Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Isn't it time to stop The Trail of Tears?
  The United States is a country of laws, not a nation
  of similar peoples - denying that could destroy us

It is important to understand the language surrounding American bigotry as the United States wades into its most conspicuous government sanctioned racial/ethnic discrimination since the end of slavery in 1864 or the end of Indian Wars in 1924 or the end of legal segregation with Brown v Board of Education.

According to Wikipedia:

    ..."Hispanic" is a...term that only refers to persons of Spanish-speaking origin or ancestry....
    The term "Hispanic" was adopted by the United States government in the early 1970s during the administration of Richard Nixon after the Hispanic members of an interdepartmental Ad Hoc Committee to develop racial and ethnic definitions[for census and statistical use] recommended that a universal term encompassing all Hispanic subgroups—including Central and South Americans—be adopted.

It is enlightening to know the term was developed by a committee during the Nixon Administration. That certainly explains a lot. Consider this in 2011 from people who ought to know:

    So what’s in a name? When it comes to the terms Latino and Hispanic, quite a bit. Let’s take Latino for instance. Latino refers to individuals from Latin America. While that may sound quite general and inclusive, it’s actually quite the opposite. The term Latino leaves out our friends from Spain, with whom we have strong language, historical and cultural bonds. It also leaves out folks from the Caribbean, who have such a strong influence on our culture. How can we leave out people from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Curaçao and others?
    Not only does it leave out groups who should be included, it also includes groups who perhaps don’t share the same culture as the group being identified. French Guiana, located in South America, would be considered Latino, even though their language and culture are French. What about Suriname, also in South America? They’re Dutch! Belize in Central America has English as their primary language. As does Guyana in South America, which was previously a British colony. And if we want to raise even more eyebrows, what about Brazil? The largest country in Latin America shares a lot of cultural traits, but not the language. Or what about Latinos in the United States, which is, after all, not part of Latin America?
    It seems like the term Latino ill-represents who we are as a community.
    Does the term Hispanic fare any better? Not really. Hispanic was originally used to denote a relationship with Hispania, or more specifically, Spain. So it referred to countries that had been formally ruled by the Spanish Empire. Hispanic is now more commonly used to refer to people who are from Spanish-speaking countries.
    While that may seem a broad enough label, it is limiting in many ways. Do third generation immigrants from Honduras living in the United States no longer count as Hispanic if they don’t speak Spanish? Are we really excluding Brazilians, with whom we share so much culture and history? Does one have to speak Spanish to be Hispanic?

One really has to understand the historical geography of the Americas to understand the new permission for ignorant bigotry contained in the word "Hispanic" developed by a committee in 1972.

As we are taught in elementary school, "geography" is about the nature and relative arrangement of places and physical features of the Earth. "Historical geography" is more complex, as explained by Wikipedia:

    Historical geography is the branch of geography that studies the ways in which geographic phenomena have changed over time. It is a synthesizing discipline which shares both topical and methodological similarities with history, anthropology, ecology, geology, environmental studies, literary studies, and other fields. Although the majority of work in historical geography is considered human geography, the field also encompasses studies of geographic change which are not primarily anthropogenic. Historical geography is often a major component of school and university curricula in geography and social studies. Current research in historical geography is being performed by scholars in more than forty countries.

Migration (human not birds) is a significant element of historical geography. Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another. Evidence of human migratory movement indicates that humans, individually and in groups, have for thousands of years migrated seasonally and have for thousands of years migrated with the intention of settling permanently in a new location. Heck, the normal American today is doomed to move at least ten times in their lifetime. Assuming most of those moves are not into the house next door or to an apartment upstairs or to s parent's basement, in the context of human history most Americans are migrants temporarily domiciled.

The year 1491, the year before Columbus first sailed from Spain setting off the European settlement of the Americas, creates a starting point for a new story of historical geography in the Americas. It is a complex story of migration with the intention of settling permanently in a new location.

Using that cutoff date, everybody living today in North, Central, and South America and the islands offshore therefrom is descended from Afro-Eurasia migrants - except "full-blooded" indigenous peoples of the Americas called "Amerindian" in Quebec, the Guianas, and the English-speaking Caribbean Islands. "Amerindian" will be used in the rest of this post to refer to those "full-blooded" indigenous peoples.1

Migrants. We don't call them that. We call them "immigrants." An "immigrant" is a person who takes up a permanent residence in a country after migrating there from another country. An "emigrant" a person who migrates from a country to take up a permanent residence in another country.

Country. A "country" is a particular geographic area with its own government. Here's where folks get confused because a "country" is not a "nation." Per Wikipedia:

    A nation (from Latin: natio, "people, tribe, kin, genus, class, flock") is a large group or collective of people with common characteristics attributed to them — including language, traditions, mores (customs), habitus (habits), and ethnicity. By comparison, a nation is more impersonal, abstract, and overtly political than an ethnic group. It is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity, and particular interests.
    Joseph Stalin's Marxism and the National Question (1913) declares that "a nation is not a racial or tribal, but a historically constituted community of people;" "a nation is not a casual or ephemeral conglomeration, but a stable community of people"; "a nation is formed only as a result of lengthy and systematic intercourse, as a result of people living together generation after generation"; and, in its entirety: "a nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture."
    Others have conceived of a nation as being united primarily by racial characteristics, whose common history, language, and culture was the product of shared ancestry. Adolf Hitler said of nations: "What makes a people or, to be more correct, a race is not language, but blood". Hitler often criticized civic nationalism, in contrast to his ethnic nationalism, saying "It is almost inconceivable how such a mistake could be made as to think that [an African] or [an Asian] will become a German because he has learned the German language and is willing to speak German for the future and even to cast his vote for a German political party."
    The nation has been described by Benedict Anderson as an "imagined community" and by Paul James as an "abstract community". It is an imagined community in the sense that the material conditions exist for imagining extended and shared connections. It is an abstract community in the sense that it is objectively impersonal, even if each individual in the nation experiences him or herself as subjectively part of an embodied unity with others. For the most part, members of a nation remain strangers to each other and will never likely meet. Hence the phrase, "a nation of strangers" used by such writers as Vance Packard.

In other words, the United States of America is a country in the sense that it is a particular geographic area with its own government. That's a firm fact, one of those things that can be verified. And John Adams made it clear that "it is a government of laws, not of men."

Then there is the imaginary, abstract, impersonal community known as a "nation" that, as defined by Stalin, "is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture, as a result of people living together generation after generation." Hitler goes one step further by saying "what makes a people...is blood."

Traditional Deplorables in the United States think the U.S. is a nation - their sense of identity aligns with the nationalism views of Stalin and Hitler. There is some delusional thread that embraces the "one nation under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance, a phrase that is basically at odds with the Constitution and our history.

The United States is a new country lacking "people living together generation after generation." It is not "a people" made by common blood heritage but a particular geographic area into which migrate a multitude of people from around the world seeking a government of laws, a country not the bigotry of a nation.

The United States is a country, not a nation, it's a fact, not an imagined or abstract fiction.

Let's pretend for a moment that someone of Irish-American descent who can think was sitting in that committee that came up with "Hispanic" back in 1972 who said: "OK, we've got "Hispanic" but we don't have a term for people whose ancestors spoke English and came from a country in which the legal language was Engllish - so how about 'Britanic' as a choice on the census form!"

If that happened, we can imagine someone in 2011 pondering about "Britannic" Americans who themselves or their ancestors immigrated to the United States. We can include the English, Welsh, Scots, Irish, Guyanese, Belizeans, Kenyans, South Africans, Australians, Chinese from Hong Kong, etc., all of whom have the same cultural and economic backgrounds ...oh wait, not really... but just as much as the all the Hispanics have the same cultural and economic backgrounds.

And then, of course, there were immigrants from France, Germany, Sweden, etc. They aren't Britannic Americans so we really ought to have categories, for instance one that include folks from, say, France and Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti, Madagascar, etc., where people speak French as a legal language.

Really, using language is not a way to determine ethnic or cultural commonality among peoples except as a means for the Britannic American culture to classify people they want to discriminate against.

That's the problem with "Hispanic" - no such thing exists as a common race, ethnicity or culture. Consider, for a moment, Cubans as Hispanics compared to Mexicans.

The basics regarding the population of the small island nation of Cuba (42,426 sq mi) is it has a population of 11,232,305, which is 64.12% White, 9.26% Black, 26.62% Mulatto/Mestizo. Oh, and they speak Spanish.

And then there is Mexico, the 13th largest country in the world at 761,610 sq mi, 18 times larger than Cuba.

    With a population of 119,530,753 as of 2015, Mexico is the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, the second-most populous country in Latin America after Portuguese-speaking Brazil, and the second in North America, after the United States; the third-most populous in the Americas after Brazil and the United States.
    The large majority of Mexicans can be classified as Mestizos, meaning in modern Mexican usage that they identify fully neither with any indigenous culture nor with a particular non-Mexican heritage, but rather identify as having cultural traits and heritage incorporating elements from indigenous and European traditions.
    By the deliberate efforts of post-revolutionary governments the "Mestizo identity" was constructed as the base of the modern Mexican national identity, through a process of cultural synthesis referred to as mestizaje. Mexican politicians and reformers such as José Vasconcelos and Manuel Gamio were instrumental in building a Mexican national identity on the concept of mestizaje.

Oh, and they speak Spanish.

What many outside the United States, and a few inside the United States, are aware of is that the phrase Trail of Tears originated from a description of the removal of the Cherokee Nation in 1838 from the State of Georgia begun under President Andrew Jackson in violation of a Supreme Court order.

In the Worcester v. Georgia ruling written in 1832 by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall were these words which recognized the concept of "nation" as separate from the land mass legally subject to the Constitution:

    Indian Nations have always been considered as distinct, independent political communities, retaining their original natural rights, as the undisputed possessors of the soil.... The very term "nation" so generally applied to them, means "a people distinct from others."

The Trail of Tears was part of an ongoing genocide conducted by White Americans against the Amerindian population. A few years after The Trail of Tears incident, that genocide continued as a war of conquest against a country that today is 90% Amerindian or Mestizo (mixed Amerindian-Spanish) - Mexico. The so-called American Indian Wars occurred across the North American continent from the time of earliest colonial settlements until 1924.

White Americans were, and still are today, bigoted against the Amerindian and "half-breed" ethnic group.

Just this week President Donald Trump said in his weekly address that he went to Nashville, Tenn., to lay a wreath at the grave of President Andrew Jackson, who "fought to defend forgotten men and women from the arrogant elite of his day." Jackson knowingly and deliberately violated a Supreme Court order leading to the "Trail of Tears", though I'm sure that is not what Trump admires, except one has to wonder about all the things he has said about Mexicans.

One of the difficulties living in the United States is confronting the denial by Neoliberals that they aren't prejudiced against people based on the language they speak and their ethnic appearance. One of the fun things is to offer this photo array of young citizens of other countries and ask them to identify where these people live:

Yes, two of the pictures are of Mexicans - pictures B and C. (Those in A and D are Sicilians, a region of Italy.) 

As I posted elsewhere, for relevant history on Irish-Mexicans, read about the Saint Patrick's Battalion, highly revered in Mexico. In the mid-1840's Irish and other Catholic immigrants had the impression that the those so revered descendants of English immigrants shouldn't be forcing members of the Army to worship in Protestant services and those Irish had the impression that there was little difference between
  • British colonial bigotry as they had experienced it in the Ireland they were escaping and 
  • the American Manifest Destiny populist political movement bigotry as it affected Mexicans and Native Americans.
Embracing their English Protestant heritage must have seemed to the Irish immigrants like an odd choice for people living in the home of the first revolution against British colonialism. But like all things American, it was confusing. What they didn't understand is that some (not all) of the folks in the 13 Colonies did not like some British taxes and other policies. So like all successful anti-tax, anti-government American politicians they struck a blow for democracy and freedom by starting a war and killing people....

This is a picture of a typical dual citizenship Mexican-American, Louis C.K. His paternal grandfather, Dr. Géza Székely Schweiger, was a Hungarian Jew whose family immigrated to Mexico. He married Rosario Sánchez Morales, a Catholic Mexican. They had children, one of whom was C.K.'s father. C.K.'s parents met at Harvard University, where his mother was completing her degree in a summer-school program. When C.K. was a year old, his family moved to his father's home country of Mexico, from where his father had earned a degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico prior to graduating from Harvard. C.K.'s first language was Spanish; it was not until after the move back to the U.S. that he began to learn English.

Of course, there are American's who still think like this:

Isn't it about time we Americans embrace the idea that the United States is a country of laws that embraces all of humanity, not a nation of similar peoples who despise all others? Isn't it time to stop The Trail of Tears resulting from marching people across imaginary lines we created?

1 The politically correct police may find this use of "Amerindian" objectionable. The problem is that even if one uses "indigenous people" it is inaccurate as "indigenous" (except as it has been distorted and stretched by the PC police) means "originating or occurring naturally in a particular place". In the context of discussing human migration, the only continent on which any group of humans could be considered as "indigenous" rather than "migrants" is Africa.

"Amerindian" delightfully reflects the finest abilities of Europeans to screw up facts, a heritage currently embraced by the leading white folks in the United States.

The Amer portion of the term comes from "America" which is named for an Italian merchant who worked for the Florentine commercial house of Medici, Amerigo Vespucci. He was the first guy who, after sailing on some Portuguese ships, made it clear in writing that European explorers had stumbled onto a second super continent.

The indian portion reflects the fact that Columbus thought he landed in India and termed the locals "Indians" which in itself is ironic because "India" is a European screwup not reflective of what the locals in India called their land which is Bhārat (

So the completely erroneous etymological sources of the term "Amerindian" reflects both the fact that the folks here before 1492, ranging from the Inuit in the Arctic to the Kawésqar of Tierra del Fuego, did not really have a name for the supercontinent and the fact Europeans were basically incompetent.

It is worth noting here that local groups living on the supercontinent at that time did not all have common genetic or language characteristics, though there are indicators of common ancestry among some, if not most, groups.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Privatizing the federal government's purpose
  Let's run government like a business - ensconce
  research results, obscure future plans, secrete
  executive activities, avert unwanted publicity

Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone decided to "run government like a business" particularly when it is a huge government like the U.S. government?

 Is the model General Electric or Google which while creating stuff must be focused on making a profit and gaining an advantage over competitors?

It is a common statement, frequently heard. "They" should run government like a business! So what does that "private" model mean for the "public" sector?

Well, GE and Google hide their research from competitors and the public and don't discuss publicly future plans except to give the organization a positive public image. Company top executives perform their tasks in private. Companies do their best to avert unwanted publicity and "eliminate" whistleblowers. Events such as toxic spills are hidden by private companies. They have large public relations budgets. Everyone at the top seeks huge personal financial gains.

This seems to the model preferred by the Deplorables in the Rust Belt and the South for our government.

And so we now have a President who believes government should be run like a private business as do the vast majority of voters who elected him. He and the folks in his Administration are struggling a bit with a structure set up by people who thought the public's business should provide full access to information about the activities of their government and its executives.

But as summarized this weekend by this article appearing in McClatchy newspapers around the country:
Wondering who is visiting the White House? The web-based search has gone dark. Curious about climate change? Some government sites have been softened or taken down. Worried about racial discrimination in housing? Laws have been introduced to bar federal mapping of such disparities. Federal rules protecting whistleblowers? At least one has been put on hold.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has made a series of moves that have alarmed groups with a stake in public access to information: historians, librarians, journalists, climate scientists, internet activists, to name a few. Some are so concerned they have thrown themselves into “data rescue” sessions nationwide, where they spend their weekends downloading and archiving federal databases they fear could soon be taken down or obscured.

Previous presidential transitions have triggered fears about access to government data, but not of this scope. “What is unprecedented is the scale of networking and connectivity of groups working on this, and the degree it is being driven by librarians and scientists and professors,” said Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, a group that tracks transparency in government.
The Trump people have a point.

Why do we need an Environmental Protection Agency if it can't do its research privately, out of the public eye, until it figures out how people can make money on creating toxic pollution? What on Earth are they in business for? Hampering other profit-making businesses that are not direct competitors with the EPA is not consistent with the idea of running government like a business!

So the new CEO and his people must begin by taking control of what information is available about the company's government's activities. And then they will go about creating a favorable image that sells to their identified market segments. They are adding to the line of products offered by corporations owned by them and their friends - hotels, casinos, steaks, ties, coal, oil, and now government. It's running government like a business.

This running government like a business stuff all should make the Deplorables in the Rust Belt and the South happy until it makes them sick. But that won't be a problem, as they will die since they won't have access to medical care.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

It will affect your healthcare unless you're rich
  The American healthcare funding dispute pits the
  rich against working class employment and wages

Only Americans would piecemeal their implementation of universal healthcare.

Beginning in the 1930's with Franklin Roosevelt, and coincident with the rise of the pharmaceutical industry, the Democrats struggled with how to provide modern healthcare to everyone, finally giving us Medicaid in 1965 and Medicare in 1966 during Lyndon Johnson's administration.

George W. Bush and a Republican Congress got into the mess designing and approving Medicare prescription drug coverage that's weird, isn't adequately funded, and caters to corporate pharmaceutical interests.

Now Donald Trump and another Republican Congress are struggling with what may be impossible - a properly designed and adequately funded revised Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) - through a bill in Congress called the American Health Care Act - that doesn't tax the rich and the major corporations but caters to the interests of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

We know the ACA, well some know it, as ObamaCare, a nickname which as explained by The Atlantic came from discussion of politics in a healthcare management trade journal in its March 2007 issue talking about probable party primary candidates and their policy proposals described as "Giuliani-care", "Obama-care", "McCain-care," "Edwards-care," and "Hillary-care." For some reason we never can talk about the subject with any sense of emotional detachment and didn't before the 2008 Presidential election.

Blame it all on The Greatest Generation.

Article 25, Paragraph 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
"The Greatest Generation" did commit to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which as Wikipedia explains "arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of what many people believe to be the rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled."

Now we're not really good at assuring all our people are receiving an adequate standard of living. In this post we're only concerned about health care. So do we believe everyone has the right to adequate medical care in the event of sickness? What exactly is meant by the term "adequate"?

The fact is that the vagaries of healthcare systems everywhere do not assure that someone who has a stroke while in one locations will receive the same treatment that someone 200 miles away may be receiving for a stroke at the same time.

So the first human emotional hurdle to overcome in order to embrace any concept of universal healthcare is that no healthcare system will ever deliver the same level of care to everyone at any particular point in time.

It will always be an unfair system, unless and until we reach a time where robots programmed exactly the same provide human healthcare in facilities equipped and supplied exactly the same. For now we have to depend upon that most unreliable method, the human being.

The second human emotional hurdle to overcome in order to embrace any concept of universal healthcare is how to pay for it so that it can be universal in a more or less non-socialist economic nation.

In 2015 Gross Personal Income for all Americans was about $15.46 trillion. Our Gross Personal Income is all our income before deductions and all the various types of tax credits and other confusing things we do on our tax returns before we calculate our taxes.

In 2015 our National Healthcare Expenditure was about $3.21 trillion. National Healthcare Expenditure means all the money spent on doctors, hospitals, prescription drugs, therapists, etc.

One way of looking at the American healthcare cost problem is that we Americans spend about 20% of all our personal income on healthcare.That is what universal healthcare would cost, 20% of our gross personal income.

Of course, some people - we'll call them "the currently healthy"- aren't currently incurring any costs for healthcare. And some people - we'll call them "the currently ill" - are incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs.

People being people, "the currently healthy" tend to resent paying the healthcare costs for "the currently ill" and this is true everywhere. Thus Canadians might read this article 'Free' Health Care in Canada Costs More Than It's Worth.

In most nations that have universal healthcare it's difficult to determine what taxes support the program. But rest assured, folks are complaining about taxes because before they pay for any other government program, taxes and fees for healthcare in the amount of 20% of all personal gross income will be collected in a myriad of ways. And then the folks have to pay taxes for everything else government does.

So exactly what happened to the American system for providing healthcare when "The Greatest Generation" was responsible for our society? From Wikipedia (emphasis added):
Before the development of medical expense insurance, patients were expected to pay all other health care costs out of their own pockets, under what is known as the fee-for-service business model. During the middle to late 20th century, traditional disability insurance evolved into modern health insurance programs....

In the 1930s, The Roosevelt Administration explored possibilities for creating a national health insurance program, while it was designing the Social Security system. But it abandoned the project because the American Medical Association (AMA) fiercely opposed it, along with all forms of health insurance at that time.

Employer-sponsored health insurance plans dramatically expanded as a direct result of wage controls imposed by the federal government during World War II. The labor market was tight because of the increased demand for goods and decreased supply of workers during the war. Federally imposed wage and price controls prohibited manufacturers and other employers from raising wages enough to attract workers. When the War Labor Board declared that fringe benefits, such as sick leave and health insurance, did not count as wages for the purpose of wage controls, employers responded with significantly increased offers of fringe benefits, especially health care coverage, to attract workers.

President Harry S. Truman proposed a system of public health insurance in his November 19, 1945, address. He envisioned a national system that would be open to all Americans, but would remain optional. Participants would pay monthly fees into the plan, which would cover the cost of any and all medical expenses that arose in a time of need. The government would pay for the cost of services rendered by any doctor who chose to join the program. In addition, the insurance plan would give a cash balance to the policy holder to replace wages lost due to illness or injury. The proposal was quite popular with the public, but it was fiercely opposed by the Chamber of Commerce, the American Hospital Association, and the AMA, which denounced it as "socialism."

Foreseeing a long and costly political battle, many labor unions chose to campaign for employer-sponsored coverage, which they saw as a less desirable but more achievable goal, and as coverage expanded the national insurance system lost political momentum and ultimately failed to pass. Using health care and other fringe benefits to attract the best employees, private sector, white-collar employers nationwide expanded the U.S. health care system....
Wikipedia also notes:
In 1951 the IRS declared group premiums paid by employers as a tax-deductible business expense, which solidified the third-party insurance companies' place as primary providers of access to health care in the United States.
In other words, some of  "The Greatest Generation" benefited from their employers competing for employees and, like "the currently healthy", those that have those benefits tend to resent paying the healthcare costs for "the uninsured currently ill."

Maybe we could start thinking of it as an employment program. The general press will tell you currently about 12.4 million Americans are directly employed in health care. That's about 10% of people employed. In 1957, 60 years ago, 3% of workers were directly employed in health care.

The problem is those numbers are not correct if you consider the health care industry as a whole. The confusion is that the employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics under health care does not include anything beyond health care "services" and even there it doesn't include government run hospitals. Here's a more accurate picture comparing 1990 to 2016:

In fact, we need to acknowledge that even the listing for healthcare related above doesn't include those that work in the construction of medical office and care facilities, the sale and management of that real estate, the manufacturing and sale of furnishings to medical care providers, or even the employees of companies involved in providing computers and data services to medical care providers. It is very likely that as much as 20% of American employment is the direct or indirect result of healthcare expenditures.

Using the numbers we have, 21.8% of the job growth during the period of 1990-2016 came from the health care industry. In contrast, the  much overblown publicity of computer/internet related industry notwithstanding, they only accounted for 5.5% of the job growth. The difference is primarily the fact that the jobs in healthcare cannot be outsourced to India or China in order to assure inflated corporate profits to be stored offshore.

But whatever we think, we must start viewing healthcare as our obligation to our fellow humans as we agreed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights right after WWII. And we must understand that whenever we meddle with the healthcare funding status quo we will be impacting employment and working class wages in one of our largest economic segments.

Monday, February 27, 2017

We must not suffer fools gladly for the sake of our children
  What exactly does it mean to advocate "tolerance"

Wikipedia offers this definition:
Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist has called "an order of existence". Different religions may or may not contain various elements, ranging from the "divine", "sacred things", "faith", a "supernatural being or supernatural beings" or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life."
Take some time to digest that definition, because the entry goes on to say:
"With the onset of the modernization of and the scientific revolution in the western world, some aspects of religion have cumulatively been criticized."
In a different entry, Wikipedia too carefully offers this definition:
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.
"Science" allowed us to achieve landing on the moon. "Religion" allowed some to say and "believe" that didn't happen and all the evidence showing that it did was fabricated. "Religion" allowed people to say their family members who died from smallpox moved on to a better place. "Science" allowed us to eliminate smallpox.

Wikipedia also offers this definition:
Ideology is a collection of beliefs held by an individual, group or society. It can be described as a set of conscious and unconscious ideas which make up one's beliefs, goals, expectations, and motivations.
The entry explains further:
Even when the challenging of existing beliefs is encouraged, as in scientific theories, the dominant paradigm or mindset can prevent certain challenges, theories, or experiments from being advanced.
When I read the full entry on "ideology," what I see is a description similar to "religion" in that beliefs are passed on that are not knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. Both religion and ideology require a belief at the core that does not permit a real world verification process that can be repeated by others. You either believe it or you don't.

Science is a curious "systematic enterprise." There are "beliefs" known as an "hypothesis" which is a suggested solution for an unexplained occurrence that does not fit into current accepted scientific theory.

Our common use of the word "theory" has caused confusion about science which those with political agendas have taken advantage of to advocate beliefs. From Wikipedia:
A scientific theory is an explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can, in accordance with the scientific method, be repeatedly tested, using a predefined protocol of observations and experiments. Established scientific theories have withstood rigorous scrutiny and are a comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.

It is important to note that the definition of a "scientific theory" (often ambiguously contracted to "theory" for the sake of brevity, including in this page) as used in the disciplines of science is significantly different from the common vernacular usage of the word "theory". In everyday non-scientific speech, "theory" can imply that something is an unsubstantiated and speculative guess, conjecture, idea, or, hypothesis; such a usage is the opposite of the word "theory" in science. These different usages are comparable to the differing, and often opposing, usages of the term "prediction" in science versus "prediction" in vernacular speech, denoting a mere hope.

The strength of a scientific theory is related to the diversity of phenomena it can explain. As additional scientific evidence is gathered, a scientific theory may be rejected or modified if it does not fit the new empirical findings; in such circumstances, a more accurate theory is then desired.... They describe the causal elements responsible for a particular natural phenomenon, and are used to explain and predict aspects of the physical universe or specific areas of inquiry (e.g., electricity, chemistry, astronomy). Scientists use theories as a foundation to gain further scientific knowledge, as well as to accomplish goals such as inventing technology or curing disease.
There is confusion about this in "the public square" where many Americans have come to believe it is important that everyone has a right to say anything and offer there own untestable "theories" that are equal to scientific theories. Thus we have:

And so now we have come to the crux of the matter, for in that web page above is used the word "truth." From Wikipedia:
Truth is most often used to mean being in accord with fact or reality, or fidelity to an original or standard. Truth may also often be used in modern contexts to refer to an idea of "truth to self," or authenticity.

The commonly understood opposite of truth is falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on a logical, factual, or ethical meaning. The concept of truth is discussed and debated in several contexts, including philosophy, art, and religion. Many human activities depend upon the concept, where its nature as a concept is assumed rather than being a subject of discussion; these include most (but not all) of the sciences, law, journalism, and everyday life. Some philosophers view the concept of truth as basic, and unable to be explained in any terms that are more easily understood than the concept of truth itself. Commonly, truth is viewed as the correspondence of language or thought to an independent reality, in what is sometimes called the correspondence theory of truth.
As the family curmudgeonly pessimist when I look at that definition of "truth" I immediately see a chance for someone to confuse "belief" with "truth" particularly because "belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty."

A fact is something that has occurred or is correct. The usual test for a statement of fact is verifiability—that is, whether it can be demonstrated to correspond to experience. But people get these terms confused. The opposite of "fact" is "fantasy" which is not a "lie" but rather comes from  the activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable. When one asserts that a fantasy is "truth" that person is either crazy or is talking about their religion or ideology.

Thus someone standing in the deepest snow they've ever seen in their hometown will say there is no global warming. For them their "truth" ignores their assumption that their "local weather" must be the same as their "regional climate" which must the same as the "global biosphere." That's not a fact, it's their "truth." And in a Trump world they can correctly consider anything contrary a "lie."

Thus when the Center for Religious Expression states "we believe the Christian's right to speak in the public square about these vitally important matters is fundamental because justice - as it relates to any of these issues - cannot exist without truth" they are 100% correct that their viewpoint about abortion, same-sex marriage, etc., is based on the truth.

It's their truth, not my truth, and may not be your truth. That makes truth entirely subjective, and therefore meaningless in a discussion except with the like-minded who don't want to be confused by the different meaning of fact and science.

For this curmudgeonly pessimist, "truth" is a word that has no meaning mostly because it is and always was about a fantasy precept dependent upon belief.

If you must use it, you must understand that it has to do with the intent of "deception." Deception "is a trick or scheme used to get what you want, like the deception you used to get your sister to agree to do all your chores for a month." Deceive is a word that comes from the Latin de- meaning "from" and capere, meaning "to take." In Christianity Leviticus 19:11 provides the "taking" context: "Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another." You see, the truth about "truth" can best be understood in the context of the intent of its opposite - a "lie." And that is different from the opposite of "fact", the term "fantasy."

Last week on his "Real Time" show, one of Bill Maher's guests was journalist and author Asra Nomani. According to her web site, among other things, she is "dedicated to ... principles of tolerance in the Muslim world."

Her website also tells us she "was raised in the foothills of West Virginia in Morgantown" and attended West Virginia University. That was followed by a long career in mainstream media journalism. But recently her views have appeared in Breitbart News stories.

In watching Nomani on the show, she explained she voted for Donald Trump and she has strong concerns that were quickly picked up and fairly reported by Breitbart News:
Nomani, who voted for Trump, stated, “[T]here are two issues that the Dems lost on, and one was Islam, and the other was on identity politics, and that’s what I think…I’m afraid that they’re going to go to the extreme, and that would mean [Representative] Keith Ellison (D-MN).”

She added that if Ellison is picked to run the DNC, it would mean “more apologetics on Islam, and more identity politics, and what I would prefer as somebody who is in the middle. We have this mayor from South Bend, Indiana, who — Mayor Pete [Buttigieg] is his name, and we have [Representative] Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who was on your stage. she was amazing, centrist, a realist on Islam and extremism, and that’s what we need, civility, dignity.”

Nomani praised “true liberals” for giving her strength and courage as a Muslim reformer.

She further stated that a lot of liberals aren’t helping reform Islam, and are “selling America short. They are surrendering America.” Nomani criticized the Women’s March for “standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Muslims that are on the far right of the Westboro Baptist Church.”

Nomani concluded by arguing that civility has to [be] demanded “from the White House to the streets.”
In a discussion about a basketball player thinking the world is flat, fellow panelist Seth MacFarlane asked how she can reconcile supporting someone like Trump, who rejects science. He said to her she seems more intelligent than that. Her response was that we must all come together.

Effectively she is advocating "tolerance" which means to not appear to dismiss people whose beliefs might differ from you. That is what Maher, MacFarlane, and the rest of the panel were doing regarding the guy who says he believes the world is flat.

Nomani attacks those who would not suffer fools gladly, which according to the Cambridge English Dictionary means those who have little or no patience with people who are stupid or have stupid ideas.

"Tolerance" is generally offered up as a virtue. According to Wikipedia:
The term “toleration”—from the Latin tolerare: to put up with, countenance or suffer—generally refers to the conditional acceptance of or non-interference with beliefs, actions or practices that one considers to be wrong but still “tolerable,” such that they should not be prohibited or constrained. There are many contexts in which we speak of a person or an institution as being tolerant: parents tolerate certain behavior of their children, a friend tolerates the weaknesses of another, a monarch tolerates dissent, a church tolerates homosexuality, a state tolerates a minority religion, a society tolerates deviant behavior.
Thus one might allow the young basketball player to express his belief that the world is flat in the context of "non-interference with beliefs, actions or practices that one considers to be wrong but still 'tolerable',” such that they should not be prohibited or constrained." After all it is an American value established in the First Amendment which says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And so it is absolutely clear that the American value is to let people blather about their thoughts and beliefs. But we are not obligated to embrace those thoughts and beliefs - we put up with them, we suffer fools gladly, but in the town square we disagree vehemently with them.

Thus if the "flat Earthers" want to express their beliefs which are fantasy they can. But we who do not suffer fools gladly fear the stupid serving as officials in government and public schools. We fear that if you a person who believes something is "right, just, and moral" then even though others might not believe as you, you believe you must advocate imposing through government what is "right or just or moral" on us all.

And that is the problem with "tolerance." You see, the population Nomani spent her childhood with doesn't believe in science. And here I am not talking about Muslims, but way too  many West Virginians. From the Charleston Gazette:
The West Virginia House of Delegates completed its latest attack on the state's education standards Friday, blocking new science standards from taking effect because they mention climate change.

The Republican-controlled House voted 73-20 for legislation (HB 4014) that delays implementation of the science standards at least a year.

Delegate Jim Butler, R-Mason, said the state's new science standards “expect students to believe in” global warming and “prove it with evidence.”
Nomani is a Muslim. She is seeking a reformation in the religion of Islam because she does not agree with how the vast majority interprets the faith with regard to women. And she opposes terrorists who are also Muslims who believe their faith requires their violence.

She is serious about her reformation effort. And she has written a book Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam in which she explores her ideas. In a review of the book that appeared in Comparative Civilizations Review reviewer Dr. Laina Farhat-Holzman, a writer and historian who formerly taught World History and Islamic Civilization at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, where she was also Executive Director of the San Francisco United Nations Association and was a frequent speaker for the World Affairs Council and the Commonwealth Club, observed:
Asra Nomani's pilgrimage opened her eyes to the discrepancy between what she thought was Mohammad's mission and the practices of fundamentalist Islam today. There is no such movement as "Reformed Islam," but because of her efforts and those of other American Muslims with liberal interpretations of their religion, there may soon be such a movement. Nomani has already staged sit-ins at her mosque, called upon American law to challenge her mosque's board on its discriminatory rules (it is a tax exempt organization), and banded with other liberal Muslims to create a new mosque where for the first time a woman led the call to prayer.

All of this is to be commended, but it is still just moving the furniture on the Titanic. Nomani approached her problems with Islam by picking and choosing among the commentaries in the Koran and its companion piece, the Hadith, in which are the memories of the family and friends of the Prophet Mohammad after his death. She did not even bother with the Sharia, which is the Islamic code of law that has no mechanism for change over time. Ninth century Sharia law is hopeless.

The only thing that comes through about the Prophet Mohammad's mission was summed up in the basic five pillars of Islam: affirmation that there is only one god, prayer daily, fasting one month a year, alms to the poor and widowed, and a pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime. This is the core of a valid religion, and the rest is history and commentary. Even I, as a resolute secularist, find these rules impressive and think that if one must be religious at all, this is not an unacceptable modern choice.
That's fine. But whether it's a Muslim woman or a West Virginian Christian, arguing over interpretation of a religious faith falls into the category of arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. As Wikipedia notes the question has been "linked to the fall of Constantinople, with the imagery of scholars debating about minutiae while the Turks besieged the city."

When you believe in angels dancing on pin heads and you take over the government, one of your first legal priorities must be to protect pin heads.

And that is the risk with advocating tolerance particularly in the public square. That public square (or town hall) is the mechanism used by the stupid to take over your government.

You see, in the end if because of our belief structure we are fretting about tolerating the pin heads and not the collapse of the biosphere, then our children and grandchildren will likely not survive because of us.

It is urgent that we stop advocating "tolerance" as a primary value overriding any concerns about facts established by science through testing and observation of the real world.

The word "elite" meaning "a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities" is used as a pejorative accusation in the form of the term "elitist." Another word, "stupid" means "having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense."

An Italian economic historian Carlo Cipolla in his The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity promulgated five fundamental laws of stupidity:
  1. Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.
  3. A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.
Because of that danger, I frequently say I have no tolerance for stupid people. That may make me elitist, but it doesn't make Cipolla wrong in saying "A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is."

To Asra Nomani I would say it is dangerous to try to find some middle ground between those who believe things such as the world is flat. I say that because the world is round. What is a middle ground, that the world is square? Maybe we should revise NASA and NOAH web pages to reflect a square world?.

While that may seem like a silly statement, the Earth's biosphere is in serious trouble and unemployed coal miners who worked in the Murray Energy Company's Monongalia County Mine (formerly Blacksville Mine) near where you were raised deserve assistance. They do not deserve us putting up with, countenancing or suffering their stupidity. They support a President who says we'll go back to prior levels of burning coal because of this lie (he said it with intent to take):

Ms. Nomani, Trump's Neoliberal Administration on behalf of your ex-neighbors (but mostly on the behalf of the entire fossil fuel energy industry) will have no problem at all revising NASA and NOAH web pages to reflect a biosphere free of global warming impacts.

And if you countenance that, you are equally stupid and dangerous, far more dangerous than the Muslims you seem to fear. This is foolishness that should never be suffered gladly.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Why you should fear Trumpism's Steve Bannon: war with China within 8 years and other reasons

Wisely observing the Donald Trump Presidency is difficult because of the deliberate fog-of-confusion created by seemingly random iWorld emanations coming from Administration officials and directly from the President.

One of the thickest fogs surrounds Steve Bannon, the most significant manipulator in the Administration. With their usual attitudes, the Democrats and main stream media have focused on Bannon's association with Breitbart News deepening the fog that hides Bannon more effectively than he could achieve on his own - and he's the fog expert. He is also far more effective and dangerous than Karl Rove.

Factually Bannon is a 63-year-old Baby Boomer from an Irish-American working class family and Breitbart News was not the center of his being for those 63 years. Simply, most people do not consider their 50's and 60's as their formative years.

Yes, Bannon was on the Board of Directors of Breitbart News Board since its beginning in 2005 when he was 52, but from 2007 through 2011 Bannon was the chairman and CEO of Affinity Media. In 2012 when founder Andrew Breitbart died unexpectedly at age 43 and when Bannon was 59, The Hollywood Reporter reported:
Stephen Bannon, the filmmaker responsible for the pro-Sarah Palin movie The Undefeated, has been named executive chairman. Bannon, a former naval officer with masters degrees from Georgetown University and Harvard Business School, was a mergers and acquisitions investment banker at Goldman Sachs and has also been a Breitbart News board member since its founding.
What we know about Bannon beyond Breitbart is much more informative about him. Here's a quick rundown:
  • His working class, Irish Catholic family were pro-Kennedy, pro-union Democrats and his father was a telephone lineman.
  • Like a lot of Baby Boomers from working class families, he went to college - Virginia Tech - graduating in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in urban planning, but unlike a lot of Baby Boomers he was president of the student government association in 1975-76.
  • Like a lot of Baby Boomer college graduates, after college he was an officer in the United States Navy for seven years, first serving on the destroyer USS Paul F. Foster as a surface warfare officer in the Pacific Fleet (in 1980, the Foster was redeployed to the Persian Gulf during the aborted Desert One mission to rescue American hostages being held in Iran); unlike a lot of Baby Boomers he then served as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.
  • While at the Pentagon, he obtained a master's degree in national security studies from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
  • After leaving the Navy Bannon received a Master of Business Administration degree with honors in 1985 from Harvard Business School.
  • After Harvard he worked as a mergers and acquisitions banker with Goldman Sachs beginning at the peak of Wall Street's hostile takeover and junk bond booms and after achieving the title of vice-president, in 1990 Bannon and some Goldman colleagues left to launch a media-focused boutique investment bank called Bannon & Co. before it was purchased in 1998 by French bank Société Générale.
  • From 1993 to 1995, while still managing Bannon & Co., Bannon was made acting director of the Earth-science research project Biosphere 2 in Oracle, Arizona; under Bannon, the project shifted emphasis from researching space exploration and colonization toward pollution and global warming.
  • In 2006 Bannon persuaded Goldman Sachs to invest in a company known as Internet Gaming Entertainment, a company that made its name and fortune as an online marketplace to sell virtual gold to World of Warcraft players and other online gamers; following a lawsuit, the company was rebranded as Affinity Media and Bannon took over as Chairman and CEO from 2007 through 2011; Bannon was involved in Hollywood for several years, financing and producing films while gradually getting more and more involved in Breitbart.
  • Bannon became a Director of Cambridge Analytica which describes itself as a unique mix of data scientists, engineers, marketing specialists, political strategists and research psychologists; Cambridge Analytica was involved in 44 U.S. congressional, US Senate, and state-level elections in the 2014 midterm elections working with the John Bolton Super PAC which advanced Bolton's pro-war national security agenda.
  • Bannon has been married three times; with his first wife Cathleen Houff Jordan he has one daughter, Maureen Bannon who is a West Point graduate and lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division who has served in Iraq; Bannon had twin daughters with his second wife, Mary Louise Piccard, an investment banker. 
Bannon served in the Navy in his late 20's and early 30's which can be critical years for forming adult behavior patterns. One report indicates:
“He constantly used military terms, used military terms to describe people who worked for him… like, ‘grunts,’” one former Breitbart staffer recalled. “He always spoke in terms of aggression. It was always on-the-attack, double down... macho stuff. Steve has an obsession with testosterone.”

“Steve is a strong militarist, he’s in love with war—it’s almost poetry to him,” Jones told The Daily Beast in an interview last year, well before Trump won the election and Bannon landed his new job. “He’s studied it down through the ages, from Greece, through Rome... every battle, every war… Never back down, never apologize, never show weakness… He lives in a world where it’s always high noon at the O.K. Corral.”
Bannon has been said to have a love affair with war - not from any direct experience getting shot at, just a little-boy-pro-war bent offered from an ideologue's armchair view. Listen and learn when on his radio show in a March 2016 discussion with Neoliberal Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation he justifies the U.S. starting an inevitable war with China in order to save face because of a perceived insult:

Because he talks rapidly with a lot of emotion, here is a transcript:
We’re going to war in the South China Sea. I was a sailor there. We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years. There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea. That's a throwdown, is it not sir.
One might be tempted to dismiss this as rhetoric to make a radio show appeal to a particular audience. After all, it conflicts with what would be called the Administration's  February 2017 "China policy."

On February 10 we saw this headline in the Washington Post Backing away from a fight, Trump to honor one-China policy which offers:
President Trump just backed down from what could have been a serious fight with China.

On Thursday evening in Washington, he appeared to shy away from confrontation with Beijing by agreeing to honor the one-China policy, during a lengthy telephone call with China’s President Xi Jinping.

The move is set to ease tensions between the world’s two most powerful nations: relations had been inflamed after Trump suggested he would only commit to the one-China policy if Beijing addressed his concerns about trade and currency issues.
On the same date theXinhua News Agency, the official press agency of the People's Republic of China, in a story with this headline Xi, Trump agree to boost win-win cooperation, develop constructive China-U.S. ties, told us:
Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump pledged Friday to boost win-win cooperation in a variety of areas and develop a constructive China-U.S. relationship.

Trump expressed his satisfaction with the close communication the two sides have maintained since he took office and admiration toward the Chinese people for the historic accomplishment they have achieved in developing their country.

Developing U.S.-China ties has won wide support from the U.S. people, Trump said, adding that the two countries, as cooperative partners, can make joint efforts to help the bilateral relationship reach an unprecedented level.

The United States is committed to enhancing win-win cooperation with China in economy, trade, investment and international affairs, Trump said.
USA Today provided commentary:
Trump’s pullback from his provocative words and softer tone after accusations against China of unfair trade and militarism in the South China Sea could be a negotiating tactic, said Michael Auslin, a China analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Until this week, Trump seemed to go out of his way to antagonize Xi. After his election, he took a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s president, which is a break in protocol under "one China." He then used Twitter and interviews with Fox News to assail China’s military installations in disputed waters in the South China Sea, its failure to control North Korea's nuclear weapons development and China's unbalanced trade policies toward the United States.

Trump politely repeated the "one China" mantra of previous U.S. administrations "to make Xi Jinping happy," said Richard Fisher of the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Arlington, Va. “What America has to do in order to deter China from here on out is not going to make (Xi) happy at all.”

At stake is whether Trump will acquiesce to China’s long-term goal of pushing the U.S. out of Asia and become the world’s sole and dominant superpower, Fisher said. If that "underlying tension" is not dealt with now, the U.S. will “face the prospect of real disaster in the not-to-distant future.”
So here we are with a question. Was Bannon's expressed opinion about war with China irrelevant?
Bannon is an ideologue who is creating policy for Rust Belt President Donald Trump as White House chief strategist. That position already made him one of the most powerful people on the planet.

Nonetheless, over the last weekend in January 2017, he was given more power as explained in The New York Times:
But the defining moment for Mr. Bannon came Saturday night in the form of an executive order giving the rumpled right-wing agitator a full seat on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council — while downgrading the roles of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence, who will now attend only when the council is considering issues in their direct areas of responsibilities. It is a startling elevation of a political adviser, to a status alongside the secretaries of state and defense, and over the president’s top military and intelligence advisers.

In theory, the move put Mr. Bannon, a former Navy surface warfare officer, admiral’s aide, investment banker, Hollywood producer and Breitbart News firebrand, on the same level as his friend, Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, a former Pentagon intelligence chief who was Mr. Trump’s top adviser on national security issues before a series of missteps [resulted in his resignation].
About China, as Bannon well knows, there is a model for behaving aggressively towards another country then moderating. In fact one might think Trump's "backing down" from his China threats is akin to the methods used by Hitler when the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was signed as a delaying tactic to give Germany time to achieve other goals before engaging in a surprise invasion of Russia. But Hitler had an ideology that favored war. He wrote several early works on his beliefs before at age 36 he completed Mein Kampf which published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, eight years before he became Chancellor of Germany; in it he wrote:
"The soil on which we now live was not a gift bestowed by Heaven on our forefathers. But they had to conquer it by risking their lives. So also in the future our people will not obtain territory, and therewith the means of existence, as a favour from any other people, but will have to win it by the power of a triumphant sword."
Donald Trump has not written an ideological doctrine book nor has he publicly embraced any ideology. One review of his eight books (all but one openly co-written or ghost written) offered that the only consistent theme is: “We need a leader that wrote ‘The Art of the Deal,’ Trump declared during his presidential campaign announcement in June, and he has repeatedly cited that 1987 book in other appearances"; from his media interviews, his"speechifying" and his "tweeting" one can see that he has held conflicting views lacking a clear ideological orientation; with regard to war, all we have is in The America We Deserve by Donald J. Trump with David Shiflett (2000):
My rules of engagement are pretty simple. If we are going to intervene in a conflict it had better pose a direct threat to our interest- one definition of “direct” being a threat so obvious that most Americans will know where the hot spot is on the globe and will quickly understand why we are getting involved. The threat should be so direct that our leaders, including our president, should be able to make the case clearly and concisely....At the same time, we must not get involved in a long-festering conflict for humanitarian reasons.
On the other hand, Bannon has a different backstory that would allow him to define Trumpism in different ways. And he has an ideology that seems to appeal to Trump as explained here:
“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

As the Bolshevik leader once said, “The art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive.”
Which brings us full circle back to the Democrats. The Democrats in power think the blathering media are important. Apparently they are too stupid to realize that of the 330,000,000+ Americans, less than 1% are watching Fox News and Breitbart.com ranks #107 in "news and media websites" in terms of internet traffic. If you are evaluating what to focus on to win elections, forget either one of those. They didn't win the election for Trump, though Democratic politicians and liberal media talking heads focusing on those right wing news outlets allow those outlets to create the conversation.

Be smart like Steve Bannon and focus on using Facebook and other social media sites. You see, listed above is the fact that he is on the Board of Directors of Cambridge Analytica. You probably don't know who they are, but using their tool psychometric profiling, they divided the US population into 32 personality types and focused on just 17 states to get Trump elected.

CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander James Ashburner Nix, 41, on September 19, 2016, in a lecture outlining why 20th Century blanket advertising is dead:  "My children will certainly never, ever understand this concept of mass communication."

Nix has also explained: "We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America—220 million people." Cambridge Analytica wants to become a key player in marketing and advertising, not just politics. From their webiste, you can see this:

If you're interested in how the world was radically changed by a young PhD candidate Michal Kosinski beginning in 2008 read The Data That Turned the World Upside Down which includes the following:
"In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump's campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to 'suppress' their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These 'dark posts'—sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example."
A recent Forbes writer said about the Trump Campaign and Cambridge Analytica:
I speculated that this apparent lack of interest beating his opponent at the data-crunching game was likely to be a hindrance at the last leg of the contest, when he would be in a head-to-head race with a Democrat with access to the same data and technology as Obama had at his disposal.

Well, it turns out that what I (or most other people) didn’t know was that Trump – while vocally proclaiming that he thought personality, not processing power would win the election – would just weeks later quietly engage the services of UK data analytics providers Cambridge Analytica. I say “quietly” as this was actually done by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, through a group he set up to campaign on Trump’s behalf.

Kushner is said to have been the brains behind Trump’s election technology strategy but is also a recent adoptee of Big Data. He became aware of the power of online marketing while experimenting with Facebook targeted advertising, and noticing how quickly he could increase sales of his father-in-law’s branded merchandise by a factor of 10 – from $8,000 to $80,000 per day – simply by refining the target demographic.

Trump’s data campaign followed a different strategy than the Democrat one which had been credited with playing a large part in securing the last two elections. Obama’s operation focused on identifying swing voters who could go either way, in areas with a likelihood of high voter turnout. Trump’s campaign, on the other hand, centred around deciding which of his key political platforms – for example cutting immigration or “draining the swamp” of corrupt or incompetent politicians and bureaucrats – would work best with segmented voter groups. Once up and running at the end of the summer, it was soon sending out tailored messages to 100,000 targeted voters every day.
What the writer of that story either did not know or failed to report is important - Steve Bannon has been on the Board of Directors of Cambridge Analytica since its creation. On August 17, 2016, Bannon was appointed chief executive of Donald Trump's campaign. The Forbes story says "the Trump data campaign" was "up and running at the end of summer." Perhaps that timing was just a coincidence.

It is not as if there is no warning. We have been given a picture of what goes on in his mind such as this from The Hollywood Reporter Ringside With Steve Bannon at Trump Tower as the President-Elect's Strategist Plots "An Entirely New Political Movement" (Exclusive):
"Darkness is good," says Bannon, who amid the suits surrounding him at Trump Tower, looks like a graduate student in his T-shirt, open button-down and tatty blue blazer — albeit a 62-year-old graduate student. "Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they" — I believe by "they" he means liberals and the media, already promoting calls for his ouster — "get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing."

On that precise point, The New York Times, in a widely circulated article, will describe this day at Trump Tower as a scene of "disarray" for the transition team. In fact, it's all hands on: Mike Pence, the vice president-elect and transition chief, and Reince Priebus, the new chief of staff, shuttling between full conference rooms; Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and by many accounts his closest adviser, conferring in the halls; Sen. Jeff Sessions in and out of meetings on the transition team floor; Rudy Giuliani upstairs with Trump (overheard: "Is the boss meeting-meeting with Rudy or just shooting the shit?"), and Bannon with a long line of men and women outside his corner office. If this is disarray, it's a peculiarly focused and organized kind.

It's the Bannon theme, the myopia of the media — that it tells only the story that confirms its own view, that in the end it was incapable of seeing an alternative outcome and of making a true risk assessment of the political variables — reaffirming the Hillary Clinton camp's own political myopia. This defines the parallel realities in which liberals, in their view of themselves, represent a morally superior character and Bannon — immortalized on Twitter as a white nationalist, racist, anti-Semite thug — the ultimate depravity of Trumpism.

The focus on Bannon, if not necessarily the description, is right. He's the man with the idea. If Trumpism is to represent something intellectually and historically coherent, it's Bannon's job to make it so. In this, he could not be a less reassuring or more confusing figure for liberals — fiercely intelligent and yet reflexively drawn to the inverse of every liberal assumption and shibboleth.
That last paragraph summarizes why we should fear Bannon.

At the end of the article Bannon is quoted as saying: "I am Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors."

While some called Cromwell a doctrinaire hack, others consider him the presiding genius handling the break with Rome and creating the laws and administrative procedures that reshaped post-Reformation England by translating royal supremacy into parliamentary terms, creating powerful new organs of government to take charge of Church lands, and largely removing the medieval features of central government.

Bannon should keep in mind that despite his successes as an insider revolutionary, ultimately Cromwell was executed by the ruler he served.

Nonetheless, that self-characterization should remind us to keep in mind that Bannon:
  • Is the White House Chief Strategist.
  • Advocates a disruptive political revolution as defined by Lenin "to destroy the state" and "to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment."
  • Believes Lenin's statement “the art of any propagandist and agitator consists in his ability to find the best means of influencing any given audience, by presenting a definite truth, in such a way as to make it most convincing, most easy to digest, most graphic, and most strongly impressive" which we must recognize in the context that Bannon is an expert on using big data to target propaganda to generate public political support for political goals including warfare.
  • Favors Militarism (his daughter is a West Point graduate serving in the 101st Airborn, a fact that must reflect on her father in some way) and he believes in going to war "to save face."
  • Sits on the National Security Council alongside the Secretaries of State and Defense, and over the President’s top military and intelligence advisers.
  • Expects, perhaps even relishes the prospect of, a war with China before the end of Trump's second term, which could easily be triggered as I will explore in a future post.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

In California we are overcoming words that blind and bind since we want our descendants to survive

Sometimes the stars align for auspicious outcomes, but sometimes they seem to portend an apocalypse.

In 2017 here in California we know that during the lifespans of the Millennials and their children
disruptions in the biosphere's self-regulating mechanisms will cause regionally disparate climate impacts negatively affecting tens of thousands of Californians, as well as hundreds of millions of people around the world.

For many around the Earth it will be catastrophic, for most it will be disruptive at times as it already has been in California, and for some - the Russians led by Putin for example - it will present opportunities represented by this map...

...though the opportunities come with a likely onslaught of serious problems.

It is obvious that within regions people acting together need to implement plans to adapt to the varying impacts of biospheric disruption.

At this critical moment in time, Neoliberal billionaires have been granted control of a number of Western World governments outside California.

What is that going to mean for future Californians in 2067 and in 2117? Do they face adapting to an Earth in upheaval without adequate support from state government policies and funding as is already the case in Florida?

Fortunately, in California we have begun our Safeguarding California program. The following series of posts explore how we Californians are overcoming an antiscience trend and what it means for the future well-being of our children and grandchildren:

  1. In California we are overcoming words that blind and bind - such as the words global and climate
  2. In California we are overcoming words that blind and bind by discussing biosphere science
  3. In California we are overcoming words that blind and bind: about lie, error, digital and information
  4. In California we are overcoming words that blind and bind: avoiding the ideology of Neoliberalism
  5. In California we are overcoming words that blind and bind: the trap of the technology promise