New Atheists and the Culture War

To conclude, let me bring things full circle: At least some studies have shown that, to quote Phil Zuckerman, secular people are “markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less ethnocentric, less close-minded, and less authoritarian” than religious people. It’s a real shame that New Atheism, now swallowed up by the IDW [Intellectual Dark Web] and the far right, turned out to be just as prejudiced, racist, dogmatic, ethnocentric, closed-minded and authoritarian as many of the religious groups they initially deplored.

Godless grifters: How the New Atheists merged with the far right

I have followed some of the new atheists with interest for the last 20 years or so. I can also acknowledge that some of them have produced well-accepted academic work in the past. They have also found themselves justifiably ensconced in popular culture (Richard Dawkins’ Memes). I have even used some of their criticisms of Evangelicalism in my work, because I thought it prudent to include voices unlike our own. And some of their criticisms were, unfortunately, warranted. But I think Phil Torres’ critique of this crowd exposes a wide variety of their mendacious behavior, and their association with the worst elements of our society, make this read essential for those who would want to hear opinions from more than their insular compatriots.

left to right: Jeffrey Epstein, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Pinker

Am I disappointed in the bad behavior of these who wanted to think of themselves as the guardians of truth and defenders of the real world? No, not really. I never placed “faith” in them as if they were pure-minded and honest dispensers of the truth railing against the stupidity of religious people. Already they had made of themselves a degenerate subset of humankind by prejudicially exorcising every version of morality and spirituality (irony intended). Curiously but not unexpectedly, they have made common cause with those evangelicals, the majority of Congressional Republicans, and others who have denounced honesty, morality, science, intellectual integrity, and education as routes to human improvement. The new atheists and culture warriors have produced in themselves mirror images of degenerate humanity, the former by truncating spirituality, the latter by truncating the real world and the intellectual integrity of a scientific worldview. Both modalities are betrayals of personhood as made in the image of God. Both lead to precipitous and unwarranted certainties that eventually lead to the loss of personhood.

Now, let’s get the obvious critique over with now. Am I faultless in my accusation of my contemporaries? Not at all. I see the loss of my memory, narrowing of my focus, encroaching senility, and physical decrepitude as persistent companions. I am not making any claims to being above the fray. And I am not suggesting some particular version of human perfectibility. No, I am rather suggesting a return to humility about the weakness of any supposed absolute apprehension of our purpose in life as a ground for future action. I am suggesting a return to humility in the face of vast unknowns in a universe wider than any one person’s comprehension.

I am also not suggesting that humans cannot master some aspects of reality, or that mastery of reality is an error. I am asking for well corroborated humility in our assertions because of the incredibly hard slog required for even modest growth as individuals and collectively as the human race.

I believe there are absolutes, though I am fairly certain that humans can not annunciate them with any sense of perfect scientific clarity. Absolutes are the domain of metaphor, poetry, art, and prayer, and are part of a well developed sense of place in the unimaginably large cosmos. Absolutes declared with intellectual honesty must always be paired with the caveats of our incomplete and incompletable knowledge.

Because of the threat posed by knowledge, the evangelical culture warriors have abandoned the proposition that education is useful. Doubling down on indoctrination, they model the same authoritarian pose taken by the Russian and Chinese communists. This irony is lost on them who haven’t taken the time to explore why they are doing what they are doing. They think that protecting the borders of their enclave by shutting out the other is an effective strategy for protecting their purity. Attempting to take political control of their environment they can’t see that in their fear of reality they have partnered with a wide variety of people who easily, and laughingly take advantage of them. They unwittingly commit themselves in these alliances to courses of action that betray the essential principles of their lives and faith. Attempting to keep their hands clean from the political fray, they close their eyes to the inequities perpetrated in their names, and shut out any criticism of their allies. But in doing so, they find out that their views and activities are poorly thought of by reasonable people. And yes, the term “reasonable” unspecifically refers to people who can reason through to a conclusion without damaging people or reality, a delicate walk through the garden of God. “Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? (Job 12:11 NIV)”

To conclude, I implore those who have ears to hear, to listen to the Spirit. I am not speaking about religion or any particular version of religion, but to the Spirit of God, the voice that transcends and comprehends our grubby existence completely and offers a hand up to those who want it. I implore those who are engaged in the culture war to abandon the blindness that reacts out of fear and find a better explanation for what you see. Search a little harder. Go beyond your boundaries to the world ignited by love and care, wisdom and knowledge, to see God’s gracious reality fully featured before you. Permit yourself to be judged in the loving hands of God, to make amends where needed, to adjust your course toward all life, to abandon prejudices cradled to your breast when they come to light. Do not be afraid to explore, to test out the voice of God and see redemption begin to make your life flourish in the garden of God.

Back the Blue?

Something from George Takei in his newsletter on 7/28/2021. I found it after I had posted something about the hypocrisy of Blue Backers on Facebook.

Hi all,

Turns out the far-right only cares about “Backing the blue” and “Blue lives matter” when they’re standing against Black Lives Matter. It especially doesn’t apply to officers refuting the GOP’s disinformation regarding the failed insurrection on January 6.

On Tuesday, the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riots heard the harrowing testimony from Capitol and D.C. Metro police officers, who detailed their experience defending the Capitol against pro-Trump extremists.

The officers shared how right-wing outrage trickled down to everyday Republicans, one of whom left an extremely disturbing voicemail for Officer Michael Fanone.

The hypocrisy, it burns.

George Takei

This is what I wrote on Facebook a week ago or so.

It is clear to me that those sporting the degenerate “Back the Blue” American flag, really have no interest in supporting police. This I conclude from the T****ian fantasy around the 2020 election and the January 6th insurrection where police and military both participated in the insurrection as well as the Capitol police who, unprepared for the violence, attempted to hold back the unruly and illegal mob. So, two things are clear here. One, the mob storming the Capitol building at T****’s instigation are entirely lawless, and the lawless mob, among whom were police themselves, had no respect for police in general. So I ask what the point of “Back the Blue” really is. Since it is not a respect for law and order, is it rather an appeal to allow the police qualified immunity when they kill people, unarmed people? Probably.

No, every facet of human interaction should be the subject of tests for whether their behavior is promoting law and order, the peace of our nation, and just behavior toward all citizens. This includes the police who, it is clear now, are not performing service to all the citizens of the USA equally, whatever the “Back the Blue” crowd would have you think. Take down your degenerate flags please, people. Consider that your shameful minority both promoted the lawless attack on the Capitol, and perpetuated the myth that T**** was a law and order president. He was not. He lied to you, you believed it, and now some of you are participating in the second Confederate attempt to overthrow the legal authority of Congress, and in addition, erase the votes that went for Joe Biden in 2020 giving him a clear majority, even in the so-called contested states.

Why is it important to study the contemporary world?

This post is an answer I gave to the above question in Quora on July 3, 2018. Every once in a while Quora sends me an email if someone upvotes an answer. I use an outline of a philosophy paper I read in a college philosophy class by C. S. Peirce. ( image )

One must study the contemporary world not so much to learn about it but to be transformed by the process of studying. To study the air is to know what pollutants one breathes, and a motivation to find a better atmosphere.

We’ve heard much about politically vicious bubbles, and how listening only to what one already believes is unhelpful. Listening to angry screeds by extremists doesn’t move us toward the truth. There may be truth somewhere in their rant, but without a broader apprehension of reality and opinion, it is difficult to fix one’s focus. Some retreat into the fear of learning for safety. But that is a mistaken move. Fear is as bad ground for truth as unwavering belief in one’s own opinion. Both modes of fixing belief come from immature expectations of an absolute.

To follow this line of thinking, let me introduce you to C. S. Peirce, a 19th century thinker who outlined modes of fixing belief. The first mode, and easily the most vulnerable one is that of trust in your own opinions. He suggests that for the reasonable person, one will give up that trust when a person one considers an equal has another opinion, one begins to question the veracity of one’s own. A sick person can’t make the move to doubt and resolution. They can’t be considered reasonable if they will not abandon a bad opinion when they see a better one.

The second method of fixing belief is by means of an authority one trusts. Whether this is a political party, a religious group, or a variety of philosophical or social theory doesn’t matter. So we see a person under this mode of fixing belief appeal to some leadership, religion, or political party. This may be an advance on self certification but that depends on the authority. And there is always the risk that the authority is acting out of self interest, and may be setting you up for failure.

The third mode of fixing belief is that of the a-priori or principle. This is clearly an advance, and it requires a logical yet flexible mind. The greatest ethical systems of history have required this sort of thinking for fixing one’s belief. Take for example the Golden Rule, “Do as you would be done by.” Formulated in a variety of ways both negative and positive by many cultures and leaders, the Golden Rule doesn’t actually tell you what you should do, but it does give you a guideline for making a rational choice. The first question is, “If I were in that person’s (or group, or nation’s) place, how would I want to be treated?” So, “do not judge a person ’till you’ve walked a mile in their shoes” helps to work out what our attitude should be. So one can’t guide oneself by a strict policy on this reading. One must actually choose each time. Obviously, when one gains enough experience, they will not need to think about it each time, certain salient principles and justifications will emerge as one goes along. But without the impetus of the Golden Rule, the principles couldn’t have emerged.

As you might see, not all problems can be solved by the Golden Rule, and technical truths fall outside its scope, so, one must use a variety of general principles to navigate the waters of life. But it is complicated! One has to use one’s reason to ferret out many answers that might be easier to solve with an authority. But the advantage is that one is not bound by the authority or their own delusion in carrying out their reasoning. With practice one can detect errors of logic, errors of culture, and errors of authority. But if one is looking for closure, there are many traps in this mode. Belief that one has the answer is a temptation, because it took so much effort to arrive at.

The fourth and final mode Peirce recommends, and a mode that offers the best chance of getting it right is that of science. But this is not a simple science based on physics. And it requires the most work. This science is a method of proceeding that includes much of the a-priori and the efforts of one’s predecessors. It is an attitude that asks questions and takes probabilities as sufficient answers. It is not a search for absolutes, but an inquiry into reality. It proposes an answer then tests it, and isn’t satisfied until the best explanation turns up. It takes the experience of others, their theories and principles, and launches out on a sea of unknowns that are known to be unknown. It can answer both ethical questions and physical questions. It can answer what one should do for one’s family, nation, and culture without demanding that its answers are universal.

So my answer to your question is more an encouragement to study. Everything and anything you study informs your understanding of the contemporary world. But don’t be ready to come up with absolutes. Still there are signposts that one should attend to. Don’t study just to affirm your own notions. Study to discover. And truth should be the aim of discovery. If you don’t care about truth, then you would fall in line with a broad swath of modern culture that thinks it doesn’t matter how you get to your goal, that the ends justify the means. People like that you don’t want any where near you even though you should understand why their bad faith is unjustified.

The New Republicans

As deeply disturbing as it might appear, the New Republicans are emerging from the wasteland of Trumpism with a new look. They want to appear to be the rational ones making sure we look at “both sides” of the issues that we face right now. This is not just an ideological position, they really want the world to think that they are back to their conservative roots with good justifications for their beliefs, well documented and reported in the news. But this is a thinly veiled attempt to push the same varieties of madness that proliferated during the Trump presidency. They are worse than tiresome, using the language of reasonableness to push the same conspiracies that marked Trump’s last year in office. They want you to forget January 6, 2021 and the events that led up to it by muddying the waters with more than a sprinkling of lies and obfuscations.

The Insurrection

We know that Donald Trump is responsible for fomenting the attack on the Capitol. We have all watched the videos, heard the testimonies of waffling Republican congresspersons who were terrorized on that day. Now they are back to support lies that came out as a response to what everybody saw and heard.

The first lie, Antifa and BLM supporters dressed up like MAGA supporters are responsible for the attacks on police and breaking and entering the Capitol. The Insider is keeping track of the arrests of people who have been charged in the insurrection. As of June 12th, 521 people have been charged with offenses related to their activities on that day. Not one of those people are members of BLM or Antifa, but ardent supporters of the ex-president. Do they really want us to think that all the Antifa and BLM supporters who were there have escaped the sight of millions of people who watched the videos? Roughly 42 gigabytes of 972 videos were extracted from Parler accounts before it was shut down by Amazon.1 Here’s a collection of over 500 videos compiled along the January 6th timeline by ProPublica. See for yourself. Faces of the Riot compiled a collection of around 6,000 faces extracted from some 200,000 images from the videos.

In the Insider page linked above, Jonathan Gennaro Mellis, arrested for “Forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimidate, or interfere officers and aiding and abetting; civil disorder; restricted building or grounds; violent entry or disorderly conduct, obstruct, or impede passage, and engage in physical violence on Capitol grounds; obstruction of justice/Congress … wrote on his personal Facebook account: ‘Don’t you dare try to tell me that people are blaming this on antics [Antifa?] and BLM. We proudly take responsibility for storming the Castle.’” David Blair of Maryland, who was arrested for assault on a police officer is recorded by the DOJ as having said that “he was scared of Antifa.” But Antifa was not at the Capitol on January 6th.

The New Republicans are not taking this as an answer. They cancel their own MAGA cohort to blame people that did not storm the Capitol. I love the way New Republicans are embracing cancel culture and denying it at the same time. They are obviously too unsophisticated to see the irony here. After muddying the waters with distracting and obvious lies, the New Republicans want you to forget that any of this happened, rewriting history to say that nothing happened on that day, that is, nothing more than a tour of the Capitol building by inquisitive citizens.

Election Fraud

The New Republicans also want us to think that there is some very real problem with the election where Joe Biden won in a landslide over Donald Trump for the office of President of the United States in 2020. What they are really doing here is undermining the credibility of their own and other election officials’ procedures which are watched over in a long-standing bipartisan fashion. The election procedure in the United States is not broken, but the New Republican wants you to think it is. The numerous stories of Republican election officials disputing the claims of the ex-President have been all over the news, that is, the news that is interested in publishing facts about reality, not conspiracies and lies in support of the ex-president’s lies.

The actual number of voting fraud cases is extremely low, and dealt with by mechanisms already in place by both Republican and Democratic election authorities. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank reports a mere 1285 cases of voter fraud for the 2020 presidential election. They also provide a list of precautions that election officials must take to avoid voter fraud. A total of 158,590,503 votes were cast for all presidential candidates in the 2020 election. That means that 8/10,000 of a percent of votes were fraudulent, that is 0.00081% of votes were cast illegally. Now, I accept the list of caveats the Heritage Foundation adds to this number that means a variety of fraud cases have not been compiled in their number, but a total of probable cases of voter fraud is nowhere near statistically relevant for the final tally where Joe Biden won handily over Donald Trump by 4.46%, a total of 7,060,519 votes difference between the candidates. I do not accept the idea that absentee ballots pose a large risk of fraud as the Heritage Foundation does. There are plenty of reasons to believe that absentee voters, vetted by their respective states are as legitimate as those voters who went to a polling place to cast their votes. But the Heritage Foundation does list probable cases where fraud may occur, not, by their own admission, that it did occur in the 2020 race. I can have a conversation with these conservatives, but not with those still adhering to Mr Trump’s conspiracies and lies. I do not count the Heritage Foundation with the New Republicans, though their arguments for worry about voter fraud are fodder for those who would call the election into question and those in our nation who are currently putting up more barriers to voting.

For our own household in Missouri, three of us filled out the absentee forms because of Covid-19. Two of them were returned because they contained errors which were subsequently corrected then resubmitted. When the ballots arrived, we filled them out and handed them in to the election authorities before election day in accord with clear rules specified by Missouri, Greene County, and Springfield. We are confident all of our votes were counted. And we didn’t all vote the same way. We believe the election process is fair and equitable in Missouri, even though MAGA supporters far outnumber their opponents.

Curiously, of the lawsuits that the Trump campaign and others waged in a variety of states to contest the election fairness, only one of 86 suits was won. The rest were dropped due to lack of evidence. Many of the judges in these suits were appointed by the Trump White House. The single case that was won, was later overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This means that no election fraud case brought by the Trump campaign or others was won. Why do the New Republicans insist that there was fraud then? Why are they subverting the election results to recount votes in Arizona? Because they refuse to take the answer that they don’t want. They insist on a lie, a lie started and promoted by one man, ex-president Donald Trump, that there was serious voter fraud that overturned his election to a second term as president. The glamor that holds the New Republicans enslaved to Mr Trump’s lies will eventually be broken, but at what personal cost will those same New Republicans reengage in the political life besmirched by their association with arguably the worst president in the history of the United States.

Rather, they would have us forget the behavior of the man who is rightly accused of a variety of anti-democratic acts, resuming their former positions as respected members of their society, not as part of the MAGA cohort who perpetrated the January 6th Insurrection. But the nation will remember the bad faith in Donald Trump as something that the MAGA supporters chose instead of democracy. It will be remembered that they betrayed their own conservative principles and the country to align themselves with a man without principles. The New Republican is not even a shadow of their party’s originator, Abe Lincoln. They partner with Aaron Burr and other traitors to democracy and the ideals under which our nation was formed. And, just because they didn’t personally get their hands dirty on January 6th doesn’t absolve them of their participation in the Insurrection. They are as much to blame for parroting Trump’s lies as the MAGAs who broke in to the Capitol. I hold them responsible and history will do the same.

So, when a New Republican tries to ply you with reasonableness, remember that they are still participating in the Insurrection. When they ask you to look at both sides of the arguments, they want you to deny the truth that is in front of us all and sully yourself with their unverifiable and culpable filth. Remember that they do this as patriots, but not of America, rather of loyalty to the presidential failure, Donald Trump.

Why did I write this?

I wrote this after I posted an article where radcliffe.harvard.edu supported the assertion that the BLM protests were largely peaceful, and a MAGA supporter, a New Republican private messaged me to say the research was bunk, that Antifa and BLM are violent groups out to undermine democracy, that they were present on January 6th in large numbers dressed as MAGAs.

I carried on a conversation for half a day before the absolute idiocy being pushed as fact got to me. I felt ill from the interaction, and I unfriended that person, destroyed the conversation. This person, supposedly a Christian, proposed a topsy-turvy world that is so far from reality that I was shaken by it. And these people want us to forget January 6th. I realize that there may be true conservatives out there, but for the most part I think they’re trying to ride the insanity out and begin speaking when the dust settles, again as if none of this happened. The Republican party is now without recognizable conservative values, instead inhabited by lies, conspiracies, and demagoguery, railing against cancel culture and the “socialists” in our midst.

GOP ex-Congressman Mickey Edwards said that Republicans attending the CPAC conference were living in an ”alternate reality in which facts don’t matter.” Even Pat Robertson, an ardent supporter of Mr Trump during his presidency, says that Trump is living in an alternate reality, and that he should move on from his loss in the 2020 election.

But evangelical Christians, oblivious to what’s at stake here are doubling down on Trump’s side. They’re not calling it Trump’s side, but have absorbed the idiocy as if it were reality. They bluster on, confident in their powers, not cognizant of their error. Where does this leave Christ? I would first venture to say that Christ Jesus loves every single human, and all of his creation. We are all God’s children. We have often committed errors, and made mistakes, yet he still loves us. But Christ in this instance must weep at the impropriety of those who call themselves Christian and adhere to the Trumpist fantasy. They used to say “Trump defends life, so I voted for him.” But he didn’t defend life when he minimized the importance of the pandemic in 2020, even though he attended a rally of pro-life Christians. He didn’t defend life when he became the president with more executions on his hands than any prior president. But these Christians are oblivious to these facts, are distracted by his glamor, and can’t see their way to change their minds even when all their political aspirations are turning to dust. They have been poisoned by Trump’s lies, by their own political ambitions, and by their failure to understand how to research objectively. Besides Pat Robertson, I am only hearing a few fringe personalities repent of their mistakes here. The false prophets are doubling down, or changing the story to distract us from the disaster that was their false prophesy of Trump’s win in 2020. Charisma magazine put up a story that was a thinly veiled attempt to change the story line from Trump to “we accept black people.” But Charisma is complicit in the idiocy. Have any of them repented? I don’t know. It is hard to tolerate such lack of introspection, reflection, and self care. They think they are serving Christ, but it really looks like they are living the fantasy.

Believe without evidence

One of the sharpest criticisms brought by the old and new atheists in the modern dialog is that Christians believe without evidence. I don’t think that’s true, of course, but the atheists do not take the personal testimony of interaction with God as evidence at all because it is not physical, or scientifically reproducible. I do. But Christians have given ample evidence that they really do believe without evidence. They take the Bible as true, infallible, and without error, but they interpret it with a clumsy casualness that belies the strength of their faith. They have not advanced beyond reader-response interpretations to a much wider and well corroborated interpretation. They don’t recognize the history of interpretation, or the wide variety of schools of interpretation, nor can they wrestle with the varied implications of those interpretations. They never even get as far as the ancient rabbis who wrote the Talmud. In deference to the Christians in this amniotic state, the atheists don’t get it right either when they take the facile theology of these believers as compelling reasons to reject Christianity. It’s as if this brand of Christian and the atheists are all vying for points in a scholarly contest that has not been introduced to St. Augustine, St. Thomas, Barth, or McGrath, as if they read the Scriptures with the lazy inattention of a rebellious schoolboy. They do not acknowledge the great strides in human culture that emerge from the Judeo/Christian Scriptures, nor do they understand the particulars of ancient culture, so that they may understand the Scriptures as written in a place and a time different from our own. Anachronisms rising from this are built into their interpretations, and provide no insight for living or understanding of reality.

Conclusion

Following this line to the political conflict exacerbated by the New Republicans, the lazy inattention of their chosen commentators is full of self contradiction, and misguided anger. They don’t understand what they reject, nor do they have good reason to adopt what they believe. They have simply fallen into obvious traps prepared for the unaware. As the proverb says: It is futile to lay a snare in the sight of any bird. The birds are smarter than to fall prey to obvious traps. But these people, well forewarned by Jesus and the prophets, have fallen headlong into the obvious traps. Can they be rescued? Yes, of course, but they, like the dwarves in C. S. Lewis’s Last Battle after having entered in through the stable door to the afterlife, are infinitely suspicious of anyone or anything that would try to persuade them that they are safe and can go higher up and further in to God’s great forever, rejecting reality, as the New Republicans have done. They will proceed no further. The rest of us will move on with the blot on our nation’s record accounted for, mourned, and taught as a cautionary tale for the enduring future. Hopefully then, the New Republicans, will fade in luster, importance, and public visibility. We can go about our business without the scare tactics and the bluster.

Have all the problems disappeared with a Biden Presidency? No, of course not, but patient effort, even with the obstructive efforts of the New Republicans, will win out. And though all the problems Americans face will not disappear, it is time to vote with a wider awareness of what that vote implies, where it will lead us. It is time to abandon loyalty that has no good ground, to avoid being swindled by profit-takers, carnival barkers, and mountebanks; to demand the truth in our relations, in politics, and the news, to check assiduously for errors, to avoid the movement toward tyranny, and advance all people equally in their role as citizens.

1 Wired Magazine, accessed 6/12/2021, https://www.wired.com/story/faces-of-the-riot-capitol-insurrection-facial-recognition/

The Certification

As long as the crowd of T**** supporters continues to insist that there was voter fraud in the last election, it will be impossible to come to terms with them. It isn’t enough for them to know, as the Senators who objected to the certification, that every state, without coercion, justified the results of the ballots in their states. The one persistent voice calling for investigation into fraud is the president himself.

Do you know why it is impossible for these poor people to “know” that the election was free and fair, and that Mr Biden will take office legally on Jan 20? It is because these poor people are still listening to the fraud in the White House. For whatever reason, they have convinced themselves that it carries less risk to side with the criminal who’s been lying to them for most of his public life, than to take the independent and rule governed response of each and every state in the election. So, these poor people are choosing tyranny in the name of freedom, and incompetent federal overreach instead of the states’ legitimate reports. So, these people who think little of sporting the Confederate battle flag in the Capitol, who reflect the failed effort of the Confederate states, have completely lost their connection to reality.

So, what’s your reason for supporting the criminal in the White House? Is it that he is Pro-Life? I respond, “Ask the people who have been unceremoniously executed by presidential order whether he is pro-life.” He obviously is not. Do you support him because he is the “law and order” president? What a sham. T**** is perfectly happy to break the law when he orders it, but otherwise, there is no relation to law and order. He uses the phrase in the same way white supremacists do. Law and order is an effort to keep unfavored populations (read: Blacks and the left) unsettled. Remember, that he was voted in as a chaos agent, meant to upset Washington. Well he has done that, but he has done that illegally, by breaking the very laws he swore to uphold, and used his crime family to do so.

Did you vote for the criminal because he would fix the economy? With $7 trillion more debt since the beginning of his assumption of office, he has broken through every blockade of financial propriety. And the loss of jobs in the “fake” pandemic has secured his place as the president who has most catastrophically affected the economy ever. Not that his Republican predecessor did much better. But you say the pandemic is the reason for much if not all of the job loss. I agree, but remember Mr T**** has lied about the Coronavirus persistently, pushed conspiracies, and ignored it. You went along with his errors and supported him anyway, even though the dead bodies have been stacking up like cord wood and many people are still in the throes of recovery. Some may be stuck with pulmonary and mental deficits for the rest of their lives because of the “hoax.”

Did you vote for him because he promised Christians a seat at the table of power? OK, now you have had 4 years of it, and you are as much to blame for promoting this criminal in his chaos, both by promoting his lies, and ignoring his lawlessness. False prophets continue to push the boundaries of incredulity. Yet, do you still follow him? Christianity is in bad shape, terribly divided, and scarred because of your support for this man. If you think your association with T**** has been a net benefit, then you are as deluded as he is. Do you want a Christian nation? Nobody I know wants to be ruled by the caprice of some Christian group or other, no matter how well-intentioned. I’m sure you remember when Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” You’ve ignored that.

This is not the place to discuss the Christian values with which our nation was founded, not when we are stuck with the ungodly mess T**** has left the nation in by the continued permission of the 81% of evangelicals who voted him in. Changed your mind about that vote? Good.

T****’s America has been in flames for the last year. That is T****’s fault as much as the white supremacists who infest the police departments and are killing people without warrant. His and others’ lies about the peaceful racial justice protests that records show devolved into riots only 7% of the time, has left America with the impression that there is some sort of parity between Charlottesville, the Capitol takeover, and racial justice protests. These impressions are just wrong, and wrongheaded. Most of the world has not acceded to the post-truth T****ian fantasy. So, since we listen to reliable witnesses, we know better than what Mr T**** says.

As long as people continue to think that freedom means that they can do anything they want, police will be necessary. But remember they are doing jobs for which they are paid. And those jobs done poorly should be reflected in whether they still have that job. And if they commit criminal acts while an officer, they should, like anybody else in the nation, go to jail for that.

It doesn’t matter who T**** accuses, you can bet that if he accuses them, they are probably correct. His cronies are criminals, and the Christians who go along with him, repeat his lies, and persist in support of him are part of the problem, not the solution. The criminal president has tainted the Christians who support him. They have become criminal in their association.

entanglement*

I just finished a book that I started and did not finish years ago. It was not that I was uninterested in finding out what happens at the end, but that I was too distracted by life in general to finish it . That is, early in this millennium I was busy making money, trying to manage teaching, and doing a PhD in Philosophy at the same time. Now, in the Covid-19 era, I have both the time and energy to dig deeper into my long-term interests and finish pursuing those interests.

I want to recommend to you the book titled The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics Was Reborn by Louisa Gilder. This particular problem, that Quantum Physics is incapable of offering us a Classical reality to latch on to, must be a serious worry to those concrete thinkers who are unable to lurch into the future. The story is a bio of the people, institutions, papers, and discoveries of physics in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Let me define, shortly, why there was a problem. Classical physics, say, the physics of the 19th century, can be characterized as an attempt to understand the world in terms of concrete objects, from planets to people, to atoms in the void, chemistry, and electromagnetism. All of these objects operate under rules that can be metaphorically described as billiard balls on the table of space. The properties of these objects follow rules that are defined by first, Newtonian physics, and then Einstein’s relativity. To us, the objects are medium-sized dry goods that behave in predictable ways by themselves and in relation to each other. So we have Newtonian Gravity, and Einsteinian Space-Time. These two formulations of our relationship to the rest of reality are all-encompassing descriptions of the events in the cosmos, that is, we understand how we relate to things in the physical world through these formulations. Neither is absolute, but they are so nearly so, that it is difficult to avert our gaze from them even for a moment to imagine a reality that might conflict with it. Of course, though Einstein does not entirely replace Newton, it offers a much finer and predictive matrix to work with. So, we fly around the solar system with probes and people using Newton with a few adjustments using Einstein.

The gravity of these systems is so all encompassing that we are all but unable to see anything else, even when the experiments that tell us something else is going on are displayed in capital letters for all to see. For example, the double-slit experiment, first performed by Thomas Young in 1801 showed a puzzling effect when light was passed through a barrier with two parallel slits cut in it. The light shining through the slits, which was expected to show two lines corresponding to the two slits on the back wall of the experimental apparatus, instead showed an interference pattern, a wavy pattern. It is an effect that is explained, with some resistance, by saying that light has characteristics of both particles, going straight back to the wall, and waves, producing an interference pattern on the wall. The 20th century physicists spent a good deal of time pondering the results of this experiment. It was discovered that elementary particles made up atoms, also behaved like the photons in the original experiment. The result of the many many double-slit experiments done is that Classical physics, the physics of space-time couldn’t explain this behavior. Quantum physics, the realm of the very small, was born out of experiments like this.

And so, after I finished Guilder’s book, I started browsing the Glossary (Guilder 337) which I have done only three or four times in the last 20 years. I found in it, in the definition of Bell’s theorem/Bell’s inequality a sentence that summed up the whole book. It must be disappointing for some people. In this statement a whole range of possibilities crop up that make it possible to go forward. It is particularly important for me because I have insisted since the late 1970s that truth is in relation, not in the objects themselves.

There is a murmur of a suggestion that the central reality, at the quantum level, is entanglement: that relationships between quantum “things” are more fundamental and objective than the things themselves. (Guilder 337)

This confirms my assertion but does not prove it. That is the fanciful part of the whole problem that both attracts and repels classical observers. My intuition had do do with ordinary objects of our perception, not the quantum reality. And though I was up on some of the scientific literature in the late ’70s, it was not until the ’00s that I made any closer association between ordinary objects and quantum reality.

Here, for me, is how this association works with ordinary reality. It is not a trivial issue, and defines everything in the human knowledge project. Plato’s “Letter Seven” relates to us that the more one knows the thing in itself, the less one can say about it truthfully. That is because the mystery of objects are baked into their surface appearance. The more we know about something, the more the relationship between us and the object is primary, not a datapoint in a chart. That is, we cannot lay out all we know in a textbook. The essential points are in the relation not the data. And our knowledge transforms us, does not permit objectification in some classical sense. For Plato, the science of the object, which is preliminary to knowing the thing itself, can be put in a textbook. It is definable by our standard categories, and has a location in our compendium. But knowing the object itself is a step or two beyond that, and making that knowledge inaccessible to the casual observer is irritating to those who would wish to put all knowledge into text. It is irritating to the point of denial by those who want classical categories of science to be fully explained. This is the puzzle of the expert who knows what they cannot say. They cannot say it, because saying it would concretize the relationship and break it. In fact, those who attempt to say what is not sayable betray that they do not know the thing itself at all, that they are in fact, breaking what is sayable in the science of the thing. That is because, to remain consistent, what is not sayable is not sayable because there is a tension between the science and the knowledge of the thing itself that can’t be resolved within the literary logic available to humans without the mathematical training to recognize the limits of cognition. The knower who does not in fact have that mathematical training, but realizes that there is a limit to what can be said has affirmed that knowledge of the thing itself is more closely associated with intuition than to science. The limits of science, advanced to the point of being able to anunciate previously intuited knowledge, can now say what was before unsayable. But in the end, the knowledge that is sayable now is knowledge of our relation to the thing itself. Yet the mystery is larger than what we can say.

I hope you can see how the definition of quantum reality also applies to the knowledge project in its children. That is, “that relationships between … ‘things’ are more fundamental and objective than the things themselves. (Guilder 337)”

This is why I had to write today, because at the root of things, truth is about relationships, not the objects themselves. This applies across the board for our being in the world.

For Christianity, Christ as an object is only the surface, the preliminary and incomplete version of our practice. At the core Christianity is about the relationship we have with God in Christ. Anything less is not Christianity at all, but religion. It is not that Christ can not be objectified in words, deeds, and the rest of history about the matter, but that these are only the preliminary features of reality, not reality itself, and not sufficient for one to acquire salvation. The textbook, the Bible, is a necessary but not sufficient condition for our knowledge of God.

For those for whom money is the core reality, the object of their worldview, only in relationship with money do we realize its insignificance as a feature of reality. To inflate its significance is to err in ways that degrade humanity. That is, loving it is truly the source of all evil. Making it the primary occupation of one’s life hides everything else: people, society, prosperity, etc. Having money is as much of a hindrance as it is a help. As the Scriptures say, the only weakness of the poor is lack of money, the only strength of the rich is money. Money can’t possibly be the central feature of humanity if the poor, who don’t have much of it, are more wealthy in the important features of humanity than the rich. Also, when the Bible condemns the love of money as the root of all evil, those who love money are repudiating the Bible. It is easy to see why Jesus said that it is easier for camel to thread the needle than to enter the Kingdom of God, (yes, I know there are ways to reinterpret this metaphor that is more genial to the rich. But making it more genial to the rich is not Jesus’ point here.)

For philosophy, the essential relation is with knowledge itself. The problems of philosophy do not simply boil down to knowledge, but to the relations between the objects in the world. The best and brightest thinkers have made it possible to comprehend those relationships we have with the world and with each other, without also sacrificing the relationships themselves. The poor philosopher is only capable of collecting objects as a science of relations, not a relationship with reality itself. And yes, I know about anti-realists, but am convinced that a philosophy of that sort is a linguistic backwater. Reality itself is more subtle. One can deny all day that there is a persistent reality, but depend on it nonetheless. This is just a convenient subterfuge to retain the consistency of a program that denies and relies on reality at the same time. What they really need to say is that our knowledge is incomplete and will remain so as far into the future as we can extrapolate our interaction with that reality. There is no real foundation in the halting and incomplete annunciations of science. Neither can we deny reality to avoid that problem. Our relationship with reality is not definable simply as science, but something more subtle that we do not understand the parameters of quite as succinctly as would be required to provide an absolute.

This issue, the one about foundations is not about reality itself, but about our ability to encapsulate reality in some formulaic program. I would refer you to the Principia Mathematica of Russell and Whitehead and how they came to an unresolvable paradox when confronted with Gödel’s incompleteness theorem. Simply, any system that tries to emulate reality will be able to produce theorems we can recognize as true, but cannot prove within the system that generated them. Principia Mathematica (PM) as a system that attempted to unify all mathematics produced for Gödel true theorems that were not provable in PM. Either one can remain blind to the conflict here or acknowledge that human knowledge is not absolute. There are higher orders of system as yet not comprehended. The second is preferable, that is, there’s more to learn. It does not help either the knowledge project or people in general when one chooses to hide the incompleteness of one’s system. But because of Gödel’s theorem, we know that understanding of our reality is partly hidden. Human knowledge can’t make the claim of being complete. Rather we can know things that we can not prove within the system of logic we have. There is more that we don’t know beyond what we do.

*Notice: This is not about politics which both makes me happy and tells how little the criminal in the White House really meant for all of us. For context in the distant future, where our memory of him will be nothing more than the moldy photo albums of the ’10s, the presidency of Donald J. Trump between 2016 and 2020 has been the closest thing to a complete disruption of our Democratic institutions we have ever experienced since the inception of our Republic. I hope we do not repeat this mistake.

Facebook post 9-19-19

I can’t ignore this any longer. The problem with our nation is both simpler and more complex than it appears. But the first issue to deal with is the divisive tone and content of political speech. Our neighbors and friends have become, if the politicos are to be believed, our enemies. People who I used to call friends, have cooled off in their ardor because somehow they think I have fallen away from a message they are comfortable with. And they are told that I am the enemy. 

Is it because I have become less of a Christian, or that I have abandoned the principles of democracy? No, definitely not. I hold the same trust in our way of government that I did before the current political climate. That is, not absolute trust, but conditional on its behavior. Am I less of a Christian than I was before? Certainly not. I can see real growth and movement toward becoming like Christ. Do I struggle? Well, yes, but then that is the burden of every person. Do I feel that I have abandoned or compromised my Christian principles in order to ally with the United States? No. I don’t trust government, any government that has its own interests or the interests of the 1% in mind. I do trust some officials, but not always and not for every issue. Am I patriotic? Of course, but not the sort of patriotism that wraps its self interest in the flag, or tries to associate the United States with some vision of Christ’s kingdom. Doing that defames the flag, and pollutes the Christ who suffered and died to deliver us from the tyranny we see so often in modern politics. Do I love my country? Yes, of course. But I am not so simpleminded as to justify its mistakes and excesses to imperil my neighbors who are different from me. Do I wish things were better in the US? Yes, I think we all do.

I do not like or accept the names that some call others. That just follows the modern McCarthyism. Do I think I should be loyal to our government? No, not a chance. If they do their jobs as they should I am happy, if they sell their services to the highest bidder, I am not happy. And it is not my neighbors and friends that I am angry about. I am angry at the politicians who believe that they should do whatever is in their own interest, whether that is keeping party solidarity in order to get elected again, or ignoring the glaring facts that they must ignore if they are to say and do the things they do. (Anybody interested in seeing the Ted Cruz video where the high school students ask him about gun control?) And I ask, how can they say those things? Is there a chance that I have gotten it so wrong? And I answer after some further exploration, no. They are either sincerely deceived, or deceiving others for their own interest. Is it loyalty to the principles of good government that makes them do this? No, that can’t be so, because good government relies on good data and a firm grasp on reality. 

Yes, I get it that there are different perspectives on the facts. But, when the facts aren’t changing and the oddball perspective remains against reasonable doubt of that interpretation, I begin to call that perspective into question. And if I am the outlier in this evaluation, I beg for better data and a better explanation. But it has become common for people to persist spouting ignorant and uninformed opinions and trouble others over their incredulity. That makes me angry. When elected political officials do this, I am angry. 

You remember the 1st Amendment to the Constitution? There’s a bit in there about not abridging the freedom of speech. I agree with that. But in the context, and I am originalist in this respect, the intention of that amendment was to protect free “political” speech, that is, to be able to criticize the government. So, when I hear the undisciplined and dangerous speech of an elected official, I am angry. The Bill of Rights is there to protect the people, not the elected officials in their official capacity. It is meant to keep autocracy from becoming the norm when it sprouts its evil head. 

Some people believe any rhetoric is OK when it gets the job done, but the loss of truthful speech defines our readiness to accept corruption. When that rhetoric goes unchallenged it becomes the enemy of democracy. Let me explain. Immanuel Kant told us that when somebody lies to us, we are made an unwitting tool in somebody else’s chain of events. We lose our freedom. I think he’s correct here, and when an elected official believes it is OK to lie, they believe it is OK to use you and me in a plan that we would not adopt if we knew the truth. So, part of our problem in the modern world is that we have failed to be truth detectors, or we have so misunderstood our political purpose as to justify the divisiveness of elected officials. That’s not the kind of government I want. I know they are telling me that it is for my own good that they do what they do, but how am I supposed to believe them when I can see the consequences of their behavior right before my eyes.

And the thing I am angry about is not my neighbors and friends, though some of them are angry at me. But it seems that they have been lied to. They also haven’t bothered to dig hard enough to find the truth. I’m sorry for that. All the divisive rhetoric going around by officials of the US government and its allies (Russians responsible for election tampering), make it hard to breathe. 

But because of this rhetoric and their behavior we now have to accept making our planet filthier and more dangerous for our children in the name of monied interests. We have to accept that Mexicans, Muslims, etc. are dangerous people, despite the fact that they are no more dangerous than anybody else, (well, maybe they are less dangerous than the white supremacists who are feeling emboldened to shoot people in Walmart.) We have to accept that LGBTQ etc. people deserve fewer rights as citizens to be unmolested in their lives than “straight” people, even while the “straight” people driving this divisiveness are often far more immoral than those they deplore, but because they have money and hold the reigns of power, are often free of the consequences for behavior that persistently puts other people in prison, sometimes for life.

So, those who are trying to divide the poor from the black and brown people, the straight from gay, the rich from poor are not doing Christ’s business. (Matthew 12:30, Luke 11:23) If your issue is so important then why is there little to nothing about it in the Scriptures? I thought the Scriptures were supposed to be the Christian’s arbiter of faith and practice.

So, now, why are my friends cooling off in their friendship? Is it because I am less Christian, or less patriotic? No, my first allegiance is to Christ and his kingdom. And my participation in this country’s politics is a subsidiary allegiance, one that if it conflicts with Christ, I happily abandon it, or even protest.

So what is it that my friends don’t like? I get it that they are conflicted between their Christian allegiance and allegiance to the state. Therefore, I guess that they can’t happily ally themselves with me. I offer something else than the often twisted divisive rhetoric of many of our elected officials. I offer my person in Christ, gathering all that I can into Christ. Are not the citizens and immigrants of whatever stripe people whom God loves? Of course they are. So my argument is not with them. My argument is with the divisive rhetoric and the elected officials who are pushing it.

I have made mistakes. I have been angry at poorly developed opinions, all the while incredulous that people could hold them. I am not always right, though I am right about a few things.

1. Stop using the labels right and left. They mean nothing these days and are only used to attack a viewpoint or policy. No effort is spent here by those who use those words to have a conversation.

2. The labels liberal and conservative are used as weapons, and dishonest ones at that. If you declare that you are a conservative, how am I supposed to know who you are aligning yourself with. Conservatives are a poorly defined group that is at once the William F. Buckley Jr., the KKK, John Stossel, white supremacists, the Koch enterprises, Newt Gingerich, Donald Trump, or fiscally responsible government. Liberals have the same problem with self declaration. If you declare you are a liberal, am I supposed to believe you are a socialist, communist, like Jimmy Carter or Barack Obama, want healthcare as a human right or want Social Security to be continued in public hands?

3. If you are going to claim that you are speaking the truth, be prepared to actually speak the truth by doing your research, not like the contemporary flat-earthers who haven’t got a snowflake’s chance in hell of being right. 

4. It is not me you are angry with but because you hold certain views that make me an enemy, you believe it is your patriotic duty to be angry with me, or you can’t help yourself. I can actually be a very good friend. And if you’re interested in a conversation, “Iron sharpens iron.”

5. Make your patriotism about the best values of the nation, not the symbols. It is too easy to twist the meaning of symbols. Remember that the Republican party in its beginnings fought for the rights of black and brown people. Not so much today. 

6. It’s not all about you, or me. In fact, it is about the wellbeing of all of us together. Any rule that seeks to divide the people arbitrarily is not a rule that should be in place. 

7. Asking whether we are better under one administration or another is a misleading question.

8. Many of our laws do not square with reality or the best interest of the nation. They serve the monied capitalists who have spent prodigious amounts of money to avoid restraint, even when what they do harms people.

9. If you are more ready to thrash your opponents than have a conversation with them, use rhetorical obfuscation instead of some version of the facts that can be publicly justified, then you are not part of the solution. You have become the enemy of the United States and of all openhearted and decent people. You have worked for the dissolution of the Republic, the flag, the nation. And if in addition you make the claim to being Christian, you have traded the truth for lies, and betrayed Christ and his kingdom. 

If you’re angry at my statements here it is almost a sure bet that you have some work cut out for you discovering the truth of the issues. If you are happy to discount me, call me a heretic, or otherwise justify defaming me, I suggest that you have lost your way and that you are not on the way, no matter what else you are doing in your life, no matter what position you hold, no matter who you are associated with, or how much money you have or don’t have.

I make reality including God and the universe at our best current comprehension of them the foundation, seeking the truth in love the mode of operation, conversation the mode of public intercourse with the goal of mutual benefit in a non-zero sum game.

If you are trusting Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or any of a wide variety of other platforms, you are making a mistake. Even now foreign actors have taken over pages of our fellow citizens, and created their own pages, spewing divisive rhetoric to throw us all under the bus. Though I haven’t posted in a while, I bet Facebook will put this post low in the feed rankings, because I am asking for a moral transformation in people who have been hijacked by the current political dialog. I may be wrong.

why are we so angry?

This feature of life in the United States is more on the forefront than it has been for a long while. Feelings of anger are often pointed at individuals we are associated with, and the political divisiveness often cuts off every effort of dénouement, of conversation, of deescalation. The air is filled with words that are meant as curses, “left, right, socialist, fascist” without ever making an effort to understand what people really believe, want, or think. And when conversation goes sour, for want of facts, or problematic ideological affinities, people begin to redefine terms to simplify their associations instead of having conversations.

since when

Do the citizens of the United States have any say in their own government? The standard answer is that they do not, and this is backed by statistics, and voter preferences, and yards of congressional records. How do we know this?

Do the people in the US support Medicare for All? We know that Congress will not, at the moment, pass any bill of this sort. But, “The vast majority of Americans, 70 percent, now support Medicare-for-all, otherwise known as single-payer health care, according to a new Reuters survey. That includes 85 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of Republicans. Only 20 percent of Americans say they outright oppose the idea.”

Do the people in the US support free college tuition? “This might be an idea whose time has come: Nearly two-thirds of Americans are in favor of free college for everyone, and about three-quarters think at least some people should be eligible for free college, a new survey shows.” This means state colleges, not private ones, though it would affect private institutions by the character of grants the government would be giving students.

But any of you who have been following the debates in the public sphere will know that both Medicare for All and free State College Tuition are characterized as proposals by the “far left.” What does that mean? First it means that the people who are so characterizing these ideas are so far out of touch, being on the fringes of our society, as to mischaracterize the center of public opinion as far left.

One more thing, part of the public conversation is the Green New Deal. Do people support it? “The survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans back the Green New Deal plan.” First recognize that the GND is a bill without teeth, that is it only provides context, not juridical action. Its temper is more of a statement of intentions.

But the GND is characterized as “far left” just because its proponents in Congress are Democrats. Since Mitch McConnell has taken leadership of the Senate, not one bit of legislation has come to a vote on climate change. But he is readying a vote on the Green New Deal because he thinks any Democrat who votes for it will “self immolate.”

He may be right, in that the right-wingtip press will try to immolate those democrats. But, as a citizen, if you have only been listening to Pat Robertson, Fox News, Breitbart News Network, or Daily Stormer, you don’t have the full story. You have the corporate story, that is Capitalism out of control, not the the voice of the citizens.

Need I mention how what percentage of the population believes cannabis should be fully legal, happily under a regulatory regime like alcohol or tobacco. “About six-in-ten Americans (62%) say the use of marijuana should be legalized, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The share of U.S. adults who support marijuana legalization is little changed from about a year ago – when 61% favored it – but it is double what it was in 2000 (31%).”

So, it looks like Democrats, and Independents, have the voice of the public, the voice of ordinary citizens, while the Republicans have lost that in favor of the corporations that are trying to protect their interests: insurance companies; big pharma (Medicare for All and MJ legalization); colleges that rely on overinflated tuition costs; oil and gas corporations, etc.

And we suspect these groups because of the multi-millions of dollars pouring into election coffers by these groups, by the persistence of lobbyists in the halls of Congress, and the persistent rhetoric of the right-wing news outlets. But the data is in. Those who oppose the moves outlined above are just out of touch with normal US citizens. They are not representing their constituencies. Their interests oppose ours.

Here are a few funny tricks used by politicians who oppose these measures to garner votes. First, these are unimportant issues. What’s important is making abortion illegal, continuing our moral dumfounding about the use of drugs, mistaking what we believe or don’t believe as the measure of patriotism, race baiting, shouting against “socialism,” “the left,” “gun-control advocates,” etc.

The shouts against socialism are cooked up with a background of fear of communism, and the bad reputations of countries that have tried to convert their countries into communist ones, and have fallen to the ordinary corruption of overweening bureaucracies. These arguments have nothing to do with distinguishing the useful distinctions between business that is better taken care of by government (social security, medicare, medicaid, tax collection, prisons) and those better taken care of by private interests like manufacturing, and energy efficiency.

But those shouting against socialism blind themselves to the government subsidies (social support of private industry) used for fledgling industries like alternative energy (that is now mostly self sufficient, given market forces), and the egregious misuse of public funds for older industries that should be taking care of themselves like banking, auto manufacture, and farming. We still support them to prevent the loss of jobs, corporate collapse, etc., but the most strident rebukes of the new “socialists” come in full light of social support for unpopular programs like unnecessary wars and conflicts, a president out of control who cooks up an emergency to spend money that could go for people who are really in need in this country. So the president and his republican allies are calling for 5-8 billion for construction of an unnecessary and already passé technology to block our southern border, while not one additional red cent has gone to fight the opioid problem which is killing tens of thousands each year.

The Republicans who are shouting “FAR LEFT! FAR LEFT!” are really shouting at the center of our population. But the voters who are putting them in office are being distracted with pseudo-moralizing crap about abortion, law and order, gun freedom, a weirdly unreal and truncated version of the Constitution, and patriotism, none of which signifies the real problems US citizens face.

it’s been ages

Today I am thinking it is time to write. It’s been a while since I did, almost 3 years. But, what has happened in those years almost defies imagination, at least my imagination was too impoverished to imagine a porn star president, a republican party that has gone overboard to expose their racism, vicious capitalism, favoring the rich to the disadvantage of the poor, cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, trying to privatize what could only be fairly adjudicated by the public government sector. Add to that the fairly clear racism of the criminal in the Whitehouse which many of his cronies in the private sector refuse to admit, even trying to shame those who are affected by it, blaming the victims. The implicit violence of the rhetoric surrounding this president’s language is a deep shame to most citizens in the United States. Add to that the benign response of most of the Republicans in Congress as well as outright defense of policies that are both inhumane and a shock to the moral compass that should drive leadership, and I am just about speechless.

Finally the dehumanization of our fellow citizens becomes clear. First, education has been under attack by the mostly republican administrations in the nation and states of the past 30 years. This doesn’t mean that educators are blameless, but that they have often been the recipients of decisions that they cannot control, decisions made by those who have no investment in education or science, and make educators out to be the enemy of the people. Second, the disparagement and lies that “capitalists” have used to reduce and eliminate unions, undercutting their bargaining power, and reducing the lives of workers to the status of proletariat, living on wages that ensure their continued dependence on the company and a persistent poverty. Irrespective of the theories that have come to the defense of a person’s right to work without being saddled by union dues, the writing is on the wall. These people defending these theories are giving more wealth and power to the companies against the worker. Third, complaints about how bad medical coverage is provided by insurance companies is coming to a head. These companies support giving multimillions of dollars to executives, while carrying on policies that deny coverage to people who have fairly paid their premiums. The red tape required to administer healthcare is outrageous requiring the employment of a whole industry of people to both understand and distribute services. And those costs and services are still impossible to predict, and the variety of health plans makes insurance payments problematic in the extreme.

Capitalism in its pure form is an unstable social system. In fact, capitalism is not a social system at all. Under the constraints of ethical realism, capitalism would be forced to provide living wages and benefits, close the loopholes that create a dependent and impoverished workforce, and reign in the salaries of executives and management, provide real and substantial healthcare for its workforce that didn’t force individuals to go bankrupt to pay their hospital bills. If it is to operate, it requires an equitable social system, not a government that just gives corporations what they want without constraints. Further, the corporations that are profiting from the broad freedoms afforded within our republic should be becoming responsible for the maintenance of the stability of our society, not the rapacious scalping of its citizens for profit.

The recent cries about socialism really have nothing to do with any useful version of socialism, which also requires an ethical realism to administer. But rather, these are thinly veiled accusations of communism. This is rhetoric without logos, or ethos, rhetoric that expects and preys upon the ignorance of people, not on their best well-governed sensibilities. It uses the sinister pathos of the mob, trading on the worst instincts of a threatened people. It is an attempt to govern by threats of impending doom using fear of the other, and fear of losing. There is little trade with truth, or facts, or indeed with the real world. The free press, supposedly, and in its best lights, is there to guarantee a critical eye is cast over those who claim to govern in our name. But it has now been accused of being the enemy of the people by the very people who are under suspicion. Yes, yes, yes, the press is not blameless, but the people who are swallowing the bad faith arguments about the press being the enemy of the people are buying into the machinery of tyranny under a false notion of freedom.

So, what do we do about all this. I am unsure. I know what I would desire, realism in government and industry, fairness in the distribution of goods and services, and get the dirty money out of government itself.

Predictions? Universal health care in 10 years, maybe.