Class Warfare Blog

May 19, 2020

Mr. Trump’s Administration (sic)

I have said quite a few times that President Trump is neither smart enough nor aware enough to receive credit or blame for many of the actions taken by “his administration.” He is responsible for his own actions and his own appointments, however, which are highlighted in these excerpts from Watchdog Was Investigating Pompeo for Arms Deal and Staff Misuse Before Firing  by Julian Borger in The Guardian (U.K.) today.

“The government watchdog who was fired last week had been investigating the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for sidestepping Congress to approve arms sales to the Gulf and using staffers for personal errands, according to congressional sources.

“Donald Trump declared his intention to fire the state department inspector general, Steve Linick, in a letter sent to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, late on Friday night. The White House said the decision was taken at Pompeo’s advice.”

“In his letter on Friday, announcing Linick’s dismissal, Trump said he no longer had full confidence in him. On Monday, he said he had never heard of Linick before being asked to fire him.

“’I don’t know him. Never heard of him,’ Trump said. ‘But they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate. I said who appointed him, and they say: President Obama. I said: look I’ll terminate him.’”

Mr. Trump has the ultimate defense against impeachment . . . “too stupid to know what he was doing.”

May 11, 2020

Texas Governor Declares Texans Fit for Guinea Pig Role

The Governor of the State of Texas is allowing businesses, including barber shops, to reopen. Since barber shops can scarcely function with distancing controls in place, I assume this means without any such controls. Other states are to follow.

I guess we should thank the Republican governors supporting Donald Trump for volunteering to be guinea pigs for this pandemic.

Since (a) we still do not have enough test kits available to determine an accurate count of such cases and (b) I do not trust these shitweasel politicians to report accurate counts even if they were, we will only have the numbers of deaths in Texas as a measure of their success or failure. Shitweasel politicians are always willing to send the able-bodied into wars, disease hotbeds, etc. as long as they themselves and their families are not at risk.

Interestingly, someone looked up the normal range of deaths for the months of the pandemic, nationwide, and that number is definitely not normal, that is it isn’t in the range of the numbers of people who would die over such a period. Interestingly the “overage” is about twice the number of COVID-19 deaths, so either those deaths are being under reported or there are secondary causes for these “extra” deaths, such as medical facilities being full of coronavirus patients and not enough care is available to go around to everyone.

May 9, 2020

John Adams . . . Prophet?

Filed under: History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 8:36 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty.” (Emphasis mine. SR)
John Adams (1735 – 1826), who was one of the more conservative Founding Fathers, written in a letter to John Taylor dated December 17, 1814

Donald Trump

Vain . . . Check!

Proud . . . Check!

Selfish . . . Check!

Ambitious . . . Check!

Avaricious . . . Check!

Maybe the extremist evangelicals are correct, maybe these are the End Times, the end times for our democracy

May 7, 2020

We Need to Unleash Businesses!

In the never ending battle with industry stifling red tape, only the GOP is seen as a stalwart in the effort to deregulate our industries. In the latest wave of deregulation by the GOP, they have decided the rules on where and how to dispose of radioactive waste are choking the nuclear industry.

What the flaming fuck?

Right, if it weren’t for those pesky regulations, our nuclear industry would be surging ahead. Forget about the Colorado corporation which disposed of tons of radioactive waste by just spreading it out on the ground instead of following those pesky regulations. That was clearly an example of why those regulations aren’t needed, because people aren’t obeying them. The fact that that corporation went belly up before their novel disposal techniques were discovered, leaving us with the cleanup bill, is irrelevant. In this day and age, corporations wouldn’t do something like that because it would damage their good reputation.

The GOP has given us so much. By demonizing young black males (thank you Dick Nixon, Ronald Reagan, etc.) we now apparently have an open season to hunt and kill young, male black joggers.

By demonizing regulations of all kinds, we now have the GOP lifting child labor laws and now radioactive waste disposal regulations. “Uh, regulation . . . bad,” one GOP politician was quoted as saying.

By demonizing taxes, the GOP has ballooned the budget deficit and therefore the national debt hugely, biggly even. This followed, of course, several efforts of the GOP to shut the federal government down because the deficit/debt was getting too high. That that was not a moral or even a principled stand has now been laid bare.

No one is in favor of unnecessary regulation of our society. That the GOP has declared that all regulation is unnecessary should chill you to the bone.

Oh, and you thought this would be about loosening pandemic business restrictions. Well, ’tis not.

May 2, 2020

The Same Old, Lame Arguments

The question is often posited as to why religious apologists, especially Christian apologists, keep using old arguments that have been refuted centuries, if not millennia ago, arguments like Pascal’s Wager, or Anselm’s arguments, or Tertullian’s arguments.

I think I finally understand and it is from a “follow the money” style approach such as serves well in politics. There is a perception that the arguments proffered are designed to convince nonbelievers to become believers, and if any of this actually occurs, I suggest that that is incidental. I think the main audience for such apologetics is not unbelievers, but believers, to keep the faithful in their pews, as it were.

Offering an intellectual argument for why one’s faith is well-founded, even if there is little understanding of the argument by the hearer, lends credence to their faith in the form of “see, this college professor/philosopher/well-educated person believes and he has reasons, even if I do not understand them.”

The re-use of hoary old arguments is based upon some simple facts: one is that the arguments were convincing the first time they were offered (convincing to believers, that it) so if a modern believer hadn’t heard of that argument before, it is a revelation. Young believers on sites such as Quora ask naïve question referring to these arguments as if they were slam dunk conclusive . . . because the people offering them don’t offer a balance treatment when doing so, they only point out the “obvious.” (A balanced treatment would offer discussions of why the argument works at some level and fails at others, such as would be offered in a college philosophy classroom.)

A second reason is that apologists don’t get paid by atheists. They get paid to speak at religious conferences, they get paid because a religious publication accepts their offerings for publication (often professors must “publish or perish”), they get paid to be a guest speaker at a church, they get paid to debate atheists (normal in neutral or churchly settings).

The major admonition in public speaking is to “know your audience.” Most audiences can follow a short snappy argument, but not a long point by point dissection of that argument, for which they have little patience and possibly little understanding either.

Apologists do not often point out that nothing can be “proven” through a philosophical argument. If you have brute facts as premises and a bulletproof argument, then all you have is that “if the premises are true, so too is the conclusion.” In other words, the conclusion is inherent in the premises. If the premises are false or simply are not brute facts, then the conclusions will be also. So, a common method of tweaking an argument is to “tweak” the premises. Here is a common premise used in the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of a God or Gods: “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.” If this “premise” is accepted, you will conclusively prove that a god created the universe because the only two options are “explanation/no explanation” and we all think there is an explanation. The reason for that conclusion is that the conclusion is buried in the premise. Another way to state that is; “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, the only explanation is God.” So, no other explanation, of the myriad possibilities, is allowed. Well, then, “God created the universe!”

But that premise is not a premise, it is a mere assertion, an assertion of faith in fact. To understand this consider these variations of that “premise?”
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Allah.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Yahweh.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Anubis.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Odin.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Can you honestly argue that any of these is “obviously true,” the normal criterion to be applied to premises in logical arguments?

In fact, one cannot put “God” or “gods” in a premise of a philosophic argument because those are matters of faith and not “brute facts,” that all would agree to. (Another form of religious persecution being directed at Christians, I am sure.)

So, Christian apologists and others, keep trotting out the same old, tired, lame arguments that have existed as zombie arguments for centuries because they have new audiences coming out of Sunday Schools around the country and well that’s what they get paid to do.

April 12, 2020

The Words We Use to Protect Ourselves, Thus Doing Irreparable Harm

Filed under: History,language — Steve Ruis @ 11:35 am
Tags: , , ,

I was viewing and reading the other day and came across two rather extraordinary statements. Here they are:

The buffalo hunt was an instrument for opening the west to settlement.”

and

“(referring to the early civilizations on the Nile, Indus, and Yellow rivers) Bountiful agriculture produced grain surpluses to feed these ever more populous settlements, the rulers coordinating the labour of growing workforces to construct impressive civil engineering projects like expansive irrigation systems, roads and canals, to further increase food production and its distribution.

Do you see what they have in common?

Both are descriptions of brutal treatment of the majority of a population for the benefit of someone other than the population itself, using breezy language.

The phrase “opening of the West to settlement,” is fascinating. The “West” referred to is the American West and the entire history of the “settlement” of the American West is rife with Indian troubles. Every time “settlers” started “settling” they were attacked by Indians. Damned savages! If only they had been civilized!

Well, the reason the “settlers” were attacked is that the land they were “settling” was already settled by Native Americans. The Anglos were invaders, in the terms of a subsequent generation, they were squatters on other people’s land. There was no need for “settlement” as that had already taken place. There were already people living on that land and the march west, was nothing more than an invasion that generated a genocide of immense scale.

Settlers, my ass. Of course, as a youth I swallowed this bilge easily. By accepting the term “settlers” I was accepting that the land was not “settled” and so was “open for settlement” by brave god-fearing white folk, like me. I believed the “Indians” attacked because they were savage, war-like people. In college I realized that most of what I “knew” of Native Americans came from the myriad cowboy movies I had viewed. And formal history wasn’t much better because of these words that were chosen to salve our egos, words like settlers, instead of invaders or conquistadors.

And the second quote. Egad, talk about white washing.

“Bountiful agriculture produced grain surpluses” uh, exactly how did this happen? Hunter gatherers got together in a barn one evening and one of them convinced the others that this agriculture was going to be a really good deal for them, so they all switched over? Sedentary agriculture was a disaster for many, many people before it got going and even after. People had a major reduction in variety in their diets because instead of having different harvests of fish, game, fruits, plants, and whatnot with the seasons, they spent all of their time in a much more labor intensive practice: farming. Because they ended up eating mostly what they grew, instead of what Nature provided, their teeth rotted, their children grew up smaller, and their health deteriorated because of the disease pits formed when so many people lived so closely together. A drought, or flood, or poor harvest for any reason mean starvation.

Oh, but, “the rulers coordinating the labour of growing workforces.” I am sure were a great help, providing guards to make sure the workers didn’t run off and in acquiring slaves by capturing the populations of whole villages in the vicinity. The rulers soon found out that forced labor is expensive because of the numbers of guards needed, so they created the concept of god-kings to recruit invisible gods guards who worked for free. It is hard not to do a task a god or god’s emissary says you have to do.

And, oh joy, all of those “impressive civil engineering projects like expansive irrigation systems, roads and canals, to further increase food production and its distribution” were really helpful . . . to the workers? No, I don’t think so. The distribution network was taking the grain they produced elsewhere, to feed people like soldiers, that couldn’t be afforded before the imposition of forced labor agriculture. Thus, agriculture allowed the elites to make war for fun and profit, again not with any benefit to the workers creating the surpluses that fed the elites and their minions.

And, did you notice the phrase, that the grain surpluses were in part “to feed these ever more populous settlements.What was being settled? Empty land? Why? The ever growing populations were created by the grain surpluses and a biological law which says that the population of a species will expand to the limits of its food supply. If you didn’t have the grain surpluses or didn’t make them available to people, the populations would not grow. So, who benefited from this? Not the workers. There never was much of a benefit to the workers at all. Grain was a crop that could be dried and stored. Otherwise food preservation was quite difficult. There is some evidence of mastodon carcasses having been immersed in arctic temperature lakes as a form of preservation, but most food spoiled fast, so it was eaten as soon as it was harvested as a general rule (a whole mastodon being a bit of a challenge). There was no surpluses for hunter-gatherers as a general rule. But because grain can be dried and stored and kinda sorta will keep you alive if you eat it, it was something that the elites could tax . . . by force, mind you, that could be spent (in trade, as food, etc.) later. So, agriculture was by the workers for the grain the elites wanted and the elites didn’t care fuck-all for the workers. Most of them were slaves anyway and treating them well wasn’t necessarily an advantage, certainly not an economic one.

Such breezy truncations of history, like the above, hide the incredible damage done by the elites of the general masses of people under their influence. And what about the poor buffalo which were hunted almost to extinction “to open the West to Settlement.” What a crock of bullshit. The buffalo were hunted to extinction to make a profit, for everyone in line from the frontier buffalo hunters to the wearers of buffalo hide garments in the East. No one hunted out the buffalo to win a “war” against the Native Americans, thus opening up the West to settlement. (See, no Indians here . .  well, left any way.)

By accepting such tripe we salve the wounds we should all feel when thinking back on our history. There is much good and much bad. Both encourage us to do more good in the future. By turning the appallingly bad into a “good” neither informs us of our capabilities or warns us of the dangers of certain paths we might take into the future. Ego protection should never be the watch word of history, but we have allowed it to be so in this country and are still working to massage the past to make us look better. (Look up debates over Texas school books for American history of late for examples.)

April 8, 2020

Mr. Trump’s Enemies

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 10:14 am
Tags: , , ,

Our “The Buck Never Stops Here President” has named a number of causes of the pandemic now raging. He has blamed China, the Obama Administration, and even the World Health Organization (WHO) in his rants.

Our cowed news agencies (or bought off, or . . .) never seem to follow up on these. For example . . .

It Is All Obama’s Fault
The transition from the Obama Administration to the Trump administration occurred in January of 2017 (over three years ago!). Even though the transition mechanism is required by law, the Trump people blew off large portions of it, even refusing to appoint people to fill serious vacancies in various departments. Remember that? Remember how Mr. Trump was praised for reducing the size of “Big Government”? (No? Neither do I.) I am seriously concerned about the transition out of a Trump administration. If it is as botched as when he came into office, it will take years to repair the damage.

If the Obama administration was so evil and corrupt, why wasn’t there a major effort made to weasel out what they had been up to so all of the evils could be fixed? Sounds like more than a few people were asleep at the switch.

It Is All WHO’s Fault
The evil enemy in the form of WHO is just ludicrous. Especially since Mr. Trump announced that for his administration, the watch word was “America First.” If we are No. 1, why were we depending upon a global big government agency to do our work for us? We should have seen what was going to happen before the Chinese noticed it. Mr. Trump’s most recent proposed budget substantially cuts “donations” to WHO. Since we are a major supporter of WHO, what if those cuts had gone into effect a year ago? Anybody want to guess? Mr. Trump probably believes they wouldn’t have had enough funding to be so China biased. Others think that China might have willingly stepped in and made up the slack, further diminishing our influence around the world. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but China surely does not, especially political vacuums.

It Is All China’s Fault
And, China, Mr. Trump’s Big Bugaboo. If China is the root of all evil, why were we not all over whatever nastiness they were drumming up? This has to be a major intelligence failure on the part of the Trump administration. With most people looking at China as a potential partner in creating a global future, Mr. Trump recognized the threat that was China way before anyone else. So, why did he sleep on that threat? Isn’t he supposed to keep us safe? Mr. Trump seemed to be fixated on currency manipulation by China and a trade war Mr. Trump started and allowed them to slip a biological weapon past our borders that has brought our economy to its knees. Apparently the defense of caging immigrant children at the border provided no protection.

Or maybe, just maybe, Mr. Trump is just flailing about, trying to strike pay dirt by highlighting an “enemy” that non-Fox News viewers will accept. This has worked for him in the past. If he finds one expect his to tag it, like “Lock Her Up!,” and lean on that until the election.

Addendum I can’t write or read the phrase of “Mr. Trump’s enemies” without thinking of Senator Joe McCarty and his famous tag line “I have a list …” (Communists to the left of me, communists to the right of me …). Mr. Trump seems also to have a list and it seems to be made of the the same thing as Tail Gunner Joe’s … whole cloth.

March 9, 2020

Mike Pence’s Coronavirus Prayer Circle, WTF?

Vice-president Mike Pence has been put in charge of the nation’s response to what is looking to be a major flu pandemic. Mr. Pence as governor of Indiana, allowed an HIV outbreak to blow up because his Christian extremist ideology prevented him from adopting sensible policy, so he is experienced, albeit not in a good way.

Criticism and support have swirled around this prayer circle photo op but nobody seems to be looking at this as I do, so here are my two cents on the issue.

Prayer is something you do when you are powerless. You do not pray for something you can manifest yourself. If you pray for the intelligence to do a good job, you are admitting you do not have the intelligence to do a good job. If you pray for miraculous intervention to protect you, then you are admitting you cannot protect yourself. And so on.

So, here is the Vice-president of the most powerful nation in the world, having been given the responsibility to guide the scientific/medical response to the pandemic, starting out praying. But he hasn’t even begun his task. How the heck would he know whether we are up to it or not? How could he know whether we need divine help or not?

The Trump administration has put a massive budget cut for the Centers for Disease Control in their current budget proposal, a demonstration of bad timing if there were ever one. Their general ineptitude and desire to reduce the size of government has led to many functions of government being massively understaffed. And their anti-scientific attitude has led to a significant brain drain from the very departments being called upon to respond to what seems at this point to be a national emergency.

If you had a medical emergency and you knew your doctor could handle that with ease, who would you call? Members of your church who were good at praying or your doctor?

If you had a medical emergency and you thought your doctor might possibly handle it, who would you call? Members of your church who were good at praying or your doctor?

At, last, that there was a photo taken of this bizarre process, indicates that this is one more point of pandering to the Christian Right by the Trump administration. Humble leaders might have begun with a prayer and then begun their work with no photos taken. Who the fuck calls in the God Squad of people who do not even know what the issues are to pray for a positive outcome. How the heck would they know what to pray for, not knowing any of the details? Clearly Mr. Pence wanted to be “seen” praying, and praying with these people who represent something politically. (Notice that no rabbis or Imams were involved, only very white, very Christian pray-ers. Oh, but, there was a token female by the door.)

So we are back to the old saw: how do you know when a politician is lying? The answer, of course, is when their lips are moving . . . and they are dumb enough to have cameras rolling to prove it.

January 8, 2020

New AP Poll Shows White Evangelicals . . .

Polls, being what they are, are more than a little problematic. But I guess it is not all that strange that a poll would find white evangelicals to be the least Christ-like of the groups polled (including the “Nones”!) and . . . well, here is a comment:

Compared to Catholics and mainstream protestants, white evangelicals oppose helping the poor, protecting minority groups, supporting children, and reject Biblical admonitions to avoid hoarding wealth. Non-religious people scored the highest when it came to supporting the basic tenets of Christianity actually.” (LGBTQ Nation)

“Non-religious people scored the highest when it came to supporting the basic tenets of Christianity actually.” Sheesh. Says a lot, but a poll like this cannot be used to make general conclusions, but the results are intriguing.

* * *

The AP-NORC poll of 1,053 adults was conducted Dec. 5-9 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later were interviewed online or by phone.

August 6, 2019

The Effing Elites, Part . . . I’ve Lost Track . . .

I am reading a lot of history of the Biblical era and I ran across one very interesting take on the elites we refer to as “royals” today. It is from the Book of Samuel in the OT/Hebrew Bible. (I know the two are not identical, the HB being hijacked and edited by Christians to make the OT, but close enough here.)

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

So, ole Samuel understood rightly that kings were bad news, but was overruled by Ole Yahweh. Yahweh certainly is in favor of totalitarianism, so why would he have an opposition to kings? And in this case, Yahweh is clearly issuing a punishment on his people for being disobedient to their true king, himself. And, as an exercise, consider what would have happened had Yahweh thundered “Absolutely Not!” At least a human king gives a bit of cover to a totalitarian theocracy (aka someone to blame other than Yahweh).

Any way, my point is this: royals are a pain in the ass and should be dispensed with. They are relic elites at best. Think about how they came about. (Really!)

Typically, some local bully accrues enough muscle to confiscate anything he desired. Part of the crops were confiscated. The most attractive mates were confiscated. The best property was confiscated. And if anyone complained they got hit in the mouth if not worse.

Over time, one or more of these bullies became ambitious and gathered together a war band and took over the other bullies in their neighborhood. Not wanting to actually stay in place and do the work of oppressing the locals, the resident bully was sworn to fealty to the overbully, or if his fealty was suspect, his head was lopped off and another promoted to that office, with the fear of that happening to him supporting his fealty. The local bully then paid tribute to the overbully.

Now, I am not saying that these overlords served no purpose. They did, on occasion, defend the people under their oppression from invading other bullies, but their record in doing this was mixed at best. And, over time, the divine rights of bullies got amplified. The bullies claimed to own all of the land, without purchasing it or establishing ownership by working the land, or . . . just “Mine!” And if anyone complained they got hit in the mouth if not worse. Many also claimed to own the people residing on the land, who became de facto slaves, again by no other expedient than “Mine!”

Collusion between the religious elites and the secular elites gave ordinary people no place to go for alternatives.

Effing elites.

Today’s elites are money enabled. Their power is not divine, although they bribe religious elites to support their secular notions. They bribe politicians to make sure that governmental power is theirs and not “the people’s.” The jigger the rules of wealth acquisition so that their money/power ever increases. For example, Trump’s tax cut for the wealthy and businesses? Capital investment has dipped to a new low just recently. So much for the argument that businesses would invest that money in expanded productivity, jobs, etc. Oh, yeah, jobs were eliminated by those businesses, too. Those businesses did exactly what was predicted: stock by-backs to enrich their shareholders and executives, and more money injected into politics to improve their lot even more.

Effing elites.

My fear is that the only option left to ordinary people involves torches and pitchforks. We seem to be closer and closer to such responses.

Even that old troglodyte Henry Ford knew that enriching his workers just a bit gave him more customers, but the modern elites aren’t willing to share any of their ill gotten gain. They believe they earned it. The divine right of the rich is to believe that they are rich because they are better than you or me. They even have a prosperity gospel now. Effing religious elites.

 

 

 

 

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.