Class Warfare Blog

October 17, 2018

Holy Shit (Bull Variety)

Filed under: Morality,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:37 am
Tags: , , , , ,

On my Quora feed the following paid advert was posted:

Where did the four gospels in the Bible come from?
The Church of Jesus Christ
Promoted
“As Jesus taught, His disciples wrote what He said. Order a free Bible to learn what He taught.”

And here I thought that lying was a deadly sin.

It is a scholarly conclusion that we do not know who wrote the gospels that were included in the Bible. None of the earliest manuscripts we have of those works has an author listed. All seem to have had multiple authors. Most of the gospels seem to have been written at a point in time that all or most of the disciples claimed to have followed Jesus would have died.

I wonder if Donald Trump got his ability to string lies one after the next from his religious training?

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September 15, 2018

Ethics and Morality without God

In a recent post on Daily Kos I read the following:

“I once said to a Native American friend that I thought that the Golden Rule was a perfect expression of social ethics, and before I could put the period on my sentence, he shot back, ‘No, it’s not … because if you’re a misanthrope who hates people and just wants to be left alone, you can behave that way in clear conscience. In my tribe, I have responsibilities to widows, orphans, and the ill. I have to hunt for those who can’t. That’s mutuality.’” (sfzendog)

This attitude toward the collective responsibility we all have, as well as individual responsibility, might be summed up in “love thy neighbor as thyself” but it isn’t made at all explicit in Christian ethics/morality.

Many people do not know that the “tithe” which has morphed into a fundraiser to support the church building fund and minister’s and staff’s salaries, was originally a tax. The Jews had a theocracy. Even when outsiders came in and established a new ruling structure, the Temple kept its own governing structure and the tithe/tax was a way to support widows, orphans, and the afflicted. That is what it was for, explicitly. The Jews had a structure in place regarding the collective responsibility of all to support those in need.

Christian ethics/morality on the other hand stops at “love they neighbor” and “turn the other cheek,” with little parsing of those instructions. There are clear signs that early Christians were communal (that means communists, Comrade). As Christianity was rewritten by pagans, that collectivism was written out. The Republicans are doing their damndest to wipe out collectivism in the U.S. right now, so this “battle” is quite longstanding.

We still haven’t answered the question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” We are still trying to address mutuality.

Many studies on democratic socialist states show that as they collectively (through government) care for those less fortunate or less capable and just ordinary citizens, the less the need for religion in their population. It therefore seems that religion has a vested interest in opposing government providing basic support for their people. The widespread evangelical support for the current administration therefore is less perplexing looked at in this light.

August 27, 2018

Are Christians Being Persecuted in the U.S.?

According to Christian scripture, a sign one is doing their god’s work is being persecuted for their beliefs (see below).

Take a negative associated with a religion (“Why would I join them, aren’t they being persecuted?”) and turn it into a positive. Spin doctors have been around a lot longer than most people think. So Christians need persecution to be recognized for doing good work … ah, now we know why there is a War on Christmas, and a War on Christianity! If a real persecution doesn’t exist, just make one up!

Christianity, spinning reality for almost 2000 years!

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and make you bake cakes for fag weddings and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

August 16, 2018

Ask Yourself “If They Really Believed …”

More than 300 Catholic priests across Pennsylvania sexually abused children over seven decades, protected by a hierarchy of church leaders who covered it up, according to a sweeping grand jury report released Tuesday. Since Pennsylvania has about 4% of the nation’s population, we can expect that the numbers of victims and perpetrators for the country as a whole are 25 times worse. One of the editorial responses to this abysmal situation was this:

Now, ask yourself: if those Catholic priests and other clerics really, truly believed, as Christians claim to believe their religion (down to the bone, etc.), that they were destined to everlasting Hellfire, that they would have done what they did? This is surely evidence that they did not so believe, that they would not be subject to everlasting torment because of their actions.

Either the Catholic Church is selling absolutions, in which case God’s judgment is not really God’s judgment, or a major segment of the Catholic clergy in the U.S. (and presumably worldwide) doesn’t believe in the fairy tales they tell about the “afterlife” to control the behaviors of their “flocks.”

I also wouldn’t put it past the Catholic hierarchy to double down by claiming that God will punish the miscreants (so they do not have to). Maybe they were waiting for capital punishment to be banned before coughing up the criminal clergy … naw.

The Catholic Con is slowly unraveling. I pray that that process is accelerating.

August 12, 2018

Thank God for Dennis Prager

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:09 am
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Since it is Sunday once again, I suppose a religion post is appropriate.

In a column entitled “Pope Francis Rewrites Catholicism and the Bible” the religious apologist Dennis Prager takes on all of the leftists in the Catholic Church, Judaism and, well, everywhere else. Here is an excerpt:

“Regarding the latter, the biblical commandment to put premeditated murderers to death is unique.

“First, it is fundamental to biblical morality. The injunction of putting murderers to death is the only law found in each one of the first five books of the Bible (the Torah).

“Second, all other sins involving the death penalty were only applicable to Jews (and for thousands of years, Jews regarded those death penalties not as literal but as pedagogic — to teach the seriousness of various offenses in an attempt to create a moral and holy nation).

But the Bible makes it clear capital punishment for murder is applicable to all of humanity. It is the first law God gives Noah after the flood, after commanding him to be fruitful and multiply. Putting murderers to death is therefore the first moral law God gives the world. Why this draconian penalty for murder? Because the penalty is a statement about the seriousness of a crime, and the God of the Bible deems the wrongful, deliberate taking of a human life the pinnacle of injustice. Allowing all murderers to keep their own lives diminishes the evil of murder and thereby cheapens the worth of the human being. In God’s words, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).

“It is precisely to preserve the unique worth of the human being that the Bible mandates putting murderers to death.”

As with all of the other freewheeling apologists, Prager deftly includes and excludes the Old Testament from his thoughts. First he states “all other sins involving the death penalty were only applicable to Jews” because, well as he states elsewhere, Jesus changed the covenant. He goes on without taking a breath to say “But the Bible makes it clear capital punishment for murder is applicable to all of humanity.” So, Mr. Prager apparently gets to decide which rules in the OT apply to us all (therefore including Christians) and which apply only to the Jews. In this manner he avoids the long, long (Long!) list of Biblical infractions of the rules that merit the death penalty. Got a teenage son who sasses his parents? Kill him! Got a bride who isn’t sufficiently virginish on her wedding night? Kill her! And, I can’t imagine the Jews getting stoned for these infractions last words were “Let this be a lesson to you all.” (“Jews regarded those death penalties not as literal but as pedagogic” … right, there was no vengeance or hatred or maliciousness or self-righteousness involved.) Oh, and old Yahweh did his thing selectively. Look up the story of David and Bathsheba and tell me that murderers get killed outright in the OT because it is “it is fundamental to biblical morality.”

He offers no support for the “kill the murderers” command applying to everyone on the planet, even Buddhists and Hindus, other than it got repeated a lot … in the OT … that only applies to Jews, except where Mr. Prager says otherwise.

He concludes (the first half of his article anyway, I didn’t have the stomach to keep reading) with the fantastical “It is precisely to preserve the unique worth of the human being that the Bible mandates putting murderers to death.” So, apparently, his god is not powerful enough to transform a murderer into a repentant good citizen. A murderer needs to be dealt with right away, even though everyone else gets a “you’ll get your comeuppance or reward when you die.” Mr. Prager seems have no faith that his god will take care of such miscreants when they die, since he claims it is necessary for us to do something now. (Expedited delivery for the real punishment?)

He also is saying that the Pope is no longer infallible when it comes to church policy. This is not surprising in that Mr. Prager was brought up an orthodox Jew, but what he claims as his religion now is unclear. The Pope is supposed infallible in such policies when it comes to Catholics, of course, so the Pope is re-interpreting the Bible dictates for them. Instead of the Kill, kill, kill! of the OT, he is basically saying “let god sort them out later.”

Mr. Prager cannot accept this as he is an uber-conservative, which I guess is his new religion.

August 7, 2018

The Deliberate Mischaracterization of the National Debt

Republicans and even a few Democrats are fond of characterizing the National Debt as if it were akin to your household debt and claiming that the size of that debt is a big, big problem.

And I respond with: how do you know when a politician is lying about the National Debt? Answer: when his lips are moving.

Most of the “debt” incurred by the federal government is in the form of Treasury bonds. If one thinks of this as a piece of paper (rather than the electrons they are made of now) printed by the government, it is in effect a promise to pay. If the nominal value of the Treasury bond is $1000, the promise to pay is that $1000 and a smaller amount more. Easy peasy. This is, in effect, the government printing money. What would be the difference between this procedure and the government printing that $1000+ in the form of currency? Answer: there is no difference.

But, but the government has to pay off that debt, doesn’t it? Sure, it issues a new series of bonds and pays off the old bonds with the sale proceeds from the new ones.

But, but … that’s something we cannot do as individuals. Yep, that is why what we have is called a sovereign currency. As a sovereign country we can make as much or little of it as we want.

Consider this, in 1964, the year I graduated high school, the national debt was $312 billion, which constituted 46% of GDP. What do you think people would have said then that in 2018 it would be $21.5 trillion and 108% of GDP? I am sure some would have set their hair on fire and run about, claiming this was disastrous, that the American economy would be in a “failing third world country” state with rapid inflation and that we would be in a severe decline economically. Have you noticed any of this? No? (There are a great many things I do not like about our current economy; that is not my point, my point is that we are not now a banana republic because of our yuge national debt.)

Oh, by way of creating a little perspective, the National Debt in 1946, my birth year, just 18 years earlier, the debt was $216 billion, which was a whopping 119% of GDP.

As another point to ponder, realize that the U.S. Federal Reserve, aka “the Fed,” created $2 trillion out of thin air to fund its purchases of stock and creation of bank “reserves” and whatnot to “save the economy” during the recent Great Recession. Did you notice all of the inflation created by the injection of that much “new money” into the economy? No? Neither did I. Inflation was virtually nonexistent. In fact, many were worried about deflation. So much for the claim that printing money causes inflation. Printing money can cause inflation, but it doesn’t have to.

The country’s budget is not like a household budget, not even close. The country’s debt is not like a household’s debt, not even close. If the National Debt really bothers you, the government could print $21 trillion in currency (now done with electrons, not paper) and pay it off entirely. This is not desirable for many reasons; I won’t go into them now. (Whew, I had you worried, didn’t I? But just a teaser … would you make war on someone who owed you a lot of money?)

In an era of “fake news” the claim of there being a “big, big problem with the national debt” is among the fakiest of bits of news. Of course, there is no such thing as fake news, we have had lies in the news since the beginning of the country; those lies are still news. Think of the news as a court transcript; people lie in court all of the time and the transcripts can be used to convict them of that; they are not automatically true, just a record of who said what, just like “the news.” This is why lawyers tell their clients to shut up and not talk about their cases, something President Trump would be wise to do.

This claim of a “big, big problem with the National Debt” is pure propaganda, playing on the general public’s ignorance of national economics to push political agendas that have no good basis otherwise. For example, if you look back in history, if you had a large problem with debt, the last thing you would do is … cut taxes. Think of a corporation which is struggling with a large amount of debt, the last thing they would want is a reduction in income such as you would get if you cut prices. Cutting taxes creates a large reduction in income for the government. If spending stays near the same, a larger amount of debt is created. Have you known of any administration, Republican or Democrat, which has reduced spending? No? Neither have I. This is why Republicans can cut taxes dramatically and not worry. No matter what happens, it will not affect what they want to do. Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2, and Trump spent/spend more money than they took/take in, which was fine by them as long as their wealthy sponsors got wealthier, their prime objective. After all, these are the people that claim that they want to “get the government off of the people’s backs” and then create legislation pushing the government into our private lives ever deeper. Pay no attention to what they say, watch what they do.

August 5, 2018

Politics is Never Having to Say “I’m Sorry”

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:50 am
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A commentary at The Guardian blared “Democrats can be ‘party of white and black working class’, says Elizabeth Warren”

A good place to start is to explain why it is that the Democratic Party used to be that party but is no longer.

August 2, 2018

About Time … But …

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:29 am
Tags: , , , ,

Breaking News—Pope Francis has said the death penalty is “inadmissible” and that the Catholic Church would work for its abolition across the world.

About time … but … while the Catholic Church in some ways seems to be one of the more flexible of the Christianities, its commitment to scripture seems to be waning. All throughout the Holy Bible, various infractions of divine and natural law are described including the punishment of … cue the Church Lady, cue the organ music, … Death! Got a teenaged boy who sasses his parents? Kill him! Got a bride who does not seem quite virginy enough? Kill her! Stone them! Kill, kill, kill! (Arlo Guthrie was right!)

I have not counted them but I suspect that the number of rules infractions in the Bible that include death sentences is closer to 100 than to zero. (The wages of sin is death!)

So, now the death sentence is to be taken off of the table. This, I think, is a good thing! It is a good thing all by itself (Vengeance is mine! … who said that?) and it is a good thing in that it undermines further the authority claimed for “holy” scripture.

If you can cherry-pick some of it, why not all of it?

 

 

 

 

 

July 31, 2018

Respect the Football!

A question came up on Quora recently that is indicative of a great many similar questions and discussions. Here it is:

Why do some liberals think it’s okay for black athletes to disrespect the flag (think about the soldiers that died fighting for our country)? Yes, I get that racism still exists, but a (American) football game is not the time.

So, the points being made here are … uh, umm … well that soldiers fight for the flag? WTF! That’s not true. Most combat soldiers fight for one of two reasons: to protect their buddies in arms or they fight for “their country.” I have never heard of any soldier who fought for the flag, either literally or figuratively.

Kneeling, what the players were doing, is disrespect? Is this true in church? If so, the Catholics, for one, are going to be in deep doo doo. Imagine disrespecting god … in a church! As a research project, I would like to know who was the first person to rule that civilians needed to stand and take their hats off during the playing of the national anthem. Soldiers I can see, civilians … I wonder.

And the football players are not kneeling for the flag. The flag is flying before they kneel and after. They are kneeling during the anthem and the anthem is a song.

And, whoaaaaa, an American football game is not the place or the time to discuss or address racism. Really? Hmmm, 70% of the players are Black or Hispanic, 100% of the owners are wealthy and White. Seems like the perfect place to discuss racism.

Look, I can resolve this whole issue simply.

Before the playing of the national anthem, post the following message on the message board and have it read over the loudspeakers. Ahem … “The NFL, <team owner’s name>, and the <team name> bring you to your attention that Black Americans face police brutality and prejudice and racism almost every day. We urge you to work in your community to ensure that all citizens are treated fairly and without prejudice by their community’s police.”

Then play the anthem. Not a single player will kneel.

Ta da!

Note That was all the players were trying to do with their “protest.” What they received from it was a face full more of racism and authority deliberate mischaracterization of their motives and not a single ounce f understanding and acknowledgement. Can anyone tell me what disrespecting “the flag” or “the troops” means or would be motivated by? The mischaracterization is easily seen as being motivated by racism and politics and little else.

July 17, 2018

The Monty Pythonesque Administration

Comments have been flying fast and furious regarding the meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Comments ranges from:

One of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory,” Sen. John McCain’s description of the news conference.

to:

(What) the American people saw is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first.” (VP Mike Pence)

That the two polarities, including the ones evinced here, are coming from Republicans; well at least this is new.

I am reminded of a Monty Python sketch, “Argument Clinic” from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman. Graham Chapman enters the office of the Argument Clinic looking for a good argument. John Cleese complies but no matter what is said to him, his response is “No, it is not.” or “No, you didn’t. (I am working from memory here, so if I am off on the details, no problem, it is the gist of the sketch I am getting at.)

Finally the paying customer complains that they were not having a proper argument as Cleese was just gainsaying everything sent his way. Cleese’s response was “No, I’m not.” No resolution occurs because they run out of their allotted time.

This, apparently, is the Republican strategy to run the Oval Office. No matter what anyone says, the answer is “No. it is not.” or “You are wrong.” If someone quotes sources, the response is “Fake news!” No matter what happens, the first things out of their mouths are outrageous lies.

Backing all of this up is Fox (sic) News propaganda machine and the various Internet “news” sites who back Trump’s version of reality. As a consequence, we have a significant portion of the American polity who believe Mr. Trump’s version of reality. Hell, quite a few of them even believe Mr. Trump is a Christian, all evidence to the contrary. (Jesus said it is okay to grab women by the pussy, if you are famous. Two Corinthians 6:66)

Then the talking heads lump it all together as us being a “Divided Nation,” as if we were the cause and not the lying, mealy mouthed politicians.

Mr. Trump is transforming American politics … and you are not going to like what you get. Whoever is in power just has to tell “the people” things that back up their performance (e.g. “The GDP has doubled on my watch.” DJT … when it has gone up 6% at most.) and then their propaganda machine goes into action to back it up or muddy the waters to make it seem that opinion is divided on the truth of that statement. (“After all, they will say anything to “prove” their point.” (stated by both sides).)

So, okay, conservatives. You have seen the way the Republicans have acted when they got back into power (and even before, refusing to address the nomination of a Supreme Court justice, for over a year). What will the country be like when the liberals get into power (the pendulum always swings back) … if they follow the same play book? Are you going to like it? Are you?

Or would you rather have the old, dull, grind it out politics that served us fairly well for quite some time. You know, the one in which if someone were caught in a massive lie they were expected to resign. (Compare Richard Nixon (then) and the still Senator David Vitter (now). You know Senator Vitter, the family values Republican who was a frequent client of the D.C. Madam’s whorehouse.)

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