Friday, June 30, 2023

Tweets On the Roberts Court and the Past Weeks Execrable Decisions

 Chief Justice Taney IInd, STFU

With 303 Creative, Taney Court II, er, the Roberts Court, has taken a long step towards bringing back Jim Crow. They may have gone the whole way.

The master [Chief Justice John Roberts] objects when the slaves point out his hypocrisy.

This Supreme Court has an honesty problem.

I think the Court was willing to decide Moore [a voting rights case] as they did because their patrons are sure they will win the next election.

The Supreme Court is now arbitrarily creating standing based on fraudulent litigation. What is left of the rule of law? And Justice Kagan agrees with me.

How does one teach law when the highest law court is corrupt?

We can argue over expanding the Court, but at least let's remove the two Justices [Alito and Thomas] who are on the take.


Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Religion and Slavery

[This is a very short note on a very big topic. I don’t know enough to write more, but with all the religious justifications of slavery and colonialism flying around, I think it is worth a note.]

The original teachings of great old-world religions reject slavery and colonialism. Exodus in the Tanakh, of course. But also many of the non-Jewish followers of Jesus were slaves, and Jesus preached to a colonized people (“Render unto Caesar…”) Mohammed criticized slavery and laid down rules of conduct for the relations of slaves and masters. Gautama Buddha specifically forbade the ownership of slaves, and the very word nirvana means “liberation.”

How then did all of these religions come to embrace slavery and colonialism? One answer is that, slavery being such a huge feature of the cultures of the times, all these teachings address master-slave relations; they could hardly do otherwise. Over time, this was converted into an acceptance and even validation of slavery. Christianity and Islam both limited the prohibitions against slavery to their co-religionists, so that Christians enslaved Muslims, Muslims enslaved Christians, and it was open season on pagans. In Rome, Christianity became the state religion, entirely vitiating the anti-colonial stance of Jesus teachings.

I don’t know enough to write more. But, if these teachings are in any sense divinely inspired, then the divine rejects slavery and colonialism.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Patronage, the Supreme Court, and Jane Austen

These very rich people who Justice Thomas and Justice Alito call friends are not friends at all; they are patrons. We have forgotten enough of the aristocratic social order that we don't immediately recognize it, but that is what they are, and Thomas and Alito are their proteges, a word I had to look up, since the usage and concept have fallen out of US society.

“I have been so fortunate as to be distinguished by the patronage of the Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh whose bounty and beneficence has preferred me to the valuable rectory of this parish…” – Mr Collins, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Abolitionist Jane Austen probably heard similar language from the defenders of slavery.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

To A Communist, Supporting Trump

If my political faction made one of the greatest mistakes in history, I might be tempted to never think about it again, but I hope I would have the courage to acknowledge it and learn from it.

“Nach Hitler kommen wir.”

You are repeating the mistake of the KPD [the 1930s German Communist Party]; the public is much more likely to jump right than left. The left, to be an alternative, must stand for the best choices in the present, not some imagined future.

[In response to an objection to allying with the democratic socialists, the SPD.] I know that history. I also know that had the KPD been willing to form a coalition with the SPD the NSDAP (Nazis) would not have come to power. Instead, the KPD, probably encouraged by Stalin, chose to try to outwait the NSDAP, in one of the biggest mistakes in 20th century history.

There was a communist group that tried to unify the German left. They called themselves Antifaschistische Aktion or, for short, Antifa. 

[In response to the argument that Trump is no threat.] After four years of stepping steadily towards the right. After concentration camps. After a nearly successful insurrection which would have made Trump president for life, I think you are ignoring a few pieces of data. I know, I know. “No fair remembering stuff.” Same thing you're doing with German history. 

Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Technological Singularity: a Few Links

 [For those of you who are wondering how this got there; it was misdirected. I have copied it to the sister blog Shinycroak, where I generally put this sort of article.]

 (I wrote, and then discarded, a reply to Claire Berlinski's articles on AI; she entirely believes in the TESCREAL arguments. On the way, I gathered a few links and I figured I'd record them here.)

Vernor Vinge's original 1993 essay, Technological Singularity.

“The Singularity: a Panel with Science Fiction Writers Vernor Vinge, Charlie Stross, Alastair Reynolds, and Karl Schroeder,” 2013. Link (video.)

“I believe that the creation of greater-than-human intelligence will occur during the next thirty years. I'll be surprised if this event occurs before 2005 or after 2030.” – Vernor Vinge

Seven years to go.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Biden, Wealthy Republican Donors, and the Debt Ceiling Settlement

(I lack insider information to confirm this, but I do think it is likely.)

I'm glad there is a debt ceiling deal, that the the world financial system is still standing, but I think it is more of a temporary ceasefire than a great victory.

Biden is being lauded for his negotiating skill. There is something missing from the equation: the money Republican representatives get from the very rich. I think the very wealthy Republican campaign donors mostly don't want a default, not yet anyway, maybe not ever, and they leaned on the House Republicans, so that they made a deal. I think also that those same donors very much want the Democratic left frozen out of the Congressional governing coalition. They don't want stronger labor laws, higher taxes on the extraordinarily wealthy, or environmental regulations that make fossil fuel reserves valueless and so they're prepared to make a deal, even with the hated Democrats. (It is, I think, not a coincidence that weaker regulation on fossil fuel development is part of the deal.)

I think this gives Biden a lot more credit than he deserves, though I do give him credit for taking yes for an answer. He had a lot of support from the people who fund his opposition. The opposition is still fascist and, independent of their funders, would happily burn the world. They're fascists. They prefer violence to compromise. 

 This deal also affirms the dominance of wealth in our politics. The problem with this approach, as I wrote in 2010, is that “sooner or later there's nothing left to give to the rich.”

I'm glad there is a deal, but it still seems to me more of a temporary ceasefire than a great victory.