Phil-osophy February 3rd, 2020

Read about multiple and misleading statements, not to mention out-right lies. One needed realtime fact-checking while watching the RNC. Well, rump can take credit for an industry–it’s the fact-checking industry. We’ve never needed it before; people said what they meant. Is this advertising gone wild? People make up reality? Yes, that’s exactly what we’ve seen, on display.

SPACE FARCE.  Yes, there is a Mel Brooks movie by that name, but this isn’t about that movie.  We know trump’s “Space Force” is a farce.  It is what the US Airforce already does, but publicized more.  Not only is it pushing other countries to weaponize space, it is promoting fear and animosity in those that cannot afford the same.  Our attempts to weaponize space are against international treaties.  Then, they announced the uniforms and the logo.

The uniforms are Earth-based camouflage, something that does no good in space.  The logo is a rip-off of the Star Trek series.  Let’s hope the Star Trek people sue for infringement.  In all, it makes trump and the US look foolish.  Regretfully, we have come to expect that from trump.

Some strong ammunition for discussing politics with “Christians” who vote re-pug.

PEACEFUL GUN OWNERS?  Yes, they do exist.  I hear so much about how peacefully the pro-gun rally in Richmond was.  They say there was no need for the governor to declare a state of emergency or to have so many police out unless it was the gun temperance group that was possibly going to be dangerous.  Never do they admit that the very people who were preparing to make it a killing field were pro-gun and, fortunately, taken out of action prior to the event.  The remaining actions were to cover the possibilities someone was missed in the earlier arrests.  It is the equivalent of thinking it is okay to take a bomb on a commercial air flight simply because no one blew up an airplane yesterday.

BUDGET CUTS.  Now trump says he is open to cutting “entitlement” programs such as Medicare and Social Security, per this CNN article.  You know he will wait until after the election and then cut them all he can while spending even more money on unneeded military projects because it favors the corporations that help keep him in power.  In a speech at Davos, he said he would leave Social Security alone but that the Democrats wanted to destroy it with changes.  Actually, leaving Social Security alone would be a sure way to destroy it.

NOT TO BE BELIEVED! The Democrats made their impeachment case against trump before the US Senate.  The lawyers for trump responded with all they had – lies.  They said trump never had a chance to testify before the House, despite the fact that the House invited him to do so and he turned it down.  They claimed that the Democrats hid evidence although the parts “hidden” were publicly available and not used by the Democrats.  Read about it in this Snopes article and this CNN article.

AMERICAN DREAM.  Where do you have the best chance of achieving it?  Per this CNN article, that would be in Canada or any one of 25 other countries than in the US.  Canada placed 14th on the social mobility list and the US placed 27th.  Nordic countries have the best scores with Denmark leading the way.  Thank trump for holding us back.

FAIR?  You would expect the news channels to be all over the impeachment trial of trump.  There are limitations.  The Senate controls the cameras in the chamber and they aren’t showing the republicans who are not bothering to pay attention.  Still, most news channels are doing a good job of covering the trial.  One exception, as you might expect, is Fox (not-)News.  During the Democrats’ arguments with solid facts, that channel covered almost none of it saying the trial was “boring”.  Instead, they simply praised trump.  Once the republicans took the dais, they were all over it.  So much for any claim they make about fair or unbiased reporting.

BE CAREFUL.  When you follow the polls (I do!), recognize they are not always accurate.  The 2016 presidential election is a good example of that.  Even more, understand that commentary on subjects such as the impeachment of trump do not always tell the future accurately.  There are opinions that the impeachment hurts the Democrats and opinions that say the opposite.  We cannot count on those opinions or polls.  What we must count on are your efforts, contributions, and vote to help defeat trump in the November election this year.

INFLUENZA.  You may have heard a lot about the latest viral threat, the Wuhan coronavirus, which is hitting China hard and spreading to other countries.  Per this MarketWatch article, it could cost over half a trillion dollars annually to fight and treat it.  Under ideal conditions, it could kill 65 million people within 18 months.  Fortunately, countries are taking some steps to attempt to contain it.  Those steps will probably be effective in reducing the spread, but there are no guarantees.  Also, scientists are working on a vaccine for it.  Let’s hope they are quickly successful.

The good news is that since this was caught early, this will probably have less health impact that prior viral outbreaks like SARS or MERS.  For comparison, SARS claimed almost 800 lives and infected more than 8,000 worldwide.

SOCIALISM & THE U.S.  In the early years of the 20th Century, approximately 50,000 people – Americans and others employed by Americans – worked on the Panama Canal; work that was funded and run by the U.S. Government.  They enjoyed twice the paid vacation time as their counterparts in the US and 30 days/year sick leave, often unknown in the U.S.  Recreation facilities were built by the government and run by the YMCA for $10/person/year.  Housing, hospitals, and churches of various denominations were furnished free by the government.  Pay for workers was higher than in the U.S.  Stores owned and operated by the government (forerunners of military PX stores) sold food and other goods at prices far lower than in the U.S. and showed no losses.  The government-run Panama Railroad was well ahead of any railroad in the U.S. in efficiency, economy, and safety.  The government-run steamship line between New York and Colon, Panama, earned a profit of about $150,000/year, a handsome sum in those days.  Workers were very happy.  It was considered a model for a form of socialism and deemed a major success.

There was fear.  Fear that people in the U.S. and especially in other countries might see what was happening and try to emulate that socialism in other places.  Did it sound like socialism to you?  The workers – including one who was found to be a member of the Socialist Party – disagreed saying it wasn’t really socialism.

In no way am I saying this one example can be repeated every time.  It depends largely on good leadership, which they had in abundance.  Even with good leadership, there can be failure due to other reasons.  However, it does give us something to think about.

The above example is how the situation in Panama is often portrayed.  The reality is quite different.  As an example, the portrayal was mostly for white Americans, not for everyone.  Less than 20% of the workers were white, no matter from what country they hailed.  Workers of color received no free housing.  They had only the least desirable hospital rooms, still an improvement for most.  They received far lower pay than their white counterparts.  Even though $750/year was spent on entertainment and recreation for white workers, others had expenditures of only $50/year for similar activities.  Because of job assignments, people of color had more than twice the accident, illness, and death rates of the whites.  Yes, it was very much a racist environment and far from socialistic ideals.

To be open, I am not a socialist or advocate of any other single economic system.  Rather, I feel we are best served with a blend of economic models.  Personally, I see insurance companies (especially mutual companies), military, churches, and most clubs as largely socialist to one degree or another.  What I see and do not like is fear mongering by people who do not understand what they currently have.

ELECTION DISCRIMINATION.  Per this Los Angeles Times article, Arizona’s ballot rules were overturned on grounds they discriminate against minority voters.  The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stuck down requirements that ballots delivered to the wrong precinct be discarded and the law that made it a crime for someone to deliver another person’s ballot.  Judge William A. Fletcher, writing for the majority, said “For over a century, Arizona has repeatedly targeted its American Indian, Hispanic, and African American citizens, limiting or eliminating their ability to vote and to participate in the political process.”

Evidence showed that minority voters cast ballots outside their designated precincts at twice the rate of white voters, in part because they are less likely to have transportation and more likely to work multiple jobs.  Note that although law permits time off from work to vote, minorities are still more likely to be discriminated against on the job or even fired if they do take time off for voting.

ELIMINATING VOTER FRAUD.  Most people think of voter fraud being only voters who attempt to defraud the system.  However, it is also people who try to give false or misleading information.  This NPR article tells a good, simple, and inexpensive way to avoid some of that.  Simply put, all government systems at all levels should use URLs that end in “.gov”.  Thousands do not, although recommended by the federal government.

In the 2016 election (read this), attackers used email addresses that mimicked real addresses (.com, not .gov) within the elections world to try to entice local officials to click on links.  A few were taken in.  Voters are even more likely to fall for it.

VIRGINIA / WEST VIRGINIA.  I’m sure you’ve heard more about West Virginia asking counties in Virginia to join their state.  Even Jerry Falwell supports such a move.  I say let Falwell move his school to WV.  A friend in Martinsburg wants his county to join Virginia.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind our county joining in with other counties between here and DC and a few counties south to form the state of North Virginia.

GOD MUST NOT LIKE WALLS.  Per this CNN report, newly installed panels of the US/Mexican border wall fell over in high winds.  The only thing keeping those sections up were trees on the Mexican side of the border.  How fierce were the winds?  The gusts were only up to 37 MPH.

BOOM!  The use of landmines in warfare has led to so many civilian deaths during and long after the wars ended that more than 160 countries, including the US, decided to ban them.  Regretfully, the Obama administration didn’t outright ban them, instead permitted the replacement of those in stock.  Now, per this CNN article, trump is set to change that so more can be produced and used.  Please work hard to ensure this madness ends with a better president elected in November.

TRICKLE DOWN JOBS.  Democrats generally recognize that trickle-down economics does not work.  It has been tried multiple times, each time leading to a poorer economy and loss of jobs.  This short TED Talk addresses the issue and what really creates a good economy with plenty of jobs.

EXIT.  By the time you read this, Britain will no longer be a part of the European Union.  They have until the end of the year to rework trade and other agreements.  This is a loss for unity in our world.

HARD WIRED.  Don’t blame stupidity, blame nature.  That is the message in this Snopes article about humans being hard wired to dismiss facts that don’t fit their worldview.

SLEAZE ATTACK!  Jay Sekulow, one of trump’s lead attorneys during the impeachment trial, seems to be receiving questionable money for pay.  The pay arrives through a rented mailbox a block from the White House and is the sole physical location of a corporation co-owned by Sekulow.  The firm isn’t even listed with the District of Columbia Bar.  Per this Associated Press report, more than $65 million in charitable funds were paid to Sekulow, his relatives, and corporations they own.  Legitimate charity groups are upset over it.  In case you don’t remember, this is one of the things trump used to do to fund his projects and personal life.

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