Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Terminology: Let us dump these terms that the Republicans have wrangled to meaningless buzz words

 We can't do much about political correctness anymore. But other terms, all related to races, popped up during the Trump presidency. The ridiculing of these terms intended to make fun of people doing these things and in the case of antifa, a label intended to make Black Lives Matter and any resistance to white supremacism equally violent to their opponent.


The whole of resisting political correctness has expanded to memes that cover Mr Potatohead, Dr Seuss etc. etc. The right really has no argument against being politically correct, it just became a nudge nudge wink wink word for them.

In the pandemic, the political correctness of wearing masks became a target as well, there just was no catchy term for it yet. "Freedom."

The teaching of our history that includes slavery also has to be white washed according to the right. It is not right for right children in school to feel guilty for slavery and the America of the 1900s up to 1960 when segregation was the rule.

The implication of all this, for Republicans, is that blacks are indeed inferior, and that all foreigners are a lower class of people. "We will take a few geniuses from India for Silicon Valley, but that's it." They can't say these out loud in public or social media, but when they talk to each other, the buzz words help imply the meaning. The Karens of the world can go about their business unchallenged that way.

KAREN:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_(pejorative)


Friday, March 26, 2021

              


THE HERE AND NOW

We've just had an election and departed with a near dictator (though he had the will, he did not have the skill). The foundations of our election were shaken.

The  few words there are in the constitution about elections came to a test. The founding fathers apparently did not trust us that much. There was an option in there of the lower house of Congress (very big of them to leave it to a group of politicians representing more of us, not the senate) deciding who will be president if the election was a mess. The Supreme Court really is not involved.

Following this lead giving the states great powers, Republicans in dozens of states are writing bills to stop the great masses from voting. Working class people these days, with weak unions, have to vote on a working day. It could be in their 12 hour work cycle or a 12 hour sleep cycle. Some lucky few will have a day off on Tue, but that person will be working Sat and Sun.

Other parts of the Georgia election bill put the (gerrymandered) ruling party in control of elections. No more county control, no more canvas boards with two Democrats and two Republicans to certify the election. the goal is to prevent the election from being certified when a Democrat wins.

Other than election tampering, Republicans will just refuse many measures at state level. We saw this with the pandemic. This will be the trend for the next 10-20 years if the Republican party survives. They really do not represent the country, but can rule as the minority party, or at least stop all progressive ideas.

THE FUTURE

The structure of America is such that there are many rural states. We grow a lot of the world's food, in some manner. We send soy bean animal feed to China. China has run out of land, and even more so, the successful industrial nations of South Korea and Japan. These countries and most of Europe have urban people running politics. It does not mean farmers are cut short, it just means they will get subsidies, but will have to follow liberal social ideas of city folks. City folks work as a collective for common good, whereas rural folk have a feel for community, but it is a county with a small population. They will know more of the families in the county than a city dweller of their neighbors. If the state is a red state, they have feelings of unity state wide.

The future will be somewhat more like South Korea, though never that populated. Our states will have cities of a million or more people, like Saint Louis, and the politics will slowly drift towards Democrats. The Democrats will make sure that states follow their lead in things like energy and transportation. The states will not get funding unless they approve some of these measures. Old principles on guns, abortion, religion will stay in those red states.

I brought up South Korea, where I have visited. It has 52 million people and is about 100 000km2 in area. Both Nebraska and Kansas are just slightly smaller, in the 70-80 000 km2 range. But those states have 2 and 3 million people. You can see it will not be much different even if it were 10 million people, compared to South Korea. With mostly hilly areas, the farming is squeezed here and there along the bullet train rail lines and freeways. A city might be 600 000 people between rural areas, where the American city in the same setting would be about 200 000, with no high rise apartments. Here is a picture from a city a half hour train ride South of Seoul. I walked a mile South of the main belt line and rail line to take this photo. There are somewhere over 500 000 people there.






Saturday, March 13, 2021

Hunting and Gathering in a Pandemic

 I shop at several stores, but have been avoiding my main grocery for the most part. If I go there are all, it will be before eight in the morning. Avoiding a virus requires a face mask. Mine is a KN95 that goes behind the ears, but as those ear strings often slip off, I have adjusted it with a velcro strap behind the head. I was wearing it when a granny with a slipping mask was reading cheeses in the dairy aisle. I need a quart of milk. What to do? I parked the small cart and sneaked in, grabbing the milk one handed.

There is no need to read labels in a pandemic! Time is of essence. Here I am going in to Target to get coffee filters, a pack of veggies and frozen Chinese food. I also looked at a coffee maker for 30 seconds, noting it was 99 dollars.


The frozen items in the back seat cooler (I was going for a walk next) and the clock at starting the car. It took 16 minutes. After the hand sanitizer (always in one coffee cup holder).


After the walk, a second stop at Trader Joe's. More frozen items, including what I will call fish and chips. I did read the label of the box of frozen breaded fish. Pollack. It took 14 minutes.





Sunday, February 28, 2021

There Would Be No Trump Without White Christians

 The Trump phenomenon is most pronounced in rural areas. The people there are aware of the masses of people in cities, and that their problems are mostly forgotten. The farm bill is what mainly supports their income. Other services are disappearing as the population leaves. Rural Internet has yet to reach them all. Trump timed his entry into politics perfectly. The "forgotten" people are a minority, but all in all, with suburban whites a minority that can have a powerful voice through the electoral system.

I'm pointing out the Christian aspect, as this seems to unite the people. Either through actual belief, or a somewhat racist attitude, as the congregations are largely white in rural areas and small towns. If the belief is not strong, they still like to list moral rules from the Bible. The city folk either have stopped belonging to an organized church, or are actual atheists in the European style. These are educated white folks. It seems a bit of a modern trend in Europe, brought to a maximum in recent, modern states like Estonia. the small countries are still unified by language, and that too has a white cultural history.

With the likes of Marjorie Greene and Ron Johnson saying things that were not said out loud 5-6 years ago, the model laid out by Trump is now fully functional. Transgender people, men in women's bathrooms and all the rest are laid out and boldly announced. They are like stand out comedians of the olden days (Don Rickles), insulting all the groups that do not conform to white Christianity.

All these people made Trump possible. We were in a rather dangerous situation with no real leadership on the pandemic. Other than the deals made with drug companies. Even the pandemic has to be made faun of, as is a chance for BIG GOVERNMENT  to tell you how to live your lives. A woman running a restaurant in the Copper Peninsula of Michigan was telling all this to a Finnish reporter. Her business has suffered. The county gave her shut down orders after no mandates were followed. She refuses to wear a mask, and has a note from her doctor allowing her not to wear one "due to asthma." Governors in red states are pretty much resisting any efforts by Biden to take over the vaccination effort. The situation in Florida has collapsed when the Publix food store with its pharmacies failed to register people in any orderly fashion.

The CPAC convention has whipped people into a frenzy. I guess Mitch gave up on resisting Trump. It must have been clear to him that they have no other candidate. This will go on for four years. Trump supporters will not give up until they have voted for him three times, or a candidate approved by him.

The support for Trump was 55% and there were no real other candidates. Nikki Haley has no possibilities. She may emerge after 2022. but from now to the 2022 they are going to be all Trump. Mitch may yet run the senate for two years. I predict that will be the end.

The people excited by Trump, for election turnout, will lose interest in elections if Trump is not there. They will go back to local resistance and acting like the victim.

Postscript

The thing that's difficult for us nonbelievers to understand is how the Christians can be so gullible as to support Trump and believe his beliefs about government somehow align with them. Trump really can't worship anyone but himself.



Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Trump In Your Closet

 Recently Politico ran an article on Nikki Haley. She is forever tied with Donald Trump. She left her job but kept in touch with her friend in the White House. 

She will not ever rid herself of Trump. But we are here in the prairie. Only one of our states had a senator vote against Trump in the impeachment, Nebraska. Senator Sasse mostly got rid of Trump right then and there.

He just got re-elected in and is therefore not running in 2024 for re-election. But he may have other ideas for 2024.

The other senator from Nebraska is more typical. She became a statewide politician rather recently, 2004. As state senator from a large part of the state in the middle, she probably got to know voters pretty well. To get elected, you have to do something in one of the hot topic Republican problems. Her Nebraska bill was on abortions. She is also involved in education and would support Betsy Voss and private schools in the Trump era. In 2012 she ran for senator and got 58% of the vote against a popular Democrat. Well, as popular as you can be in a red state. She carried exactly the same vote in 2018, but the country was in the Trump era then, so it was unlikely she would lose. Democrats were active in the election but there is always the campaign finance issue. Republicans get funds.

The next time she runs will be a presidential election, 2024. You can guarantee Republicans will show up to vote. And there are still remnants of Trump era voters to guarantee good turnout.

It was probably wise to vote to acquit Trump. She is not going to lose many votes. No Democrat will ever vote for her. Independents are now some 20%, but many are libertarians.

Ben Sasse got into the senate in 2014. He just got re-elected. He will not be in the senate race in the so far hard to imagine 2024 Presidential election year. The Republicans do not have a candidate that has the social media status that Trump had. The white working class will only vote for a candidate like that.

Sasse got 64% of the vote in 2014 against a "let's run someone" from Omaha. It was a man. OK, he had some credentials: He represented the case against the Canadian Keystone XL-Pipeline. Currently Democrats are running women if possible.

Sasse pretty much also represents everything Republican. He denies climate change, opposes abortion and Obamacare etc.  His kids are homeschooled.  I'm having a hard time finding a single liberal thing about him. He opposed measures to give state legislatures more power, selecting senators if the state wants so. He opposed term limits.

Yet he became a vocal opponent of Donald Trump. By 2026 this may be of some benefit to him, as we start finding that Trump measures did not really help Republicans in the state. The China taxes could have destroyed Nebraska agriculture, but bail outs were passed. Some farmers got the idea to blame China, based on Trump, but I feel the majority are smart enough to figure out it was a big bluff.

The truth is, Sasse wants to run for president in 2024. The break from Trump will help him a great deal there. He will need to run nationally and will carry a lot of undecided voters, the same white working class as went for Trump. His personality is a bit quirky, so he may not get far in the primary. But in Nebraska there is not much else to move up to. Governor? That is not as desired a job as senator. But at 48, all options are open. He may move up the ranks to be a secretary for a future Republican president. That then opens opportunities. If none of that works, he will fall back to trusty jobs for these kinds of mid level republicans. He will be the president of some conservative university somewhere. Or just a university with political or similar emphasis. He has a short academic career, and there one learns to be tolerant of minorities. Sasse is familiar with the educated world and does not identify with the white working class. He identifies with Nebraska Republican issues which include the usual plus rural economic issues.


Friday, February 12, 2021

Trump Impeachment

 We had hours of evidence. We had Trump defense showing minutes of film with Democrats saying the word fight. With no crowds going out to terrorize anything after they left.

But it all boils down to this.



Friday, January 29, 2021

Republican Women With Guns: Greene and Boebert

There is a trend in the Trump years to promote "patriotic" people to politics. A simple way to do that is to go for gun rights. But it would not work so well for men. A mother with a gun, that's the symbol they want to use. Lauren Boebert comes from Rifle, Colorado. The name is old, and refers to an actual rifle found there: The city of Rifle gets its name from a local story, that a trapper had once left his rifle along a creek in the region; from then on, the city has been known as Rifle. Founded by Abram Maxfield in 1882.

                                    

The county is not as Republican as the people of Rifle would make it look.

Wikipedia: Garfield County has primarily voted for Republican Party candidates in presidential elections throughout its history, with the county only failing to back the Republican candidates six times from 1912 to 2016. Although the county includes the relatively liberal city of Glenwood Springs, this is outweighed by the extremely conservative city of Rifle, as well as the nearby towns of Silt, Parachute, and Battlement Mesa. Until 2020, the most recent Democratic win was by Bill Clinton in 1992, but Republicans were held to a plurality of the county's votes in half of the six following presidential elections prior to 2020. Notably, Barack Obama lost the county to John McCain by two votes in 2008.

Nevertheless, with Trump enthusiasm, Boebert won an election, planning to go to Washington to change the world with Trump. But Trump lost. Now she is left with gun tricks to demonstrate, such as taking a gun to work, or attempting to. But her voting will be simple. She just has to vote against anything Biden or Democrats propose.

Then from Georgia, we get a building contractor and conspiracy enthusiast entering politics.


Marjorie Greene has added quite a bit of QAnon beliefs and conspiracy theory to the pro gun mix.

I am not quite sure how seriously to take all this. On the one hand both women have entered politics with sound bites and dog whistle terms to get crowds excited. These crowds do not wish to understand politics on a deeper level, they just want to get rid of Democrats in politics and attack "foreigners" and other Trumpian targets. On the other hand, they will add to guns and violence. They promoted the attacks on the Capitol and aided the insurrectionists. They can be charged with aiding and abetting domestic terrorists.

The actual gun issues will play out in the Supreme Court, so we will have to watch that for the next two years.

The Supreme Court decided on District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008. There were some other decisions in modern times. It would seem that the original amendment was rather limited in scope, and dealt with the relationship of the federal government and the states. It mentions a militia, giving the states the right to have such organizations. It does not plainly state that the federal government has any further say on arms. Going along that, it would seem the peace keeping and owning of guns, or prohibition of certain guns if such an issue came up, was left to the states.

The constitution is a brief document that left a lot of power to the states. Even federal taxation needed an amendment.




Wednesday, January 27, 2021

America is broken? Well, people of all sort feel powerless, but...

I have never had much hate directed towards me in any situation. I may disagree with many people, but as an immigrant and an atheist, I have learned, for decades, to keep quiet for my own safety. I actually believe in government, so I prefer to act through voting, anonymously. I would be reluctant to runs for an office.

But there are millions of angry, disgruntled people out there.

I can't say I am patriotic. I left a country a long time ago, and adjusted to the new one. I've been an upstanding citizen and paid my taxes etc. I was never disgruntled. But, still, I never felt completely at home in a country whose politics have always been to the right of me. And the silly patriotism of supporting the military, that I have never supported. Yes, there have been wars we had to engage in, but the spreading of democracy around the world by force, that rarely works. I am not into forcing our culture or politics on other countries. Sure, free press and all that, and I don't support authoritarians, but that is the extent of it. I do not think this mission is worth dying for. Defend what you have, but stay there.

There are many people who supported Trump, because none of the other culture and tradition appealed to them. Many were racists. There was a sense of powerlessness. They had given up trying to affect things through normal politics. Trump gave them the sense that they could actually punish foreign countries and bring jobs back. That is not going to happen. Globalism has gone too far, manufacture is world wide.

The point I am trying to get to is that the recent events, storming of the Capitol mainly, has weakened our trust in the US government. It buckled a bit. And it did not protect politicians from a lynch mob. We liberals felt weak for the first time. Through the four years of Trump we had a firm belief in normalcy returning. We believed in our country prior to Trump, despite all the problems we have. We were able to keep order. The world was not perfect. Too many blacks were in jail, too many low income people had no healthcare. But the day to day workings of the country were still working. There were even people like Fauci in power, able to function for the common good despite Trump.

I look at a few extremist web sites once in a while, and I see a good number of people "down the rabbit hole" on Reddit. There are a large number of people who no longer are able to weed through information on the Internet to get any facts. They have organized life around the belief in a conspiracy. Life is easier that way,  no more seeking. All the people you chat with agree with you on most things. They have a mission. Most missions are to "put things back to the way they were." So the change they want is a conservative change. Not a progressive one.

Looking at all this, I still have one choice only. I believe we can deal with it. I believe in the system. If the state that I live in completely breaks down and goes full Trump for decades to come, I may need to pack up and move. But I am so far in the middle of the land, that a short move would not change much. I would need to sell a house and move into a tiny condo somewhere where the state is able to maintain the country as I have known it since 1976. That is when I decided to accept it as my own, once we were done with Nixon.

Jumping to 2021, the US dealing with COVID in a responsible way (vaccinating those willing to believe in science) and our return to normalcy by the end of summer will go a long way in convincing the majority of us that we need government. But we now know the number of people fallen off the main stream and stuck in the disgruntled world of conspiracies and libertarianism is significant.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Moving On From Trump

 Trump is history. He will fly off Wednesday with a little parade or something. The impeachment? Who knows. The politicians here in the prairie are not going to help with that. They got voted in by the same people that voted for Trump. No need to make them angry. There were a lot of disgruntled people who thought Trump was their solution to jobs and prosperity. Or maybe just to stop "Democrats from giving stuff to poor people." Where is Trump going to be in half a year? And these people?


They are not people interested in politics. They are racists, white nationalists and conspiracy theorists. They are not interested in tax rates and all that with any passion. Possibly a vague "small government" or libertarian feel. But they do not really hold opinions on regular matters for long. Flint water? That's a Michigan problem. They are only interested in their stuff. They also distrust science, vaccines, masks and all that.

These people are going to be there, but they will not be a political force in 2022 or 2024. Neither will Trump. If he were able to run, he no longer has funds to muscle his way into the primary. What will we get in 2024? The old resistance. McConnel types, tea party types. People fed up with the federal government in a general way. Not the conspiracy way.


Friday, January 15, 2021

The future of a connected world, according to Kevin Kelly

With rather windy weather, we are stuck indoors sometimes three days at a time. I will only go out to shovel 3 inches of snow today, in rather windy weather. 

This is what I have been reading. 

It describes the future based on what we have know, in his world. It is quite different in the rural areas of the prairie, where we do not have high speed internet. We do have a GPS signal everywhere, so farming equipment will be operating based on that, had irrigation and fertilizer application will undergo a revolution soon. Seeds themselves are high tech product that you license from seed producers. You do not own the entire crop you own anymore. They are sort of renting your land and paying labor, you sell the product back to big corporations that are all connected, seed to product on the market. Or even ethanol.

Back to the book:

A rather "soft" review of technology and how it affects your life. The author is connected to Wired magazine and lives a life where he does not own a car or a home. He just pays to use goods and services that make life simple. He owns no physical books or music.

On page 170 Kevin Kelly gets to echo chambers. We are currently experiencing a bit of a shake up with right-wingers and libertarians, the militant type, having no place to scream their loss of a leader who expressed the outrage they had for the left, or even the mainstream of politics.

This sort of negative stuff about the Internet is mainly left out of the book. The chapters are well thought out, so you will find this sort of tracking by those who track (gov't et al) listed in the chapter titled Tracking.

Technology has reached most of the world, though we in the developed world have a much bigger quantity available to us. The farmer in India, as mentioned in the book, may not have running water, but he does have a cell phone.

Crowd sourcing in promoted in the book, as is free software. The communities in the world are connected and are creating a lot of this stuff you borrow from the internet. You do not own much of it, you share.

Examples of crowd sourcing and everyday life are listed, connecting the on-line world to the real world. We are experiencing some of it as we pick up groceries during the pandemic, after ordering it on line. I hope my vaccination will be similarly organized, as we drive though to get vaccinated. If the pandemic drags on, band will start giving concerts on line, with you donating a few dollars of your choosing to hear the concert. Some bands already give out free music, with you deciding what

I said the book is light on the hardware part. It explains what is possible in a connected Internet world, how servers are connected to give you a streaming feed without interruption. But little is explained about technical side and its vulnerabilities. As independent as we are, we are still dependent on internet providers and our phone provider to keep in touch with the world.

I use an iPhone and I use Windows computers. I still pay for those. I am even stuck using them, as I cannot stand how the cursor and typing works on Android devices. So the free stuff in the book may or may not arrive. We may even see the lower income people lose some services as the rest of us keep paying for our instant news and entertainment.

The future is not really mapped out that well in the book. The fact that you could carry all the music ever produced in your pocket 20 years later may be true (he says to keep it in the cloud) but other aspects of the real world will rule what we get in ten years. You would need an economist as well as a biologist to flesh out the physical world a little better. What happens to homelessness, food supply and all that?

Still, it did help for him to focus on the positive. it will be necessary to just go along with these changes. Otherwise you will be stuck in some resistance echo chamber and will not be able to keep up with the world and interact with it in a normal way. There is a democratic aspect to being and creating in the Internet that the author keeps pointing out. And he believes is inseparable from what we have. Let us hope it stays that way.