Friday, April 29, 2016

Race And Economic Staus Rule!

Nick posted:

One reason inequality is self-perpetuating

I responded:

Nick, it starts long before school, as teachers have known for decades.  The article below reports, "children from families on welfare heard about 616 words per hour, while those from working class families heard around 1,251 words per hour, and those from professional families heard roughly 2,153 words per hour. Thus, children being raised in middle to high income class homes had far more language exposure to draw from."

Of course, we must hold teachers accountable for the way parents talk to their children in their homes before the children are even old enough to go to school. Accountability is good!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Howard Roark, Foiled Again!

I found this really interesting, so I posted the link and added:
Nicholas, this is right in your area of interest. It sounds so nice in the article. Is it practical? Would it be applicable in America where we have a different attitude toward housing?

Nick responded:
Hmmm, I'm reading this right, these are essentially mid rise, middle density buildings that try to keep costs ultra low, and also be environmentally friendly. 

That sounds good but each part has different obstacles and varying degrees up importance. 

Take the idea of middle density units. These are very much needed in supply constrained urban regions, particularly the outer edges of the core. But of course most of these areas are zoned for single family homes or office spaces, and don't allow anything in this size. Unfortunately these zoning laws have a lot local protection and are very difficult to overcome--especially with all the brain dead thinking out there about the critical need of new housing stock. 

The cost of building isn't a bad idea but I don't think much of a problem. The cost of construction isn't really the problem, but rather the cost of land and regulations. Plus soon to be coming 3D printing will dramatically lower construction costs and speed.

Environmental stuff all sounds good too and I'm sure if we ever get our needed building boom, a lot of this kinda stuff will be incorporated. SF just mandated all new buildings must have solar panels for example.

I responded:
So, not such a bad idea, but a little hard to apply in the real world. I shouldn't be surprised. It seemed  like such a good idea though.

Later I added:
I can't help but recall news reports that when a Catholic charity group (Mother Theresa's?) tried to convert a decrepit high-rise in New York into a refuge for the homeless, they were unable to do so. What prevented it? It was too expensive for them to install elevators and if they renovated the building they were required to install elevators. So the homeless stayed on the streets.

In a similar case, when George Air Force Base closed, a California group tried to take over the base housing and use it for the homeless. They were not allowed to do so because state regulations wouldn't allow anyone to be housed in buildings which had asbestos content. 

There are two ironies here. Number one, this housing was considered adequate and safe even for the Colonel  commanding the base and his family.   Second, the asbestos in question was only dangerous if you broke open the walls and accessed the insulation.

The California regulation was not unreasonable. However, hundreds of the homeless could have been very comfortably housed and conditions which were safe as long as no one broke open the walls.  The question is, were the homeless better being left out on the streets and down by the river bed where they tend to collect here in the Victor Valley?

In the end the housing simply sat, and is still sitting, and is slowly rotting away.

Fast Breeder Manipulators

"The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.”
- Aristotle (not Onassis)

Today we accept some level of interest charging as reasonable and necessary.  However, the interest levels which money is loaned out today (at a time when the lenders can borrow money almost interest free) are wildly exorbitant. I think usury is an appropriate term here.

More importantly, so much of the money in America today is in the hands of the ultra wealthy who gained it through such means as stock market manipulations and financial activities which benefit no one except the wealthy, who set the rules of the game.  A reasonable level of interest is requisite for modern life, but these manipulations are merely ways to take money from those who have less and give it to those who have more.

These methodologies were unknown and Aristotle's day, but I think it is clear that he would condemn them. I know I do.

Sounds Good To Me!

Right wingers are still reposting a weird old meme declaring that Obama was ordered out of his helicopter by one of his junior officers because he didn't salute his marine guard standing out front.

I responded:
Why is this nonsense still circulating? It was instantly disproven when it was first claimed long ago. Besides which, do you know what would happen to a real Marine officer who looked his  commander-in-chief in the face and ordered him off the aircraft? If this had actually happened that officer would be dishonorably discharged and currently serving his 20 years of hard labor at Leavenworth.

These bizarre political wet dreams are why so many independents and young people are utterly disgusted with the Republican Party.  This is why your party is no longer allowed in the White House.

Michele added:
This was proven untrue and the entire event covered recently by Snopes.  Only those in the service and in uniform are supposed to salute.  Obama would have been wrong , just as all those others have been wrong, to salute. Apparently Reagan started it, but that doesn't make it appropriate, or correct.

Dan commented:
Republicans are getting desperate, recirculating old fake news.  When Clinton humiliates Trump in November, we'll see a lot more of this idiocy.  The Democrats had better take Congress is all I can say.

I posted:
 I don't respond to most of the ones I see. It's just that they are so utterly divorced from reality and so full of hate that they irritate me enough to make a response.

Dan replied:
It's like resisting the temptation to waste time dealing with a classroom disrupter.

I responded:
I probably shouldn't respond to these. Actually I don't respond to most of the ones I see. It's just that they are so utterly divorced from reality and so full of hate that they irritate me enough to make a response.

It's all a result of the Republican Party's careful efforts to drive out any one who wasn't extreme and fanatic. It's an age-old story. Time and again various groups have thought, "I just had a great idea! We'll just let those extremists  think they're taking power and then we will pull the strings to make them our puppets."  The problem is the strings connect to both the puppet and the puppeteer. Often the puppet turns out to be the bigger and more powerful of the two.

I'm not feeling that well today so I'm going to be lazy and not do the research. However, there was a king in one part of early not yet united England who grew tired of all the Viking raids he was suffering. His solution? Why, he'd invite one Viking tribe to settle around the edges of his kingdom so they would provide a buffer and fight off the other Viking tribes.

You can see what's going to happen here. It was not long before the "friendly" Vikings decided they didn't want some of the land, they wanted all of it. So they took it.

The same thing had happened earlier with Rome. They invited one of the barbarian tribes, I think was Goths or Visigoths, to settle out around Rome to protect the city.  Being Romans, they abused this allied group of barbarians until they had taken enough and sacked Rome for the first time.

Then there's Hitler. Most Americans don't realize he was never elected to power. In fact, his party had lost a lot of seats in the parliamentary election just prior to his ascension.  Many of his political opponents were rejoicing that the whole Nazi nonsense was finally over.  Then a group of upper class conservatives, wealthy businessman, conservative military officers, and other fellow travelers decided that in order to get the country back under control they needed the determination and even the street brutality of the Nazi party.

Not that they liked the party. It's just that they thought, "Hey this guy Hitler is just a underclass street thug. We intelligent members of the upper class could easily control him. We'll just get all that passion and determination on our side, pull the strings, and make this guy do whatever we want him to do.  We will be the power behind the throne!"

You know how well that worked.

So the Republican Party has driven out moderates and even what used to be called conservatives. They were all declared to be Rhinos; not true Republicans. Now there is nothing left but the fanatics and extremists -- and of course the party leaders who thought they could pull the strings and control those people. Doesn't seem to be working out very well, does it?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

God Is Not Amused!

In response to an article pointing out that Christians were very upset by the SNL skit spoofing the Religious Right's agaitprop film, "God's Not Dead", I posted:

One erratum needing correction:  The term "Christian" is not limited to fundamentalist evangelical, politically active, right wing Christians. It means others too; including liberal Christians and left wing Christians and even Christians like me.  To clarify:  "Christian" is not a term which means only those who support the freedom of religion laws which allow them to discriminate against others based upon their religion, including their being a different kind of Christian with different beliefs less absolutist than those of the "Christians".  The article made it sound like all Christians would be offended by this presentation and that all Christians support the freedom of religion laws. Many of us don't.

And I thought it was one of the funniest things SNL has done in a long time. I hope they do more like it.

Millennials, Now Label Free

So, John Della Volpe, Polling Director of the Harvard Institute of politics, reports that millennials have a strong dislike of political labels. 

I find this a very refreshing position. I don't like labels either. When people try to put a label on me and say,  "I know what you think because you're a fill-in the blank and they all think exactly the same way," I always say "Sorry, I don't fit in your nice little categories."

I find this so interesting regarding millennials.  They don't like to be called socialist, they don't like to be called capitalist. They prefer to look at the details and the hard realities. They want to know, is this working? Where has it failed? How can we make it work? They seek answers without regard to whether that answer is included in a given label which has been attached to them.  Their thinking is much more open and unconstrained than that of traditional political participants.

When you add to this that millennials also dislike belonging to a specific religion, and thus being labeled and categorized, I find reason for great hope for the future. Even in the area of their religion, millennials don't want to  mindlessly submit to authority, they prefer to think for themselves. In the 1950s, when I was young, a great deal of criticism by social observers was aimed at how rigidly society enforced a strict code of behavior. Everyone was expected to conform. We even spoke of "conformism" as a critical issue.  Not everyone was speaking of it in a negative way.

That millennials' minds are so generally open and unwilling to be shoved in rigid categories makes me feel that I may have been born in the wrong generation. Their attitude, in some ways, is much more similar to mine than mine is to so many of my generation. I am not alone in this.  I have friends my age with a similar mindset. We are the outliers of our generation, however.

Sadly, the guest also indicated that about half of millennials believe that the American dream is dead.  They are not terribly hopeful about the future. I find this ironic because I think the very reason that the future is so hopeful, and I find it very hopeful indeed, is because of those very millennials. It is they who will bring this country to a new level of greatness. It is they who have opened the minds of this nation.

In millennials, I trust.

The relevant portion of the interview from C-SPAN. (Sorry, but the dialogue on the C-SPAN website was in all caps and is difficult to read due to a number of errata as well.  I have made some minor corrections, these are not in caps):

John Della Volpe


Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Good Conversation

I repeated a post which pointed out how few Americans believe in basic science theories which have been proven.  The post was headed with a comment indicating that conservatives voted in the way they vote because they are kept ignorant of the functions and proven realities of science.

Later I added as a comment:

I'm not sure about the Big Bang theory either. I prefer Ekpyrosis, which started as a  belief of the Stoics in ancient Greece that the universe would end in a conflagration at the end of one cycle and the start of a new one.  It is now a theory that our universe began when two universes bumped into each other… Oh, just Google it.   I don't think I understand it well enough to explain it. But I do like it.

My friend C responded: 

Jim, most Conservatives believe in a "theory" (for lack of a better term) of a God, all-knowing and all-powerful, that created all of Creation in much the same appearance as it is seen today; this is rejected by those who don't believe this theory, because it involves a singularity, an unexplainable event that happened once in all history and won't happen again. Most Evolution believers have a problem greater than this to justify their faith in evolution; evolution relies on at least two (Yes, 2) singularities, unexplainable events that happened once and won't happen again- 1) a Big Bang that spewed out all known matter that later generated stars and dust, and 2) spontaneous life, the generation of a self replicating cell of life that later decided to generate differing kinds of cells. SO... Who really believes a more extravagant and improbable theory?

I responded:
You forget that I am also a believer. Many who believe in science also believe in God. The two are not contradictory. Only absolutists insist you must believe in only one or the other. Most people believe in both.

As for the Big Bang theory, that is only one of the current well supported by facts theories that could be true. It is the most commonly accepted, but science is in such a state now that this particular theory has not been confirmed or unconfirmed by irrefutable evidence.

Remember that science is always ready to change its opinion. All it takes is clear proof that a theory wrong. The state of falsifiability then requires that that theory be discarded.  An excellent example is the luminiferous ether.  Once accepted as  an unavoidable necessity, experiments by Michelson and Morley proved it could not exist. This once critical theory was therefore discarded.  It was replaced with Einstein's concept of the space time continuum.

Scientists freely acknowledge that the very term "singularity" really translates as, "We don't know what we're talking about." The singularity is a point at which current knowledge of physics breaks down. No one knows what the term "singularity" means. Science is trying to determine that now. They do not claim to have done so.

Six or seven years ago a computer experiment was run on a universe which existed in Meisner space. Don't ask me what Meisner space is.  I don't understand any of the various kinds of space. Frankly, the mathematical concepts exceed my mathematical capacity. The point is, however, that after they had run the experiment for a while, they were surprised that a bit of that universe was pinched off in what they referred to as a "closed time like loop", went back in time, and became the singularity which seeded the existence of the universe. Is that actually what happened in the real world? Maybe. No one knows at this point in time. Science is not able to answer that question yet.

There is no contradiction in assuming that God began the universe and that science is an accurate description of the real world. If you don't believe in science you better not get on an airplane. Don't living a modern house. Or use electricity. We can go on and on. All of those things are a direct result of science applied to our real lives. One thing you can say about science, it works.   But what science cannot do is say anything about God. By definition God is above and beyond the capacity of science. If God exists, then science cannot measure or test Him.

As for spontaneous life. At this time science also does not know how life formed. They are working on that. They have created what many refer to as the first artificial life form. If only God can give life, how is it possible that scientists took chemicals and used those to build a genome which, when placed in a cell stripped of its existing genome, lives?  Yes, they did put the genes into a living cell, but it was not a natural genome. It was a man created genome.

Science once couldn't explain how electromagnetic waves propagated. They didn't even know there were electromagnetic waves. That doesn't mean that electromagnetic waves didn't exist. It meant that science haven't found them yet. It is a perfectly acceptable position to believe that science is not going to be able to find an answer it does not yet possess. That is a possibility. But so far, every time science hasn't been able to explain something, eventually it could.

In other words, if you wish to believe that God created life which then evolved, that is a possible explanation. At the present time, science cannot prove or disprove that proposition. Perhaps it will be able to prove it or disprove it sometime in the future. But at this point in time science cannot do so.  

That is simply a fact.

Regarding singularities. In fact, one of the more popular theories, not yet proven or disproven, is that singularities occur with great regularity and frequency. This is the multiple universes theory. Well, it's one variation on the multiple universes theory. In this variation, the singularity which created our universe via the Big Bang, continues to occur in the greater universe. And in that greater universe, many universes like the one in which we exist are being created constantly. In fact  there are innumerable  universes.   It is an unproven theory this time. Again, it may be proven in the future or disproven in the future or, conceivably, maybe be beyond the human mind's capacity to understand it.  We don't know yet.

What I, and so many others, believe is that when the facts prove something they have proven it. The facts prove that the universe, the observable universe, is billions of years old. The facts prove that our earth is a little over 4 billion years old. The facts prove the dinosaurs died out about 65 million years before the first man walked the earth. These are proven facts. They are not simply beliefs.  They have been proven to be empirically correct by testable, replicatable, falsifiable facts.

As long as there are areas of science which cannot at this time answer a question, it is entirely possible to explain the answer as the actions of God independent of working in the framework of science.  Still there are things that have been proven to be true which, if God was involved in creating them, show He  did it through scientific means and methodologies. Perhaps He did so. There's no reason He couldn't have done so had He so chosen. Nevertheless, the fact remains at some things have been shown to be true. To ignore them is to say that facts and reality don't matter.

It comes down to a matter of what philosophers call epistemology. How do we know what we know? And how much can we know? I believe that reality is real. Therefore I must believe that which reality compels me to believe. 

I also believe that I have a personal and distinct relationship with God. He and I are friends. We have spent considerable amount of time together -- in each other's company. That is not a scientifically testable belief. It is based upon experiences which I have had and have not shared with others, simply because they can't be shared. The relationship is a direct communion with God, one on one. It is by definition a supernatural experience. That's not supernatural in the silly way have come to misuse the word today, but in the original sense, meaning above or beyond nature. Nature in this case being epistemological reality.

In other words, I have a foot in both camps.  I assure you that some of my atheist friends are as rejecting of my religious  positions as you are of my scientific positions. I made peace with myself along time ago, but it wasn't an easy peace to attain.


 In response to a post regarding Missouri's proposed religious freedom laws which pointed out that religious conservatives are now finding themselves opposed by their business allies, I responded:

This may go to a public vote, "triggering an even bigger fight, pitting Christian conservatives against their old allies in business."

But, my conservative friends,  The members of the business community, especially the wealthy class, were never your allies. On the surface they appeared to be; but they weren't. They used to you. That's why so much of their agenda been adopted on a national level and almost none of yours has been.

This is because they didn't really care about your agenda. They used you to get what they wanted done. They had no interest in helping you accomplish your goals. And now that your "alliance"  has become inconvenient for them, they're showing their true colors and abandoning you by the roadside.

Many of us who are not conservatives are not surprised. You shouldn't be either.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Law And Order -- War Crimes Unit

In response to a news report that a judge is allowing some of the CIA's torture victims to sue the psychologists who planned the program, but only those "not in the chain of command" I posted:

-- “This has never happened before,” --   But it appears the case can only be brought against civilians not in the chain of command. Which means if this precedent is followed that the American military and the CIA are still above the law when it comes to committing war crimes.

Note: The US military was bitterly opposed to the torture program and may well be generally innocent, although serious issues referring to relating to Abu Graib and other such occurrences still remain unresolved.

 I'm astonished that even some civilians are being held accountable for these horrific war crimes, the first  officially sanctioned war crimes in US history. It isn't that the US did not use new torture on occasion, we have. However, the person performing the act knew he was committing a crime and could face prosecution and imprisonment. He might even face execution as did some Japanese war criminals for water boarding American captives.

Please be aware that I am not ignoring the atrocities committed against Native Americans. Those were cases of mass murder and genocide, and could certainly be classified as war crimes, though I place them in a different category, since they were aimed at the tribes as a whole rather than against specific individuals.  In other words, I consider those genocidal actions much worse than what the Bush administration authorized. And just for the record, Andrew Jackson was responsible for many of these atrocities. This is an interesting point in the light of the current dispute over removing his face from the front of the $20 bill and placing it on the rear.

 It seems to me that this surprise decision is evidence that America is truly changing. Think of what has happened just in the last few years.  The South is being forced to remove it's glorifications of the  monsters who fought for an expanded slave empire. Even Republicans are admitting that income disparity is a major problem. Gay marriage and gay rights in general have become the norm.  The ones arrogant religious right is now whining and crying about how little power they have.   A dedicated democratic socialist is running a highly successful grassroots campaign for president.    The right wing's death grip on the highly politicized Supreme Court has been broken and it does not look likely that it will be restored. The federal government now takes responsibility, limited responsibility, but still responsibility, for America's healthcare.  It seems that a Black president will soon be replaced by a female president. And many more changes away from our old self-destructive and hateful habits
are in clear evidence.

Conservatives are terrified of these changes. I find them hopeful and refreshing.

Speaking of torture and American policy, remember this old post?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fantasy Fulfillment

In response to the above article, I posted:

I guess some of you Southerners need a little reminder of what happened the last time you tried something like this. Do you remember that big, dirty, old Yankee boot? The one that ended up on the back of your neck as you lay prostrate on the ground; desperate, half starved, and crushed by superior military force?

You do?

But that must mean…oh. I get it now. It excites you to have that boot crushing you down, doesn't it? I can hear you now, "Crush me with your boot, Yankee! Oh yes! Oh yes! Crush me harder! Oh you damn Yankee! Damn, damn Yankee! Oh yes!"

I'm not into rape fantasies, so I can say is, sweet dreams are made of these. Who am I to disagree? If that's what turns you on, OK. I'm tolerant and I mind my own business about other people's private bedroom affairs. Have fun,  but please keep it quiet.   I need my rest.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Scream! Scream!

Transgender Freak Videos Women In Restroom- OK With You Springsteen?

Just one of the numerous hysterical posts on this incident by right wing conservatives now plastered all over the Internet.

I responded:

More easily dispelled lies from the extremists on the right. The man never claimed to be transgender. This happened in 2013, not recently. Let me repeat, The man was pretending to be a woman. He was not pretending to be transgender!

In short, the discriminatory laws being passed in some southern states would have had absolutely zero effect on this man being in the woman's bathroom. What he did was illegal under any circumstances, including under the circumstances which allow transgender individuals who identify as women to use the women's restroom. When the facts are completely against you, I guess you just have to make up wild lies in order to make your point. But honestly, Republicans and so-called conservatives, who's the sexual creep here? Because frankly, you are the creepy ones.

I have to ask again. What's wrong with you people? Why do you hate reality, facts, and truth so much? Why do you want to be comstantly so terrified and enraged that you're incapable of even the least bit of rational thought? does it appeal to your purulent interest in other people's bathroom habits?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Whose Life Matters?

The Black Lives Matter movement continues, and so do the attacks upon it. What I find most interesting about the attacks upon the Black Lives Matter movement is that they all seem to share one common fallacy. I've been making my usual smart ass remarks in response to postings by those who say, "Yes, Black lives matter, and so do White lives, so what's wrong with you people?" Or, "Black lives matter but we have to support our cops."

I'm going to drop all satire to try to plainly and simply explain what's actually happening here. The problem lies in what comes after the colon.

Once only literature majors and the few people who enjoy 19th century literature understood that the title of the book was only the beginning. You needed to read what came after the colon to get an idea of what the book was about. In fact, what came after the colon in the title was exactly that, a brief description of what the book was about.

For some reason, this practice has returned, and we frequently see this affectation again. For example, the book Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics. You see? With a title like that, it could be about anything, but once you read after the colon, you know exactly what the entire book is about.

So let's look at what comes after the colon in the phrase, Black Lives Matter. It says, "just as much as everyone else's." Conservatives are screaming in rage because they think what comes after the colon is, "but nobody else's does."

This means that conservatives also believe that other lives matter too. On this point, they are in complete agreement with the Black Lives Matter supporters, they just don't know it.

Sadly, some of those for attacking the movement are doing so because they don't think Black lives matter. However, that is not the criticism that is leveled against it, and many of the opponents don't think in that prejudiced manner. Whatever their motives, the criticism is plain and simple. It clearly and directly states that other lives matter too, so Black Lives Matter must be wrong because it thinks only Black lives matter.

This is completely wrong. To repeat the movement is simply saying that Black lives matter just as much as everybody else's. It doesn't put down anyone. It doesn't say any group is superior to others, or more important, or more valuable than others. It says, we are just as valuable as you are. That is all it says.

You can stop being afraid now.

Euphemism Jack vs. Blowhard Donald

I just discovered a post I failed to make. I wrote it, but failed to post it. To refresh your memory, back in February, Trump told an elaborate story about General Pershing when he was serving as commander of the American expeditionary force in the Philippines. According to Trump, he once captured a group of anti-American insurgents who were fighting for their country's freedom and, because they were Muslim, lined up 50 of them. He then dipped bullets in pig's blood and ordered his men to shoot each one of them except for one, single man. He then told that man to go and worn everybody else that this is what happened to insurgents.

According to Trump, this instantly put an end to the insurgency.

This is, of course, insanity. First, no such action is ever recorded reliably from any source, although it is a widely believed story. Second, the insurgency never magically stopped. It was a long, hard, bloody battle that really only ended when America finally made it clear that we really would stop forcing the Philippines to remain under our control and let Philipinos be a free people.

That's the context, so here's my old post.

Love crimes against humanity? Vote Trump!

Trump would probably be surprised to discover that Black Jack Pershing was not so nicknamed because he struck his enemies like a blackjack. He got the name because he was so respectful of the Black troops he commanded. That's when his fellow officers began calling him "a racial slur" Jack. This was later changed to Black Jack, a nickname which he regarded with pride.

In short, Black Jack Pershing was a tolerant, decent human being who respected minorities and their rights at a time when doing so marked him as a very peculiar man indeed.
He was an honorable and highly respected officer in spite of this 'peculiarity'. There is no record of him ever having committed any murders or war crimes.

Note: I wrote "a racial slur" because the rules of this site, as I understand them, would punish me for using the correct and accurate term. I understand the motivation in banning this term, but I think it's quite silly to do so when adults are having a conversation about racial prejudice. I can imagine young people one day asking, "What's the "N-word I'm not supposed to use"? And how do you intend to tell them? I mean, you can't use the word. Maybe you could play them a line or two from a rap song and say, "Did you hear the word that started with N? That's the word. Don't ever say that!"
Whoops! I have to stop writing this post now. I have to go tinkle in the you know what. Giggle. Giggle.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Say It Ain't So, Ronnie!

Jacob Weisberg, author of the book Ronald Reagan, while being interviewed on the Charlie Rose show said, "You look at Ronald Reagan as someone who supported amnesty on immigration, who supported handgun control through the Brady bill and who did more, although he later regretted it, to make abortion legal in the years before Roe v. Wade than any other person because he signed a bill essentially saying in California saying that woman's doctor could give her permission to have an abortion."

And what do you think about those facts, idolizers of Ronald Reagan? Is it possible that the idol has feet of clay? I suppose it wouldn't matter if he did, his cowboy boots would hold them together.

 Just another case of what I like to point out as often as I think I can get away with it. That is, today's conservatives keep confusing the Ronald Reagan living their heads with the one who used to live here in the real world. They are very, very different people.

Freedom For All! (Wealthy White Men)

On Facebook, Crushing Libs (In Our Dreams) posted: Did you notice how high on the Bill of Rights we listed the right to bear arms?
That wasn't an accident!

I responded: That's right. It was actually essential to suppress slave revolts and keep them people in their place. At least according to the founding fathers who wrote it, including Patrick Henry. Slavery forever!

Dan added: The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified, and why it says "State" instead of "Country" (the Framers knew the difference - see the 10th Amendment), was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote. Founders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that . . . and we all should be too.

In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states.

Monday, April 11, 2016

I'm Sorry, So Sorry. Please Accept My Apologies...

In response to a news report regarding the frequently discussed question of whether Secretary Kerry might apologize for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during his visit to Hiroshima I posted the following.

The irony is absolutely profound. The nation in which conducted some of the worst atrocities in the history of mankind (and still refuses to sincerely apologize for them) nevertheless expects an apology from one of her victims because her atrocities were the seeds of later atrocities. I could thoroughly support the peace efforts at Hiroshima if they were entirely directed at ending war. That is a strong thread in the web, of course, but there is also a strong thread of "Poor Japan" and even "Wicked America". This reality is brutal, disgusting, almost unthinkable, but the use of the atomic bomb saved both Japanese and American lives. War is an atrocity. War is always an atrocity. That is the message, or at least, it should be.

Friday, April 8, 2016

You Pay Your Taxes And Take You Your Chances

A popular Internet meme list how government types supposedly operate. It's a clear attempt to sneer at socialists, aka, Bernie Sanders. It promotes a total misunderstanding of the concept of democratic socialism. A more accurate view is as follows:

Helps you buy a herd of cows, then buys back their products. Also orders you to run the farm their way.

Depends on the Democrat. Some are Conservative, some are Liberal, some are short, unpredictable and unreliable governance is the rule.

Runs everything, very badly. Tells you you live in Paradise.

Takes half your herd, gives it to the rich, then pays the rich not to do any work with the herd. When the rich man's herd dies from neglect, the government takes more of your cows to give to him, and pays him a bonus for being such a great farmer.

Democratic Socialist
Helps you buy a herd, helps you care for it, helps you sell its products. Taxes you for the profit you make and provides you and your family with world class health care, a clean and safe environment, the world's best schools, and so on.

See Republican.


A friend posted an addendum to this which I cannot resist adding here with my commentary. The original post said something on the line of:

Libertarian. I have a cow and I don't care of you have one.

I read this as:

Libertarian: You have a cow. The government doesn't give a damn about your cow or anything else. Hope your starving neighbors don't come and murder you and steal your cow. But if they do, it's none of our business. You libertarians are on your own. Every man for himself. Libertarianism, anarchy with lipstick on.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

I Love Jesus, Too Bad He's Got It All Wrong

Cloud Cuckoo Land

From the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly April 2 episode:

The chairman of the Notre Dame Political Science Department, David Campbell states that, "What we find is, one of, if not the primary cause, for the stunning rise in the percentage of Americans, especially young Americans, who now say they have no religion, one of the primary causes is an allergic reaction to the mixture of religion and politics. And specifically to the mixture of religion and conservative politics. And we see that very clearly in our data, and in the work of other scholars."

(He and Robert Putnam recently published a book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, which reflects this research.)

Later in the program he went on to say, "The insertion of religion into American politics, that's not new. That's been around for a long time. What's different about our current era is the injection of religion into partisan politics. It takes a very partisan tone."

Another author, John Danforth, who wrote The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics, struck a similar note. He said, "My book is about the tone of politics rather than specific issues."

He believes that God is not a partisan. Ideology and politics are not His concerns. He says instead that the real point of religion is that you are not the center of the universe, therefore compromise is necessary. It seems to me that he is saying that while you may believe you are 100 percent absolutely, perfectly correct about religion, you need to realize that the other fellow believes this as well. Thus, the need for compromise in our civil government.

He adds, "And it's important for people in office to make it clear by word and by deed the people on the other side of the issue are not demonic. They are not bad people. (Religion) is the place where, when is functioning as it should, Where different people come together with all different ideas, different backgrounds, and they are all children of God."

I would add to this, that it should be clear to even the most extreme individual that our government is not a religion, neither Congress nor the White House are churches, and that freedom of religion means that your doctrine cannot be forced to become mine by law.

Historically, the situation is very complex. While it is true that the anti-evolution forces attained a great victory in the Scopes trial, in which the conviction was only overturned on a technicality, many observers have noted that the fundamentalist, evangelical community was horrified by the intensity of their humiliation as the entire world laughed at their beliefs. They did retain control over schools and government in general within their states, but they also tended to withdraw from world. They developed their own special summer camps for their children, their own Bible study organizations, and tended to socially aggregate only with those who shared their belief system.

This all began to change with the rise of groups like the Campus Crusade for Christ, primarily during the 60s and 70s. The Republican Party tapped into this powerful resource to create a new base, the base of religious believers who are absolutist and who insist that they, and they alone, know the correct interpretation of the Scriptures and of God's will. After years of being marginalized and sneered at, this was heady wine.

The Republican Party told these individuals who felt marginalized and suppressed they were the Silent Majority. That they should rule America. That God wanted it to be so.

It was irresistible. Fundamentalist evangelical ministers lept in, unable to resist the power and, sometimes, the money that came along with turning into politicians. As the years went by the Republican Party became more and more a religion and less and less a political party. It began expelling those were not doctrinally pure, declaring them to be RINOS. At the same time, the church became more and more worldly, it became less and less religious and more and more a political party.

That which was once preached to the willing believers, as Christ directed, was instead to be forced upon everyone else in direct defiance of Christ 's teaching. This is how the evangelical church today has been turned into something which, while endlessly commenting on how much they love Jesus, nevertheless deny his teachings at every opportunity. Once merely in the world, they have become of the world, and it has corrupted them.

They are evangelical because they believe it is their duty to reach out to the world and spread the gospel. Instead, because of their political greed and lust for power, they have done exactly the opposite. They have turned off an entire generation to a concept of religion, especially organized religion. They have accomplished the opposite of their goal, because they did not follow the blueprint that had been given to them.

Let me end with two quotes.

The first is a repeat from the beginning of this post. "What we find is, one of, if not the primary cause, for the stunning rise in the percentage of Americans, especially young Americans, who now say they have no religion, one of the primary causes is an allergic reaction to the mixture of religion and politics. And specifically to the mixture of religion and conservative politics. And we see that very clearly in our data, and in the work of other scholars."

The second is a clear message from the Gospels which those who claim to love Jesus so very much and to believe in every single word of the Bible, especially those of the Gospels, have ignored completely. Evangelicals believe that they have an obligation to force their religion upon the entire nation, even upon the entire world. But what did Jesus say about those who did not wish to hear the Word? He said this: "And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town." Matthew 10:14

So the evangelicals are wrong on all counts. Politically, they have confused our shared government with their personal church. Religiously they lusted after power and ignored Christ's teachings. Just how wrong can you get?