Class Warfare Blog

December 13, 2018

Dichotomist Nonsense

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 12:58 pm

I ran across a Harlan Ellison quote today: “I know that pain is the most important thing in the universe: greater than survival, greater than love, greater even than the beauty it brings about. For without pain, there can be no pleasure.” He is an author whose work I have read a lot, although he is not necessarily one of my favorites. (He is a brilliant and fabulous writer.) I plucked out this quote because it demonstrates erroneous dichotomous thinking. Dichotomies are two “opposites” such as pleasure and pain, good and evil, smart and stupid, etc. And a common argument is if you didn’t have the one, you wouldn’t also have the other. An example is that we all can’t be rich, so “the poor will always be among us.”

This is bullshit of course.

Let me give just one example: eating an ice cream cone. Is it good? (Assume it is your favorite ice cream, favorite cone, etc.) Is it good? You bet your ass it is good! How do you know? Must you compare that pleasurable sensation with poking yourself in the eye with a sharp stick? (Doesn’t that sound silly?)

The reason these dichotomies are stupid is that the argument only works if there are only two possible states, that is they are alternatives. Either you have one or you have the other. But most things are not like that; in fact, very few are. Most things are parts of continuous ranges of values. So, the good of a favorite ice cream cone is immediately comparable with “normal” meaning “no ice cream cone.” Pain is not necessary to make a definition of pleasure. Everything can be compared to the “norm” or the status quo. So pain is not necessary as a framer of pleasure: non pleasure does that quite well.

This false thinking is behind all kinds of foolishness, such as happiness quotients. “Happy” and “Sad” are not two states. In between are unhappy and unsad in large manifolds. And happiness is not something to pursue. At best it is a marker. Short stints of feeling happy are a good sign that you are well balanced. The rest of the time things like contentment, gratitude, etc. are much more worthy states to be in.

False dichotomies are rampant in political argumentation. I have written often enough about the false dichotomy of “moral” and “immoral.” The vast majority of the time we are amoral, that is we act in ways that do not impinge upon morals or ethics. So, washing your car, driving to work, making the kids lunches: are these moral acts? And aren’t many of our actions a tiny bit immoral, even though we claim to be moral actors, by and large? Have you ever driven over the speed limit in a school zone, endangering members of the next generation? Have you ever been a scofflaw by walking against the pedestrian traffic lights? Have you ever been given too much change for a purchase and not returned the excess? Do any of these make you immoral or even the acts immoral? They are all matters of degree. They are all on a wide spectrum of behaviors. So why do we always pursue the false dichotomies that litter our thinking: liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, capitalists and socialists, believers and atheists? I suspect that it is because thinking is hard … and slow … so we would rather take the shorter, faster route to a position. I wonder of our democracy (being different from other democracies) can survive such laziness?

“The majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own.” Alex de Tocqueville (observing U.S. citizens)

 

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November 19, 2018

Worse than the Scientologists?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 12:16 pm

I just watched part of an episode of Leah Remini: Scientology the Aftermath which was about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was apparently at the request of some survivors of that church. I knew Scientology was a scam before I saw any of her exposes. I didn’t know they were as bad as they were, though, so she really helped clarify the situation. I thought that the Jehovah’s Witnesses were just another fringe brand of Christianity but they may be worse than the Scientologists.

Scientology worked a bit of a scam getting itself declared as a religion by the IRS (I want to be a religion, toooo!) and it has that status legally because of that declaration. (It also profits financially (hugely) because of this.) The Jehovah’s witnesses have been around since the mid-1800s when the IRS hadn’t yet been invented, so I think they got grandfathered in because they survived as a cult.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to be scripture cherry-pickers of the worst sort. They justify abominable practices using any scriptural reference they can find apparently. As an example, along in the 1940’s, they decided that blood transfusions were the work of Satan and forbade their members from having them. They quoted Acts of the Apostles that reiterated the Jewish claim that food should not contain blood. (The effing Holy Bible is full of blood magic, bogus blood magic, of course.) Because of this admonition, JHers die regularly because of refused blood transfusions. It is not just that the member him- or herself refuses, but the churches send out teams to make sure they refuse. This includes children of members, often young enough that their parent’s refuse for them. Those who die from this lack of medical care are considered particularly holy.

Think about what else the JH leaders could have done to reinforce their control over “their flock.” They could have noted that this admonition refers to food and hence doesn’t apply strictly, but since they believe all non-JHers are controlled by Satan, they could have forbidden transfusion from non-church members. Then they could have organized their own blood banks and helped each other to live and grow in the church. There were other options, but it seems they prefer submission of women to men, children to parents, and all church members to the leaders of the church above all else. Of course, they call this submitting to Jehovah (probably should be Jehovah™).

They also had to have their own “translation” of the “Holy Bible” as none of the hundreds already in existence seemed to do what they needed. (Need a blatant sign of a scam?)

If you do not accept my claim that religions do not survive that do not coerce the masses to serve the interests of the religious and secular elites, you need to look at the levels of coercion in both of these “religions.” They both have church members spying on their fellows and reporting any failings observed. When they shun people, families are split up and communication between the fragments is banned. Plus, they have industrialized “blaming the victim.” Anything that goes wrong is your fault, because they represent God, don’t you know, and He makes no mistakes. (Why the Great Flood ever happened is beyond me because “He makes no mistakes.”)

If you haven’t yet read What’s the Harm? Why Religious Belief Is Always Bad by Richard Carrier, I strongly urge you to do so. And do realize some of these “religions” are worse, far worse, than others, e.g. the Australian JH Church knew of over 1000 child sexual molesters in their ranks and reported none of them, zero. They claimed that they couldn’t take action because “scripture” required that there be two witnesses for a crime to be adjudged, which would mean that a child molester would need to bring a couple of adult, male witnesses along to build a case against himself. So, none of the accusations were adjudicated by their panels. They did say, however, that they did believe the children who came forward to accuse their molesters … but their hands were tied, you see, because of the two witness rule. Scum, utter scum of humanity.

 

 

November 15, 2018

So There Are Still Prophets!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 11:06 am

September 15, 2018

Couldn’t Have Said It Better

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 8:08 am

I buy a lot of stuff through Amazon.com. Recently the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, did the billionaire thing by announcing a two billion dollar donation to “help” the schools. My reaction wasn’t good. Pete Greene’s was on point. Please read this.

WTF, Bezos

April 4, 2018

NRA Lauds Advances in Gender Equity

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 10:48 am

An NRA spokesperson announced today that the NRA is proud to see that more gender equity is being achieved in American society. He did not refer to specifically to the San Bruno, California shooting at YouTube during which Nasim Najafi Aghdam shot three people at YouTube’s offices before killing herself, but made the comment in response to a question from a N.Y. Times reporter about that incident.

As more and more women acquire concealed carry permits and practice marksmanship, the achievements of men and women will become more on par, he said.

[Note To avoid criticism of “Fake News, Fake News!” from the President or the NRA itself, I freely admit this is fake news. My only defense is it is no more fake than the news the NRA puts out. SPR]

March 26, 2018

Oh, The Irony!

When the American Experiment in self-governance began, the creators of the government we now possess were significantly concerned that the hoi polloi, the “middling sort,” as they called them, not get too involved in the process. The Founding Fathers were elitists, by design. They felt that only people like them had the education, the perspectives, and experience to lead the government.

One of the fears expressly stated was the fear that if the poor got control of  the government that they would use the government’s powers to strip the wealthy of their wealth. Most of the FFs were quite well-to-do, don’t you know. (Like you I was shocked, shocked, I tell you!)

This fear: that the poor would go after the wealth of the wealthy, has lived on in the hearts of most of the wealthy persons since the later eighteenth century and exists today.

In all of that time, I can only think of one period in which the wealth of the wealthy was effectively restricted and that was due to the New Deal of the quite wealthy President Franklin D. Roosevelt (who was called a “traitor to his class” for his efforts). People often point to the 90% tax bracket introduced during WW2 and kept there after (even under Republican Dwight Eisenhower) as an example of  wealth stripping by “the people.” But this doesn’t hold up. This onerous tax bracket didn’t kick in until one had an annual income in excess of $100,000. Considering that the average worker’s income was around $3000, this was quite a lofty salary. So this 90% tax bracket applied to very few people. Plus SS taxes were quite low in the 1950’s as opposed to now. (Thank you, Ron Reagan!) And one can argue that effective tax rates (the rates people actually pay, not listings in tax tables) are higher now than in the 1950’s, so this does not wash as an example of a time in which the rich were attacked by the poor. The actual slowdown of the accumulation of wealth in the 1950’s was, I believe, caused not so much by policy (some was) but by a feeling of “we are all in this together” due to the war, making it harder to screw your neighbors.

There are, however, more than a few periods, including the one in which we are in now, in which the wealthy have joyfully robbed the poor and middle class. (Oh, the irony!)

If you are unfamiliar with wealth inequality (really it should be termed wealth inequity because really no one is arguing that all should be equally wealthy) you need to educate yourself on this very hot topic. Wealth “inequality” as currently defined is at an all-time high, worse than it was in the Gilded Age or any other period in U.S. history.

The entire process of civilization has been fueled by coercing inexpensive labor out of the masses to benefit the religious and secular elites. Any advantages of civilization that have been gotten down to the poor are the result of trickle down process and we all know how effective those are. Still, a certain amount of this is acceptable but when it gets excessive, as it is now, the torches and pitchforks tend to come out and, well, there are more of us than them.

I think we all need to take a page out of the playbook of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and establish a single issue voting block. I will no longer vote for any candidate who has an A or B rating from the NRA, in support of their effort. (Vote them out!)

How about a wealth inequality inequity single issue voting block? Establish a few parameters and then VOTE THEM OUT. Unfortunately this will go badly for all Republicans and the corporate Democrats. On second thought, strike the word “unfortunately.”

March 24, 2018

The Men Who Built America!

There is a new series of TV shows under this rubric. The first such series was about labor crushing industrialists. This one is labeled: The Men Who Built America: Frontiersman. You know, like Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, etc.

In the long standing tradition of the winners writing the history, these “men” are portrayed in U.S. history of icons of bravery, basically heroes. Unfortunately, that is not what motivated them. The central and western parts of the nascent United States were claimed by Spain, England, and France. At various times, these countries authorized Americans to go awandering in the “wilderness,” otherwise known as “Indian Country.”

Of course, all we are looking at here is the point of the spear of white supremacy. Everyone knew that the continent was occupied, by Native Americans, but they weren’t white, don’t you see.

The U.S., even when it was just a set of colonies of England, was created as a capitalistic enterprise. (Many people don’t know that the Plymouth Rock Colony was a business venture with a corporate charter and all.) And as far as the “Americans” were concerned, land was wealth and land was there to be taken … so they took it. The “frontiersmen” established the resources of the “unclaimed land” (“Hey, the damned Indians didn’t even believe in owning the land!” was their claim.) and made maps. And, well, they carved out a few plots for themselves; for example, Davy Crockett was a major land speculator. The next thing to happen was “settlers” were moved in, uh, well-armed settlers. That the land already had cities, nations, and villages was obvious to one and all, but it was still considered “unsettled” by white people.

This practice, generally supported by regional, state, and the U.S. federal governments, continued until we reached the Pacific Ocean. Even when we ran up against national boundaries, such as with Canada and Mexico, we didn’t stop then.

Presumably, you have heard of the Texas Rangers. Rangers were not exclusive to Texas as many states, especially southern states, had collections of rangers. Well, the Texas Rangers were instrumental in acquiring the states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Basically, a small army of Texas Rangers sailed down to Mexico and moved inland to Mexico City. There they terrorized the city’s population and politicians, shooting up whole sections of the city. The price to get them to leave was … wait for it … the succession of the states we now call California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas to the U.S. And, besides, those Mexican people were brown and not white, so we screwed them over with no hit to our consciousness. Extortion’s not a sin when done in the service of white supremacy, is it?

The “historians” followed this up by deifying the trespassing poachers who began it all: the frontiersmen. (They also turned many a criminal into Robin Hood-like figures.)

Oh, and the firepower generated to perform this wholesale theft and slaughter (it was easier to eradicate the Native Americans than evict them, so we rode through villages and shot everyone: men, women, children), that firepower was the justification for the Second Amendment to the Constitution. The militias referred to were not state or governmental militias, but volunteer and corporate militias, like the Texas Rangers. Governmental Militias were established in Article 1 of the Constitution, so the Second Amendment was just about arming hordes of Black slave and Indian killers.

As a school child I was educated to be proud of my country. I now realize that much of that “education” was propaganda covering up the mass murders of and illegal and immoral land appropriations from the original inhabitants of this land.

We did not make war, most of the time, we just moved in and when anyone complained we shot them. Easy peasey. But it was all okay, the clergy told us the Bible said it was. And then the U.S. History course offered in our schools whitewashed what was left.

The War on Christianity, Again, Still?

Filed under: Religion,Science,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 9:46 am
Tags: , ,

Sometimes an ad is all it takes to get me thinking. This is a book ad I saw come up on BookBub:

Why Science Does Not Disprove God
By Amir D. Aczel
Does scientific advancement disprove the Bible? A renowned writer and mathematician says no — and argues that theories put forth by geniuses like Albert Einstein can actually bolster one’s faith in God!

At the same time I see myriad condescending questions on Quora website directed at atheists. My question is why all of the animosity from theists toward science? We are told that there is a War on Religion, a War on Christianity? If this is a war, it can only be a war as described by the Three Stooges. (Remember “The bazookas were bazooking: zook-zook!”) In reality, science does the  not give a rat’s ass about any gods, demigods, spooks, ghosts, demons, etc.

What I see is scientists doing science, but if a scientist achieves any prominence, especially in cosmology, or biology (hint: contains evolutionary theory), they are asked their opinion about god. Why on Earth would this question get asked of scientists when science has nothing to say about the topic? I suspect it is to show what atheistic, godless fiends scientists are, but that’s just a suspicion.

Many people point to the fact that most scientists are without religion. I argue that that is just a manifestation of education. The more educated you become, the less likely you are to be religious. It even holds true for divinity schools! I think that an education, any decent one, teaches you how to think and that leads to a rejection of religions, which ask you not to think.

The hurt and outrage of theists as to the damage science is doing to their fairy tales seems to be the cause. They seem to be constantly picking fights, then asking why we are so belligerent.

These are the same people who are claiming quantum theory proves god (it does not), or that the Big Bang theory proves god (it does not), or as in the book above why science does not disprove god (it does not because it has never tried). Often they get the science wrong, abysmally wrong. An amateur Christian apologist was wonder why, if the Theory of Evolution was a fact, at the top of every scientific article on evolution is the word “abstract.” Apparently the not very well learned apologist is not familiar with scientific publishing where the norm is to give a one paragraph (or at least short) summary of the article’s contents, called an abstract. This device allows busy scientists to figure out whether the article is worth a close reading. Logically, the heading for the abstract is “Abstract.” Sheesh.

Theists, listen, you gotta stop sending apologists to a gun fight with pea shooters; at least give them a knife or a real weapon.

I suspect that this fictional war being proclaimed on Fox News and elsewhere is due to a loss of prestige and deference religions used to have. There are so many people now who do not care about, or who actively question, these “rights” that religions traditionally have exercised that it is being noticed. And “tradition” is “just the way we have always done things” which therefore is hard on people when it changes. Data now show that religion is in decline in many areas of the globe and concomitantly in those areas in which religion is becoming less favored, the people are reporting to be happier. Could it be, as I am claiming, that religion is a tool of oppression, wielded by the elites to keep the masses in line, so their labor can be sucked off to the benefit of the religious and secular elites? Do you think?

October 30, 2017

A Viable Way Out of this Mess

I have been reading and hearing a lot of wishful thinking surrounding Mr. Trump of late. Most of the thinking focuses on removing the president through impeachment and trial or via the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

President Midas … er, Trump

Neither of these paths are at all attractive to my mind.

Consider the 25th Amendment route to removal of the President. In order for the scheme to work, a two-thirds majority in Congress of both houses, have to assent and that is after the Vice President and “a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments” have attested to the president’s unfitness for office as I am fairly certain Mr. Trump won’t off himself. Lots of luck with that as the Republicans hold solid majorities in both houses of Congress and most of the members have enough intellectual energy to light a match, so will probably shy away from voting on anything controversial that doesn’t involve a tax cut for the rich or the striking of Mr. Obama’s name from a post office or other edifice.

The impeachment path is even scarier. Gee, make Mr. Trump the center of attention … for months. Oh, he will hate that … not. And who is to say he won’t win? And nothing, absolutely nothing will get done for months.

The only viable path I can see out of this mess is to make Mr. Trump irrelevant. He continues to be President, head of state, head tweeter, etc. He gets to pardon the turkey, light the Christmas tree, etc. But otherwise, Congress ignores him and the military ignores him.

You see, if Mr. Trump is overtly removed from office, his supporters will be permanently opposed to anything we wish to do for the foreseeable future. They will rightly see this action as “not giving him a chance” and a “witch hunt,” etc. Mr. Trump is an outsider to Washington politics (all politics for that matter). He was elected because of that. If he is politically lynched it will appear to be a classic “the Empire strikes back” move of the “insiders” and Mr. Trump’s supporters will feel thoroughly dissed (correctly so).

This is not something that “we the people” will get over easily. I have argued that not only should Mr. Trump’s votes be counted as a vote against the status quo but also all of Mr. Obama’s. Think about it. This deeply racist country elects a Black president? Is there any greater statement of displeasure with the status quo.

The status quo involves the rich getting richer at an alarming rate at the expense of the rest of us. This has been going on for the better part of 40 years and people are really, really (really!) feeling it and they want it to stop. Even if you think that Mr. Trump’s selection had a snowball’s chance in hell of actually reversing the disparity of wealth in this country, that was basically what was fueling his election.

Removing him directly would therefore be a big, big mistake.

The few sane Democrats and Republicans have to get together behind the scenes and get a few things done but mostly they need to sit on their hands with regard to major agenda items as little good will come from their pursuit. Allow Mr. Trump his platform and move beyond him in the next election.

The Republicans will have little problem putting up some other candidate for president in 2020. The accomplishments of Mr. Trump will be mostly destructive (people can’t sue their banks, businesses are free to pollute, etc.) and the claim can be made that Mr. Trump wasn’t a real Republican (by the other candidates, not the party). It is curious that Bernie Sanders got hit repeatedly for not being a real Democrat when Mr. Trump was less involved with Republican politics than Sen. Sanders was with the Dems (who caucused with the Dems), yet Mr. Trump was never attacked as not a true Repub.

Possibly when Mr. Trump’s tax plan goes down in flames, or worse actually gets passed (What will the Repubs say when people’s taxes go up?), the Repubs will be motivated to sideline Mr. Trump.

October 26, 2017

No. 36

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 11:50 am
Tags: , ,

This is my 36th post this month, setting a new record for this blog. My original strategy in starting this blog hinged upon the feedback I was given that I was “full of shit.” My thinking was if I could just get some of that out of me I would be less full of it. Over 4800 posts later, and my strategy seems not to be working as I seem to be just as full of shit as I was when I started.

Maybe I should try separating the good shit from the bad shit?

I knew I shouldn’t have used Republican logic in the first place. Trickle down my ass.

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