Rubio didn’t have my vote anyway — but he really does not now…

April 20, 2015

I wasn’t intending to vote for presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida anyway, but something I heard him say in an interview convinced me there is no use listening to the likes of him (or is that he?).

He chooses short-term economics over dealing with the real problem of climate change, a problem he even admits is occurring.

If I understood him correctly, he seems to feel that while yes climate change is a fact, it is not clear whether it is nothing more than the natural evolution of the climate — that is the climate has been changing all the time. He does not see the notion that human activities have had an effect on the climate as fact. He thinks that proposals to deal with man-made climate change would be too detrimental to our economy.

Well, not being a scientist, I pretty much have to go on what scientists say. I think I am correct in saying that while it may not be unanimous among scientists, the overwhelming view among most is that human activities are indeed part of the cause of climate change.

While I would certainly agree we can’t just stop everything and go back the Stone Age, at the same time we would not be good stewards of our dear earth if we did not something to deal with the problem. And we are. Whether we can act fast enough or do enough to save our existence is open to question and debate. Scientists are not unanimous on that I know.

But simply saying doing anything would screw up our economy is not leadership.

In fairness, I think he might have been saying that he thinks some proposals are too extreme and that some liberals pick up on the science and try to use it for their own political ambitions. Those are my words, my interpretation of what Rubio was saying. But I think he and others like him should not just shrug off the notion of climate change. The science seems to support the idea that human actions, such as polluting the air with carbons from industry and our internal combustion engines, is choking our planet and changing our climate for the worse.

You see, most of them started out as climate change deniers. Now I see that they say, well, yeah, there is climate change, but we really don’t know why.

No, but we have good idea, and we need to deal with it.

And if you want to inject religion into this, God made Earth, God made man. He is not going to be too happy with man if man messes all that up.

 


You can’t live forever — so don’t worry too much about automation…

April 19, 2015

At the risk of simply repeating myself (I do a lot of that), I think we humans may well be doomed. We are doing our race in by way of our rush to automate everything — turn over all work (physical and mental) to machines, robots, computers, what have you (I know it’s the computers that run all that).

Again, I know I’m likely repeating myself here, but I recall quite some time ago a family member assuring me that those who do jobs that are, shall we say, more cerebral? do not have as much to fear. Wrong. It seems, as one article I just read and will try to link you to below, says that automation is moving up the food chain into heretofore seemingly safe jobs. In other words it is not just low-wage and low skill-jobs being threatened.

For the past 20 years now (or almost anyway) I have been working as an over-the-road truck driver. I’m not sure where that fits in on the chain (I mean if you ask me it is relatively low pay — but everything is relative to something else — but it does take a certain amount of skill, and patience), but one might think such work would be impervious to automation. But, as you know, driverless cars are a reality (I have not seen any on the road yet, but laws have already been passed to allow them), and as you may or may not know, driverless trucks have already been tested out. The video I saw was actually one truck with a driver leading a pack of others without — but in eventual practice it would be all driverless.

I firmly believe that within the decade the so-called driver shortage will be dealt with by the introduction of remote-controlled trucks. There will be other drastic changes too, but hard to predict.

But through the use of ever-faster computers and the use of algorithms (and I am out of my league here) and big data, robots have been or are being designed to do all kinds of work in the legal field, medicine, and other endeavors. They have been of course initially employed where the work is redundant (standard contracts, sorting out pills), but now also in things heretofore thought only able to be done by the human brain.

You really can’t stop this kind of thing. If you even try or suggest you are called a “Luddite” (workers in England who destroyed machinery during the Industrial Revolution ) and no one wants to be called that.

Now we might move into a world where none of us has to do real work, where we have time to enjoy nature and, well, each other.

But, again, I am repeating myself, but how would we decide how to share limited resources? Now we use money as a kind of token that gives us our share (and perhaps much more for some of us). Most of us get these tokens through traditional employment. Some of us are more clever and through the wonders of capitalism we amass tokens and then loan them out at interest and accumulate more tokens by doing that. And then the real lucky souls receive their tokens the old-fashioned way — they inherit them.

So I don’t know. I had always hoped that through some fluke I might live forever. Maybe this coming reality gives me some solace, as reality tells me I can’t live forever.

P.s.

A link to a piece in the New York Times on this subject:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/opinion/sunday/the-machines-are-coming.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region

I hope that link worked. If not, check out the opinion section of the April 19 edition of the Times.

P.s. P.s

It is hard to imagine or even hope for a world without work. I mean work is part of culture and culture is what separates humans from the rest of the animal world.

 

 


Beware of the claim we won’t send ground troops into the Middle East…

April 18, 2015

Not talking about presidential candidate Rand Paul per se, but I just saw a video of him (from when, not sure) saying he would support sending military aid to country’s fighting the terrorist group ISIS, because even though in the past he might not have been in support of that, he now feels ISIS presents a large enough threat to the U.S to warrant such action. But he maintained he would limit support to something less than sending in American ground troops.

We have been down that path before.

President Lyndon Johnson declared he was not about to send “American boys to do what Southeast Asian boys should be doing”. And then not long afterwards he sent in ground troops (beyond the military advisers already there) into South Vietnam. Ten years or so later and about 60,000 American deaths plus seriously injured, we pulled out after being hopelessly caught in a quagmire.

I’m fairly sure Johnson did not mean to lie. It’s just that he was caught in a jam. He did not want to be the president who lost the war, even though he knew it was hopeless. Actually he knew that to begin with I think, but what to do — at the time all American leaders had to be committed to fighting communism.

Probably one can’t make a direct analogy here. But the point is once we get involved we do not know where events will take us.

So hearing Rand Paul or anyone else make such a pronouncement is suspicious.

I continue to be unpleasantly amazed at leaders or potential leaders who seem to think we can control war. If we could, we would just dial them down, turn them off. We can’t. We can decide whether to get involved.

It may be true that we have to fight ISIS. But we need to be prepared to do what it takes and our leaders have to have the stomach for it.

The leaders of today do not seem to match those we had during World War II. And the general public has no sense of needed sacrifice. In our current state we could not have won that big war.

So far our half measures have yielded nothing but more chaos and death in the Middle East.

And let’s forget nation building, shall we?

The only thing worth our blood and treasure is our own interests. If the populace of the Middle East can leave their religious-caused civil strife and their tribalism for Western Democracy, well good, but we cannot force them to. That is their decision.

P.s.

I am of course aware that we already have some ground troops in the Middle East — I’m talking about new or additional commitments.

 

 


Hillary has one big liability, Bill; it’s all about the connections…

April 17, 2015

Hillary Clinton has one big liability in her run for president — at least as far as I see it. That liability is Bill Clinton, her husband.

Mr. Clinton was probably a good president, at least right up until the time he let his sleazy sex appetite take center stage.

All the bad publicity from his sexual shenanigans did nearly irreparable damage to the progressive cause.

It’s not so much what he did in private as the fact he did not make sure it stayed in private. Then again if some of the rumors are true, maybe it is also what he did in private. I mean not just his cavorting with Monica Lewinsky, but reports that he would pull woman aside and grope them. I’m a guy, but I know there are men who do this — sometimes quite publicly. I mean in the guise of that touchy-feely type social interaction, their hands go crazy. It’s just their way, you know…

Then we have Hillary who puts up with it all (well maybe she does toss a plate at him once in a while) because she wants to stay hitched to a political star. Yeah that really helps the cause of women’s equality.

We could surely do worse than Hillary, and in the end she may be the only candidate to vote for, as opposed to the ultra reactionary Republicans.

But if the Republicans could go back to the party they once were before the modern-day know-nothing element gained such traction that even moderates have to kowtow to them, Hillary would likely have a run for her money.

They say Bill’s getting increasingly old and feeble. I’m no spring chicken myself, and I have empathy for him, the getting old that is. I just hope that he stays in the rocking chair and sits this one out.

And then there is the whole idea of the Clintons in the White House.

That pair have all those connections, some with questionable people. Its’ all about connections. Bill introduces someone to a head of state somewhere, a dictator who wants to oversee democratic elections elsewhere (I know makes little sense), and that someone gets an exclusive mining contract, and the Clinton Foundation gets a big donation for charitable causes, but of course somehow the Clintons benefit from their work in the charity — and now they even have daughter Chelsea in on it all.

And then there is Republican Jeb Bush. His family has made their fortune on connections. Not business acumen, but connections.

And then there is the cast of narrow-minded opportunists, looking for the hot button issues to excite the ignorant-by-choice voters.

But somewhere in all of this there may be a decent candidate or two. In our system it almost has to be either a Democrat (and this time around that seems only to mean Hillary) or a Republican.

We want someone keen on domestic issues — I mean what can the president do for us? But reality dictates we need someone who is also well versed on foreign affairs — we still are the world’s superpower — and woe be on to us if we lose that status.

P.s.

I realize Bill Clinton is said to have some special aura about him. I have even heard the rabid right pay homage to that. I liked him okay once upon a time. That has kind of faded.

 


Rand Paul wrongly accused of being “testy” it seems (at least in one particular interview)

April 14, 2015

The buzz seems to be that presidential candidate Rand Paul has a temper. The New York Times did a piece about how his wife is trying to mellow him out or convince people that he is not a hot head. And the story implied that some thought he might have trouble with women interviewers, citing an interview by Savannah Guthrie of NBC.

Well I’m not trying to defend Paul here, but via the magic of the internet I clicked onto a portion of that interview and I’m on his side (well I guess that is a defense in a way). I know he was said to be testy in another story I read about the interview but I did not see that as being the case. Or maybe one can be testy but for good reason.

He simply objected to loaded questions by the interviewer who was implying that he had flip-flopped on various issues, saying one thing in the past and another now that he is running for president.

I think he answered the questions well. But he cut her off or tried to because she was editorializing within her questions, and/or claiming he did something and in so doing limiting his response to fit her question — but he would not go for that. But in the portion of the interview I saw, both subjects, interviewer and interviewee, seemed to handle things well and the whole thing ended amicably.

I think interviewers sometimes feel time pressure and try to put a lot into each question, but in so doing they sometimes distort things.

Don’t know much about Paul, but so far he is coming off reasonable and balanced and flexible on issues, and perhaps he does not want to suffer fools — he might have to get over that last one in order to survive the campaign season.


Convicted Blackwater guards had become terrorists

April 14, 2015

When I saw the headline and the lead of the story that said one Blackwater security guard got a life sentence and three others 30 years for killing Iraqi civilians I had mixed emotions — at first.

I mean I detest the fact that the U.S. (my country) hired private mercenaries at higher pay than army soldiers and that the firm got the job because its founder contributed to the Republican Party, the party of the president who pushed us into a war of choice (his choice), but on the other hand this was war, and bad, ugly things happen in war. And could regular soldiers be prosecuted in similar circumstances?

But then I read some of the details. I mean I was not there. I only know what I read. But it seems as if these security guards got way too carried away and indeed thought there was no law for them.

And American soldiers have been prosecuted for wrongful deaths in war in Iraq, I recall.

It kind of reminds me of the infamous My Lai Massacre in Vietnam.

We go into a country ostensibly to help the people of that country. But those we send to fight get confused and the native people become the enemy.

Those security guards killed innocent civilians and in the process bolstered the message of the terrorists that Americans are the enemy.

Those sent to help fight the war on terror had become terrorists themselves.


We should have never dropped relations with Cuba

April 13, 2015

It’s always good to get along with your neighbors. So it’s a good thing that more than 50 years after breaking off relations with the island nation of Cuba the U.S. is now in the process of restoring diplomatic relations with our neighbor who is only 90 miles off of Key West, Florida.

In my humble opinion we should have never broke off relations. So what if Cuba went communist? So did the Soviet Union, and we fought a war on its side (WWII) and then maintained relations with it even through the depths of the Cold War. Nixon went to China and made nice with Mao.

You don’t have to agree with a nation’s politics to have diplomatic relations.

We generally try to have diplomatic relations with whatever or whoever is the legitimate government, not necessarily the most likable government.

And even if a government were to be considered illegitimate at first, time has a way of making it legitimate.

We gain nothing and lose a lot by failing to recognize the real government of a nation. We lose trade and we lose the ability or hope of ever working things out with a nation. And trade embargoes don’t help the populace of nation and wind up embittering people we claim to want to help or who we claim we have nothing against.

And having a presence in a country allows us to keep a better eye on that country.

Yes, we need to restore relations with Cuba.

President Obama on Saturday talked to Cuban president Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, attended by other Latin American nations, becoming the first American president to do such a thing in more than half a century. This I think is a major accomplishment for Obama in foreign policy — he needs one.

I think I was in fifth grade when Fidel Castro (still alive but old and ill I guess) took over from the right-wing dictator Batista.

Batista represented the old order which was subservient to American business interests and not as concerned with the everyday people of Cuba. Castro claimed to represent the people. Of course in reality a right-wing dictatorship was replaced with a left-wing dictatorship. No democracy there. All these years later the only two presidents they have had have been the Castro brothers. And they were not elected in reality.

But under Raul’s leadership there have been some improvements in human rights and or personal freedom, it is reported, and a move to more of a market economy.

Cuba has suffered all these years under the failed communist system and the U.S. embargo.

I seem to recall reading about Castro’s takeover in my old Weekly Reader at school, and it was billed as a good thing. I seem to recall my teacher being excited about it all, in a positive way. I think it was not sure yet whether Castro would align himself with the Soviet Union, as he soon did. The Eisenhower administration was against him from the start. It was the Cold War.

And maybe my teacher had not signed her loyalty oath. Just kidding kind of, but that was the era when many school districts required teachers to sign such oaths.

Recently in surfing the web I saw a video of Ed Sullivan (of all people) doing a soft-ball, seemingly friendly interview with Castro as he was taking over. I seem to recall watching Edward R. Murrow interview Castro when I was a kid too.

There was hope he would do good things for the Cuban people. I don’t know if he ever did or not.

For a time, Castro, with the help of the infamous Che Guevara, tried to foment communist revolutions throughout Latin America and even into Africa.

But all of that is history.

It’s time to move on. It’s time for new beginnings.

P.s.

While I think we need to keep Iran from getting the bomb, I think we should restore relations with that nation and lift all sanctions. I imagine a prosperous Iran might not want to even bother with a nuclear arsenal (I don’t mean I know that, though).


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