Twitter on Race

President Obama’s election in 2008 supposedly ushered in a Post-Racial Era in America. But actually Race ugliness vis a vis the President started early in 2008 with the birther nonsense caused by Hillary Clinton supporters sending out  thousands of emails calling into question Obama’s citizenship. The controversy crossed the aisle and was picked up by the GOP  through the Drudge Report and extended the controversy into 2011.

But perhaps the turning point in the  Post-Racial Era was signalled by GOP representative Joe Wilson shouting “You Lie” at President Obama in a Joint Session of Congress in 2009 – an unheard of event . This coincided with the backroom machinations by Senator Mitch McConnell who back in 2008 as Obama was being inaugurated formulated a policy of sabotaging any bipartisanship with Blanket Legislative No-votes to deny any policy victories for President Obama. The calculation by Senator McConnell was that failure to deliver infrastructure jobs, tuition and tax relief, and other Obama relief programs could be stalled in the Senate[with cynical repeated use of the cloture vote requiring 60 vote majorities] while the GOP could disguise their tactics by calling for more bipartisanship from the President. In the 2010 and 2014 elections the tactic worked as the Presidents popularity fell and  the GOP gained control of the Senate while enlarging its majority in the House.
Then a series of shootings by police and pseudo-police across the USA erased any notions of a Post Racial breakthrough as witnessed by the number of unarmed blacks killed by police over the last year:

Apr 30 2014 in Milwaukee Dontre Hamilton shot 14 times by a police officer outside a Starbucks.
May 31 2014 in Cleveland Ohio an unarmed black couple, Timothy Russell and Melissa Williams, are shot at 100 times. After stopping after 25 minute traffic chase,  shooting had subsided but Officer Brelo got on the hood of the car and shot through the windshield 15 more times.  5  were fatal shots. A white Cleveland judge just cleared Brelo of any charges.
Jul 17, 2014 in NYC Eric Garner is choked to death by police even after calling out 11 times “I can’t breath”.
Aug 5 2014 in Dayton Ohio John Crawford is shot by police because he was carrying a bb-gun.
Aug 9 2014 in Ferguson Missouri is shot death despite being unarmed. DOJ declines to prosecute.
Aug 11 2014 in Florence California unarmed Ezell Ford is shot dead by police officer, once in the back.
Aug 12 2014 in Victorville California  Dante Parker, father of 5, is tased to death. Investigation ongoing.
Nov 13 2014 in Cleveland Ohio Tanisha Anderson is killed when police bash her head against the pavement.
Nov 20 2014 in NYC unarmed Akai Gurley shot by police in stairwell walking with his girl friend.
Nov 22 2014 in Cleveland Ohio 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot within 10 seconds of police arrival on the scene as police officers “mistake” a toy gun for the real thing.
Dec 2 2014 in Phoenix Arizona Rumain Brisbon is shot dead by police when a bottle is mistaken for being a weapon.
Dec 30 2014 in Bridgeton New Jersey Jerame Reid is shot dead while exiting with hands up from car.
Mar 6 2015 in Madison Wisconsin unarmed Tony Robinson is shot 3 times by police officer.
Mar 30 2015 in Vineland New Jersey  Phillip White dies in police custody,. There is ongoing investigation.
Apr 2 2015 in Tulsa Oklahoma unarmed Eric Harris was shot when officer  “mistakenly” used gun instead of taser.
Apr 4 2015 in Charleston South Carolina unarmed Walter Scott is shot in the back by police officer.
Apr 19 2015 in Baltimore Maryland Freddie Gray dies of spinal cord injuries in police van.
18 unarmed Black deaths by police provide ample proof that the racial divide, especially in policing, is still well entrenched.

Finally Salon magazine did a story about the President getting a Twitter account. I had a bad feeling:
tweetpotus
And Twitter followers did not disappoint my expectations of bad Tweets  for POTUS – lots of trolls, name-calling, 140 characters of incivility and an ample layering of racial hate mongering. And so there you have it, Racism is alive and well in the USofA!

Ted on Jobs

This Ted Talk by Andrew Mcafee is supercalifragilisticexpialidociously optimistic about jobs:

There are four existential wicked problems of increasing danger facing the World:
1)Man made climate change that demands  wrenching alterations in how energy is produced and used worldwide;
2)Income inequality growing at exponential rates in both developed and developing countries. The ever more concentrated wealth  concentrated in the elite 1% is undermining basic political processes within and between countries worldwide;
3)Long festering religious strife that fosters increasingly violent and widespread slaughters of “infidels”;
4)the increasing scarcity of jobs as AI and automation move ever higher in the job hierarchy taking over not just blue color manual jobs but now white collar knowledge  jobs in service, analysis and decisionmaking. These loss of jobs are not being replaced by new and better jobs but rather few and poorer paying positions. Unemployment rates and schooling debts among youth now reach into every continent and at alarming levels. This lack of employment and opportunity for betterment permeates all societies and feeds Wicked Problems 2) and 3).

Now tell me again why we should not prepare for Lack of Jobs Becoming the Tipping Point to International Crises? And just when Government needs to formulate a very intelligent response to the problem – the GOP has destroyed the  workings of  government. Just like the GOP’s Starve the Beast Policy initiated by Ronald Reagan which  was designed to create deliberate and massive deficits so across the board cutbacks would have to be made to everything but tax relief for the wealthy  and defense spending. Now the new focus by the TeaParty and Senator McConnell is to sabotage government elective and legislative processes so “we have proof that government is not working” and we can force our agenda. So 6 more years and counting of bitter, divisive, and partisan politics [the very things the electorate wanted to eliminate back in 2006 and 2008] means government is ill-prepared to cope with the coming Massive Job Drought. And the Executive Suite embraces the Job Drought because they can reduce their marginal wages costs to zero.   Wow, sounds like the recipe for economic and social disaster.

References:
Crains – A third of the $3trillion knowledge worker economy is up for grabs by AI substitutes.
TechRepublic – AI taking away more jobs than it creates
Pew Research – some very educated projections on the state of the IT + AI art to 2025
Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford – Silicon Valley expert’s dire warning
Shadow Work by Craig Lambert – the unpaid, unseen work left after AI takes over
The Second Machine Age by Byrnjolfsson and McAfee – states the job-technology problem but no help
Lights in the Tunnel by Martin Ford – First look at AI+Computing automating away knowledge jobs
Zero Marginal Cost Society by Jeremy Rifkin – economic implications of production revolution
Race Against the Machine by Byrnjolfsson – First look at  the 2nd machine age
No Ordinary Disruption by Dobbs et alia – another Pollyanna look at the problem

A Gagging Dose of Diana Furchtgott-Roth at MarketWatch

dianaFurchtgott-Roth_100The WSJ’s sibling website Marketwatch has a resident liberally bearish voice , Paul Farrell, who regularly rains hell and brimstone on the perpetual bull market, climate change consequences and his latest tirade, the Inequality Bubble Is Accelerating. To balance that blue point of view, Marketwatch needed an Ann Coulter-like bloody red flak attacks . Voila Diana Furchtgott-Roth – More military spending could actually save the U.S. money5 reasons to counter climate-change regulation and 5 reasons Janet Yellen shouldn’t focus on income inequality. Perhaps not the cynical conservative slashings of Ann Coulter but still  prime red meat.

But her latest column is Gagging at the Mouth GOP Claptrap:The best way to “spread the wealth” is to leave it in the hands of the wealthy and Outsourcing makes Americans better off and Sea levels aren’t rising. If climate change were resulting in rising sea levels, coastal homes would not go for such fabulous sums. Rather, properties near the sea would be dropping in value every year. A quick look at the “Mansion” section of Friday’s Wall Street Journal shows that this isn’t happening.

Ohh… sorry these are not the views of Diana but rather her editor, John Tamny at RealClearMarkets.com. My apologies, Diana. You go girl with your own GOP claptrap – New Congress breaks into action with smart bills correcting Marketwatch’s Rex Nutting and The five dumbest things Congress did in its first 100 days.

Marketwatch, a Rupert Murdoch property, is at least a couple steps ahead of that other Rupert Murdoch tribute to Freedom of the Press, Fox News.  No, Marketwatch has not come close to matching Fox New’s record breaking 50 Lies in 6 seconds; but Marketwatch is doing its best to meet Rupert’s “New Press” standard for screeds, uncivility, and partisan propaganda. And so Rupert through Marketwatch and other press properties is hacking away at the value of Freedom of the Press by making his properties success keyed on new lows of shrillness and untrustworthy reporting. And to think, Rupert’s Fox News will, despite its 50 Lies in 6 seconds, get to sponsor a Presidential Debate.

Bibi Netanyahu : Duplicitous

bibi1It appears that after the Israeli election that Palestinian Premier Mahmoud Abbas, President Barack Obama  and other Western leaders will be safe in identifying Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu as two-faced, cheating, deceitful, dishonest, serpent-tongued, shady, and a two-timing double-dealer. Certainly BibI  Netanyahu will not be accused of honesty and trustworthiness. The NYTimes and theGuardian list the most grievous electoral travesties and about-faces as:
1)”I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel.” – this comment  breaks the Netanyahu commitment to a two state solution in 2009 and confirms the stark reality of 6 years of fruitless negotiations with the Palestinians which has been Bibi debased.There are dire consequences for this stand. Bibi needs the support of Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the US for any “defensive strikes against Iran” and the Arab group likely will not budge unless tangible movement to a Palestinian statehood has been made by Israel.

In addition, the reality of the slow Israeli invasion of Westbank through controversial settlements, a point of contention between Europe and the US versus Israel comes more sharply into focus. Literally, Bibi condoned settlements to swallow up Arab land:

Settler population 1948 1972 1977 1980 1983 1993 2004 2007 2010 2014
West Bank (excluding Jerusalem) 480 1,182 3,200
-4,400
17,400 22,800 111,600 234,500 276,500 314,100 400,000
Gaza Strip 2 30 700  500  900 900 4,800 7,826 0 0 0
Golan Heights 0 77 6,800 12,600 17,265 18,692 19,797 21,000
East Jerusalem 2,300 8,649 76,095 152,800 181,587 189,708 198,629 300,000-350,000
Total 2,810 10,608 106,595 281,800 441,178 485,170 532,526 721,000-771,000

Source.
Reversing this Israeli occupational tide through “land transfers” and closing of Israeli settlements will be ‘nigh impossible’ given the popular resistance in 2005-2006 to abandoning the small Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip of less than 8,000 Israeli  settlers.
2)”Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses.”
Even Israel’s more right wing media pulled Netanyahu up on his election night claim that his rivals were bussing in Arab voters in order to defeat Likud. Not the least, critics pointed out, because Arabs in Israel have as much democratic right to vote as Israeli Jews. And this  violence has consequences in Israel between Arab and Jewish citizens. In the West, only the Arab on Israeli violence gets media play; but the reverse – Israeli violence on native Arabs is also widespread and just got a Bibi “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” greenlight.
3)If Tzipi [Livni] and Bougie [Isaac Herzog] form a government, Hamastan B will be established here.
The many variations on these remarks by Bibi imply that the opposition party is in cahoots with Palestinian, leftists and overseas radical elements – all conspiring to do in Bibi and the Likud party. This abjectly false and  bitterly partisan ad-hominem  series of attacks  make US political partisanship [“Obama is the worst President in US History”] look tame.
4)Jews have been murdered again on European soil only because they were Jews and this […] is expected to continue. We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe.
These remarks are extremely  unpopular in Europe which sees itself with growing differences with Israel. There is a strong group looking to bring economic sanctions, boycotts, and other restrictions used to prod Israel into more movement on Palestinian statehood. The gulf has gotten wider since the Charlie Hebdo, Belgian, and Danish attacks with Bibi calling for Jews to leave Europe.
5)American money [is] bringing the Arabs to the ballot box.
This is one of many tirades against Americans, and even American Jews living in Israel. Blatant and partisan attacks against President Obama are just the tip of the iceberg of antipathy between the US and Israel. This is an Israel which gets $3-5 billion per year for the past 30 years and  has gotten  often solitary US blank-check vetoes in the UN  against any limitations on Israel’s actions for six decades.

In sum, two-faced Bibi has an enormous task of repairing fences worldwide which the NYTImes credited the Supreme Political Chameleon, already in full damage control mode, fully capable of turning an about face:
“By the night’s end, Mr. Netanyahu, seemed to realize he needed to recalibrate his message. In a late night speech claiming victory,he spoke of delivering security and social welfare ‘to all citizens of  Israel , Jews and non-Jew alike.’

Ahhh,  recalibration of forked tongue-speak which becomes the master-stroke of a politican whose end justifies the means. And Aluf Benn, in his evaluation of Netanyahu strategy in the election is profusely praiseful of Bibi – “Netanyahu deployed the politics of fear. It worked like magic”. Benn could cite the same rascist and fear-mongering magic deployed by an Austrian politician in the failing years of the Weimar Republic of 1931 to 1933.

USA: Israel’s Flak Catcher

The USA has been Israel’s Flak Catcher for the past 6 decades by virtue of its military aid and staunchly protective UN Security Council vetoes for Israel. This flak-catching role has been increasingly hazardous reaching a disastrous  peak in the 911 attacks on New York City. Here is Osama Bin Laden’s justification to the US People for that attack:

“(1) Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.

a) You attacked us in Palestine:

(i) Palestine, which has sunk under military occupation for more than 80 years. The British handed over Palestine, with your help and your support, to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than 50 years; years overflowing with oppression, tyranny, crimes, killing, expulsion, destruction and devastation. The creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you are the leaders of its criminals. And of course there is no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel. The creation of Israel is a crime which must be erased. Each and every person whose hands have become polluted in the contribution towards this crime must pay its*price, and pay for it heavily.

(ii) It brings us both laughter and tears to see that you have not yet tired of repeating your fabricated lies that the Jews have a historical right to Palestine, as it was promised to them in the Torah. Anyone who disputes with them on this alleged fact is accused of anti-semitism. This is one of the most fallacious, widely-circulated fabrications in history. The people of Palestine are pure Arabs and original Semites. It is the Muslims who are the inheritors of Moses (peace be upon him) and the inheritors of the real Torah that has not been changed. Muslims believe in all of the Prophets, including Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all. If the followers of Moses have been promised a right to Palestine in the Torah, then the Muslims are the most worthy nation of this.”

Bin Laden then went on to cite US support for  actions against Muslims in Afghanistan, Somalia, Chechnya,Lebanon, Kashmir, Iraq and elsewhere. Bin Laden was particularly scornful of the Arab prison in Guantanamo where hundreds of Arabs are detained without trial. But clearly the increasingly repressive confiscation of Palestine by Israel is the major point of contention and conflict.

What the US and Europe will have to weigh carefully in the near future is whether  they can continue to offer unconditional support to Israel when the lie of negotiating towards a Palestinian state has been clearly exposed and declared by Bibi Netanyahu. Terrorists like the Tunis murderers today will have the excuse that the US and Europe show false support for Muslim causes as long as this blank check support is accorded to Israel.

Yes,  the Muslim religion is morally reprehensible with its allowance of savage attacks on “infidels” as seen in the Tunisian attacks on tourists, the slaughtering of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, and unrelenting attacks on  “Muslim infidels”. This sectarian violence is a perversion of the Muslim faith that mainstream Muslims have not been able to control. But likewise, Israelis have been unable to control the increasing duplicitous dealings of its Prime Minister indicating either that Bibi has the tacit permission for “no Palestinian State” and less and less of full citizenship for Israeli Arabs, American Jews settling in Israel and Ethiopian and other minority group Jews. Privilege is accorded a few ‘right’ Jews – sounds like Muslim exceptionalism. .

The Passing of Logic, Science, and Mr. Spock

000fixLeonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, passed away at 83 last Friday and captured the collective conscious in unexpected ways. Marketwatch, the blog of Wall Street, published a bulletin reserved for big Bull or Bear market movements on the day. The news captured headlines at the NYTimes, Entertainment Weekly, Toronto Globe and Mail, TheGuardian, Sydney Morning Herald, Luxemburger Wort, France 24, etc, etc. The news traveled with Internet speed and was featured on all the major evening newscasts in  Canada and the United States. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr all lit up with hundreds of personal messages of grief.

Google Trends showed strong pulses of reaction in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, Canada,  Columbia, Chile, France, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Spain, Sweden,UK, USA, etc.mrspock

In sum, Mr. Spock’s passing touched the World Psyche on a day filled with great irrationality and illogic:
– 7 Missourians killed in yet another senseless gun rampage in the USA.
– Vladimir Putin’s Russia emerges starkly Stalinist with the killing of his political critic Nemtsov.
– Israeli Premier Bibi Netanyahu comes election barnstorming to Washington barely invited.
– House Republicans desert their leader and virtually shutdown Homeland Security amid a terror filled World.
– ISIS raises the level of its barbarity yet again with attacks on art, Christians, and women.
And as coping mechanism many again just tuned out segments of the news. But this repeated withdrawal from reality has consequences.

Reality aversion by tuning out sustains profound reality denial. This is a topic covered in several Star Trek episodes. For example, see Denial of Destiny. Denialists succumb to acceptance of truthiness where a person makes an argument or assertion claiming to know intuitively “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts- see here for origins.  In the worst case, there is acquiescence to authority in Milgram fashion.

The reaction to Leonard Nimoy’s death is the contemporary realization that Mr. Spock’s  LLAP – Live Long And Prosper is becoming a more distant possibility as jobs become more scarce and lower paying as evidenced by  participation in the labor force reaching new lows in North America while Wealth Inequality expands.Trickle-down Economics has gutted the Middle Class to the massive benefit of the 1% Wealthy. So beware of the political dogs that bark  that we must give tax breaks to the “Job Creators”. This deception for profit is a theme in several Star Trek episodes including Profit and Loss and False Profit.

Data from World Bank

We see this Ponzi scheme enacted today as business worldwide works relentlessly to increase profits by lowering wages and  cutting jobs. But most economies are dependent on robust consumer consumption for their growth and prosperity. So it is too often repeated Tragedy of the Commons, where Businesses own cutbacks threaten their own profitability.  As a result of this short-sighted business tactic, the  labor participation rate has steadily declined from a high of 67.3%  in 1999 to only 62.9% of the US labor force working. That 4.6% drop represents 7 million workers who used to be  employed. Unemployment is a world wide problem particularly high in Europe and the Middle East.

Likewise, in what Spock would identify as “most illogical”, the same pattern is seen in the decline of median income [adjusted for inflation] with a high of  $56,200  to a current low of $51,000 – Middle class incomes have steadily declined while the 1% rich incomes and wealth have skyrocketed – and this is a worldwide phenomenon. No doubt there has been a recovery from the 2007-2009 Great Recession but the biggest beneficiaries have largely been confined to the stock markets on Wall Street, London, Zurich and  Hong Kong.

The Decline of Science

In the 1950’s and 1960’s Ronald Reagan used to host General Electric Theater on NBC where he promised that “Progress was GE’s most important product”. Ronnie didn’t have to add “Progress for all” because that went without saying as Science was making life better throughout the World with spectacular improvements in  computers, telecommunications, drugs, agricultural devices and food production, home appliances, etc.

GEReagan

The Space Race was on and the US  and other developed nations were putting ever more emphasis on maths, science and engineering from grade school  through college. Science  was uncovering both the start of the  Universe and the Origin of  Man. The whole world was a beehive of activity and discovery through science. And Star Trek celebrated that World of Science & Discovery with its very mission statement:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Invention, discovery and science were prized and celebrated – and no more so than on Star Trek..

Fast forward 50 years. True, US leadership in Science continues unabated at the upper echelons but signs of distemper also abound:
– Science & engineering enrollment is declining slowly  in the US as foreign students displace US students who have moved to Finance and Law.
– Climate change deniers have managed to slow if not halt climate change controls in both the US and Canada despite growing weather extremes and continuing evidence of  environmental overheating.
– More broadly PR Merchants of Doubt use  refined propaganda techniques  and the  truthiness  phenomenon to delay, diminish and neutralize science-based control of health, environmental, and climate issues. For example delays in smoking regulations  kills 7.5 million/year  of Lung Diseases including Leonard Nimoy.
– And to see Truthiness in action look at the Creationism vs Evolution Debate and the Texas School Book controversies on the topic.
In sum, Science is being systematically discredited by various groups but most tellingly by major businesses who on one hand depend on science and engineering for their very well being; but on the other hand use devious methods to sow doubt about science when “its in their interests“.

Finally, there is another undercurrent against Science – its human cost. There is no doubt that major  industries have been changed in how they do their business several times over in the past 50 years.  Just ask the VHS then CD then DVD  then Cloud Drive providers. Or consider musical, image, writing and journal/press talent with their multiple upheavals over the past 40 years with PCs, mobile devices and  then the  Internet. Or assembly line works in countless industries who have seen multiple changes in how their work is done and whether they will even have a job. Meanwhile the cost of getting a Science or Engineering education is rising 4 times  faster than inflation and at 1012% since 1978 surpassing even notorious health care cost rises at 610%. Worse the benefits of getting a degree are also declining.

This employment vs educational cost disparity has been the subject of continuing evaluation. Star Trek visited the issue in the episode Past Tense part II. Here is a contemporary review from the Issues of Science entitled Anticipating a Luddite Revival. The writer, Stuart Elliott, examines how a new wave of advanced Artificial Intelligence apps could revolutionize manufacturing, delivery of medicine,legal processing, and operation of commercial transportation networks among other business and industry sectors. Here is the crux of the argument:

In principle, there is no problem with imagining a transformation in the labor market that substitutes technology for workers for 80% of current jobs and then expands employment in the remaining 20% to absorb the entire labor force. Considering the contrasts across the occupational groups in Table 3, such a change might involve a drastic reduction in sales, management, administration, construction, maintenance, and food service work accompanied by a massive expansion in health care, education, science, engineering, and law.

The United States experienced a labor market transformation of this scale between the early 19th and the late 20th century, when the portion of the workforce employed in agriculture shifted from roughly 80% to just a few percent. However, in the shift out of agriculture, the transformation took place over a century and a half, not several decades.

Clearly this argument is a repeat of the often made aphorism – “for every job lost more than another is created.”
Of course the problems with such labor transfers is manifold:
1)Will the new jobs created appear as fast as the old ones are lost;
2)Will the displaced workers have the skills to take on the newly created jobs;
3)Will the “massive expansion of jobs” match the possibly more massive loss of jobs;
4)Will the pay for the new jobs match or exceed those for the old ones.
And this job displacement will take place in a business climate where the top 1% are more than amply rewarded while the lower 80% have seen not only their incomes decline but their total taxes paid as % of income rise while the 1% are now paying lowest taxes in decades. Clearly Science as the major agent of change will not be wholly welcome. To which Mr. Spock might argue “The whole model is illogical. Equal opportunity for  prosperity and well-being for all is Society’s Prime Moral Directive.

Logic Shaken

To Mr Spock logic and morality are one in the same thing – what is logical is also what is morally fit and right. But world wide, morality and logic are under social siege.
– one sect of Islam sees  a moral right to attack, enslave and kill any infidels including rival Islam sects.
– worldwide major financial institutions who depend on the rule of law to maintain  the validity of  their millions of contracts flaunt that same rule of law regarding their own actions. No NewYork, London, Paris, Zurich, Singapore,  HongKong or Tokyo  banker has  been banned from holding financial office nor gone to jail for their transgressions in not just the worldwide 2007-2009  mortgage and derivative-based crisis but ongoing gross financial misconduct including massive money laundering, huge tax evasion dealings,  Libor interest rate manipulations  among a continuing stream of financial misdeeds.
– the US Supreme Court under the guise of Freedom of Speech has allowed  organizational executives to speak and spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns without recourse or approval of the organization’s shareholders, employees, suppliers or customers. This has unleashed huge political spending and influence peddling on Federal, State and Local politicians and governments.
– major news media  in the US, Britain, and Australia [almost all Rupert Murdoch properties] flaunt any semblance of truth as “opinion pieces”. The classic catching of the journalists with their moral pants down is the Jon Stewart video – 50 Fox News lies in 6 seconds. The problem is  the Fox  network gets to moderate a Presidential debate and so its  libelous behavior get legitimized much like the Wall Street bankers who escape prosecution and censure – and having gotten off Scott Free are in the process of repeating their financial shenanigans including endangering the Financial System with another very profitable but increasingly risky Derivative-based Bubble.

Each of these illogical behaviors has a contradiction at its core. A religion, Islam,  whose moral code enables/condones killing of “infidels” including mostly other Muslims. Finance which is dependent on rule of law flaunts it in the executive suite where legal transgressions has now been factored in “as the cost of doing big financial business”. US Supreme Court whose role in government is to make rulings that are respectful of precedence, while balancing evolving social mores with  non-partisan judgments  has become patently partisan in the past 10 years. News media which are expected to be fair, balanced and non-partisan have switched to infotainment where opinion pieces provide the cover for biased, partisan, and deliberately deceitful coverage. And these logical contradictions persist because accountability has faltered with counter-balancing institutions  failing  to censor or check the offending organizations  and their most deviant players.

Summary

Now it is only a 70-year lifetime ago when the World was concluding an all consuming Second Earth-wide War of horrific proportions. It was a war of immoral logic which had an Ideology of Supremacy threatening to thrust the rule  “Might and Right can  impose its will on any and all that oppose its absolute rule” upon the World. It is notable the writers of Star Trek envisioned a future World of Universal Conflict where Earth and Spock’s Vulcan race and logic were an outpost against such tyranny.It is also interesting that the Star Trek writers added empathy in episodes like Empath and  as a trait for characters like Counselor Troi and Captain Picard – acting as antidote against aggressive tyranny.

But it is also vital to realize that the Vulcan’s absolute, stoic, emotionless devotion to the dictates of logic just would not work in  humans. Emotions are crucial to writing the value of experiences in human learning and behavior. Leonard Nimoy recognized this in his book I Am Not Spock where emotion and humour are on full display. 20 Years later in 1995 and after a successful career in acting directing, photography and poetry, Leonard wrote I Am Spock where he celebrated  human emotion and humor but also the worth of rigorous logic and science. The World would do well to observe Leonard’s final epilogue  – “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Live long and prosper”. As logic and science dim, a fictional but fine spokesman for them has passed away.

Stains on Democracy: A Dysfunctional GOP

The right ascendantHere is the essential problem in America – the GOP has chosen to become nearly totally dysfunctional  and deceitful. On deceit, GOPers know they can say with confidence that Democrats shade the truth and outright lie too. All they have to do is say “Benghazi” and “Obamacare will allow you to keep your healthcare plans if you choose to do so” [unqualified promise courtesy of the President]. Then they have their own Fox News TV Network to trumpet this with imbalance outrage not seen on any other national network. So this becomes the GOP’s essential  line of defense – “we step over the line more grossly and more frequently but but the Dems do it too” And the GOP can rely on a radicalized Base and a tuned out public to not consider looking into the details for whose right or wrong on the issues.

Second, GOPers know that the public is barely paying attention to their Federal Politicians, so they can a)issue more  callous deceits more often to their base and b)only have to issue a few moderating disclaimers to save themselves from being hung and quartered by the press or populace.
So when a major political party

a)abandons its progressive roots from Abraham Lincoln to Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower; b)embraces a Base of one issue voters [guns, abortions, prayer in schools, no gay rights, etc] ;
c)sets up a propaganda network with Fox News plus radio and paper Shills that echo GOP output  with stunning rapidity and unquestioned venom to play to that Base;
d)adopts a broad strategy of NIHILISM [Ignore this link at your peril as NO to anything proposed by the President with no need to offer any viable alternatives started at Obama’s first inauguration] – well then you have the current political gridlock.

And this Federal Gridlock has a GOP Design – just as their “Starve the Beast” policy of gross overspending by Republican Presidents by over  3 to 1 in the past 30 years has incurred the GOP-induced Deficit Crisis which the new Tea Partyers callously and  sanctimoniously claim was not of their doing. So likewise they are out now to prove  with their Congressional sabotage and  the GOP/Business line that “Government does not work”. Or invoke the GOP South line that “President Obama is the worst President since George W. Bush – really worse than George W. “.

So how does this  House of Deceitful Cards  work? A combo of a rabid Base and otherwise a John Q. Public frustrated, tuning out and/or giving up. Oh, and a malformed interpretation of  law that makes the elite of corporations equivalent to people and now permits business elites to spend however much they want to purchase  the people and policies they want.

In short when you have such a malignant political player as the GOP and the Public tuning out, the US now effectively allows other countries to become economically and educationally ascendant, while such deviant player as Russia, Iran, North Korea, the Taliban reap  great advantage.

The Good News for NBC News

With NBC News anchor Brian Williams being weighed down by #BrianWilliamsMisremembers, NBC News has some very tough decisions to make. CNN outlines the dilemma in its telling story Will Brian Williams Return? Even the British got in on the story with this cartoon and coverage:nbc
This party suspects that the hardworking Lester Holt will steady the ratings drop; but given Brian William’s Katrina reporting and rumors of other exaggerations, the possibility of a Williams being mortally wounded as Nightly News Host is still possible.

As one might suspect, the ews media are absorbed in this story 0- just take a look at the headline media stories  at the NYTimes, National Review,  CNN, and the Daily Beast to mention only a few navel gazers.

The Good News

This has been a tumultuous year for NBC News. In August 2014 they lost MeetThePress host David Gregory due to severe ratings decline. The merger with Comcast has put bottom line pressure on reporting resources. But Meet the Press, NBC’s prestigious Sunday Morning Program,  has taken a strong upturn in viewers since Chuck Todd took over for David Gregory. And he continues to garner better ratings. If this is the quality of conversation on Meet the Press they can count on one more viewer:
What had driven this viewer away from Meet the Press this past Summer was the numerous party hacks and political guests who could be relied upon for one and only one thing – a shrill partisan party line. The question is this – can Chuck Todd and the Meet the Press staff get such high quality observers and conversationalists [BBC’s Katy Kay, NYTimes David Brooks, Detroit Free Press Stephen Henderson and NBC’s own Andrea Mitchell]seen this past weekend in the future?

Microsoft, Apple and the Web

Almost a year ago, Takethe5th featured this story about Microsoft’s support for HTML5:



1msweb This Google+ Post is a picture that captures the essence of the continuing story about Microsoft and the Web. This slide is very telling because it reveals once again and summarizes neatly Redmond’s attitude to the Web for nearly 20 years. Remember Bill Gates said in 1995 the Internet was going to be the biggest trend in computing. But he could not find a way to exploit it like his Windows+Office monopolies.

So then in 1997 to defeat Netscape Browser and Server, Bill made a promise to US Business – Microsoft in IE and IIS would implement all the W3C and other Internet standards. It is a promise he and Microsoft religiously never kept. Rather, he and his IE Troopers used outright sabotage [Java corruption; incomplete and proprietary DOM, JavaScript and HTML; stone walling on W3C recommendations; etc, etc] plus the draconian 5-6 years of no feature updates to IE.

Dean Hachamovitch is the longstanding head hacker of IE and Web standards. Thank you Dean. Thank you Bill. Even Steve Ballmer is going and gone at Redmond but not Web Whacker Supremo, Dean Hachamovitch. He is a now a VP. Nearly 20 years later and Microsoft has not figured out how to capture or effectively cripple the Web; so they continue their slow motion sabotage. HTML5 is the latest Web Standards victim.

The evidence of Microsoft negligence is clear cut and can be seen in the HTML5Test.com comparison of the 5 major browsers.
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This “HTML5 Support by Microsoft” tells you about the continuing animosity towards Web Developments harbored in Redmond. In sum,   this pic  tells you why in this vast Internet market, Apple and Google, no ethical angels themselves, still have much more Web credence than Microsoft.


Now here is what has happened in the following year:
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Here is the HTML5 Test run one year later.

Note the following results. IE has improved marginally by about 10%; but it is still the bottom dweller. But note that Apple Safari is now challenging IE for the worst HTML5 performance while Google Chrome leads with Opera and Firefox close behind. In a most ironic fashion, Apple’s Tim Cook seems to be conceding the Web “It justs works” title to Google, Firefox and Opera.

Apple Just Works ?

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed that the Apple advantage that they work intensively on in all their products is that “the fact is that they just work better”. Now being a long time worker in the IT and Web world, ye Editor cringed just a bit on hearing such a lofty pronouncement coming on the heals of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iOS 8 announcements. It is very hard to get extremely complex, micro-miniaturized electronics and millions of lines of lines of code to work flawlessly.
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Why was Tim Cook inviting Murphy to invade the the Cupertino campus and reek havoc on its new product lines?

Well primarily because Apple no longer wins by daring innovation. In fact, iPhone is infamously playing catch up to Samsung, HTC, LG and others in both the smartphone and tablet markets if not the broader electronics innovation arena. In contrast, the new Blackberry Passport launched today is the first smartphone to breaks the “me-too” features & styling of recent smartphones from Apple ad other vendors. Thus, Tim Cook needs to differentiate Apple from Samsung, Google, Microsoft by securing the pinnacle that “Apple works better”.

However, as suspected Murphy has interceded and spread his chaos on the new Apple products in no small way:
1)Apple pulls iOS 8.0.1 after users report major problems with the update.
2)Apple’s Touch ID still vulnerable to hack attacks.
3)Apple Touch ID continuing to have problems even after iPhone 5 hick-ups.
4)Apple iPhone 6 has new “flex-to-permanent-bend” bent phone feature.
5)Apple continues to have OS/X Mail problems.
In sum, Apple has a wide array of both new introductory and continuing hardware and software problems that match if not exceed those encountered by Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others. Despite Tim Cook’s claims of electronic “it just works” pre-eminence, the reality is no vendor comes close to winning that crown. Device & software complexity plus cutting corners to get to market insure that for now.

Political Protection Money Thrives on the Street

Protection money is everywhere in society – but nowhere greater than in the relationship of Wall Street and Washington. And it all has to do with “asymmetrical payments”. For Wall Street bankers and investment houses, being able to dictate the Rule of Financial Law is priceless. Thus, just six large Wall Street banks are willing to spend over $100 billion in legal costs and fines to stave off further banking controls and thwart any downstream civil legal suits because they have managed to achieve “no admission of guilt” agreements with government regulatory agencies on almost every case regarding the Financial Crisis and their own continuing Financial Malpractices. .

In addition, the Financial sector is willing to pay 50% more than any other lobby group at $300M in total campaign contributions to continue to shape Federal financial policy.
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Consider that Banking industry profits are running at $120B annually, the banking legal and fine costs are running at about $25B annually while the cost of buying political influence is only $0.300B annually. But for Senators or Congressmen a $100K to $1Million political contribution is invaluable.  Hence the asymmetrical payments – Wall Street has nearly 5 times the profits needed to cover its approximate annual legal costs but 3000 times coverage for political protection payments required to shape Financial Rule of Law to their liking. But the payoff for breaking the financial rule of law is even greater because perpetrators of white-collar financial crime almost never see jail and absolutely are never banned from the Wall Street job market – no Ray Rices here..

Ahh, but you don’t believe Wall Street has carte blanche dictating the Financial Rule of Law. Well look at the evidence:
1) Only 1 Wall Streeter went to jail for Financial Crisis and the meme “too big to jail” has real potency.
2)Consider the role and rewards to former GOP Minority Whip Eric Cantor.
3)Consider the role and rewards to former Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
4)Consider the assessment of current financial integrity by Marketwatch/WSJ columnist David Weidner.
And these articles are just the tip of the iceberg. In case you have any lingering doubts, this book, among several dozen, provides one of the better accounts of the true nature of Wall Street and the Rule of Law. .

Summary

So the continuing graft on Wall Street permeates politics, economics and even world affairs – sanctions against Russia or Iran may or may not work depending on what major International banks think they can get away with. And all of this rides on asymmetrical payments of protection money that the US Supreme Court has given it 5-4 GOP assent to: corporations are people and so their rights of free speech cannot be limited by decades old election spending limits [and no matter that the “free speech” granted to corporations reflects only the views and will of a tiny executive elite and in no way reflects the beliefs and views of all the corporation’s stakeholders]. So by spending less than 1/10th of 1% of their assets on “political protection money”, Wall Street executives can guarantee they will have the final word on Financial Rule of Law. In 2014, consider the black and white social implications – if you are black and 23 or over, 1/3 of you will go to jail nearly half for drug crimes [and if you are from NYC, Ferguson Missouri, or Sanford Florida you may get killed]; if you are white and part of a multimillion financial racket, you will  very likely get no jail time whatsoever. And as for being banned from working on the Street – lol, lol, lol….