Friday, June 24, 2016

Will Queen Elizabeth II reign over the breakup of the United Kingdom?

Click on image to see a larger, more detailed version!
To many Londoners the "Brexit" vote results, 52% voted to get out of the European Union while 48% voted to remain in, are a shock. But what's already being proposed will be an even greater shock.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland includes England, Wales (annexed in 1532 and 1549) , Scotland (1707), and Northern Ireland (after the split of Ireland in 1922).

In 2014 the Scottish Government held a referendum on Scottish independence, with 55% of voters rejecting the independence proposal and opting to remain within the United Kingdom. But since then the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) has surged, winning several elections.

EU membership was one of the key issues in 2014, with those campaigning for Scotland to stick with the United Kingdom arguing that an independent Scotland would not be able to remain a member of the bloc.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said today many Scots who had voted against independence for that reason were now re-assessing their decision. In the Brexit vote, 62% of the voters in Scotland voted to remain in the European Union.

Sturgeon said she will seek powers to hold a new independence vote because of her desire to keep Scotland in the European bloc. The popular leader said she was keeping a promise made by the Scottish National Party to consider a second independence vote "if there was a significant and material change in circumstance" from that which prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will.

Sturgeon stated,"I think an independence referendum is now highly likely, but I also think it's important that we take time to consider all steps, and to have the discussions, not least to assess the response of the European Union to the vote that Scotland expressed yesterday. I am absolutely determined in my responsibility to give effect to how Scotland voted yesterday."

"The Scottish government should immediately begin talks with the EU for Scotland to remain a member, even though the rest of the UK may exit, and to clarify that an independent Scotland would be the continuing member state, inheriting the UK's EU membership in the event of a 'Yes' vote in a Scottish independence referendum," said Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, chief executive of Business for Scotland, a business network and business and economic policy think tank which seeks to give a voice to business people who support Scottish independence.

Thursday's referendum vote in Northern Ireland had 56 percent of Northern Irish voters choosing to remain in the EU.

In Northern Ireland, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, an Irish republican political party dedicated to the reunification of Ireland and an end to British jurisdiction in the north of Ireland, called for a vote to leave the U.K. and unite with Ireland, an EU member.

"The British government now has no democratic mandate to represent the views of the North in any future negotiations with the European Union, and I do believe that there is a democratic imperative for a 'border poll' to be held," McGuinness said today.

The problem is Northern Ireland's present devolved system of government is based on the Good Friday Agreement. The Agreement acknowledged:
  • that the majority of the people of Northern Ireland wished to remain a part of the United Kingdom;
  •  that a substantial section of the people of Northern Ireland, and the majority of the people of the island of Ireland, wished to bring about a united Ireland.
Both of these views were acknowledged as being legitimate.

The agreement reached was that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom until a majority of the people of Northern Ireland and of the Republic of Ireland wished otherwise. Should that happen, then the British and Irish governments are under "a binding obligation" to implement that choice.

Despite the statements of the Deputy First Minister, Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, First Minister Arlene Foster, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, rejected Sinn Fein's call for a unification vote. The DUP was the only major party in Northern Ireland that backed the Leave campaign.

"Our nation has made a clear definition as to where they want to go. They backed hope, they backed aspiration, they backed the future potential of the United Kingdom and I am very pleased with the result." Foster said.

"We always knew that it was going to be difficult to get a Leave vote in Northern Ireland given that four out of five main parties were advocating a Remain vote and actually it was only my own party that was advocating a Leave vote."

Foster's father was a Royal Ulster Constabulary reservist during "The Troubles" and she was involved in  Ulster Unionist Party since college. She may very well be unable to prevent an Irish unification vote, particularly with her making reference to "our nation" wanting to leave the EU.

Sinn Fein already has their website set up for advocating for a vote offering this headline on its front page: Now is the time for a United Ireland, pledge your support, become an online supporter.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy.  Its capital city is London, an important global city and financial center with an urban population of 10,310,000, the second-largest in the European Union. London voted to remain in the EU while the rest of England voted to leave.

The current monarch — since February 6, 1952 — is Queen Elizabeth II. It is ironic that in the 65th year of her reign - the longest reign in British history - the breakup of the United Kingdom could occur.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Democratic Party: be careful of the grumpy old white man's proposals

But this is more than about the ideas of a grumpy old white man, far more.

In 1964 the Democratic Party became the party of those groups of Americans who regularly find themselves economically and socially the target of systematic discrimination based on prejudice.

Newsflash - white old, middle-aged, or young middle-class or richer liberal activists and college students are not among those groups. And most certainly when they choose not to be a part of the Democratic Party membership but do chose to be uncommitted kibbitzers, they are not relevant to that Democratic Party goal to create inclusiveness

It must have come as a surprise to Bernie Sanders and his supporters when they received a June 18, 2016 letter from the the Congressional Black Caucus expressing its resolute opposition to two key reforms demanded by Sanders. The letter states:
The Democratic Members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently voted unanimously to oppose any suggestion or idea to eliminate the category of Unpledged Delegate to the Democratic National Convention (aka Super Delegates) and the creation of uniform open primaries in all states.
"The black caucus is immovable on this subject because our number one concern is going to be an always be the highest level of minority participation as possible at the convention," said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver who currently represents Missouri's 5th congressional district which has a population larger than that of Bernie Sander's State of Vermont. "You're going to see the same thing with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. Mr. Sanders, if he had met with either or what's called the tri-caucus, he would have found out there is no flexibility." (Note: the Congressional Tri-Caucus iscomprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).)

The thing is, a political party is a private organization created to achieve specific political, social, and economic goals desired by its members. It's not there for outsiders who wake up once every four years to start restructuring to make sure that when they come back four years later they can undercut the goals of its members. You want to change the goals, join, attend meetings, work in off-year and non-Presidential election years to elect party candidates to state offices and Congress. Or form your own party.

And let's get one thing straight.  Missouri's 5th congressional district not only has more people than Vermont, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is a registered Democrat while Senator Bernie Sanders is not. Here's what you probably don't know....

In his home state of Vermont, there is no party registration allowing Sanders to accurately claim to be unaffiliated with a political party while still running for the Democratic nomination and sometimes calling himself a Democrat. In 2008, TIME told us about Vermont:
There are swing states. There are bellwether states. And then there is Vermont.

That makes sense. Vermont has only 625,000 residents, and they aren't wrestling with most of the problems that are dominating the campaign. Vermont doesn't have many immigrants; it ranks last in the nation in foreclosures; it's consistently rated the healthiest state. But if the politics of Vermont doesn't tell us much about the politics of America, it is still quirky and intriguing.

There is no party registration in Vermont, but it was once the most staunchly Republican state in the Union, supporting the G.O.P. in 28 straight presidential elections and enjoying a 108-year gap between Democratic governors...

Now Vermont is blue heaven, home of Ben and Jerry and Phish, the first state with civil unions for gays, the last state with a Wal-Mart and the only state that President Bush has somehow neglected to visit....

Nowadays, Vermont once again has a Republican governor, Massachusetts-born Jim Douglas, who's favored to win his fourth term in November. And it is a rural state, so its politicians tend to support guns and farms. It's even got some black-helicopter types in its rugged Northeast Kingdom. But thinking of Vermont as a northeastern version of Idaho or Nebraska because it's got rifles and cows is sort of like thinking of the Village People as tough guys because they had a cop and a construction worker. It's a land of teddy bears, organic cheese, planning charrettes, Buddhist converts and the Vermont Progressive Party, whose members include six state legislators, Burlington's mayor, and the only announced challenger to Governor Douglas. Most telling is the fact that it's the only state where self-identified liberals outnumber self-identified Democrats.

Which brings us to March 4. Vermont has the nation's second-whitest and second-oldest electorate....
"Sanders did a lot of things right in this campaign, he did a lot better than expected. At the same time he seemed to have a lack of understanding or lack of relationships with black leaders that you saw ultimately hurt him in South Carolina and other states with big black electorates,"  Doug Thornell, formerly the group’s communications director, said. "And this is something that the CBC is going to be very passionate and push back against. This is a way that African-American officials can represent their district and have a say in the process. They're not going to go along with this at all."

If I seem less than enamored with the Sanders movement and their foolish ideas for the Democratic Party, it is because Bernie was reelected to the U.S. Senate by 207,848 voters in 2012 while in that same year California's Dianne Feinstein was reelected to the U.S. Senate by 7,864,624 voters. In fact, Feinstein received more votes in 11 California counties than Sanders did in the whole state of Vermont.

There are no communities of people in Vermont that depend on the Democratic Party to fight for their residents like residents of Compton, Oakland, or East Los Angeles. Bernie and most of his supporters have no real sense what it's like to have extensive political involvement with a diverse population as does Dianne Feinstein. Let's look at an enlightening parallel in their experience holding public office.

Bernie Sanders in 1981 was first elected mayor of the largest city in Vermont, Burlington, then with a population of 37,712 with 218 black persons and 285 persons who identified as Hispanic.

Diane Feinstein was thrust into the position of Mayor of San Francisco, California, in 1978 following the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor and Gay Activist Harvey Milk. After identifying both bodies at the scene, Feinstein was shaking so badly she required support from the police chief.  It was she who announced to the press, "Today San Francisco has experienced a double tragedy of immense proportions. As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to inform you that both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed."

At the time, San Francisco had a population of 678,974 with 149,269 identified as Asian, 86,190 as Black, and 84,194 as Hispanic and with an estimated LGBT population of 105,000±.

In 1994,  Feinstein introduced the Federal Assault Weapons Ban which became law but expired in 2004. Bernie Sanders defended his pro-NRA record  stating with regard to his support for the 2005 federal  Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act  in an October 2015 debate that “if somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer and that murderer kills somebody with the gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer.”

Diane Feinstein is well aware that Harvey Milk and George Moscone likely would not have been killed if the weapon had been a hammer.

The difference between Sanders and Feinstein is personal and professional experience with things like shootings and dealing with the criminal justice system in a diverse, complex City; and providing financial aid to the poor in a diverse, complex City; and educating people in a diverse, complex City; and creating a positive environment for economic growth in a diverse, complex City....

The fact is, while Feinstein was serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, between 1972 and 1976 Sanders was the nominee of the anti-capitalist, anti-war Liberty Union Party of Vermont in two Senate and two gubernatorial elections in Vermont. He lost all four races and resigned from the party in 1977.

Bernie supporters seem to want to have Feinstein, a long-time Democrat who was elected to her position by 7,864,624 diverse voters, to be subject to the same requirements to be a delegate as a 20-year-old college student from Washington state who decided to register to vote as a Democrat for the first time while entering the door of a March 2016 Precinct Caucus. Sorry, but no. That's not the way political parties work.

Curiously Bernie supporters seem to have no performance standards. Bernie has lived in Vermont since 1968 - 48 years. Bernie spouts buzz words about the issues but what has he done about them in his tiny state where his influence should be great since he leads a state full of "independent" voters? Here are a few examples compared to California where Democrats lead:
  • Free college - Vermont state colleges have higher tuition than California state colleges including fees in California;
  • Minimum wage - if you work in Burlington, Vermont, for minimum wage you earn $9.60 per hour, in San Francisco $12.25, 28% more;
  • Health insurance - through Vermont Health Connect for a 35 year old single person making $45,000 a year in Burlington, Vermont, the least premium cost after any rebates $8,576 a year, while through Covered California for the same person in San Francisco, California, the cost would be $2,952 a year. 66% less.
Bernie has no credibility on any of these issues. But it is the age of the internet, as Donald Trump has demonstrated. There are just millions of uninformed Americans who think anything can be explained in 140 character tweets, as opposed to learning from extensive reading and studying, and from years of direct involvement.

Thanks for your recommendations on Democratic Party procedures and policy Bernie supporters, but as a lifelong Democrat who first attended a California Democratic Council Convention in 1964, I don't want independents deciding policy for Californian's.

If it means you want to elect Donald Trump President in November, well that's the way it is. And if you think not voting, or voting for some third party candidate, is not the same as voting for Donald, you don't understand the American political system which you probably don't.

In a swing state, if Trump gets 34% of the vote, Clinton gets 33.9% of the vote, and the Green Party candidate you voted for gets 8% of the vote, you and all your ilk elected Trump President - live with it for four years and see what you can accomplish by being truly uninformed about your government and politics.

As California's other U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer tweeted in February:  "Bernie is a Democrat ‘some days'." The fact that he has not conceded the nomination to Clinton is indicative that "some days" aren't these days.

Regarding the sexist nature of a grumpy old white man loser making demands on America's first woman major party presumption nominee, I agree with Barbra Streisand, the California resident who tweeted the facts at the beginning of this post.

Of course I too am a grumpy old white man but one whose state has two Democratic women United States Senators and includes in its overwhelmingly Democratic Congressional Delegation, House Minority Leader and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hey Donald! George W. Bush defined "Presidential" in cases like Orlando

How to be Presidential: President George W. Bush speaking at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C on September 17, 2001.

Following the Orlando shooting incident, Donald Trump is attacking President Obama and Hillery Clinton because they don't call such terror attacks "radical Islamic terrorism." In doing so, Donald Trump is attempting to redefine what was established by President George W. Bush as "Presidential" behavior.

By clearly insisting that we identify a criminal with a religion, Donald Trump and his blustery, dangerous supporters have apparently rejected the very strong position taken by former President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. President Bush understood that fanning the flames of religious discrimination isn't Presidential, it is purely ignorant bigotry.

During remarks given at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C on September 17, 2001, Bush assured Americans that attacks committed by Al Qaeda were not representative of the Islamic faith: "The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace, they represent evil and war."

In his September 20, 2001, address to a joint session of Congress, Bush again made clear that the terrorists who attacked the United States "practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics -- a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam." Bush spoke directly to the difference between extremist terrorists and Muslims: "I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah. (Applause.) The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them."

On November 6 2001 President Bush delivered remarks to the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism during which he stated: "All of us here today understand this: We do not fight Islam, we fight against evil."

Today in a news conference, the FBI Director James Comey offered information that indicates the Orlando shooter
  1. was ignorant because he was pledging support to two organizations locked in a deadly war with each other in Syria; and
  2. was likely mentally ill.
Ignorant and crazy.

What's worrying is that would describe Trump's attempt to redefine how to be Presidential in responding to incidents like this. George W. Bush got it right, Barack Obama embraced Bush's approach, and Clinton intends to continue that approach. It's how to be "Presidential."

What we know is that Donald Trump is ignorant and crazy, not Presidential material. And his bigotry is as dangerous as the anti-gay bigotry of the Orlando shooter.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Government server security is a joke - why the attack on Hillary Clinton?

It's time to quit pretending that Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server is a bigger scandal than the sorry state of government computer systems including the State Department's.

I keep getting asked about the Clinton email investigation. So let me answer all your questions.

I began working with a computer in 1970 - an IBM 360 - and was operating a computer services business in 1980 with Tandy Model II's. I maintained a sustained level of expertise with computers since. But a decade ago I quit assembling computers and I don't run my own server because in both cases the complexities have compounded and maintenance is a nightmare for one old man. With that said....

It is not unreasonable to assert that some of, if not most of, the worst computer operations in large organizations in the United States can be found in federal and state government.

And based on hacks during the first 15 years of the 21st Century, some of the world's least effective security measures could be found being used in the federal government's computer operations at:
  •  The White House
  • The Department of Energy
  • The Internal Revenue Service
  • The Office of Personnel Management
  • The Army Corps of Engineers
  • NOAA
  • US Postal Service
  • The Department of Education
  • The FBI
  • The Department of Homeland Security
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and
  • The State Department
The State Department is one of the worst. And it's simply because, unlike you or me or even the Clinton's, in order to update their equipment and software federal government agencies must use a 19th Century acquisition process that looks something like this:
  1. prepare a description of a need which must be integrated into the department's budget request (a one year process);
  2. get an appropriation from Congress (typically a two year process);
  3. get the General Services Administration (GSA) to prepare a complete request for bids (typically at least a six month process);
  4. get the GSA to receive and review the bids, issue a contract to the lowest bidder, and then issue a notice to proceed (another six months);
  5. monitor the work of the lowest bidder and sometime around 18 months into the work, fire them and hire someone else - not the lowest bidder - to actually finish the job at 400% of budget (another two years);
  6. teach everyone to use the system (another six months);
  7. discover that the "new" system is completely out of date and was out of date by the time Congress appropriated the money because this is 21st Century  and to be even moderately secure technology must be substantially upgraded in an ongoing 18 month cycle.
It appears that when he was Secretary of State Colin Powell used AOL email. He correctly felt that the State Department system was too primitive. He was used to the military where Congress provided blanket funding for updating state-of-the-art computer systems frequently using the military's own personnel. (Still it must be noted that The Joint Chiefs of Staff took its email system off line because of some suspicious probes over the weekend of July 25, 2015 - but that system provided warnings.) To his credit, Powell did initiate the process described above to assure that the next Secretary of State would have a system only two or three generations behind current standards.

Just to make it clear that I'm not creating a picture of a problem that doesn't exist, consider the following recent stories:
And, consider this 2006 story Hackers attack State Department computers which is an indicator of what was going on prior to 2012 after which we started getting more transparency about this matter from the federal government.

Finally, we can't ignore these November 2015 stories Iranian Hackers Attack State Dept. via Social Media Accounts and Facebook Notifies State Department Employees of Iran Hacks nor can we ignore this 2016 story ISIS-aligned hackers leak confidential info on 43 US State Dept employees.

For a more thorough review of 21st Century federal government computer security failures you can download and read Security Matters (1.8Mb PDF file).

This brings me, then, to the issue of Hillary Clinton's private email server.

Her explanation is that she wanted to use her Blackberry cell phone.

The thing is, I have a close friend who is about her age who loves the Blackberry and despises the smart phones like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy phones. I'm actually older than both of them, but I understand why they feel that way. For the Millennials let me show you why:
For you iPhone Millennials, that's a Blackberry. While it is a phone first, it also can do texts and email. But unlike the "smart" phones you love, it has a real keyboard. And it is a QWERTY keyboard for those of us who spent decades typing, first on typewriters and then on computer keyboards. We make far fewer mistakes and we don't want the phone using some kind of auto-correct to change the words we type.

Like it or not, the Secretary of State should be able to use a Blackberry if she wants to, without some tech security wonk insisting she fumble with the latest hot smartphone.

So when Hillary reluctantly said her using a  private server "was bad judgment", as someone who can lay claim to at least some computer/device expertise I wholeheartedly disagreed with her. She did not use bad judgement.

First, there was no security reason to not use her own server as the State Department's servers offer almost no viable security.

Second there is no reason, indeed no excuse, to make the Secretary of State use a device that is awkward to use for her.

Finally, if it is so important to the American people to have the State Department retain control of the emails for all time, Congress should have funded any and all equipment and systems needed for the Secretary of State to function, say a nice negligible annual lump sum of $330 million ($1 a year per American citizen - and yes that is far more than needed just to make this point) to be spent as needed by nerds hired by the Secretary of State to do nothing but provide computer services and devices that are secure and also convenient solely for the Secretary of State and her/his staff. Most importantly, the spending of those funds must be exempt from all General Services Administration purchasing procedures

The ultimate point here is that yes, there were rules put in place under the guise of security requirements. As with typical government bureaucracy, the rules focused not on the needs of employees nor were they realistically related to security. They just looked good on paper so that those who should be concerned didn't have to be - the rules looked good because they implied there was sufficient security in place when, in fact, frustrated tech employees knew better and knew the government environment will never allow for sufficient security.

And by the way, the FBI needs to divert from the Clinton investigation resources needed to do something properly computer security related so that we don't keep reading stories like Hacker Claims Breaching FBI Server, Exposes Details of 80 Miami Police Officers.

Let's quit pretending that Clinton's private server is a bigger scandal than the sorry state of our government computer technology. When Congress has funded for our government agencies proper computer technology by levying an excise tax on smartphones and tablets, then we can worry about whose email is where.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The real winners of June 7, 2016

The most significant winners of the 2016 Democratic nomination process are the generations of American women represented by this picture...
...and the voters as represented by this table...

...because 56% of those Democrats voting - 16+ million voters - chose to nominate a woman to be a major party nominee for President, to give her a real opportunity to become our first woman President of the United States.

Whatever the outcome is in November, this is an important, historic time.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sanders and Trump to destroy Pacific Rim states of California, Oregon, and Washington

Click on images to see a larger version!

What does it mean to be a native of the North American Pacific Rim, other than you can watch the Sun set over an ocean? Simply, from childhood the reflection of that sunset is a different view of the world than that experienced in the rest of America.

We of California, Oregon and Washington ought to fear the Bernie/Donald Atlantic-Eurocentric world view. Our view of our western border, the Pacific Ocean, has nothing in common with what is experienced in New York or Vermont - or even Michigan or Florida - and that difference is threatening our economic well being.

Consider this map of the world which is the perspective Americans traditionally are used to seeing from grade school on:

It is the Atlantic - Eurocentric - New York - London view of the world.

And below is the Map of the United States that creates a home "World View" for the candidates running for President in both political parties:

It is the New York/Vermont - Atlantic - Eurocentric - London view of the world, the view of the world as understood by both the traditional American "Conservative Establishment" and the revolutionaries of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. (If one desires to argue it is unfair to call it "Eurocentric" I would allow that the focus of this World View does at its fringes include the Middle East and parts of Africa.)

Now consider this map of the world:

It is a Pacific Rim Los Angeles - Tokyo - Shanghai view of the world.

Looking at it a little closer one should begin to get a hint of a world view different from the traditional American view:

Simply, the Far East, Oceania, the Andean States, and Central America are far more important to residents in the Pacific Rim States of North America than Europe.

Even historically this has been a grating truth.

For instance, in the 1940's being a resident of the North American Pacific Rim may have meant that your state was attacked by Japan while the focus of the American war effort was on Europe and Africa. In addition to attacks on Hawaii and Alaska, consider:
  • On February 23, 1942 a Japanese submarine shelled the Ellwood Oil Field west of Goleta, near Santa Barbara, California.
  • On June 20, 1942, a Japanese submarine fired shells at the Estevan Point lighthouse on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.
  • On the night of June 21 and June 22, 1942, the only attack on a mainland American military installation during World War II occurred when a Japanese submarine fired shells toward Fort Stevens, which protected the Oregon side of the Columbia River's Pacific entrance.
  • On September 9, 1942, the first and only aircraft attack by a foreign power on the mainland U.S. occurred when an attempt to start a forest fire was made by a Japanese seaplane dropping two incendiary bombs over Mount Emily, near Brookings, Oregon.
  • Between November 1944 and April 1945, the Japanese Navy launched over 9,000 fire balloons toward North America. Six people (five children and a woman) became the only U.S. civilian deaths due to enemy action to occur on mainland America during World War II when one of the children tampered with a bomb from a balloon near Bly, Oregon and it exploded.  One member of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion died while responding to a fire believed caused by a fire balloon on August 6, 1945.
It is also important to note that the two metropolitan areas with the highest Japanese populations according to the 2010 Census, were Greater Honolulu Combined Statistical Area (149,700), and the Greater Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area (134,600). About 60% of the Japanese American population lives in two states, California (34 percent) and Hawaii (26 percent).

Older residents of the Pacific Rim states are painfully aware of the internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II. This was the forced relocation and incarceration into U.S. Government operated concentration camps in the interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people because of their Japanese ancestry who lived on the Pacific coast. Sixty-two percent of the internees were United States citizens with most of the remainder being legal immigrants.

In the Atlantic-oriented remainder of the United States, German-Americans were (and still are) America’s largest single national-origin ethnic group. No German American citizens living in the Atlantic States were detained though the government examined the cases of at least 11,000 German nationals individually, and a few were detained in internment camps.

These historical differences may seem irrelevant today. In 2016 being a resident of the North American Pacific Rim now means something less violent than WWII. But the differences were always potentially as important and in this election year have become divisive. Take another hard look at this map:

British Columbia in Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California plus all of the West Coast State of Mexico have economic ties to Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and the many others on the map.

It has to be noted that the wild card for us is North Korea which currently has nuclear warheads and missiles which can achieve these ranges:

For us, the nation of North Korea which is working on longer range missiles is the potential threat to millions of Pacific Rim lives, not some ragtag groups of Middle Easterners that seem to dominate the political discussion in this Presidential election year.

And the economic and military power People's Republic of China is of far more concern than Putin's Russia.

Beyond that, this Pacific Rim orientation has created cultural differences in addition to the awareness of Japanese-American influences.

In San Francisco about 20% of the population is Chinese-American or foreign-born Chinese immigrant. Even New York City has only 6%. Kansas City has fewer than 1%.

It's not unreasonable to expect that the population of the San Francisco Bay Area would have a stronger orientation towards Pacific Rim countries, one of which is China. China is the world's most populous nation, the world's second largest economy by nominal GDP, and the world's largest economy by purchasing power parity according to the IMF, and the world's fastest-growing major economy. In area China is 2.17 times the size of the European Union.

So it shouldn't be surprising that North America's West Coast ports handle billions of dollars in North American exports to, as well as imports from, other Pacific Rim countries.

What we understand is that with the exception of the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, we would regard most of these countries as "developing" nations because of relatively low wages. But we trade with these nations. In addition to agricultural exports and imports that provide food in both directions, we export movies and tv shows and import electronics, clothing, pet supplies, etc. Those of us on the West Coast understand that the economies of the Pacific Rim nations are inextricably tied.

Enter Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and their legions of ignorant voters, particularly those in California, Oregon and Washington who have not given one thought about the fact that New York and Vermont have no significant trade orientation to the Pacific Rim. And suddenly you have a well organized attempt to destroy the Trans-Pacific Partnership and politicians who support it.

Further, they attack the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which added Mexico to the President Ronald Reagan negotiated Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement between the two other North American Pacific Rim nations. We who live in, and understand the history of California, consider this NAFTA attack and Donald Trump's wall ironic because of this map:

We do know about the Mexican–American War, the (Britain-founded) United States war of conquest initiated by President James K. Polk (Scottish surname) after the Father of Texas, Stephen Austin (English surname), initiated the war for Texas independence.

It is no surprise the Donald "TheWall" Trump and Bernie "I-voted-against_NAFTA" Sanders stir the historical Northern European heritage Americans hatred toward the "we-thought-they-were-conquered" Mexicans.

Essentially, this is an effort by the extreme right and extreme left to impose isolation from the Pacific Rim on California, Oregon and Washington. It is an attack on the economies of these states which, if successful, will result in a recession on the West Coast and probably the nation. Well ... not among Bernie's fellow Vermonters and Donald's fellow Manhattanites.

It is really frustrating to see this (caption can be viewed by placing your cursor on the image):

These Sanders advocates are wearing clothing and shoes affordably made in Pacific Rim countries while using iPhones and other cell phones affordably made in China. They eat affordable fruits and vegetables imported from Mexico and watch movies and TV shows that depend upon world distribution for their existence.

All of these items are imported and exported mostly through California ports where members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union work, a labor union which primarily represents dock workers on the West Coast of the United States, Hawaii and Alaska, and in British Columbia. In San Francisco it was somewhat resentfully reported to the highly paid non-union tech community that:
The longshore union has become the aristocrat of the working class; a top member can earn over well over $100,000 a year with excellent benefits. The jobs are so good that it's almost as tough to get in the ILWU as it is to get into Stanford; thousands apply for vacancies, sometimes tens of thousands. "These are dream blue-collar jobs," said Craig Merrilees, the union's communications director.
It means that these few are what's left of the blue-collar class who can afford to buy a home in the Bay Area. It is important to know this union disaffiliated from the Eastern U.S. dominated AFL-CIO on August 30, 2013. In a report on a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, ILWU President Robert McEllrath it was explained:
“[The AFL-CIO] wants to organize these big conventions, and rally to pat themselves on the back, doing nothing to promote the working-class,” said ILWU Coast Committeeman, Leal Sundet, who supported the union’s decision to disaffiliate.

The ILWU supports a national single-payer health care system, while the AFL-CIO is “in lockstep with Obama,” Sundet said. He criticized the federation for being unwilling to discuss the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act, which discriminates against union Taft-Hartley benefit plans and will impose a so-called “Cadillac tax” on generous benefit plans.

Sundet also chided the federation’s position on immigration reform. The AFL-CIO is backing a bill that he contends will only make things harder for working-class immigrants, because it is “designed to give [only] highly-paid workers a real path to citizenship.”

It’s clear, however, that the overriding factor in the break is fallout from the ILWU’s ongoing struggle to maintain its longstanding contract standards—and jurisdiction—for 3,000 longshore workers who handle grain along the Puget Sound and Columbia River. Sundet is in the middle of the storm, heading up grain negotiations for the union.
But Bernie and his supporters are working hard to eliminate ILWU jobs. After all, those idiots pictured above apparently believe the economy of California located on the Pacific Rim is just like Vermont and all issues should be resolved from a Vermont point of view.

Monday, May 30, 2016

20 Fundamental Truths of Trumpism - Don't Cry for Us Argentina

 In an article about Donald Trump in this week's New Yorker writer James Surowiecki mentioned Juan Perón (pictured above left with his wife Eva).

The reference to Juan Perón does offer a more appropriate historical precedent for Trump than Mussolini, but most Americans won't relate or be able to understand since the most common frame of reference will be Evita singing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina."

I thought it relevant to help expand upon this reference. In 1950 Argentine Dictator Juan Perón offered 20 Fundamental Truths. Here they are modified to reflect the nation and times of Donald Trump:
  1. True democracy is one where the government does what THE AMERICAN PEOPLE want and defends only one interest: THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
  2. Trumpism is popular in its essence. Members of the political establishment are anti-popular and for this reason are not Trumpist.
  3. The Trumpist works for the Cause. Whoever in its name serves the establishment is one only in name.
  4. For Trumpism there exists only one class of persons: hard working Americans.
  5. In the new America work is a right that creates human dignity and is a duty, for it is right that everyone produce at least what he consumes.
  6. For a good Trumpist there can be nothing better than another Trumpist.
  7. No Trumpist should feel himself to be more than he is, or less than he should be. When a Trumpist begins to feel himself to be more than he is he begins to convert himself into an oligarch.
  8. In political action the scale of values of every Trumpist is the following: first the United States, then the Cause, and then THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
  9. For us politics are not an end, rather only a means for the good of the United States, which is the happiness of its children and national greatness.
  10. The two arms of Trumpism are Social Justice and Economic Fairness. With them we embrace THE AMERICAN PEOPLE in Justice and Love.
  11. Trumpism wants national unity and not divisiveness. It wants winners and not victims.
  12. In the new America children are the only privileged ones.
  13. A government without a doctrine is a body without a soul. For this reason Trumpism has its own political, economic, and social doctrine, which is Fairness.
  14. Fairness is a new philosophy of life that is simple, practical, popular, profoundly Christian, and profoundly popular.
  15. As a political doctrine Fairness realizes the balance between the rights of the individual and those of the community.
  16. As economic doctrine Fairness realizes the social economy, placing capital at the service of the economy and the latter at the service of social well-being.
  17. As a social doctrine Fairness realizes social justice, which gives every person their right to a social function.
  18. We want a socially just, economically free, and politically sovereign America.
  19. We blend a centralized government, organized states, and a free people.
  20. The best we have on this earth is THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.
Again, this based upon the ideology of Argentina's popular Dictator Juan Perón, known in America as the husband of Eva Perón.

Perón introduced his "Truths" as follows:
These are the twenty fundamental truths of Justicialism. I wanted to bring them together here so that every one of you engrave it in your hearts and minds; so that they you spread them everywhere as a message of love and justice; so that you live happily in accordance with them; and also so that you die happily in their defense if it were necessary – Juan Perón October 17, 1950.
In the defense of love and justice, Perón did use repressive, sometimes violent tactics, initially against the wealthy establishment and university intellectuals but later to other opposition as explained in Wikipedia. You can also learn about the role of Eva Perón aka Evita which might lead you to wonder about the possible role of Melania Knauss Trump (pictured above right with Donald Trump) as First Lady.

Golly, Argentina survived the Perón's rule albeit through the mid-1980's there was brutal military rule that included the "disappearing" of opponents and "detention camps."

We could survive Trump as President for a few years....

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Donald Trump: just kill a 3-inch fish and thousands of family businesses so I can win California in November

On Friday Donald Trump declared war on thousands of small and medium sized family businesses depending upon the Pacific fisheries. He called these folks "a certain kind of 3-inch fish" and would do away with them to support large corporate agricultural farms.

Unless these fishermen are 3-inch fish, Donald Trump is wrong again: "They are taking the water and shoving it out to protect a certain kind of three inch fish."

Basically, as President Donald Trump would put ordinary people out of work in order to protect the profits of large agricultural corporations.

About the three inch fish....

Nobody cares about the canary in a coal mine, unless it dies. And then it means that the environment in the coalmine is death to the miners and the canary is irrelevant.

And similarly, nobody but a few unusually weird environmentalists care about the Delta Smelt. Referred to by Donald Trump on Friday in Fresno, California, as “a certain kind of 3-inch fish”, Delta Smelt are an indicator species with no current direct economic utility:

But this fish is the "canary" in the main California river systems, probably the best indicator of San Francisco Bay-Delta environmental conditions impacting upon economically important fish such as salmon and sturgeon. From an economic standpoint they are the canary for California commercial salmon fisheries. If the Smelt disappear, within less than a decade a sizable chunk of what's left of the California fishing industry will also die.

For those who care about facts, which we learned again this week is a group that doesn't include Donald Trump, it is important to know that California's fisheries are complex and dynamic systems, where people and nature are inextricably linked. In fact, even more than the agricultural economy, the seafood industry economy and related jobs depend upon protecting the environment. And there are money and jobs at issue as shown in these two tables from a 2011 study:

Click on image to see a larger version!

Click on image to see a larger version!

None of this is a simple subject that can be easily understood by the general public and most certainly not explained by Donald Trump. It is about competing interests within our economy, interests competing for water. Until serious farming came to California well after the Mexican-American War (California was part of Mexico, never part of the English colonies), the water was carried by the rivers into San Francisco Bay and out to the Pacific Ocean. Fishermen didn't worry.

But farmers came and diverted the water themselves. Then they had the U.S. Government and the State of California build large dams and canal systems. And because of these actions done by the American people, those in the fisheries industry related jobs were without hope...until 1976. From the Pacific Fisheries Management Council's website:
The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976.

With jurisdiction over the 317,690 square mile exclusive economic zone off Washington, Oregon and California, the Council manages fisheries for about 119 species of salmon, groundfish, coastal pelagic species (sardines, anchovies, and mackerel), and highly migratory species (tunas, sharks, and swordfish). The Council is also active in international fishery management organizations that manage fish stocks that migrate through the Council’s area of jurisdiction, including the International Pacific Halibut Commission (for Pacific halibut), the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (for albacore tuna and other highly migratory species), and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (for yellowfin tuna and other high migratory species).

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council's Pacific Coast Salmon Plan Fishery Management Plan includes this map:

Click on image to see a larger version!

The map specifically includes the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers:

Click on image to see a larger version!

The area in tan is essential fish habitat for salmon and other species along 800+ miles of rivers. California already has lost the spring-run salmon in the San Joaquin River because of a dam.

Protecting all these fish during low river flow periods suppresses California's corporate farm agricultural production.

Because the Delta Smelt is the endangered indicator species, the effects on the Smelt affect the operations of federal and state dams, plus the operations of the canal systems that move water south to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

There is nothing simple about this issue. California's fishing industry finances are dwarfed by the wealth generated by corporate agriculture, agricultural money has been successful in having the newspapers and TV news frame the "water war" in terms of farmers versus environmentalists.

This is because environmentalists with money have had some success and just happen to be on the same side of the issue as the fishing industry which is made up mostly of small businessmen known as fisherman who make relatively modest incomes.

This framing of the interests involved is true even for the normally progressive Sacramento-based McClatchy newspapers which originated with The Sacramento Bee and include Central Valley newspapers The Fresno Bee, The Modesto Bee, the Merced Sun Star, and The San Luis Obispo Tribune all serving agriculturally-centered communities.

The dispute between economic interests should be framed as corporate farming executives versus a fisherman. You can learn more about the fishermen at the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations website which explains:
We are the small and medium sized family businesses, conducted from vessels fishing distant grounds to small, trailerable boats working nearshore waters. We are professionals who derive our incomes largely from harvesting the sea. Large or small vessel operator, full-time or part-time, we all share a common passion for this way of life, a dedication to its future, and a commitment to a sustainable resource.

What PCFFA provides the individual fisherman is a vehicle to protect themselves and their industry, to assure the sustainable protection of the fragile resources we all depend upon, and a vehicle for empowerment. PCFFA provides fishermen a means to challenge and counter the dictates of big business or big government. PCFFA provides fishermen with a voice in their affairs, a say about their future.
Fundamentally, the California Water Wars are between corporate-owned large agricultural interests versus the interests of the small and medium sized family businesses represented by the PCFFA.

Enter Donald Trump, the absolutely perfect "marketing pro" targeting the gullible American leading with: “If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive, so that your job market will get better."

According to the LA Times:
After a private half-hour meeting with farmers, Trump said the group told him there was no drought in California, but rather a failure to preserve and wisely use the water the state has on tap.
His words were straightforward pandering to the wealthy agricultural interests, families with small farms, and the unemployed and underemployed farm workers most of whom are Mexican migrants or their descendants. As The Fresno Bee explained, even though Trump has won the Republican nomination...
But Trump came anyway, he said, because he wants to build momentum ahead of California’s June 7 primary, the national Republican convention this summer – and his coming November showdown with likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The reason: He plans to compete for the Golden State, which hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential nominee since George H.W. Bush won here in 1988.

“We are going to make a strong play for California,” Trump said.

Trump then acknowledged that “maybe I can’t do it,” but said any other Republican candidate would ignore the Golden State because that’s conventional wisdom. Trump said his own wisdom is that even if competes here and loses, he’ll force the rival Democrats to spend money here to defend the state.
The article dismisses Trump as a viable Presidential candidate in California, citing the same kind of experts that dismissed Trump a year ago as a viable candidate for the Republican nomination. The problem with dismissing Trump's plans is this job growth map:

Click on image to see a larger version!
As the Economic Innovation Group's Recovery Map and Study indicates, in California only 9 counties out of 58 were among those experiencing half of the nation's job growth between 2010-2014. And don't be fooled by the two geographically large counties, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Only the westernmost third of those counties that are in the urbanized portion of Southern California should be colored. The remaining portions contain substantial agricultural interests.

Despite the thinking of the progressive press and liberal elites in California, Donald Trump can make California a contested state. Any idiot in the press or in the Democratic Party who thinks otherwise is among the many who have the memories of a gnat.

They have forgotten 2003 when then Democratic Governor Gray Davis was recalled because of the California electricity crisis, a crisis really not of his making though he did not respond well in the situation. California Democrats replaced Davis with showman Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger with the recall vote tallied as follows:

Click on image to see a larger version!
In April 2006, right before the election, Davis had a disapproval rating of 65%. Hillary Clinton had a 49% disapproval rating in California in April 2016, 8 months before the election.

Trump's camp is looking at the maps and the numbers and they quite accurately see a chance to disrupt the Clinton campaign's focus on swing states, if not a chance to win California. They will focus on increasing Clinton's disapproval ratings, not on reducing Trump's disapproval ratings.

In the meantime, while Trump is advocating shifting the nation back to fossil fuels and proposing to kill the effort to save fish like salmon, the Sanders camp is helping him win in California by attacking Hillary Clinton.

If successful, Trump with the help of Sanders will get a chance to set back eight years of environmental progress made by the Obama Administration despite strong opposition from a Republican Congress.

And significantly for California, he will set back 40 years of trying to save thousands of small and medium sized family businesses depending upon the Pacific fisheries - you know, saying "your fired" to the people he calls "a three inch fish."

Monday, May 23, 2016

So Bernie-the-Stalinist has been vetted and would do well against Donald in swing states like Ohio?

Bernie Sanders insists as a Presidential candidate he has been sufficiently vetted to be the Democratic nominee against Trump.

Let's look at what would be his greatest weakness against Trump - as a young man Bernie was trained in "socialism" at a Stalinist Communist kibbutz in Israel.

Now I don't care about this. But it's a sure fire truth that would kill Bernie in middle-of-the-road America. You don't have to take my word for it.

Let me first tell you about The Forward, so you can be assured of the accuracy of the source that broke the story which was only briefly and vaguely explained in American newspapers such as the New York Times with the headline Bernie Sanders’s Kibbutz Found. Surprise: It’s Socialist and on CNN How did a socialist kibbutz influence Bernie Sanders? but has never been reported on ABC, CBS, or NBC nor in any AP, Reuters, or UPI wire story.

About The Forward which the New York Times article calls "a New York-based Jewish newspaper", from its website:
The Forward delivers incisive coverage of the issues, ideas and institutions that matter to American Jews. Its rigorous reporting and balanced commentary on politics, arts and culture have won numerous awards year after year, including repeated recognition by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Founded in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily, the Forward soon became a national paper, the most widely read Jewish newspaper anywhere. By the 1920s its circulation outstripped the New York Times. It chronicled the events that affected a population of immigrants eager to earn their place in American life, and published regional editions around the country before any other newspaper.

The English Forward was launched as a weekly in 1990. Its perspective on world and national news, and its unparalleled coverage of Jewish arts culture and opinion have made it the most influential nationwide Jewish media outlet today. More than a million unique visitors turn to each month for award-winning news, thoughtful commentary, and captivating videos. More than 50,000 subscribers receive e-newsletters that highlight the latest stories and areas of special interest like Arts & Entertainment and Food & Drink.

The Forward has always been a nonprofit association and is supported by the contributions of its readers.
On September 3, 2015, the story My Quixotic Hunt for Bernie Sanders' Kibbutz appeared in The Forward, written by Naomi Zeveloff who's bio on the site explains:
Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Formerly the deputy culture editor of the Forward, she was awarded a 2012 Newswomen’s Club of New York prize for her coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting. Previous to the Forward, she worked as a reporter at alternative newsweeklies and political news sites in Utah, Colorado and Texas. Her writing has also appeared in Salon, The Daily Beast and Guernica.

She holds a Master of Arts degree in political journalism from Columbia University. The only Forward staffer from Utah, she is responsible for bringing Western Wear Wednesday to the office.
In her September 2015 article Zeveloff begins:
It’s a constant of virtually every profile written about Bernie Sanders: Shortly after college, the Vermont senator now running for president volunteered at an Israeli kibbutz.

Depending on the writer, this detail might speak to Sanders’s Jewish identity, his stance on Israel, or his socialist values. Were any or all of these honed in the communal agrarian idyll of 1960s Israel? No reporter or analyst has been able to fully address this question because no one has been able to pin down which kibbutz Sanders volunteered at for several months in 1964, after his graduation from the University of Chicago. Including me.

On my part, it’s not for lack of trying. Not even his brother, Larry Sanders, knows, despite the fact that he himself volunteered at two kibbutzim in Israel — Matsuva in the North and Yotvata in the South — and even met his first wife in Israel. Larry Sanders never visited Bernie Sanders on the kibbutz, but he said that it was a formative experience for his brother.

The name of Sanders’s kibbutz might seem like a minor detail, but it’s important. Among other things, it could build on our understanding of his formative years before he became a populist firebrand filling stadiums across America as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s main challenger in the Democratic primary race. Was it one of the hard-left kibbutzim of that era affiliated with the Marxist political party Mapam? Or was it one of the more moderate socialist communities affiliated with the ruling Mapai party?
Let's keep in mind that after failing to find the kibbutz, Zeveloff states: "And in case you’re wondering, I did ask the Sanders campaign. No one ever responded."

Then on February 4, 2016, another article by Zeveloff appeared Revealed at Last! Inside the Kibbutz Where Bernie Sanders Lived and Learned Socialism in which she tells us:
The Democratic Party’s socialist presidential candidate, it turns out, volunteered at Kibbutz Sha’ar HaAmakim, near Haifa in northern Israel, in 1963.

Sanders’ time on the kibbutz, where he lived for a few months with his ex-wife, Deborah Messing (born Deborah Shiling) is referenced in virtually every profile of the candidate.

Founded in 1935 by Romanian and Yugoslavian Jewish immigrants, Shaar HaAmakim was part of Hashomer Hatzair, a socialist youth movement. The kibbutz was affiliated with Mapam, a political party to the left of Labor.

“The kibbutz was a full commune,” said Irit Drori, a 72-year-old former secretary of the kibbutz. Typical of the time, children were raised in a dormitory apart from their parents, who lived in small apartments.

The kibbutz founders had a strong admiration for the Communist system in the Soviet Union.

“Today we know how many were killed there in the gulags, but when the kibbutz was founded, they believed that from Russia will come the truth,” she said. “They called Stalin the ‘Sun of the Nations.’”
Beginning the next day, the right picked up this news as explained in this article attempting to defend Sanders' Israel experience in The Forward Bernie Sanders Stint at 'Stalinist' Kibbutz Draws Red-Baiting From Right which tells us:
It didn’t take long after news broke that Bernie Sanders had volunteered decades ago on a hard-left kibbutz in Israel for right-wing critics to start lobbing ever-scarier adjectives at him.

“Bernie Sanders’s 1963 stay at a Stalinist kibbutz,” was the title of Thomas Lifson’s piece on the site American Thinker, posted soon after the kibbutz was identified after months of mystery. Over at Frontpage Magazine, Daniel Greenfield’s article ran under the headline: “Bernie Sanders Spent Months at Marxist-Stalinist Kibbutz.”

The descriptions seem damning, especially from the perspective of more than 50 years since Stalin’s death and the world’s absorption of the reality of his murderous, dictatorial and anti-Semitic regime. Yet at the time, as the two right-wing websites point out, Hashomer Hatzair, the kibbutz movement that Sha’ar Ha’Amakim belonged to, had quite a different perspective.

On the day of Stalin’s death, March 5, 1953, the front page of Al Hamishmar, the movement’s newspaper, carried a photo of the late Soviet leader under a full-width headline: “The Progressive World Mourns the Death of Stalin.” Greenfield at Frontpage concludes: “Bernie Sanders wasn’t there because he liked Israel. Hashomer Hatzair did not like Israel. It ultimately wanted to destroy it.”
So, Bernie Sanders campaign argues that he has been sufficiently vetted, yet Bernie wasn't asked by the hosts or moderators about what Larry Sanders called "a formative experience for his brother" at any of the following debates which occurred after the news report on the kibbutz:
  • February 4, 2016 – Durham, New Hampshire - hosted by Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow, broadcast by NBC News.
  • February 11, 2016 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin - hosted by PBS NewsHour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff, it aired on PBS and was simulcast by CNN
  • March 6, 2016 – Flint, Michigan - hosted by Anderson Cooper and aired on CNN
  • March 9, 2016 – Miami, Florida - Sponsored by Univision and the Washington Post, moderated by Jorge Ramos and broadcast on Univision
  • April 14, 2016 – Brooklyn, New York - Moderated by Wolf Blitzer and broadcast on CNN
In addition to the main debates, there were eight live forums during which no one asked Bernie about his kibbutz experience. Some vetting process!

If Bernie became the nominee, at this point he could do all the 'splaining he wants, Lucy," but this information when finally reported accurately and factually by the mainstream news media after the Trump campaign attacks him would end Bernie's chances in Ohio, Florida, and most other swing states, and might cost him some normally Democratic states.

And in case there is some doubt that the attack by Trump would occur, we have this from the Washington Post about historian, poet, and journalist Robert Conquest The man who helped kill the Soviet Union with information that ends with:
Conquest lived to see a current U.S. presidential candidate, a senator, who had chosen, surely as an ideological gesture, to spend his honeymoon in the Soviet Union in 1988. Gulags still functioned, probably including some of the “cold Auschwitzes” in Siberia, described in Conquest’s “Kolyma.” The honeymooner did not mind that in 1988 political prisoners were — as may still be the case — being tortured in psychiatric “hospitals.” Thanks to the unblinking honesty of people like Conquest, the Soviet Union now is such a receding memory that Bernie Sanders’s moral obtuseness — the obverse of Conquest’s character — is considered an amusing eccentricity.

Finally we have this list from Investor's Business Daily to further advise Trump's attack:
Sanders has a long resume of radicalism. Here’s the rest of Sanders’ subversive past the media are keeping under wraps:

1963-64: He joined the Young People’s Socialist League, the youth wing of the Socialist Party USA. Sanders also organized for a communist front, the United Packinghouse Workers Union, which at the time was infiltrated by hardened Communist agents and under investigation by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

1971-76: Sanders helped found the socialist Liberty Union Party in Vermont, where he ran for governor and senator while calling for the government takeover of the medical industry and “all privately owned electric utilities,” as well as the “nationalization of the oil industry” — “without compensation to the banks and wealthy individuals who own them.”

Sounding like Lenin, he also demanded the government actually seize corporate assets and the wealth of billionaires, namely the Rockefellers, and redistribute it “for all people.”

1977: As founder of the socialist American People’s Historical Society, Sanders produced a 30-minute color documentary exalting his hero, socialist revolutionary Eugene Debs, who was jailed under the Espionage Act. (Today he keeps a portrait of Debs on his Senate office wall.)

1979: Sanders penned a piece for a local leftist rag arguing for the public takeover of the television industry, banishing commercial advertising and putting content under control of the government, a la Pravda.

1981: As Burlington’s new mayor, Sanders announced he didn’t believe in private charities and favored disbanding them, explaining government should be responsible for all social welfare and charity.

1981: Sanders adopted a Soviet sister city outside Moscow, as well as a city in Nicaragua to support the communist Sandinista revolution there.

1985: Sanders invited officials from the Soviet Union and communist China to stop by his office, while proposing that Washington divert military defense funds to “pay for thousands of U.S. children to go to the Soviet Union.”

July 1985: After passing a resolution pledging Burlington would defy President Reagan’s embargo on communist-controlled Nicaragua, Sanders traveled to Managua to attend, along with Soviet officials, an anti-U.S. rally sponsored by the Sandinistas.

He reportedly stood with a crowd that chanted, “Here, there, everywhere, the Yankee will die.” His trip was said to have been paid for by the Sandinista government. Sanders, in turn, invited Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega to visit the U.S.

1985: In a letter to the Sandinistas, according to the New York Post, Sanders pledged his support for their “struggle,” calling it a “heroic revolution” while accusing the Reagan administration of engaging in “terrorist activities.”

1985: In an interview with Vermont government-access TV, Sanders claimed: “The Sandinista government has more support among the Nicaraguan people — substantially more support — than Ronald Reagan has among the American people,” even though Reagan had just been reelected in a historic landslide.

1985: In the same interview, he praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, claiming “he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society.” He later showed his affection by traveling to Havana and meeting with its mayor.

1985: In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sanders proclaimed: “The whole quality of life in America is based on greed. I believe in the redistribution of wealth in this nation.”

1988:  One day after wedding his second and current wife, Jane Sanders, the two traveled to the USSR for their honeymoon. Upon returning, Sanders praised communist health care and housing, noting “the cost of both services is much, much higher in the United States.”

1989: With the West on the verge of winning the Cold War, Sanders addressed the national conference of the U.S. Peace Council — another known front for the Communist Party USA, whose members swore an oath to “the triumph of Soviet power in the U.S.”

The Clinton Campaign, much vilified by Sanders and his supporters, has taken the high road and ignored this. That was probably a mistake.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A house full of listening "devices" and Google's Mission Statement

It was inevitable. Google has plans for the Google Home to compete with the Amazon Echo...
...which leads me to wonder if it is such a good idea to let Google listen in on us at home or elsewhere. Just how much information do I want to let this one international corporation gather on us? Somehow, except for selling me stuff, I never thought of Amazon in relationship to privacy in the same way I do Google. Maybe I'm paranoid but do I really want to be able to search for what I said on a given Tuesday eight years ago?

I feel, perhaps foolishly, that I have a clear picture of what motivates Amazon - their goal is to sell me stuff through direct sales. Amazon's Mission Statement is: "We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators."

Google, on the other hand, is deep into AI and self-driving cars and just about anything that could be related and more, which is made clearer when you click on Google Research giving you this screen:

I know that in one sense Google is doing "pure research" which according to is "research carried out for the purpose of better understanding fundamental concepts within a scientific field, rather than in search of a particular commercial goal. Pure research generally does not produce marketable results, but may be used for later research into more specific and profitable applications." (Wikipedia's entry is Basic research.)

But I also know that Google's Mission Statement is: "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful." I don't see that as a mission statement similar to Amazon's. Let's examine this.

Taken literally - with an awareness of what the internet is and an idea of what it will be - Google's abstract mission statement should be disconcerting, even to those of you who aren't paranoid when you are thinking about a home, car, and pockets full of "devices" that listen for you to talk. Particularly if the devices are made by Google or use technology licensed by Google.

There was a time "listening device" was a pejorative term with synonyms like "bug", thought of as a device used by a "gumshoe" or a Soviet spy. Now, of course, it is the refrigerator you proudly just bought for your kitchen.

Anyway, regarding Google's Mission Statement...

What isn't stated in that mission statement but is implicitly understood is that Google first has to collect that information any way it can. Within the context of "the world's information", what I said to my dog a few minutes ago is part of the ever expanding bits of the "world's information" easily collected through my myriad of devices.

But in my case the "microphoned" information is not usually shared with Google by Amazon, which gives me some comfort that we use Echos and our phones and tablets are of the Amazon Fire line which use a very purposed version of Android. Nor is it usually shared by Microsoft from my Surface Pro computers which use Windows. Unless of course I use the wrong App, which on any of these devices I might.

Google's mission is to "organize the world's information." It could be organized into categories like "what people say to animals, subcategory pets, sub-subcategory dogs." Of course people could be divided in nationality like American, white, over-65, pet owner. Or whatever works in a computerized rapid search environment.

Google's mission is to "make it universally accessible." To make it universally accessible it not only would have to be searchable, it needs a decision regarding "in what format" which would be a process of determining whether it should be an audio file or simply transcribed as simple text, or both which seems very "Googley." Then it would need to be associated with my name which is already available online and associated with my home location. And then my dog Spot would have to be given a searchable internet identity.

I'm using an alias for my dog to protect its identity.

And finally Google's mission is to "make it useful."  One has to ask: "Useful to whom and how will it be useful?"  This is problematic since once it is universally accessible, every human and company can then decide how that tidbit of information might be useful. Remember that the tidbit of information is something I said to my dog as heard by a device in my home.

From a commercial standpoint, the pet supply industry most certainly could find it useful if I said to my dog something like "you need a different collar." I could then start seeing ads for collars on news and forum web pages, ads supplied by Google. Of course, that could also be true of Amazon given its mission statement. And since if I look at dog collars on I'll see those ads, perhaps I'm being paranoid.

But from a government standpoint, it's good to know where all the dogs are for enforcing licensing laws - "they" could instantly know I have a new dog and where I live and who I am. It's also good for the agent with an automatic weapon to be prepared to issue commands to my dog when an armed FBI team erroneously invades my home because I talked about ISIS.

But just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me! There is a Cnet forum thread Coincidence or is my phone listening to me? which offers the answer Yes, It is All Possible which explains:
I used to work for a local government and, as part of my job, I had to send data to the cell network providers for analysis and return of information. For one of the providers, I had to submit the subpoena through a law enforcement website. While there, I got to look at all of the items on their menu as to what law enforcement can do (with a subpoena, back then). They can turn on your phone without alerting you and listen into conversations near your phone and can track you in any way (even if not a smart phone) and, of course, listen in on the phone and record. So, if you were a fan of the T.V. show, The Wire, all you saw there can be done.

From your description of the issue, it sounds like you have Google/Android. Correct? Google doesn't charge anything for Android. Google makes most of their money performing high-tech advertising and one of their claims-to-fame is directed advertising. It is not a secret that they keep tabs on you, the user, for these purposes. There is a Google web page where you can see some of the information they collect about you. A good place to start is to go to their home page and find the (tiny) link for their Terms of Service (TOS; "terms") and their privacy policy. Unknown to many, these documents are not very long and are not written in "legal-ese"; just plain English.

In the Terms, you will find what Google says that they can do with all of your information. This has changed and has been refined over time. The other document, the "Privacy Policy" tells you more about what Google says they actually do with information from you and about you. For example, several years ago, you could find on the Google website that the scan (electronically) or read (by real humans) every document that passes through them. Several years ago, it came out that Google admitted to scanning/reading every piece of GMAIL that passes through them. Yes, it caused quite a stir. The result was that their reading/scanning was moved right into the site's Privacy Policy. Of course, since then, there have been many changes. All this is supposed to be so that Google can direct meaningful advertising at you. Websites have to make money somehow to pay for all of the employees and hardware that they use to bring you the site. It is common sense that the "free" World Wide Web runs on advertising.

As far as using your microphone goes, I assume that it is mentioned in the privacy policy somewhere. However, I would more suspect APPs to be using the microphone more than the base Android. (You do need the microphone to make calls?). In the Apple world (iPhone) they warn you if an APP tries to use the microphone (or location, etc.) and you have an opportunity to think about why and make a decision to allow that or not. Unfortunately, I don't use Android so I can't help you there.
I'm old and started working with computers in 1970. So Google's Google Home - an apt name, since it no longer will be "my" home exclusively - likely will be a hit with Millennials who seem to value privacy not at all. But if I were them, I'd be a little careful.

Oh, and there is Apple's Mission Statement. Apple's current very concrete mission statement is:
  "Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad."

And then there's Microsoft's Mission Statement which also is not abstract at all:
At Microsoft, our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential. We consider our mission statement a commitment to our customers. We deliver on that commitment by striving to create technology that is accessible to everyone—of all ages and abilities. Microsoft is one of the industry leaders in accessibility innovation and in building products that are safer and easier to use.
But when you consider all of these mission statements, perhaps you can understand why Google devices make me edgy.