Class Warfare Blog

August 13, 2019

Kitchen Knife v. Semiautomatic Weapons

Gun advocates here in the U.S. usually speak with disdain of Australia which had the temerity to enact significant gun control laws. Well, The Guardian has reported on a killing rampage by a man in Sydney (Sydney Stabbing: One Woman Killed and One Injured In ‘Terrifying Carnage’ in CBD). As I understand it, CDB stands for “Central Business District” in that bustling metropolis.

According to the article “A man who allegedly stabbed a woman to death in Sydney’s central business district before attacking others on a busy city street with a butcher’s knife was arrested carrying information about terrorist attacks and extremist ideologies on a USB drive.”

So, a killing rampage (one dead) and “terrifying carnage” (one dead, one wounded) and the Aussies are shocked.

What a bunch of pikers! Can you imagine that happening here in the U.S.? Wouldn’t even make the back page of the front section of the newspaper and maybe not even the 6 o’clock news on the telly.

All those people and the wanker didn’t even have a semi-automatic weapon. He could have mowed down dozens, if not more. And the two “heroes” who stopped this lunatic, with a chair and a milk crate, wouldn’t have had a chance. They would have needed, at a minimum, a “good guy with a gun.” Milk crate . . . pft!

What is wrong with Australia? Don’t they even have Wal-Marts? Clearly their deranged gun policies aren’t working.

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August 10, 2019

Book Report—The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American

I am trying to catch up on reporting on books I have read and can recommend to you. The latest is The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American by Andrew L Seidel.

I highlighted all kinds of paragraphs to use in this review, but there were just too many of them. I’d end up quoting the entire book. So, I decided to offer you just a bit of the concluding chapter. The author starts by explaining that he had taken an elderly relative to a Catholic mass. The quote beings with some ruminations on that event.

“The last mass I witnessed was during a full Catholic wedding. The priest mentioned the happy couple about sixty times—a respectable number, given that we had gathered together to celebrate them. But the priest was also able to mention his church and god more than 235 times. This four-to-one ratio of church over couple has held at the two other Catholic weddings I’ve attended. The Catholic Church is co-opting the prestige of more illustrious events, people, and moments for itself. Two people dedicate their lives to each other, and religion injects itself in the middle. Christian nationalism excels at this type of piracy and imposition. It attempts, like the Catholic priest at those weddings, to bask in unwarranted glory. It seeks to co-opt undeserved greatness, accolades, and credit. It claims a nation dedicated to the freedom of and from religion, for one particular religion. It insists that a nation with a godless Constitution is dedicated to one particular god. A religion that demands fearful, unwavering obedience takes credit for a rebellion and revolution in self-government. It declares that that revolution was the brainchild of a few Christians rather than of a group of unorthodox thinkers testing Enlightenment principles. It even claims universal human morality as its own invention. Christian nationalism also contends that the United States of America is exceptional because the nation was chosen by a god, not because the founders’ enlightened experiment was successful. Christian nationalists sometimes misconstrue a 1983 Newsweek quote: ‘Historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document.’ Ken Woodward and David Gates’s full quote is more interesting, and, as one would imagine, more reflective of reality: “Now historians are discovering that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document: the source of a powerful myth of the United States as a special, sacred nation, a people called by God to establish a model society, a beacon to the world. Biblical America is indeed a myth, a powerful one (emphasis mine SR).

“The sad irony of the myths of the Christian nation, biblical America, and Judeo-Christian principles is that they are born out of a misplaced zeal to revive or extend American exceptionalism. Trump and his Christian nationalist brethren want a return to a Christian nation; they want to “make America great again.” But religion did not make the United States, let alone make it great. ‘We the People’ make America exceptional. Religion is the millstone around the neck of American exceptionalism because religious faith denies experience and observation to preserve a belief. It is for this reason that it is unlikely to contribute to progress, though it will take credit for what science, rationality, experience, and observation have accomplished. America succeeded as an experiment because it was based on reason. If we abandon reason in favor of faith—or if our elected leaders commit this sin—we are asking to regress. Not to some golden age, but to a time ‘when religion ruled the world . . . called the Dark Ages . . .’”

It is abundantly clear that the idea of a Christian Nation is a power play, an attempt to grasp power for a “special” group of people. Unfortunately, the thinking behind this movement is roughly: Christianity good, America good. Christian America . . . double good. Christianity has no elements in it that are at all democratic. If you believe that it does, please explain that to the Pope. Declaring this nation to have an official religion would gut the Constitution and create religious strife like no attack from our enemies could conceive.

This book dismantles all such claims and efforts in this vein and is high recommended to those of you who wish to preserve the Constitution and the Grand American Experiment in self-governance.

August 8, 2019

What, Kids Not Allowed to Pray in School? Poppycock!

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Republican, commenting on the El Paso mass shooting seemed to place most of the blame for mass shootings on violent video games but also threw in the lament that “we won’t even let our kids pray in our schools.”

WTF? Really? “We won’t even let our kids pray in our schools?”

It has been a long time since I was in school, but we were given multiple opportunities to pray every damned day. We received almost ten minutes per hour prayer time while in high school, plus a one hour prayer break mid-day.

Now these were called “class change times” and “lunch period,” but how much time do prayers take? In a seven period day, like I had in high school, along with lunch there were five breaks when I was not in class I could have used for prayer. This was almost two hours of time! If that is insufficient, then I have to ask what those children are doing in their before school and after school times.

And, any child who showed up only to find an algebra test they were unprepared to take will tell you that you can also pray right there is class . . . as long as you do it silently.

Now, if the esteemed Lt. Governor is talking about ostentatious group or mass praying, well that is strictly forbidden by scripture.

Prayer
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:5-15

Now I suspect that the honorable Lt. Governor is actually one of those hypocrites, wanting public displays of praying as part of a marketing plan to expand his religion. I am sure that God would not approve (God is Love, etc.).

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.

 

 

 

 

Make America Hate Again

Donald Trump has encouraged certain collective hatreds in this country, but he didn’t invent them. I think there are two interconnect streams of influence in the rise of hate in this country.

The Republican Party (Before Trump)
If you look back at the Republican Party over the past 50 years or so (and their enablers, e.g. conservative intellectuals, etc.), you will find that they have been mining pools of the country’s hate the whole time. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the South became much less Democrat and far more Republican. It wasn’t that the Democrats didn’t have their own racists (look up the Dixiecrats, if you need an example) but politicians down South voted with their feet and the GOP embraced them with open arms. Reagan’s “Southern Strategy” is another example and there are many, many more.

In addition, Republicans launched a propaganda campaign against the “liberal media” sowing distrust in people’s information sources and then embraced their own biased media in the form of Rush Limbaugh on the radio and Fox “News” on TV (should have been named Faux News). This wasn’t possible until the act requiring balance when using the public airwaves was repealed, under Reagan (of course). The whole campaign was a smear campaign because evaluations of the media showed no such glaring bias, but when it appears that when “facts have a clear liberal bias” is used as a criterion, I can see how they arrived at their conclusion.

Then another propaganda program was advanced by the same crew to turn “liberal” into an epithet, which it is today. This is why the term “progressive” was resurrected, after having fallen into disuse, as a replacement for liberal. Anyone calling themselves a progressive today would have called themselves a liberal thirty years ago.

The Republican Party selling its soul to Trump became easier because of the practice they got in selling it for “winning.”

The Internet
Enabling hate to grow, as if in an incubator, was caused by the ability of people to publish anonymously on the Internet. The incredible growth of that medium (being used to create this post, right now!) has short circuited the social approbation of public displays of hatred and prejudice. Where we used to shame those who said such things in polite company, now they are blared at high volume on the Internet by anonymous speakers and no shaming conduit is available.

And the Collateral Damage . . .
What is being lost is the absolutely required continual promotion of public virtue. The Grand American Experiment in ruling ourselves (instead of letting the rich elites continue to lord it over us) requires each and every one of us to balance our individual interests with our collective interests. Each citizen needs to think about our collective welfare simultaneously with his individual welfare and strike a balance between the two. This needs to be explained to each generation and promoted and reinforced continuously. We are losing this battle as the wealthy elites promote individualism over collectivism. In fact they are executing a propaganda campaign besmirching collectivism as I write this. They, of course, go to extremes by arguing that “big government” wants to make all of the decisions, therefore collectivism bad, very bad! These people, who are all in favor of more and more spending on the military make arguments like “its your money, the government (aka “us” collectively) shouldn’t be confiscating it (in taxes).” They do indeed want it both ways and seem to have no shame in arguing this way.

As our civic virtue goes, so goes the republic.

July 21, 2019

Go Back Where You Came From . . . WTF?

Recently President Trump told Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to “go back where she came from.” This is puzzling because Representative Ocasio-Cortez was born in the Bronx, New York City, on October 13, 1989 and now that she is their Congressman, she goes back regularly to the Bronx. She is seen there, photographed there, and has been known to frequent restaurants in her neighborhood.

I am confused. Is there something there she is supposed to do for the president? If so, why doesn’t he ask politely?

July 2, 2019

The Absurdity of Maximizing Shareholder Value as a Business Goal

I have written about this before, but this post over at Naked Capitalism drives the nails home into the coffin of this very, very bad idea. (Being a Zombie idea will make this turkey very hard to kill.)

Rebel Economist Breaks Through to Washington on How Shareholder Value Theory Rewards the Undeserving

 

May 26, 2019

The Law of Unintended Consequences, Still Unsurpassed

As conservative American politicians are doing their damnedest to pound a square peg into a round hole with regard to any issue involving women, they are accomplishing the exact opposite of what they want. They are undermining the societal structure they most value: the family. An article in The Guardian indicates why (Women are happier without children or a spouse, says happiness expert). Here’s an excerpt:

We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness.

Speaking at the Hay festival on Saturday, Paul Dolan, a professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics, said the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.

“Married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: fucking miserable,” he said.

“We do have some good longitudinal data following the same people over time, but I am going to do a massive disservice to that science and just say: if you’re a man, you should probably get married; if you’re a woman, don’t bother.”

Men benefited from marriage because they “calmed down”, he said. “You take less risks, you earn more money at work, and you live a little longer. She, on the other hand, has to put up with that, and dies sooner than if she never married. The healthiest and happiest population subgroup are women who never married or had children,” he said.

As the benefits of family and children have shrunk substantially, the “duties” of the position of “wife” have escalated. Not only are they still obligated to all or most of the household management choirs and child rearing chores but are also expected to bring in a full-time salary. Would any man get married if they were offered the same “bargain”?

The “bargain” when I was a child was the wife stayed home and worked while the husband went out to work and “brought home the bacon.” This arrangement was reinforced by women being excluded from most jobs as being “unsuitable” or incompetent. The fact that women are doing all of those jobs now and just as competently as men or more so, gives the lie to that prejudice. It was also largely reinforced through societal memes: the bride as princess, mothers as Madonnas, the “fulfillment of marriage,” the wedding ceremony as mini-coronation, etc.

So, why would women take such a bad deal? Apparently, they are beginning to no longer do so in numbers. Their reward? Greater happiness, less strife; less pressure, longer life. If they choose to have children, there no longer is much of a stigma attached to single parenting and while raising a child by yourself might be daunting, it is certainly easier than raising a child while serving a man as maid, cook, errand runner, etc. and working a full-time job at the same time.

There is an axiom in politics that when a politician is undermining himself, don’t interrupt. Go, GOP, go!

May 10, 2019

You Need to Respect Our Beliefs!

Part of the War on Christianity™ (Fox News) is the much reviled and disdained severe atheistic/humanistic disrespect for the beliefs of Christians! This is abominable! We are told that we should “respect their beliefs.”

Uh, no, just … no.

I accept their beliefs. I even acknowledge them. But respect them, no. Respect is something that is earned. How is it that just because they believe something, it automatically has to be respected? Especially when it comes to batshit crazy notions like the fundamentalists have that the End Times™ are just around the corner (time wise). Really? The forces of good and evil are going to duke it out? On the plain of Armageddon in the Holy Land? Really?

Entities with supernatural powers are going to a place to meet up, a flat place where they can deploy their forces? This is about as realistic as having modern jet fighters having firefights while confined to the ground. (Okay, you can taxi around all you want, but you can’t take off; got it? Go get ’em, tiger!)

And on one side is a god who is “beyond space and time,” which means he cannot be found by his enemies, who can create whole galaxies with mere thoughts, and already knows the plans of all of his enemies, who he can unmake with a mere thought. Uh, who wants to be on this guy’s side? (Me, me, me, me . . .) How can such a battle take place, except in the vivid imagination of an iron age drug addict?

Respect that belief? No, ridicule it, maybe, but not respect it. And please do not think that these are ideas that have been set aside. There are fundamentalist groups currently acting on a political agenda toward Israel, based upon this very scenario. Some Jewish groups are complaining about the activities of some of these fundamentalist Protestant groups, so apparently they are being taken seriously.

Social tools are tools we all use to moderate bad behavior in society. If a member of a social community acts poorly, people talk to him about his behavior. If he persists, then ridicule and public shaming take place. If he still persists, shunning and banning take place. We have talked to theists about their beliefs, but they persist in trying to force those beliefs on the rest of us (We Are A Christian Nation, War on Christmas, War on Christianity, Dominionism, Special privileges for the religious written into law, etc.), so ridicule is next up. Ridicule is appropriate as it is a gentle form of persuasion that no one is immune from. If that doesn’t work, well the tools at hand provide many opportunities to ratchet up the pressure. In more advanced countries, religion is a private matter that doesn’t intrude into the public sphere, happiness results. This state is a worthwhile goal.

 

April 24, 2019

Why . . . ?

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

Why is it that no enterprising evangelical or fundamentalist protestant has claimed that the fire that almost burned down the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France was “God punishing the Catholics for their failure to deal with the Church’s sex scandals (or fill in any other failing of the Catholic Church)?

These are people who have blamed natural disasters on gays, who have blamed political disasters on liberal Christians, etc. Why have all of the fundamentalists gone silent on this topic? Have they lost their cojones?

I did read that one such mouth breather didn’t realize that Notre Dame was a Catholic cathedral. He thought it was a museum or something. Of course, the stained glass and spires and the use of the word cathedral over and over were clues, as was the original build date for the “church” being 400 years before the Protestant Reformation. But I guess we shouldn’t expect people to put two and two together (or to get four when they do).

Come on evangelicals; there is still time! Don’t wimp out on us now!

And then there are the numbnuts who claim that the rain shower predicted the next day which held off until many of the art works that were exposed to the outdoors had been tarped or otherwise protected was an “act of God.” And the fire . . . it was what, you say? I’ll bet the insurance company will be arguing for “act of God” to avoid any payoff.

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