Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

One political thing that I think really needs to happen

Friday, September 18th, 2020

So, I guess it’s probably unlikely that the democrats would do this if they came into power, and we already know the conservatives are the cheatier of the two parties, at least when it comes to voter suppression and gerrymandering, so they’re not likely to do this, but it would be nice if we could get bipartisan support for the idea that we’re going to block cheating and corruption wherever it occurs.

What we really *don’t* want the democrats to do is redo all the republican gerrymandering to be democratic gerrymandering. A computer, driven by rules that both sides agree to and agree are equally fair to both sides, should draw district lines going forward.

We also don’t want the democrats to turn around and figure out how to do voter suppression on the republicans the way the republicans have done on the democrats. We should watch for all forms of voter suppression and suppress them.

And, of course, there are many other ways to cheat. Citizens United should be overturned, for example, as it represents a clear and obvious cheatyness. In general we should probably be building legal structures that correct for cheating and corruption as it occurs. Parties shouldn’t be delighted that they’ve found a way to cheat, they should be working to make any ways found to cheat impossible.

One thought that did just occur to me is maybe we  should ban political parties in general. They seem to lead to a lot of bad behavior.

Another thing that would be nice is to build the moral into both parties that government officials should represent everyone – especially officials like the president. Trump should have been removed from office for failing to even pretend to represent half of America – but, of course, the conservatives, by their actions, care more about winning than about continuing to have a country worth living in.

Intelligence is no defense

Friday, September 18th, 2020

So one of the things that’s scary about the political direction the world has been taking lately, and the upcoming election, is I recently got a reminder that intelligence is not a defense against propaganda. One of the problems I think we run into is that we humans are to a certain extent herd beasts and so we tend to absorb without even thinking about it the points of view of the people around us.

 

I’ve been continuing to discuss with my friend who is convinced the chinese communist party is the source of all the trouble in the world, that BLM and Antifa are fronts for the CCP, and that Biden is a Chinese puppet. I do agree that Biden clearly sees China as a ally – and that the TPP was a shameful attempt to pass a backroom deal without letting it see the light of day. But I also think that BLM and Antifa are primarily what it says on the label – a organization about police murdering black folk and a not-even-organized group of people fighting facism. I think Trump clearly represents facism – his attempts to rig the election by destroying the post office during a pandemic, his statements about how he should be allowed to have three terms, and his general behavior as if he were king, not president, and making no attempt to represent more than half of his constituents underline this.

 

Anyway, this friend of mine is clearly intelligent and capable and yet from my point of view they are deeply bought into a conspiracy theory that I suspect is being pushed by conservatives as one of the many examples of their motto “If you can’t win, cheat.”. It wouldn’t actually make sense for most of America to back the conservative party as it currently stands so they’re trying for a disinformation campaign to get people to vote for them anyway.. and clearly at least in a few cases I could mention it seems to be working.

 

Part of the problem here also I suspect is party identity.. a lot of people I think would never vote for Trump if he had “democrat” on the label, and would be horrified by his now clear-as-day white supremacism, his misogyny, all the creepy pictures of him with very young girls and his admitting to doing things like looking in on people in their dressing rooms at the miss america pageant – not to mention his attempt to destroy the post office in order to win, his tax cut which was a gift for the 1% who hardly need it, and let’s also not forget the grab ’em by the pussy tape, etc

 

By the way, does anyone want to bet about whether we’ll “wait until the election” to elect a new supreme court justice as the republicans insisted we do during the obama years? No, of course not, Mitch McCheaterson will probably have a pro-Trump-as-king-anti-abortion justice in the court before the week is over.

 

Anyway, it’s rather terrifying to me that intelligence is no defense – what ends up happening is intelligence ends up getting used to sell people on the point of view they’ve already adopted. Of course this underlines that I have no real way of knowing whether my POV is valid either – there’s kind of this hopeless sinking in quicksand feeling – but I do know that conservatives in general are headed in the wrong direction from my POV because I don’t *want* to return to the 1950s, or even stay where we are – I don’t want to live in a world where cops shoot black folk whenever they want, or where women are carefully held in subjugation, or where the president can destroy large swaths of services that are inconvenient for him (i.e. the post office)

 

I honestly think Trump belongs in jail far more than Hillary ever possibly could have, that conservatives are largely bought in on total bullshit stories, that the conservative entertainment shows like Fox and Friends are hugely damaging to the future of our country as well as selling non-stop lies and propaganda..

 

And let’s please all remember that Trump fired most of the pandemic team a few years ago, and that Trump’s repeated lies and inability to comprehend the situation led to the USA having 4% of the world’s population but 22% of the COVID cases. Well, that combined with the USA having capitalism as a disease.

 

It did also occur to me that by making sure they confirm whatever awful partisan judge Trump wants before the election, the Senate will be demonstrating that acting against the majority of the country is more important to them than acting in the best interests of the country (since what they really should be spending their time on right now is helping with COVID and the corresponding crash)

 

I also note that I would guess that at least a third of the lawmakers electing that judge have paid for a mistress’s abortion. I am certain Trump has. No hypocrisy here.

The police – thoughts

Saturday, September 5th, 2020

So, I’ve had a number of interactions with the police. More, I would say, than the average person, by a fair amount.

On the positive side of the ledger, my next door neighbor growing up was a police officer – as far as I know, he never fired his weapon at anyone and he retired from the force with honors – despite policing Washington, DC, one of the rougher cities out there at the time. It’s difficult for me to imagine him a white supremacist, or him enacting or condoning violence. Without knowing exactly how I know this, I have this belief that he was a good cop.

Another example I would cite is the car artist Speedycop – I’ve never met him in person but we have a lot of friends in common and we have conversed. Whenever I think of him, I think of the scene in Pirates Of The Carribean where James Norrington says “This is a beautiful sword. I would expect the man who made it to show the same care and devotion in every aspect of his life”. It may not be rational, but the beautiful and carefully executed artwork of Speedycop makes me suspect he is a good cop, and my interactions with him reinforce that belief.

On the other side of that equation, I’ve had police lie in reports about me, I’ve had police utterly convinced I was high even as I explained to them that I was experiencing a transient manic episode – I at one point begged them to take my blood in the hopes that analyzing it would reveal what was going wrong hormonally that I was experiencing semi-blackout mania. They tested for drugs, but no extra blood was taken for research purposes. I will say on the positive side of that that one police officer was clearly planning on beating me and another cop relocated me to his cruiser in order to separate me from that individual.

I’ve never been beaten by the cops, but once they came to my door in long beach, accused me of being a squatter, and *threatend* to beat me. They’ve aimed guns at me numerous times. If I were black, I’d already be dead.

Anyway, the point is, I don’t want to live in a world completely without police, but I think a world in which the police were better trained and less well armed would certainly be a better one. They shouldn’t be *able* to tear gas nonviolent protesters for weeks on end, because they *shouldn’t have that much tear gas*. Clearly they’ve been getting too many tax dollars. They shouldn’t have quasi-miliary equipment, and they should have a *lot* of training in de-esclation.

One valid point that the police have made is that you don’t i.e. blame all doctors for one bad doctor, or all plumbers for one bad plumber. On the other paw, the police are different. Plumbers don’t generally kill people with no consequences, for example.

I really don’t know what the right answers are. But something badly needs to change.

Mathematical modeling of suffering

Sunday, August 30th, 2020

I still think that there is a valid place for mathematically measuring human suffering. I think as we get better and better at neuroscience we will get to a place where we can objectively measure suffering. (I wonder what the unit for it will be..)

One interesting question I was playing with the other day is whether Trump or Bush caused more suffering. It’s easier to be angry at Trump because he’s such a obvious cartoon villain, but my guess would be that Dubya caused far more suffering with the war over flase pretenses and the hundreds of thousands killed – it’s also possible if one is measuring long term effects, Reagan caused even more with striking the fairness doctrine and encouraging extreme polarization, which helped the GOP drift into the machine for pure evil and greed it is today instead of just a organization representing conservative values.

I do think that world leaders that cause massive suffering need some sort of consequences. One of the problems with our system of government is leaders in general have very little reason not to be awful – nothing bad is generally going to happen to them for being awful, politically or personally. Even if they get caught, the public seems to have about a 15 minute memory. I guarantee you in November 80% of Trump voters will be completely oblivious to the fact that Trump fired the pandemic team, for example.

I do think it’s interesting how the GOP talks about how we’re committing murder when we kill fetusi that don’t have a brain yet, but it’s fine with them if the cops shoot innocent people, as long as those innocent people are not white.

In general there’s kind of this massive and insane disconnect in our criminal justice system – “You stole $1000! We should take 20 years of your life!”. It does underline the fact that in America, money is worth more than life.

Anyway, I think measuring suffering would teach us some of what we’re doing wrong.

America, land of the thug

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

So, one thing that I can’t help but notice is that America’s police forces are basically amoral thugs. The fact that they were willing to enforce things like the marijuana laws was a good indicator of this, but a better indicator is that they repeatedly kill innocent civilians and they have no problems with this.

This fits in nicely with America’s military, which is in the business of killing any innocent who gets in the way of our state religion (capitalism) or our access to oil. It’s obvious that there are better options than oil for transportation energy storage, but the american dollar and the wealth of a bunch of old white men is tied to oil, so, murder more! Besides, the voters like seeing the houses of others blown up on the nightly news. It makes them feel patroitic.

And, of course, there’s a very effective brainwashing system in place selling the idea that all this thuggery is good. Shows like Cops. A never-ending series of lies to justify the use of deadly force by both the police and the military.

It doesn’t take much research, if one is willing to be honest, to discover that when Islamic countries talk about America as worshiping ‘The great Satan’, they have a pretty good case they can make. (Of course, Jehovah is also a murdering bastard.. in general our spiritual systems do not seem to be based around people you would want to know, with the possible exception of Jesus himself and Siddhartha).

Why don’t people stop it? I don’t know. Increasingly it looks like we’re willing to fight back when the cops murder innocents, which I find encouraging, but we’re not doing a very good job of targetting. People, teh goal is to destroy government buildings that belong to the criminal justice system, not random, useful government buildings, and definitely not private businesses.

I understand that it’s hard to think rationally when you’re angry, and I also understand that anger is a reasonable response to being hurt, and having our police murder innocents without consequence (aside from maybe some paperwork) whenever they want definitely falls under “being hurt”. Living in fear of our police because they will thug around whenever they want and break bones and murder if anyone doesn’t “respect their authoritah” is also something I’d consider “being hurt”. Of course, the conservatives are all cheering this on. Yay! Cops should kill more innocent citizens! And break more bones!

The dangers of ‘small government’

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

So, yesterday, I had a odd thing happen – the main DC breaker for the summing bus on the solar panel tripped while I was charging the EV.

Now, it’s a 200 amp breaker, and my EV uses 140 amps to charge, so I knew something was wrong.. and when I went to reset it, the panel smelled of burned plastic and was hot to the touch. So, I didn’t reset it, instead I put off investigating for today and flipped the switch for the EV over to the ‘grid’ position.

Today, when I took the panel off, I discovered the insulation on the 4/0 that feeds the inverter had literally melted. Upon further investigation, I discovered when I installed the lug for that branch, I either stripped it or it came defective from the factory, thusly it was not snugging the wire all the way down into it’s little channel. I’m surprised it worked as long as it did.

What I want you to notice here is nowhere in this did we have fires, people dying, etc. Why? because the NEC requires breaker panels to be made of metal, and the plastic parts in them to be of self-extinguishing material. Ditto the jackets for wire.

*this* is the “Big Government” the republicans rail against. Not the police that murder citizens, not the army that murders innocents, but “regulatory oganizations” – things like the CSB, who make sure that chemical plants are operated safely, or the NEC, which makes sure that electrical distribution systems are safe.

Trump and his cohorts are, in essence, the guy at Chernobyl arguing to turn off the computer because it won’t let them pull all the rods out. (I remind you that Trump literally *fired the pandemic team*). Those of you crying about how you want more freedom apparently want the freedom to have your house burn down because the installer made a mistake, have your oil refinery explode and kill hundreds because a valve has rusted out, or have the freedom to know that you’re murdering immigrants in order to protect the jobs that no americans want to do.

We have big government because we tried small government, and it didn’t work out so well. I agree there are portions of our government we need to trim or axe – the portions murdering people. Precisely the portions republicans want to give more money to. However, the regulatory officials save lives every day. We should really consider whether we want the world’s next Chernobyl to be in America – if, indeed, it isn’t already.

The delusional thinking is strong with these folks

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

So, I was looking at a list of everyone’s plans for COVID and schooling (this one) and I was impressed at how many people plan on reopening schools. We know from several recent event with school summer camps that despite the idiocy of the idiot-in-chief, children do in fact catch and spread COVID. As such, there is really no hope for a in-person reopening this year. Nonetheless, large numbers of people have deluded themselves into thinking this is what they should do. We also know, by the way, that in rare cases (maybe 1:10,000) COVID kills perfectly healthy children. So, this decision is likely to kill hundreds of kids.

Part of what’s frustrating to me is we see Trump being wrong, over and over. He keeps making statements that are obviously wrong. We’ve seen the GOP be wrong over and over about things that got people killed, and they just keep standing up and making more wrong statements and people eep identifying with them and loving them because after all, if they voted for democrats a bum somewhere might get a free beer and that’s the most horrifying thing that could ever happen. Never mind the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend murdering people around the world to prop up the petrodollar, never mind the ill will we’ve generated around the world that will be coming back on us for centuries by murdering people’s friends and family and/or getting people’s friends and family killed in our stupid proxy wars, never mind the obvious lies about things like weapons of mass destruction in order to make more money, it’s all about let’s make government small.. except the department of perpetual war (“Department of defense” my ass) which needs to be as big, bloated, and overpowered as possible.

And what’s frustrating is, obviously these people didn’t learn as their children were killed in the endless and stupid wars, so they’re not going to learn when their children die of COVID. They’re still telling themselves that COVID is “almost over” despite much historical data telling us that it’s only just getting warmed up, and they’re planning to reopen schools despite the USA having the world #1 record on both deaths and cases. I guess the USA also has the world #1 record for corruption and stupidity in government.

While we’re talking about annoying – these same people are going to slowly acknowledge that OK, COVID wasn’t a democratic hoax but they’re going to continue to assure us that global warming is. Their base is either stupid enough or brainwashed enough to continue buying into this point of view – one of the things I’m slowly wrapping my head around is we’re either really good at manipulating people’s points of view or a lot of people are just not very bright to begin with and completely unable to master skills like critical thinking and.. this one might be kind of important.. recognizing that they’re being sold large amounts of bullshit by a propaganda machine.

Anyway, if we do continue with the school reopening, I predict the failure.. and the deaths.. will be epic.

The insanity of democracy

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

So, being wrong should count against you, politically. Not, this is my opinion wrong, but, factually wrong. And the GOP has been *epicly* wrong about COVID – the amount wrong they are is going to come with a huge body count. We can reasonably guess they are similarly epicly wrong about global warming. They were epicly wrong about the weapons of mass destruction thing and a whole bunch of people ought to be sitting in jail who are instead being re-elected and cheered on for their awfulness. But I digress.

The astonishing thing is I *know* that my conservative friends are going to continue to defend their party even though it’s been demonstrated that *the GOP is out of touch with reality*. Time and time again.. the Laffer curve, anyone? History tells us that it didn’t work, yet of course we’re doing it again. Masks? Of course COVID is just like the flu and we don’t need masks.. on this one, of course, they are slowly bending because otherwise they won’t have a constituency. Which, I guess, is just evolution in action.

The problem with democracy is the majority of the voters aren’t paying attention or have no real memory to speak of for events. So even though the GOP should be at this point a tiny fraction of a percent of congress, if people were voting them out every time they were factually wrong in a way that got people hurt or killed, they play to people’s emotions and people continue to re-elect them even though they are hurting us all.

In response to a comment on a previous post

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

I quote a commenter on my blog: “America needs some work but trying to convince me that one particular demographic are the only ones whose complaints should be addressed sounds racist and divisive, to me”.

Well, it depends on the lens you look at it through. If you look at it as “we are triaging and these are the people the most screwed over, time after time”, then it’s a totally reasonable thing to do. If you look at it as if “if they get more rights, I get less” i.e. the zero sum game approach, then you’ll come to the conclusion (which I obviously think is wrong) that you came to.

I agree that we need to not break up into little tiny groups and then fight over the fact that we want slightly different things. However it is undoubtedly *everyone’s* problem when the police are killing innocent citizens. The police should be willing to *take* a bullet for a unarmed civilian, not to *shoot bullets* at unarmed citizens.

However, statistically, it’s clear the police kill black folk more than anyone else. And it’s clear that there are *many* white supremacist idiots out there, and way too many of them have found themselves into the police departments of America, and that’s a huge problem. It’s a huge problem in general that police can murder with impunity and it’s a *additional* huge problem that a particular segment of the population is being murdered. Hence..

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Which doesn’t mean that other lives do not. Very little of life is a zero sum game.

Israel

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

So, one of the very stupid things that religion makes us do is declare certain spots on earth ‘holy land’. One of the most impressive examples of people not learning from how they’ve been treated is the Jewish occupation of Israel.. as near as I can tell, they are treating other folk almost as awful as they were treated in WWII and they can’t just walk away because it’s “holy land”.

It isn’t, of course. Near as I can tell JHVH was someone’s imagination, and either all land is holy or none of it is, but the stupidity will continue because, yes, religion is a virus, and yes, a bunch of people are infected.

I’m not anti-semitic. However, I can’t look at the situation in Israel without feeling a anger that borders on hatred. Not for all folk of that religion, just for those specific ones. I’m also impressed at how they’ve bought the American political system – as far as I can tell the consulting gig where I was analyzing california voting data looking for signs of fraud was paid for by Israel – they are spending money to manipulate the US political system (which, as we all know, is for sale), and I notice that there are actually *laws* against boycotting israel – and, of course, we keep selling one side and not the other the best guns we can make. Probably some of this is Christianity is derivative of Judaism and a bunch of people in the US are infected with Christianity and therefore they think of one side as “our side” and the other as “infidels”.

I read that most Jewish folk consider the occupation immoral – well, obviously, stealing people’s land and blowing up their houses *is* immoral – but they can’t think of what to do about it. Here’s what you do: You accept there’s no such thing as holy land, and you walk away and let the people who were living there most recently have it. You stop killing people over land and over some really nutty religious thoughts. You walk away.

They won’t, of course. But they should.

As long as I’m opening cans of worms with this article, there’s probably a cautionary tale here about why it’s a really bad idea to think of yourself as “god’s chosen people”. In general, that idea is about as dangerous and as nutty as the idea that there’s one chosen religion and God is going to reward the followers of that religion or punish the adherents of all the others. It’s a horrible idea that leads to horrible outcomes but I can see where as a member of the powers that be that want folk killing other folk just because they’re wearing a different color uniform it’s a delightfully tempting one to sell to the gullible. It does underline the fact that religion has been curated by the powers that be to control the masses.