Uncommon Sense

January 15, 2022

Voter ID Laws

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:34 am
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An author supporting voter ID used this story in support:

A young man who looks like a teenager walks into a liquor store and pulls a bottle of cheap whiskey off a shelf. He puts it down at the checkout counter and pulls out his wallet. The clerk at the counter looks at him skeptically. “Can I see your ID?” he asks.

“Yes,” says the young man, who instantly takes his driver’s license out of his wallet and hands it to the clerk. The driver’s license indicates to the clerk that the customer in front of him had turned 21 two months ago. He sells him the cheap whiskey.

Then another young man walks into the store. He grabs a bottle of very expensive champagne and puts it on the counter. Once again, the clerk asks the young man if he has an ID.

“No,” says the young man.

“Then I can’t sell you this champagne,” says the clerk.

“You have got to be kidding me,” says the young man. “I am 22 years old.”

“Then prove it,” says the clerk.

“I left my driver’s license at home,” says the young man.

“Then go get it,” says the clerk.

This is the classical argument based upon needing to show a driver’s license when pulled over by law enforcement, or an ID to buy liquor, or a medical ID card to get insurance coverage at a medical center. But let us reframe this a bit.

If the second person’s “buy” were covered by the same rules as voting in the states I have voted in, it would have gone this way:

Then another young man walks into the store. He grabs a bottle of very expensive champagne and puts it on the counter. The clerk asks for the buyers name, which he supplies, The clerk then consults a list or computer containing the list of people who have registered to buy alcoholic beverages. In that registration process, the person registering has to show that they meet the requirements to purchase alcohol.

If the clerk finds his name of the registration list, ka-ching, the purchase is authorized. If not, the clerk says “Sorry, I can’t find you on the list, so no deal.“

In some states, you can register on the date of the purchase (same day registration!), and if the clerk is certified, he can take the young man’s ID and fill out an online form and register him right there, as well as sell him the champagne.

Even the cop who pulls you over and asks for your ID will not haul you to jail if you say “Damn, I forgot my wallet!” They will consult their computer records, using the car’s driver’s license and if your name is attached to that vehicle, will look up whether you have a current license to drive it. If so, they can write you up a ticket for driving without your license, or they can let you go if they are feeling good that day.

I am not for Voter ID requirements for several reasons. For one it can be very difficult for people who do not drive to get such an ID. Some states have restricted the IDs they will accept as a form of voter suppression. Second, voter fraud is not a popular crime. Very, very few cases of voter fraud have been identified, a very tiny fraction of one percent of all votes cast, and most of those are mistakes rather than attempts to rig the election. Third, checking IDs will slow down the voting in person process even more than it has been. This would require additional voting polling places and poll workers and is another point at which voter suppression can take place. And fourth, there is no reason these proposals are being put form now other than to provide a particular political party with tools to suppress voting of people they do not like. There are no data supporting the need for Voter ID.

December 29, 2021

Only In the American South

Filed under: Culture,Education,Politics,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 1:10 pm
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I just read a news tidbit regarding legislation pending in Oklahoma: “You know how Texas has turned everyday folks into anti-abortion bounty hunters? Oklahoma saw that and thought, why not do the same thing, but for books? The state’s Senate Bill 1142, if passed, would allow any public school parent to demand that a book they don’t like be removed, assuming the book relates to, as the bill states, ‘the study of sex, sexual preferences, sexual activity, sexual perversion, sex-based classifications, sexual identity, or gender identity or books that are of a sexual nature.’ And if the book isn’t chucked within 30 days? The parent gets $10,000 … per day until the book is removed.” (source: The Morning Heresy)

Trying to see both sides of this “desire” on the part of parents (if any were actually involved in the creation of this legislation) to have some control over what their children are exposed to in public schools, I could envision a system in which a parent could supply a list of the books currently available in their child’s library which could then be flagged whenever their child seeks to check out a book, so that they could not check out books objectionable to his/her parents. This legislation, however, seeks not to control just one parent’s kid’s reading choices, but all kid’s reading choices. Control your own children’s reading all you want, but this legislation denies not just your child’s choices but my child’s choices, too.

This sounds like just another Trojan Horse issue dreamt up by Republicans to distract their state’s citizens from what their real mission is (to make the rich richer).

December 7, 2021

New Approach to Fighting COVID-19

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 9:35 am
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Maybe we should approach this using the mechanisms of the GOP. We start by spreading the rumor on social media that the anti-vax/anti-mask campaigns were created by liberals to deliberately expose GOP voters to the deadly disease. GOP voters are known to be older and more likely to die if they get the disease, so they have been targeted with these fake news campaigns.

Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden, so the dastardly “campaign” is working.

By actively phrasing the anti-vax/anti-mask campaigns as being based upon personal freedom issues, they are hiding the nefarious real intent to kill off Trump voters. People who believed Hillary Clinton had a sex trafficking operation operating out of pizza parlors should go for this, no?

November 24, 2021

Driving the GOP into an Early Grave

The navigator-in-chief of the Republican Party sure seems to be Donald J. Trump. Let’s see how he has prompted the growth of the GOP since his elevation into that position.

  • The GOP has gotten tied ever more closely to Evangelical Christianity.
    • The GOP has become more anti-science based.
    • The GOP has become tied to alternative facts that they just make up
    • The GOP has become tied to news media that are estranged from decent journalism
    • The GOP has sought out voter suppression instead of expanding their base
    • etc.

There are some consequences to this. Here are just a few:
• Since 2006, white evangelical Protestants have experienced the most precipitous drop in affiliation, shrinking from 23% of Americans in 2006 to 14% in 2020. That proportion has generally held steady since 2017 (15% in 2017, 2018, and 2019). There are some that argue that the politicization of churches has accelerated this drop in evangelicalism.
• But supporting anti-vaccination and anti-mask fringe groups, the GOP has put more of its members at risk, especially since currently the GOP constituency is quite old. These policies are disproportionally resulting in Republicans getting sick and/or dying. The GOP is killing off its own members.
• By refusing to expand their bases and focusing on voter suppression more, the GOP is undermining their future. As their membership gets older, whiter, and less connected with reality, joining the GOP seems more and more like joining a cult, so they are losing traction with young people.
• By undermining trust in societies institutions, the GOP is undermining their own ideology. And is members are trusting their doctors, teachers, local officials, etc. less and less, creating more and more disharmony.

As I watched this unfold, I thought Mr. Trump was driving the GOP into a ditch. Now it looks as if, by doubling down, he is driving the GOP into an early grave,

R.I.P. GOP.

October 12, 2021

Why Even Trump Doesn’t Believe in the Stolen Election Claim

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 11:40 am
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I can conclude the above from the simple fact that Trump declared ahead of time that if he lost, it could only be because of voter fraud. Inquiring minds would want to know things like “How could Mr. Trump have known this to be true?” and “How could anyone know that this were true?” but our so-called news media didn’t pick up on this, they were too busy rubbing their hands over the visions of profits dancing in their heads from all of the craziness to report upon.

Allow me to use a scenario to explain why Mr. Trump’s declaration being ahead of time being telling. The scenario is a Sunday night poker game at your neighbor’s house. One game, your neighbor had some out-of-town relatives in  who got seats at the table. All night long, the newcomers seemed to win most of the pots and all you did was lose. The next day while you were at work, bemoaning your luck at the game you realized that your neighbor’s relatives were card sharps and you just got taken in a crooked game.

That is a somewhat normal expectation as to how things would go.

Now consider this. Before that Sunday game, you got a phone call from your neighbor explaining his out-of-town relatives were card sharps and had been run out of another town for their activities. He told you that the game would be rigged, so if you came and played, you should expect to lose. He was calling because his reputation for running a fair game was at stake and he didn’t want to lose his neighbor as a friend.

So, would you play? No? Yes?

You would play only if you were a complete idiot. After your money was lost, complaints to law enforcement officials might get the card sharps run out of town, but it wouldn’t get your money back.

So, Mr. Trump is claiming that that election was rigged against him and he went ahead and played anyway. Were he a true believer, he would have decried the rigged election and given the inside evidence he had that it was so to the election authorities, so that a fair election could be had.

This, of course, was not what happened. Mr. Trump lost quite handily, then whined about losing, then claimed victory, then election fraud and filed lawsuits, made claims of interference, etc. none of which actually played out in court. These are the actions of someone who knew he was going to lose and wanted to have excuses why that was so. Only a sucker would say, “The American people have chosen” and then ride off into the sunset.

Now it seems that he is coming back for another round, which is the equivalent of taking a seat at a known crooked poker game a second time, and making the same kinds of claims as he did before, also ahead of time.

Donald Trump is not smart enough to be the Mafia Boss his actions suggest him to be. His idea of a protection racket is an ego protection racket, guaranteed to not make him any money nor win him enough votes.

Equally stunning is how many Republican leaders willingly follow along in this farce.

October 8, 2021

They Made it Acceptable

Recently a New Hampshire state government meeting was disrupted by rowdy protestors. The meeting was halted after Department of Health and Human Services employees felt threatened and left the building under State Police escort, something that has not happened in New Hampshire before.

New Hampshire politics has always been passionate (their state motto is “Live Free or Die” for Pete’s sake) but has always been civil until now. Similarly it’s happening across the nation: Angry anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are undermining democracy, science, and civil society. They are disrupting school board meetings, town council meetings, any gathering where a loud minority can shout down elected officials.

Why this outbreak? Why now?

As I understand it, it is because of the January 6th raid on the Federal Capitol by Trump insurrectionists. The key point is: they got away with it. Just like the Abu Ghraib torture incidents, a few underlings are thrown under the bus, but the people in charge get away scot free. Anytime an outrageous outlier occurs, it empowers people to fill the gap between the former “most outrageous thing possible” and the new “most outrageous thing possible.”

This is the true danger the Trump administration posed and poses to our political system. People self-limit their behaviors, but when someone ignores norms by such a degree, something half as bad seems acceptable. One act of an extremist creates new spaces to fit in lesser activities that exceed former boundaries but are now not considered the worst thing that could happen. And the people doing those things would never have gone that far before.

Trump has empowered all of these people to act this way with little fear of punishment. We need to bring back the stocks and public humiliations.

October 2, 2021

I Don’ Need No Stinkin’ . . .

Filed under: Culture,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
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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 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.

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