Friday, 29 October 2021

Long Live Adam Kinzinger

 Hurray! Another Republican with some Balls!

Sadly Adam Kinzinger has had enough of his gutless colleagues most of whom have proven over the last several years that they have zero integrity. The former GOP is now the Trump puppet show. They are all willing to let The Donald pull their strings even knowing that he would cut them loose at any time while watching them crash to the ground.

Adam, Liz Cheney, and Mitt Romney still have some principles. Most of the others who now make up the party do not know the meaning of the word. They now live under the same rock as Tucker Carlson. The best thing America can do is find a bigger rock.

People get upset when there is any similarity implied between what is happening in America with the GOP headed by Trump, and the former Nazi Party headed by you know who. Way back then it all began the same way.

How long will it be before GOP members start wearing brown or black outfits, arm bands (perhaps the red cap is a substitute), and greet each other with their own unique salute.

Open your eyes America! It is all going down (way down) right in front of you.

Some day the Statue of Liberty will be a relic of a past democracy like the Greek Parthenon or the Italian Colosseum. The only difference? Current generations can still prevent it.


Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Facebook and Social Media have no heart!

Why #Facebook and others profit from Emotion

Facebook is in the news again - and other networks. Why? The claim is that there is too much harm done to individuals and then to groups of those individuals by what they see and read on such provider sites.

Let's face it, in news negative has always sold more than positive. Before social media, phones, or computers, fires, shootings, disasters, divorces, wars, UFO sightings and other topics sold magazines and newspapers. Occasionally a moon landing or big lottery win made the front page and when they did they were quickly replaced. Thus is the morbid nature of the average person's curiosity.

The same goes for conspiracies. Again - before computers were common - the JFK assassination was and still is popular because conspiracies prevailed. Roswell, UFOs, and the death of Diana were similar. Everyone wants to prove that their favored conspiracy is the right one. Social Media supports this desire perfectly.

We have probably all heard of "rabbit holes". Facebook in particular is exceptional at creating them. A person clicks on one article or conspiracy and the "algorithm" immediately fires another at them for consumption. It begins to appear that such negative stories are dominating the news when they are not.

If you click on a positive story or just a personal interest or pastime, you will again receive dozens of similar stories. This might be a good thing if it makes you feel good. Facebook does not know and does not care.

As we all know both promote more clicking and each new page provides more potential advertising revenue for Facebook. Is this breaking the law? Not yet. Zuckerberg claims that it is all a matter of free speech.

Here is the problem: what these algorithms can NOT do and likely never will, is assess the emotion the reader feels whether positive or negative. They would claim that the reader is consuming more of those articles in the rabbit hole presumably because he/she wants to. That is the core problem. A click is not always an indicator that you like the content. You might actually hate it but hate is a negative emotion and as agreed above, it sells more. People are psychologically drawn to it.

When the reader - especially a young one - is already feeling badly about something like their self-image, the rabbit hole can turn into a grave. People with pre-existing feelings of rage begin to act upon that rage.

Despite false claims to the contrary, that was at the heart of January 6th and other violent uprisings.

Algorithms can not feel or measure emotion. The question is whether their creators - and their top executives can or even want to. If an algorithm is capable of judging that a second article is similar to the first, surely it can return a different article with an opposing view or topic. Maintain a taboo list - subjects like self-image; depression; drug availability; guns and so many more. Do NOT return similar articles. It would be a start. Why not try it?

Mark you are by all measures extremely rich. Take a page from Bill Gates and start to give back.


Wednesday, 20 October 2021

POTUS Questions for Elections 2022 and 2024

 #America is Sinking like the Titanic, Iceberg and All

If a previous single term #President - for example The Donald - wanted to be President again, there are some questions I know I would be asking myself. Maybe you should too. Given their track record during the first term:

1. Assume there was another Titanic level disaster. Only 3 people were still alive onboard - him, an unknown woman, and a child. If there were only 2 life jackets, do you think the woman and child would be wearing them when the ship sank?

2. Has this person ever been in battle dodging real bullets, shrapnel, and bombs? If they had been called to serve in such a role, would they have done so without finding a way out of it?

3. If they ever asked anyone while viewing a military cemetery "what was in it" for the departed heroes would they be worthy of a second time in the White House?

4. If they joked with another man about grabbing women by their private parts without asking is that Presidential behaviour?

5. If they played any role whatsoever in instigating an insurrection against the office they already served during which their own Vice President was almost hanged, would they deserve a second chance?

6. If they admire and believe other autocrats who use raw power, terror, and corruption to keep themselves in office should they be allowed try it (again) in America?

7. If they can't stay in a single long term relationship the way so many who live the American Dream do, could you trust them to be loyal to their country either?

8. If they have been caught lying too many times to count could they change in a second term?

9. If they have countless lawsuits against them and have reneged on America's international agreements more than once, will anyone ever trust them again?

10. If you got this far and still want to re-elect this person give your head a shake.

The future of your democracy depends on you. I get 9 'no's as responses to the above. Only one should be required to deny another term.


Saturday, 16 October 2021

Which Team are Manchin and Sinema on?

#Manchin / Sinema Stop Sabotaging your Party

As POTUS Trump always took the spotlight and credit from his team, including those he appointed. He is still making the same attempt. In his mind Donald Trump is the only person on the planet who deserves credit for anything. It fractured the GOP as we knew it but helped The Donald thanks to his base.

That is history. But now Manchin and Sinema are the ones grandstanding every chance they get. It is also fracturing their party and killing Biden. If either really wants to be the big Kahuna, they should run for the party leadership or The Presidency. Which team are they on? What are their real motives?

Many think that Manchin has a conflict of interest being involved directly in the coal industry. He denies it. Is his target actually anything that aims to reduce dependency on fossil fuels? As for Sinema nobody seems to know where she is going or why. Does she?

They should both give their own heads a shake. Their team is 10 yards from the end zone for a game winning TD and they are both running the wrong way! Naturally the opposition isn't going to tackle them so one of their own has to. They both know they won't be kicked out of the party at this point since every vote is needed. Enough is enough. Are they secretly trying to keep the Dems from a big majority in 2022 and 2024? If Democrats were to win a comfortable majority their two votes could no longer be as critical. Then both of them could become toast for their recent behaviour. Are they closet Republicans? We have seen stranger things in politics.

At this point they would gain far more acclaim and respect for helping to drive the team over the goal line. If they don't step up history will not be kind to either one. Put up and for the party's sake shut up!


Wednesday, 13 October 2021

American Democracy is at a Crisis

These Trump Challenges must be Defeated

The American system of government has been on the edge ever since Trump was elected. He broke rules and pushed limits whenever he could. Why not? He grabbed women "by the pussy" without asking and got away with it. Why not grab Washington and its established norms by the crotch? He did and so far has gotten away with it again. Trump was not a President. He was and still is an egomaniac. But it worked.

Three things have to be accomplished to at least have a chance of preserving the America that evolved until 2016:

1. The issue of people ignoring a congressional subpoena has to be met head on. None of Trump's minions can be allowed to ignore their duty to show up for questioning. If they are not criminally charged, nobody will show up in the future. This is especially important given the possibility that Trump and Co. could be back in power. They must be charged and found guilty quickly. If prison is the result so be it.

2. The Democratic Party is now looking as fragmented as the GOP. It is time to get its act together. It is great that younger blood is forming part of the Dems. but like it or not, some of them are mere rookies. Changing Washington politics is overdue but blowing up your own party in the process is unacceptable. The Democrats are handing the next election back to you know who. AOC and co. you have to earn your stripes - as yet you have not. Manchin and Sinema nix the grandstanding.

3. Settle the issue over 3.5 trillion and pass something that will benefit millions of Americans. This is needed to win a majority in the mid-term elections and boost the economy prior to 2024. Only then might they also take 2024.

A nice-to-have would also be to charge Trump officially with something they can make stick. Unfortunately even an inmate or ex-inmate can run for and win the Presidency. Nothing in the Constitution prevents it. If he wins the next election it might indeed take a civil war to remove him. Right wingers are just crazy enough to give him the election if he is charges or incarcerated! Welcome to America.

Do you really want to pay this guy a pension on which he will find a way to pay no taxes? Electing Trump for a second term would be like handing the papacy to the devil.


Wednesday, 6 October 2021

The Next U.S. Election Needs Unbiased Observers. Who?

Presidential Election 2024 will need Chaperones - like a Prom!

I have said this many times. It will never happen, but I will write it anyway. After all of the lies that Trump and very deceitful Republican members of both the House and Senate have spread, there can not be another U.S. election without all the crap generated in 2020. The damage is done. Thanks Donald, Mitch, Ted, Lindsey and the rest.

When you add to that all of the "fix is in" legislation recently passed at the state level (again primarily Republican) there is no way anyone resident or not will have faith in future elections. Trump has put his country right up there with Russia and North Korea in terms in that nobody in the international community, and unfortunately the domestic one, has faith that American elections are fair.

It is time for impartial observers to be present at all levels of American elections. Apparently some 23 states already allow this ( Articles I have just read point out that it is a very difficult task for a non-resident. 

They don't know the system or the habits of a country's good and bad voting practices. They don't know the tricks of the trade. I remember in 2020 a Republican faction in California put out its own "collection" boxes in democratic areas. What do you think was going to happen to any blue votes in those boxes? We only found out because of the media. Just the same, I think the time has come. Any attempt to build back better voting integrity should be encouraged. New Republican state laws have turned their own future elections into a farce.

So who could play this role? The potential list is long. A few follow but it is all for naught as I will explain later.

1. Judges. This is a very expensive solution and as most people know by now, some American judges are not saints and typically lean left or right. This includes the Supreme Court. Besides being a very expensive suggestion, many, many would be required and they are needed elsewhere in the crime ridden paradise called United States.

2. Priests or other religious leaders. Once again perhaps elsewhere but remember this is the home of Jim and Tammy; Jim Jones; Ted Haggard; Richard Baker (Google him); Jimmy Swaggart (I think I remember him "crying" for his sins) and many more. It is too bad but many of the country's most visible men (and women?) of the cloth are wolves in sheep's clothing. Let us not forget that the worst of them got rich by hoodwinking millions of gullible Americans. Why trust them with ballots?

3. Mickey, Minnie and the gang from Disneyland? OK I threw that in to see if you read even this far.

4. Audit Firms? This seems like a good choice. Still, recall that they look after the Oscar selection process and that is hardly squeaky clean. Every corrupt Wall Street firm that screwed the entire country had auditors. So did Donald Trump. Need I say more? We all laughed at Cyber Ninjas because they had never handled an election before but hey - they found that Biden won even more soundly. That was one tiny area. The largest audit companies have big, big, corporations who pay them lots of money. The lobbyists will just switch from influencing politicians to influencing auditors.

5. Another country or two? Who? Most don't trust America anymore. Why should they? America has broken one too many agreements. 
Russia? China? Others? They wouldn't know a legitimate election if they tripped over one. Canada might be a possibility. They could be bilingual for the French communities. I am Canadian. Don't forget we have a hell of a lot of money riding on America buying our oil and permitting our pipelines through certain states. Maybe this is not a good idea. Besides - could Americans really tolerate Justin Trudeau's doublespeak for that many months? We don't know what he is really saying ourselves so how could Americans? 

I like the idea but it will not happen. Why? Because anyone chosen will want to return home some day in something other than a pine box. If the Republicans lost, a few would most certainly be hung outside a polling station or be shot by one of the thousands of guns in bystanders' back pockets. Yes it is that bad.

Only in America. You made your own bed. Now you have to LIE in it. Many in Washington and state capitals are already doing so and don't want to wake up.


Monday, 4 October 2021

Facebook, Social Media etc.

Social Media has become the Unsocial Media

Here we go again - headlines about The Donald returning to Twitter. Should he be restored or not? I vote a big NO. He is but one example of bad that can occur on these platforms. There is a much bigger picture here.

Personally I am not a big fan - of Trump OR social media. That is just me. Donald generates news to be sure however this controversy is only the tip of the iceberg. Is social media a good thing or not and if not what can be done to make it better? The majority will probably say it is a good thing.

Electronic media from the time of the first email networks and since have just become more immediate - many now in real time. What has not changed is the tendency for people to write things that they would not say face to face. Anonymity allows people to become brave and brazen when hiding behind an electronic device.

People like Trump, Tucker Carlson, and FOX News in general, know they are spreading lies but don't care. That is their bad. In some cases, legitimate corporations do rein them in. Part of the bad is that these "news" celebs know what kind of audience will get fired up by what they say - the lemmings of society.

Free speech is important in a democracy. It is cherished and fundamental in America. That is not always a good thing - hate mongering is an example. That should be restricted and come with negative consequences for the guilty.

The problem here is that the lemmings mentioned above, also are the ones who become violent without any true factchecking of what they have been fed. It is like throwing chunks of beef to a school of sharks or piranha. That is the reason that Trump should be kept on a short lease. He tosses the chunks and knows where the fish reside. America does not need any more Jan. 6 incidents. Trump and his crew would instigate another in an instant - and probably will.

Now I am focusing on the Trump example again. What I am really trying to portray is that social media has just accelerated the apparent insatiable need for many people to be FIRST to hear something and then pass it on. The content and its impact don't matter anymore as long as you are first. This is the same thing that has always driven Hollywood and celebrity gossip. It is some peoples' prime entertainment. Try this: read a good book and then pass THAT on.

Imagine the following analogy and we have seen some examples almost as extreme. Some poor soul is on a rooftop or bridge contemplating jumping. There was a time when everyone would be united in trying to de-escalate the situation and talk the person down. Now half of the onlookers would only be there to video the jump and the horror after the body hits the ground. Then the race to be first would be on - first on Facebook; first to text to a "friend"; first scoop to a paying media company.

What has happened to people? Every person with a phone is now both a paparazzi and a shark . Is social media the cause or was it always in people just waiting to come to the surface? I suspect both are true.


Friday, 1 October 2021

American Citizens Tired of Same old, Same Old

The Presidency Needs a Kick Start

Trump became President because the people were tired of status quo politics in Washington. Who can disagree with that? Trump was just the wrong agent of change. Hopefully rational people will realize that in 2024. OK, make that before 2024.

But the need for a change is still there, much as I like Biden. The old guard are all getting older. What is needed is the right guard, pun intended. After all - things have smelled in Washington for a long time.

Here are a few suggestions which I have discussed in the past.

1. It is time for a female at the helm. Look at: Margaret Thatcher (Great Britain); Golda Meir (Israel); Indira Gandhi (India); Angela Merkel (Germany); Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand) to name a few. Some corporations have also done well under female leadership. Men love to bring up the "bitch" word or the "time of the month" syndrome. Any man who parrots this is not worthy of being a leader. Men have started and continued most of the great wars of the world, not women. If you want to stereotype, women are logical, organized, and actually communicate with each other on a much more basic level than men.

2. A younger person would be welcomed. The world and its cultures have changed a lot in the last few decades. Younger people if left on their own have less racial bias or gender bias. They know that the environment is in a mess and fixing it is a top priority. They also know that the gap between the super rich and the rest of us has to narrow.

3. Eisenhower was the last General who became President. There are arguments for and against having a military man in control but having a lawyer in control was seldom much better. Generals know the consequences of real war and are used to giving orders and dealing with those who don't follow them.

4. Third party. It is time for a true center party in the United States. Combine this with youth and a female and you might hit a grand slam. This party must share some values of the left and right but know how to compromise and appeal to the majority. It would force the other two to smarten up, or keep losing. The Tea Party was not a good example. It was too far right and Sarah Palin was too far wrong!

5. Publication of a President's tax return should become mandatory, not voluntary.

6. Here is one more change also discussed in the past. Pathetic as this is, American elections now need impartial international observers at all polling stations. Republican states are already cooking the books. The "fix" Trump referred to is within his own party. It is too bad that observers will never happen. No American would admit that things have declined this much in the ultimate democracy but they have.

If things keep going the way they are in America it is doomed. This is like road rage at the highest level. If there were horns in either chamber, they would be blowing constantly.

The world has changed. Attitudes have changed. Climate has changed. It is time for leadership to change as well.