I plan to keep this up with short essays on time-topical issues. I have pages of larger, grander essays on various subjects, but here, on this page, I'd like to present more-frequent snips on whatever is currently bugging people politically, or at least what's bugging me at the time. Let's see how well I do.
Politics was sound bites long before Internet social media made politics into sound bytes. I think I remember the commercial for Lyndon Johnson's campaign In 1964 showing a little girl picking dandelions while a scary male voice counted down to nuclear war, or something like that. It presented the Republicans as being war-mongers over the peace-loving Democrats. Somebody spent a lot of time, money, equipment, and expertise to prepare such a vivid and emotional appeal. That equipment and expertise was available only to a limited community in 1964.
The ease and availability of Facebook memes, puts that kind of misdirection in the hands of a larger community. Pictures of a lonely little girl or an aborted fetus evoke powerful emotions that often have little to do with what is true or real. Words are used, abused, and mis-used with reckless abandon as the abusers and mis-users face no personal consequence for their abusing and mis-using misdeeds. When I've confronted some of these on their deliberate deception, they reminded that they are entitled to their own opinions about facts and meanings of words, but they're wrong. We're all entitled to our opinions of what should be, but not our own facts and not our own meanings of words.
That's why my first essay is about the meanings of words, particularly two words that have precise meanings intended to communicate precise information about precise policy that are being banded as emotional fodder instead.
2019 July 23 — Meanings of words.
I've noticed several social-medium web pages defending "socialism" because it's low rent for poor people, justice for the downtrodden, living wages for the underpaid, and just about anything nice. Maybe socialism also is cuddling cute puppies.
The same pages paint "fascism" as evil. It's dictatorship, tyranny, evil, and rottenness. One of these postings came from a medical doctor (MD). Would he be so comfortable if a hospital catalogued everybody with abdominal pain as having "colorectal cancer"?
Let's look at the meanings of three social-political-economic terms:
In the 1880s Karl Marx developed a theory of social-political-economic evolution called "communism" (with a small C). Marx's communism tripod stood on three legs, or maybe the removal of three legs, like John Lennon's song "Imagine," end of religion ("opiate of the masses"), end of national boundaries, and end of private property. (The Israeli kibbutzim are touted as a success of "small-C" communism, voluntary societies with communal distribution of their internal wealth. They're quite different from the "big-C Communist countries like Russia, China, and Cuba.)
Starting in 1917 in Russia there has been a wave of politically Communist conversions of countries. Remaining countries calling themselves Communist are China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba. How faithful to Karl Marx these countries are is a subject for debate and discussion, but these countries clearly don't look like our United States of America, or even like the sort-of democracies of western Europe.
Back off several steps from any form of communism and we get to a system where people can own their own stuff but all the mechanisms of production are owned and run by a central government. This is called "socialism," or at least that's what I was taught. It's not anything nice or anything nasty, socialism is a country having government own all the factories.
When the same mechanisms of production are owned by private individuals but are still run by the central state, then we call the system "fascism." I went to high school and learned this stuff without all the emotionalism.
So posting socialism-is-love pages and all-evil-is-fascism pages betrays a terrible lack of education. You have every right to put it on Facebook, but it suggests ignorance. More importantly, such misrepresentation of verbiage makes discourse divisive. If I want to point out that actual socialism is bad, then it invokes pictures of poor people being punished. If somebody wants to point out positive aspects of fascism, then it invokes pictures of dictators violating human rights. There's plenty of good and bad to be had in socialism and fascism, but coloring those with this sort of emotionalism makes it impossible to discuss these issues.
That may have been the point all along.
2019 July 30 — Brexit.
There was a flurry of fuss about England leaving the European Union (EU). The media hype name was "Brexit." What happened, so far as I can tell, is that England had an election referendum proposal to separate from the EU and it passed with a 52% majority.
Okay, I'm an American. While I'm entitled to an opinion on just about anything, I realize that other countries's politics have all kinds of shades of gray that get lost in translation, never mind media misrepresentation. So what's the story behind the story?
Well, I happened, recently, to be on a tour of South America, a British tour actually, and my politically like-minded friends D&D were there, so I asked their opinion about Brexit. I expected a strong opinion one way or the other. Maybe England should join up and be part of the team, maybe even embrace the Euro. Maybe England should reject the fascism and hate of the European Union and embrace its own principles, although fascism and hate are hardly foreign to England these days. What's the answer?
The answer I got was more profound than either of those responses. D&D said trusting the voters with that question is just plain wrong. We elect people to Parliament who, we suppose, have the time and knowhow and intelligence to make good decisions. Even if they're lacking in knowhow and intelligence, at least they're spending their time in the halls of government thinking about and discussing these issues. The relationships between England and continental Europe are complicated, the issues can be divisive, and the decision are difficult. So what did these carefully selected and deeply entrusted members of Parliament do? They threw the issue into a referendum and tossed it into a sea of emotional voters. Fifty-two percent vote one way and we stay or fifty-two percent vote the other way and we go. That's it.
So rather than give me a direct opinion, D&D said they didn't themselves understand all the issues that insiders in government would be familiar with and they wanted their representatives in London to do their jobs and to make an informed decision. I admire my friends D&D not only for being politically astute, but for knowing when to let the mechanisms and mechanics of government do their jobs.
In similarly democratic fashion, I remember a bunch of ecology types trying to save wolves in Michigan from being hunted, they got a 52% majority on a referendum to ban hunting wolves, and they felt comfortable in their victory. Democracy was done and they didn't worry that somebody might later win a few percent of those votes for a referendum the other way. I feel they were naïve in many ways, like those comfortable in the 52% vote for Brexit.
Imagine something as hateful and vitriolic and negative as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel being decided by a majority vote! Representing naked anti-semitic hate as "Freedom Justice Equality" is scary enough, but, here in the United States, we have a republic with rules of engagement specifically to prevent this sort of emotionalism to turn into the genocide that has happened before.
I find one of the differences between my conservative community and the progressive, liberal movements is their comfort in ceding to the will of the people, even and especially when that will is all about hate.
2019 August 27 — 'Fessing up.
Remember Bill Cosby? He was a comedian back in the day, a very funny one in fact, and he had a routine, at least as I remember it, about a kid in seventh or eighth grade finding a bullet right before shop class. One guy, the class genius, says, "If you put a bullet in the furnace, it'll explode." So Todd puts the bullet in the furnace and all the kids are working, tink tink tink tink, and trying not to snicker. Then, BOOM!, the bullet explodes followed by more snickering and tink tink tink tink.
So the shop teacher is one of these psychology guys who transfers guilt from the perpetrator to his family. "Who put a bullet in the furnace?" No answer, tink tink tink tink. "You know, if you put a bullet in the furnace, it reflects on your family." Still no answer, tink tink tink tink. "It reflects on a persons parents to put a bullet in the furnace. Yep a person's mother must be pretty low for you to put a bullet in the furnace." No answer, tink tink tink tink, then some whispering, "Hey Todd, he's talking about your mother."
Todd jumps up and says, "I didn't put no bullet in the furnace and stop talking about my mother!" Yeah, that's the story from Bill Cosby. Let's see what happens in real life.
The President of the United States gets up and criticizes the attitudes of some members of congress, anti-American attitudes, anti-Constitutional attitudes, particularly antisemitic attitudes. He mentioned no race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation, not even how many of these members of congress there were, only the horrible, hateful, nasty, negative attitudes of these miscreants.
Four women in Congress jump up and say, "We're not hateful, anti-white, anti-male, anti-Jewish anti-Americans, you're terrible because you're white, and stop saying racist things about us!"
A friend M on Facebook that anybody who said what President Trump said would be fired. I actually said those exact words to a colleague, while I was sharing an office with M at work in fact. It was 1983, I had the company job posting in my hand, L was grumbling, and I said, "If you're not happy here [in this department], then maybe you should go somewhere else." He did, he had a rich and wonderful career, and he did some wonderful, ground-breaking work in his field.
2019 September 10 — The Holocaust.
We identify the deliberate destruction of six million Jews and about that many non-Jews as "The Holocaust." We tell ourselves that this event must never happen again. I share the urgency but believe we're doing the wrong things to prevent it happening again.
Treating the Holocaust as a single terrible moment in history gives us a smugness about it. We didn't do it, it's not our fault, if we can keep its specific circumstances from recurring, then we can prevent a repeat. If it's too big and terrible to avert, then maybe we can be someplace else so it's something to avoid. I liken the singular concept of the Holocaust to Pompeii's eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79.
How do we avoid a volcano? Given that we can't plug up the magma spout, we can listen carefully and run away when we hear the rumbling of hot lava. Similarly, when the social and economic conditions of another Holocaust appear, maybe we can be someplace else. Of course, this requires us to be right about what caused the first eruption, the first Holocaust.
Suppose that analysis is wrong. A slightly wider view of history certainly suggests it's wrong. Before our Holocaust Josef Stalin starved eight million people in the Ukraine and killed many millions more. After our Holocaust Mao Zedong murdered six million in Tibet along with many millions more. Are Fidel Castro's and Pol Pot's purges that much kinder and gentler?
So maybe the Holocaust isn't a singular moment in history, but, instead, one of a series of genocidal mass murders. How does that change our plan not to have a repeat performance?
First of all, I believe all of these events emerged from an environment of emnity and hate and people trusting authority. They weren't singular moments and we're not going to avoid them by being watchful and careful. The attitudes that generated Stalin, Hitler, Castro, and Mao permeate our politics. Historically support for those causes has come from our progressive left, the Pete Seeger crowd, the communists, the socialists, the fascists, all the people who supported bigger government with more controls. Support has also come from the racists, from the slave traders, and from the Klan through the Black Panthers to the newer divisive groups like Black Lives Matter. In case you weren't sure, the young, new wave of Democrats is bringing back the old anti-semitism that permeated the progressive movement eighty years ago.
I believe the central pillars of dictatorship and death are gun control so people can't fight back, economic distribution to give the government control over livelihood, tyranny in the form of increased regulation, and strong ethnic-prejudice policy to create an atmosphere of fear. Faith in pseudo-science gives the government control over academic institutions to control what people are learning in college and graduate school.
Our left-wing Democrats supported all three giant genocidal generals and supports all the pillars of hate required for holocausts. The path to Never-Again is not one of avoiding Austrians with skinny mustaches or marches of old, pot-bellied German soldiers. The path to Never-Again is to understand the importance of having an armed populus, minimum government, and respect for American-freedom values, along with recognizing all ethnic groups as part of our society. That's my opinion and it's backed up by history.
It doesn't help that the latest community of progressive hate mongers are showing a vein of anti-semitism not seen since the 1930s, but at least it should make it clear to any Jew in the United States that the Democrats are not their friends. One wise friend of mine suggests it isn't so much a surge of anti-Jewish hate as it is simply restoring the state of anti-semitism as it existed for centuries before 1940. He suggests we had eighty good, quiet, pleasant years and now four score of temporary Jew-tolerant days are over.
2019 September 13 — Abortion.
Every day I see a plethora of random spew from the left-wing, progressive, Democrat, liberals on Facebook. The general theme is associating things that have nothing to do with each other in a negative way. Donald Trump favors having only identified citizens vote, Donald Trump wants to restrict the border to legal immigrants. Donald Trump says he doesn't like her opinion, so Trump is racist, that sort of thing. I would like to think this is a Democrat thing, except for one issue.
I'm pro-choice on the abortion issue.
The pro-life postings from the right wing are just as terrible, just as sleezy, and just as vindictive as the left-wing drivel. First is the claim that an embryo is alive. Of course it's alive, so was the broccoli I ate last night. Next is the claim it has a heartbeat. Of course it has a heartbeat, so does the steak you ate last night. Finally, there's the claim we harvest organs from fetuses. We harvest organs from pigs and they're not human. Well, none of that matters. Liberals are KILLING BABIES.
Maybe somebody is killing babies, I don't know. Let's look at the abortion issue head on. I think we're all comfortable that a dead or dying human egg or sperm is not a human-life tragedy and that killing a non-threatening nineteen-year-old person is a human-life crime. Somewhere in between we would like to draw "a line in the sand" before which is inconvenient and after which is criminal.
|A well-read, well-informed friend told me an interesting story. Apparently there were no anti-abortion laws back in 1789 simply because fetal life was not regarded as human. The doctor's union (American Medical Association, AMA) wanted to get in on the midwife business, so they pushed to have fetal life designated as human. If it's human, then it needs a Real Doctor and not just some professional woman who has been deliverating babies for her entire career who knows what she's doing. It was a way for the Medical-Doctor (MD) profession to push out the midwives, not any true recognition of fetal life as human or sacred. Interesting, isn't it?|
Myself, I'm comfortable that anything unborn, anything requiring placental sustenance, anything that can't breathe and survive on its own, is not entitled to criminal-law protection of its life. The argument can be made several ways, it's not human yet, it's life can only exist as a parasite, and there's enough doubt on the issue that we should leave people alone. I'm told there were no laws against abortion in 1789 when our Constitution was written.
Who else feels the way I do? Well, I know a lot of people with similar feelings. Whoever wrote the biblical Book of Genesis felt as I do. Adam became human with the breath of God and that has been interpreted by Talmudic scholars as saying that a fetus becomes a human baby at its first breath. There's enough reasonable doubt floating around to make it wrong to intervene.
My own personal sound-byte is, "Choose choice." If you don't have a really compelling reason to do otherwise, then choose the path that gives people choice. Killing a nineteen-year-old adult is a major violation of ethics, killing a pre-human is not, even you don't like it.
1200 million Catholics feel fetal life is sanctified and holy. I get it, I feel their pain, and I feel they should never be compelled to have an abortion or to support an abortion, so no public funding for abortions, not now, not ever. 1100 million Hindis feel bovine life is similarly sacred, about the same number of people, but I don't see a similar movement from the same religious right telling us not to eat steak. I would compel a Hindu neither to eat beef nor to support eating beef, but I don't feel his religion obligates me to comply.
You're allowed to feel strongly. Using my Hindu example, would you feel as comfortable about a group of Indian Hindus outside a steakhouse mooing and mooning the way so-called pro-life protesters act around abortion clinics?
Roe versus Wade may be bad law and I suppose individual communities might be reasonable banning abortion, presumably with 100% support by secret ballot, but I myself feel its the wrong issue to get into a snit about and especially the wrong issue to engage in liberal-style tactics like portraying those who don't feel the way they do as BABY KILLERS.
I will point out I have no sympathy
for Planned Parenthood.
It was founded by Margaret Sanger
as a kinder-gentler genocide to get rid of imbeciles,
mostly "coloreds" and Jews,
through forced sterilizations and abortions.
President Wilson thought well of Planned Parenthood
and they have enjoyed the support of the same progressive left wing
that brought us the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
That they do something nice sometimes
doesn't put them on the side of the angels.
We should be horrified at Planned Parenthood
(with its sweet, euphemistic name)
getting any public money at any level.
2019 October 11 —
2019 October 11 — Radical Left.
First, you pledged allegiance to the flag and the republic for which it stands, a republic whose Constitution specifically and directly prohibits federal-government intervention on healthcare and education and all government intervention on guns. Guns fall under the Second Amendment and healthcare and education funding fall under the Tenth. It's not hard to understand, you have every right to disagree, but you came here, left the other 95% of the world with different values, and joined our club. It's pretty stinky to join a club only to subvert its primary values. If you get no further than to accept conservative values because they're part of what you agreed to support in being part of this country, then you've met the burden of acceptance.
Second, you can look at the places where these values have been tried, 1920s Russia, 1930s Germany, 1950s Cuba, 1960s China, and 1990s Venezuela come to mind. All of these were quickly led by tyrannical, despot dicators with subsequent poverty, loss of liberty, fear, and mass executions to justify that fear. Never mind how they got that way, the correlation is compelling enough to be convincing.
Similarly, global warming is a clear follow-on from eugenics, an impending ice age, acid rain, mercury in the tuna fish, and the ozone layer, all of which were revealed to be pseudo-science in politics and all of which resulted in bad political public policy. Within global-warming there were continuing global warming, climate change, shrinking ice caps, polar bears dying off, rising sea level, and catastrophic bad weather, none of which happened as predicted. Even with the most-generous acceptance of bad science, generous enough to accept astrology and tarot cards, the climate-change scene falls on its face. Man-made global warming has clearly become pseudo-science in politics and has displaced attention to legitimate environmental issues.
If you get no further than to accept conservative values because the alternative values have brought a century of unspeakable human horror, then you've met the burden of acceptance.
On "Conservation of our environment and wildlife" and "Clear air and water" I'll say this much. After Teddy Roosevelt's National Parks system 1916 August 25 I don't think there was much environmental concern or action until Earth Day, 1970 April 22. At that point there was, from every political faction I believe, political and popular favor for cleaning up water and air, preserving biodiversity, and introducing fewer poisons in manufacturing and farming. Alas, that soon merged with eugenics pseudo-science to become the environmental-scare politics we have known since 1977 (and discussed in the second-preceding paragraph).
In addition to its misplaced political positions and horrifically inappropriate ad hominem hype, this piece exhibits severe Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) where the author has nothing better or smarter to say about our duly elected President than spitting epithets into a computer keyboard. I must admit I'm entertained and amused by the apparently inadvertent allusion to Trump "masquerading" as President when his predecessor was and still is secretive about his personal background.
For me the standard is higher. I am a mathematician, a scientist, and an engineer. I've even been briefly a professor. I have a higher responsibility in my understanding of and communication about these issues.
As a mathematician, I'm expected to understand why government health care doesn't cure the sick, why government education doesn't teach the ignorant, why government research doesn't lead to scientific understanding, and why government environmentalism doesn't protect the environment. I do understand these and I've explained them elsewhere.
As a mathematician, I'm also expected to understand the importance of a basic moral code of conduct, why the expediency of the moment is not a justification for policy or even behavior, and the power of reason and thinking over knee-jerk feelings in making much better things happen for a lot more people. I do understand these and I've explained them elsewhere.
As a scientist, I'm expected to understand why government funding of science creates an endless chain of pseudo-scientific despotism and misplaced public desperation to act quickly on foolish premises and why Newton's Scientific Method will inevitably be ignored in its process. Again, I do understand these and I've explained them elsewhere.
As an engineer, I'm expected to understand why limiting government as our Constitution was designed to do is essential to creating a free, prosperous, and proud country, why our Constitution's form of government achieves these things, and how to get back to values that keep us free. Yet again, I do understand these and I've explained them elsewhere.
As a teacher, I'm expect to explain these things which, as you may have gathered, I have done expansively elsewhere.
There are issues not addressed here like racial policy, economic redistribution, and increased government regulation where conservative values enjoy similar moral and practical superiority at all three of these levels. As above, understanding and accepting one of the first two suffices for citizenship or even denizenship in the United States of America and, also as above, I meet a higher level of responsibility because of my intellectual gifts in mathematics, science, engineering, and explanation.
Today is 2020 February 16, Sunday,
18:55:51 Mountain Standard Time (MST).
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