12. November 2018 · Comments Off on Trumpian Delusions: Birthright Citizenship · Categories: Politics · Tags: , ,

Some politicians, including Trump have recently been suggesting that they can end birthright citizenship. Other’s say that would be a direct violation of the 14th amendment which says… “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

Trump has suggested that “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” is the escape clause based on the premise that illegal immigrants are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. This is ironic because it’s the jurisdiction of the United States that determines their legal status in the first place. In other words, the ONLY way they can be classified as illegal immigrants is if they ARE subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

I am assuming that Trump and his allies already KNOW how stupid their logic is but are hoping the American people are stupid enough to buy it. I hope that isn’t true.

09. October 2018 · Comments Off on Viral Memes and the Left/Right Delusion · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture

Have a look at this ugly but viral meme…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve probably all seen this before… I know I have – enough to where I feel compelled to explain a few things for the sake of preserving our language and our national sanity…

First of all, let me just say that no one should be educating themselves with memes… This one in particular is a sock puppet denial of a traditional perspective. Which isn’t so much a problem in itself until you start using it to bash people who identify with the left because those people are using the traditional perspective not this viral nonsense.

The fact is, your teacher had it right (at least in the traditional sense) but they probably failed to explain it, so I’ll do that now. The big thing to note is that it’s not a question of how much government… It’s a question of how much representation. The sentiment on the left is that everyone should be represented, where on the right there is always a push to exclude people from representation. In fact, it’s the harsh exclusion of non-Aryan people that puts the Nazis on the hard right.

If you’re not so sure about this, here’s a fail-safe litmus test you can do with respect to a person’s attitude toward diversity. See how they feel about Jews, Muslims, blacks, Mexicans, atheists, homosexuals, immigrants or transgenders, for instance. If a person’s politics feature any kind of resentment or repression toward any of these unfamiliar demographics, it’s almost a guarantee that they identify with the right. Go ahead and try it. It’s pretty easy and of course the amount of government has nothing to do with that. In fact it can be argued that Republicans have created more government than Democrats as indicated by the massive debts the government incurs under Republican management. And when it’s the people who identify with the right that are trying to pass laws to exclude gay people from marriage or empower law enforcement to coral immigrants, it’s hard to imagine them as advocates of little government and big freedom.

So, I suppose I need to address the fact that the Nazis were socialists. Fine, but lets also remember that during the end of the Weimar Republic when the Nazis were rising to power though a democratic process, every opposition party in Germany was also socialist, if not communist. Bear in mind, this was the 1930’s when socialism was extremely popular among the working classes. Even in the U.S. it was difficult for any political faction to gain any traction without some homage to socialism. So it’s dishonest (or ignorant) to cite socialism as a difference when it was much more of a constant. The more significant difference was indeed the militant repression of non-Aryan people and again, that’s what puts the Nazis clearly on the right.

Another point to make about this idiot meme is that the top part erroneously implies that the left is more “liberal” while the right is more “conservative”. The terms, “liberal” and “conservative” refer specifically to the attitudes regarding change, not ideology. Whether or not one side is more liberal or conservative than the other depends on context, which is why the alignment is different in so many other countries. Some political analysts are pointing out that in today’s context, at least in America, the Democrats are actually more conservative than what we are currently calling the alt-right. No where is this more obvious than the alt-right’s attack on Democrats for supposedly defending the “deep state”. In this context, the alt-right is the liberal, even radical side. We can also look back on history and find the first Republicans referred to themselves as “Radical Republicans”.

 

 

 

 

 

08. August 2018 · Comments Off on Voter Fraud and Stupidity · Categories: Politics

So, I read this argument that Hillary Clinton didn’t actually win the popular vote in 2016 because those 3 million extra votes she got all came from California, a state that supposedly allows and even encourages illegal immigrants to vote. Now, it takes a certain tenacity to cling to such an outrageous claim. But I did what I always try to do and investigated the matter on my own. It should be easy enough to figure out, right? I’m pretty sure that the immigrants who enter illegally KNOW they’ve broken a law, so there would have to be a very compelling reason for them to risk being caught just so they can cast a vote for the white lady. Something that compelling should be easy enough to see.

So, I started with California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla. His website makes it pretty clear that a voter would need either a California driver’s license, state ID or a Social Security number… But this is only enforced at registration, not at the polling place, unless an ID is NOT checked at registration time in which case, ID will be checked at the polling place… But this is only if the registration process that deferred verification was a first-time registration.

So… for the kind of people who insist Hillary was operating a child pornography ring under cover of a pizza parlor, this kind of loosey-goosey law leaves plenty of room for conspiracy theories. All anyone needs to do is point to the glaring fact that an ID isn’t required at the polling station except for the “first-time registration without ID” exception. That’s an easy headline. Still, if you really think the process through, you can see the integrity of the system.

Voters in California are registered and then notified which polling place to report to. So there is some control through that process, much like a bank sending a verification code to your phone and of course, your name won’t be on the list if you aren’t registered and even if you didn’t verify your identity when you registered, they can still check to see if you registered previously and if you didn’t, THEN the polling station needs to check; otherwise it can be assumed that you are a citizen due to the permanent nature of that status.

But… why not just check for ID at the polling station? Just as a safeguard? Well, because it’s kind of pointless when the majority of California voters mail in absentee ballots. So just maybe the registration process IS the right place to do all the vetting.

However… there is still that chance that someone finds out the name and Social Security number of someone else and votes before the real McCoy gets there. I believe both votes under the same identity would be disqualified, but I’m not sure. I found a website https://www.usa.gov that supports a chat agent. Cool, I’ll see if they can help me.

I asked if someone can vote if they use my name and social security number. They answered with…

Alexandria: We provide information on how to report voter fraud on the following link.
https://www.usa.gov/voting-laws#item-36047
4:40:53 PM

Alexandria: I hope the information I sent you helps. Do you have any more questions?
4:40:57 PM

Well, it didn’t really because a link to report voter fraud is only useful AFTER it happens. I was looking for the measures taken to PREVENT voter fraud. So, I thought I’d be a little more direct.

Me: I’m not a citizen… I’m just checking to see if I can slip in a vote. Apparently, I can as long as no one takes the time to report voter fraud.
4:42:02 PM

Alexandria: You cannot
4:43:00 PM

Alexandria: You can only be registered as a citizen
4:43:14 PM

Ugh… yes, I KNOW that… I’m not looking for the rules, I’m looking for the safeguards. So, sticking with the direct strategy…

Me: Again… what’s to stop me?
4:43:42 PM

Alexandria: We take all threats seriously. information about this chat session will be turned over to law enforcement authorities for further investigation.
4:43:48 PM

The agent has ended the chat

I didn’t get a chance to say anything more. I was literally cut off and left wondering if my name is now being passed around through law enforcement or worse. Maybe the direct strategy wasn’t such a bright idea, lol… I any case, I wasn’t able to find any safeguard against an illegal immigrant hijacking a citizen’s vote, but again, that would require the citizen that took the time to register to not be bothered with voting AND an illegal immigrant to have access to that citizen’s information AND risk being caught while committing fraud. Given these circumstances, 3 millions votes seems like a lot.

26. July 2018 · Comments Off on The Unconstitutional Trump · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture · Tags: ,

Article 1 Section 9 of the U.S.Constitution has proved to be a law, contrary to the actions of the most recent Republican presidents.

For instance, George W Bush suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus as applied to suspected terrorists picked up in various locations throughout the world. What does Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution say about this?

Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution:
2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

So to remain “constitutional” the Bush Administration would have had to qualify the terrorist suspects as threats to public safety, which may have been an easy argument to make on the momentum of their “terrorists versus the world” narrative, but there was no clear recognition of any invasion or rebellion, which the Constitution makes very clear, is the context that matters.

But whether a president is constitutional or not seems to matter less to the Republican side of the increasing divide between Americans.

Today, we have another example as Trump continues to profit from his hotels, even encouraging foreign dignitaries to stay at his hotel in Washington DC. What does Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution say about this?

Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution:

8: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

So for Trump to remain “constitutional”, Congress will need to provide consent for Trump to profit from the foreign dignitaries that stay in his hotel. Until this happens, Trump will be exposed to the charge of violating the Constitution and indeed it appears the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia are doing just that.

The Trump Administration has appealed to the courts with the assertion that the profits come from an exchange of services provided and therefore cannot be counted as a “present”, “Emolument”, “office” or “title”. But while the profits are clearly not a present, or an office or a title, the question remains as to whether they qualify as an emolument.

The Trump Administration has approached the courts with the assertion that “emolument” means “gift”. Of course that would suggest redundancy in the language of the Constitution since another word for “gift” is “present” which is already included in the clause. But let’s break out the dictionary…

An emolument is defined by Webster-Merriam as:

1. the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites
2. archaic: advantage

The first definition is clearly not the equivalent of “gift” but rather a description of “returns”… which is another word for “profit”.

The second definition is as broad as they come… “advantage”. It can certainly be said that Trump gains economic advantage when foreign dignitaries choose to stay at his hotel… unless the hotel room and all it’s services are provided to such dignitaries free of charge and even then the question would remain, would Trump’s business gain advantages in the form of historic significance and/or reputation? Fortunately, we don’t have to split that hair because the foreign dignitaries did NOT get free service, the foreign states that sent their diplomats paid Trump’s business for services.

And just in case anyone gets pedantic about Merriam-Webster’s “archaic” qualifier, it must be understood that Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution WAS written over two centuries ago.

Indeed, In his opinion, Judge Peter Messitte of the US District Court of Maryland sided with Maryland and Washington, DC’s definition of emolument as an “advantage.”

We know by now that the Trump administration isn’t one to accept the opinions of others, so we shouldn’t be surprised if they appeal to a higher court but it would be a shock to Americans if the highest courts capitulate to what I’m just going to call a ridiculous notion that an emolument can only be defined as a gift.

One more thing to point out about this particular clause is the emphasis on breadth of meaning… If you look at the language, you will notice the repeated use of the word “ANY” and the phrase “ANY kind WHATEVER”. This is not the language of narrow specifics; this is the emphatic language of inclusion… “No advantages of ANY KIND!!!!”

This is further enforced by the very purpose of the clause… to prevent Presidents from being tempted with foreign provided motives which can arrive in many forms, hence the use of a broadly defined word like emolument.

Violating the Constitution worked out OK for Bush because no one stepped up to actually prosecute him; probably because doing so would have been be a political risk given how little the American people know about obscure legal terms cloaked in Latin and how consumed they were about the “threat of terrorism”.

In contrast, I don’t see how Trump’s violation can possibly be construed as a matter of public safety or anything other than a personal gain. Trump may have to rely on the cult-like obsessions of the rabid-right to come out of this one. As long as he continues to attack liberals he can score points with liberal-haters and so long as these liberal-haters come close to 25% of the American people, there is a gaming chance that Trump will stay on top… Maybe with a little help from the Russians.

27. May 2018 · Comments Off on Mandatory Arbitration and the Supreme Court Decision · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture · Tags: , ,

 

Some of you may have heard slight mutterings in the media regarding the recent Supreme Court decision that allows private companies to force their workers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. It sounds pretty boring. Let me rephrase: The Supreme Court just gave private companies the power to treat their workers anyway way they want without any regard for federal, state or local laws.

The court decision was applied to three separate cases, all of which involved similar arguments where an employer violated state or federal labor laws. At least two of the cases involved an employers refusal to pay overtime as required by state laws. You would think this would be any easy one… If the law says they have to pay, they have to pay, right?

However, in all three cases, the employers simply refused to comply with these laws. OK, so this is where the employee takes the dispute to court, right?

Well in all three cases, the workers had signed arbitration agreements which according to the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925 means that the employees have to duke it out with their employers in private arbitration. That basically means the employee and the employer sit down to work out a “deal”. Of course the employer always has the leverage, like… “do you want to keep your job?”. Without the protection of the law, they really don’t have any other leverage.

In 1935 this had become such a pressing problem that Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act, which provided the worker with the right to collectively arbitrate. In other words, in answer to that question about keeping a job the worker can now say, “do you want to keep producing?” Collective arbitration is what made the U.S. such a great place to work. You didn’t even need government regulation because entire crews can bargain with their employers on an equal footing.

But in recent years, some companies have started adding a clause to their arbitration agreements saying that workers can only arbitrate as individuals, not collectively. But isn’t that a violation of the National Labor Relations Act? Why, yes it is but underpaying workers is also a violation of law so why would this be any different? The challenge is finding a way to enforce the laws and to do that you have to take it to court, but wait… they CAN’T take it to court because of the arbitration agreement.

So in 2018, the four liberal members of the Supreme Court, while judging appeals, tried to make the case that the provision in the National Labor Relations Act to allow collective arbitration supersedes FAA’s command to enforce arbitration agreements. This was essentially the only path back to any kind of leverage a worker might have.

But the majority opinion, led by Neil Gorsuch, stated that the NLRA only provided the right to collectively bargain, not to supersede the FAA. The contention is that this interpretation is too literal, which does make sense… Think about it, Congress in 1935 obviously didn’t take in to consideration the possibility that a company would simply write a clause in their arbitration agreements that puts them beyond the reach of very law they were enacting.

Nevertheless, all three cases were decided on a soft argument that because 77 years passed from the enactment of the NLRA to the first case where it was used to challenge the FAA, the legitimacy of the challenge is “doubtful”. The conservatives took the “when in doubt go with what is clear” option, saying that the FAA clearly forces arbitration, with no option to appeal. Then they took a quick lean on the “don’t legislate from the bench” argument, even admitting that while the decision may not result in the best policy, a different decision would require a different law.

So from a technical stand point, I can understand the decision but from a moral stand point it’s pretty disappointing, especially given how “arguable” the decision is and how significant the impact will be.

06. May 2018 · Comments Off on The “Political” Resistance to Being Nice · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture

In recent years, a war over social justice as been raging in the IT industry and one battleground in this war appears to be the codes of conduct that organizations sometimes ask their workers to comply with.

Business Insider just published an article describing one skirmish in particular.

This story tells of a contributor to the LLVM project who left because he had a political conflict with their new code of conduct. And the way I see it, the article also illustrates how people just need to get a grip. There’s nothing wrong with a code of conduct that sets the expectation that people will be nice to each other unless they have a personal problem with being nice, in which case… Who need’s them?

Sometimes, dissenters appeal to the moral grounds of freedom and find fault with trying to force people to be accepting, but that seems a bit over the top to me, especially compared to the long-standing existence of other policies like dress-codes that are no less intrusive yet receive comparatively little blow-back. Indeed, complaining about having to be nice to others is no more ridiculous than complaining that you can’t come to work in your pajamas. Both policies do in fact obstruct your total freedom, but so does the simple act of sharing a world with others.

Often times, the opposition to a code of conduct is really about something else. Rafael Avila de Espindola, for instance, is described in the article as the developer who left the LLVM project due to his personal conflict with the project’s new code of conduct but when you look at his reasoning, as he explained them, we can see that he is more generally pissed off what he calls the “Social INjustice Movement”.

(full story here)

The little play on words… ‘seems common vernacular among those who have been harboring extreme political hangups. Indeed, according to Avila, “the last drop” was the association LLVM was establishing with an organization called Outreachy (I want to talk about that name, but I won’t), that offers paid internships to people in groups that are considered to be underrepresented. Avila describes them as “an organization that openly discriminates based on sex and ancestry”.

Well, of course they do… When the industry in general discriminates one way based on sex and ancestry, a common response is to counter with discrimination the other way based on the sex and ancestry. Condemning them for doing so is no less ridiculous than condemning someone for using violence to defend himself against violence. At least in my opinion.

And it’s then it’s LLVM’s job to interview the candidate interns and further discriminate based on experience, ability and willingness.

I can’t even begin to imagine how to gauge the benefits and consequences of countering one type of discrimination with another type of discrimination but we don’t need to… and that’s pretty much my point. The association with Outreachy has nothing to do with the code of conduct Avila was refusing to accept; for him, the code of conduct is probably more a symbolic representation of the social justice movement as a whole, which I guess is OK on some level but not so much when you’re actually making false accusations.

Avila very clearly stated that through the code of conduct “the community tries to welcome people of all ‘political belief’. Except those whose political belief mean that they don’t agree with the code of conduct.”

Which would be what? The political belief that we shouldn’t expect people to be nice to each other?

Here’s the code of conduct that Avila has such contention with.

  • be friendly and patient
  • be welcoming
  • be considerate
  • be respectful
  • be careful in the words that you choose and be kind to others
  • when we disagree, try to understand why.

Seriously Raphael?

27. September 2017 · Comments Off on Answer to Carl Tuckerson’s Question: Why Do Protesters Use the Flag to Make Their Point? · Categories: Politics, Social/Culture

Every so often I tune into Fox News to get their perspective on things. And so last Monday I saw Carl Tuckerson posing a question to a guest (a lawyer who supports the NFL players and their right to protest). Here’s the question (paraphrased)

If they want to protest, why not write a letter or gather in a park..? Why do they have to use the flag?

Well, here’s an answer…

The reason why these athletes have chosen the flag and the anthem is because the stadium is their platform, so…

1. There’s lots of people there to watch superstars
2. The athletes ARE the superstars
3. There’s a flag and anthem tradition
4. There’s national media coverage

These athletes recognize the flag and the anthem as the most important of these things, as most Americans do, BECAUSE, just like us, they have been taught to honor the flag and the anthem. So they use quiet and respectful gestures to draw attention to racial inequality and police brutality while the anthem gives context to the gestures.

There is nothing irreverent about quietly taking a knee. For thousands of years people have dropped a knee before a king or an altar as a gesture of reverence and appeal. And it’s appropriate because their protest *IS* an appeal to the American people and our constitutional system. That isn’t represented by the audience of football fans or the crowd around them… Our republic is represented by that flag and the anthem that brings our attention to it.

So please Carl, don’t cheapen the flag by turning it into a political device. Instead, validate the honor of the flag by considering the grievances of the citizens kneeling before it.

NFL player takes a reverent knee

06. May 2016 · Comments Off on Double Standards and an Argument Against Minimum Wage · Categories: Economics, Politics, Social/Culture · Tags:

While searching for arguments against minimum wage I found this article by Tim Worstall published by Forbes. It’s about 1100 words that essentially says one thing… that minimum wage is immoral. I gotta say, I was pretty disappointed in the explanation. I was expecting some creative interpretation of scripture or something but all he actually said was this…

“As I say, there’s nothing wrong with the basic position, that people should have enough to eat. But given that it is us, collectively, who are making this decision then it should again be us, collectively, who are willing to pay for our moral position.”

So he’s basically saying that if the American democracy demands a minimum wage for the American worker, the “moral” thing for the American democracy to do is pay it themselves. Do you see how ridiculous that is? No? Well, let’s apply this sense of morals to the concept of a supply-chain and see how much sense it makes… I added a diagram to try an make this clear as possible…

supplychain&advocacy

When a supplier up the chain increases the price of a component, he doesn’t offer to pay the difference just because he increased the price. The supplier is expecting the downstream consumer to either pay the price or find another supplier but according to Tim Worstall’s argument, this is immoral. There really is no reason why a democracy or a union that supplies labor should be subject to a different set of rules (other than to isolate the issue in rhetorical packing material that won’t break these eggshell arguments against minimum wage). If it’s immoral for an organization that provides labor, such as a union or democracy, to make such a demand without paying for it themselves then it’s also immoral for upstream suppliers to demand a price for their products and services without paying for it themselves. According to this moral perspective the suppliers should either buy their own products and give them to consumers for free or they should let consumers pay whatever they want for the supplies.

So why the double-standard? Or maybe I should be asking if they even realize it *is* a double-standard. I’ve had this discussion before and a typical response is to say that democracies and labor unions don’t provide labor… laborers do. Well, that’s like saying McDonald’s doesn’t serve hamburgers, their employees do. In other words, it’s a pointless distinction that only serves to reveal how shackled up our perceptions can be. The only reason why we don’t think of a democracy as a supplier of labor is that we aren’t accustomed to seeing it presented that way. That doesn’t mean it’s not true. Besides the discussion is about upstream polices that affect downstream cost, not the merits of individual workers. Again, let’s have a look at the picture.

As we can see a factory can decide the price of it’s own product based on the cost of production and related business. Likewise, a supplier can decide the price of it’s own product for the same reasons. A labor force also has associated costs, such as food, education and healthcare but the only entity in the picture that actually deals with all these things is our democracy. So, it makes sense that our democracy would advocate a fair price to cover the costs. That’s what minimum wage is.

28. February 2015 · Comments Off on Internet Access Now a Public Utility · Categories: Economics, Politics, Technology · Tags: , ,

The FCC yesterday made a giant decision. They agreed to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Federal Communications Act. In other words, Internet access is now a public utility. This regulation is a huge victory for advocates of net neutrality. I expect a lot of people won’t understand what this means other than the general understanding that another industry has just been put under government regulation. So before everyone reaches for their partisan pistols, let me just explain why it came to this.

The Internet Service Providers (companies that provide us with access to the Internet, such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast) have been developing methods to tier their services where premium services would be available for higher paying customers. Such service would include faster access. So, what’s wrong with that? Well, let me state this a slightly different way. These tiered services were being developed on the basis of slowing down connections for standard customers to make more room for the premium customers on networks that are not otherwise improved.

I don’t have a problem with anyone spending money on ways to improve their Internet connections through their own equipment or even by investing in technical research and development of better compression techniques. But I do have a problem when the money is spent on the privilege to cut in line.

This is what net neutrality means… It’s another example of the push for equality… It’s the demand that Internet Service Providers keep things simple and just focus on providing Internet access to everyone, no special treatment, no judging, no schemes for squeezing money out of people, just simple and honest… Internet access.

It’s too bad it has to take the government to step in and insure things like net neutrality, but so far it appears to be the only way a democracy can extend the will of the people on a market that is tilted to the weight of the wealthy.

20. February 2015 · Comments Off on Government Spending · Categories: Economics, Politics · Tags: ,

This chart shows government spending from 2000 – 2015.  As far as I can tell, there are no tricks, no hidden or partial contexts, no percentage of GDP… Just straight up spending measured here in billions of U.S. dollars.

source: tradingeconomics.com

As you can see, there is a huge peak in 2010. This peak was in the headlines almost constantly and when it wasn’t you could still hear the hum of angry citizens fuming about government spending. Well, I just wanted to share this… Government spending appears to have been decreasing since then.