End the political ads

Got a canvasser who thanked me for having already voted. The visit was to ask if other members of the household have voted and if not, then do they have a plan?

What was interesting to me was the campaign knew I had already voted. I did last week on my day off. And I am sure that I was on the list based on my primary ballot choice.

If the campaigns know, then the supposedly all-knowing social media should ken. Stop asking if I have registered or intend to vote. Pressure me to get friends to, fine. That is their job.

Modern Red Record

I read The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States in 2015. It was a couple years after the start of #BlackLivesMatter. I read it after the mayor of Charleston claimed not to know about the treatment of blacks, so people created reading lists, and this was on them.

It came to my mind that #BlackLivesMatter is really a modern version of the Red Record.

The United States to create fairness has a justice system. Law enforcement makes an arrest. Criminal prosecutors charge the arrestee. A judge runs a trial. A jury makes a decision on guilt. In the case of the jury deciding the individual is guilty, there is a punishment applied. In the most severe offenses being guilty, the individual might get an execution.

Lynchings are where the individual gets an execution without a trial. A mob kills the individual. Or it might be a smaller group.

Law enforcement killing someone they sought to arrest circumvents justice where they are supposed to uphold it.

Election season: My re-reading list mandatory

Trump’s best shot at reelection is false-consensus effect

Thinking back to Obama’s campaign for reelection, I recall much talk about how incompetent, evil, and terrible a president he was from his opposition. Not Romney directly but the his likely voters on social media. To the point of Romney feeling moral obligation to defend Obama as not that bad of a person to his own voters. There were daily negative stories about Obama culminating in Benghazi.

Depending on where you sat, most people agreed with either his incompetence or shrewdness. This agreement blinds us to reality.

false-consensus effect

the tendency to assume that one’s own opinions, beliefs, attributes, or behaviors are more widely shared than is actually the case. A robustly demonstrated phenomenon, the false-consensus effect is often attributed to a desire to view one’s thoughts and actions as appropriate, normal, and correct

APA Dictionary

During this time of pandemic, I am seeing a spinning up of negative social media posts about Trump from his opposition. (Even worse than when I wrote Gotcha jerks part I & part II) And an equally defensive amount from his party members. My guess is he will get about the same turnout if this continues just from voters being upset at his unfair* treatment by the opposition.

* Unfair: they will think no one deserves that harsh treatment. Nevermind Obama and Hillary got the same level.

Sharing links that mock a caricature of the Other Side isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. It signals that we’d much rather show our friends that we’re like them, than try to understand those who are not.

The ‘Other Side’ Is Not Dumb

I suspect these attacks make Trump’s opposition think good people in no way can justify voting for him. Even as his supporters think only deplorable people would vote against him given these attacks. Both a walking blind. Because we have defined ourselves by our political beliefs.

Perhaps the two most important things to know about the false consensus effect have to do with its potency.  First, false consensus effects still exist for important or self-defining beliefs.  Second, neither education about the false consensus itself nor large rewards for accuracy seem to eliminate the false consensus effect.  This bias is hard to eliminate.   

Your opinions are not as popular as you think they are

Then there are the bots agitating both sides making this effect worse by polluting the newsfeeds with more people agreeing. It is just a mess. And few seem aware of just how they are being manipulated by their biases.

Birthright Citizenship

Photo of me by Wesley Abney
Photo of me by Wesley Abney

Since 2015, the idea of ending birthright citizenship has been on my radar. Those favoring anti-immigration, view the bestowal of citizenship on children of foreign citizens as a problem. In their mind, pregnant women are invading the United States specifically to have children and force the country to keep the parents. (It may delay, but the parents are still deported and the children either go with them or stay with a relative in the US.) I guess they think of birthright citizenship as a loophole to encouraging or allowing undesirable immigration.

I am thinking about it because of the PotUS talking yet again about ending birthright citizenship through an executive order. Well, he’s probably echoing Stephen Miller again. The 14th amendment’s section 1 is what created it.

Amendment XIV
Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The original intent was to make African-Americans citizens in a way that could not be legislated away by the Southern states. Prior to this, we were in the North but not in the South. It established across the board that we are.

The legal principle is called jus soli which means “right of the soil.” It primarily is something that exists in Western countries only restricting it from people who are working for a foreign government. The US Supreme Court allows the denying of it to foreign diplomats or enemy forces occupying our territory. The current issue has not been tested, so I wonder if this executive order is really to set up that test with a court more friendly to the idea of ending it.

The alternative is jus sanguinis which means “right of blood.” Citizenship is determined by the nationality of one or both parents (or permanent residency). This is what got the paranoid-schizophrenic diabetic man deported to Iraq where he had never lived. He was born in Greece who did not have birthright citizenship, so his was Iraqi. He grew up in the US, so he only spoke English. When the US deported him, he was sent to Iraq where he knew no one, had no access to medication, and soon died. Countries are moving towards restricted birthright citizenship to solve this problem of statelessness.

There is also restricted jus soli where a child born of a permanent resident for some time gains citizenship at birth or at a certain age. The United Kingdom, for example, has jus sanguinis but allows the children of legal immigrant settlers to become citizens at birth or upon the 10th birthday. Greece now allows the acquisition of citizenship by children if they attend school in the country for several years, but only 22% of applications are approved.

I guess this last is something to worry about in that whatever the new system is designed to be, the Devil is in the details. As it is, the rumored executive order is either FUD to open immigration advocates or a blessing to anti-immigration advocates.

Why do we restrict the use of nuclear technology?

The Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis story seems like something people are likely to overlook. The story is about:

Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns that Saudi Arabia could develop nuclear weapons if the U.S. technology were transferred without proper safeguards.

But, why?

  1. The Middle East turmoil is in part over what kind of Islam will prevail. Iran is controlled by Shi’a sect clerics (Baptist) while Saudi Arabia is controlled by followers of the Sunni (Catholic) sect.
  2. Both countries manipulate others in the region. Much of the fighting in the region is proxy fighting. Yemen has a Saudi-backed government. The opposition forces that almost took over are backed by Iran. Syria has an Iranian-backed government. Some of the opposition forces are backed by the Saudis.
  3. Saudi Arabia wants the potential capability of nuclear weapons because Iran is far ahead of them towards that.
  4. The Atomic Energy Act section 123 stipulates how the US may cooperatively work with other countries to have safeguards to prevent the development of weapons from nuclear reactors.
  5. The United States (and Europe) helped Iran with the start of nuclear reactors in the 70s. See, the Shah was our friend. The conflict has to do with him being overthrown and the clerics taking charge. The current government HATES us.

Sure, the plan is to build nuclear reactors, not weapons, but the normal deal includes safeguards to prevent the development of nuclear weapons from them. This Middle East Marshall Plan is also interesting given the Saudis extract so much oil, but realize these fossil fuels face lowering demand as people switch.

I get it. The Saudis are our allies (like the Shah was). But, the current decision maker, MSM is just as bad as the Shah was. He locks up people for speaking bad about him. A woman publicly drove a car before he was ready to allow women to do so. He had her imprisoned for it, let his sister do it, and still has the first woman locked up years later.

We’ve been here before. We gave nuclear technologies to Israel who exacerbates the Middle East turmoil. Everyone is worried Pakistan and India the clash in Kashmir is going to result in a nuclear exchange. China is still peeved at us giving the tech to Taiwan who it considers its territory. Our choices to help countries have this technology embroils already tense situations. The safeguards are supposed to make it more palatable to the world, so giving it to Saudi Arabia without them is an open provocation.

America’s experiment in democracy

A friend mentioned the above phrase General Mad-Dog Mattis often uses in posting about the death of the badass Cryptologic Technician. This happened on Facebook and it being Facebook, it spurred a troll who completely misunderstood the phrase. He took it to mean the United States attempting nation building.

Here is an example of Mattis’ usage in a paper on the national defense strategy:

“Increasing the lethality of our troops, supported by our defense civilians, requires us to reshape our approach that managing our outstanding talent, reinvigorating our military education and honing civilian workforce expertise.

“The creativity and talent of the department is our deepest wellspring of strength, and one that warrants greater investment.

“And to those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy, they must know: If you challenge us it will be your longest and your worst day. Work with our diplomats; you don’t want to fight the Department of Defense.”

He is using the phrase to talk about attacking the United States. Not Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or Yemen.

Mattis, having read far more about history, the founding of the US, and Constitutional scholarship uses this phrase to indicate that the democracy we have is pretty fragile. Democracies can fail. The United States has somehow lasted over two centuries as a republic, but it is still possible for our country to fail. We have to protect it. We have to be wise in our choices. Or we might find ourselves beholden to Putin-like totalitarianism. He viewed his job as more than just protecting the country, but as protecting something special in the world that deserves to survive.

And, that is why he had to go. His loyalty was primarily to democracy, not the Commander-in-Chief who demanded personal loyalty.

Read more about how democracies fall into totalitarianism: