Streep Versus Creep

January 16, 2017 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Meryl Streep, 16 February 2016, usbotschaftberlin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbotschaftberlin/24452956954/

Meryl Streep, 16 February 2016, usbotschaftberlin, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usbotschaftberlin/24452956954/

During the recent Golden Globes ceremony, Meryl Streep described how revolted she had been by Donald Trump’s bullying parody, at a campaign event on November 24, 2015, of Serge Kovaleski, an excellent reporter for the New York Times, who happens to be disabled. An astounding video containing both Trump’s jeering, and Streep’s comment on that jeering, is viewable at the beginning of the online version of Ann Hornaday’s article in the Washington Post about the Golden Globes event. An excellent article by Elahe Izadi and Amy B Wang also contains the video, along with the complete transcript of Meryl Streep’s remarks.

Trump, being Trump, responded by lying, in a tweet, that he hadn’t been jeering at Kovalevski. The video shows clearly that he had been jeering, in exactly the manner of a schoolyard bully. An eye-opening analysis by Glenn Kessler gives the background to Trump’s jeering, and to Trump’s multiple lies about it.

Hornaday notes that Trump’s jeering was “to distract his audience from the fact that Kovaleski caught him in another lie, about Muslim Americans celebrating on Sept. 11, 2001” Glenn Kessler’s article provides abundant evidence confirming Hornaday’s statement. Jeering to distract attention away from Trump’s own lies is a standard Trump tactic.

Hornaday notes that Trump’s tweet also called Steep “an “overrated” actress and “a Hillary flunky””. As was just mentioned, a standard Trump tactic is to smear anyone who points out any of his errors. Another standard Trump tactic is to claim that his critic is an unpopular has-been.

A tweet by a twit,
Who is full of it.
That is, who is full of himself!

Trump’s tweets and his public statements are his way of flailing about against critics, and against inconvenient truths (to use Al Gore’s indispensible phrase).
When Trump senses a threat, verbally he writhes frantically, like a startled snake.

American pipe snake = false coral snake (Anilius scytale).  Photographed 12 December 2007 by DuSantos.

American pipe snake = false coral snake (Anilius scytale). Photographed 12 December 2007 by DuSantos.

Trump flails about because he cannot use logic. He cannot use facts. He has never cared about either logic or facts, so he never learned how to use them.
So Trump has left only bald unsupported assertions.

Trump finds unsupported assertions to be a congenial tool. After all, Trump has a history of pretending to be other people , sometimes “John Miller”, and sometimes “John Barron”. While pretending to be these other people, Trump says about Trump what Trump would like to have had other people say about him. That is a con-man’s tactic.

This is a variant of Trump’s tactic of claiming that un-named “other people say” or “many people say”. Trump ascribes to these invented people the inuendo that Trump wants to plant.

To be charitable about it, Trumps false statements are not always deliberate lies. Sometimes Trump makes an unfounded statement simply because he cannot distinguish how the world is from how he thinks the world ought to be. At any moment, Trump’s idea of how the world ought to be is the same as whatever would have best served Trump’s current purpose. This is a natural confusion for anyone who thinks that the Universe revolves around him. A prime example of this facet of Trump’s fun-house mirror is his habit of asserting that each source that points out his flaws is “failing” or “overated”.

Trump likes to pin disparaging labels on other people to ‘re-frame the discussion’. Sometimes this is simply a smear tactic. At other times, as with Trump’s jeering at Kovalevski, it is a tactic for drawing attention away from a fact or a question that is unfavorable to Trump.
‘Lyin Ted’, ‘Lyin Hillary’ – you get the idea. The smears are rarely founded on fact.

Margaret Sullivan has recently written an incisive overview of Trump’s approach to using lies as a tool.

Since Trump’s labels and tweets are designed to re-direct the conversation, ‘most convenient for Trump’ usually means that Trump’s smears ascribe to Trump’s critics Trump’s own unsavory traits.

A recent example of a different aspect of Trump’s lies is his claim that before his inauguration, Washington DC had run out of inauguration gowns. Trump’s claim was quickly refuted . But Trump didn’t care: he relies on the fact that his original bombastic claim will stick in the mind better than will its later disproof.

When Trump was told about the Putin-authorized spying on him – and the resulting cyber-theft of Trump’s personal and financial data – Trump’s immediate reaction was to deny that it had happenened.

The most charitable way to describe Trump’s tweets and public statements:
Trump gives himself a colonoscopy, and reports what he sees.

Schematic overview of colonoscopy procedure

Schematic overview of colonoscopy procedure

Trump will be the first President in US history to constitute a major security risk.

This is important, so lets consider it further.

Trump finds Putin’s authoritarianism more congenial than the checks and balances of a free society.

Trump doesn’t understand the value of a free society, so he never bothered to understand what is required to sustain a free society.
So Trump does not accept America’s founding ideas.
Trump does not even know what America’s founders sought to accomplish.
Trump mistakenly takes ‘Amass wealth! WIN! WIN!’ to be America’s defining goal.

So Trump does not even know what he should be defending.
That is just part of why he is a security risk.

Trump will be the first President whose loyalty to the United States is questionable.

Trump seems to be more loyal to Putin than to the US. Trump certainly believes Putin more readily than he believes the CIA and the FBI. Trump accepts Putin’s statements immediately, without any scepticism. At first Trump unconditionally rejected the CIA’s and the FBI’s findings – despite the evidence for them. Then he grudgingly accepted some aspects of those findings, again without having any non-subjective basis for rejecting the finding that Putin’s scheme had helped Trump. As Kathleen Parker (a Republican) asks in a valuable op-ed, “Well, didn’t it? Didn’t Trump loudly call upon Russia to hack Clinton’s emails?”  Two valuable op-eds (here and here) by Dana Milbank discuss the bias of Trump and his circle toward Putin.

The only possible conclusion: Trump is more loyal to Trump than to the US.

Trump has no self-control. His fragile self-esteme gives him a thin skin.
When opposed or disparaged he thrashes about defensively.

He deludedly thinks that his gut reactions are better than learning the facts, and are much better than thinking before reacting.

Those are the many other reasons why Trump is a security risk.

Imagine that your job was to vet applicants for security clearances, and to either approve or disapprove their applications.

Would you approve this unstable, flailing Trump?

I wouldn’t.

Trump poses a dilemma for those loyal Americans who are tasked to divulge sensitive information to this flailing buffoon who lacks all self-control.

*

Now consider Trump’s slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’.

Leave aside the fact that both Trump and his followers often twist the slogan into ‘Make America Grate Again’.
Leave aside also that a notable segment of Trump’s followers interpret the slogan as ‘Make America Hate Again’.

Consider instead why America was great in the 1950s and early 1960s, at least for some of its citizens.

At that time, many formerly economically and poltically important countries were still reeling from the physical devastation that had occurred on their soil during the Second World War. Their economies had been destroyed. Their infrastructure had been destroyed. Some countries even had to reconstruct their political structures.

For example, rationing continued in England for many years after the end of the Second World War.

None of those handicaps existed in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Of those four countries, the US had – by far – the largest economy and the largest manufacturing capability.

Our manufacturing and transportation infrastructure had swelled during the war, and our political structure was intact. We were able to supply what the ravaged countries needed to buy.
Few other countries could compete with us in that respect. Many of the other unravaged countries were still colonies, or were economically very undeveloped for other reasons.

In those days, manufacturing required many laborers. Automation was limited. Filling orders, monitoring inventory, keeping records, sending written or oral messages all required human hands. That meant a huge demand for human labor.

Labor couldn’t cross borders easily. Shipping was slow or expensive, and was itself labor-intensive. So the demand for labor was futher concentrated in the few favored locations.

That concentration of advantages will not happen again.
Trump will not be able to produce the job landscape that he promises.

*

There is much discussion these days as to whether respecting the office of the President entails respecting Trump.

Respecting an office means respecting its intended role – its potential contribution to society.

Respecting an office does not entail respecting any particular occupant of that office. Whether a particular occupant earns respect depends upon the occupant’s principles, virtues and weaknesses.

It is impossible to repect the upcoming occupant of the Presidency.

Trump is both creepy, and a creep.

Creepy? Witness Trump’s remarks to Billy Bush. I’ve never encountered a man whose locker-room conversation was as despicable as Trump’s. Trump needs Tic Tacs for the brain.

A creep? Witness Trump’s attempt to boot Vera Coking, an elderly widow in Atlantic City who merely wanted to live the rest of her days in her own home, with its treasured memories. Trump wanted the spot to make more parking for his casino.

Proto-President Creepy Creep,
Sneers at the humaneness of Meryl Streep.

A poseur at charity, secretly selfish and cheap.
Weak self-esteem, hidden by boasts in a heap.

Hidden also by smears that convince only sheep*.
Deceitful disgusting defective Donny The Creep.

A twisted brain, and a heart of ice.
Defective Donny just isn’t nice.

Sad!

Mad!

Bad!

* No insult is intended to bovine sheep, only to human sheep.

On January 20, 2017, President-elect Creepy Creep will become President Creepy Creep.

*

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Defective Trump and Imperfect Hillary

October 17, 2016 at 10:45 am | Posted in Conceited, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Presidential election | Leave a comment
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Line art representation of a quill pen. Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Line art representation of a quill pen. Archives of Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation.

Hillary Clinton is an ordinary fibber, like you and me.

Trump is not an ordinary liar. Trump is a psychopathic liar.

Here is the evidence.

We are polite to people we don’t like. We invent a reason why we “can’t” accept an invitation. Again and again, we tell our children a suitably sanitized version of the truth about something. We tell a garishly dressed friend that they look good. “No, it doesn’t make you look fat.” A minister warmly greets a secretly less-liked member of the congregation. A teacher responds to an annoying question by saying “that is a good question”. An elected official enthusiatically welcomes a disliked constituent. A server in a restaurant, a sales person in a store, … The list is endless.

Probably no one can go through live without telling many fibs – at least, no one who keeps friends and a job. And that is true even in open societies, where saying what you believe would not lead to imprisonment or death.

Everyone who wants to influence policy and public life must fib.

George Washington understood that slavery was evil and unjust, and undermined the political principles he fought for. He and some of his friends brainstormed ways of ending slavery, and in his will he freed all of the slaves that he personally owned. (He could not legally free the slaves owned by his wife.) But Washington knew that he could not express his view openly, if he were to deal effectively with what were then the most pressing issues that he faced.

Lincoln likewise. Hence the limited position he took during his first Presidential campaign, and hence also the delay in issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, and its incomplete coverage.

FDR favored Britain and France over Hitler before the US entered the Second World War, but he could not say so, given the isolationist (indeed, Trumpian) mood in the US before we were attacked.

Lyndon Johnson favored increased fairness toward African Americans well before he was able to act upon his views. He urged the leaders of the Civil Rights movement to increase the poltical pressure on him, to provide him political cover while still leaving him politically effective.

By the way, these examples show the hypocrisy of those who fault Hillary for not always expressing her long term political goals out loud.

That brings us back to Trump.

Trump is not an ordinary liar. Trump is a psychopathic liar.

Trump lies as easily as he breathes, without guilt, with conviction. That is what distinguishes a psychopathic liar from an ordinary fibber.

Psychopathic lying is an essential trait of all great con men, since a person who does not feel guilty comes across as more convincing.

Trump might even really believe his own lies. Since Trump avoids the effort of critical thinking, he may unconciously and automatically swivel his beliefs to whatever would be convenient for him at the moment.

Of course you know about Trump’s lying birtherism, and his more recent lie that Hillary started birtherism.

You know about the many recent disproofs of Trump’s claim that no one respects women more than he does.

You probably remember how, during the second debate with Hillary, Trump attempted to immediately change the subject to ISIS.

You know about how Trump continues to deny that he favored the Iraq War, despite the videos that disprove his claim.

You might know that Trump is a champion earner of Four Pinnochios from Glen Kessler’s fact-checking columns in the Washington Post.

But that Trump is a psychopathic con-man is spectacularly proved by the multiple incidents in which he called newspapers, pretending to be someone else who was telling the newspaper about Trump.

Look at the following, which were found via this:

1. Donald Trump’s ‘John Miller’ interview is even crazier than you think …
May 16, 2016 – The name Trump assumed varied slightly — “John Miller,” John Barron,” and “John Baron” — but the goal didn’t: Tout Trump as a hyper-cool, …

2. Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself – The …
May 13, 2016 – The man on the phone vigorously defending Donald Trump says he’s a media spokesman named John Miller, but then he says, “I’m sort of new …

3. John Oliver – Donald Trump and John Miller – YouTube
May 16, 2016 – Uploaded by consumer
From HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. … Mix – John Oliver – Donald Trump and John …

4. Donald Trump and the “John Miller” Tape: A Question of Character …
The New Yorker
May 13, 2016 – John Cassidy on the newly surfaced recording from the nineties in which Donald Trump apparently poses as his own spokesman.

5. Miller Time: Donald Trump Lied that he was ‘John Miller’ To Spread …
May 14, 2016 – When [People magazine’s] reporter called Trump’s office for an explanation, she was told that John Miller had gone home and that Trump …

Trump pretended that someone else said about Trump precisely what Trump wanted said about Trump.

That is a con.

That is just like a scammer who calls you up to tell you that your licence to the operating system on your computer has expired, or that your computer is full of malware that they will remove if you turn over complete control of your computer to them.

Doesn’t Trump’s masquerade remind you of Trump’s distinctive trick of claiming that un-named other people are saying what he would like said about one event or issue after another?

One of Trump’s many lies is that Hillary Clinton is a bigger liar than the rest of us. Trying to pin the label of liar on his competitors had been a theme of Trump’s campaign in the primaries. Now, in the general election, he is trying to pin it on Hillary. But Trump lies much more often than Hillary, and his lies are far more dangerous.

Even if Trump does believe his own lies, some part of his brain is uneasy about them.
That is probably why ‘liar’ is his favorite insult, and is why he uses it so promiscuously.


The present post should be regarded as part of what will be a series of replies to common but misguided assertions that Trump has tried to implant in the public’s discussion of the candidates for President. In particular, many of these assertions were usefully collected together in Greg Tag’s comment on the previous post, How to Vote Against Trump . These assertions implicitly rest upon Trump’s lie that Hillary Clinton is a bigger liar than the rest of us.


If you want to comment on this post, or if you want to see the comments by others, click here.

How to Vote Against Trump

September 27, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Enemies of Planet Earth, Fairness, Presidential election | 3 Comments
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Twice the impact.  Created 2016-09-26 by thepoliblog.WordPress.com.

Twice the impact. Created 2016-09-26 by thepoliblog.WordPress.com.

 

How can you best fight against Trump?

How can you best protect

  • the country,
  • freedom of speech,
  • political freedom here and world-wide,
  • innocent persons,
  • human fairness,
  • the US Treasury,
  • the human world,
  • and the natural world,

against the damage that each of those would suffer if Mussolini-like Trump became President?

Some of the voters who are revolted by Trump are planning to vote against Trump without voting for Hillary.

They are planning to vote against Trump by voting for the Green candidate, or are planning to vote for the Libertarian candidate.

But a vote for anyone other than Hillary is only half a vote against Trump.

Here is why.

Although voting for one of the spoiler candidates doesn’t increase Trump’s tally, it also doesn’t increase his opponent’s tally. It has zero effect on the comparison of their two tallys, which is the comparison that will determine who becomes President.

A vote for Hillary doesn’t increase Trump’s tally by 1, but also does increase Hillary’s tally by 1.
That increases the difference between Hillary’s tally and Trump’s tally by 2 units.
That is two blows against Trump.

A vote for the Green or for the Libertarian candidate doesn’t increase Trump’s tally by 1, but that is only half the effect on the difference between Hillary’s tally and Trump’s tally that would be produced by a vote for Hillary.

Remember what happened when Ralph Nader acted (unintentionally) as a spoiler against Gore.

How did that turn out?


If you want to comment on this post, or if you want to see the comments by others, click here.

 

June 4 = Tianenmen Square Day

June 4, 2016 at 10:54 am | Posted in Abuse of Office, Enemies of Freedom, Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment | 2 Comments
Tags:
A Chinese Type 59 tank at the Beijing Military Museum. A Type 59 main battle tank on display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in western Beijing. On June 3, 1989, People's Liberation Army soldiers on Type 59 tanks began firing on civilian demonstrators at Muxidi near the military museum. (Wikipedia) Photo by Max Smith.

A Chinese Type 59 tank at the Beijing Military Museum. A Type 59 main battle tank on display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in western Beijing. On June 3, 1989, People’s Liberation Army soldiers on Type 59 tanks began firing on civilian demonstrators at Muxidi near the military museum.
(Wikipedia) Photo by Max Smith.

Today is June 4 – Tiananmen Square Day.

It is a day to honor the love of freedom, the desire for the rule of law, the insistence on fairness, and the true patriotism of the students and others who demonstrated in Tianenmen Square in Beijing, and in other cities, throughout May and early June of 1989.

It is a day to honor the bravery and patriotism of Tank Man.

They were not a threat to China. But China’s self-appointed rulers felt the student’s ideas to be a threat to their rule. So the self-appointed rulers crushed the demonstrations, and sometimes literally crushed demonstrators, with ostentatious cruelty.

For more background, see these previous posts on this blog: here, here, and here.

The student’s chose black as the color to symbolize agreement with their goals.

To honor them and their goals, wear something black today.

If you want to comment on this post, or just want to add your name as endorsing or disputing its assertions, go here. To avoid cluttering the ‘latest postings’ page, WordPress includes the mechanism for commenting only on the page for the individual posting, never on the page that shows all of the recent postings. So click here, scroll to the bottom of the post, and submit your comment.

 

Bernie Sanders As Commander in Chief?

March 14, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Conceited, Fairness, Presidential election, Terrorism | Leave a comment
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Flag of the Islamic State. This flag is also used by al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Boko Haram. Graphic by Yo.

Flag of the Islamic State.
This flag is also used by al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and Boko Haram. Graphic by Yo.

Here are some questions about Bernie Sander’s fitness to be the Commander in Chief.

Does Bernie Sanders agree that we need a capable – hence adequately funded – Department of Defence?

What capabilities of the Department of Defence does Bernie Sanders want to enhance?

How does Bernie Sanders plan to respond to the non-traditional military sitiations posed by terrorism and by countries (Syria, Russia, China, North Korea) that sneer at international law?

What policies does Bernie Sanders think should govern the use of drones?
What are his thoughts on collateral damage?

What areas of defense R&D does Bernie Sanders think needs to be pursued? What new weapons and tactical capabilities are needed?

What is Bernie Sander’s rough estimate of the proper level of funding for the Department of Defense next year? How many Divisions and how many aircraft carriers should we have?

A Syrian soldier aims an AK-47 assault rifle wearing a Soviet-made, model ShMS nuclear–biological–chemical warfare mask. Unknown author - http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/0JoLDPpw5WbYCMAmPsXL1g

A Syrian soldier aims an AK-47 assault rifle wearing a Soviet-made, model ShMS nuclear–biological–chemical warfare mask.
Unknown author – http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/0JoLDPpw5WbYCMAmPsXL1g

When Assad used chemical weapons against peaceful Syrians, did Bernie Sanders support the idea of US participation in setting up a no-fly zone to protect Syrian civilians from attack by Assad’s military? (A no-fly zone was not set up after Asaad’s use of chemical weapons, despite our prior hollow talk of a ‘red line’. That created a vacuum. That vacuum helped catpult ISIS into becoming a priminent player. Our lack of follow-through, and the hollowness of our threat, bears a major responsibility for the flourishing of ISIS.)

What would Bernie Sanders do to protect the non-extremist anti-Assad groups in Syria from Assad, and from Putin?

What would Bernie Sanders do to protect the very effective Kurdish fighters against attacks by Erdogan’s authoritarian Turkey?

Yazidi refugees and American aid workers on Mount Sinjar in August 2014" USAID U.S. Agency for International Development - https://www.flickr.com/photos/usaid_images/14783000490

Yazidi refugees and American aid workers on Mount Sinjar in August 2014″
USAID U.S. Agency for International Development – https://www.flickr.com/photos/usaid_images/14783000490

What would Bernie Sanders do about the desparate refugees who have fled ISIS?

Any candidate who cannot come up with thoughful, practical answers to these questions is utterly unfit to be commander and chief.

Any candidate who has not already pondered these questions is utterly unfit to be commander and chief.


During the Presidential election, that will be obvious to anyone who values practical effects over wishful thinking.

Being good-hearted is not enough.

Economic fairness is important, but do not underestimate the importance that most voters assign to:
– adequate defense
– our role in supporting international fairness
– and to being respected internationally, and effective internationally.

Some of those latter urgeswere a major factor in the ability of Mussolini and Hitler to replace open political systems by authoritarian ones.

Those same aspects drive Putin’s high popularity in the face of the economic disaster he has brought to Russia.

The importance of same aspects are why China follows an aggressive, nationalistic policies in south-east Asia, despite the political and economic backlash from neighboring countries, and because of China’s falling rate of economic growth.

In the Presidential election, a candidate that lives in dream-land will lose to a candidate who at least cares about what is achievable, no matter how ill-considered are that candidate’s specific goals and paths to those goals.

So a vote in the primary for a well-intentioned candidate who does not care about defense and about foreign policy will inadvertantly aid the victory of the candidate of the opposite party, as long as that competing candidate does have strong opinions (however stupid) about defense and foreign policy.

Remember how votes for the egotist Ralph Nader first made George Bush president instead of Al Gore, and then four years later help George Bush win a second term. (Recall also Nader’s hypocritical claim that there would be no difference between Gore and Bush presidencies.)

If you want to comment on this post, or just want to add your name as endorsing or disputing its assertions, go here. To avoid cluttering the ‘latest postings’ page, WordPress includes the mechanism for commenting only on the page for the individual posting, never on the page that shows all of the recent postings. So click here, scroll to the bottom of the post, and submit your comment.

June 4: Tiananmen Square Day

June 3, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Fairness, Judicial Injustice | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,
A drafting board with a T-Square and triangle. Photo by Michael Holley, October 24, 2012.

A drafting board with a T-Square and triangle. Photo by Michael Holley, October 24, 2012.

June 4 is Tiananmen Square Day: T-square Day

An emblem for Tiananmen Square Day.  Created by thepoliblog.WordPress.com

An emblem for Tiananmen Square Day. Created by thepoliblog.WordPress.com

Two previous posts (here and here) on this blog have marked the anniversaries of the massacres in Beijing and Chengdu on and after June 4, 1989. It is that time of year again.

Tiananmen Square Day honors those who believed in the rule of law.

The demonstrators in Beijing and Chengdu thought that the government of China would adhere to its own written laws. They thought that laws exist to benefit and protect the people, not just to benefit and protect the powerful – those who have appointed themselves to rule the country. The demonstrators’ concept was correct, but their prediction was wrong.

The government of China claims to observe the rule of law. But that is a sham. Laws in China are written or are re-interpreted according to the whims and interests of the powerful. In China today, the mafia is in control.

Recent items (here, here, and here) in the Washington Post underscore the arbitrary way in which the laws are invoked, and the impunity with which they are twisted.

Besides stunting Chinese society, besides the unfairness to individuals and communities, this looseness with fact and law could lead to international conflict. The unilateral reinterpretation of territorial claims in the waters around south east and eastern Asia are a recent example.

In discussing this and other government actions, it is essential to distinguish between the government of China, and China and the Chinese people. To say and write ‘the government of China’ takes more time and space than to say and to write ‘China’, but the distinction is so important that it is worth the extra time and space. Never insult an injured people by confusing them with their oppressors.

Tiananmen Square Day honors the rule of law, while demonstrating that the rule of law cannot exist without the separation of powers.

The separation of powers is the only way for the administrators, the legislators and the judiciary of any polity to be independent enough to monitor one another, and to limit each other’s abuse of power. The tendency to abuse power is inherent in human nature. Even people of good will cannot resist the temptation to abuse power. We are excellent rationalizers, so we easily trick ourselves. The trajectory of the French Revolution is a perfect example.

Black was the color chosen by the demonstrators in Beijing and in Chengdu. Wear something black on Tianenmen Square Day. If you need to be inconspicuous, wear black shoes, or a belt, or a tie, or a scarf or a purse.

If you wish to comment on this post but do not see a box where you can submit a comment, that is because WordPress includes the mechanism for commenting only on the page for the individual posting, never on the page that shows all of the recent postings. So click here, scroll to the bottom of the post, and submit your comment.

Political contributions, the BuyPartisan Mobile app, and Citizens United

August 22, 2014 at 7:55 pm | Posted in Dysfunctional Politics, Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment | 2 Comments
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A US two dollar bill. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollar "US $2 obverse". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_$2_obverse.jpg#mediaviewer/File:US_$2_obverse.jpg

A US two dollar bill. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollar
“US $2 obverse”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_$2_obverse.jpg#mediaviewer/File:US_$2_obverse.jpg

There is a new free app for mobile devices, BuyPartisan, developed by Spend Consciously, Inc. (Although the app is presently available only for Apple devices, Spend Consciously plans to release a version for Android devices in the very near future.)

The SpendConsciously.com web site suggests that you use your mobile device to scan the barcode of the product you are considering. The app will display the political donations of the CEO, Board of Directors and employees of the company that produced the product. On the basis of that information, you can decide whether or not to buy the product. You can also tell your friends what you have found out.

Two related articles (one by Colby Itkowitz, and one by Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz) in the Washington Post describe what they discovered by using the app.

Subsequently the Editors of the Washington Post disparaged the new app, claiming that it would intensify political polarization.

But in coming to that conclusion, the Editors forgot an important new factor, namely, the Supreme Court’s misguided ruling on Citizens United.

The ruling on Citizens United magnifies the impact of an individual CEO + Board of Directors on an election far above above that of an ordinary citizen. A CEO and Board of Directors can favor their preferred candidate by using the vast financial resources of his corporation to the candidate or proposed law that they personally favor. You cannot.

"1900 New York polling place" by E. Benjamin Andrews - Andrews, E. Benjamin. History of the United States, volume V. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. 1912. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1900_New_York_polling_place.jpg#mediaviewer/File:1900_New_York_polling_place.jpg

“1900 New York polling place” by E. Benjamin Andrews – Andrews, E. Benjamin. History of the United States, volume V. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. 1912. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1900_New_York_polling_place.jpg#mediaviewer/File:1900_New_York_polling_place.jpg

In an election, a voter has two kinds of votes.

There is a direct vote, by making a choice on a ballot.

There is an indirect vote, by contributing or not contributing to a candidate or to a proposed law.

The CEO and Board of Directors’ huge contribution easily drowns out the much smaller contribution that is feasible for most ordinary citizens.  The Supreme Court’s illogical decision dramatically undercuts your indirect vote. The Supreme Court’s ruling implicitly transforms the United States into an oligarchy.

The money that the CEO can appropriate in this manner is derived from the company’s sales to its customers.

Your only way of influencing the amount that the CEO and Board of Directors has available for this legal but unjust diversion of corporate funds? Either buy or do not buy from their company.

The Supreme Court’s politically partisan decision on Citizens United has thus linked buying decisions to political positions.

The linkage acts whether or not you – or the Editors of the Washington Post – recognize its presence.

That is why citizens now need to determine the political preferences of the CEO and Board of Directors of any company they might use.

Without apps like BuyPartisan, a great deal of time consuming detective work would be required for you to obtain that information. The app makes it easy.

Contrary to the position taken by the Editors of the Washington Post, using this app is now imperative for good citizenship.

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Who Owns a Found Thing?

August 4, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Posted in Fairness | 4 Comments
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 "Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean" by Tiago Fioreze

“Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean” by Tiago Fioreze

Breathe in.  Now breathe out.

That air you just breathed – you did not create it.  You just found it where you needed it, and used it.

"Cuesta del Obispo en la Provincia de Salta - Argentina" by fede.cerutti

“Cuesta del Obispo en la Provincia de Salta – Argentina” by fede.cerutti

The land on which you stand is part of a land mass that you did not create.  You just found it where you needed it, and are using it.

The same is true of the ocean which floats your boat, and of the atmosphere that waters your crops and provides the water you drink and wash with and cook with, and whose fluid supports your aircraft.

"West Texas Pumpjack" by Eric Kounce TexasRaiser - Located south of Midland, Texas.

“West Texas Pumpjack” by Eric Kounce TexasRaiser – Located south of Midland, Texas.

Oil extraction in the ocean: "Devils tower 2004" by VaderSS .

Oil extraction in the ocean: “Devils tower 2004” by VaderSS .

"Coal mine Wyoming" by Unknown

“Coal mine Wyoming” by Unknown

The same is true of any oil or coal or gas or metal or metal ore from the ground or the ocean.

The same is true of the planet Earth, with its temperate temperature, and its protective atmosphere and magnetic field, and of the Moon, which tidally helps to stabilize the Earth’s spin axis, and the Sun, whose light illuminates and warms the Earth.

Glass beakers for chemistry.

Glass beakers for chemistry.

Surface-mounted electronics: "Arduino ftdi chip-1" by DustyDingo.

Surface-mounted electronics: “Arduino ftdi chip-1” by DustyDingo.

The atoms and molecules in all those things, you did not create them.  You found them, or at most you modified them from atoms and molecules that you found, using energy that you found, via physical processes that obey rules that were already there, and that you merely used.

The same is true of any life form that we catch or grow, to eat or to use in other ways.  It is true even of life forms that we have varied by breeding, or that we have genetically modifed directly.

Who owns them?  Whose property are they, and by what right?

They are not in any essential way the property of any individual, family, business, collective, class, nation, society, or species.

But it is sometimes convenient to treat them as if they were.  Doing so reduces conflict, except when it instigates conflict.

Eastern Hemisphere, Lambert Azimuthal projection, by Sean Baker.

Eastern Hemisphere, Lambert Azimuthal projection, by Sean Baker.

Western Hemisphere, Lambert Azimuthal projection, by Sean Baker.

Western Hemisphere, Lambert Azimuthal projection, by Sean Baker.

Here are some examples:

– Repeatedly, groups of people from Africa migrated to Europe and Asia, settling those formerly unpeopled areas.

– Groups of people from Asia then migrated to the Western Hemisphere, Australia and New Zealand, settling those formerly unpeopled areas.

– Groups of people from Europe migrated to the western Hemisphere, settling in those already-peopled areas, and not gently.

– Due to the never-ending reverberation of past religious competition, large numbers of Jews in Europe (including Central and Eastern Europe) finally gave up on those areas, where their ancestors had dwelled for millenia, and migrated to the already-peopled Middle East.  They were joined by co-religionists from elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa who had there been harassed by the persistent reverberations of past religious competition in those locales.  The resulting turbulence has not yet dissipated.

– The Sunnis and the Shiites, the persecution of the Rohingya in Burma – the list goes on and on.

– Putin’s grabbing of Crimea, using arguments like those that the Nazi’s used to justify their seizure of Sudetenland, and its attempts to peel off Eastern Ukraine.

Caption in Wikipedia: "A Sudeten German Voluntary Force unit in 1938."

Caption in Wikipedia: “A Sudeten German Voluntary Force unit in 1938.”

Enough examples!

Now some background and some conclusions.

"Henry George" by Unknown.

“Henry George” by Unknown.

Readers who are familiar with the work of Henry George (1839-1897) will recognize some of his ideas in the present blog posting.  To quote Wikipedia, Henry George argued that “people should own what they create, but that everything found in nature, most importantly the value of land, belongs equally to all humanity.”

The views expressed in the present blog post are clearly a variant of those views.  But there are at least three differences:

(1) The present blog post implies that for tangible objects, ‘creating’ is merely ‘clever re-arranging’.  So only limited ownership should be conferred by the ‘creating’ of tangible objects.  That is said with full respect for the ingenuity, resourcefulness, value-added, and the hard work required.  In fact, those contributions are what justify the limited ownership.  In the creation of intangible works – new concepts, new ways of working, new chains of reasoning, and art of all types – a larger part of the result is truly created, justifying a larger degree of ownership, but still a limited one.

(2) The present blog post implies that to ascribe ownership to all of humanity would appropriate to our species what intrinsically belongs equally to all species, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial.  The same idea is often expressed by saying that we are just the stewards of spaceship Earth.

(3) Apart from the limited ownership that is justified by the ‘creation’ of tangible objects, and the greater degree of ownership that is justified by the creation of intangible works, the present blog argues that ownership is a legal fiction created for social convenience, rather than being intrinsic and fundamental.  But once ownership has become established as a convenient fiction, morality and justice require that it thereafter be ascribed fairly.

 

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Humane Executions

July 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Brain and mind, Crime and punishment, Fairness, Judicial Misjudgment, Terrorism | 1 Comment
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A woodcut showing a rabid dog in the Middle Ages. "Middle Ages rabid dog" by Unknown - Scanned from Dobson, Mary J. (2008) Disease, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Quercus, p. 157 ISBN: 1-84724-399-1.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg

A woodcut showing a rabid dog in the Middle Ages. “Middle Ages rabid dog” by Unknown – Scanned from Dobson, Mary J. (2008) Disease, Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Quercus, p. 157 ISBN: 1-84724-399-1.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Middle_Ages_rabid_dog.jpg

 

Execution by lethal chemical cocktails has recently become more difficult.  Some of the makers of the required chemicals refuse to sell them for that purpose.  The remaining makers desire anonymity, to avoid becoming the target of protests.  Worse, some of the recent chemical executions have been botched, and seem to have produced drawn-out painful deaths.

All of these problems could be eliminated by returning to an older technique: death by bullet.

But the shooting should not be performed by a firing squad.  Too many things can go wrong with a firing squad.

Instead, use a device that softly but firmly holds fixed the head and chest of the condemned.  A commercially available cervical collar might be one part of the device.  The condemned should be lying horizontally, face up, unable to move, on a special table having a soft surface.

The execution would be carried out by one or more gunshots from behind the head.

The gun could be fired by either a person or a computer.  Computer-controlled firing would be less subject to mistakes.  Sensors viewing the vicinity of the condemned could provide signals to the the computer so that the gun could fire only when no other person was in the line of fire.

Note: The general design described above is hereby released into the public domain by thepoliblog.WordPress.com.  It is not patentable.

That covers the how.  What about the why?

As long as the death penalty is imposed fairly, its morality is clear.  We kill mad dogs, attacking wild animals, and armed enemy soldiers.  We kill terrorists.  We kill madmen and criminals who try to kill the police, and madmen who attack the public.  We kill cancers.  No matter how morally advanced we become, we will always regard such killing as justified.

But can the death penalty be imposed fairly?

Some claim that the death penalty can never be imposed fairly on an individual who is now under our control.  Why not treat such a person as a prisoner of war?  Why not restrain them instead of killing them?  Why not try to rehabilitate them?  These are difficult questions which I hope to address in a later posting.  But for the present, recall that we do not use these alternatives for mad dogs.  Recall that the intrinsic dignity of human beings may be a too-sweeping and vaguely founded concept, and likewise for the concept of free will.  And recall that many innocents have been killed by seemingly reformed but unreformed parolees: different person’s brains are wired differently.

On these matters I have to agree with Charles Lane, and have to disagree with Eugene Robinson, who is usually one of the most insightful analyzers of public issues, and with the Editors of the Washington Post.

 

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Wear Something Black on June 4 (Tiananmen Square Day)

May 29, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Fairness | 2 Comments
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Retouched version by Gary King of a picture taken of Natasha Bedingfield by Bobcobb22 at Six Flags over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, USA on July 13, 2008.

Retouched version by Gary King of a picture taken of Natasha Bedingfield by Bobcobb22 at Six Flags over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, USA on July 13, 2008.

On and around June 4, 1989, Chinese citizens were killed or imprisoned or beaten by the Chinese Government for peacefully demonstrating at Tianenmen Square for a more open society (see here and here). They wanted a society that functioned according to democratically chosen and publically announced laws, rather than according to unpublished but universally understood rules that are crafted for the benefit of the powerful, and are administered and revised according to their whim.

June 4 is International Tiananmen Square Day. It reminds us of the courage, heroism, and patriotic public spirit of the demonstrators. It reminds us that the Chinese Government still has not expressed regret for abusing its most public spirited citizens – those who wanted to advance their country rather than to fill their wallets at the expense of their fellow citizens.

The demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square chose black to be the color that symbolized their adherence to their cause.

In memory of the demonstrators, and to honor their ideas, wear something black on June 4. June 4 is a Wednesday this year.

Black shoes, a black belt, a black shirt, a black hat, a black necktie, black gloves, black shirt buttons, a black band, a black ribbon, a black scrunchie, a black umbrella – anything black.

'Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

‘Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

Mens' ballroom shoes at the Eurodance (Vladimír Bábor), Czech Republic, photographed 25 February 2009 by Martin Kozák.

Mens’ ballroom shoes at the Eurodance (Vladimír Bábor), Czech Republic, photographed 25 February 2009 by Martin Kozák.

Ladies' ballroom shoes by Tango Shoes, Buenos Aires, photographed 25 February 2009 by  Martin Kozák.

Ladies’ ballroom shoes by Tango Shoes, Buenos Aires, photographed 25 February 2009 by
Martin Kozák.

292x240.S3_SafetyFootwear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kazuma Nitta performs a Kubudo Kata with a staff for the judges at the Open Karate Tournament in Japan, 2004. Photographed by Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Floto, USMC.

Kazuma Nitta performs a Kubudo Kata with a staff for the judges at the Open Karate Tournament in Japan, 2004. Photographed by Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Floto, USMC.

The first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Tsîn-sí-hông. 秦始皇。

The first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
Tsîn-sí-hông. 秦始皇。

 

Additional information:

The Massacre at Tiananmen Square was twenty five years ago tomorrow, June 4, 1989, in Beijing and in Chengdu.

Tomorrow, the 25th anniversary of the Massacre, Louisa Lim’s remarkable new book (The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199347704) will become publically available. Selections from it at the web sites of on-line book sellers show that the book contains much new information, written beautifully and clearly, as well as remarkable interviews and color photos. The link to a Washington Post article by Louisa Lim, about the secrecy she had to deploy to write the book, was given near the beginning of this post.

Dan Southerland was the chief of the Beijing bureau of the Washington Post in 1985 through 1990. In a recent article he praises the additional information that was uncovered by Louisa Lim, and is included in her book. His article also describes what he saw before, during, and after the massacre.

The link to an astounding video, narrated by Dan Southerland, appears in the online version of an article by Michael Streissguth that has just appeared in the Washington Post Magazine. The video shiows the attacks on the students, and shows Tank Man stopping a column of tanks on a nearby street. The video also shows very shocking photos. Southerland very effectively describes the time-line of the events. The students were demonstrating protesting corruption by officials, and because they knew that China needed a more open society. The video was produced by Kate M. Tobey, assembled by Jason Adag, and used excellent graphics by Osman Malick and Julio Negron.

Streissguth’s article itself is very informative, and includes remarkable photos of bicycles that had been flattened by army tanks, and of students in Tiananmen Square listening to a young leader of the pro-democracy movement.

A good article by Ruth Marcus describes present-day attitudes in China about the massacre.

An moving article by Rowena Xiaoqing He describes the impact of the massacre on parents of the students who were killed.

William Wan’s article in the Washington Post shows astounding works of art produced by artists in China, in response to the massacre.

An article by Dana Nemcova, Jiri Gruntorad, Jan Ruml show that the ideas of the demonstrating students live on.

More additional information:

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Massacres at Tiananmen Square and at Chengdu. Several fascinating articles have appeared in print today (2014-06-04).

Tom Malinowski’s op-ed article in the Washington Post notes how the Chinese government’s failure to come to grips with the massacres has held China back, and why it matters to the rest of the world.

An editorial by the Editors of the Washington Post stresses the fear that underlies the Chinese governments attempts to suppress information not only about the massacres, but also about its abuse of China’s brave patriots and their good ideas, as well their suppression of any non-governmental organization that becomes large. These suppressions directly violate China’s constitution. The on-line version of the editorial also includes a link to a remarkable article by Hua Ze which was published by The New York Times on August 18, 2013, about how the Chinese government misused its police powers to persecute Xu Zhiyong, for his advocacy of the rule of law and for his opposition to corruption. The editorial also mentions a book, In the Shadow of the Rising Dragon: Stories of Repression in the New China, that was edited by Xu Youyu and Hua Ze and was published last year.  I hadn’t known of the book, and am eager to read it.

An article by William Wan and Simon Denyer in the Washingtom Post describes the Chinese government’s panicky and heavy-handed repression of remembrance of the massacres. (Note: “the Chinese government’s”, not “China’s”! ) The article includes interesting interviews and photos, and a link to the video that was described above.

 

 

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