Political Kool Aid and Pisa

There’s no “good news” in politics today.

Doesn’t matter where one looks, or reads, or listens, the social and news media can only comment on strife and division. They only see life through political eyeglasses.

And the “deliverables” from the American political process are tainted or adulterated or poisoned. Legislation is full of favors and gifts and each is poisonous to the US budget and deficit.

And as for politicians, poisonous accusations abound. There is haint with the taint. (The word haint was historically used in African-American vernacular to refer to a witch-like creature seeking to chase victims to their death by exhaustion.[4][5] The accusations are exhausting!)

There is poison in the political Kool Aid. How much will you drink when you are told to drink from the glass, shut your mouth, and look the other way?

Do you drink Red Kool Aid or Blue Kool Aid? Do you lean left or right?

The Leaning Tower of Pisa leans both ways depending upon where you stand. America leans in the same way. Depending upon where one stands, America is left-leaning or right-leaning. Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa built on soft land, America was built on the soft land of people rather than the hard land of history. The Constitution is a heavy monument to the best in humankind. Unfortunately, soft people have settled over the past two hundred and fifty years and the Constitution now leans.

People wonder why the Constitution has not already toppled. Two political parties intend to bend American government to fit their agenda. The tilt of the Constitution increases relative to the observers but in no way does it straighten itself.

To prevent the Constitution from toppling, engineers are needed to strengthen it . It can never be completely upright again but the lean (from both perspectives) must stop or it will topple.

Where are the engineers and who will let them be about the business of shoring up the Constitution to offset the settling of the people?

Wherever they are, don’t let them drink the Kool Aid.

Social Hypochondria

I admit I still have a vestige of social hypochondria. COVID, Trump, Red vs Blue, robots, budget deficits, police brutality, Children of the Corn (hehehe), zombie vaccinations, etc.

Slate Magazine: Social hypochondria: “As a society, we always seem to be obsessing about some problem like teen-age drinking or child abuse or immigration or cloning, convinced that it will destroy the country or the world unless it is eliminated. The hypochondria analogy isn’t perfect: These diseases tend to be real, not wholly imagined. But a) their perils are exaggerated—at least until they are put aside to make room for other perils; and b) the hope of ever curing them is also exaggerated.”

There is no cure. But how do we discourage decent people from believing all the social media things they encounter?

Truth helps but it is always a complicated truth and, frankly, not everyone is cut out to ferret truth from lies. There are experts out there who find a hot button issue and begin to infect society with an exaggerrated fear. How can a regular person decide if “global warming” deserves all the hyperbole written about it? Or police brutality? Or Aliens in the Arctic?

And yet, ignoring threats isn’t wise either.

Open to your thoughts…

The War on Reputations

There’s a new Civil War in progress and nobody’s winning. This Civil War is all about destroying the reputations of political partys, politicians, news media, government institutions, and ordinary people who have found themselves in extraordinary situations.

This is a many-sided war with battles being fought over the reputations of participants. In politics, it’s about Republicans vs Democrats and who will bend the government to their will while it loots USA national treasure for its party.

Outside of national politics, it’s about the reputations of celebrities, businesses and their leaders, and the burgeoning growth of internet personalities. The destroyers attack the reputations of famous people, the reputations of historical events, and the reputations of religion, morality, and financial institutions. And they especially attack the reputations of hard work, civility, deferred gratification, and common decency.

The weaponization of social media is the suitcase bomb of the 90s. The tools of social media allow everyone to become a potential bomb maker and everyone else a potential bomb thrower. In the hands of irresponsible people, the innocent-and-imperfect are attacked with weapons in which there is no defense. There is no defense from the lies that are told or the misrepresentations of the truth. It is scorched earth warfare.

The War on Reputations is an ugly war. It is anarchy on the internet. A “hater” chooses a target and launches his/her hate bomb. Others pick up the same material and fashion it for their own purpose. When government or businesses attempt to stop the bombmakers, other haters attack those same governments and those same businesses and accuse them of denying free speech or being fascist, communist, anti-this, or a sympathizer for that.

The only way to win this war is either not to play the game (a la War Games) or become totalitarian and control the content. For humankind, it appears that controlling the content is the only viable option. Self-control is preferred but “from the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”

Just as newspapers and magazines controlled the content of their publications, the ISPs may be required to control the content in their e-publications.

Accusations and mudslinging will need an outside force to control them. And that is exactly what many fear.

The legislation that controls the content of the US internet will be foreboding at best; but to live with a free market of smearing, sneering, and fleering seems impossible. To give every person access to social media bomblets and permit the desecration of the innocent-and-imperfect seems too permissive. Not everyone is an adult and not everyone is equal. We should recognize that.

The War on Reputations could use a few Rules of Social Media Warfare and violations of those rules should likely become Social Media War Crimes with attendant consequences. Perhaps a new Geneva Convention is needed to craft those rules.

Any takers?

Save me, please, from the polls

The news media, print or otherwise, love to point to polls and pronounce how 86% of Americans think Donald Trump once walked on water or 72% think Nancy Pelosi is taking America to Hell in her pocket book. Ands then a bunch of Americans drool over the results and poop on the floor like Pavlov’s dogs.

I am simply astonished that so many writers report on poll results when the number of people surveyed is only about a thousand.

Of course, I hear fairly often how accurate polls are and that they have this down to a science. And I sit here wondering how do they know if they are accurate if they never actually measure their results by actually counting? Of course, I know math nerds can do correlation studies related to election polls and actual vote counts and census data for voting districts, blah, blah, blah.

Those kinds of polls are actually measured by the ballot box so they can be determined accurate or not pretty much when the votes are counted. I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about these kinds of things:

a) “Only 31% of all voters think Pelosi should be elected as Speaker when the new Congress begins”, said the poll of 1,995 registered voters.

Excuse me? They asked 1,995 registered voters and extrapolated that to 150 million voters and never tested their results for accuracy? I mean, how could they?

I know, I know, I know already that THEY choose the areas they are going to ask and they choose how many they are going to ask but how do they know they are correct THIS time? 2,000 voters is about 40 from each state and depending upon the voter demographic selected by county or city, these published results may not be correct.

Want an example? Actuarial tables. These tables are used to predict how many living people are going to die in what time period. They are the best they can be because people can matriculate in actuarial science. And yet…they, too, adjust their tables every year to reflect the truth of things. These people make between $150,000 and $200, 000 per year to turn data into insurance dollars and they adjust their tables every year when the results don’t match their predictions across hundreds of millions of datapoints.

So when someone says they surveyed 1,995 people and decided that 50 million people out of 150 million don’t want Pelosi as Speaker, I call horse hockey.

How about this sentence: “Three-fourths of likely US voters reject socialism.”It is amazing that they don’t tell us how many they asked or where they were from. But they do say the choice was between socialism vs free market capitalism. I mean, really? Perhaps it would have helped to explain the difference between the two? And “likely voters”? What’s with that? Why not ask real voters?

So whenever you see these crazy polls that pronounce what everyone likes or dislikes, just forget it. It’s never been tested.

Destroying Democracy to Retain the Presidency

The Trump Campaign is employing three approaches to prevent Joe Biden’s ascendancy to President of the United States. The Trump Campaign takes the approach that the election is illegitimate as a result of the popular vote in sovereign states and by the state electoral college.

Approach # 1 is to challenge all aberrations at the local level and imply there is a conspiracy to steal the election at the state level. IF there is sufficient doubt about the integrity of the election process, the Trump Campaign seeks to have state legislators choose electors to vote for the federal election.

Approach #2 is to challenge any/all changes in the election rules that were implemented due to COVID or to the use of large mail-in voting. This is to restrict the number of ballots to be counted and is considered to be voter suppression.

Approach #3 is to use unprecedented challenges at the federal level to throw the election to the Supreme Court. The fewer the people to influence, the greater the opportunity to win one’s argument.

It is dishonorable to destroy the integrity of the American election process to keep Donald Trump as President.

I predict we will see multiple Republican states take measures to vote by legislature when the election integrity is challenged. I also suspect that the federal government will challenge the Constitution and try to assert control over federal elections instead of allowing the states to control the election.

There are two more months for the Trump Campaign to invoke measures that break the backbone of American Democracy. If they are successful, be prepared for oligarchs to rule America and your only value as a human being is to support the oligarchs.

Portland: Protests vs Riots

I watched about an hour’s worth of Portland videos before writing this only to learn that my thoughts two months ago are still valid today.

a) The daytime protests are in line with non-violent protests I have seen for the past 50 years. Regular people wearing regular clothes singing, carrying signs, shouting their cause through megaphones and at the top of their voices. These are the ones who care passionately about reducing police brutality and preventing the death and injury of people being arrested for a crime.

b) Towards dusk and later, the crowds wear black, they don helmets, they hurl objects, and they attack bystanders as well as police and property. If I were to stereotype the Antifa, the violent people, the destroyers of social order, I would say that if they wear gas masks, wear black, shout their hatred towards the police, and taunt the police, these are the ones I would target for arrest as a police officer assigned to maintain social order.

I read with disgust the statements of Mayor Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, and the Oregon Governor Kate Brown related to the death of a Trump supporter. They blamed the death of a Trump supporter on …the presence of Trump supporters… who the officials say were there to incite violence.

The Trump supporter was shot dead by someone in a red car. This is not intimidation, it is not Trump-oriented violence. It is an occupant of a red car who shot the man as he was walking in the street. The video is on the internet if you look for it.

When I read and hear what the officials of Portland and state government say, I am reminded of the expressions “Well that’s what she gets for dressing like this” and “well, what did you expect being there at that time of night”.

If any one needs to be “woke”, it’s the Mayor, the County Chair, and the governor. The violence does not stop until they make it stop. It is their job to provide for the safety of everyone. They have failed to do that. They are illegitimate as a government.

Trump may not do anything now, but if this is still happening on November 4th after the election, I expect the US Military to be on the streets of Portland to quell the violence. And I expect they will remain until January 20th if Trump is not elected to a second term… and longer if he is.

It is UnReasonable to permit civil unrest for social injustice to exist this long. The Governor, the Mayor, and the County have had four months to craft a new police policy as a way to stop the riots and they have not done a thing. Shame on their leadership. Shame on them.

an idiot speaks

Not me…a different idiot..

“Moreover, free speech has never been more widely available than it is today. So much so that the cacophony of voices liberated by digital media too frequently drowns out well-informed and sensible opinion. Trump, who blurts out several hot takes every day, is himself an example of the verbal incontinence enabled by Twitter in recent years.”

Please don’t be stupid enough to think that Free Speech has anything to do with Twitter and other social media. Your speech may be curtailed by any person, organization, church, or motorcycle club in your neighborhood who chooses to block you from their website, newspaper, podium, or whatever. You do not have the right to have your barbaric yawp printed or distributed by everyone.

Free speech is about what GOVERNMENT cannot do. They cannot stop you from saying cruel and heartless things… unless you advocate insurrection, the overthrow of the government.

Cancel Culture is the negation of public figures by withdrawing support for them, their history, their products, and/or their contributions. This is rejection, not censorship. It is revisionism of the highest order. It is oppression.

I’m beginning to think we live on the island described in Lord of the Flies. You and I and others like us are “Ralph”.

The rest of the world is like Jack’s savages and soon they will be hunting us. They wish to put our heads on a spike because we adhere to morality rather than savagery.

We may need the military to save us. It’s happened before. Different places and different times.

President Trump’s Rushmore Speech

If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s a great speech and except for one swipe at Democrat mayors, it reflects the American character of exceptionalism.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-south-dakotas-2020-mount-rushmore-fireworks-celebration-keystone-south-dakota/

I am thankful I did not see him deliver the speech. It would have ruined it for me. I would have focused on his hubris and his poor character as a human being. He will never measure up to the presidential legacies of those who were carved into the rock behind him. But he did have this one great speech.

After President Trump’s praise of our Founding Fathers, he went on to say:

“Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.

Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities. Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing. They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive. But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them.

The President goes on to say:

“One of their political weapons is “Cancel Culture” — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees.  This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty, must be stopped, and it will be stopped very quickly.  We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children, end this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life.  (Applause.)

In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.  If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished.  It’s not going to happen to us.  (Applause.)

There is a lot of truth in these statements… And a bit of irony that the President fires everyone perceived as disloyal to him while embracing the concept of tolerance for opposing viewpoints.

“Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains.  The radical view of American history is a web of lies — all perspective is removed, every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted, and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged and the record is disfigured beyond all recognition.”

The President goes on to remind everyone about our national heroes.

In all of the bad things we can say about this President, there is this one good speech about America; there is the calling out of a new fascism that seeks to tear the American Dream into shreds and replace it with an American Nightmare. An American Nightmare to scare the innocent, frighten the ignorant, and horrify the rational and reasonable citizens of America.

We are not now and never have been anything but exceptional.

Our country has abandoned its racist past and its misogynist culture.

It has defeated Nazis, Communists, and a variety of totalitarian dictators.

While the embers of these firestorms still glow, the fires have been extinguished. We must continue to be vigilant so they do not re-kindle into a conflagration once again.

While my disdain for President Trump remains high, he will be replaced one day and America will move forward once again to remove the yoke of misery off the shoulders of its citizens and off the world.

It is our legacy and our future as a nation.

Believe in America’s history, believe in its future.

What now?

Now that everyone has had their thirty-days of emotional response to:

(Choose one or more)

a) police brutality

b) the Confederacy that was defeated 150 years ago

c) slavery that was legal and existed in America from 1492 until Juneteenth 1865

d) the lack of government tools to deal with public mental health

e) wearing face masks

f) monument and property destruction

f) all of the above

..perhaps we can go back to being adults again. Hopefully, better adults this time around.

Politicians and social leaders took up the causes of protesters AND tolerated the protest misbehaviors for the most part. While plenty of people decried the violence, the protesters who respected the laws (and the traditional American convention of social protest) were not tarred and feathered with the Anarchists.

Even the rantings of the President of the United States to gin up an authoritarian response were ignored by local politicians. Thank God.

So here we are cleaning up the destruction of property, the leavings of human garbage, the bruising of community relationships, and the re-examination of law-and-order in our political infrastructure.

What happens next?

Will we change our meme as a nation?

Will the restraint demonstrated by local authorities continue?

Will battle lines be re-drawn?

Will we finally defeat our past?

Do Blacks Need More Help to Succeed at Life?

So this morning I’m watching TV and I see a black woman lamenting that black financial consultants at Morgan Stanley were not given enough help and mentoring to succeed in the firm.

Isn’t that amazing? College-educated. Hired into a traditionally white male occupation. In a formerly white male company. But it is not enough.

Black financial consultants need more help in order to be successful.

Really? Are we going to have the argument that equal opportunity is not enough and that, for some unknown reason, blacks must have more help to enjoy equal outcomes?

Sheesh. In competition there are winners and losers. Perhaps she lost because people gave up on her. Perhaps her skill set is not good enough to be top tier. Even white people competing with white people lose. Join the club of hundreds of thousands of white people who fail to make top tier. It happens every day.

Now I see NetFlix is shifting $100 million to black-owned banks to support black communities.

And billionaire Robert Smith proposes all big companies donate 2% of their annual profits to black-owned businesses. “Dear Mr. Smith, perhaps black-owned businesses should make money the old-fashioned way….”

Native Americans in the US must be pissed at the largesse that is handed out to blacks in America. I’m wondering if they should protest and seek equal outcomes for Native Americans in the same manner as Black Americans have received. Native Americans were kicked off their lands and subjugated for more years than black Americans. But who is getting all the attention?

Is this madness ever going to end?