Sunday, October 14, 2018

Following Seth Abramson on Trump, Russia, And Now Khashoggi And the Saudi Ties

I was reading enough retweets of Seth Abramson on Twitter, that I decided I should follow him as well.  He has been tweeting prolifically about Trump, particularly about the Russia scandals.  He knows a lot about this because he's been writing a book on the topic which comes out in November - Prood of Collusion:  How Trump Betrayed America.

He seems to know a lot.  He seems particularly good at putting all the pieces together, at picking up any new bit of news and showing how it fits into the larger picture.  We don't get a lot of that in the media.  Mostly, it's a lot of jumping from one thing (which then disappears) to the next, without all the pieces being fit together.

You can read the whole thread here.  (While each tweet is limited to 280 characters, Twitter now lets its users set up threads of tweets that you can read consecutively.  There are 25 tweets in this thread, then comments.)

I also checked on Wikipedia about Abramson.  He's a got degrees from Dartmouth, Harvard Law, Iowa Writers Workshop, and a doctorate in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Related to this thread on Trump-Russia and Saudi Arabia, here's a some of what Wikipedia has on Abramson and which seems to confirm my sense that what he's writing is important.:

After the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Abramson received widespread attention for his tweets alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. By synthesizing reporting from major news outlets, Abramson has documented repeated contacts between multiple members of the Trump campaign and the political network surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin.[19] Based on the timing, publicly known content, and personnel involved in those meetings, Abramson suggests that, through intermediaries, Trump and Putin came to an understanding in 2013 that Trump would run for president and push for an end to U.S. sanctions against Russia, and that Putin would in return greenlight a multibillion dollar Trump Tower Moscow deal and other potential Trump ventures in Russia while using Russian capabilities to aid the Trump campaign.[20] 
Writers at several media publications – including The New Republic,[21] The Atlantic,[22] and Deadspin[23] – have described Abramson as a conspiracy theorist. While Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate argues that Abramson is "not making things up, per se; he's just recycling information you could find on any news site and adding sinister what-if hypotheticals to create conclusions that he refers to, quite seriously, as 'investigatory analyses.'"[24] The Chronicle of Higher Education also contests the moniker, noting that Abramson "feuds with anti-Trump conspiracy theorists whom he sees linking to dubious sources and making claims without evidence."[25] 
Meanwhile, Virginia Heffernan writes in Politico that Abramson's "theory-testing" is "urgently important."[26] Der Spiegel calls Abramson "a quintessential American figure: an underdog who became an involuntary hero."[27] The New York Observer writes that "events like Trump's 2013 trip to Russia for Miss Universe were covered extensively on Abramson's feed prior to the mainstream media catching on, a fact that has given him a reputation for being early to connect events within the broader Russia story."[28]
[This link tells how to create a twitter thread.  There's also something Twitter calls  a moment.  From what I can tell, the difference is that threads are one person's tweets collected, but in a moment you can add other tweets in.  But if someone knows this better, please enlighten us.]

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Back To Anchorage - Realizing Our Wetlands Abundance

The Kealia Pond National Wildlife Reserve was near where we stayed in Maui and we had the chance to explore it while we were there.  It's about 700 acres if I recall right.

But as we flew into Anchorage yesterday, I was reminded of yet another reason why I live here -We have wetlands, bogs, etc. that seem to go on forever.  That's not an invitation on my part for developers and manufacturers to destroy them.  It's partly a prayer of thanks that the predominant image of Alaska around the world is 'a giant icebox.'

Here's a view as our plane flew around across the inlet waiting for a time to land.

It was a very grey day, but it was in the 50's (F) - continuing a warm spell since September.

At Kealia Pond, they say that only 10% of  Hawaiian wetlands are left.  Probably this picture shows more than all the wetlands Hawaii ever had.

What if Alaska were the same size as Hawaii?  Would our habitat destruction be similar?

My first visit to Hawaii was ia quick overnight in Honolulu in 1969, followed by nine weeks in Hilo working at a Peace Corps training program in 1970.  The first trip to Maui was a couple years later.  The changes are staggering - the development everywhere, the traffic.  And who gets the benefits?  People raised in Hawaii often can no longer afford to live there.  Hawaii, once a tropical paradise, is now 'an investment opportunity."

Alaska is big enough and the biggest development is remote enough that most people don't see the impacts.  But in Hawaii it's obvious.  And tourism is probably now the biggest culprit.

Another view just before landing.

And here we were on the tarmac headed to the gate.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Intergoernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) Report

Amidst all the serious issues the Trump administration is causing, the really big issue facing everyone is global warming.  But the IPCC report that just came out is not a page turner for most people.  I challenge Netscape, Disney, Prime, and all the other producers of blockbusters to take on the issues of climate change that in a way that is both entertaining and educational.  In the meantime. . .

This is NOT easy stuff to understand.  But people should know this report was done (it's the continuation of work from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, agreed on by basically most every country except Trumpia. (This Mother Jones article gives more nuance)

It looks like the Press Release is the most understandable part of the report, and it's still work to get through.  Here's some key excerpts.
“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.
For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2oC.
“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5oC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5oC, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.

From what I can tell, the report  is basically is comparing what will happen under the goals of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5˚C or to 2.5˚C, the feasibility of both these goals, and the impacts on the earth and life for each.

I tried to skim the main headings of the summary of findings, but they are pretty dense reading, so I've picked the list of terms listed at the end.  If people learn these terms, that would be a good start.  Then they look at the parts of the report.

Box SPM 1: Core Concepts Central to this Special Report
Global mean surface temperature (GMST): Estimated global average of near-surface air temperatures over land and sea-ice, and sea surface temperatures over ice-free ocean regions, with changes normally expressed as departures from a value over a specified reference period.
When estimating changes in GMST, near-surface air temperature over both land and oceans are also used.
Pre-industrial: The multi-century period prior to the onset of large-scale industrial activity around 1750. The reference period 1850–1900 is used to approximate pre-industrial GMST. {}
Global warming: The estimated increase in GMST averaged over a 30-year period, or the 30-year period centered on a particular year or decade, expressed relative to pre-industrial levels unless otherwise specified. For 30-year periods that span past and future years, the current multi-decadal warming trend is assumed to continue. {1.2.1}
Net zero COemissions: Net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are achieved when anthropogenic COemissions are balanced globally by anthropogenic COremovals over a specified period.
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR): Anthropogenic activities removing COfrom the atmosphere and durably storing it in geological, terrestrial, or ocean reservoirs, or in products. It includes existing and potential anthropogenic enhancement of biological or geochemical sinks and direct air capture and storage, but excludes natural COuptake not directly caused by human activities.
Total carbon budget: Estimated cumulative net global anthropogenic COemissions from the preindustrial period to the time that anthropogenic COemissions reach net zero that would result, at some probability, in limiting global warming to a given level, accounting for the impact of other anthropogenic emissions. {2.2.2}
Remaining carbon budget: Estimated cumulative net global anthropogenic COemissions from a given start date to the time that anthropogenic COemissions reach net zero that would result, at some probability, in limiting global warming to a given level, accounting for the impact of other anthropogenic emissions. {2.2.2}
Temperature overshoot: The temporary exceedance of a specified level of global warming.
Emission pathways: In this Summary for Policymakers, the modelled trajectories of global anthropogenic emissions over the 21st century are termed emission pathways. Emission pathways are classified by their temperature trajectory over the 21st century: pathways giving at least 50% probability based on current knowledge of limiting global warming to below 1.5°C are classified as ‘no overshoot’; those limiting warming to below 1.6°C and returning to 1.5°C by 2100 are classified as ‘1.5°C limited-overshoot’; while those exceeding 1.6°C but still returning to 1.5°C by 2100 are classified as ‘higher-overshoot’.
Impacts: Effects of climate change on human and natural systems. Impacts can have beneficial or adverse outcomes for livelihoods, health and well-being, ecosystems and species, services, infrastructure, and economic, social and cultural assets.
Risk: The potential for adverse consequences from a climate-related hazard for human and
natural systems, resulting from the interactions between the hazard and the vulnerability and exposure of the affected system. Risk integrates the likelihood of exposure to a hazard and the magnitude of its impact. Risk also can describe the potential for adverse consequences of adaptation or mitigation responses to climate change.

Climate-resilient development pathways (CRDPs): Trajectories that strengthen sustainable development at multiple scales and efforts to eradicate poverty through equitable societal and systems transitions and transformations while reducing the threat of climate change through ambitious mitigation, adaptation, and climate resilience.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Why People In Anchorage Don't See Much Of Alaska

Alaska Airlines extended its Permanent Fund Dividend sale.  I've just copied the first six destinations from Anchorage that were listed.

From Anchorage (ANC) to
Adak Island (ADK)
Purchase by October 15, 2018.
one way
From Anchorage (ANC) to
Albuquerque (ABQ)
Purchase by October 15, 2018.
one way
From Anchorage (ANC) to
Atlanta (ATL)
Purchase by October 15, 2018.
one way
From Anchorage (ANC) to
Austin (AUS)
Purchase by October 15, 2018.
one way
From Anchorage (ANC) to
Baltimore (BWI)
Purchase by October 15, 2018.
one way
From Anchorage (ANC) to
Barrow (BRW)
Purchase by October 15, 2018.

one way

[The out-of-state distances come from convert it]

So let's see how much that comes to when converted to cost per mile;

From Anchorage to Adak = 1,192 miles  or $.38 per mile
From Anchorage to Albuquerque = 2578 miles  or $.07 per mile
From Anchorage to Atlanta = 3365 or $.07 per mile
From Anchorage to Austin =  3125 or $.06 per mile
From Anchorage to Baltimore = 3317 or $.07 per mile
From Anchorage to Barrow =  725 miles or $.21 per mile

[UPDATE Oct 10, 2018  8pm- here are some more Alaska destinations (miles from air miles calculator)
Anchorage to Bethel = 399 miles (at $99) = $.25 per mile
Anchorage to Cordova = 160 miles (at $99) = $.62 per mile
Anchorage to Dutch Harbor = 792 miles (at $349) =  $.44 per mile
Anchorage to Fairbanks - 261 miles (at $77) = $.30 per mile
Anchorage to Juneau =  571 miles (at $137) = $.24 per mile
Anchorage to Ketchikan = 775 miles  (@ $169) = $.22 per mile
Anchorage to Kodiak = 253 miles (@ $109) = $.43 per mile
Anchorage to Kotzebue =  548 miles  (@ $129) = $.24  per mile
Anchorage to Nome =  539 miles  (@ $129) = $.24  per mile
Anchorage to Petersburg =  671 miles  (@ $149) = $.22  per mile
Anchorage to Sitka =  592 miles  (@ $148) = $.25  per mile
Anchorage to Yakutat =  373 miles  (@ $149) = $.40  per mile]

I understand that airline prices are related to prices offered by competitors and that Alaska Airlines has little to no competition when flying around Alaska.  But what it means is that:
  • Unless someone's job requires Alaska travel paid by the  employer, most Alaskans can fly out of state for much less than they can fly in state
  • Rural Alaskans, whose income is below the state average, are a big part of Alaska Airlines' profits
  • If they aren't (if Alaska Air is making plenty with out of state flights) then why not give rural Alaskans a break here?
And I got a notice today from the Alaska Permanent Fund that they deposited my $1600 into my checking account.  And Alaska Airlines, like every other business, wants their cut of every Alaskans PFD.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

You Notice Things Biking That You Miss Driving

I've been riding about 8-10 miles round trip each morning along the bike path next to the Plane Highway.  The first days on this route I notice the big things.  Here's a previous post that shows what I noticed then.

Like litter.  A couple of days ago, I started to notice how much trash there was.  Lots of plastic, fast food debris - cups, styrofoam.  Sometimes bigger stuff - mattresses, a refrigerator today on the other side, down a hill.  From a car, a lot of this stuff isn't visible.  The clear plastic bottles might just be a sparkle, or things are hidden by the grass.  But on a bike you can see them.

It's scattered around, not obvious, but I suddenly realized how much there was.  I wondered as I rode along how many bags of trash I could collect.

And then the next day, I got my answer.

From the point where the bags were sitting, there wasn't any trash any more, but they only collected a portion of the roadside.

Biking also gives you the opportunity to stop and check things out.  The red car along the side of the road was still there today, a week after I first saw it with its emergency lights blinking.

Sunday it had a handicapped permit hanging from the rear view mirror.

Yesterday (Monday) it was gone.

But there was a lot of other stuff in there.

And there was another car on the side of he road today/

You notice other stuff.  Like the telephone wires.  They go along most of the highway across the road.  (There are some on the side with the bike path too.)  Here are two other landmarks I haven't posted that show those wires across the road.

The Still Missing Wall lists people and the dates they went missing.  The wall looks different in a 2017 Maui News story on the building, which it identifies as a telephone exchange building built in 1942 at the navy air base.   And here's another source that tells a little more about the wall and the names.    If you click on the image, it gets bigger and sharper.

But also notice the telephone wires.

Here's another building - that's advertising for foster parents on that side of the road.  It also has the wires in front of it.

But in this picture, there's no telephone wires.  I took the picture because I noticed there were no wires, but when I wanted to take a similar picture, there were always wires in the way.  So I paid closer attention.  There's about a quarter mile (maybe half mile) stretch of the highway with no wires.  Well, there are wires, but they have been routed away from the highway and then back again a little later.  The thing I noticed was this:  the section without the wires along the west side of the highway includes the entrance to the electric company.  A coincidence?  Bears more research.

 Another interesting entrance is one to Maui Concrete.  As you can see, the highway above is asphalt.  But the road that goes to Maui Concrete looks like this:

Lots to see and ponder when you bike.  Especially when you take the same route for a while.  And walking, you see even more of the detail, but for a smaller area than cycling.

The Kealia Pond Nature Reserve had a tour today at 9am, so I met J there near the end of my bike ride.  There was a local couple with their 20 month old and 4 year grand children.  I'm afraid I didn't learn that much about the reserve, because they let me play grandpa with the kids.  Only two days left on Maui.  Then maybe we can catch some of the great October weather we've been hearing about in Anchorage.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Where Do We Go From Here? Republicans And Power

Democracy is not about outcome - it's about the process we take to get outcomes.  We are supposed to make decisions in ways that represent the will of the people.  That's, of course, an ideal that originally didn't include women, Indians, or blacks.

The constitution was intended to set up processes that would insure a reasonably decent life for, at least, white males with property.  Over the years, others got added, at least on paper, to the decision making as voters. The representation of women and people of color has grown in Congress.  We saw some very smart women in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, yet in the end, it was white males who dominated once again.  "She's credible and poised, but we're going with our guy."  For the Republicans, democratic process was short circuited so they could get the outcome they wanted.

The US Constitution begins:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
I hope our newest originalist pays attention to these basic goals (particularly the ones I've highlighted.  We certainly are not succeeding when it comes to domestic tranquility and the general welfare is getting less important than the welfare of the wealthy.  Senators Graham and McConnell and the president were more worried about justice for some man who might get falsely accused than they were about all the women that have been and continue to be actually sexually harassed, abused, and assaulted.

When Supreme Court justices required 60 votes for confirmation, presidents had to offer justices who were moderate enough to garner at least some votes from the party out of power.  The Republicans lowered the bar to 50 votes.  And Saturday they got 50 votes from Senators representing only 44.2% of the US population.  Those 48 Senators who opposed Kavanaugh represented 55.8% of the US population.

This can be, because every state gets two senators - my state, Alaska, with only under 800,000 people gets the same number of U. S. Senators as California with nearly 40 million people.  This disconnect between the idea of  majority rule and what really happens has reached the breaking point as McConnell pushed Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court, against popular will and without allowing the FBI to do a real investigation.  (The real story - not the he said/she details the media got all over - was what deals people were offered behind closed doors, and what threats were made if they didn't take those offers.  The Alaska Republican Party is already considering stripping Lisa Murkowski of her red R.

Such a sharply divided decision bodes nothing good, except maybe stronger calls for reform.  It lays bare the partisan nature of the Republicans packing the court.  Obama's choice of Merrick Garland was met with bi-partisan recognition of his qualification to be on the court, and McConnell's refusal to even hold hearings.  The Democrats had relatively mild opposition to Neil Gorsuch.  It was only when a candidate as openly partisan, as Kavanaugh revealed himself in the hearings, was nominated that Democrats really dug in to oppose him.

We are in a crisis of confidence in our government.  Here are a couple of possible scenarios I to watch for::

  1. Chief Justice Roberts has shown at times, that he understands that the court needs credibility.  He broke with his fellow (I can use that term because they are all men) conservatives to preserve Obamacare.  If he recognizes the crisis that is coming to the court with his name on it, he may well take Kennedy's swing role from time to time.  
  2. If Roberts doesn't work to moderate the courts' decisions, there will be growing calls to increase the size of the court.  If you look carefully through the Constitution, you won't find the number of justices set.  It's set by Congress and has changed several times over the last two hundred plus years.   You can read more about the size of the court here and here   
  3. Since Republicans have taken off their nice masks, it will be hard for Democrats to not follow suit.  In Game Theory, the Prisoners Dilemma to be precise,  the Tit for Tat strategy wins in the long run.  It requires a player to mimic the moves of his opponent.  Start by cooperating, but if the opponent 'defects' (in the language of Game Theory), then you need to defect too.  If the other side doesn't wise up, this strategy can lead to endless warfare.  

Sunday, October 07, 2018

What I Didn't Say To The Guy Wearing The Trump Hat

Yesterday Kavanaugh was approved and quickly sworn into the Supreme Court.  A sad day for many Americans.

We ate at a Thai restaurant and the man in the table across from me had on a "Trump 2016" hat.  I wanted to go up to him and ask him why he supported this man.  But it didn't seem appropriate.  But I've been thinking about what I might have said.

Excuse me sir, but I couldn't help noticing your hat.  My name is Steve and I'm one of those Democrats that the president says is conspiring to overthrow the country.  I don't see myself in that role at all.  We're both eating at a Thai restaurant, which means we have at least that in common.  And I'm sure we have many other things in common.  Do you have children?  Grandchildren?  Well we share the joys and pains of parenthood.

We've all been played by many parties, encouraged to demonize each other, by various media outlets whose revenues go up the more conflict they report.  By politicians preying on people's fears to get people to vote for them.  And, it seems, by Russians and probably other foreign operatives, who seem to believe that by sowing internal discord in the US (and other countries) they can weaken our power in the world, just as Brexit has weekend the European Union.

There are probably basic values we disagree on.  Republicans seem to believe much more in the idea that people are responsible for their own successes and failures.  Democrats seem to believe that we are all parts of communities that help or hinder individuals as they make their way in the world.  But I'm sure if we could sit down and talk about specific situations, we'd find we agree on far more than we disagree.

So one question I'd ask is:  Do you really think the I'm an evil person who wants to destroy America?  Can you look me in the eye and say that honestly?  If not, why are we so divided?  What things do you fear that people like me want to take away from you?

If you have the energy and the wherewithal to talk to people who vote the opposite of your vote - whether you support Trump or oppose him - look for things you have in common: hobbies, favorite foods, sports teams, religion, nationality, family size, health issue, musical tastes.  Listen to the other person.  Ask questions:

  • what experiences in your life got you to believe this?
  • what do you fear most if 'the other party' has control?
  • how do you explain the contradictions in your party of choice?
  • how has your life improved or declined in the last 10 years?  How?  What explains it?
  • why do you believe that?  
  • how would one go about proving something like that?
  • how do you evaluate the truth of something you hear?
If the first encounter goes ok, make a schedule a second one.  I know this is a difficult assignment, but we don't have any choice.  Talking politely with the people you've labeled your enemy (or have labeled you theirs) is one thing everyone can do.  You don't need money.  You don't need an organization backing you.  You just need tolerance, curiosity, patience, courage, and decency.  

Some Morning Biking Pictures As I Get Ready For This Morning's Ride

The Pilani Highway, that goes from near the airport to Kihei, has a separate bike path - there's a painted path, grass, then a paved path, well away from the cars.  And I can just ride off for 30 minutes no real interruptions and then turn around.

 So that's my route now.  Yesterday it felt so good after 40 minutes I didn't want to turn even.  But I did.

But Friday, my ride was interrupted.  I had a serious flat - a couple of big thorns.

Calls to the rental place.  I had to drive there, get a bike rack, go home and get the bike, take it in, switch out to a new bike.

But now I'm back in the groove.  Some shots from yesterday.

The West Maui mountains from the bike trail.

This car was parked here on Thursday with the emergency lights blinking.  I didn't get this far on Friday before the flat.

Saturday the gas tank fall was gone, and presumably the gas, and someone seems to have gone through the contents inside and scattered a lot of the papers outside the car.

 Near the National Guard are these 'billboards' for Motocross.

And there's this memorial, but I couldn't find a name.  

So I'm off now for today's ride, before it gets too hot.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Well Judge For Yourself - " — Lisa Murkowski jewish"

I had a sudden rush of hits today on a 2010  post "Does Lisa Murkowski's Religious Preference Matter?"  Over 60 hits today.  It was a post I put up in 2010 after getting lots of hits from people searching variations of "Is Lisa Murkowski Jewish?"  The post was responding to all those hits surmising why people wanted to know that.

Nowadays, most google search words are no longer visible to the websites the get to, but this bing search made it clear:

Greensboro, Georgia, United States
IP Address:
Hargray Communications Group xxxxxxxxxxx  
Search Referral:
Visit Page:

I googled "Lisa Murkowski" and my post didn't show up in the first 13 pages.

I googled "Lisa Murkowski Jewish" and it showed up number 2. Though since google tailors searches for the searcher, that's probably higher than most people would get.   Nevertheless,  I'm guessing many if not most of the people getting to that post today - maybe 50 - googled "Murkowski" and either "jewish" related or "religion."

You can see what they got here:  "Does Lisa Murkowski's Religious Preference Matter?" The comments confirmed one of my suspicions - anti-semitism.

Meanwhile, I saw a Tweet asking people to support a fund for Susan Collins' next opponent.  I understand the sentiment, and I don't understand how she made her decision at all.  But at least she was one of a few Republican senators who even entertained the possibility of voting 'no.'  She's not the one who should be jumped all over.  There were 47 who never gave any public indication they would do anything but vote yes.  Their opponents are the ones to be raising funds for - starting with the senior senator from Kentucky.

It's dark now, but this was my view about an hour ago.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

My Brain Is Exploding Trying To Capture In A Title All The Connections I'm Thinking

This post got started by this tweet.

The PA Theory Network was the professional group that I felt most at home with in the world of academic public administration.  It was the only group that I knew of that rewarded folks who seriously challenged the accepted assumptions.

When I read this I wasn't quite sure what 'prefigurative public administration' was - I haven't kept up with the literature too well since I retired.  But it sounded worth going to the link in the tweet.  That got me to stuff like:

Call for Papers: Toward Prefigurative Public Administration
Special Issue Editors: Drs. Jeannine Love and Margaret Stout
"Contemporary public administration continues to struggle with how to address the deeply interdependent issues that comprise the “wicked problems” (Rittel & Webber, 1973, p. 155) of sustainability—including social, political, economic, and environmental crises. Responses to this challenge have been shaped by ontological assumptions that drive strategies for knowledge production and understandings of “best” practices. As a result, ideas about effective governance have shifted over time; from government modeled on military style hierarchy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, to business-oriented models and privatization in the late twentieth century, to collaborative network governance at the turn of the twenty-first century.
Within this latest turn, proponents of governance networks argue that coordinating responses to complex policy challenges across jurisdictional and sectoral borders can yield “collaborative advantage” over traditional governance approaches (Huxham, 2000). However, assessments of actual governance networks yield poor results. It has been argued that despite the rhetorical commitment to collaboration, these governance networks perpetuate the practices of hierarchy and competition (Stout & Love, 2019) and that new social movements more effectively function as collaborative networks (Love & Stout, 2018). This symposium therefore asks what public administration can learn from such sources."
Yes, jargon filled sentences like this are why I'm blogging rather than writing academic papers these days.  But, in the writers' defense, most of the readers of announcements like this understand this shorthand for more complicated ideas. If a carpenter had to describe a 'hammer' every time he needed to mention one, it would take forever.  In any case, I sensed that some of my own frustration with mainstream public administration was embedded in this call for paper proposals.  I could possibly write about stuff like this that calls for an entirely new way of thinking about the structure and purpose of governments.

So I scrolled down to see the bibliography.  The first on the list is:
Dixon, Chris. 2014. Another politics: Talking across today's transformative movements. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.
OK, I thought, this is getting better.  Chris was a high school classmate of my daughter's.  He's one of the nicest, most thoughtful, respectful people I know.  And he's seriously dedicated to making a better world.

So, two of my worlds are coming together here.  In fact, Chris and J and I  had dinner, serendipitously, together at the Thai Kitchen this summer.  But I haven't actually read any of Chris' books or articles.  So, I looked up the book reference.  I can get it on Amazon.  But my sense is that's not where Chris would want me to buy it. If you read on you'll understand.  But I found a link to a paper that was probably the precursor to the book.  

So I've been reading it online, while watching the surf pound off the balcony.  (I did my bike ride this morning at 8am on a new route I discovered - it goes along a main highway, but it's more than a painted line on the side - it's separated by grass as well.  It allows me to ride my 30 minutes out without anything to slow me down, and it goes by the visitors center for the wildlife sanctuary I've been visiting. It's all connected.  A good ride.)

So Chris' paper is an attempt to map out the various anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist,  non-sectarian movements that are working for a world without oppression.  He's showing where they came from, where they overlap and where they have differences.

The terms - including anarchists, but not so much anti-authoritarian - all seem to identify what people are against (and he notes that) instead of what they are for.  I guess when someone is beating you, you are against being beaten first and foremost and you'll worry about what comes next when the beating stops.

Some of the movements he mentions that overlap include:
1.  Anarchism
2.  Global Resistance to Neoliberalism
3.  Prison Abolitionism
5.  Women of Color Feminism

All of these need explanation for the average person, including me, to grasp.  They aren't terms that our history books and dominant political system look kindly on.  That should tip people off right away that maybe there's something here.  So I should spell this out more.

He says, in part, about Anarchism (clearly talking about the modern version):
"The first strand begins in the anarchism of the 1990s. The mostly young people involved in this anarchist politics and activism were connected through a series of predominantly white and middle-class subcultural scenes, often rooted in punk rock, across the U.S. and Canada. They set up local Food Not Bombs groups,10 learned direct action skills through militant queer organizing and radical environmentalist campaigns, supported U.S. political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, worked to inject art and imagination into activism, organized anarchist convergences and conferences across North America, and developed a network of anarchist bookstores and political spaces known as infoshops."
Then, Global Resistance to Neoliberalism.
A second strand has its origins in the international revolt against neoliberalism, especially growing from the global South. Building on legacies of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles, this started in the 1980s with widespread popular mobilizations against austerity measures mandated by the International Monetary Fund. By the early 1990s, meetings of neoliberal institutions like the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO) faced massive protests from Bangalore to Berlin.13 And then, on January 1, 1994, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation stepped onto the world stage by seizing seven cities in Chiapas. “Ya Basta!” (“Enough!”), they said in opposition to the Mexican government and neoliberalism.
Anarchism in the Global Justice Movement  [The formatting of this paper seems to slip an extra strand in here, but clearly this is part of Global Resistance.  If my severe abbreviation here is problematic for you, the link to the whole paper is above, and here.  And perhaps get a copy of the book, which I'm sure is an improved version of all this.]
"Through the global justice movement, thousands of people participated in anti-authoritarian approaches and politics. At the same time, this cycle of struggle provided opportunities for anarchist and anarchist-influenced activists to wrestle with their own limitations in the context of a growing movement. Longtime radical and writer Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez raised some of these with her widely circulated essay “Where was the color in Seattle?”19 This critical intervention and subsequent ones fostered widespread discussion. While the conversations were most visible around the racial composition of summit mobilizations, they opened up a range of crucial issues: the relation between global justice mobilizing and community-based organizing; the question of building strategic and effective broad-based radical movements in Canada and the U.S. linked to other movements across the globe; and how to confront hierarchies of race, gender, class, age, and experience as they were being reproduced in movement spaces."
Prison Abolitionism - finally a term that most people can, I think, understand.  But I suspect many would  exclaim, "but we need prisons."
"A third* crucial strand leading into the anti-authoritarian current has its origins in popular struggles against policing and prisons, especially in communities of color.
In 1998, the radical edge of this movement came together at an ambitious conference in Berkeley, California called Critical Resistance (CR), out of which developed an organization of the same name. Since then, individuals and groups affiliated with and inspired by CR have played a vital role in the movement against the PIC, whether through CR chapters in places such as Oakland or New Orleans or organizations such as the Prisoners Justice Action Committee in Toronto.27
Many abolitionists also have begun to explore alternatives to state-based strategies for dealing with violence in communities and interpersonal relationships. This approach has opened small but significant spaces for organizations and communities to experiment with ways of reducing harm and resolving conflict."
#BlackLivesMatter would fit as one of the groups he's talking about.

[See the book White Rage by Carol Anderson for much more detail on how the prison system has extended slavery for blacks in the US up to today.]

*[The way the paper was formatted, I got this as the fourth strand, but I suspect the extra one was either number 1 (Anarchism) or 3 Anarchism and the Global Justice Movement.  I'm sure this was all worked out in the book.]

5.  Women of Color Feminism
"Both the anti-capitalist current in the global justice movement and prison abolitionism draw upon and connect with a fourth strand, which is usually known as anti-racist feminism or women of color feminism. This sort of feminist politics has roots in earlier struggles, but it bloomed in the liberation movements of the 1960s and came into its own more fully in the 1970s and 1980s. And although this politics took many routes, they all started in a similar place: radical women of color, many of them lesbians, criticizing the limitations of existing movements to account for their experiences of oppression. Coming together in groups, conferences, publishing collectives, and
social scenes, these activists began creating shared politics grounded in their lives and struggles. Through these collaborations, they also constructed the category “women of color” as a new radical political identity."
Chris takes these strands and then goes on to write about what they all have in common:
1.  refusing exploitation and oppression,
2.  developing new social relations,
3. linking struggles and visions, and
4. grassroots nonhierarchical organizing
He says that what they are all striving for is "another politics" which he describes
"One useful way to understand another politics, it seems to me, is as an emerging political pole within anarchism and the left more broadly. A growing set of anti-authoritarians are staking out this pole through work significantly based in the four principles I laid out above. With these politics and related practices, this pole draws many activists and organizers who are fed up with the problems and limitations of much contemporary anarchism in North America and yet remain committed to the best of the anarchist tradition: a far-reaching critique of domination, a dedication
to prefigurative politics, a commitment to building popular power, and an unbending belief in people’s capacity to create a world where we can all live with dignity, joy, and justice."
And he raises a number of questions anarchists face.  (Go read the paper for those.)

It occurred to me that if someone wants to understand what is happening in the US Senate today, I'd argue it is a clash between the capitalist, authoritarians - represented by McConnell, Trump, Kavanaugh, etc.  versus the people who are left out of power - the poor, people of color, lgbtq, immigrants.  

Chris talks about the various movements doing grass roots recruitment among ordinary citizens  caught up in these struggles, but don't see how it is structured or what they can do about it.  And I couldn't help thinking that these many organizations involved in these movements also need to be reaching out to the Trump supporters who are also victims of the capitalist and authoritarian systems.  But the Right has captured them with false narratives about race, immigrants, foreign workers, and fear of losing 'their' power.  

I'd say what Chris is doing in this paper is trying to look past the point when the beating stops and what we do then.  And as I think about public administration and how all this works into an alternative way of achieving those common goods that we need to work collectively to achieve, there are still lots of questions.  

But yes, the Founding Fathers were fighting injustice and authoritarian rule, but their vision of who deserved justice and equality before the law were restricted by the social values of their day.  

Normally, I'd let this sit overnight, but I could rework this over an over again.  So, please excuse any sloppiness you see.  But you can point it out and I'll try to make repairs.  Thanks.

And, anyone who got this far, if you have a better title fire away.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

More Wetlands Pics - Let's Keep Some Balance As Our National Soap Opera Unfolds

So there's a point on the boardwalk at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Reserve, where the pond opens out toward the ocean.  But there's a mound of sand that blocks the pond water from just draining out.  Or the sea water from pouring in.

Here's what the sign says about this spot.

If you click on it, you should be able to read it clearly.  But here are the important points:

"Here Kealia Pond is trapped by a sand plug that separates pond and bay.  When the pond is at its peak, the plug is breached and water flows through both ways.  Hawaiians noticed the abundant life in the ponds connected to the sea.  They enhanced this connection in their fishponds, raosing fish, snails, shrimp, and seaweed for food."
As you can see, the pond isn't likely to breach the plug any time soon.  But the surf manages to.  The top picture the sand is dry.  Here are some other pictures when the surf breaches the plug.

Here you can see ripples caused by the sea water entering the pond.

Today when I was there, the surf was higher than earlier and so water is coming in from the sea.  But there was also a breeze from the pond side so there are ripples on the pond water toward the plug.