Friday, June 16, 2017

RIP Helmut Kohl

On the same day that Helmut Kohl dies, the principal architect of the EU and Schengen Treaty which protects Western Europe from war, he who must not be named makes no public statement about his passing while making a major move to antagonize Cuba and alienate us from our allies. I am not surprised, only finster. I have a large amount of family who have benefitted greatly from this great work.

Es ist ein dunkel Tag für der Welt. Ich hoffe Kohls Arbeit wird überleben.

I hope that with the next president we have will move closer to a better relationship with Cuba and become even closer to our Canadian and Mexican friends. If we are to learn anything from Kohl's Chancellorship it is that we are more prosperous when we work together, and we are more free when we talk with each other. We need to reach out to others and build up a more peaceful world, tear down borders, and love each other no matter what language we speak or no matter what atrocities may have been committed. It is up to us to be that generation which expands this work to every continent in order to expand freedom to those who have famine, build bridges between our divisions, and defeat nationalism. Only when we see the humanity in each other's eyes and open our hearts to those who speak different tongues and worship differently will we be truly free.

That is the lesson we need to learn from Helmut Kohl tonight, may he rest in peace.

He was a true friend to all, and enemy of none. Today we have seen Die Linke, SPD, CDU, and Putin all have nice things to say about a man who truly made the world a better place.

Danke Kanzler.

Image result for helmut kohl

Thursday, June 8, 2017

United Kingdom General Election, 2017

If the projections are correct, then we are going to see a hung parliament this year. There are a couple possibilities which are based off of history:
1. Conservative/Liberal Democratic coalition as existed under Cameron's first ministry. I think this is unlikely since the Conservatives are in favor of a return to a Pre-World War I European Order which is what Brexit would bring, and the LibDems are the most opposed to a hard Brexit of the three major parties. They are also completely at odds with each other on environmental policy, making such an arrangement completely ridiculous and unsustainable.
2. Conservative/Labour. Labour is in favor of a soft Brexit and less strong on the environment as the LibDems, making them significantly closer to the hardline conservative policies of the Conservative Party which are very similar to the Republican party of the USA before Drumpf cheated his way into the White House. This would be very similar to the current arrangement in Germany between SPD (think centrist) and the CDU (drifts between very liberal and paleo-conservative on social policy, combined with the most conservative economic policy in all of Europe of the major parties I have studied) and should not be ruled out for Britain. It would be far more sustainable than a CLD coalition in my observation of their platforms.
3. Labour/Liberal Democratic/Scottish National Party would be the only stable coalition which could be formed with the current political arrangement. The Liberal Democrats have a more moderate although still ardently Keynesian economic policy from the results I got with iSidewith, are in line with Labour on social policies, and when it comes to Environmental and foreign policy will make Labour more liberal (in the International Relations part of the ideology). I think this coalition would destory Brexit (hallelujah) and will not end up with the writs being called early (aka a new election), given how their differences I can find are more or less regarding minutia, and will make the Labour Party policies which are more on the loony side under their current leader less likely to pass, while very important legislation which they agree on, such as killing Brexit, will be able to bypass the inevitable conservative opposition. SNP and Labour are very similar on most issues, I got the same score for each on the iSidewith quiz I took. This would mean stable and reasonable policy for Britain for the next 5 years.
4. The most likely of them all, and a win for the Brexit camp, would be a Conservative/Democratic Unionist alliance. This would ensure Brexit happens, and a ridiculous economic policy in line with Thatcherism. This is very unfortunate for Britain.

I hope for this reason that we see an LLD government in the coming years. I think it would be best for Britain economically, socially, preserve the European Union, and govern them as best as possible until the next election comes (whenever that will be). Unfortunately, this will likely not happen with the Conservatives and Democratic Unionists making a coalition with barely enough votes to have more than 50% of the seats.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Oldspeak, Newspeak, alternative facts, and mind control

George Orwell's point is that the changing of the definitions of words changes how we think about such concepts. Capitalism originally was a revolutionary ideology saying that the big government firms of the European empires were not just bad for the people but also bad for the economy as a whole. Instead, we should have an economy where the means of production are owned by diverse interests not concentrated whenever possible. This exists in Europe today. The word has been evolved to mean a system very similar to the mercantilism the early capitalists oppposed, and day to day indistinguishable from the mercantilism of old. This is the same tool used by Oceania in 1984 to control the thoughts of the people, and is effective by cutting people off from their philosophical ancestors. Propaganda has become fake news, making it seem more like the onion than Pravda. Alternative facts are lies, another Orwellian trick.

History of Newspeak

We have seen this reversal of definitions to the point where they are the opposite of what they originally mean, when white is black and socialism is capitalism. The complete reversal of the definition of capitalism, (which I'm not sure exactly how it evolved over the last 50 years) has been far too quick to have happened organically. Roosevelt was lauded as "saving capitalism" for the new deal and banking regulation, meaning the reversal has happened since 1945, so we are down to a maximum of 70 years. Chomsky refers to the US and Western European nations (which are frequently called "socialist" today) as "capitalist democracies" in the 1970s ( so assuming Chomsky was using vernacular it would then be within the last 40 years. If we look at Germany the SPD was fairly radical before the 1970s when Willi Brandt and Helmut Schmidt transformed the party into the Keynesian capitalist party (sorry for the redundancy) it is today. I expect the transformation of the word from meaning a free market to a corporatocracy/mercantilist system then would have happened under Reagan in the US, Thatcher in Britain, and other leaders during the 1980s, meaning a 180 degree turn around in its meaning over no more than 30 years in how the media talks about "capitalism".

The word socialism does extend further back in time, to Louis Blanc who founded the school of "state socialism", defined as being the government controlling some industries. The issue with this is that capitalist philosophers also think that the government had a role in natural monopolies. The difference from limited government intervention from capitalism is indistinguishable, because a government involved in the economy is part of all capitalist thought. A government which controls all the means of production is also indistinguishable from Marxism. State socialism can mean either term, making the term meaningless. Bismarck's policies in Germany were derided as "state socialism" by opponents, as were the policies of the Soviet Union. These two systems are similar in almost no way at all in reality, making the term almost useless.

Anarchism as well is often described as being "socialist". Marx of course believed that the final stage of his theory would be anarchism. He also believed that it doesn't matter if government is democratic or a dictatorship, because the "capitalists" would control society either way. (1848 Papers)

This is the inherent problem with the word socialism. Someone who believes in no government or a dictatorship can be called a socialist. Someone who believes in a mixed economy with limited government intervention and someone who believes in a command economy like North Korea are both socialist. A Democrat and Dictator, both socialist. A person who believes the government needs limited government intervention is often described as being a socialist and agrees with every capitalist philospher. Someone who believes in the eventual monopolization of all unions (syndicalism) is a socialist, but one doesn't have to believe in that to be a socialist. Socialists argue that accumulation of capital is bad, but this was one of the major goals of early capitalist thought. The definitions of state socialism and state capitalism are poorly distinguished in economic thought.

Capitalism on the other hand agrees on some very basic concepts. 1. Free markets are generally good, but not always in the case of absolute monopolies. 2. Private property is important for growth. Capitalism is an anti-slavery ideology. 3. Democracy is good. 4. When people are left to make their own decisions they generally will make the right decision as a group, with some exceptions when it comes to externalities. The recognition of a government role in infrastructure and health care which do not work in an unregulated framework has been recognized by capitalism since the early 1800s if not earlier. Adam Smith said the state should exist to "administer justice, enforce private property rights, and defending the nation against aggression" which are not specific in what particular actions government can take. This view is still held by all capitalists. Capitalism has expanded to counter-cyclical policy, which is often described as socialist, and our understanding of how and when markets fail has expanded over 200 years leading capitalism to be more specific on what "administering justice" means. That is an important reality of the early capitalist philosophers in they were clear about their goals, leaving room for interpretation on how exactly government should administer justice. The end goals however, liberty for all, and competitive markets among others, are still the end goals of capitalism. In this sense capitalism is and has always been a consequentialist school of thought. A dictator can not be described as a capitalist because there isn't the free movement of capital under dictatorships. All capitalists agree that there is a role for government in achieving a competitive free economy where all can compete fairly. This is NOT the policy of the Republican Party and right wing democrats like Nancy Pelosi which is much more in line with a variation of the Mercantilism of old.

History of Alternative Facts

Lies and the belief in there being alternate realities has become mainstream in American politics. I have known Fox viewers insisting on how everything I say is "from my point of view" for years now, which stops all further investigation into the reality of what is happening, because they believe that reality is whatever they perceive. This hasn't always been mainstream in American philosophy, when back in the day we would turn to Walter Cronkite and other more or less non-partisan journalists who reported the reality of what is happening. The 1990s we see the beginning of this, with the formation of Fox News which has spearheaded this alternative reality, from their lies of how Obamacare failed, the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, and how crime in the 1990s effected African American communities, among so many other lies.

This is why I speak oldspeak, and insist that activists speak oldspeak, because newspeak is a form of mind control.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

How to defeat terrorism

The 9/11 report is a famous document of course, which claimed it wanted to improve "security" in the United States and prevent terrorism coming into America.the problem with this is that its recommendations are absolutely ineffective in actually fighting terrorism.

The reality of terrorism in the United States is that:
  • White Americans are the largest perpetrator of hate crimes in America, targeted against people of color. Even when the evidence is obvious, these people sometimes don't go to prison, such as with the case of Trayvon Martin's murder. FBI Non-Hispanic Whites are underrepresented however, representing only 57% of hate crime perpetrators for which race was known, despite being 63% of the population according to the Census Bureau. African Americans were overrepresented according to the data from 2015. Despite being 10% of the population over 50% of assaults motivated by race were against African Americans as well. Assault was the most common type of hate crime in America. Murder was the least common of all. The FBI does not carry information on the income levels of perpetrators and victims unfortunately, which I wish was there. This topic deserves a full post on its own. Most terrorism in the United States is labeled as a hate crime, the differences between them are vague, and it makes sense to see them lumped together.
  • The individuals who attacked us in 2001 are not covered by the ESTA, they all had applied for and received visas. They were also mostly Saudi, a country which stands idly by as their wealthy citizens support ISIS. There was also one Egyptian, two Emiratis, and one Lebanese man. These countries all require visas to the United States, and all of these individuals had received visas from the embassy. The Atlantic shows that the total number of Americans killed on American soil by Europeans remains at 0.
  • The ESTA does not stop terrorism, it only decreases tourism. Reducing the people to people contacts between the United States and the rest of the world isolates us from our allies and hurts our image abroad. Having fewer people to people contacts with the rest of the world means that the only thing that people see on the news is drone bombing, police shooting, terrorist attack, and more nonsense. The news tends to blow situations out of proportion, as it did during the Köln bombings a few years ago. I was fortunate to be able to contact my friend who lives in Köln, a city I have personally traveled to and learned that what the media was portraying was extremely inaccurate. There were protests but the city was far from being shut down. Reducing the number of people who know Americans will make us see each other as dangerous places to travel, when in reality we are both generally safe, especially Europe. Proof which includes regressional analysis.
  • No Canadian has ever committed a terrorist attack in the United States. No individual born in Europe has ever attacked the United States.
If we were serious about fighting terrorism we would do the following:
  • Nation build in the Middle East and increase the number of people from those countries who study in the USA. Increasing people to people links foster communication and dialogue.
  • End the ESTA program, replacing it with 90 day visa-free travel for its current members and expand visa-free travel to all of Europe except Russia and Belarus, along with Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa, Botswana, most of East Africa, Thailand, and more countries. If an individual overstays their visa-free period we can bar that individual from coming, but not as a mass punishment. This will increase tourism and people-to-people contacts around the world.
  • Stop the drone bombings. They are counter productive by serving as a recruitment tool.
  • Pressure countries around the world to increase economic mobility. Most suicide bombers are in poverty.
  • Pressure Saudi Arabia to stop sheltering extremists. King Fahd spent at least $75 billion during his reign to spread terrorism across the world, making Saudi Arabia the number one sponsor of Terrorism across the world, and the number one killer of American citizens besides ourselves. This is not money from Saudi nationals, this is money from the crown, which is indistinguishalbe from the government. Despite this, Saudi Arabia was not on the list of countries which Trump banned tourism from and continue to import their oil which funds the government, which is a known state sponsor of terrorism. Wikipedia They now take an approach of not cracking down on the plutocrats who fund ISIS while being militarily involved in fighting ISIS as well. This is a perfect example of the military industrial complex at work reaping billions off the suffering of Syrians. This is evil and must be stopped.

We have been lucky to not have a major terrorist attack like 9/11 since 2001, but the real reasons why 9/11 happened have not been targeted by our government effectively. We continue to do drone bombings instead of nation building in countries which have the lowest approval rating of Americans in the world, and refuse to do the necessary measures to stem the flow of money from our so-called military allies to terrorist groups. These action would actually improve our image and standing in the world, stemming the conversion of people to terrorist ideologies. Terrorism is not the root cause, it is a disease of a much larger problem. Fighting terrorism the way we do would be like trying to fight obesity only by taking care of children once they become obese while still serving McDonald's quality food in school cafeterias. This wouldn't make sense to most people, but is the same approach that the United States government has taken to fighting terrorism.

Our current policies to fight terrorism would be like fighting obesity by limiting access to uncooked vegetables in school cafeterias. Our current policies to fight terrorism only make the problem worse, as the research has shown.

If I were hired with my international politics education to design a policy plan in order to increase terrorism across the world based on the research I would do the following:
  1. Increase barriers to travel globally, to make people see only  the bad things in other countries.
  2. Increase support for state sponsors of terrorism.
  3. Create a culture of fear and intimidation in the media that everyone is trying to attack everyone else.
  4. Purposefully and indiscriminately bomb third world countries and support allies which create proxy wars in third world countries.
  5. When we are done invading countries and bombing the bloody shit out of their civilians, do not build infrastructure or set up economic systems to give people a path to stability. This will increase the number of suicide bombers. Leave the people poor and angry, and they will want to kill you for destabilizing their home.
This is the ongoing policy of the US government and powerful interest groups.

We need to fight the root causes of terrorism if we are ever to increase peace and prosperity across the world, and ensure that the policies we have in place which we claim are there to reduce terrorist attacks actually work. The current policy of the United States government only increases terrorism globally and must be reversed as soon as possible.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Smoking, must accept, disabled, denied

This is a short post, but the premise is simple. If you are disabled in the United States there's no state in the country which protects your ability to get health care is the affordable health care act is repealed.

On the otherhand, if you smoke then there are several states which allow them to charge you more than average, but you cannot be denied health insurance in any state.
Thus is the reality of America without the Affordable Care Act, children born with down syndrome or cerebral palsy once were denied health insurance, and if their family makes more than a certain amount they will not have access to Medicaid. On the other hand someone who chooses to ingest poison into their lungs putting them at risk for dozens of symptoms cannot be denied health insurance and in some states cannot even be charged extra for it.

The Republican health care plan is cruel and makes no sense.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Swastikas and Hammer and Sickles

While getting a glass of water at school today a schoolmate walked over. His shirt was colorful and it looked like it might have been from Firefly, so I looked at it.

It was a communist shirt.

After spending years of my life studying political economy at school and reading all of the great political philosophers I have come up with two major points on communism.

  1. The only major issue Lenin and Marx disagreed on was whether communism would evolve naturally from society or whether it could be sped up and skip over the capitalist stage. Everything else is identical and the Soviet Union was an accurate implementation of Marxist thought.
  2. The Communists and Fascists have one big difference between them in terms of how their countries function. Communists are more likely to kill you. (based on the death tolls of the Holocaust vs. Holodomor, Great Chinese Famine, Gulags, and multiple other artificial famines across the Eastern Bloc in the 20th century)
This is why when I see someone wearing a hammer and sickle I feel deeply offended. I have friends in the Soviet Union, and my older friends there were close to people who were murdered by the Soviet despots. The other thing is that the Soviet Union would have stayed allied with Hitler to the end of World War II if Hitler hadn't been the biggest tactical idiot of the 20th century with his decision to invade. They had no problem with the Holocaust and had a record of antisemitism themselves. That is why the Jewish Autonomous Oblast exists today. It is a legacy of extreme anti-semitism. Yet another similarity between Communism and Fascism.

The worst part of all is that this fool decided to wear a hammer and sickle on 4/20, the biggest holiday for Fascists.

Please don't wear Hammer and sickle shirts. This German American whose family lived through the Third Reich has friends in the Republic of Georgia and Russia. I find them highly offensive and just DON'T DO IT. Just throw on your Iron Cross and Swastika over your hood while brandishing the flag of ISIS if you feel like you have to display offensive imagery. Just DON'T DO IT without understanding the history of the imagery you are displaying in public.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

3 years in advance, 2020 prospects

Trump's first 100 days have been relatively uneventful compared to what it looked like 3 months ago. He failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, has reduced his plans for the border wall. On the downside he has approved more pipelines, implemented a hiring freeze for the government, and slashed funding for services we rely on, like the EPA, FDA, and many other agencies we depend on. Some decisions are more nuanced, such as the actions in Syria, and it remains to be seen whether our increased involvement in Syria will defeat ISIS. He banned refugees which hurts the fight against international terrorism. His protectionist policies threaten our economy. He praises Putin will claiming NATO allies need to pay up. Officials from multiple intelligence agencies expect meddling by Russia in our election. We have seen more nepotism in this administration than any other in living memory. He removed environmental reviews for many infrastructure projects, putting our health at risk. Despite critizing Obama for vacation he already has spent more on vacation than Obama did per year on average. The very fact that he tried to repeal health care without a reasonable approval shows he does not care about the average American and is just looking for

In 2020 we are going to need a change of pace to reinstate the services he has already cut. The next president of the United States is probably in office already, and is likely either a governor or senator currently. Trump is the first president to not be a sitting Senator or governor since Eisenhower, and most Presidents in history have been one or the other. In order to be an effective candidate the Democratic nominee will need to be:

  1. Someone who understands science and listens to professionals in order to make the right decision.
  2. Someone without a history of corruption. I will only consider governors from the top half of states because of this.
  3. Someone with a good media presence and excellent speaking skills.
  4. A strong progressive background
  5. Popular
The first metric I think we should examine are the most popular politicians in America. On this metric Bernie Sanders stands out as the most popular politician in America. People know who he is and his policies are popular enough for him to get +29 points (favorable - unfavorable) in a Fox News poll. The other polled was for Elizabeth Warren who also polled positively, despite only 70% of respondents knowing who she is (a massive improvement from previous polls). A Sanders-Warren or Warren-Sanders ticket would blow Trump out of the water in 2020 if they chose to run. Bernie Sanders is doing the best in primary polls right now, although it is certainly too early to call. Sanders and Warren match all 5 requirements I can think of in order to be a successful president. O'Malley also won a poll in Iowa, and he would be a fantastic president.

When it comes to governors, the following are at the top of the list:
  1. Former Delaware governor Jack Markell was the most popular Democratic governor in the nation with 66% approval, 5% more than Bernie Sanders. He has been a leader on lgbt rights and the environment, and has improved state campaign finance laws. He would be a great President if he chose to run. Delaware scores well on corruption rankings.
  2. Mark Dayton of Minnesota is the second most popular Democratic governor in America currently at 61% percent approval, but he doesn't have the strong anti-corruption record of Markell. Minnesota scores very well on corruption rankings.
  3. John Hickenlooper already can't walk into a room without people asking him to run for president, like when he was on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me a few weeks ago.  He has an amazing economic policy, strong on gun control,  and is in favor of marijuana legalization. He would be a fantastic president. Colorado scores very well on corruption convictions.
  4. Kate Brown of Oregon is enjoying 58% approval and is strong on all metrics. Oregon is the least corrupt state in the nation.
  5. Jay Inslee of Washington is at 56% approval and a strong progressive on most issues, despite opposing Initiative 732. Washington is the second least corrupt state in the nation.

So, my ideal primary would see Bernie Sanders (who will likely win) on the stage with Kate Brown, John Hickenlooper, Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee, and Mark Dayton. These are 6 individuals who do the best they can given their available information and we would be lucky to have any of these individuals as our next president.

More details:
Candidate Age on 20 January 2021 State
Kate Brown 60Oregon
Jay Inslee 69 Washington
Elizabeth Warren 71Massachusetts
Bernie Sanders 79 Vermont
John Hickenlooper 68 Colorado
Mark Dayton 73 Minnesota

The first thing about these heavy hitters is that they are all fairly old to be President. Most Presidents have usually been in their 50s with an ordinary bell curve with the median at 55. Obama was 48 when he became President, Clinton was 46. All other Presidents since Kennedy have been older. Trump is the oldest President ever at 70 years old upon inauguration. These 6 candidates are all very good people but also would continue to be yet another baby boomer President. It would be ideal in my opinion to have a younger President (like Obama, the most successful since LBJ by a wide margin). All of these candidates had the opportunity to run in 2016 and only one of them did.

For younger politicians, the following spark my interest:

  1. Senator Tammy Duckworth is a veteran from Illinois with an excellent record.
  2. Keith Ellison is a representative (the only President elected from the House so far has been Lincoln) but a strong progressive voice for our country.
  3. Kamala Harris of California has a fantastic record as a prosecutor in California and I expect great things from her.

There are not very many ideal presidential candidates in America today. The Democratic Party has failed  to get a pipeline of candidates from the local level to be a dominant force in politics like the Republican Party has done. They need to fight gerrymandering and voter discrimination now in order to be a competitive party nationally. Until this happens we will continue to see the Republicans rule the country at all levels of government. But, we have 9 great choices for President, hopefully one will win the election in 2020 and make Donald Trump the first one term president in a generation. We can do it, if we choose to.