Tag Archives: Justice

The Real Causes of the American Civil War

Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemtery

Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery – Wikipedia

In this excellent article, Ta-Nehisi Coates lays bare the principles the American Civil War was fought over and the mask of deception practiced by racists ever since. He quotes the documents of secession and other relevant historical documents to prove his point.

This is a good resource to point to when you run into the willfully ignorant who claim the Civil War as a “War of Northern Aggression” or the hateful flag as a symbol of a proud (non-slave) heritage. It may not shut them up, let alone open their eyes, but their reaction to this evidence will be a good gauge as to whether further engagement is a waste of your time.

President Obama Responds to Attack on His Foreign Policy

This is from April 2014, but I’m sharing it now (August 2015) because it’s brilliant. I disagree with Obama on a lot of specific policies, but when I do, I think long and hard about why I disagree, what his motives are, and what he knows that I don’t, because he’s an utterly brilliant man. That much is beyond reasonable doubt, and his ad hoc answer to the Fox reporter here illustrates that.

There’s a transcript of the exchange between Obama and the FOX News “journalist” here if you’re interested.

Very Powerful Discussion of What It Means to Have a Black Son


Put yourself in the place of these mothers, who have to explain the reality of being a black man in America. They have to make their son understand that some will see him as a threat and act on that threat, and that his life can depend on keeping those people unafraid of him.

If you can feel as these mothers do, then you’ll understand why we must fight, and why we can’t rest until the color of our skin is not our destiny.

Capital Oppresses Labor


Tolstoy was exactly right.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Welfare Capitalism, as practiced in most of the developed world, allows the creative destruction of capitalism to proceed while shielding individuals from its excesses.

Supporting capitalism does not require that we support a free for all in which the capitalists use people and natural resources as they will. Capitalism left to run its natural course results in the destruction of individual life, liberty, and ultimately the environment we need to survive. A serious capitalist will acknowledge the need for strong government regulation of capitalist practices, even as he fights against those regulations that limit his own profits.

Our True Parasites – The Ruling Class

Man’s responsibility to his fellow man is a common thread running through every major ethical system, religious and secular. People are morally bound to contribute to their society according to their benefit from it. The poor benefit very little and so owe very little in return. Ideally we would create a society in which everyone benefits and is invested in maintaining and improving it. 

As it stands now, those who benefit the most generally contribute the least in return, making them parasites. The right wing loves to call people parasites, but this is largely a measure to put their opponents on the defensive and minimize the number of people who realize the right and their patrons are the real parasites. 

Philosophy Professor Jason Read describes the situation in terms of biology, in which successful parasites are not recognized as such by their host, which is exactly the case with the very wealthy in this nation. They thrive by preventing the majority from recognizing their true enemies.


GOP Lies Are Destroying America, and Reform Is Our Only Way Forward

I really want there to be a strong and healthy conservative party in the United States. While I’m very progressive socially and economically, I recognize the need for balance and the importance of pitting two intelligent groups against one another in a conflict of ideas as a key to finding that balance.

What we have today is a strong but very unhealthy extreme right GOP (and associated groups) and a lackluster centrist Democratic Party that’s too weak, too beholden to moneyed interests, and generally too afraid to propose anything truly progressive. The Democrats by their nature are a very diverse group and unable to come to a consensus on anything remotely controversial, and they’re pulled to the right by their fear of losing elections to the GOP, so I am focusing on the GOP because it’s both the greatest danger to our nation and the group that must be brought into balance if we are to return to a healthy democracy.

As detailed in Six Studies That Show Everything Republicans Believe is Wrong, it’s time for the right wing to stop lying about the minimum wage, taxes, global warming and more. I’m not sure how to reform a party that’s so completely committed to enforcing it’s will on the nation at any cost and is so heavily invested in lies and other corruption, but this is certainly the task before us.

Angry, Greedy, Ignorant White Men Need to Go Extinct

I’m very active on G+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ChristopherLamke/ – and I often argue against the willfully ignorant and the grossly stupid. Some aspects of the hateful opposition really irritate me, and one of those is the angry, greedy, ignorant white man who’s angry because he’s being forced to give back a little to the nation that made him what he is. The setting for this particular foolishness was an ACA post – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+OleOlson/posts/1T5dM584ZBY.

Here’s the comment:

Offender: “Got something against creating wealth from hard work? Well I’ll tell you something. I’ve worked hard all my life. In College and 62 years of working (all non government) I can tell you this….I’ve tried poor and I’ve tried rich and I much prefer rich and the lifelong achievement it took to attain it. Redistributing the results of achievement is ignorant envy. Get off your dead ass and make something good happen….Amen”

Me: “Your faulty assumption is that others don’t work as hard as you, especially those who aren’t as wealthy. That’s not backed up by evidence. If you’re wealthy, you had help getting there, by living in a nation with the infrastructure and culture that made it possible, by having or being able to gain desirable skills, and by being fortunate. You may have worked hard but so do most others, including many who work harder than you just to make ends meet.

It’s borderline absurd for a white male in this nation to claim he’s a self made man. You’re playing the game on “Easy”. If you were born a poor black female, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Try peeking outside the shell of your narcissism and seeing the world through the eyes of others. It’s called empathy and it’s essential to being a full human being.”

The fool who wrote this had no reply, certainly not because he agrees with my comment. I’m sure he just wasn’t clever enough to answer it meaningfully.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the developed world and to be born a white male in the current era, the only reasonable stance is to be grateful and the only humane stance is to reach out to help others achieve some measure of what you have. If you can’t do these things, you don’t deserve any of the bounty nature and chance have given you.

The Biblical Basis of Right-wing “Christian” Beliefs

A G+ user (I’ll call him TP in this piece) posted this article (from his blog) to the G+ Democracy community, explaining (in his mind) how his absurd beliefs are justified by the Bible. I normally ignore his posts, explaining how compassionate conservatives are and how Christian they are, because they aren’t worth my time, but this one struck a chord and I decided to reply. My original reply post is here. I’ll restate my reply below.

 There is no Biblical Basis for Right Wing “Christian” Beliefs.

In his attempt to demonstrate Biblical justification for his beliefs, TP cited several of the Ten Commandments, rules given by the Judaic God to Moses for the Israelites. This is an interesting and very telling choice. These commandments were for the Jewish people and are a small subset of the many, many laws given to the Jews during that period. They are also not at all exclusive to Judaism. Most of all, TP ignores the very clear teaching of Jesus on virtually all the issues he cites as Biblically justified.

Honor your father and your mother
Every decent human being honors their father and mother. This is not a “conservative” concept at all. It’s a human social concept. Societies completely independent of Christianity, including those who’ve never been exposed to Western ideas, follow this idea.

You shall not commit adultery
The prohibition against adultery is implicit in the definition of marriage. It’s not original or exclusive to the Judaic line of religions. If we were to consider the fact that nothing under this Judaic law prevents a man from adding women and “concubines” as he desires, then it’s not really a very strong commandment, is it?

Consider the prohibitions against lying and bearing false witness. These are implicit in the definition of a viable human society. Just as you cannot have a proper marriage if one partner is sleeping with people outside the marriage, you cannot have a stable society if people are allowed to lie and bear false witness.

You shall not steal
I find it fascinating that TP interprets this commandment to support smaller government and no wealth redistribution. His interpretation contradicts not only the clear Judaic laws requiring that you help the poor, but Jesus’ own very clear stance on helping the poor and his command to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
TP brings up the myth of left wing wealth envy here. I don’t know any left leaning thinkers who care whether someone makes more money or has more stuff than they do. I bet he doesn’t either. I know many left leaning thinkers, and their concern, as mine, is that all are capable of living a good life, which requires good food, water, shelter, health care, and education.

Arguably, Christian Conservatives attempt to protect the weakest of the weak; the unborn.
This is not a commandment, but it’s striking that the vast majority of right wing politicians are against abortion but also against providing for the needs of children once they’re born. It almost seems like right leaning people care about the unborn as a symbol, but when the symbol becomes a real life that consumes resources, they abandon their concern. In fact, this is exactly how the right treats life, as a precious symbol to be safeguarded when it gives them power over others, but not so precious that it’s worth supporting with “their” resources.

You shall not kill
This is not one of the commandments TP listed, which is interesting. I’m well versed in the interpretations of this commandment and somewhat in Just War Theory. I would have liked to hear him explain how the right’s focus on using violence against other nations and people who’ve committed crimes against us is consistent with this commandment.

There are a couple other commandments which are at best inconsistently followed by right leaning Christians. I’d like to hear TP’s opinion on the Sabbath Day and graven images. I’d also like to see him justify his beliefs based on what Jesus actually said in the Gospels. Jesus covered all TP’s concerns, because these concerns have been with us since the first civilization worthy of the name.

TP never replied to my analysis. He’s one of the many on the far right who are trapped in a closed worldview devoid of reason and empathy.

The War on Drugs is a War on Minorities

The War on Drugs is a War on Minorities and a War on Liberty. You’d think this is one thing progressives, moderates, and libertarians could all get behind. Unfortunately, there’s all the money to be made in this war and all the minority potential voters to lock up, safely away from the polls.

MSNBC has the story here – http://onmsnbc.co/EFPIgi.