Uncommon Sense

May 12, 2022

Roe v. Wade Politics

I say fuck the GOP, and fuck the current SCOTUS. I also say fuck the Democrats because they decided that having a woman’s abortion rights in play was too important of a political football to be fixed, which they could have done long ago.

Lodging the Roe v. Wade decision in the privacy rights vaguely attested to in the Constitution was a mistake. They should have been lodged in the 4thAmendment to the Constitution, which begins “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”

The states considering laws making anyone who leaves their state pregnant and returns not so to be a criminal will be violating the 4th Amendment. “Alright, lady, turn out your uterus.” Similarly any search of a woman as to their pregnancy is protected from government intrusion. Any ban on abortion pills involves the same problem. To prove their case, they would have to search for a pregnancy before and after the event, which is not allowed. People are to be “secure in their persons.”

May 9, 2022

Conservatives No More

I was reading a Medium post on the SCOTUS opinion leak and I ran across this: “In case you haven’t noticed, for the last six years, it has been conservatives consistently disrespecting all our treasured national institutions, precedents, and traditions, not liberals.”

Conservatives, going back to Edmund Burke, were originally trying to conserve things: things like foundational institutions, traditions, social structures, etc. They were inherently against change. They supported churches, the police, “Our Country Right or Wrong,” the military, prisons, schools (yes, schools). I remember arch conservative William F. Buckley saying “A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.” Occasionally I miss William F. Buckley; he was an honest conservative.

But as the original quote alluded to, recent conservatives seem only to be trying to conserve their political power, and the tool of choice is “the end justifies the means.” So, Republicans stiffing President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, Merrick Garland, for no reason other than they wanted the power to appoint that replacement, was pulled out of their hat (or ass).

Then there was the Supreme Court, not yet at its full conservative packing level, declaring a number of nonsensical things. It declared certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act were no longer necessary. Sure those states had passed racial voter restrictive policies in the past, but that was the past and this is now. We can trust those states not to do those things again, because well they haven’t done those things in a long time. (Apparently the SCOTUS conservatives were ignoring that the courts didn’t allow those states to do those things as they violated the Voting Rights Act.) So, they abolished those silly, no longer necessary rules and within just days (hours?), a number of states started restricting the voting rights of minority groups. (Texas is nothing if not dependable.) So, did SCOTUS recognize their mistake and admit “Our bad!” and promise to fix it right away? No, what we got were <crickets, crickets, crickets>. What they did was launch a nationwide voter restriction effort by the GOP.

This same court declared corporations to be persons with political rights! Corporations were declared to be corporal entities for business purposes alone (in the nineteenth century). A corporation in trouble could die, thus absolving it of all of its legal problems (oh, and labor contracts), and then be reborn as a new corporation, even though it had all of the same management, employees, etc. The court went further and declared that these corporations had the right to donate unlimited funds to political bodies, because well, money was free speech, right? Right?

So, whether it worked or not, American institutions had to cave to Republican (not conservative) ideology.

Oh, and don’t forget how the SCOTUS, in Bush v. Gore, claimed the right to declare winners of elections, even when there was no precedent and their “winner” did not win the popular vote.

SCOTUS is showing disdain for precedents, even massive ones, and is becoming quite regal in its pronouncements, something the conservatives railed against when there was a fairly liberal court. They called it “judicial activism” and called it the work of the devil. Now that the SCOTUS is packed with conservatives, I hear no complaints from the GOP about judicial activism, even though this current court is far more “judicially active” than those past courts.

And, as to the leak of the SCOTUS opinion re Roe v. Wade, the author of that quoted post felt that it will prove out to have been a conservative leak, weakening those who wanted to soften the opinion, because it would look as if the court softened it in response to public outcries, and was not independent. Sounds like something a conservative, a modern conservative, would do. The end justifies the means, the end justifies the means, repeat after me. . . .

May 4, 2022

Contraception Could Come Under Fire Next If Roe v Wade Is Overturned

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:20 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I just saw a piece in The Guardian with the title above: Contraception Could Come Under Fire Next If Roe v Wade Is Overturned.

D’ja think?

The conservative wet dream of getting Roe v Wade overthrown being accomplished, they will roll out the rest of their agenda. They are not known for sitting on a lead. Buckle your seat belts, y’all, women’s reproductive rights are going to be under a full-scale attack very, very soon.

May 3, 2022

Why Most Prices Will Never Come Back Down

I ran into a blog post with the title above. The answer they came up with is off the mark, however.

Prices and costs are two different things. Prices go up and continue to go up because that is the way we designed the system. If we were to have designed it differently, we could have had prices that always went down or even stayed the same.

So, why do prices go up? It is obvious that they do. I remember buying whole loaves of bread for 25 cents, even 10 cents when killer sales took place. I also bought gas for my car at 25 cents per gallon when the price wars raged. Now whole loaves of bread cost $2-6 but the pricier breads are way better than the schlock breads we had available way back when. (Our grocery was in a WW2 surplus Quonset hut.) And gas prices are spiking way up now, but were in the high $2 to low $3 range before the most recent round of price gouging began.

But, when bread was 25 cents per loaf, the minimum wage was less than $2 per hour. In other words cents then were different from cents now. I got into the habit of always bending over to pick up pennies on the floor or sidewalk; I no longer bother doing this (isn’t worth the effort).

You see, the system adjusts. The average American income is about $55,000 now. When I was a child, that income would have made you one of the “rich.” That was back when $10,000 bought you a very nice house, indeed. If you made enough in a year to buy a house in those days, well, you were doing pretty well. The average (median) house price sold around here is now $325,000. As a college professor, I never made more than $75,000 per year (corrected for inflation, that would be about $120-150,000 now, so a college professor now makes enough in a year to buy half a house.

If you go back in time, the buying power of people’s wages held fairly constant from WW2 to roughly 1980. Then the wage suppression efforts of the conservative/wealthy types kicked in and real wage increases stalled from that point onward.

It used to be the case that as price increases occurred there was pressure to raise wages. I remember when wage increases were broken down into two parts: one was for “inflation” (aka price increases) and the other was above and beyond that, aka a real increase. This was because people figured out that if their salaries were increased only enough to deal with price increases, then their “raise” was not a real raise, as their buying power was unchanged.

What is shocking to me is that the wealthy folks continue their efforts, some quite underhanded, to increase their wealth, when that “extra wealth” doesn’t affect anything other than their egos. They already have enough income, enough houses, cars, vacations, etc. Piling another billion on top of what is already in their Money Bins doesn’t change their lives in any ways, but actually . . .

Their wealth hoarding is a transfer of wealth, real wealth, not inflated wealth, from the rest of us to them. They don’t feel their increase but we feel our decrease. As our lives become more and more diminished, the lives of the wealthy become more and more precarious. Since we do not have the money to buy the goods the factories of the fat cats are making, they move their sales over seas. But those markets aren’t as favorable as our rigged markets (rigged for our wealthy, that is). China is notorious for accepting factories of American corporations, then within a few short years, there is a native Chinese production facility in competition with them, and not just in competition with yours in China but in Europe and other places as well. China backs active espionage of “intellectual properties,” and protects startups from predation as they build up speed and capacity. (Hey, don’t get snooty, we did the same to Great Britain after our Revolutionary War.)

And the fat cats can’t fall back on the American domestic market (which used to be huge) because we Americans do not have the disposable funds we used to have. What we do have is debt. It is debt that enslaves us. At least we don’t have to go to work houses anymore, but our jobs have become much like those workhouses. We work and we work and we work and we don’t get ahead.

And, of course, the conservatives (and their political party, the GOP) are Social Darwinists. That they are wealthy is an indicator of their superiority on all fronts (business, political, religious, moral, etc.). That we are poor and massively in debt is an indicator of our inferiority on all of those same fronts. And they are not inclined to serve you via our government. You are not worthy.

So, prices will continue to go up, that is the way the system works. Unfortunately, your ability to pay those prices will shrink and shrink, and shrink. The system worked somewhat better in the past, but when the plutocrats bought our governments they no longer work for us, they only work for them.

If you do not believe me, look up what the 1960’s minimum wage would be worth today if it had been corrected just for inflation. Compare that with what the minimum wage is today.

The irony, of course, is that the plutocrats do not understand that if they hadn’t transferred all that unnecessary (to them wealth) out of our pockets, we would still be buying all the things they are selling, and they could continue to be “players” in “the game.” As it is is, they seem intent on destroying the game and most of us in the process.

Afterword The people on their side of the fence believe that there are only four things that can reverse wealth inequality: mass warfare, violent revolution, lethal pandemics, or state collapses. And those aren’t guarantees! The collapse of the Soviet Union (with meddling by U.S. by the way) caused a great deal of new wealth inequality. But World War 2 wiped out a great many monarchies and fortunes of the then rich and famous.

I am not fond of any of these but if they don’t listen to common sense advice, maybe a violent revolution is a quick fix. Or maybe someone will figure out how to target the uber-wealthy with a virus.

April 27, 2022

Respect is Earned, No?

In the ongoing drama between liberals and conservatives, we seem to be imposing our own definitions on each no matter what they have been historically. This can all be resolved by a quite straightforward expedient.

First, I invite you to read this.

I find Benjamin Cain a quite profound thinker and I think he is spot on in this article. We are in a situation politically in which a number of foxes have glued a few feathers on themselves and have gotten quite a few of the chickens to claim: “No, they are really chickens, silly!”

But liberals are operating from a humanist perspective and, as Mr. Cain suggests conservatives are arguing from an animalist perspective. Now, I am sure some people will think it insulting to call conservatives “animals” but that is not what is being said. It is saying that theu have a perspective of animals. They believe that the strong prey upon the weak (often eaten them before they have died) and that if you are at the top of the social pyramid, it is because you are a top predator, er, top competitor. They believe in charter schools because they think that their children are naturally superior and they need a structure in which to compete and show how superior they and their schools are. The limp-wristed liberals think that every child is entitled to a quality education. Conservatives think that their children are entitled to an education superior to that of the hoi polloi, and if, through a voucher system, they can get the whole population to help them pay for that all the better.

Conservatives use terms like “it is a dog-eat-dog world” showing that they are Social Darwinists (the survival of the fittest in society). Yet, we live in a country established along liberal lines, giving equal rights to people when the conservatives are more likely to claim you have all of the rights you can earn.

As Mr. Cain summed it up in that article:

Nevertheless, by tolerating conservatism as an outlook that’s supposed to make sense as a viable option within modernity, as opposed to regarding conservatism as a radical, reactionary repudiation of modernity itself, liberals are inviting foxes into the henhouse.

How should liberals handle this massive confusion or fraud which is “conservatism”? They might begin by dropping the face-saving formulations, cutting through the conservative’s sanctimonious and obscurantist salesmanship, and speaking more bluntly about the political and economic options and stakes.

To wit, it’s only humanists versus animalists. Period.

March 22, 2022

Holy Moley!

Our political disputes have become what the Founders feared most, a religious war. With the forces of “good” pitted against the forces of “evil.” And all because we let evangelical Chrsitians play politics. Thanks Republicans, for taking their ideas seriously (albeit just to feather your nests)!

What is most alarming is the underlying ideology that leads so many on the right to consider Democratic victories invalid – even if they concede there was nothing technically wrong with how the election was conducted. It has become a core tenet of the Republican worldview to consider the Democratic party as not simply a political opponent, but an enemy pursuing an “un-American” project of turning what is supposed to be a white Christian patriarchal nation into a land of godless multiracial pluralism. Conversely, Republicans see themselves as the sole proponents of “real” America, defending the country from the forces of radical leftism, liberalism and wokeism. (The Real – And Far Scarier – Reason Republicans Think Biden Is Illegitimate by Thomas Zimmer, The Guardian, 3-21-22)

Good, but scary, reading.

March 20, 2022

There are Lies and Then There are Breitbart Lies

The Breitbart internet “news” site ran a story claiming a Virginia boy committed suicide because of COVID mandates and critical race theory.

They left out a few things, for example, that the boy had graduated from high school the year before the pandemic broke out and that his school doesn’t teach Critical Race Theory.

Here are the details: Breitbart Claim: Boy Kills himself due to Critical Race Theory and COVID Mandates

If the freedom of the press shall not be infringed, what about the freedom to lie through the press? Is that protected, too?

March 12, 2022

Christian Nationalism Contradictions

Something I read recently struck me as an oddity, namely: “One of the most glaring areas of the Christian crisis reveals (itself) in the growing problem of poverty. In a Christian-dominated society that supposedly regards charity as a principle, Christians divide harshly over the treatment of poverty.”

What the author is referring to is the professed dedication to the spirit of charity within the religion, but virulently opposition to government sourced charity, which they refer to as “welfare.” I argue that this distinction exists because in welfare, Christians do not get to determine who is worthy of their charity. Some of this can be logged up as racism, but other factors are involved. For example, after the Great Depression Roosevelt’s administration decided that the best way to combat the poverty of so many Americans is to give them small amounts of money, an unprecedented governmental approach. There first rollout of the effort was exceedingly slow and when investigated it turned out that before the money could be granted, the good Christian government workers had to be convinced that the recipients were suitably shamed and so spent time driving home this point to the already shamed applicants. When the “aid workers” were suitably retrained the money flowed much faster and people felt the “relief” those funds provided. (The amount of money involved was so small as to appall modern Americans as to how stingy/mean spirited the government officials were being.)

This is an oddity amongst a whole class of oddities involving “Christian” attitudes that conflict with Christian teachings. I put the first Christian in quotes to distinguish it from the stated beliefs of the religion in that here it represents the actual beliefs and actions of American Christians.

Currently the undercurrent of American Christianity wanting political power, in the form of a declaration that the U.S. is a Christian nation, is more prominent than at any other time in the recent past. So, were these folks to get their wish, what sorts of policies could we expect?

Certainly, those Christians would welcome the practice of so many “official” Christian nations, which is to have the government collect their tithes for them, funneling those into the coffers of the churches. But, I must ask, how would the Christian mission of charity manifest itself in this new Christian nation? The government could collect money from the many who have some to give to the poor. But wouldn’t that be “welfare?”

As I have mentioned in so many ways now, I don’t think these “Christian nationalists” have thought through what it is they actually want. I am gravitating toward the possibility their desire is a manifestation of conservatives wanting to use the big club of religion to bash the country into something more to their conservative likings. I don’t think it is a religious issue so much as a political (neoliberal/conservative) issue. Those people have already achieved the coup of convincing evangelicals that “voting Democrat” is the equivalent of “voting Satan,” so they had to move on to new efforts, for “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

March 9, 2022

The Law of Unintended Consequences Still Rules, Part the Next

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:04 pm
Tags: , , , ,

According to a new Pew Research Center survey, atheists are far more likely to be vaccinated than any religious group. And the worst? Wait for it  . . . wait . . . white evangelical Christians, who are 54% vaccinated versus 90% of us atheists.

Now, this is where the Law of Unintended Consequences comes in. What is the biggest challenge facing Christian churches here in the good old US of A? It is attendance and the fact that the average age of church goers is getting to be quite old.

So, the evangelicals are not getting vaccinated because of their allegiance to right-wing bullshit factories, and the COVID kills, right? In fact almost 75% of the deaths due to COVID in the US, were of people 65 years old and older.

So, the evangelicals are advocating policies that are scything down their own congregations, hastening the demise of their own churches.

I wonder if God majored in irony in college. Do you think?

Do you think this is what Fox (sic) News meant when they said there was a War on Christianity?

The Law of Unintended Consequences Still Rules

States, like Texas, are deathly afraid of becoming “white minority” states, with “people of color” numbering more than the “real Christians,” aka “white people.” And, the wise legislators in Texas recently banned abortions in the state by empowering vigilantes to seek out those attempting to get abortions for bounties.

So, a recent study has shown that “An average of 1,400 Texas women traveled each month between September and December 2021 for abortion services” (The Guardian). If we think this through, we have to ask who these women are who are heading out of state to acquire an abortion. First is they have to have the resources and skills to accomplish such a thing, so they are vastly more likely to be upper- to upper middleclass women, and therefore mostly white. Those being forced by the new law to carry their children to term, are likely to be poorer, and more likely to be black and brown women.

So, the consequence of the new Texas state abortion law is to accelerate the coming of a white minority status for the state. More black and brown babies are being born and fewer white babies are being born. (If that 1400 a month holds, it could be as many as 16,800 fewer white babies per year, 168,000 per decade.) Obvious. Won’t be long before that shows up on the voter registration rolls.

Yeah, hah! You go, Texas! You might want to get that one foot bandaged up before you take aim at the other.

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