Saturday, February 29, 2020

At Citizens Climate Lobby Regional Conference in Vancouver, WA

Took the train from Seattle to Vancouver yesterday.  Much less painful than going to the airport.  Since I was already in the Seattle area, I thought it was a good chance to go to a regional CCL conference nearby.

Last night was a social evening just getting to know people from other places.

We were all together for the opening session, then broke into smaller groups.

I'm now on one about a EN-ROADS that is a simulator for calculating the impact of different actions on climate change.

And here are some slides that show some of the latest data on climate change.

Lots of questions about what things are included in these charts and what's left out and warnings that these are models, approximations, but they give us more information about climate change progress and how the EN-ROADS model would affect things.

Here's one more slide - that shows the EN-ROADS model results of one simulation (as I understand what's happening.)

You can't see much here, but you can go online to see the EN-ROADS simulator and play with it.

Let's see how clear this screen shot of the variables that are manipulated in this simulation to see which measures impact future temperature change.

If you click on the image it gets much clearer

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Dissemination of Info: ISER Talk; SD Library Shutting Down Depository; The Library Book And Libraries

Here are three connected short discussions.

1.  ISER Discussion on Red Dog Mine One Week From Tomorrow.
Long-Term Benefits to Communities of Extractive Industry Partnerships: Evaluating the Red Dog Mine
Matthew Berman, Bob Loeffler, and Jennifer Schmidt
Mining and oil and gas companies developing resources on land historically occupied and used by Indigenous peoples have faced criticism for offering few benefits to local communities while inflicting environmental damage. The Red Dog Mine -- a joint venture between Teck Resources, Inc. and the NANA Regional Corporation -- has often been cited as a counter-example for developing extractive industries in a way that benefits Indigenous communities. Although the mine has unquestionably brought significant financial benefits to the area, questions persist about its long-term benefits to local communities. We report on a study that assessed the long-term benefits of the Red Dog mine based on findings from a unique 14-year panel dataset. The analysis addressed the following set of questions: what percentage of the mine workers live within the region, and what percentage of the total payroll do local workers receive? How long do most local residents hired to work at the mine keep these jobs, and how does landing a job at Red Dog affect workers' mobility and long-run earnings? The findings illustrate the strengths and limitations of industry partnerships in rural Alaska, and offer insights relevant to communities across the arctic and around the world. When: Friday, March 6, 12pm - 1pm
Where: ISER Conference Room,
Third Floor, 1901 Bragaw Street, Suite 301
Note: This will not be streamed or recorded

2.  Online v Hardcopy Documents

Here's an LA Times headline today:

 "Library to end U.S. document duty
San Diego library says its depository role is unneeded when most docs are online."
I understand the librarian's concern for space.  I'm concerned though, that if these documents are only available online from the Government Printing Office, then documents can disappear.  Documents can be edited and even changed.

Given that Dr. Fauci was told he had to clear all his public announcements through the White House today, I think you get my drift.  Given all the documents the House subpoenaed but never got, you get my concern.

I first started thinking about this when I saw that the online Anchorage Daily News didn't match the print version.  That edits were made after publication and the reader couldn't tell what was changed. (It would just say, "Updated dd/mm/yy")

3.  Libraries As Depicted In Susan Orlean's A Library Book 

The genesis for this book was the 1986 fire that destroyed hundreds of thousands of books in the Los Fahrenheit 451 (which is the temperature when paper ignites).  She also discusses the wonderful memories she has of going to the library with her mother as a child, but that the internet cut her off from libraries until she rediscovered them with her son.  It's an important book.
Angeles Central Library.  But it is much, much more than that.  It's an homage to libraries and their role in maintaining culture.  It's a hands on look at what happens behind the scene at LA's central library.  It's a look at the burning of books (she even forces herself to burn one to experience it herself.)  There are details of the heat of the fire.  But also the tradition of book burning and library fires around the world - some accidental, many intentional.  She looks at how many and which libraries were burned by the Nazis in WW II and how many by Allied bombing.  She talks about people for whom the LA library was important, like Ray Bradbury, who read books there voraciously in lieu of going to college, and eventually wrote

So, given all the fires, libraries alone can't protect the government archives, but especially now, we should be preserving government reports in hard copy all around the country so that online versions can be checked for omissions and changes.

All three posts are about information dissemination about important topics.  Whether a University's research unit, a library's holdings of government documents, and the cultural and historical significance of libraries.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Enjoying Early Spring On Bainbridge Island

Crocus all over in the last couple of days.  Note saffron comes from crocus stamens, but only crocus sativus which blooms in the fall.  

This mallard picture is straight from the disk.  No photoshop or any other adjustments.

A calm windless day

Walking in the park across the street from where my granddaughter was having her choir class.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Exposing Trolls -BotSentinal: Easy Way To Check For Twitter Bots

There's a lot of fake news out there.  Even misinformation campaigns.  Knowing what is true or false is getting harder.

So we must be ever vigilant about any bit of news - on the mainstream media, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or in real life.  Here are some questions to embed in your brain for filtering out the crap.

  • Is it believable?
    • Does it support what I would like to believe? (Then I need to be especially careful)
    • Is it too strange to believe?
    • Is it so believable I accept it as true without thinking?  
  • Is it true?
  • Who said it?  (What bias do they have?  What's their record for lying?) 
    • shows who funds organizations and their biases.  You can also just google the organization (Natl XYZ reputation) to find sites like media bias fact check to give you additional information about the media or organization
  • How can you verify it?
    • Google the basic idea and see if others are reporting it?  Are they all of a certain bias?  
    • Are there links to verify what they say?  Go to the links and see if they are reputable

So that's general advice.  But to specifically check on Twitter I'm recommending that you check out BotSentinal.  This link takes you to the BotSentinal page below.   Then go to the green link in the upper right hand

Then you get a popup window which let's you insert a Twitter account. (They use light grays which aren't showing up well in these screen shots, sorry.)  So, you put the Twitter handle you want to analyze in the box and hit submit.

Very quickly you get a response, like this one:

OK, so how do they figure this out?  They tell us that they aren't necessarily looking for actual bots.  They are looking for Twitter users who post like bots.  From their About Us page:

"We trained Bot Sentinel to identify specific types of trollbot accounts using thousands of accounts and millions of tweets for our machine learning model. The system can correctly identify trollbot accounts with an accuracy of 95%. Unlike other machine learning tools designed to detect “bots,” we are focusing on specific activities deemed inappropriate by Twitter rules. We analyze hundreds of Tweets per each Twitter account to determine if an account exhibit irregular tweet activity, engaging in harassment, or troll-like behavior."

For them, 'troll-like behavior' means behavior proscribed by Twitter.
"Researchers rarely agree on what someone considers a troll or what constitutes harmful bot activity, so we took a different approach when training our machine learning model. Instead of creating a model based on our interpretation of a troll or bot, we used Twitter rules as a guide when selecting Twitter accounts to train our model. We searched for accounts that were repeatedly violating Twitter rules and we trained our model to identify accounts similar to the accounts we identified as “trollbots.” Note: Ideology, political affiliation, religious beliefs, geographic location, or frequency of tweets are not factors when determining the classification of a Twitter account."
What do the scores mean?
"We rate accounts based on a score from 0% to 100%, the higher the score the more likely the account is a trollbot. We analyze several hundred tweets per account, and the more someone engages in behavior that is troll-like, the higher their trollbot rating is."
When benefit of this is:
"We feel since trollbot accounts are likely violating Twitter rules, most Twitter users would want to report and avoid these accounts because they offer little value to meaningful public discourse."

So that leads us to ask:  What are Twitter Policies here?

Twitter policies are complicated.  I couldn't find a simple list. Here's a link to their General Guidelines and Policy page.  It's just a set of links to other pages which give more specific rules for what you shouldn't do on Twitter.  I'm trying to bring what seem like some of the more important ones together here.

1.  Violent threats policyWhat is in violation of this policy?
Under this policy, you can’t state an intention to inflict violence on a specific person or group of people. We define intent to include statements like “I will”, “I’m going to”, or “I plan to”, as well as conditional statements like “If you do X, I will”. Violations of this policy include, but are not limited to:
  • threatening to kill someone; 
  • threatening to sexually assault someone;
  • threatening to seriously hurt someone and/or commit a other violent act that could lead to someone’s death or serious physical injury; and
  • asking for or offering a financial reward in exchange for inflicting violence on a specific person or group of people.

Probably they should add "encourage other people to do any of these things."  There's a lot more nuance on the page, but this is the gist of the Violent Threats Policy.

Next has to do with the content of your Twitter name and profile.

2.  Abusive profile informationTwitter Rules: You may not use your username, display name, or profile bio to engage in abusive behavior, such as targeted harassment or expressing hate towards a person, group, or protected category.
While we want people to feel free to express their individuality in their profile names and descriptions, we have found that accounts with abusive profile information usually indicate abusive intent and strongly correlate with abusive behavior. The high visibility of profile names and descriptions also means that people might involuntarily find themselves exposed to threatening or abusive content when visiting a profile page.
When this applies
We will review and take enforcement action against accounts that target an individual, group of people, or a protected category with any of the following behavior in their profile information, i.e., usernames, display names, or profile bios:
  • Violent threats
  • Abusive slurs, epithets, racist, or sexist tropes
  • Abusive content that reduces someone to less than human
  • Content that incites fear"

3.  Glorification of violence policy   (You can see the bullet points here (I hope using the term bullet point isn't considered a glorification of violence) seem to be a collection of ideas from different people, and not carefully edited)
  • You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence.
  • Glorifying violent acts could inspire others to take part in similar acts of violence. Additionally, glorifying violent events where people were targeted on the basis of their protected characteristics (including: race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease) could incite or lead to further violence motivated by hatred and intolerance. For these reasons, we have a policy against content that glorifies acts of violence in a way that may inspire others to replicate those violent acts and cause real offline harm, or events where members of a protected group were the primary targets or victims.
  • What is in violation of this policy? 
    • Under this policy, you can’t glorify, celebrate, praise or condone violent crimes, violent events where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group, or the perpetrators of such acts. We define glorification to include praising, celebrating, or condoning statements, such as “I’m glad this happened”, “This person is my hero”, “I wish more people did things like this”, or “I hope this inspires others to act”. 
    • Violations of this policy include, but are not limited to, glorifying, praising, condoning, or celebrating:
      • violent acts committed by civilians that resulted in death or serious physical injury, e.g., murders, mass shootings;
      • attacks carried out by terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups (as defined by our terrorism and violent extremism policy); and
      • violent events that targeted protected groups, e.g., the Holocaust, Rwandan genocide. 

(Current Twitter limits  These are not about what you say, but about how often you do things.)
"Please do not:
  • Repeatedly post duplicate or near-duplicate content (links or Tweets).
  • Abuse trending topics or hashtags (topic words with a # sign).
  • Send automated Tweets or replies.
  • Use bots or applications to post similar messages based on keywords.
  • Post similar messages over multiple accounts.
  • Aggressively follow and unfollow people.
Current Twitter limitsThe current technical limits for accounts are:
  •  Direct Messages (daily): The limit is 1,000 messages sent per day.
  •  Tweets: 2,400 per day. The daily update limit is further broken down into smaller limits for semi-hourly intervals. Retweets are counted as Tweets.
  •  Changes to account email: 4 per hour.
  •  Following (daily): The technical follow limit is 400 per day. Please note that this is a technical account limit only, and there are additional rules prohibiting aggressive following behavior. 
  •  Following (account-based): Once an account is following 5,000 other accounts, additional follow attempts are limited by account-specific ratios."

For non-Twitter users, direct messages (DMs) are where you send a non-public message to another Twitter account.  I think they have to be following you to do that.  1,000 a day seems like a pretty high number for a human.

And 2400 Tweets a day also seems way too high a limit for a human.  That's 100 Tweets an hour - assuming you never sleep.  Most people can only do this pace if they have programmed their computer to automatically retweet other Tweets, I imagine.  As I tried to find the thoughts of others on this, it appears much of this is about using Twitter as a marketing tool.  Or propaganda tool.

In any case, those are the behaviors that BotSentinal says it's more-or-less trying to track to determine its scores.

There's A LOT more rules and guidelines.  This link will get you to something like a Table of Contents of Twitter Rules.

Oh, one more thing.  I checked on Donald J. Trump's Twitter feed.  This raises questions about how well BotSentinal works.  Or maybe they just give the President a lot more leeway.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Fact Checking The Truman Socialism Meme

This post follows up yesterday's on Bernie Sanders.  I saw this poster the other day:

I had two immediate thoughts:

  1. Socialism has been a Republican scare word for a long time
  2. Did Truman really say this?

A quick google search found that both Snopes and Professor Buzzkill say yes, it's really from Truman.  But Buzzkill also tells us he's relying on Snopes.

So I went to the Harry S Truman library (online) and found an itinerary of his train trip in New York which puts him in Syracuse on October 11, 1952.  (It's always a good sign to have a place and date with a quote.)

 I found another  page called:
The Old President as Campaigner, 1952-1972
The speeches listed were for much of Truman's whistle-stop train campaign for Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson for president in 1952 against General Eisenhower.  But mostly in the west, then back to Ohio.  Even to Buffalo, New York.  But nothing on Syracuse.  So I looked at a couple of the other speeches to see if maybe he had repeated this thought on the trip and found this one that had the theme of Republicans calling public dams socialism.

From the Harry S Truman library, document called Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks in Oregon and California
October 3, 1952
All over the West, now, we are checking floods and turning water into storage places, where it can be used to make power and to irrigate the land. That is what we are doing here at Shasta. That's what will be done soon at Folsom Dam. We are doing the same thing at Bonneville and Grand Coulee, at Hungry Horse Dam in Montana where I stopped the other day, at the Tennessee Valley dams back East, and at Boulder Dam in the Southwest.
I call it Boulder Dam, but the Republicans prefer the title Hoover Dam. They changed the name, back in the 80th Congress--and that's the only contribution to the power field that the 80th Congress made.
You know the Republicans puzzle me sometimes. They are always saying that when we build these dams to produce public power, that's socialism. But they still wanted to name that dam for President Hoover. So there it stands on the Colorado River, a magnificent monument to "creeping socialism," and the name of it is Hoover Dam. Now, I think that's kind of funny.  (emphasis added)
The Syracuse Speech wasn't on the page of rear platform remarks.

So I put Syracuse October 10, 1952 into the Truman Library website's search.  And pulled up Rear Platform and Other Informal Remarks New York.    It matches the itinerary above and starts in Buffalo with the first stop in Batavia, New York at 10:35am, then goes to Rochester, New York at 11:30am.  Next is what I was looking for - Syracuse, New York at 1:25pm.  And it continues for the rest of the day this way.  The rain stops, he gives a speech, then train heads off to the next stop.  And the speeches aren't the same.  Even though there were no social media to catch candidates making the same speech everywhere.

Here's the whole Syracuse speech from that page: (I've added emphasis to get to the issue of socialism as a favorite Republican slur.)

"[3.] SYRACUSE, NEW YORK (Near station, 1:25 p.m.)
I am happy to be here today again. You gave me a wonderful reception 4 years ago, even if it was raining cats and dogs all the time I was here.
This year, I am not campaigning for myself. I am out working for a new man on the Democratic ticket, my good friend Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. Adlai Stevenson has an outstanding record of public service. He is a man the people can trust.
I understand that you people here are really to be congratulated. I am told that Thomas Corcoran is the first Democratic mayor your city has had in 24 years, and I congratulate you on it.
Now this year you have a chance to follow that excellent example by sending Arthur McGuire to the House, and John Cashmore to the Senate to really represent you in the Congress as you should be.
I have been traveling for 2 weeks now, through about 20 States. I have seen a lot of this country, and I can tell you this great Nation of ours is in good shape. Never has there been as much growth or so much activity as there is today. That is true up and down this land of ours, just as it is here in this great State of New York.
Private enterprise is confident of the future. Large and small businesses are enjoying good profits. Their customers have money, because we have good farm prices and good wages, and steady jobs for all who want them.
We have almost forgotten that there can be such things as mass unemployment, bank failures, dollar-a-day wages, and 30-cent wheat. Those things have long been banished, along with the Republicans who brought them upon us.
Now, what is the reason for this confidence and this prosperity? It is very, very simple. The programs of the Federal Government in the past 20 years have made America a land of individual security, and at the same time a land of tremendous opportunity.
In these 20 years the Democratic Party has shown that individual security and opportunity go together. They must be worked for together, and the Democrats know how to do it.
The Republican Party in Congress has opposed almost all our programs to help the economic life of the country. The Republican Party has blindly turned its back on the tradition of public action for the public good.
I wonder why they have done that? Well, it is because the Republican Party has become a collection of special interest groups. A special interest group, by definition, can never see beyond the limits of its own greed for the almighty dollar.

The insurance companies, back in 1935 and 1936, couldn't see anything in social security beyond the fact they would not be writing the insurance policies. So they were against it--and they got the Republican Party against it.
The utility companies couldn't see anything in our great public power projects beyond the fact that private companies would not make a profit on the power. So they were against these projects, and automatically the Republican Party came out against them, too. Al Smith and Franklin Roosevelt taught you people all about that, many years ago.
The real estate lobby couldn't see anything in low-cost public housing beyond the fact that houses were going to be built and their members would not make any money out of them. So they were against public housing, and automatically the Republican Party came out against public housing.
And so it goes, down through the whole list. The policies of the Republican Party are the total of all the negative attitudes of all the special groups that put money into and pull the strings for the Republican Party.
Now, this year, the special interest groups that are in the Republican Party have as their candidate a man who has been in the Army and out of civilian life for over 40 years. Until last June, he had lived the specialized life of the soldier, under orders all the time.
The great issues that mean bread and butter to a lot of us, have passed him by completely. He has had the cares of an Army officer, but not those of a civilian trying to make a living. He has never met a payroll in his life, nor carried a precinct--and he doesn't know a special interest lobby when he sees one.
Now this is just the kind of man the special interests can move in on, and take over. And that is exactly what they have been doing. The General told the Republican Convention in July that he would lead them on a "great crusade." But he did not tell them what the crusade was going to be about.
Like all good generals, he was waiting for his objective to be set by higher authority. He was ready to lead the troops, but he didn't know what the campaign was for. That was a problem that he as a military man had never had to decide for himself before, so the Republican Old Guard moved in and wrote his orders for him.
The directive was drafted by Senator Taft at that famous breakfast in New York City a few weeks ago. Senator Taft left that meeting and told the press what the General stands for. Taft explained that the great issue in this campaign is "creeping socialism." Now that is the patented trademark of the special interest lobbies. Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years.
Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called social security.
Socialism is what they called farm price supports.
Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance.
Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations.
Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.
When the Republican candidate inscribes the slogan "Down With Socialism" on the banner of his "great crusade," that is really not what he means at all.
What he really means is, "Down with Progress--down with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal," and "down with Harry Truman's fair Deal." That is what he means.

Now, it is a sad thing to see this man led around by those of little faith and no vision. It is a sad thing to see this man betraying his principles, deserting his friends, all for the sake of the votes he hopes to gain from Taft and Jennet and McCarthy.
This campaign has already demonstrated that a military man should stick to his profession. We do not need any additional proof.
I can think of no worse combination in the White House than a military man, ignorant of all our problems, surrounded and controlled by the most backward-looking politicians in our national life.
My friends, don't turn the country over to that Republican combination. Look out for your own interests. You are the Government. The Constitution of the United States says the power of the Government in this great Nation of ours shall rest in the people. And when you exercise that power, you can only do it by votes.
When you go to the polls on the 4th of November and exercise the power of government-which is in you--you must look out for your own interests, you must look out for the interests of this great Nation, you must look out for the interests of the world as a whole--the free countries as a whole, for which we are now responsible.
I urge you--study the issues. Read the record. Read the record of both parties-the Republicans in the Congress and the Democrats in the Congress--because they are the ones that make the policy. It is not made on the stump.
The record I am pointing to is a record that has been in your interest. The record these gentlemen are talking about doesn't exist--for they haven't any record, except what is bad for the people.
Go to the polls now and exercise your authority as the power in the Government. Send Adlai Stevenson to the White House, and we will have 4 more years of good government.
Thank you very much."
So there it is.  From the Truman Library itself.  (By 2024 are people going to create fake websites to archive fake speeches?  Maybe, but I'm fairly confident this is the real thing.)

I'd note that at the stop at Utica (all the speeches are at the same link) he talks about a graduate of Utica's Hamilton College, Ambassador Jessup:
While Ambassador Jessup was on an overseas assignment aimed at curbing Soviet expansion, he was viciously attacked by Senator McCarthy. That was in 1950--which was not a presidential election year. In that year, the president of Columbia University, who is now the Republican candidate for President of the United States, sprang to Jessup's defense. This is what he wrote in 1950 to Philip Jessup, a member of his own faculty who was being unjustly attacked-and I quote from the General's letter:
"No one . . ."--this is a quotation from General Eisenhower's letter--"No one who has known you can for a moment question the depth or sincerity of your devotion to the principles of Americanism." That is the end of the quote.
Now the president of Columbia University knew in 1950 that McCarthy's attack was false and without foundation, just as McCarthy's attacks on other loyal public servants have been. If he needed any further proof of the kind of man McCarthy is, he certainly found it in the vile attack McCarthy made on Gen. George C. Marshall. . .
The Republican candidate knows, or he ought to know, how completely dishonest Joe McCarthy is. He ought to despise McCarthy, just as I expected him to--and just as I do.
Now, in his bid for votes, he has endorsed Joe McCarthy for reelection--and humbly thanked him for riding on his train.
Not unlike the change among current Republican Senators who vilified Trump before the nomination and now are his most loyal supporters.

I also noticed this discussion of immigration that is still very topical today.

 In Buffalo, New York, October 9, 1952
". . . This National Origin Quota System is a Republican invention. It was conceived and written into law under a Republican President and a Republican Congress in the 1920's. It is based on a discredited and un-American theory of racial superiority. That theory considers the so-called Nordics from England and Northern Europe to be superior to persons born in Italy, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Poland, or any other country of Southern or Eastern Europe. It's all wrong.
Now the Republicans took full credit for this discriminatory policy. They boasted of it, as one of their achievements, in their 1932 platform.
It is, of course, necessary to regulate the flow of immigration and to have some kind of limitation on numbers. It is also necessary to exclude undesirable individuals. But I think it is un-American to exclude a qualified, worthy individual just because he comes from Poland or Italy or Hungary. And that is exactly what happens under this Republican law.
The policies of the Republican Party haven't changed very much since they wrote this law in 1924. Let me prove that to you.
After the Second World War, I wanted to do something to help the millions of uprooted and homeless persons in Europe. At my urging, the 80th Congress adopted the Displaced Persons Act. That was necessary to get around the restrictions of the National Origin Quota System, and let a substantial number of those people in. But the 80th Congress [Republican] wrote in to the Displaced Persons Act provisions that deliberately discriminated against Catholics and Jews. "

You can listen to the whole speech here.  This quote starts about 12:15 on the audio.   An interesting contrast to speeches today.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

This Is Where I Am On Sanders

Most folks thought Trump had no chance for victory in 2016. It was common knowledge.  After he won, people started looking at what he had tapped into.  Basically people have said variations of this: He tapped into white, particularly male, fear that they were losing their power in the US and that they wanted the lost respect they deserved as people.

And now that Bernie is winning, pundits and party leaders are echoing the mainstream Republicans and Democrats of 2016 as well as pundits then:  Bernie has no chance of winning.

But I would suggest that he's appealing to the same sort of despair that Trump tapped into.  He too is talking about the problems of government (similar to Trump's swamp).  He too is talking about making America great again - but by reestablishing the values of democracy and human dignity for all humans, not just one subgroup.  He's talking about the excesses of capitalism and how the  price of things in dollars has been applied to every part of our life to the detriment of all other values.  He wants to realign the structure that allows Wall Street bankers and brokers to earn significantly more money per hour than most other people.  And all the other structures that mean minimum wage people are blocked from what used to be thought of as the American Way of Life.  (However, exclusive that ideal was in terms of race.)

Sanders is tapping into the same vein of despair that Trump found.  But he's doing it with a message of love rather than one of hate.

Can the Sanders campaign overcome the forces that are working to disinform people, to purge voters and to make voting more difficult for those who can't be purged, and to find ways to hijack voting technology (from computer based registration lists, to voter registrar computers, and to voting machines?   I don't know.

But I'm with Anand on this.

Part of the campaign to discredit Sanders involves smearing him with the label socialist.  Socialism is also a key basis for people's belief that he can't win.  Americans will never accept a socialist president they argue.  As if socialism wasn't already well embedded in our nation and in our most cherished government programs.
There's a meme on socialism that quotes President Harry S Truman.  Tomorrow I will look at the authenticity of the meme.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Thoughts After an Elizabeth Warren Rally At the Seattle Center [Repaired]

My daughter asked if I would go with her to an Elizabeth Warren rally tonight in the Seattle Center (where the 1962 Worlds Fair was held and where the Space Needle is.)  When we were in Anchorage back in December I'd thought that going south I should try to find some campaign rallies, since we aren't going to get any presidential candidate rallies in Anchorage.  So I scored right after we got to LA - there was a Bernie Sanders rally at Venice Beach.  

[I was tired last night Sanders - Warren] was just a ferry and bus ride away.  So with my knee wrapped in a compression sleeve and a fold up cane, just in case, off we went.  

 We got in and managed to get a spot pretty close to the front. in the ADA section.  My daughter pushed for this and I felt a bit guilty, but when I sit down and stand up and move my knee wrong, it hurts like hell.  And the cane had been helpful walking the hill to the bus stop.  But I'm not mentally ready to acknowledge I'm hurting and slow.

I mention where we were sitting (well there was one seat available and my daughter stood, though we switched a couple times when I wanted to take pictures from a different angle) because one of my first reactions was that the audience was a LOT older than the Bernie crowd at Venice Beach.  And a lot less diverse.  My daughter pointed out that maybe it had something to do with sitting in the ADA section.  But I had my telephoto lens and was looking all around.  It was a much older crowd.

And the music reflected that too.   There was one 60s song after another - These Boots Are Made for Walking, Sweet Caroline, the Supremes, Good Vibrations, a Beatles song, and on and on.

Bernie's team had surely had a staffer pick the play list and it was MUCH more contemporary and matched the audience.  He also had live music including Young the Giant, who I didn't know, but the folks around me were all excited about.

The Bernie rally also included everyone going through security.  Every back pack and purse and bag was checked, pockets were emptied.  TSA would have been proud.  Just no scanners to walk through.

Tonight there was NO checking at all.

I suspect some of this is due to money.  Sanders has more.

 The website had said that doors open at 4 or 4:30 and the event started at 6pm tonight.  But except for canned music nothing really happened until about 6:30.  A local volunteer pulled tickets out of a box for people who could ask questions at the end.  Then more canned music.  Then a local volunteer, then another talked about being a veteran and ended saying "No 16 year old should be forced to choose the army because he can't afford college and can't find a job."

And another local woman.  All were articulate.
 And then Elizabeth Warren came on about 7:00.

In contrast, the Sanders rally started with canned music and then had live music starting about 45 minutes before things were supposed to start.  Then at noonish, a series of city and state elected officials spoke, a local Congress member or two, then Cornell West, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and finally Bernie came on at 2:30.

 If there were any local dignitaries sitting behind the stage tonight, they weren't given a chance to speak and they weren't acknowledged.

Warren did get on stage at 7pm which was closer to the start of the rally than in Bernie's rally, and she talked about 45 minutes, including answering questions.

And she was good - articulate, passionate, and she knows the issues.  I'd be more than happy with a President Sanders or a President Warren.  These candidates, aren't as way out there as much of the media is telling us.   They are on top of the issues that matter now if the US and the world are going to have a fighting chance - including Climate Change, but also the economic imbalance between the very rich and the vast majority.

I have some video and I'll try to get it up soon.  This is NOT the time to hesitate, to play it save, because that's not the answer either.  It's time, she told us to make bold plans, have big dreams, and fight hard.  The same pundits that said Trump didn't have a chance are saying the same about Sanders.  I just think they're wrong.  No candidate is going to achieve everything they promise.  They've got to deal with Congress.  But the higher they aim, the higher they'll end up.  Sanders [Warren] was one of the most popular law professors at Harvard because she's smart, does her homework, can respond quickly, and talk about big ideas as well as specifics.  She's a much more agile candidate than Clinton was and I'll bet that Trump will do everything he can to avoid being on the stage head to head with him.  She'll make mincemeat out of him.

The Space Needle was lit up as we went out to catch the bus back to the ferry.

[UPDATE  Feb 23, 2020:  Thanks to BB - who emailed me - and BC - who commented below - who pointed out I wrote Sanders instead of Warren in a couple of places. I always wonder about how the brain works in such situations.  Both names have the letters a, r, and n, both have two syllables. One is seven letters longhand one six.  Would I have made the same kind of mistake if I was comparing to  Buttigieg or Klobuchar?   The House of Names says this about Sanders:
"The Anglo-Norman surname Sanders is derived from the name Saunder, which is a pet form of the personal name Alexander. This name was originally derived from the Greek personal name Alexandros which literally means defender of men."

And for Warren, they say this:
"The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 added many new elements to an already vibrant culture. Among these were thousands of new names. The Warren family lived in Sussex. Their name, however, is a reference to Varrenne, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. [1] Despite this name's resemblance to the Germanic Guarin, often translated as Warin, the names are not thought to be related.]

Friday, February 21, 2020

Stephen Miller - Trump's Fanatic Racist Aide

I thought I had put up a post on Stephen Miller long ago, but I couldn't find it.  Eventually, I looked in my drafts - started posts I never posted and there was one just after Trump's inauguration that offered links to background on Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Roger Stone.  I eventually covered Stone in one post, and Bannon.

The link on that page for Miller looked at his high school days and beyond.  He was clearly troubled already then.

I was reminded of that by this new piece from the New Yorker which looks at how he leads the extreme and cruel immigration policies.

"One participant in the November meeting pointed out that El Salvador didn’t have a functioning asylum system. “They don’t need a system,” Miller interrupted. He began speaking over people, asking questions, then cutting off the answers.
As the meeting ended, Miller held up his hand to make a final comment. “I didn’t mean to come across as harsh,” he said. His voice dropped. “It’s just that this is all I care about. I don’t have a family. I don’t have anything else. This is my life.”
Miller, who is thirty-four, with thinning hair and a sharp, narrow face, is an anomaly in Washington: an adviser with total authority over a single issue that has come to define an entire Administration. “We have never had a President who ran, and won, on immigration,” Muzaffar Chishti, of the Migration Policy Institute, told me. “And he’s kept his promise on immigration.” Miller, who was a speechwriter during the campaign, is now Trump’s longest-serving senior aide. He is also an Internet meme, a public scourge, and a catch-all symbol of the racism and malice of the current government. In a cast of exceptionally polarizing officials, he has embraced the role of archvillain."

"He asked to head the Domestic Policy Council, an influential but amorphous group inside the White House. The position gave him proximity to the President and insulation from congressional scrutiny; he would issue, rather than implement, orders. “The rest of us have to testify before Congress. That’s a check. If you’re going to have your ass hauled before Congress, you’re not going to feel comfortable breaking the law,” a former top Administration official told me. 'Miller will never have to testify for anything.'”

"In the days leading up to Trump’s Inauguration, Miller and a close associate named Gene Hamilton, another former Sessions staffer in his mid-thirties, drafted an executive order called “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”—the travel ban.
When Trump signed it, none of the top officials at the Department of Homeland Security, which was in charge of enforcing the ban, had been notified in advance. Travellers with valid visas were suddenly trapped at American airports, unable to enter the country; refugees who, after years of waiting, had been vetted and approved for entry were turned back. Thousands of protesters and civil-rights attorneys began congregating at airports across the country, and Senators Graham and McCain issued a statement saying that “we should not turn our backs on those refugees who . . . pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors.” Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was enraged. The next day, when the President’s senior staff assembled in the Situation Room, Miller told John Kelly, the head of D.H.S.; Tom Bossert, the President’s homeland-security adviser; and officials from the State Department, “This is the new world order. You need to get on board,” according to an account in “Border Wars,” by Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear."

While many of Trump's appointees have either seen themselves as people who could hold Trump back, or people just happy to be able to put their Trump service on their resumes, Miller is one who clearly has Trump's ear and pushes Trump towards his worst decisions on immigration.    

Thursday, February 20, 2020

How Many Active Duty US Generals?

From Congressional Research Service Report:

click to enlarge and focus

Table 3 in the report shows the historical numbers of officers and the percentage of total force.  (it's up from 0.048% in 1965 to 0.070% in 2018.  All officers, as a percentage of total force, are up from 12.76% to 17.51% in the same time period.

I got to this report from an article by a retired US army major that focused on Smedley and hypothesized about why there are no retired generals today criticizing the US involvement in endless wars today.

This is just a reminder that there is a lot of reading material out there that has facts and in-depth looks at things.  An alternative to memes and tweets, where people can actually learn something that helps fill holes in their world views.  Below is just the first page of the Congressional Research Service's index of reports that start with those issued today 20/02/2020:

Feb 20, 2020
Feb 20, 2020
Feb 20, 2020
Feb 19, 2020
Feb 19, 2020
Feb 18, 2020