Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Fear is rising over the Coronavirus. Stock markets are falling. Hey, humanity, what about the flu???

Current data show that the COVID-19 Coronavirus (aka Novel Coronavirus) outbreak world-wide includes 80,423 cases and 2,712 deaths. There are currently 49,775 infected patients being treated. 9,211 of which are deemed serious or critical.

This is a disease for which the world does not have vaccinations and is learning what treatments have positive outcomes. While it appears to have a 3.4% death rate, in fact we have no idea how many people have contracted the disease resulting in relatively minor symptoms.

As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine on February 18, 2020, a group of predominantly German nationals who had stayed in Hubei Province was evacuated to Frankfurt, Germany, on February 1, 2020. To make  a long story short, 114 passengers without symptoms agreed to voluntary testing and two were found to be infected. The two were isolated. While a faint rash and minimal pharyngitis were observed briefly in one, both patients remained well and without a fever 7 days after admission.

So far, the evidence indicates that like many, many viruses the Coronavirus can be carried in the human body without resulting in illness. We really have no idea how many people have picked up the virus and developed no or negligible symptoms and how many developed some symptoms but thought they had a cold and recovered without fanfare. So we don't know what the death rate is.

The Chinese government has taken comparatively drastic action to limit the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak which appears to have begun in China. They have received accolades for their efforts.

The result will place a significant stress on the country's economic system as many businesses have had to shutter leaving them without revenue from which they can make payments on debt. Last month, China’s banking and insurance regulator asked banks to provide extra support – such as extending loans – to entities and individuals that were helping combat the coronavirus. Within a month the banking system will threaten the stability of the financial system.

So far this week the U.S. stock markets have taken heavy losses blamed on the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.

All this has to make one wonder. What about the flu???

At this point in the 2019-2020 flu season in the United States, influenza has made more than 26 million Americans ill. About 250,000 have already been hospitalized and at least 14,000 people have died.

World-wide each year depending upon which viruses become pandemic, 290,000 to 650,000 people die from seasonal influenza infections. This figure corresponds to 795 to 1,781 deaths per day due to the seasonal flu.

Influenza is an infection for which we have vaccinations. Influenza is an infection for which we have standard treatments.

Humans have strange behaviors. Every year 500,000± humans die of the flu. About 14,000 have died in the U.S. so far this flu season. Nobody shuts down businesses and whole communities because of the flu. The stock markets don't respond to flu statistics. But we humans appear to be having a panic over the COVID-19 Coronavirus. It seems weirdly disproportional.

This is not to say we should ignore this new virus. People are dying of Coronavirus infections.  If one is part of your life, the virus represents a tragedy in your life.

With that said, the a Journal of American Medicine report based on the Chinese experience of those being treated reports the fatality rate by age among those being treated as indicated in the chart below:

Even for those 80+ years of age who become ill enough from the virus to need treatment, only 15% die. The report also offers death rate numbers based upon preexisting conditions:

Being a senior citizen, this writer assumes a high correlation between those over 70 and those with preexisting conditions.

Obviously we should take extreme measures to minimize the spread of the virus. Or should we? Might not those who become infected, with or without symptoms, develop an immune system response we need? Of course, not becoming infected is preferable assuming a vaccine is developed.

But shutting down the economy has its own implications, including some deaths. It is a dilemma. Fortunately we have Donald Trump responsible for any decisions.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Yes, Barack...Donald Trump is a fascist but not a Fascist, a paleoconservative not a conservative

Donald Trump is an American paleoconservative republican (not a republican conservative) which falls under the generic ideological umbrella of fascism (small-f).

In the previous post, it is noted that Bernie Sanders is self-declared democratic socialist (not a social democrat) which falls under the generic ideological umbrella of communism (small-c).

The problem with describing Trump as a "small-f" fascist is he has never described himself as an American paleoconservative republican though based upon the actions of his Administration clearly he is, which blended with his rhetoric indicates he is a  "small-f" fascist.

During the 2016 then-President Obama privately told Virginia Senator Tim Kaine: "Tim, this is no time to be a purist. You’ve got to keep a fascist out of the White House." Publicly journalists, correspondents, and pundits argued that year and since over whether Trump is a fascist.

For instance, in a May 2019 article This is how fascism comes to America neoconservative historian and foreign-policy commentator Robert Kagen began:

    The Republican Party’s attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic. If only he would mouth the party’s “conservative” principles, all would be well.
    But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology....
    ...We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up.

Almost instantly we had a responsive story by Dylan Matthews of Vox telling us:

    Kagan is wrong. Donald Trump is not a fascist. "Fascism" has been an all-purpose insult for many years now, but it has a real definition, and according to scholars of historical fascism, Trump doesn't qualify. Rather, he's a right-wing populist, or perhaps an "apartheid liberal" in the words of Roger Griffin, author of The Nature of Fascism. He doesn't want to overthrow the existing democratic system. He doesn't want to scrap the Constitution. He doesn't romanticize violence itself as a vital cleansing agent of society. He's simply a racist who wants to keep the current system but deny its benefits to groups he's interested in oppressing.

The problem can be summarized as the difference between that first letter, a "small-f". Like "communism" there is a generic minimal commonality we look for in a government to detect the presence of "small-f" fascism. And then there are fully implemented national governments, Communist or Fascist, which when each is studied have significant and confusing differences from other Communist or Fascist  national governments.

So in one sense journalists were, and still are, arguing past each other because they didn't have a common definition.

Of course in May 2016 nobody knew what Trump was because President Trump was yet to be. Today, if you ignore the confusion in the press struggling to understand the deliberately confusing rhetoric from Trump, you can see within the actions of his administration much to confirm an ongoing implementation of American paleoconservative republican political ideology (in addition to official implementations of attacks on "others").

The confusion lies in the fact that within the United States there are republican conservatives and paleoconservative republicans. Generally little public discussion about the differences occurs.

Republican conservatives advocate
  • respect for American traditions and exceptionalism,
  • republicanism stressing liberty and unalienable individual rights as central values while rejecting direct democracy,
  • moral universalism based on Christian values,
  • capitalism facilitated by government policy, and
  • government defense against threats posed by socialism, authoritarianism, and moral relativism.
Paleoconservative republicans advocate
  • ultranationalism embracing in law the aspects that characterize and distinguish the United States as an autonomous political community including a common language and shared cultural traditions reinforced by restrictions on immigration,
  • regionalism based upon states' rights as expressed in the 10th Amendment including the decentralization of government social policy which with regional differences should favor paternalism and Christian traditionalism while limiting multicultural programs,
  • economic nationalism through federal policy and treaties limiting free trade, establishing tariffs, and implementing protectionism, while facilitating capitalism by assuring the unrestricted ease of interstate commerce and facilitating workers sharing generally in business profits through stock ownership,
  • noninterventionism in the conduct of American foreign policy, limiting the size of military commitments outside the United States,
  • cohesiveness among individuals and prioritization of the group over the self in order to defend and to sustain ultranationalism, economic nationalism, regionalism, and noninterventionism.
With these definitions in mind, let's take a look at the confusion around facism.

Within the academic community "small-c" communism has been identified separately from Stalinist and Maoist implementations of "large-c" Communist states. But within the academic community "small-f" fascism has regularly been confused with the rhetoric and actions of Italy's Mussolini, Spain's Franco, and even Germany's Hitler. Trump has even played rhetorically with Mussolini generating in 2016 this headlines Trump explains tweeting Mussolini quote.

Here is the generalized definition of "fascism" as an umbrella that includes paleoconservative republicanism:

Small-f fascism is military-style authoritarian ultranationalism (a) supporting national economic self-sufficiency and productive capitalism and opposing international free market capitalism, (b) advocating resolution of class conflict within a nation through imposed state mediation in order to secure national solidarity, and (c) favoring the proletarian class over the bourgeois, a perspective that associates all people as being proletarian who are deemed by the state as productive of material wealth, including entrepreneurs, technicians, workers and soldiers.

In this post all of the actions of the Trump Administration are not going to be analyzed in the context of paleoconservative republicanism or fascism. But one term needs to be explained relative to President Trump,  "military-style authoritarian." We will do that in the context of the position known as the Attorney General of the United States.

Trump and most Americans share confusion about departments and officers of the United States government. There is thinking that the Constitution specifically provides for departments and officers under the control of the President, including the Attorney General.

Actually, Article I Section 8 empowers Congress to "make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." In other words, Congress was to set the rules related to the operation of departments and department heads.

Article II Section 2 provides that the President "may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices." So the President can demand the written opinion of departments heads on any subject related to their jobs, including the Attorney General. That's the limit of the President's Constitutional authority to make demands on department heads.

That Section also provides that the President "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States." But Article II Section 4 of the Constitution provides that the "President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" by Congress.

Literally the Attorney General works for the United States, not the President. Literally, the President cannot fire the Attorney General, only ask for a resignation.

Those are the Constitutional provisions regarding the officers and departments.

Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789 which, among other things, established the Office of the Attorney General. The original duties of this officer were "to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments".

The Department of Justice was established in 1870 to support the Attorneys General in the discharge of their responsibilities.

Not envisioned in all this was some military-style authoritarian chain-of-command structure with the President at the top. Only the military itself is specifically "under" the President.

Our founding fathers feared a military-style authoritarian Executive Branch. By military-style authoritarian we mean a form of government characterized by strong power structure in which power rests with a small number of people controlled by a dominant leader and including:
  • Limited political pluralism, realized with constraints on the legislature, political parties, and interest groups;
  • Political legitimacy based upon appeals to emotion, and identification of the regime as a necessary evil to combat "easily recognizable societal problems, such as underdevelopment, and insurgency";
  • nominally democratic institutions, such as political parties, legislatures and elections, which are managed to  minimize political mobilization and suppress of anti-regime activities with the goal to entrench authoritarian rule;
  • Ill-defined executive powers, often vague and shifting, which extends the power of the executive who is the dominant leader.
As expressed by Trump such a system depends upon the threat of violence from the military, police, and biker groups.

Every indication is Donald Trump's ideological preference for government, our government is that of a paleoconservative republican/fascist.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Yes, Donald...Bernie Sanders is a communist but not a Communist, a Marxist but not a Leninist

At a rally in Cleveland on March 12, 2016, then primary candidate Donald Trump noted that Bernie Sanders is a communist:

   " Hillary cannot seem to win, even against a communist," Trump marveled. He said it's a wonder how "in our great, great world that a communist cannot be beaten by Hillary Clinton. It’s terrible."

    Trump added, "Wouldn’t it be fun to meet Bernie in the finals."

Fast foward to February 2, 2020, now-President Trump in a pre-Super Bowl interview said:

    “I think he’s a communist. I mean, you know, look, I think of communism when I think of Bernie.”

    “Now, you could say socialist, but didn’t he get married in Moscow? I think of Bernie sort of as a socialist but far beyond a socialist. At least he’s true to what he believes.”

A week later, we were offered this:

    “Obviously I am not a communist,” Sanders told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that Trump “maybe doesn’t know the difference.”
    Sanders has described himself as a "democratic socialist."
    Sanders also said Trump was a “pathological liar” for suggesting that he got “married in Moscow.” Sanders said he was in Russia to participate in a sister city program.

This week Washington Post Columnist Megan McArdle offered an opinion in Bernie Sanders is not just a garden-variety social democrat:

    The world of comic books, in which characters are constantly dying and being revived or reinvented for a new legion of fans, eventually had to invent a concept known as the “retcon” — short for “retroactive continuity.”
    You’ll have noticed the phenomenon in film and television even if you never knew its name: “retconning” means altering an already-established past story line, to cover up growing plot holes or simply to free an author to craft a more enjoyable narrative in the present, one unhindered by the back catalogue.
    The term has obvious applications to modern politics. As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) looks increasingly likely to win the Democratic nomination, left-of-center people are anxious to downgrade Sanders’s self-described socialism into something more politically palatable — like Great Society liberalism, or perhaps, at maximum, a Nordic-style welfare state.
    In this, they struggle with an inconveniently well-documented Early Bernie Sanders, with his calls to nationalize “utilities, banks and major industries,“ his kind words for left-wing dictatorships, and his “very strange honeymoon” in the U.S.S.R. — where he blasted U.S. foreign policy before returning home to say “Let’s take the strengths of both systems. … Let’s learn from each other.”
    One should be forgiven almost any number of youthful flirtations with bad ideology. But Sanders was in his early 40s when he went gaga for Nicaragua’s brutal Sandinista regime, and 46 during his sojourn on the Volga. In February 2019, when he was refusing to describe Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro as a “dictator,” Sanders was 77.

And so here we are in February 2020 about to confront the truth about Bernie, the truth explained here on Monday, May 23, 2016, in So Bernie-the-Stalinist has been vetted and would do well against Donald in swing states like Ohio?.

Of course Bernie is not a Stalinist. He and his supporters try to sell him as a "democratic socialist" sorta, kinda like a member of the British Labour Party. Fortunately for them, about 99% of Americans know nothing about the Labour Party. Notice the italics-added detail in the Wikipedia description:

    The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists.

You see, there are social democrats and then there are democratic socialists and they are not the same. Bernie says he is a democratic socialist. So let's look at the two terms as they are explained in the Wikipedia entries linked above:

Social democrats advocate social democracy, a political, social and economic philosophy that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a liberal democratic polity and a capitalist-oriented economy. The protocols and norms used to accomplish this involve a commitment to representative and participatory democracy, measures for income redistribution, regulation of the economy in the general interest and social welfare provisions. It
  • aims to create the conditions for capitalism to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian and solidaristic outcomes;
  • is characterized by a commitment to policies aimed at curbing inequality, eliminating oppression of underprivileged groups and eradicating poverty as well as support for universally accessible public services like care for the elderly, child care, education, health care and workers' compensation.
That is not Bernie. Bernie insists he is democratic socialist.

Democratic socialists advocate democratic socialism, a political philosophy supporting political democracy within a socially owned economy, with a particular emphasis on workers' self-management and democratic control of economic institutions within a market socialist economy or some form of a decentralized planned socialist economy. Democratic socialists argue that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the values of freedom, equality and solidarity and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society. Although most democratic socialists seek a gradual transition to socialism, democratic socialism can support either revolutionary or reformist politics as means to establish socialism.

Unfortunately for Bernie, democratic socialism falls clearly within Wikipedia's initial broad definition of  small-c communism as, "a philosophical, social, political and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is a socioeconomic order structured upon the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money and the state."

In other words, Trump is correct when he says about Bernie: "I think of communism when I think of Bernie.... I think of Bernie sort of as a socialist but far beyond a socialist. At least he’s true to what he believes."

When confronted with a social democrat ally, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, telling the HuffPost that a worst-case scenario with Sanders in the White House is a compromise on health care that ends up adding a public option, Bernie objected outlining his democratic socialist (communist) proposal as explained in Politico:

    “But my view is that Medicare for All, the bill that we wrote, is in a sense already a compromise,” Sanders said.
    He added that the proposal has a four-year transition period that would bring down the age required for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55 to 45 to 35.
    “And then we cover everybody,” Sanders said. “No more premiums. No more co-payments. No more deductibles. No more out-of-pocket expenses. And we’re gonna fund it publicly, and, for the average American, it will be a significant, significant reduction in his or her health care costs.”

This writer has on more than one occasion suggested that dropping the age requirement in Medicare might be the only real solution to the health care problem. But Sanders failed to say what needed to be said - no more health insurance companies and all medical providers of all kinds will be controlled by a federal government-controlled bureaucracy. And that is clearly not the only way social democrats might provide universally accessible health care. But it is the only way a democratic socialist (small-c communist) would address the subject...and most other subjects.

The differences between all the socialism, communism, and Communism. It's complicated. With The passage of time much seems to get lost, particularly the simplest of facts that could inform us.

Most do not know that Lenin was 13 the year Marx died - they weren't buddies, they lived totally different lives in totally different times. Marx was a German philosopher, a theorist living in Britain. Lenin was a Russian revolutionary who wrote some ideas adapting Marxist theory to support a violent revolution. Marx was a small "c" communist, Lenin was a large "C" Communist, the ideology that permeated a nation-state, the Soviet Union.

Marx built on and critiqued the most well-known political economists of his day, the British classical capitalist economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo.

According to orthodox Marxist theory, the overthrow of capitalism by socialists in contemporary society is inevitable. Marxists believe that a socialist society is far better for the majority of the populace than its capitalist counterpart.

The German Ideology, a set of manuscripts written by Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) in 1846 but not published until 1932, explores the reality that in ruling the material force of society, the ruling class is simultaneously the ruling intellectual force of society.

The ruling class controls the production and distribution of ideas of their age. As the ruling class changes with time, so too do the ideals and the new ruling class must instill upon its society its own ideas which will become universal.

The ruling ideas are thought to be the universal interest. However, it is an illusion that the ideas of the ruling class are the communal interests. This system will forever remain in place so long as society is organized around the need for a ruling class. In other words, communal interests must be organized around the community at large.  A thoughtful, though perhaps quaint, mid-19th Century take on the world.

In the 20th century, Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) developed Leninism. an adaptation of Marxism to the socio-economic and political conditions of Imperial Russia (1721–1917). This body of theory later became the official ideology of some Communist states.

In his 1917 publication in The State and Revolution Lenin explicitly discusses the practical implementation of "dictatorship of the proletariat" through means of violent revolution. Lenin further explained: "Dictatorship does not necessarily mean the abolition of democracy for the class that exercises the dictatorship over other classes; but it does mean the abolition of democracy (or very material restriction, which is also a form of abolition) for the class over which, or against which, the dictatorship is exercised."

Bernie is stuck on the Marxist thoughtful, though perhaps quaint, mid-19th Century take on the world. So are a fair number of college students in each generation, including today.

But most Americans are not comfortable with the democratic socialist take, though they are accepting of the need for some action consistent with social democracy. The problem is Bernie, by his own adamant insistence,  wants us all to know he is a democratic socialist which unfortunately means he is a small-c communist.

Polling indicates Bernie has a fair chance to become the Democratic Presidential nominee.

If Trump doesn't shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, or maybe even if he does, the path is pretty clear for hiim to beat Bernie. At least in the America I think I understand.

Monday, February 17, 2020

About the frustrated feelings of lefty Democratic ideologues regarding Mike Bloomberg's rise

Many California Democrats recently received the above mailer. The 2020 California Democratic primary will take place on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, one of 14 contests scheduled on what is referred to as Super Tuesday.

Bloomberg is on the ballot. Apparently he's for Quality Healthcare, Climate Action, World-Class Schools, and Gun Safety. So am I. And he says he "got it done." Hmmm

As noted here previously in It's hard not to endorse Michael Bloomberg if you believe the climate crisis - without the fog of asperational socialism - is the issue that matters. Bloomberg is a national leader in battling the climate crisis and has put his money where his beliefs are.

Regarding "Gun Safety" Bloomberg is the founder of Everytown for Gun Safety. Per Wikipedia:

    Everytown for Gun Safety is an American nonprofit organization which advocates for gun control and against gun violence. Everytown was created in 2013 when Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America joined forces. Everytown for Gun Safety is largely financed by Michael Bloomberg, who also founded the group.

As noted by CNBC Mike Bloomberg’s gun-control group just vastly outspent the NRA to help Democrats win in Virginia

Regarding the statement about his role as New York's Mayor in "Quality Healthcare" the best review is that in PolitiFact's Bloomberg on health care: Translating his mayoral record to the national stage.

We also have the statement about his role as New York's Mayor in "World Class Schools" including "raising teachers salaries 43% and graduation rates 42%." Regarding graduation rates and claims about minority students, the best review is that in PolitiFact's review which set the meter at mostly true. Regarding teachers salaries, one source explains:

    No one drew Bloomberg’s ire more than the United Federation of Teachers. At first, he worked collaboratively with the union, arriving at a contract agreement well ahead of schedule that boosted base pay by 43 percent. The longest-serving teachers could now earn more than $100,000.
    But that was the last contract they agreed to. Moving forward, virtually every piece of Bloomberg’s agenda stoked outrage from the teachers union, which he once likened to the National Rifle Association.
    He proposed a simple eight-page contract to replace the UFT’s doorstop-sized agreement, pushed for merit pay — a third rail for the union — and mused about firing half of the city’s teachers.

Further if you Google StudentsFirstNY Bloomberg you can read more about Bloomberg's education policies.

Essentially, Bloomberg has a defensible record regarding Quality Healthcare, Climate Action, World-Class Schools, and Gun Safety. No other Democrat running in the Democratic primaries has any kind of record on these and other subjects that even approaches that of Mike Bloomberg. That, of course, is a potential problem because Bloomberg held the top position in a government providing a myriad of services and policies to 8 million diverse people and therefore made some mistakes.

In The Philadelphia Inquirer this week the national opinion columnist Will Bunch expressed his frustration he and other lefty ideological Democrats are feeling regarding Mike Bloomberg.

Before discussing that, it should be made clear that in January Bunch indicated his intention "to vote for Warren when the primaries come to Pennsylvania in late April, because I think she’d be a tad better than Sanders at getting progressive things done and because I see my vote as a statement against the fear and misogyny that grip America."

Ironically, in the article linked above Bunch wrote how unfair it was for pundits to compare Sanders with Trump just because both are catering to the more ideologically committed populist wings of their respective parties.

In this week's article he compares Bloomberg to Trump in campaign style because Bloomberg is spending money in a sophisticated way which is leading to a time when "all future presidents will be decided by who has the hippest Instagram memes or the cruelest Twitter putdowns, paid for either by the obscene personal wealth of sweatshop capitalism or by selling out to the highest bidder, even if that’s a foreign adversary like Russia." In using "sweatshop capitalism" Bunch clearly lets his commitment to anti-capitalist leftist ideology take over.

And yet, Bunch offers us this:

    But Bloomberg seems to be playing chess while the other Democrats are jumping slowly around a checkerboard, one square at a time. In the large March primary states where Bloomberg is first competing, he’s already moving into the lead — with a lot of room for growth if Biden, who was the front-runner in these states, continues to fade and if those Facebook, radio and TV ads keep coming. He already leads in Florida, a big state that votes March 17, and in Arkansas, one of a number of March 3 Super Tuesday states where Bloomberg has been campaigning while the other Democrats clubbed each other in Iowa and New Hampshire.
    His campaign’s unconventional late-entry strategy has so far kept him off the debate stage, where Bloomberg would have to defend his record as mayor and businessman, while swamping the ad market where he fully controls the message. And — contrary to the conventional wisdom of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other moderate Dems that voters only want to hear about health care — Bloomberg’s message is what folks really want to hear, which is getting in the face and under the skin of their tribal enemy, Trump.
    Last week, Bloomberg probably gained five more points in the polls by giving it back to the president — who’s been tweeting a lot about his former golf partner, calling him “mini Mike” even though Bloomberg isn’t that short — and attacking him on Twitter as a “carnival barking clown." Even some who’ve been cynical about the (real) billionaire’s campaign cheered his New York chutzpah. Maybe Democrats don’t really want to talk about Pell grants; they just want to see The Apprentice crushed in the November sweeps.

I don't know about other Democrats, but for this writer Bunch is correct that we experienced Democrats "just want to see The Apprentice crushed in the November sweeps." Beating Trump is all there is when looking at the Democratic primary candidates.

It is foolishness to make choices on such things as Presidential candidates talking about Pell Grants, a federal grant program for college students named for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (RI),. Virtually no on knows if and when significant changes can be made to college funding because it is Congress - Representatives and Senators hence Pell's name on the program - that establishes and funds such programs, not the President.

It's not that this writer intends to vote for Bloomberg on March 3. It is a decision that need not be made until March 3.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The promise of 5G, whether real or not, has been delayed by the diseases Coronavirus and Trump

This past week the GMSA announced the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress 2020 which was to have been held in Barcelona between February 24th and the 27th. Fear of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) prompted the cancellation. Everyone has read all the news reports about the cancellation, but we'll recap the story.

The GSM Association with its Head Office located in London (commonly referred to as the GSMA and originally Groupe Spécial Mobile) is a mobile network operators industry organization that represents the interests of 750 worldwide mobile operators members and 400 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem associate members.

The annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the chance for thousands to gather for partnerships, deals, and product launches. All of the Chinese major smartphone brands were to appear at the MWC 2020.  But then South Korea's LG pulled out of MWC earlier this month, and China's ZTE canceled a planned press event expressing Coronavirus fears.

Sweden's Ericsson, one of the largest exhibitors at MWC and one of two 5G equipment manufacturers outside of China, also withdrew from the show followed by Finland's Nokia, the other 5G equipment manufacturers outside of China. Nvidia, Intel, Vivo, Sony, Amazon, Cisco, BT, and NTT Docomo and many others all followed.

The implementation of 5G technology has become controversial. Last February the post here 5G Technology: it may start a world war, it won't be available to all, you don't need it, it is important to corporate interests and government. Why is that? explained the absurdity of the Trump Administration's viral attack on Europe and the rest of the world over 5G implementation.

The two viral attacks, COVID-19 and TRUMP-2020, have seriously impeded the implementation of 5G, not that it matters to most of us.

The consulting firm McKinsey & Company analyzed the investment cost versus benefit of 5G rollout and cautioned against jumping in with both feet. While Telecom companies "know that it will open opportunities to capture value from new 5G use cases and widespread adoption of the internet of Things (IoT) ... they are keenly aware that they'll have to increase their infrastructure investments in this technology. Meanwhile, operators will still have to upgrade their 4G networks to cope with growing demand. In an analysis of one European country, we predicted that network-related capital expenditures would have to increase 60 percent from 2020 through 2025, roughly doubling total cost of ownership (TCO) during that period."

Still, the delay of the implementation of 5G industrial processing control applications outside of China should be a concern.

What should be of even greater concern to Congress and the President is why no American company took on the challenge of designing and manufacturing 5G equipment. Oh, wait. from an April 24, 2008 NASA news release:

    MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and m2mi Corp., Moffett Field, Calif., announced Thursday they are taking a revolutionary step forward in improving telecommunications and networking....
    Under the agreement, NASA and m2mi will cooperate to develop a fifth generation telecommunications and networking system for Internet protocol-based and related services. The cooperative effort will combine NASA's expertise in nanosensors, wireless networks and nanosatellite technologies with m2mi's unique capabilities in software technology, sensors, global system awareness, adaptive control and commercialization capabilities. Fifth Generation, or 5G, incorporates Voice Over Internet Protocol, video, data, wireless, and an integrated machine-to-machine intelligence layer, or m2mi, for seamless information exchange and use.
    "This initiative shows great promise in revolutionizing mobile communications critical in meeting future needs," said Badri Younes, NASA deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation. "This project also will leverage m2mi's capabilities in software expertise to automate global system awareness and provide intelligent adaptive control."

Machine-to-Machine Intelligence (M2Mi) Corp. is currently located in Mountain View, California.

This whole subject area is, of course, intensively explored in the 2020 Presidential and Congressional campaigns along with the climate crisis because unlike health care insurance and free college they will significantly impact the lives of those in the Millennial and GenZ generations, the people known as children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to the rest of us.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Ignorant pro-tariff Republicans gave us The Great Depression and the carnage and devestation of WWII. The voting public loved them in 1929.

Almost a century before Trump, the League of Nations' World Economic Conference met at Geneva in 1927. Its final report stated: "the time has come to put an end to tariffs, and to move in the opposite direction." Nonetheless, a Republican Congress led by Reed Smoot and Willis C. Hawley locked the world into a nationalist economic agenda. The Tariff Act of 1930, commonly known as the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act, was the second highest tariff increase in United States history.1

In the 1928 presidential election, soon-to-become-President Herbert Hoover (who had never held an elected office!) promised to help farmers by increasing tariffs on imported agricultural products. After winning, Hoover asked Congress to implement his promise.

Reed Smoot was a Republican from Utah and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Willis Hawley, a Republican from Oregon, was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Four months before the 1929 economic crash beginning The Great Depression, in May 1929 with Hawley leading the way the House passed a bill increasing tariffs on both agricultural and industrial goods. With The Great Depression under way, the Senate debated its bill until March 1930 when it adopted its version. A conference committee unified the two versions, largely by raising tariffs to the higher levels in the House bill. The bill was signed by President Herbert Hoover on June 17, 1930.

Some statistics from around that time seem as if they might be related to the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act:
  • In 1929 when Hoover was sworn in and prior to the September market crash, the unemployment rate in the United States was 3.2%. 
  • In 1930, the first year of The Great Depression the unemployment rate was 8.7%. 
  • By 1932, the year Hoover, Smoot, and Hawley lost their reelection bids, the unemployment rate was 23.6%. 
  • In 1933 it reached 24.9%. 

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Congress passed Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934. But retaliation by other countries and the further growth of nationalism around the world had its continuing impact. U.S. unemployment remained above 15% until WWII when about 16 million Americans began serving in the U.S. military out of about 85 million of working age. With about 20% of the work force in the military, the need to expand war related production resulted in an unemployment rate below 2%  in 1943 through 1945.

History does not literally repeat itself, common belief notwithstanding. Trump did not implement his tariffs at the beginning of a depression. But nationalism has a way of ending up in economic disruption and war. It's just difficult to predict what events will occur that will impact the world and how trends will exacerbate or ameliorate the impact of those events.

What we do know Climate Change, more correctly viewed by humans as a global climate crisis, is occurring. As noted in previous posts, agencies of the United States government and the Chinese government have accepted as inevitable a near-maximum catastrophic impact from Climate Change. A May 2018 Chinese study corresponds to July 2018 official projections accepted and published by the Trump Administration.

Of course, almost no living person in the Baby Boom generation (or older) will be alive to experience the full catastrophic impact even in the earliest year of the Chinese models - 2064. And at least half of the Gen X generation will be gone before the Chinese model "most likely" full catastrophic impact year - 2084.

Climate Change is not the only trend with significant potential to exacerbate or ameliorate the impact of future events. As noted in the previous post, "space-based economies" are evolving around the world with varying mixes of private sector and national governments participation.

Donald Trump pushed for, and got, a Space Force in the American military. Of course the Chinese People's Liberation Army has both a rocket force – the strategic and tactical missile operator – and a strategic support force, which is in charge of cyber, space, and electronic warfare. (Fortunately, neither chose to name a military branch Starfleet.)

So what can be the expected result of mixing into all this Trump's nationalist economic agenda? A 21st Century world wide economic collapse? A 21st Century world war? History does not literally repeat itself, so we don't know. Could there be a war in space over the vagaries of space-based economies?

One thing we should know. In a world threatened by a climate crisis resulting from world-wide human behaviors and with nations establishing space warfare military branches in the context of private sector expansion into space, nationalism is even less desirable and more dangerous than it was when Hoover, Smoot, and Hawley pretended they understood what was best for the next decade.

Even the right-wing conservative Washington Examiner noted; "The Trump administration is scheduled to raise tariffs on Chinese imports on Sunday to rates not seen since the notorious Smoot-Hawley tariffs enacted in 1930."

The sad thing is the voting public loved the nationalist pro-tariff rhetoric of Hoover, Smoot, and Hawley in 1929 set in a context of expanding nationalist sentiment world wide. Today the voting public loves the nationalist pro-tariff rhetoric of Trump Republicans set in a context of expanding nationalist sentiment world wide.

History does not literally repeat itself, but....


  1. It should be noted that the tariff proposals came at the end of a decade that began with the U.S. Senate's failure to ratify The Treaty of Versailles ending WWI and a reassertion of nativist and inward-looking isolationist policy supported by the rise of The Irreconcilables.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Space is becoming mainstream as space-based economies have ceased to be science fiction.

For fun this aging blogger gets email from Access Intelligence, LLC., a group that creates conferences, meetings, whatever. It keeps me aware of what an old retired guy would otherwise not know is going on. I don't go to the events, I just read about them.

One of their conferences is called CyberSatCom which this year will be held May 13-15. One item on the agenda caught my eye:
As space becomes more mainstream, space-based economies are no longer the stuff of science fiction, and new industries are starting to emerge. We’ll take a deep dive into the potential of areas such as energy from space, drug manufacturing from space, asteroid mining, and strive to answer the question “how do we create a more secure space environment?”​
We all know that Elon Musk's SpaceX, Richard Branson's OneWeb, and Jeff Bezos' Kuiper are moving the low earth orbit satellite concept from "interesting idea" to implementation. But "space-based economies" is a broader concept that for me was limited to the scifi show "The Expanse" on Amazon

I guess being a member of the "Silent Generation" one other agenda item tells me where I stand time-wise:
Generation Z and Millennials have been raised in an “always connected” world, and they are next in line to make sure satellite and space assets stay secure. How are the next generation preparing for the cyber security world and what do they see as future threats in the space environment? Join students and young professionals as they discuss their views on challenges, cyber threats and the general landscape of the future space environment.​
I know I will not, and would not want to, live to be 105. But despite having to experience more of the climate crisis, space-based economies may be the one new trend I would like to watch evolve over the next 30 years - although "The Expanse" isn't such a bad way to speculate about it.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

More imaginary threats from the Peoples Republic of China in the world According to Trumpists


We all should have many concerns about the policies and practices of the Trump Republicans in the Administration and in Congress.

Most certainly the Trump Administration has successfully initiated a process to systematically end all federal regulatory efforts to minimize the impacts of American economic habits on the environment. This is being done to maximize the profits of traditional American companies such as coal and oil companies. This will have, indeed already has had, a long term negative impact on Climate Change.

But sometimes it is difficult to understand what the long-term goal is as reflected in statements made by Trump Administration officials. One of those puzzles is the constantly repeated statements expressing threats, mostly imaginary, America faces from China.

This past week Attorney General William P. Barr repeated the warning that allowing China to establish dominance of 5G telecommunications networks was a “monumental danger” as Beijing could use the technology for monitoring and surveillance. However, according to Barr the threat is much worse than that.

“Our economic future is at stake,”  Barr said in a speech delivered during a conference in Washington on threats that China poses to the United States. “The risk of losing the 5G struggle with China should vastly outweigh other considerations.”

Well, it is true that China's dominance of 5G is a temporary risk. After all, China’s science and technology ministry announced in November that it has formed two teams to oversee the research and study of 6G, marking the official start of a state-backed effort to accelerate the development of the technology. One team consists of government departments who will be in charge of pushing through the execution of 6G technology, while the other consists of 37 experts from universities, science institutions and corporations, who will provide technical advice for the government’s major decisions on 6G.

Not Barr nor any other Trump Administration Official has proposed chunking up a few billion dollars for a similar 6G program in the U.S. even though no U.S. firm manufactures 5G equipment.

But perhaps the most amusing anti-Chinese publicity, because of the sheer stupidity it reflects, is that this past week 35 Republican senators and representatives wrote to Barr demanding that the China Daily newspaper be investigated and labelled a foreign agent. They called on the Department of Justice to “clamp down on Chinese propaganda”, investigate the media organisation’s “important role in China’s foreign disinformation campaign” and address its “repeated violations” of a US law requiring that foreign lobbyists register and provide detailed reports on their financial activities.

From Wikipedia: "China Daily is an English-language daily newspaper owned by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China and published in the People's Republic of China." Of course, it's as source of Chinese Communist Party propaganda. Who would see it any other way?  Oh well, Congress has nothing important to do....

It appears that the basic fear of China is that their economic power is growing compared to the U.S. But that's not reflective of the truth. As explained here last April:

Then there is the idea that we're in a competition with China to remain the world's economic leader. China and the U.S. already share the status of having the world's largest economy....

Apparently this makes some American competitive-Type-A personalities nervous. It shouldn't. Let's just say for argument's sake that that the U.S. and China were to have the same size economy - GDP measured in money. China has four times the population as the United States. So in our hypothetical situation of same size economies, China's economy on a per-capita basis is one-fourth that of the U.S. China has a long ways to go to be competitive with the United States, unless of course we make our own economy collapse...which is possible.

It's difficult to understand why Barr, who is a grandfather, sees China and 5G as the important subject. While Barr is worth around $40 million he is not a billionaire. How he envisions the lives of his grandchildren in a 2070 world amid the climate crisis he did nothing to prevent is hard to imagine.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

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

"I think he’s a communist. I mean, you know, look, I think of communism when I think of Bernie," Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview that aired prior to Super Bowl LIV.

Because of Trump's comment, this May 23, 2016 post is being repeated to remind Democrats just how vulnerable Sanders is. In my  humble opinion, in a one-on-one contest for President there is a good chance I could beat Bernie. I have no doubt that, unless he shoots someone's grandma in the middle of Fifth Avenue, Trump can beat Bernie.

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 forward.com 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.

The headlines should have been about Mayor Pete Buttigieg winning (nearly?) in Iowa. They weren't.

Did you know that going into the Iowa Democratic Caucuses that almost everyone - polls, pundits, reporters, etc. - expected Pete Buttigieg to run fourth behind Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, and more or less tied with Amy Klobuchar? Well, everyone but Buttigieg.

Did you know that it appears that Pete Buttigieg (aka Mayor Pete) likely will get the same number of delegates from Iowa as Bernie Sanders because they are more-or-less tied for first?

If you didn't know, it isn't surprising. Mayor Pete should have been the headline. But because of some snafu in the Iowa system, he wasn't. Or maybe because he is centrist and gay, the press doesn't consider him a viable candidate.

All of it just reminds me of the weirdness of the Democratic Party Presidential Candidate selection system.

And it reminds me of the resentment Californians feel every four years. The New Hampshire primary is next. Really? There are 8 counties in California larger than New Hampshire and 3 counties in California larger than Iowa. Both New Hampshire and Iowa are 90% non-Hispanic white while California is 38% non-Hispanic white. And then there is this:

Still it is interesting. Mayor Pete is the most capable of the Presidential candidates who were considered in the Iowa Caucuses. He's smart, well-spoken, well-educated, a veteran, and not at risk of senility in the next four years.

Folks in Iowa must have been aware that Mayor Pete is a Millennial. Sanders and Biden are members of the Silent Generation. Warren and Klobuchar are Baby Boomers. There are no GenX-er's in that group which is just wrong. Clearly, Mayor Pete is young. If elected he would be four years younger than Jack Kennedy was in his first year of office.

Mayor Pete is considered unelectable because he's gay. Of course, Kennedy was considered unelectable because he was Catholic.

As a member of the Slient Generation, I just might vote for Mayor Pete. We members of the Silent Generation are too old.