Category Archives: General

Since I don’t like uncategorized as a category for my post, I use general for anything I write that doesn’t fall into any specific categories.

Some Thoughts on Technology

Workers in Metropolis
Workers in Metropolis

For sometime now I’ve been thinking about all the people who complain about “Modern” Technology or just Technology in general. Mostly it is people around my age who are complaining and upon a closer look what they are really complaining about is that they don’t understand all this “new” technology and seem to resent having to ask for help. Especially from their grand kids. This I can understand, no one likes feeling or looking dependent, but that is not what I’m going to talk about today.

Today I’m going to be addressing those out there who don’t like technology. Those who think things were better 50, 100, 500 years ago. Back when things were “simpler”. You find theses people scattered about the political spectrum, left, right, center. What does happen is, from time to time, they anti-technology ideology gets drafted by one side or the other. Way back when I was a 20’s something the anti-technology thoughts where mostly on the left. Then, years later it was on the right. Now it seems to be about evenly spread over the spectrum. But it looks like the right is finding anti-technology to be the thing to sell.

This seems to be because the right, as it often is, supported by the people with, or think they have, or should have, lots of money and power. A right now fair number of the biggest corporations are being threatened with change. And the things changing are not something they control, or even really understand. But, again, this is not what I’m going to talk about.

I’m talking about is that the creation and use of technology is one of the key things that make us Human. As we gain more and more knowledge about how the earliest hominids lived we are finding more and more evidence that they used technology. When I assert this I often get “are you saying “cavemen” had technology? A Yes that is exactly what I’m saying. The moment one of are ancestors picked up a rock and threw it to kill some pray we were using technology. Even more so when he/she started selecting rocks to throw for how easy they were to throw but how effective they were in taking down the prey. The first time we napped a rock to make a sharp edge we were ‘inventing’ new technology. This is what humans do. We create technology and we change the world we live in with it.

What is deferent now is we are becoming much more aware of what effects the new, and old, technology has. We are becoming more aware of unforeseen and/or unintended side effects of using technology. An we are now asking the question(s) is this what we want? Can we do it deferentially so that the side effects are mitigated someway? Or can we do something else for the same effect that doesn’t have the side effect we don’t want. An even more so now, we ask the question of “If we do ‘X’ what effects, other than the one we want, will happen and do we really want that?

These are not easy question to ask, much less, answer. The major reason is it forces us to look beyond the immediate results, why we created the new technology, to what it can do latter. It is not something we find easy to do. Worse, it is not something we train people to do as a matter of habit. Not like we train them to look and see if what they want to do can be ‘Monetized’. An if you don’t think this is done, just go to any ‘pitch’ meeting for a tech company. After we get passed the ‘What is it?’ And the ‘What good is it?’ We get the ‘How much profit will it make?’ Followed by ‘How Soon?’

So to everyone out there, get over not liking all the Newfangled Technologies. It is what we do. I recommend you start encouraging the young ones around you to help you figure out how you can use it to make your life both happier and just a bit nicer.

An Now for Something Positive

Supreme Count of the United States
Formal group photograph of the Supreme Court as it was been comprised on June 30, 2022 after Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined the Court. The Justices are posed in front of red velvet drapes and arranged by seniority, with five seated and four standing…Seated from left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito and Elena Kagan. .Standing from left are Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson…Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

With all the liberal commentators running around with their hair on fire over with SCOTUS granting certiorari on the immunity case I thought I’d give into my contrariness and try to look on the bright side. First though let’s as acknowledge the win Donald Trump has gotten, it now looks very very doubtful that the trial of Donald Trump on his actions of Jan 6 2020 will take place before the Presidential election. Time is just getting two short. That said, here are a couple of positive things to look for when the court finally renders their decision.

The first thing I’m going to be looking for if they rule that Trump does have some kind of immunity for his actions on Jan 6th 2020 is just how much immunity does he, and all current and future presidents have. If they rule he has total immunity I want to see how they do not grant the same immunity to Joe Biden and all other future Presidents. If Donald Trump has total Immunity then it follows that Joe Biden does too. If not, why not. It is not good enough for the court to say that the ruling only applies to this one specific case with out an explanation of why it only apples to Donald Trump. To do otherwise would be an anathema to all MAGAs out there.

I can just see it now, SCOTUS rules that Donald John Trump, and only Donald John Trump has total and complete immunity for his actions as President. SCOTUS’ reputation with the American public took a bad hit with the Dobbs decision last year and to rule that Trump, and only Trump is immune would be so totally raw that it would totally throw the election against MAGA. So I would look for some very fine hair splitting on just why this case is totally unique. For the life of me I can not come up with any reasoning that would work. So let us wait and see just what happens.

I, personally expect SCOTUS to rule that Trump is not immune but the ruling will come down the last week in June. This will be done in the hope that the delay is enough to keep the trial from starting before the election and that the trial court or the DOJ will decide that it is too close to the election to be held so a trial date will be set sometime in November after the election. This leads us right to the fun part of having the President elect going on trial for Insurrection. Which leads us right to if he is convicted, who if anyone, keeps Trump from being sworn in? Again I’m sure SCOTUS is very aware of this and they are aware just how much blame the public will assign to them for all the trouble that will happen. I can see the security at the Capitol if it happens. Boggles the mind.

An just how is this last thing positive? Just this; No mater how the Court rules, they have just stepped in it. They have managed to get both moderates and liberals aware of the fact that SCOTUS maters to them. Personally! That means they are going to be paying attention to who is on the court and how they are ruling. This is something conservatives in general and MAGA in particular will despise. I look forward to the next SCOTUS vacancy and the hearings for the replacement. An since we can expect any nominee to decline to answer questions on how they might rule in the future we can look forward to an even closer scrutiny of their writings and if they were/are judges how they ruled in cases that could apply. Again something conservatives in general and MAGA in particular will not like. Personally I’d like to see the rejection of any candidate who does not have a track record on the expected issues to come before the court. I’d even like to see that anyone who is on the Heritage Foundation list of acceptable candidates to be subject to very close scrutiny.

Finally I look for the US Senate to change it’s rules so that there is a time limit only how long a nomination for the Court can be held up when the Senate is in session so we no long have what happed back in 2016. But those thoughts are for another posting.

Why the Colorado 14th Amendment case should be watched by all

Constitution and the Flag of the United States
Constitution of the United States

There has been a great deal of talk about the several cases trying to remover and/or keep Donald J. Trump’s name off of the Ballot next year. Most of the talk has been about Trump being kept out of the elect, to prevent him from being elected President once again. A while this is very important it may not be the most significant issues to be decided in these cases. I would like to place just a few of the “lesser” issues that I have been shown by the “legal eagles” out there. They are not given in any particular order. Just as they come to mind as I write this. Also as the Colorado case is the first in the Que I will just be talking about it.

Above I am sharing the Section (AKA “Clause”) that is what is in question. Next please remember that what is really going to be argued about is both a question of fact and questions of definition or meaning. With just a dash of intent. This last point I’m not going to address here. What we are going to be looking at is just what this Am

To me one of the most interesting questions brought up is “Is the President an Officer of the United States”? A before you go, “Of course he/she is.” The Constitution does not explicitly say the President and/or the Vice President are “Officers of the United States”. Just take a moment to look at the arguments for why he/she may not be. There are many arguments to be made and the one being used by many is the ‘Textualism Doctrine’ view. While I have many disagreements with this Doctrine here my problem is with the idea that if something is not explicitly in the Constitution then the federal government has no authority over it. This is often know as the “Constitution Stands Silent” principle. And it is very tricky to use.

First there is the problem that in the modern world there are a great many thing that were not even dreamed of when the Constitution and/or its Amendments were first written. Just to name three we have “railroads”, “Air travel”, and “electrical communications (radio, telegraph, internet, etc”. None of these common everyday things in the modern world existed when Just take a moment to look at the arguments for why he/she may not be. Railroads were not around when the constitution and the first 10 amendments were adopted. Maned flight was around when a majority of the Amendments were adopted. An the internet was just a wild dream in some SF writers minds in 1971when the latest Amendment was adopted. Does this mean that the Federal government has no power over them? Do we leave it all up to the States? What about when they cross State borders?

An those are just the start of the questions that need to be addressed. That is why I take the position that looking at the actual text is just a starting point and why the “Stands Silent” doctrine needs careful handing. What needs to be asked is “Why does the Constitution stand silent?” Three things need to be addressed

  1. Did the Authors know or could have known about the subject at hand?
  2. If yes to one, is there any evidence that the Authors deliberately ignored the subject?
  3. Is there any reason to think that the subject had already adequately covered in the text?

These are just three of the questions that need to be addressed, I am sure you can think of more.

Finally I’d like to point out that the Authors of the Constitution and it’s Amendments were are all well educated, well read, thoughtful people. You can take it for granted that they didn’t do something just for giggles, even when we see things now that make no sense. (I’m thinking of the 3/4ths clause). With just a little digging you can usually find good reason for why it was done. (Agian the 3/4ths clause). So when you see an interpretation of the Constitution that makes no sense, that is a good indicator of bad reasoning. This is my position on saying that the President and Vice President are Officers of the United States. To say everyone in the Executive Branch, except the President and Vice President are “Officers of the United States”, on the face of it, makes little to know sense.

Next time my take on the Originalist take of the question.

Some Observations on the House of Representatives

Congress
The House of Representatives in Session.

I thought I’d be a nice guy and give the U.S. House of Representatives a chance to actually get itself in order by electing a new Speaker but it looks like it is not going to happen anytime soon. The problem, as I see it, for the GOP House caucus is both simple and complex. It is simple in that the fundamental issues are easy to identify and define. It is complex because there is no easy way to resolve conflicts between these issues.

The first issue I’m going to identify is the newest and least expected. The major the GOP caucus has in the house is microscopic only three votes over the 218 needed to elect a speaker and only 9 more that the Democrats. This tight a margin makes for difficult going for any political leader but it is especially difficult if the party is badly fractured like the Republicans in the House currently are.

This brings us to the next issue facing the GOP, it is a badly divided party and the Republicans has historically not dealt with competing political factions well. Ever since its founding in the 1850’s the Republican Party has usually had a dominant faction that controls the party. This dominate faction then makes deals with either the minority faction(s) in it’s own caucus or, failing that, the could find the votes they needed south of the Mason/Dixon line in the Democratic Party (note: I call this strategy the Dixiecrat strategy). The few time this strategy was either not used or did not work the Democrats could gain control. The Dixiecrat strategy stopped working once the new “Nixon Southern Strategy was adopted in the late 60’s early 70’s.

Still things could, and did, be made to work in the House but then came the Newt Gingrich Revolution and the concept of constant conflict as the way to get things done in the House. An while this strategy work a little in the house it did not play well with the Senate.

So now we come to that one of the biggest mistakes made, the idea that Politics can be successfully modeled using ‘Zero Sum’ game theory. This is a very seductive idea because it looks so simple. The problem is that you can end up worse off using a game theory that is incorrect than you can using the correct game theory a loose. Also most people who just have a casual understanding of Zero Sum game theory is that it has one deadly trap, there are actually three results possible. You can Win, you can loose and you can end in a draw. Even worse is that given the rules of the game you can end up where ending is a draw is the most likely result. Don’t believe me, talk with a ‘rated’ chess player.

An now to the last issue, seeing your opponent as the embodiment of everything you despise. This can be expressed as anything “D” touches we have to oppose. This is the death knell to getting anything done in a democratic polity where compromise is the name of the game.

So that is where the Republicans in the House find themselves. They have a small (45) subgroup (the Freedom Caucus) that is to the extreme right of the party and they see everything in a win/loose view. Worse yet they see it as if ‘they win’ I have to have lost. Next the majority of the Republicans in the House have very little to trade away to the Democrats and nothing that doesn’t mater much to their local base. So we end up with game after game after game in a draw, but what is worse is that the larger game, that game of running the country is about to be lost.

Next Posting: Thought experiment “What happens if the congress can not function for 6/12/18 months?”

Another Thought Experiment

NAZI American Flag
NAZI American Flag

Just for fun, let us try to think about the structure an Authoritarian United States would look like. I’m not talking about how it would come about, nor what life would be like but what the government and formal structure would look like. An yes this is a nerdie Political Science experiment.

First some rules:

  1. No magic, nor any fantastic science can be used. So no ancient evil demons or gods. No mind controlling computers.
  2. Keep the changes as clean and simple as possible. So no writing a completely new constitution. Amendments are ok, but no replacing whole articles with totally new text.
  3. Don’t get rid of the States. Yes you can reduce or remove their power but they have to still exist and function to some degree.
  4. You have to show how it would work. Think of how you would explain our current system to someone who has never heard of the USA.

Now I know a some few of you say this is not possible but I would like to point out that Caesar Augustus did this to the Roman Republic two thousand years ago. So think about what offices need to be changed and how. What changes to the three branches would need to be made? How they work together? Who controls what and when. How would you change things to get the several states to fall in line and do as they are told.

So lets get to it!

What is Coming For the Republican Party

Rebranding the GOP
The Rebranding of the GOP

Of late I’ve been hearing a great deal about just what is going to happen after the 2024 election. Most of it is quite negative for the ’libertards’ and the Democratic Party. Some even talk about the coming total dominance of of the GOP and Donald Trump. I’d like to take sometime to look at it a little differently. From the view of a student of the American Civil War and the decade that proceeded it.

While most Americans know that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President few know that the Republican Party did not exist in 1850. Only ten short years before Lincoln’s election. Nor do they know of just how troubled the politics of the US was in the 1850’s. Many of the issues we are dealing with today we were dealing with then. Immigration, race, states rights, and political corruption, just to name a few. All of these issues, and how they were dealt with can give us some clues as to what is going to happen now.

The 1850s was the true spread of new communications technology that greatly increased the speed and easy of communications with the spread of three innovations…..The steam Boat, The railroads, and finally the telegraph. Let’s just look at two, Trains and the Telegraph. With the spread of trains that could reach the unheard of speed of 50 MPH. Just think of it, in one hour you could travel the same distance that would have taken you two days hard travel by foot or horseback. The telegraph had even bigger effect as news could spread across the country in hours instead of weeks. Just think of it, what happened New Orleans in the afternoon would be in the morning edition of the Boston newspapers. We in the 21st Century like to marvel out how much Smartphones, Social Media, and the internet have changes (speeded up) our world. But rest assured our ancestors of the 1850s were just as amazed as we.

This is why I feel that we can learn a lot from a careful study of the USA in the 1850’s. We gone thru this before. The problems we face now have antecedents then and the solutions they found, no mater how good or bad they were can help us make sense of what is happen now and what we can and should do and not do. So that said, lets get on with my ideas of what is to come.

First and foremost by the election of 2032 the Republican party will no longer be a major player. Like the Wigs of 1860, they will still exist here and there but they will no longer be one of the big two. What the new party will be like I have no clear idea. Just like in 1852 few, if any, people would predict just what the Republican party of 1860 would be like. I am confident that it will consider itself ”Conservative” what ever that means.

In the area of political corruption I fully expect the problem of gerrymandering will ether be solved or its solution identified and being worked on. The same with the issue of ’Dark Money’. I hope that the ’Dark Money’ solution will entail dealing with the gross miss-use of LLCs. As always corruption is always found in both business and politics and therefore the solution(s) will be in business and politics.

Well, that’s all for now. To those who were expecting ideas on how to deal with the problems show here, sorry. I’m having enough of hard time trying to clearly identifying the problem. I do promise to continue my research into the 1850s in hope of identifying possible solutions. Hope you, dear reader have been encouraged to do the same.

The Sheldon Crisis: Next Phase

Foundation
Hari Sheldon

With the election over but for the shouting I thought I’d put in a few words on the continuing ”Sheldon Crisis” happening. While we still have something like 12 House seats to be called at this writing it is still anybodies game on who will control the House in the next Congress. The best numbers I’ve been fallowing give the GOP control with 218-220 (1 to 3 seat control) I toght I’d just point out some things the House GOP will be facing soon.

First some things to keep in mind are: First in the last Congress the Dems, for once, did not have as fractious caucus as the GOP will have in the new Congress. Next is that the last time we had a Congress with such a slim majority for a party and the Majority party had such a fanatical member caucus was way back in 1856, or there about. Finally Kevin McCarthy has little to no experience running a majority Caucus.

So what can we look forward to in the coming weeks…..

First I expect to see a knock-down drag-out battle over leadership in the GOP House Caucus. An not just for the speakership, keep you eyes on who gets to be the Whip and who gets to be the Chair of the GOP Leadership. If any of these three go to members of the “Freedom Caucus” then things are going to get wild.

Depending on the results of the Leadership battle I expect to see little or nothing done (best case scenario) to hearings after hearing investigating all things Biden and/or Democratic and/or things MAGA hates. If MAGA gets the Speakership the only real question will be if Biden is Impeached two or three times.

An the worst case scenario is for the GOP to fail to fund the government and close down everything for several weeks. I really don’t expect this last one because the last time they tried this they got totally sandbagged in the next election.

So that’s all for now.

From Times to Come

The Great Big Boss

The other day I came across, on my daily walk, what I took to be ”Time Capsule” that appeared to have been washed down from the mountains. The only problem is that everything seems to be dated from 220 AT. When I first saw it I thought it might be from the early Spanish Mission period of the San Fernando Valley. It was a square box of about 11” and about 5” tall. It seemed to be made out of kilned backed adobe. Upon closer examination I detected the use of a wire meshing made of coper wire. So definitely not from the Spanish Mission period.

The contents of the box turned out to be what appear to be some kind of analog sound recordings (3). Five USB sicks, and two SDD drives. Along with over 40 pages from what appears to be magazines, but not made of paper. Most pages did have pictures and many have what appears to be dates but have no relationship to any known calendar.

3 Ivana 211 AT

11 Baron 193 AT

29 Don 219

This last goes with a picture that show what seems to be some kind of ceremony taking place in the Capital in Washington D.C. It is captioned “The Assumption of power by Barron III, Trump and Autocrat of all the States”. In the picture is one person, presumably Barron III, before a line of men, no women are in the photograph, who are placing there hands between his, while they are kneeling.

Another photo is of a woman inspecting what appears to be a heavily fortified wall with a large number of bones on one side. The photograph is captioned ”Ivana II inspecting the Great Wall of the South”. Most of the pages with out photographs, have drawing and seem to deal with the Great accomplishments of Trump (again this seems to be a title and not a persons name). Other pages deal with the accomplishments of what are called Boss of Bosses, Great Boss, Bosses, and Little Boss. It seems that the Boss of Bosses is appointed by the Trump, but just what their responsibilities are is not clear. The Great Bosses seem to run the States, the Bosses counties and the little Bosses cities and towns.

This last maybe in error as there are several references to State governors, and Mayors of large cities. It is quite possible that the term “Boss” in all it’s forms is just slang. Until further study of the Box and it’s contents can be done any conclusions drawn are pure Speculation. Finally, the idea that the ”Time Capsule” is actually from either the future or an alternate time line is pure fiction.

Don’t Trust Anyone Under Sixty

Wild in the Streets
Don’t trust anyone over 30.

I was a teenager in the 60’s (I turned 13 in 1964) and it just struck me why the radical right sounds so familiar. It is almost exactly what we were saying back then about ”the Man”, ”The Establishment” et al. Who hasn’t heard the MAGA crowd (or the Tea Party) crying about how bad the government is. How corrupt and untrustworthy the ______ is? (Fill in the blank). An now, in the past few days they are now attacking both the DOJ and the FBI as tools of the Deep state.

it has really taken me back to the Swinging Sixtes.

There are a few differences:

  • Then: It was Teenagers talking
  • Now: people with teenagers taking
  • Then: it was ”the Man”
  • Now: It is ”Hillary” or ”Obama” or ”Sorros”
  • Then: It’s all a Lie
  • Now: It’s all a plot

An let us not forget, ”never trust any over 30” and now it is ”never trust anyone under 60”. So if I seems to take all the noise and fury from the radical right it is I heard it all before from the radical left of my youth.

And for those of you who don’t recognize the photo above it is from the 1968 movie ”Wild in the Streets”.

The Tail of Three Outcomes

U.S. Capital

With the Midterm Elections well into the Primaries I thought it would be nice to talk about the four possible outcome. They are, simply put,

  1. No significant change in either chambers
  2. The Republicans gain control of both the House and the Senate
  3. The Democrats expand their control of both the House and the Senate
  4. Control of one chamber is controlled by each party

I’ll be starting with number 2 because this is the expected (traditional) historical results. If we go by history the GOP will pick-up enough seats to be the majority party they need to pick-up 8 seats and this is quite doable given the past 30+ years of midterm elections. The problem with only getting 13 seats is this would give the GOP 218 to the Democrats 216, a majority of only two seats. History shows the GOP picking up something over 12 seats, but that is still a very razor thin majority. An with just how restive the “Freedom Caucus” this could make for the election of a very weak Speaker.

If the ”Freedom Caucus” does flex its mussel in the election of the Speaker it could very well encourage other caucus’ in the GOP to also make demands of House leadership. It is even conceivable for the House to be tied up trying to elect a Speaker. It has happen before when the Congress was highly partisan (See the political history of the 1850’s). This kind of battle could be very bad for the survival of the Republican Party.

As far as the Senate goes, the GOP just needs to pick up one seat and historically that is quite possible. Unfortunately to be filibuster proof they need to pick up ten seats, much more unlikely to happen. This will then force the Senate Majority leader (Sen. McConnell) to either live with what the GOP has done to the last two Democratic Administrations and have to deal with the Democrats stoping anything that they don’t like with the Filibustered. Or just getting rid of the Filibuster. Neither option is very palatable.

Now lets look at option 1, with all that has happened since the start of the primaries; 1/6 hearings, the Dobs decision, the Secret Service scandal to name just three, this option has become much more likely. With little change in just what is happening in D.C. from the last two years. The President and Democrats trying to get things done and the GOP in the Senate doing everything in their power to prevent anything from happening.

Now, lets look at number 4, the worst of the worst when it comes to making any rational forecasts. This is because what actually happens depends on too many variables. The variable is how control breaks. How controls what: House controlled by the GOP and the Senate controlled by the Dems? Or the other way around? An how strong is the control? These are waters I will decline to swim in for now. Although I would find it fun, and terrifying to live; so ”no thank you“.

An finally let us go on to number 3, the MAGA-GOP’s worst nightmare and my personal favorite. An not because I’m a Democrat, I am, but because it is the prediction I have made do to my reading of history. Like option 1, option 3 has become much more likely do to events that have taken place and continue to take place during this year. As stated before Mid-terms Send tend to be rather sedate and boring elections. A rest after the noise and fury of the Presidential election two years earlier. But this time the noise and fury has not died down. If anything it is ramping up. We are looking forward to more exciting things from the 1/6 (or as it seems to now to be called the ’Insurrection’) committee this September. Along with a large number of very poor GOP candidates (lots of ’MAGA’ faithful) and very divisive case being heard by SCOTUS before the election. An let us not forget the ’ham handed’ act of the GOP in the Senate like what just happen with the ’Vet’ bill.

As I said above, number 3 is my personal favorite because of my reading of history. I think we are living threw the end of one political party, the Republicans, and the beginnings of a new party. I shall refrain form trying to give it a name. in any case we just have to wait and see what happens.