Uncommon Sense

September 18, 2021

Lies and Truths

Filed under: Economics,History,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 12:57 pm
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Consider the following quotations:

“(T)he question of their necessity (trade unions) is really superfluous. As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in a social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people’s health.

“Both of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do not feel themselves to be members of the national community as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness grow profound evils for the future.”

“For in politics, as in other fields, the use of economic pressure always permits blackmail, as long as the necessary unscrupulousness is present on the one side, and sufficient sheep-like patience on the other.”

“Otherwise he (a nascent politician) runs the risk of either having to change his former position on essential questions, or, contrary to his better knowledge and understanding, of clinging to a view which reason and conviction have long since discarded. In the former case this is most embarrassing to him personally, since, what with his own vacillations, he cannot justifiably expect the faith of his adherents to follow him with the same unswerving firmness as before; for those led by him, on the other hand, such a reversal on the part of the leader means perplexity and not rarely a certain feeling of shame toward those whom they hitherto opposed. In the second case, there occurs a thing which, particularly today, often confronts us: in the same measure as the leader ceases to believe in what he says, his arguments become shallow and flat, but he tries to make up for it by vileness in his choice of means. While he himself has given up all idea of fighting seriously for his political revelations (a man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in), his demands on his supporters become correspondingly greater and more shameless until he ends up by sacrificing the last shred of leadership and turning into a ‘politician’; in other words, the kind of man whose only real conviction is lack of conviction, combined with offensive impertinence and an art of lying, often developed to the point of complete shamelessness.”

“If to the misfortune of decent people such a character gets into a parliament, we may as well realize at once that the essence of his politics will from now on consist in nothing but an heroic struggle for the permanent possession of his feeding-bottle for himself and his family. The more his wife and children depend on it, the more tenaciously he will fight for his mandate. This alone will make every other man with political instincts his personal enemy.”

Comments of the Trump era or on our current politics?

Actually these are attributed to Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf, which he wrote in 1924. He was by no means done creating himself, so his opinions may have changed over the next twenty years. It is hard to say.

Many people refuse to read this book, as they assume it is all lies. I argue that were it all lies it would have had little traction with the German people. Yes, there were plenty of lies and misconceptions and errors of thought, but there are also many observations that seem as true today as they were a century ago. Hitler also has a disarming way of admitting he had been wrong, many, many times, but that may have been a ruse to establish a position of “I may have been wrong back then, but I am dead right now.” Again, hard to tell. It is rare to get into the mind of a ruler, so books such as this one, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and a few others are worth reading.

September 16, 2021

Fact or Fiction: The United States Are Controlled by Satan-Worshiping Pedophiles Who Run a Global Child Sex-Trafficking Operation?

This sounds like a SNL skit or an article for The Onion, but according to a newly released survey, 15 percent of Americans agree with the false premise central to the QAnon movement that government, media, and financial worlds in the United States are controlled by Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation.

The finding is contained in a Public Religion Research Institute study released last Thursday based on interviews of more than 5,000 U.S. adults in March.

Polling that relies on agree/disagree questions can overstate the extent to which respondents actually hold such beliefs, but the survey nevertheless underscores that the allegations of the QAnon movement have been embraced by a significant number of Americans.

In the survey, 23 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement. By contrast, 8 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of independents agreed with the statement.

Well, those data would be concerning if you assumed that the respondents are serious. Currently I do not.

Americans currently contain a large component which wishes to throw a monkey wrench into “the system” as it currently is, and that system includes the all too haughty polls conduced by “pollsters.”

For example, I feel that political polls turn our elections into contests, the most used term is “into horse races.” Consequently when I receive a phone call or an email message asking for me to share my opinions, I decline. “Thanks, I don’t do polls.”

A less passive response would be to answer their questions and give the most effed-up responses one could dream up and this is what I think is going on.

This is, I suspect, in response to the government using lies and propaganda to “control the population” to the point that it has little to no credibility left.

Take the UFO issue as an example. We now know that the government/military set up programs to obfuscate, lie, and mislead the public over and over and over. When this was finally admitted, was anyone really surprised? Were you surprised?

The lying has become so brazen that politicians will say one thing yesterday and the opposite today and when this is pointed out to them, they shrug “Fake news!” We’ve been getting gaslighted by our own government for so long it no longer causes outrage or even draws comment.

The Apostle Paul vehemently said, in his own writings (we think), that “I am not a liar!” Apparently back then, being a liar had consequences. Now it seems to be only a qualification for becoming a politician.

Footnote on Irony It is now recognized that fear is the strongest lever in the propagandist’s toolbox. So, why was the lame excuse used in all of those UFO sightings, that the public wasn’t ready for the truth. I can’t think of any better lever for the ruling class to use than the fear of aliens. Turning human politicians into “Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation” seems peanuts compared to what one could claim to be the “alien threat.” Imagine the fears: They eat human babies! (They must be atheists.) They claim to have proof that their gods exist! They want to move here! They are fleeing a way more powerful alien species! Their penises are enormous and their sexual appetite for human girls is unbounded! . . . and on and on.

Controlling that narrative would be easy. The “authorities” could spend money up the yin-yang to deal with the alien threat. Military contractors would be sending their neighbor’s kids to prestigious colleges, they would be so “rolling in it.”

Funny they didn’t think of that then, but maybe their new “transparency” on the issue is just the first salvo in such a campaign, finding that the old levers aren’t as effective as they once were.

September 6, 2021

God is Punishing Oklahomans

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:50 am
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An Oklahoma doctor has said overdoses of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, which many believe without evidence can prevent or cure Covid-19, are helping cause delays and problems for rural hospitals and ambulance services struggling to cope with the resurgent pandemic.

“There’s a reason you have to have a doctor to get a prescription for this stuff, because it can be dangerous,” Dr Jason McElyea, a family doctor in Sallisaw, told KFOR, an Oklahoma TV station.

“The [emergency rooms] are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated.

“Ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it. If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.”

Clearly Jesus is telling the Oklahomans that they are on the wrong track and need to get back to righteous respect for those who know things they do not (none of whom work for Fox News).

September 2, 2021

GOP Crocodile Tears Over Taliban Haul of US-Built Military Equipment

There hasn’t been this much hand wringing and pearl clutching in the GOP since the Mr. Potato Head controversy! The Taliban collected a massive haul of U.S.-built military equipment, owned by the Afghanistan government, by the way, not us, and the Republicans are losing their minds. We have just equipped our enemy with the latest and greatest war-making equipment! Argh!

Calm down, idiots. I know it is a struggle, but do try to put your thinking caps on first. (You have to take the dunce caps off first, otherwise the thinking caps won’t fit.)

Now, we were quite unsuccessful in training the Afghans in their army (ex-army?) on how to use this “modern” equipment. What makes you think the Taliban are going to master the intricacies of that equipment being trained by the people who didn’t learn about it in the first place?

But, okay, let’s say the Taliban found instruction manuals on the Internet, had them translated into Pashto, Dari, Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, Hazaragi, and Nuristani and have taught themselves how to use that equipment. The other thing to consider is these things were made by Americans for our own American military, consequently they were built around the primary American construction principle of planned obsolescence. They are going to need repair technicians, spare parts, and a lot of ingenuity to keep that stuff running, even in the short term. I assume you noticed the Taliban are using AK-47s as their basic field rifle. The reason for this is that they still work, even though that rifle was designed in 1947. So many were sold and are still available, along with spare parts, that they can be depended upon for many more years. Think Taliban-owned Abrams tanks will still be working in two years? in one year? I don’t think so. How about fighter jets? (Right. . . . )

Basically, Afghanistan is not a threat to the U.S. or our allies and would not be a threat if we flat out ignored it. What . . . but, but, but won’t they train terrorists? Maybe, but they don’t exactly have the best terrorist training facilities. Theirs are certainly not anywhere near as good as Pakistan’s or Saudi Arabia’s. The 9/11 group apparently did most of their planning and training in Germany.

Terrorists don’t need Afghanistan as a training site and Afghanistan has real problems it needs to address. Outside of opium traffic, Afghanistan doesn’t have an economy. The best it can do is to allow its citizens to create subsistence livings and even that is going to be difficult. As the U.S. was pumping billions of dollars into their economy over the past twenty years, the population exploded. I doubt whether subsistence farming or herding can support a population that large, which means there is trouble ahead for any Afghan government. There is no tourism, native industries, native crops (other than opium poppies), mining opportunities that translate into population-wide prosperity. Every country that has tried to extract minerals or other natural resources from Afghanistan has found out the reality. There is no government per se. You “negotiate” with local “officials” (aka warlords) and strike a deal for which there are no courts to enforce it nor any police to protect it and your assets. You are at the mercy of the demands of the locals and if you complain too much, they will just take your operation over. So, how many resource extraction companies are lined up to get them some of that, do you think?

I think the Afghanis have earned to right to be left alone and I think we need to carry that to an extreme. Leave . . . them . . . alone . . . and allow them to create whatever society they wish without foreign help or interference. There is no danger, other than that we create by meddling.

Instead of Expanding Circles of Concern, Republicans Circle the Wagons

I have been, philosophically in an case, fairly close to the Stoics as long as I can remember. Recently I decided to bone up on Stoicism to see if this were still true (it is). I recently ran across this statement in my studies:

The Roman Stoic Hierocles spoke of our “circles of concern.” Our first concern, he said, was our mind. Beyond this was our concern for our bodies, for our immediate family, then our extended family. Like concentric rings, these circles were followed by our concern for our community, our city, our country, our empire, our world. The work of philosophy, he said, was to draw this outer concern inward, to learn how to care as much as possible for as many people as possible, to do as much good for them as possible.

Clearly Heirocles would never be admitted into the Republican Party. He sounds more like the Democrats of 20 or so years ago, but those Dems are long gone, replaced by Corporate Democrats. The GOP are doing the exact opposite to the stated desire of those Stoic philosophers, they are trying to build politically gated communities in which to live by their own set of twisted rules.

Corporatism is the abject enemy of the sentiment described above and will be the downfall of us all. It seems that all societies/cultures rise and fall, so there will need to be a cause of our fall, to be declared well after the fall is obvious. Our ability to see such things beforehand is zero to less than zero.

The modern Republican Party is ruled by ideologies centered on “I’ve got mine” and “I owe you nothing.” These, of course, contradict the ideals of the founders of the Constitution who felt that individual citizens (and groups of citizens) had to yield up some personal liberty for the greater good of the entire enterprise. They referred to “civic virtue” to describe such actions. So, the FFs would have looked at getting vaccinated in a time of pandemic as a civic virtue and would be all for it. In fact, George Washington required it of his soldiers during the Revolutionary War. (If not, our army would have been wiped out due to smallpox.)

Modern-day Republican professional athletes, who said “I’ll do anything to be able to play professional sports” two years ago are saying “I’ll quit rather than get vaccinated” now.

This surely must be the direct opposite to civic virtue, taking freedoms rather than donating ever so slightly to the commonweal. The opposite of virtue is vice, so I coin a new term “civic vice” to describe this idiotic behavior. These people are unwilling to give an inch to be a member of the group we call citizens of the United States of America. Their only recourse is to leave as we should not extend any of the benefits of citizenship to people who betray the basic foundations of being a citizen of this country. They should not receive the protections of the law and military, they should not be allowed to use public roads and other public facilities (sports stadia, buses, street cars, etc.). They have become one of those they have despised. They have declared themselves to be “illegal aliens” of the most despicable sort. They siphon off the benefits of citizenship without contributing to the common good.

It is time to expel these illegal aliens as they have renounced their citizenship.

September 1, 2021

You Can’t Publish the Truth!

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:20 am
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I can’t state this any better than these quotes from somewhat recent articles in The Guardian and thinkprogress.org.

“Until recently, the Department of Justice has failed to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of white supremacist violence – treating it as a lesser threat than so-called “eco-terrorism”, which has cost zero American lives. Shortly before the attack on the Capitol by a mob that included active members of law enforcement, FBI managers disavowed a 2006 bureau intelligence assessment warning of white supremacist infiltration of police agencies and refused to participate in a congressional hearing to examine the issue. An FBI intelligence report issued after the Capitol attack substantiated the findings of the 2006 assessment.” (Source Two Decades After 9/11, The Real Threat To The US Is Our Own Far Right by Harsha Panduranga, 9-1-21)

* * *

“But when, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security reported that white supremacy is the US’s biggest threat for domestic terror, it was met with harsh criticism. Conservatives blasted the department for defining terror threats too broadly, instead of focusing on potential Islamic terrorists. Then-House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) was one of those who berated DHS, saying that they weren’t focusing on the real threats the US faces:

“‘[T]he Secretary of Homeland Security owes the American people an explanation for why she has abandoned using the term ‘terrorist’ to describe those, such as al Qaeda, who are plotting overseas to kill innocent Americans, while her own Department is using the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation. Everyone agrees that the Department should be focused on protecting America, but using such broad-based generalizations about the American people is simply outrageous.’

“The report was titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” and it named white supremacists, radical anti-abortionists, and a few “disgruntled veterans” as most susceptible to recruitment by extremist groups, or to harboring resentment that may lead to domestic terrorism. DHS stressed that, during recessions, these threats go up, and law enforcement should be on the lookout for such extremism.”

“Sec. Janet Napolitano ended up withdrawing the report and apologizing to veterans who felt they’d been called out, stressing that the threat was limited to a very small number of veterans.” (Source Republicans Blasted Obama Administration For Warning About Right-Wing Domestic Terrorism by Annie-Rose Strasser, 8-7-2012)

Gosh, the Republicans took offence at the terrorists in their own ranks being called out. Gee I wonder why?

Was anything stated in 2009 and 2006 not the truth? Apparently not. So, the GOP is on record as opposing the truth any time the truth is in opposition to their interests, which now seems to be almost all of the time.

August 29, 2021

Learning from Others

I just learned that little Costa Rica has handled the COVID-19 pandemic very much better than we have here in the U.S. How is this? Costa Rica made a commitment to public health and through various initiatives has created the situation that Costa Ricans have a longer life expectancy that do Americans.

Costa Rica also had the uncommon sense to add a fourth branch of government to the one they modeled after ours. This branch, which is non-partisan, runs all of the elections. They schedule debates, set the rules, etc. No gerrymandering in Costa Rica.

But we don’t learn from good example or bad examples, because they are from other countries (Others, shoot them, shoot!) and they are trumped by American Exceptionalism. (We’re #1, we’re #1!)

We are also being dumb and lame when it comes to public policy. That is not by accident. Those who have gotten fat off of the current system do not want any competition, nor do they want any opposition, so more liberal voting laws? Nah. More sensible public health policies? No way! Honest elections! No chance, it will put too many party employees out of work.

August 24, 2021

Can You Spell Pandering Boys and Girls?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:25 pm
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How can you go to church and pray when you’re wearing a mask?
Do you think God can hear your prayers through a mask
?” (Televangelist Jim Bakker)

I guess when Jim Bakker got out of prison he went back to the only thing he knew how to do: bilking people out of money by spouting nonsense.

So, can God hear you praying when you are wearing a mask? If not that puts a pretty low upper limits upon His omnipotence and omniscience, now doesn’t it? (When you get old, your hearing starts to go, then your memory and this god is really, really old. . . . ) Doesn’t Jim Bakker’s god know everything, everything that has happened and will happen? So, in effect he has already heard your prayer, no?

And what about the Gospel of Matthew’s condemnation of those who go to pray in public places? Couldn’t Jim Bakker’s church goers pray their hearts out . . . out loud . . . before they left home or, maybe in their car on the way to church? Surely there are things to do in church other than pray, no?

So much for “you can’t hide what is in your heart from God.” (A mask means you can hide!)

So much for “He knows when you are sleeping, He knows when you are awake, so . . .” ooops, wrong deity.

So much for this god which lets tens of thousands of children die from hunger every damned day, but is willing to listen to your whiny ass prayers and, on occasion, throw you a bone: letting your high school football team win a game, helping you find a parking space, or making sure there was enough buttermilk in the fridge for you to make biscuits tonight.

I challenge Jim Bakker to quote scripture where it says “Thou shalt not wear a mask into a church building!”

I am waiting. (I am not simultaneously holding my breath.)

August 20, 2021

We Lost in Afghanistan?

I see article after article using the phrase that “we lost in Afghanistan.” Apparently they are using a different definition than I use for the word “lost.”

Consider a playground scenario: some kids are playing pick-up basketball and the kid who owns the ball says, “I have to go home.” The other kids, disappointed, ask if he could leave the ball or if a friend could bring it over to him later. I never heard anyone say “Sure, take your ball and go home, that means you lost and we won!” The reason I never heard that is it doesn’t make any sense.

So, when we arrived on the scene in Afghanistan (the first of a long string of mistakes we made), the Taliban fought back a little here and a little there. Once their leaders realized we were assholes who would take out an entire wedding party to kill someone we thought might could be a Taliban leader, they suddenly became very hard to find. They would occasionally engage in a little action, but only when the odds were very much on their side and only to send the message “Don’t forget about us.”

So, the U.S. (Us!) finally realized that the Afghani government was playing us for the cash we provided, and we got out. (It only took twenty years when it was obvious after six months . . . because Bin Laden was in Pakistan and there wasn’t much of anything in Afghanistan.) President Trump cut the deal (he did do a few things that were correct) and President Biden pulled the trigger, honoring the deal. That the Taliban just walked back into the seats of power showed that the whole thing was just the milking of a cash cow and that the “good Afghani government” never was a serious entity; they were just in it for the money.

So, we took our marbles and went home (making more mistakes as we went—the Taliban punishes screw-ups and replaces them; our military and government promotes them).

So, did we “lose?”

If so, what was the game? I still don’t know what our objectives were/are. G.W. Bushes “democracy making” was a joke, the Quran doesn’t allow democracy. Did anyone know what the game was other than a dick swinging exercise for American politicians and our military? (They punched us in the nose and we kicked their ass!) Of course, many of the 9/11 perps were Saudis and I didn’t see any sanctions there.

And which were the teams? On this side we have the American military, occasionally supported by foreign partners . . . er, team members. And on the other side? The Taliban did not play the game of war with us. They played a little Hide and Go Seek. They played a little Find the Bomb We Left for You. They played a little Firefight in the Desert Night, but there were no battles after the earliest phases; there were no set pieces from which we might be able to determine what the effing game was.

This is called asymmetrical warfare, and it was definitely asymmetrical, although I am not sure of the warfare. If it had been a chess game, one player would see all of his pieces on the board, but his opponents pieces are not visible and neither is the opponent. The Players I saw were Swinging Dick Politicians and war profiteers. The money spent in Afghanistan was a pittance compared to the money spent inside of our borders to the military industrial complex. And now that there are no official wars on the books, I am expecting those greedy whiny MIC bitches to be whining about getting our next adventure in Foreign Diplomacy—Arms Style under way.

There was a loss in Afghanistan. We lost the respect of many servicemen soldiers for spending their lives so uselessly.

August 9, 2021

Republicans Outraged, Threaten to Take Immediate Climate Action

Filed under: Morality,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:43 am
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comprehensive assessment of climate science was published on Monday, the sixth such report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chane (IPCC) since 1988, has been eight years in the making, marshalling the work of hundreds of experts and peer-reviewed studies. It represents the world’s full knowledge to date of the physical basis of climate change, and found that human activity was “unequivocally” the cause of rapid changes to the climate, including sea level rises, melting polar ice and glaciers, heatwaves, floods and droughts.

Temperatures have now risen by about 1.1°C (2.0°F) since the period 1850 to 1900, but stabilizing the climate at 1.5°C (2.7°F) was still possible, the IPCC said. That level of heating would still result in increasing heatwaves, more intense storms, and more serious droughts and floods, but would represent a much smaller risk than 2°C (3.6°F).

Hearing this reported on Fox News made it all sound as if it could be true, so Republicans trumpeted their outrage. “Why weren’t we told?” they bleated. “If we had known we could have taken action sooner.”

Republicans introduced a bill in the Senate to withdraw U.S. financial support of the IPCC, “an agency that clearly has failed in its job,” claimed minority leader Mitch McConnell and scheduled an appearance on Fox News to explain the GOP’s position on this matter. McConnell also promised swift legal action from the DOJ against the “woke,” CRT spouting, left-wing terrorists who were responsible for the documented rapid changes to the climate.

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