Monday, March 19, 2018

As the California Democratic Party crumbles (continued)
  Some California Democrats have discovered that
  California may prevent the takeover of the House

As noted previously in As the California Democratic Party crumbles (continued): California Democrats abandon key elections to monied interests per 2010 Prop 14 voter wishes and As the California Democratic Party crumbles: California's Democrats meet to create a winning year, only being anti-Trump may not be a panacea, the biggest single problem for Democrats in California is small-d democrats.

In the LA Times article today California's free-for-all primary election rules could surprise everyone in 2018 ... again we can read that indeed there is a problem here in the most Democratic of states that literally might prevent the Democrats from taking over the U.S. House of Representatives. Regarding the upcoming open primary the article notes: "The nonpartisan California Target Book now counts 60 Democrats running in the 14 districts currently represented by Republicans."

The article discusses the fact that Katie Merrill, whose Fight Back California political action committee is betting the bank on the seven Republican districts won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, has a real fear.

    Recent polling by Merrill's PAC found significant potential for GOP candidates in Southern California's hottest races to finish first and second — even though a plurality of those surveyed said they would "definitely" vote Democratic. That includes seats being vacated by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and the reelection effort of embattled Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).
    Merrill said her group prefers to spend its money solely against Republicans but may have to help at least one Democrat stand out in some of those crowded primary contests. "We're going to have to shift our focus," she said.

As I wrote previously California Democratic Party doesn't want to offend even one Democrat who has an oversized ego. So they didn't endorse anyone to end up in the top two in any Congressional district where it is important. That's the California Democratic Party I've come to know and hate.

The Democrats are likely to lose their rds majority in the one or both houses of the Legislature at least partly because of the dumb democrats (small-d) who get to vote on implementing ideas that are ...dumb... such as the open primary.

But maybe this is all good, because I'm not sure the Democrats deserve to be able to set a policy agenda anywhere until they figure out that winning elections is the only "top group" priority for a political party. After a party wins then they can worry about structuring and implementing "second level" priorities - if they don't win, it doesn't matter what those second level priorities are.

Of course, those "second level" priorities should be policy structured and implemented so they can win two, four, and six years later.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

How the maintream media just discovered old news about elections and Facebook responded meaninglessly and you "liked" it adding to the data

Yesterday's New York Times with great fanfare offers us yesterday's, years old... news. It appears they spent lots of money on reporter and editorial time finding out about something they could have learned from other news sources in 2016, or even as far back as 2013. And of course the rest of the mainstream media which apparently was equally ignorant has picked it up.

A little over a year ago, I wrote the post Why you should fear Trumpism's Steve Bannon: war with China within 8 years and other reasons.

I said: "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...." Further elaborations were include, but that linked article published in 2016 by the Millennial news site Vice Motherboard included everything Americans needed to know about the use of Facebook member data and other data sources to steal from and mislead those Facebook members.

I also referenced a post-election Forbes piece Why Big Data Wasn't Trump's Achilles Heel After All which was a mea culpa by Bernard Marr, an expert on big data, analytics, and metrics who has worked with many of the world’s leading companies and governments on how to answer their most critical business questions using data and metrics. He acknowledges that an article he'd written in June 2016 about Trump's lack of data use was based on his own lack of information.

After telling you that this experimental voter manipulation was going on in the 2014 mid-term election, the New York Times article notes:

    An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.
    Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge and worked there until late 2014, said of its leaders: “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair.”
    They want to fight a culture war in America,” he added. “Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.”

What is troublesome here is that neither the government of the Obama Administration nor any of the 50 state governments including tech fumbling California had a clue after 2014.

And the big mainstream press, which the Democratic establishment relies upon, reported this as news yesterday and today.

Besides the fact that the old establishment ignores the Vice news sources because, hey, the Vice folks are just kids, the truth is the old political establishment, which still can't technically relate to the internet as more than "pipes" and still can't secure their smart phones, needed to step aside before 2014 for people who can tell the important modern technology from consumer technology like safer autos and more reliable refrigerators.

Perhaps the time has come for some people to accept the fact that timely important news is not going to appear in the mainstream media because the mainstream media relies upon "important" people in New York and Washington. If you don't check the sources to listed to the right, or some similar source not dependent upon people over 60 talking to each other, you're likely uninformed about many, many important stories that will startle the Democrats in 2020.

The fact that Michal Kosinski's work with two other Cambridge researchers - David Stillwell and Thore Graepel - has been available online in PDF format since 2013 should trouble the Democratic establishment. It was in the news in 2013. Rebecca J. Rosen, now a senior editor at The Atlantic, who oversees the Business Channel, at about age 29 in 2013 wrote:

    With remarkable accuracy, researchers from the University of Cambridge and Microsoft have been able to discern people's gender, sexuality, age, race, and political affiliation, based solely on their Facebook likes. With significantly less accuracy, they've also tried to predict certain personality traits.... It's possible to see how, with a much larger corpus, even certain subtleties of personality could be recognized deep within the idiosyncratic data of Facebook likes.
    ...Just as we humans can make judgments about another person's intelligence, sexuality, or political leanings based on a scattershot set of clues -- entertainment preferences we know them to have or opinions we know them to hold -- a computer can do much the same. Its inputs may come by way of Facebook likes, but its process is familiar.

And from The Telegraph 2013 article 'Like' curly fries on Facebook? Then you're clever written by a similarly young journalist alert Neoliberals learned:

    Now researchers at Cambridge’s Psychometric Centre have joined forces with Microsoft to analyse more than nine million ‘likes’.
    Michal Kosinski, its operations director, said ‘liking’ curly fries was a very strong predictor for high intelligence.
    Kosinski, an internet entrepreneur, said they hoped to commercialise the analytic technology they had developed.

But it did not turn out be Kosinski who made the system commercially successful.

It was the privately held firm Cambridge Analytica. The father-daughter billionaire family team of Robert and Rebekah Mercer hold a significant stake in the company. The Mercer's are "card-carrying" Neoliberals who in addition to The Mercer Family Foundation, run by Rebekah, donate to the Heritage Foundation (Rebekah is a board member), the Cato Institute, the Media Research Center, the Club for Growth, American Crossroads, Freedom Partners Action Fund, the Goldwater Institute, and numerous other Neoliberal political organizations.

They were key financial benefactors for Breitbart News and were the ones who first introduced Steve Bannon to Donald Trump. Steve Bannon, of course, was on the Cambridge Analytica Board of Directors at its founding.

The fact that the members of Neoliberal community are technologically aware and curious seems to indicate they're wise in a time when wisdom about the 21st Century should be valued, a wisdom that is lacking in other American political communities. For instance, Democrats spend their time in Hollywood with people whose skills will be replaced by computers by mid-century.

In the meantime, with a loud hurumph Facebook just suspended Cambridge Analytica and its parent company SCL Group. Outstanding! Consider this from The Data That Turned the World Upside Down:

Kosinski and his team tirelessly refined their models. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook "likes" by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent). But it didn't stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether someone's parents were divorced.

The strength of their modeling was illustrated by how well it could predict a subject's answers. Kosinski continued to work on the models incessantly: before long, he was able to evaluate a person better than the average work colleague, merely on the basis of ten Facebook "likes." Seventy "likes" were enough to outdo what a person's friends knew, 150 what their parents knew, and 300 "likes" what their partner knew. More "likes" could even surpass what a person thought they knew about themselves. On the day that Kosinski published these findings, he received two phone calls. The threat of a lawsuit and a job offer. Both from Facebook.

In other words, Facebook knew what was going on six years ago. But Facebook is quintessential American company admired by most Americans.  And six years ago Facebook held its initial public offering and, at that time, it was the largest technology IPO in U.S. history. Facebook offered 421,233,615 shares at a price of $38 per share and raised $16.007 billion through that offering. Let's see, make $16 billion or protect America? No red-blooded American would criticize the choice to take the money.

So whoopee today that Facebook suspended companies that a half a decade ago laid the groundwork for the rich to get richer with the support of foolishly stupid Americans.

The fact is that much of the current important news cannot be found in the mainstream or Alt-Right or social media. As in the past, today much of the significant news first appears in narrowly-focused or technical media. "Back then" only a few specialized professionals could read it. But since the beginning of the 21st Century it has been immediately available to us all. And those who can use that knowledge will find it more rapidly than in decades past.

The Neoliberals read about the research in 2013 and were experimenting with it in 2014. The Democratic power structure was reading movie reviews.

In other words, if unlike Hillary and her campaign staff, you actually know both how to secure and to use use your phones and computers on the internet, then you pick up news about new ways to use data to manipulate groups of people for commercial or political ends. You understand that generally the public couldn't give a crap about the details of your policy proposals.

Right now the Republican and Democratic Parties are struggling with the 2018 midterm elections. That's their jobs.

Also, the Neoliberals are planning 2020 election strategy using 2018 to experiment. I wonder what new tools they've refined.

And the group opposing them ...wait, there isn't any group working to oppose the Neoliberals in the 2020 election just like no such national group of progressive organizations existed to work in 2014 on the 2016 election. In fact, there are no center or left-of-center groups comparable, much less hundreds of them financed by billionaires.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Economic ideologies have declared war
  Why Western Neoliberal capitalists fear socialist
  China's Xi and fear for capitalist Russia's Putin

In the Year of the Dog, as the chart below indicates there are the three largest countries. Russia is the largest in land area. China is the largest in population. The United States of America is the largest in Gross Domestic Product.

Also, in the 21st Century as indicated in the chart China has grown its Per Capita Gross Domestic Product by 969% while Russia's has fallen by 26%.

China and Russia are the two main competitors of the United States primarily because of their military strength and the shadow that casts over the rest of the world. So the leaders of those two countries are the subject of news stories, many of which are so speculative and inaccurate as to constitute fake news.

Of course, here in the United States all the press, all the pundits, are struggling to understand the thinking of President Donald Trump. Whether that's possible is up for debate.

Perhaps in this Year of the Dog Americans should better get to know the world's other two "Big Dogs", China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin. Both have been the subject of some misleading news stories in the past week.

Xi and the Chinese Communist Party are supposedly about to make Xi the new emperor ...well, lifetime ruler... of China because of a proposal to end term limits.

And Putin supposedly is longing for a return of the Soviet Union.

Vladimir Putin

Last week, Putin made headlines in a media forum question-and-answer session:

    The head of state said as much answering questions during the Truth and Justice media forum organized by the Russian Popular Front.
    When asked which of the events that happened in Russia he wanted to change, Putin answered, "The collapse of the Soviet Union," while his answer to the question what historical period he would like to live in was the following, "Today." You see, all my ancestors in the past were peasant serfs, while I am the president," the head of state explained ironically.
    When asked whether he has a dream, which has not come true, the president said that his goal is clear. "I want our country to be successful, powerful, stable, balanced and looking ahead," he stressed.

In an analysis, a Washington Post article noted:

    Though a fringe idea in the West, regret about the collapse of the Soviet Union is not unusual in Russia — in fact, it is widespread. And with Russian elections just a week away, it's a factor still worth watching.
    The polling agency Levada Center has been asking Russians about their views on the collapse of the Soviet Union since 1992. The most recent numbers, from a survey conducted in November 2017, show that 58 percent of Russians regret the U.S.S.R.'s collapse, while just over a quarter do not.

The misunderstanding is that much of the American press represented Putin's statement as a desire to "reverse" the end of the communist state when his wistfulness is about the size of the former union and the loss of a number of its constituent states. More context is needed in order to understand Putin better. In an April 2005 state of the nation address Putin stated:

    I consider the development of Russia as a free and democratic state to be our main political and ideological goal. We use these words fairly frequently, but rarely care to reveal how the deeper meaning of such values as freedom and democracy, justice and legality is translated into life.
    Meanwhile, there is a need for such an analysis. The objectively difficult processes going on in Russia are increasingly becoming the subject of heated ideological discussions. And they are all connected with talk about freedom and democracy. Sometimes you can hear that since the Russian people have been silent for centuries, they are not used to or do not need freedom. And for that reason, it is claimed our citizens need constant supervision.
    I would like to bring those who think this way back to reality, to the facts. To do so, I will recall once more Russia’s most recent history.
    Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.
    Individual savings were depreciated, and old ideals destroyed. Many institutions were disbanded or reformed carelessly. Terrorist intervention and the Khasavyurt capitulation that followed damaged the country's integrity. Oligarchic groups – possessing absolute control over information channels – served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty began to be seen as the norm. And all this was happening against the backdrop of a dramatic economic downturn, unstable finances, and the paralysis of the social sphere.
    Many thought or seemed to think at the time that our young democracy was not a continuation of Russian statehood, but its ultimate collapse, the prolonged agony of the Soviet system.
    But they were mistaken.
    That was precisely the period when the significant developments took place in Russia. Our society was generating not only the energy of self-preservation, but also the will for a new and free life. In those difficult years, the people of Russia had to both uphold their state sovereignty and make an unerring choice in selecting a new vector of development in the thousand years of their history. They had to accomplish the most difficult task: how to safeguard their own values, not to squander undeniable achievements, and confirm the viability of Russian democracy. We had to find our own path in order to build a democratic, free and just society and state.
    When speaking of justice, I am not of course referring to the notorious ”take away and divide by all“ formula, but extensive and equal opportunities for everybody to develop. Success for everyone. A better life for all.

As the table above indicates, Putin is struggling with those goals. If you read the rest of that speech, you'll see he was committed to capitalism. His view does not see democracy as a possibility without a full commitment to free market capitalism. But one has to ask him: "How's that working out for you?" As explained elsewhere:

    A recent report by Credit Suisse showed that Russia is the most unequal of all the world’s major economies. The richest 10% of Russians own 87% of all the country’s wealth, according to the report, compared with 76% in the US and 66% in China. According to another measure, by VTB Capital, 1% of the Russian population holds 46% of all the personal bank deposits in the country.
    Many Russians believe such rampant inequality – at least in part caused by corruption – might cause “kitchen grumbling”, but never serious political upheaval. However, last month the biggest protests to hit Russia for several years saw an estimated 60,000 people on the streets of nearly 80 cities. While the numbers are small as a percentage of the whole population, there is a sense that anger may be stirring.
    In the late 1970s, only 0.2% of people earned more than four times the average wage in the Soviet Union, according to official statistics. Of course, many complained that the Soviet elite lived a more luxurious life than the majority of the population, relying on the “grey economy” to access luxury products and other consumer goods that were unavailable to normal citizens, even if the differences in official salaries were not that high.
    But the levels of inequality that came about in 1990s Russia were far more dramatic and shocking. Capitalism turned out to be just how the Soviets had warned, with a few people requisitioning all the ladders and the vast majority left to be devoured by snakes. In the far north and east extremities of the country, where people had settled because the Soviet system paid high salaries, the market economy sent industrial towns into ruin, making whole regions impoverished.

In viewing this inequality problem and how to deal with capitalism, Putin expressed in his 2005 speech a view that Americans have a hard time understanding: "In those difficult years, the people of Russia had to both uphold their state sovereignty and make an unerring choice in selecting a new vector of development in the thousand years of their history."

While Putin is threading his way through a complex political, economic, and societal environment built upon a thousand years of history trying to achieve the goals he believes will create a better Russia, in China an unerring choice in selecting a new vector of development in their thousands and thousands of years of history is being made.

Xi Jinping

If the American press and pundits don't understand Trump or Putin, they are even worse at interpreting Xi Jinping. The latest headline story on China in The New York Times. a classic analysis by the Europe-oriented East Coast liberal press, Xi Sets China on a Collision Course With History, begins by telling us:

    There was always something different about China’s version of authoritarianism. For decades, as other regimes collapsed or curdled into dysfunctional pretend democracies, China’s held strong, even prospered.
    Yes, China’s Communist Party has been vigorous in suppressing dissent and crushing potential challenges. But some argue that it has survived in part by developing unusually strong institutions, bound by strict rules and norms. Two of the most important have been collective leadership — rule by consensus rather than strongman — and term limits.
    When the Communist Party announced this week that it would end presidential term limits, allowing Xi Jinping to hold office indefinitely, it shattered those norms. It may also have accelerated what many scholars believe is China’s collision course with the forces of history it has so long managed to evade.
    That history suggests that Beijing’s leaders are on what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once called a “fool’s errand”: trying to uphold a system of government that cannot survive in the modern era. But Mr. Xi, by shifting toward a strongman style of rule, is doubling down on the idea that China is different and can refashion an authoritarianism for this age.

It is at this point that anyone familiar with China says "ah, no, the only person on a fools errand recently was Hillary Clinton and the only national government that is on a collision course with the forces of history is that of the United States."

History offers many lessons, but how to govern well or poorly in the future is not one of them.

The five posts preceding this one provide a plethora of information we need to be aware of regarding the past and future of China. For instance, the following is a quote from one of them.

Xi could also note: “No one political system should be regarded as the only choice and we should not just mechanically copy the political systems of other countries. The political system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is a great creation.”

He could say this because he and those in his administration know that with the election of Donald Trump the United States has...
  • a Republican President who by a large margin lost the popular vote (for the second time since the year 2000);
  • a Senate in which 60 of the 100 Senators with 60% of the vote in the Senate represent less than 25% of the population, while 18 of the 100 Senators with only 18% of the vote in the Senate represent the majority of Americans, and despite the fact that more votes were cast for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates in the last three Senate elections, Republicans control the Senate;
  • a House of Representatives in which Democratic candidates received a nationwide plurality but the Republican candidates won a majority of the House seats; and
  • a nationwide justice system that randomly injures, kills, or imprisons large numbers of non-white American citizens without a trial, creating the highest incarceration rate in the world with about 22 percent of the world's prisoners in a nation that has about 4.4 percent of the world's population.
...leaving Americans with no ability at all to respond to Xi's "political system" challenge by claiming their government is a democracy - assuming democracy in any sense means majority rule based on the popular vote.

In other words, the Executive and Legislative branches of government of the United States of America are not run by officials who represent the majority of the popular vote. Further the American justice system clearly jails or kills citizens who are out of favor with the dominant minority running the government, imprisoning far more such persons than China.

So it is bemusing to those of us who don't hang around in high priced coffee houses on the East Coast to read interpretations of China's Xi by those who cannot wean themselves from their addiction to the morning apoplexy brought about by Trump tweeting.

A typical headline reflects how they think: Leader For Life: Xi Jinping Strengthens Hold On Power As China Communist Party Ends Term Limits. That headline is wrong, even based on the details of the story under it. And worse, it reinforces America's recent love affair with term limits.

We residents of the United States are the passengers on a Ship of Fools. Most of those passengers don't view their country in any real light - historically, economically, or politically.

Consider this discussion:

    With global markets shaken by President Donald Trump's surprise decision to impose strict tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the president went into battle mode on Friday: "Trade wars are good, and easy to win," he wrote on Twitter.
    But the public show of confidence belies the fact that Trump's policy maneuver, which may ultimately harm U.S. companies and American consumers, was announced without any internal review by government lawyers or his own staff, according to a review of an internal White House document.
    According to two officials, Trump's decision to launch a potential trade war was born out of anger at other simmering issues and the result of a broken internal process that has failed to deliver him consensus views that represent the best advice of his team.
    On Wednesday evening, the president became "unglued," in the words of one official familiar with the president's state of mind.
    A trifecta of events had set him off in a way that two officials said they had not seen before: Hope Hicks' testimony to lawmakers investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election, conduct by his embattled attorney general and the treatment of his son-in-law by his chief of staff.
    Trump, the two officials said, was angry and gunning for a fight, and he chose a trade war, spurred on by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, the White House director for trade.

This style of petulant policy implementation is common in dictatorships and that it can happen in the United States is because Congress - you know, the branch of government closest to the electorate - turned the power over to the President simply because when needed they can't make complex quick decisions common to the 21st Century.

Wikipedia offers a characterization of authoritarian political systems by qualities which by striking out their words and adding new ones in italics we can make a point:
  • Limited political pluralism, that is such regimes place constraints on political institutions and groups like legislatures, political parties and interest, racial, ethnic, religious, and gender groups;
  • A basis for legitimacy based on emotion, especially the identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable societal problems" such as underdevelopment or insurgency anti-Americanism or immoral behavior;
  • Minimal social mobilization most often caused by constraints on the public such as suppression of political opponents and the press, and anti-regime activity;
  • Informally defined executive power with often vague and shifting powers, resulting in significant executive orders creating policy shifts not intended by the legislative branch;
  • Limiting economic and social mobility by favoring the wealthy and large corporations.
The obvious reality is that authoritarian qualities within the governments of the United States and China differ in types and degrees, but authoritarian qualities exist in both. (Most Americans believe that "authoritarian" refers only to some kind of "autocracy" which means "ruler of one" when, in fact, the terms are not synonyms both theoretically and in practice.)

So China is considering the repeal the two-terms term-limit rule for its leader and Westerners, particularly American and British "experts", bring up the specter of Mussolini, Stalin, and, of course, Chairman Mao., that's not the way government works in China. It's complicated because it's complex. It begins with the fact that we're talking about 1.4 billion people in a 21st Century environment.

Below is a graphic that attempts to explain "How the Chinese government works" from Xi Jinping as president beyond 2023 may be good for China – though the West won’t believe it by Tom Plate:

When something like a "two term limit" rule is evaluated, one has to puzzle over what is so magical about that rule that enamors American pundits. From George Washington through Harry S. Truman, American Presidents could serve as many terms as they could win. After Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt won four consecutive presidential elections, (Republican?) politicians decided limits might be a good idea.

Many of the Founding Fathers, including Hamilton and Madison, supported a lifetime appointment for Presidents selected by Congress, not some cobbled-together system involving an electoral college. And it was never proposed at the Constitutional Convention that Presidents be elected by the most unreliable, ignorant group in the system, the voters.

The Great Depression and World War II help explain why FDR served for so long. Facing a true national and international crises, a country might actually need to keep the same government in power for longer than usual. But logic never enters into the political debates in the United States.

Considering context is always important.

So consider the fact that U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy came to national prominence in February 1950 after giving a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, in which he claimed to have a list of 205 State Department employees who were members of the Communist Party.  McCarthy claimed the list was provided to and dismissed by then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson, saying that the "State Department harbors a nest of Communists and Communist sympathizers who are helping to shape our foreign policy".

And so in the midst of that silly anti-communist hysteria which constituted an attack on free speech and freedom of association guaranteed by the Constution, on February 27, 1951, the 22nd  Amendment, was ratified establishing a two-term limit for Presidents.

However, it didn’t completely end the debate over term limits. In 1987, The New York Times reported that President Ronald Reagan “‘would like to start a movement’ to repeal the constitutional amendment that limits Presidents to two terms.”

But let's return to the situation in China.

In reviewing the move to eliminate term limits we first need recognize the words of the man around whom the issue is focused. In the blog entry Xi Jinping's strategy for a 21st Century China: With thoughtful Chinese characteristics a President tends his plan for 1.4 billion people for 2020 ...and 2035 ...and 2049  posted October 23, 2017, (and reposted below in this blog) it was explained:

This past week's 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China sets the agenda for the future of China beginning with that all-important three-hour “work report” speech by Xi.

To provide insight into President Xi's zeal to assure a strong future for his country, it is important to remember that on February 11, 2009, while visiting Mexico, then Vice-President Xi spoke in front of a group of overseas Chinese noting that China's task was to keep "its 1.3 billion people from hunger."

And regarding the 2008 financial crisis affecting the Atlantic oriented world filled with complaints about Chinese foreign trade: "There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us. First, China doesn't export revolution; second, China doesn't export hunger and poverty; third, China doesn't come and cause you headaches. What more is there to be said?"

This week President Xi Jinping reaffirmed that Beijing will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion "no matter what stage of development it reaches" and that "China will never pursue development at the expense of others' interests and its development does not pose a threat to any other country."

Since the 18th CPC Congress in 2012, in which Xi assumed his current position, China's "two centenary goals" were to
  1. build a moderately prosperous society by 2020, one year before the Party's 100th anniversary in 2021, and 
  2. develop China into a "fully modernized, socialist nation" by the 100th anniversary of the People's Republic of China in 2049.
To accomplish the goals, the "Four Comprehensives" came into being:
  1. comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society (put forward at the November 2012 18th Party Congress),
  2. comprehensively deepen reform (put forward at the November 2013 3rd Central Committee Plenum),
  3. comprehensively and strictly govern the Party (put forward at the early October 2014 summary meeting of the Mass Line Campaign), and
  4. comprehensively advance the rule of law (put forward during the late October 2014 4th Central Committee Plenum).
Additionally,  the "Five Development Concepts" from the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) of innovation, coordination, green, openness and shared development were to be implemented.

This week Xi offered in his report a plan to "build on the foundation created by the moderately prosperous society" by implementing "a further 15 years of hard work to see that socialist modernization is basically realized" from 2020 to 2035, and then from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century "work hard for a further 15 years and develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful."

But Xi warned that it would be "no walk in the park. It will take more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there." He noted how China had "taken a driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change," additionally noting: "Only by observing the laws of nature can mankind avoid costly blunders in its exploitation. Any harm we inflict on nature will eventually return to haunt us. This is a reality we have to face!"

Also noted about those in Xi's government in that same post:

China is facing challenges which if covered by balanced reporting in the U.S. would seem familiar to Americans. Today, nearing the end of the 19th Congress, the Minister of Education Chen Baosheng, Minister of Civil Affairs Huang Shuxian, Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin, Minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Wang Menghui, and Minister of National Health and Family Planning Commission Li Bin held a joint news briefing.

Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin noted that despite the 3.95% registered unemployment rate in China's urban areas at the end of September "raising the capacity to employ workers overall still faces large pressures."

"We need to create 15 million jobs per year," Yin said, singling out China’s more than 8 million new university graduates that enter the job market each year as one group in need of additional employment.

Yin also said the low unemployment rate in the face of an overall slowdown in the economy was largely due to the new internet economy and entrepreneurship, adding that the ministry would actively support startups to help them “thrive”.

He reported "We've helped 8.8 million people in strained circumstances find jobs," adding that the total number of rural migrant workers increased from 263 million in 2012 to 282 million in 2016.

Now that you have a general sense of the basic challenges that have been embraced by Xi and his team - keep the now 1.4 billion Chinese people from facing hunger by having a decent economy which produces 15 million jobs a year - it is important to understand one piece of the historical experience of Xi and his team as explained in the post Xi's team to lead a 21st Century China: They want for their grandchildren a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful life posted October 27, 2017, (and reposted below in this blog):

For the first time at the end of a National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), all seven Standing Committee members of the Political Bureau were born after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

All were born and raised in the People's Republic of China. That means that none of them were WWII veterans and none were part of the Revolution. Instead, all were impacted as children from 1958 to 1962 by Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward and as teens by Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution from 1966 until 1976....

To understand the meaning of this history to these seven men, one only need to look at the experience of President Xi Jinping.

After the founding of the Communist state in 1949, Xi's father held a series of posts, including propaganda chief, vice-premier, and vice-chairman of the National People's Congress. Xi was born June 15, 1953. Based on normal expectations, Xi's future looked bright.

But when Xi was age 10, his father was purged from the Party and sent to work in a factory in Luoyang, Henan. In May 1966, Xi's "high school years" were cut short by the Cultural Revolution, when all secondary classes were halted for students to criticise and fight their teachers. Xi was age 15 when his father was jailed in 1968.

In 1969, lacking the protection of his father, Xi was sent to work in Yanchuan County, Shaanxi, in Mao Zedong's Down to the Countryside Movement. After a few months, unable to stand rural life, he ran away to Beijing. He was arrested during a crackdown on deserters from the countryside and sent to a work camp to dig ditches.

In 1981, the Party declared that the Cultural Revolution was "responsible for the most severe setback and the heaviest losses suffered by the Party, the country, and the people since the founding of the People's Republic" Welcome to adolescence.

Read the Wikipedia entry on Xi for more details (and the Wikipedia entry on Peng Liyuan his folksinger wife who until 2007 was more well-known). Also, in 2007 when it became evident that Xi was being groomed to assume the duties of his current job, an article appeared in The Guardian which helps provide some perspective from a British point of view: Most corrupt officials are from poor families but Chinese royals have a spirit that is not dominated by money.

In my TIME magazine dated March 12, there is an article "China steps closer to despotism as Xi becomes leader for life" by Charlie Campbell. First of all, even the article doesn't report Xi became "leader for life." He is in the same situation that American Presidents George Washington through Harry S. Truman were and which Ronald Reagan sought - the political clout of having no two-term limit.

But the article does assert the charge of current autocratic rule and future possible despotism. And it relate a similar assertion in The Economist How the West got China wrong, a long article which begins "Last weekend China stepped from autocracy into dictatorship." The problem is The Economist is a unbridled advocate of Neoliberal economics. "Greed is good" could be its motto.

What Does 21st Century History Tell Us About Capitalism

To begin a discussion about the results of capitalism, we need to be clear about one thing. Capitalism is an ideology.

Ideology is a comprehensive set of normative beliefs, conscious and unconscious ideas, that an individual, group or society has. In societies that distinguish between public and private life, every political or economic tendency entails ideology, whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.  In those societies an ideology is narrower in scope than the ideas expressed in concepts such as worldview, imaginary, ontology, and religion.

An ideology is a coherent system of ideas, relying upon a few basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis. Ideas become ideologies (that is, become coherent, repeated patterns) through the subjective ongoing choices that people make, serving as the seed around which further thought grows. Ideologies are neither necessarily right nor wrong. Believers in ideology range from passive acceptance through fervent advocacy to true belief.

An excessive need for certitude lurks at fundamentalist levels in politics and religions. Thus an ideologue is comparable to a religious fanatic. And abusers can hide in ideological garb.

Capitalism is an ideology. Neoliberals are fanatics. And abusers use the nearly religious appeal of capitalism to suppress those who would have society prohibit their theft from others or their abuse of employees.

Reconsider this quote:

    The richest 10% of Russians own 87% of all the country’s wealth, according to the report, compared with 76% in the US and 66% in China. According to another measure, by VTB Capital, 1% of the Russian population holds 46% of all the personal bank deposits in the country.

The first truth is that in the 1990's capitalism was given unregulated freedom in Russia. Naturally that resulted in the all too familiar corruption that we have yet to eliminate in the United States when the government did not jail the bankers. In Russia no regulations were put in place and the natural result of unregulated capitalism - rampant inequality - is worse there than in the United States.

The second truth is that in the 21st Century capitalism was given a opportunity in China and that resulted in the kind of corruption that we have yet to eliminate in the United States when the government did not jail the bankers.

China under Xi, on the other hand, has started jailing corrupt capitalists. And China defines that corruption at least partly on how far away the behavior of a capitalist is from that of Bill Gates' efforts to do good in the world , as well as partly on how company money is misused to the personal benefit of the capitalist in question.

Now Neoliberals have no quarrel with Gates. But in their minds evil is epitomized by China's or any government preventing a capitalist from using any money he/she can grasp for their own personal benefit no matter what the rules are. Government rules are unacceptable. Theft is merely frowned upon if it gets too obvious.

The Neoliberal Attack on China's Xi

Those Western Neoliberals have geared up the spin machine (the one that has allowed them to take over American government) to attack China's less than enamored view of inadequately regulated capitalists. They launched a direct attack on Xi who understands that "terming out" means his objectives could be ignored through stalling. (If you think this isn't true, keep in mind that those same Western Neoliberals found no need to attack Putin's messing with elections in the West. They'll leave that up to fuming Democrats.)

There are also the not-so-obvious Neoliberal attacks on Chinese lack of enthusiasm for capitalists that are harder to see. For instance, there is a broad attack by U.S. security officials on three companies involved in telecom and cloud computing technologies - ZTE, Huawei Technologies, and Broadcom Limited.

Of course there should be concern about the fact that most of our technology is manufactured by foreign companies, mostly in China. But that barn door was left open many years ago. As will be discussed below, you can't buy a smart phone that doesn't have many critical parts made in China.

The recent attack from within secret U.S. government agencies raises suspicions.

Consider the attack on Huawei. From July to September 2017, Huawei surpassed Apple and became the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world after Samsung. The attack came about when AT&T agreed to start marketing their phones along with all the other phones they offer.

The problem for Neoliberals is that Huawei classifies itself as a "collective" and does not refer to itself as a private company. Huawei is an employee-owned company.  But a report by Georgetown's Center for Strategic and International Studies, an arm of the U.S. government defense and security organization, says "Huawei emphasizes its employee-ownership to distance itself from allegations of government control."

Unfortunately, that exact wording and much more in the report came from a 2010 article that appeared in an Australian publication ITnews. And in the article that statement is actually a quote from a Hong Kong activist/banker capitalist, not from independent research. The report on other pages of the report seemingly contradicts much of that ITnews opinion.

What's additionally troubling here is that no objections have been raised regarding Lenovo products, including their Motorola Mobility cell phone products, despite its founding and ownership ties to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the national academy for the natural sciences of the People's Republic of China (PRC). No one seems to care that its founder was a delegate to the 16th National Congress of Communist Party of China and a deputy to the 9th and 10th sessions of the National People's Congress, China's highest legislative body.

And, of course, no problems exist with the iPhone and other Apple products manufactured by Foxconn which also manufactures  BlackBerry, Kindle, Nintendo, Nokia, PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox products.

Foxconn is the world's largest contract manufacturer of electronics, with factories in several countries, mostly in mainland China where it employs 1.2 million people and is its largest private employer and exporter.

Foxconn is a stock exchange listed company with a regularly reported record of employee mistreatment, apparently making it the ideal company in the eyes of Neoliberal dominated American government security organizations.

The world's largest mobile phone maker by unit sales, Samsung, handles it's own manufacturing. Samsung Electronics has mobile phone manufacturing facilities in the six countries of Vietnam, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Korea. The two plants in Vietnam, a country run by the Communist Party of Vietnam, produce nearly 300 million units. Reportedly Samsung was looking to cut their production in the two factories in China with a capacity of 150 million phones because of high labor costs while expanding their production in India.

This past year Taiwan-based Wistron Corporation started to manufacture the iPhone SE in India for sales in India but have poor sales. Apple's plans to get special government treatment and tax concessions in India have failed so far.

The world's four remaining one-party socialist states officially espousing communism are China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Loas. The fact is most phones used in the United States are made in China and Vietnam.

What will make the U.S. government security attack more suspect is that Chinese smart phone and electronics manufacture Xiaomi is also entering the U.S. market through various carriers' marketing. So far, it has not run afoul of the U.S. government security apparatus.

Of course, it is a new company with Founder, Chairman and CEO Lei Jun, who is also Chairman of Kingsoft, Chairman of UCWeb Inc., and Chairman of and is worth $6.8 billion.

Xiaomi 's most recent round of funding generated $1.4 billion. The company's  11 Investors include Ratan Tata, Morningside Group, DST Global, IDG Capital Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, Temasek Holdings and a few others.

That included an additional investment from Russian physicist and financial guru Yuri Milner’s investment group DST Global. Through DST Global, Milner is also an investor in Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, Flipkart, Spotify, Zocdoc, Groupon,, OlaCabs, Alibaba, AirBnB, WhatsApp, NuBank, Wish and many others. Milner's personal investments also include a stake in 23andMe, Habito, Planet Labs and others.

Milner is a darling of the American capitalist establishment. In September 2017 Forbes included Milner to the list of 100 greatest living business minds. Milner was named one of the World's Greatest Leaders by Fortune magazine in March 2017, was listed in the "Titans" category of Time magazine's 2016 Time 100. Foreign Policy magazine included Milner on its "Power List" – an inaugural list of the 500 most powerful people on the planet in May 2013. Milner was included in Bloomberg Markets' 2012 50 Most Influential list. In Fortune's 2010 list of the world's fifty most prominent businessmen, Milner was ranked 46th. That same year Russian business magazine Vedomosti recognized him as "Businessman of the Year".

When he was a doctoral candidate in particle physics in Russia he became interested in venture investment strategy. He subsequently received an MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Donald Trump's alma mater. In 2011, Milner bought a $100 million home in Los Altos Hills, California which, The Wall Street Journal reported, was the most ever paid for a single-family home in the United States.

But back to Xiaomi's CEO Lei Jun, a delegate of the National People's Congress, who was named Businessman of the Year by Forbes in 2014. Not only is his Xiaomi not employee owned, it is everything a Neoliberal could admire. In a 2015 interview with the BBC, Xiaomi's Vice President of International, Hugo Barra, Google's former product spokesperson for the Android team, noted that the company working hours are 9.30 in the morning to 9.30 in the evening, and that's just the regular working hours, plus one hour for lunch.

Yeah, let's worry about those phones made by employee-owned Huawei and start promoting phones made by Chinese and Russian billionaire capitalist-owned employee abuser Xiaomi. What could go wrong?

The problem is there are no smartphones manufactured in the U.S.A. for American companies. Yeah, we've got a potential security problem.