word “discrimination” has taken on as a primary meaning of discriminating for illegal reasons, such as racial or age discrimination in hiring. But the word just means being able to recognize a distinction; to differentiate. In the justice’s case, he is supposed to discriminate between actions the government is legally allowed to take and actions the government is not. If I may quote from the First Amendment to the Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;. . .”

Since the adoption of that amendment, the courts have ruled over and over that the government cannot use funds in support of any religion and that this rule applies to the states as well as the federal government. So, according to the Constitution, the SCOTUS is supposed to discriminate between funds spent legally and funds spent illegally, in this case “in support of any religion.”

So, in response to Justice Kavanaugh’s “is pure discrimination against religion.” Yes, thank you, for recognizing what the Constitution stipulates we must do. You have finally recognized your duty and my hope is that you continue to discriminate for the Constitution as you have sworn to do.

 

July 25, 2018

Why Are We Still Discussing Contraception? (Hint: Religion)

Contraception has still been around for a very long time, and yet we are still debating the topic and are passing laws regulating it. Of course the reason for this is religion.

In the Muslim world, they are still in a phase in which, as a religion, they are trying to out populate the other religions it competes with. This was a phase for Christianity, too, a phase we haven’t entirely left.

Now, realize that if the radical religionists get their way, they will use state power to regulate contraception, as well as other sex-related topics and, I suspect there are reasons to believe you will not like it. As just an example of what to expect, should the most recent Antonin Scalia clone gets hoisted to the US Supreme Court, Louisiana has already passed a law that takes effect when Roe v. Wade is overturned in the SCOTUS. That law makes abortion a crime, sending everyone involved to jail with large fines attached, e.g. if a daughter is raped and her mother or father helps her get an abortion, the parent, the child, and the doctor are all heading for the slammer.

You may have noticed that states like Louisiana have coerced abortion clinics out of existence in their states, making the operation almost unavailable if you are poor and can’t travel out of state already. (As an aside, I wonder if the promoters of these laws have compared the birth rates of their state’s populations. The “white” birth rate is the lowest, hence they are speeding along the path to becoming a “white-minority” state.

Okay, back to the original topic. where did these anti-contraception ideas come from? The answer, of course, is Christianity (in the U.S.). So where did the Christians get their ideas? well, it wasn’t from scripture. Their scripture states that a baby becomes a “person” when they inhale the breath of life just after they are born. This hasn’t stopped the Christians from trying to pass a bogus law declaring the baby is a person at conception. (Once the pregnancy test shows blue, register the child for a Social Security number and claim then as a dependent on your tax returns. With the savings, go to another state for an abortion and you will have a “State funded abortion” whether they want it or not. Just sayin’.)

I have been paying more attention to church history of late and that history clearly shows the evolution of the churches stance toward sex and contraception. These ideas, not to be found in scripture, were created by Church Fathers like Paul and Augustine and, well, the usual crowd. Most of these people make clear that they believed that the most desirable state for Christians was celibacy. Augustine’s battles over his sexual nature make an interesting study of self-inflicted psychological wounds.

These people were, of course, unmarried for which fact they made self-serving excuses. Imagine these “holy men,” not at all likely to be much fun. They are overly serious, overly religious, and obsessed … not exactly marriage material. If they ever did have sex, each occurrence was probably the equivalent of a teenaged boy’s first sexual experience, that is to say explosive and overwhelming. They never got to the stage where sex with a committed partner becomes a gentle, affirmation of their relationship. So, they equated sex with lust, a cardinal sin. So, they started making rules about a subject they knew almost nothing about and which they mischaracterized from the beginning. At least the Quakers had the grace to die out, but the early Christians were playing the political dominance game, where the church with the most followers “wins,” just as Muslims are doing now.

The rather stern Protestant inheritors of these positions have accepted them, even though they are based in Catholic theology, and run with the ball. This is hardly surprising as the conservative Protestants are responsible for the Catholic majority on the Supreme Court. (Shush, don’t tell anyone, you’ll let the cat out of the bag.)

How we continue to let celibate clergymen dictate to us is beyond me. But then the church is hardly democratic. The only appeals they make to democracy is asking to be let to vote upon whether the U.S. should be declared a Christian nation.

This ridiculous demand can be quashed by a simple ballot. The first question is: “Should the U.S. be declared a Christian Nation (yes or no)? The second question is “Which denomination (Mormon, Scientologist, Catholic, Baptist, Southern Baptist, Charismatic, Quaker, Episcopalian, Seventh Day Adventist, and 10,000 more)? (check one).

The whole idea of the separation of church and state is to keep items of religion off of the ballot! The evangelical churches around the time of the adoption of the Constitution knew this as they were in a small minority at the time and would have been voted into obscurity. Better a level playing field for all than to give the currently popular churches the state power to collect tithes, etc.  Now that they are ascendant in conservative political circles, now they want to vote.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

If you want to see how states with endorsed religions behave, just look at history. It isn’t pretty. Why would they want this? I guess it is because they are still following tradition … traditions that were invented by lustful celibates thousands of years ago.

And, as I have been saying over and over: a religion will not continue to exist unless it coerces the labor of the masses to the benefit of the secular and religious elites. In the realm of sex, those being coerced are women. Rules made by men who did not and do not understand women or sex are still being used to control women. Women are to be “used” as vessels for men’s seed, and as caregivers to children, and then as a support system for their girl children’s children. That’s it. Oh, and clean the house and cook dinner and don’t forget to pick up my dry cleaning.

Disgusting.

Oh, and they are winning right now. If they break down the wall between church and state, get ready for religious wars.

July 16, 2018

SCOTUS: Fair and Balanced?

Since the Supreme Court is floating in the discussion air, I am reading more and more comments like this:

And just when we thought SCOTUS was done trying to unravel the moral fabric of America, Justice Kennedy gently whispered, “Hold my beer” and announced his upcoming retirement, thus simultaneously signaling the end of an era of a [kind of] fair and balanced Supreme Court. I won’t use his name.

Fair and balanced my ass.

Again, reasonable journalists are giving sops to the status quo to suck up to all segments of their potential audience and doing us all a disservice. Judge Kennedy is being called a “moderate,” because he voted with the liberal wing a couple of times. But he is solely responsible for the “Citizens United” ruling and voted with the conservative wing far more often (way more often) than he voted with the liberals. That makes him a milder conservative, but in no way was he a moderate.

And, “fair and balanced?”

The current court, minus Justice Kennedy, has 4.5 Catholics on it (Gorsuch was raised a Catholic but now is part of an Episcopal church. Episcopalians consider Catholics to be catholic in name only, they being considered back sliders.)

Three of Trump’s four finalists for Kennedy’s seat on the court were Catholic as is the one he finally “chose,” Brett Kavanaugh. The remaining three Justices are Jewish. So, if Kavanaugh gets confirmed that will make three Jews and six Catholics as the representation of the court. Fair? On occasion. Balanced? In no way.

Catholics represent 22% of the U.S. population and Jews represent 2%. What about the other 76% of Americans? The Protestants, the Atheists, the Agnostics, the Muslims? What about them? And please don’t try to tell me that their religious worldviews have no effect on their decisions. Give me a break. (Freaking Scalia believed in the literal existence of the Devil!)

I guess candidates from the “out groups,” don’t get chosen off of lists created by the like of The Federalist Society, the strongly Catholic organization that prepared the list from which Trump got to choose “his nominee.” (The Federalist Society is already responsible for placing three justices: Alito, Roberts, and Gorsuch on the high court.)

Fair and balanced my ass.

And, if you are wondering why so many Republicans are scoffing at the idea of the “Deep State,” you might want to consider that they are protecting their benefactors, like the Federalist Society, part of the Deep State.

February 10, 2018

How to Solve the Abortion Contretemps

Filed under: Culture,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 9:49 am
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All over the world, the issue of abortion is contentious. On one side are women who want to control their own bodies. On the other side are people who think “life is sacred” (and there are probably 42 other sides as well). Please do not buy the argument that “life is sacred” as it is not a valid argument. The behaviors of those who claim life is sacred do not exhibit a commitment to that idea. So, the argument is a smokescreen for their real reasoning, which is suspect is based upon a millennia old fear of the power of women.

In any case, I can solve this difficulty with little political fuss. Currently through artificial birth control suppression and abortion suppression, women are being forced to have babies they do not want to have. If they do have a baby and abandon it, they are subject to child abandonment laws. If they do have a baby and do not raise their children to a level acceptable to society they face social punishments up to and including legal punishments. This forced baby having is a punishment that takes 15-18 years to play out, sometimes longer. (Please, no “how can you not love a baby” comments. If you do not know, just grab the nearest male and ask them.)

To solve the abortion and even the artificial contraception issue, simply make fathers 100% responsible for their progeny. If a father abandons a mate and child, the law finds him and makes him pay. If a mother does not care adequately for a child, it is the father’s fault and his will be the punishment of not providing for his children.

Were this to be implemented, you would soon find no legal prohibitions of artificial birth control methods or abortion. And rape would be a crime punishable by death or at least a slot in a cell as some large person’s bunk muffin.

Simple, easy, effective.

This is also a route to solving the hijab/burkha issue also. Men need to be masters of their sexual urges. If the visual stimulation of an attractive female incites a male to attack her, it is not her fault and the entire burden falls upon the male. How it is that the control of the male libido was transfer to women is beyond me. Any male who cannot control his own urges is clearly a danger to society and needs to be locked up.

 

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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