Sunday, April 17, 2016

Ready to move on

Sorry, but I'm discontinuing posting here, at least for now. Almost all post here are copies of posts at my site

I began using this site so that people could give feedback to my posts, but that does not happen often enough for the trouble.

I may start posting at a newer, more popular social sharing type of site. If that happens, I'll make a note of the link in a final post here.

Thanks for reading, and a special thanks for those who did post comments or shared these posts.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Bernie Sanders, FDR, and the Export-Import Bank

Senator Sanders followers love his attacks on Hillary Clinton. They love his promises of free things: free college educations, free medical care, and free money without working.

They love his alleged Socialism.

When asked who his hero is, Sanders said FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President-for-life from 1933 until he died in 1945.

Yet Sanders voted, along with Tea Party Republicans, against renewing the Export-Import Bank of the United States (ExIm). According to Sanders, ExIm is just corporate welfare. Sanders says the government should not own a bank that finances exports and provides jobs for American workers.

Um, might I point out that under Socialism, the government is supposed to own businesses, including banks? That pushing for state (as in California, or Oregon) owned banks is something that lefties and socialists have been pushing for recently?

The federal government actually makes money from ExIm. So it is not really a subsidy for corporations. It makes money from corporations. At the same time allowing businesses to make money exporting American products, creating jobs for U.S. workers.

But Senator Sanders (a certified member of the Establishment since 1980) gets confused easily. He calls this confusion "having principles." Is Socialism one of his principles or not? Don't ask, he'll wave his hands in the air, act indignant, and change the subject.

Did he ever retract the FDR is his hero statement? Let's take a good close look at that. Unlike Sanders, Roosevelt was a lifelong Democrat, though his uncle, President Teddy Roosevelt, was a Republican. FDR was not an independent.

And talk about Rich. FDR was born richer than Hillary and Bill will ever be.

And talk about militaristic. FDR was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913 when he was just 31 years old. His qualifications? He was from a rich and powerful family. On his mother's side, the Delano fortune came from running opium into China. His father was one of the Robber Barons in coal and railroads.

But FDR presided over the complex system of programs that came to be called the New Deal. In some ways it was socialist, but there was also a fascist element to it. In any case:

Franklin Roosevelt (by executive order, without help from Congress) created ExIm in 1934.

Sanders can't think straight. But he is one of America's longest reigning politicians because he is really, really good at making promises and at lying.

No serious American leftist could support Senator Sanders based on his actual voting record in Congress. He gives a good stump speech. It sounds like he is a leftist. It sounds like he is for the poor, impoverished, college-educated white male voters that fund and power his campaign.

But look at his votes at the beginning of the Great Recession, and you can see why it would be folly to make the man President. In 2008 things fell apart for a variety of reasons, not just because some banks were too big, too stupid, and too greedy.

The important thing for Government was arresting the downward spiral. Poor people and working people are the ones hurt worst by a downward spiral. A family with $100 million can lose 90% of it and not starve. But for most people losing a job will wipe out any savings or assets they have, and may scar them for life. And if things got as bad as during the Great Depression, masses of people would have been dying in the streets

The first thing FDR did when he took office in 1933 was rescue the banks. Why was Senator Sanders against rescuing the banks in 2008-2009? Because he doesn't like big banks. Like anyone much does. He was willing to let America go down the tubes just so he did not have to go on record as doing what his hero did, saving the banks. Same for the auto industry. And again, the bank-saving plan turned out to be sound, eventually earning the government more than it put in.

So why is Bernie such an idiot? You might speculate he took too many hallucinogens between when he arrived in Vermont in the 1960s, the son of a rich Brooklyn business owner, and when he emerged from the fog in 1980 to take his first decently-paid job as a politician.

I don't know about the origins of Bernie's mental and emotional disabilities, but I have an analogy that explains how his current personality operates. He is like a foody who goes into a party with a giant smorgasbord and notices some offending food. He waves his hands, twists his face into a parody of an insane person, declares everyone at the party unclean, and walks out.

But what particularly saddens me is all the leftists who have fallen for his BS. College students I can understand. They are typically privileged children of privileged parents, and he has promised them more privilege, not having to pay for college, not having to make any contribution to society, just reaping the rewards of high-paying jobs requiring college degrees.

But leftists and even progressives should know better. They should be able to check voting records and do a little bit of critical thinking. Instead most have just been caught up in the hatred Bernie peddles.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rock, Paper, Scissors

There is no guaranteed winning choice in most complicated situations

People like the idea of causality. We use phrases like "A happened because B caused it." Given that there are causes, making choices is important. "He is rich because he bought Microsoft stock when he was young." Or "She left her keys in her car, of course it was stolen."

Without denying that there is causality, few people have failed to notice how complicated the world is. Causality is clear in simple Physics experiments and in many of the simple aspects of life. We can reasonably expect a car to start when the ignition is switched on, and if it does not, we can seek a cause, or hire an automobile mechanic to find it.

But life is complicated. Some things that tend to have many causes and effects that are hard to sort out are biology, economics, and anything that involves human relationships or a large number of human beings.

The game Rock, Paper, Scissors helps teach children important lessons about the complicated world. Rock smashes scissors, which cut paper, which wraps the rock. Rock wins against scissors but looses against paper. Each of the three choices can be a winner or loser depending on what the second player decides to choose.

In a fair game the two players reveal their choices (made by hand signals) at the same time. There can be strategy involved, based on expectations about how one's opponent will play (like realizing an opponent never repeats the same choice twice in a row). But generally with two players each will win about half the time. And so loses about half the time.

In the rest of life situations are usually more complex, but one central theme remains true: no strategy, tactic, or individual choice will always work. The term for this quality is "indeterminate."

We try to keep the complexity at bay by making things simple for ourselves. Most common screws work with either a Philips head or slot head screwdriver. Most people prefer driving cars with automatic transmissions rather than trying to manually chose the right gear all the time. Most people choose a political party and vote for that party's candidates rather than spending a lot of time investigating each candidate in each election. And mostly that works. Despite their complexity, most modern bridges that get built don't fall down, most of the time.

But when two humans, or two groups of humans, clash instead of cooperating, there will be a loser. There are also losing choices because the future is indeterminate.

Gambling and investing are a case to point. "Alice" has $1,000 that she does not need to pay bills. She owes $2,000 on a credit card at 12%. She has been thinking (at the urging of more affluent friends and family) of opening a brokerage account and buying her first stock shares, say Microsoft or Facebook. She also has a friend who bets on horses and is certain that she can get $8,000 for her $1,000 if she will just bet on Whipping Star in the 3rd race. Or she could just keep the money as cash.

I would advise her to pay down the credit card. 12% interest saved, guaranteed. We won't know Alice's best move until some time later. If Whipping Star does win his race, we'll know that was the best choice, but there was no way to know that in advance. Even fixed horse races sometimes go awry (as when a dope-up horse breaks a leg). In a year a particular stock might be up over 12%. In a year we can certainly retroactively pick stocks that went up over 12%. But no one knows in advance, with absolute certainty, how well any company's stock will do in any given period of time. Stocks go down as well as up.

Uncertainty rules in relationships. Can you trust Judas? Should you date the blond clean-cut medical student? Who is a good mentor, who is trouble best avoided?

Then there is war. A nasty business all around, and filled with uncertainty. Great generals sometimes lose battles, incompetent generals sometimes win, and wars seemingly won can turn into defeat. The strategy that won the last war may be a losing strategy in the next war.

Paper, rock, scissors. You can win by cheating, if your opponent does not know you are cheating. The basic cheating method is choosing shortly after your opponent has shown her hand.

Cheating reality is a lot harder. Cheating in a poker game can have much worse consequences than simply losing the game. Cheating in business can land you in jail. Cheating in a relationship can be the end of a relationship. Cheating can often be beaten by not cheating, and by refusing to play with cheaters.

Scissors, paper, rock. Everyone has a childhood, but not everyone learns the same lessons from childhood, even when you account for differing environments or parents.

Given the complexity of reality, it is best to keep on one's toes, so to speak. Understand the present as best you can. Anticipate the future as best you can. But don't be too surprised by the unexpected. Being flexible rather than rigid is a good general strategy, but even that does not always work out in life.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 Election the Most Complicated Ever?

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz compete for angry voters

Which kind of angry voter are you? Some would argue the Presidential primaries are simply sorting out people into categories of anger.

In every election cycle I can remember, the establishment of both political parties has argued that "this is the most important election ever." Importance keeps climbing a mountain, never looking backwards. I don't buy it, never did. More important than 1860, which led to the Civil War? More important than 1932, in the depth of the Great Depression?

But I will grant that this is the most complicated primary season ever. I grant it has historic competition, notably the 1952 Presidential Primaries, in which Senator Kefauver won the Democratic Primaries as an anti-corruption reformer, and Senator Taft won the Republican primaries as the darling of conservatives. Both were denied the nominations at the conventions.

How complicated? It begins with the difficulty many working class people, particularly white older men, have choosing between Senator Sanders and Realtor Trump. Both are adept at telling this group what they want to hear: that there will be a bigger piece of the economic pie for them. Sanders promises pie from the left-wing play book: he will simply tax the rich (more) and spend that on things like free medical care and free college tuition for all. Don't want to work? Go back to college on the taxpayers' dime. I'm planning on getting several degrees.

Donald Trump. What can I say that has not been said? He does not appear to be as angry on stage as Sanders, but he is just as good at whipping up a crowd. No college tuition program from Trump. Instead, his main message is that he will increase working class wages by kicking out the illegal immigrants who drive wages down for everything from construction work to babysitting. If he could drive them out that would certainly raise wages for those without college degrees, but I doubt he could do it. Neither a Democratic Congress nor a Republican Congress is going to vote enough funding for the immigration service to cut down on illegal residents substantially.

Black markets are what happens when people want something and the government makes it illegal (or even just too expensive through taxation). Illegal immigrants are a sort of double black market. Immigrants want higher pay than they can get at home (and sometime intangibles like safety), so our imperialist high pay scale creates an incentive for them to break the law and enter the nation illegally. At this end all sorts of employers want to pay less, and maybe even think a Hispanic nanny is sort of a racist step up from a black nanny, and so there is a black market here for people without work permits.

Given the double strength black market, it will take someone smarter than Trump to end the labor competition. Like most campaign promises, his is empty. At the Sanders end of spectrum, his nostrums like free college and higher government subsidies for the working class and poor will simply strengthen the magnetic pull. Resulting in more competition for U.S. jobs, not less.

Ted Cruz actually attacks Marco Rubio for not be anti-immigrant enough, and basically controls the Jesus Nutter vote, plus the end all spending that is not military in nature vote. Which makes Trump seem like a centrist, if you look at his vague policy positions instead of his insults.

The other centrist is Hillary Clinton. In a normal year she would be so far to the left as to endanger the Democratic Party's chances. This year she simply isn't angry enough for the electorate. Except that women in America are much better at hiding their anger than men. I think a lot of women are going to be really angry if she does not win the nomination. Will they desert the Democratic Party? I hope so. Maybe they will vote for Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. Maybe they will form a new party for women and their allies. Probably they will just regroup and try again in 2020 with someone other than Hillary.

Why are so many people so angry? Why do so many people watch Walking Dead, possibly the most boring high-budget show ever produced for television?

In 2008 people were too busy trying to save their own asses to try to figure out who to lynch. Now most people have jobs and a place to live again, but they have not forgotten the promise of 2006 when all you had to do was lie about your income, buy a house with a 0% down, and live the rest of your life trying to take money out of the house's increase in value fast enough to keep up with your neighbors' lifestyles.

Bernie's people are mad at bankers. Trump's are mad at immigrants and Islam. Ted Cruz's hate Obama, liberals, Planned Parenthood, the IRS, and anyone who isn't packing a semi-automatic weapon and at least 100 rounds of ammo.

Hillary's people are not haters, for the most part, but I think they are being whipped into it. They are beginning to hate Bernie and his followers, Cruz and Trump and their followers, and probably becoming suspect of men in general. As they should be.

I'm guessing the angriest candidate will win. That would be Bernie. It would have been a lot easier if he just got himself a glock and started shooting it out with bankers on Wall Street, but if he wins the election, bankers beware.

The President is not supposed to make the laws, she is supposed to faithfully execute the laws written by Congress. Bernie indicated in the Miami debate that he does not intend to let that theory stop him, if elected. Maybe it won't matter if the incumbents win most of the seats of Congress again in 2016, as is usual. Bernie flapping his angry arms at Congress will do nothing. But Executive Orders are another matter entirely. Reminds me of 1932 in Germany.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

On Hating President Obama

Precedents for Hating Barack

Feeling overworked, I decided to relax today with a copy I unearthed of United States Diplomatic History, Volume I, edited by Gerard Clarfield

Any history book is bound to have revealing details about the past. For instance, in the Chapter on the Jay Treaty with the British Empire (or Treaty of London of 1794), I learned that John Jay (who was already the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), lacking instructions otherwise, decide to not demand payment to American slavers for their slaves that were freed by the British Army during the Revolutionary War.

But what struck me most was the hatred unleashed on President George Washington because of the treaty. The background is complex, but at that time the two major political factions in the U.S. were pro-French (and the French Revolution) or pro-British (and more conservative). The problem was the U.S. really needed a new treaty with the Empire because of unresolved issues from the Revolutionary War. President Washington did not particularly like the new treaty, but he needed it to keep the young nation out of war and with some chance to prosper economically.

One more detail before the main point: the U.S. Senate discussed the treaty in secret, and agreed that it would not be published. But anti-British Senators eventually made it available to the press.

How vitriolic was the hatred for Washington? There were riots against the treaty in Boston. The pro-French press said the President "had completed the destruction of American freedom." A series of articles accusing George Washington of theft was published. A common toast was "A speedy death to George Washington."

I certainly don't condone hatred of President Barack Obama. But I am not shocked that it exists. He is not my favorite President, but I would not slip from criticism (with occasional agreement or even praise) to hatred. But for many Americans, the vitriol of the 2008 campaign just rolled on into hatred of the man in office.

I think there is a racial component to Obama hating, but I don't think it is the main issue. Every President before Obama inspired hatred, at times, among certain people. The more famous an American President is now, the easier it is to find out why he was hated. Jefferson was hated for being pro-French and an atheist. Jackson was hated by the East Coast establishment. Lincoln was hated by the South, and so on down the line. Liberals have hated Conservative Presidents, and Conservatives have hated Liberal Presidents.

Several Presidents have been hated to the point of being assassinated, and attempts have been made on many more.

The political parties, of course, have been responsible for the whipping up of hatred. The Democrats hated Reagan and Bush. The fury unleashed by Republicans at Bill and Hillary Clinton was probably not unprecedented, but odd given that liberal Democrats considered them to be too conservative. Nor was Hillary the first First Lady to be hated. Many prior first ladies had their detractors (notably Eleanor Roosevelt). It probably started with Martha Washington, but that I have not read about, so far.

The President I hated the most was Richard Nixon. He was the President of my teen years, when I started rebelling against authority. I volunteered to campaign for George McGovern in 1972 (something Hillary and I have in common). My college roommate and I clipped pictures of Nixon and recaptioned them in nasty ways and attached them to our dorm door.

Now I see Nixon differently. He was a war criminal, sure, but I doubt he would have committed war crimes if Lyndon Johnson hadn't started the Vietnamese War. He was conservative, sure, but he accepted most of the New Deal. By today's standards he was to the left of Bernie Sanders. As Vice-President in the 1950s he had done much to advance civil rights. I could criticize him all day long, but I can no longer hate him.

Some people are just filled with hate, a few may not hate at all, but most of us live in the gray zone. We learn, over time, that most people are complicated. We can hate one thing they do, and love another. We can even disagree, or strongly disagree, without hating.

I hope Hillary becomes President, but I expect her to be the most hated President ... since Obama. I don't think she hates anyone, though I suspect she is not fond of Republicans or right-wing radio. She is the only candidate still standing who thrives on understanding complexity. And it's a complex world, so we want a President who can make decisions, understanding that the results can be complicated and even unexpected.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Good Riddance, Justice Antonin Scalia

Justice Scalia was a neo-fascist who tried to destroy America

Antonin Scalia (1936-2016) died yesterday, and good riddance. Our nation would have been better off if he had never been appointed to the Supreme Court. Scalia did his best to insert fascist ideology into the American legal system and Constitution. He was dishonest, manipulative, and unpatriotic. I only wish he had died sooner, preferably hanged like the Nuremberg criminals whose ideas he promoted.

Scalia was of Italian descent, and was the first-Italian American on the Supreme Court. Too bad, because there were many Italian-Americans with American values who would have made better Supreme Court judges. [disclaimer: I am of one-fourth Italian descent]

I do think being raised a Roman Catholic had a lot to do with his moral degeneracy. Roman Catholicism is at the root of fascism and other authoritarian political trends. But I should point out that many American Roman Catholics traded in their Dark Ages values for American rationalism during the very era that Scalia slimed his way through. [disclaimer: I was raised Roman Catholic and attended Catholic schools through the eighth grade. I have long been a atheist with a positive, nature-centric philosophy.]

Scalia became a committed ultra-conservative Catholic while attending a Jesuit-run school in New York City as a teenager. Depending on how you look at it, he either was smart or just spent a lot of time memorizing Jesuit nonsense. He then attended a Roman Catholic college, Georgetown University. By the time he reached Harvard Law School he was so deeply entrenched in lies and casuistry that he never emerged from the black pit. Instead, he worked hard all his life to suck American down into that pit.

I will leave it to others to try to analyze what was in Antonin's genes or childhood experiences that turned him to the dark side. Nor can I take on his opinions in thousands of Supreme Court cases in a short essay. What I want to convey to readers is his general method of attempting to destroy the Constitution. Contrary to his many eulogizers today, he did not invent these methods. They were conveyed to him. He simply reinvigorated them.

Suppose someone said to you: the right to bear arms, when the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution, meant only the right to own muzzle-loading weapons requiring those who wish to fire them to dump some gunpowder and a bullet into the barrel each time.

Scalia, when it was convenient, promoted "originalism" and "textualism" for interpreting the Constitution. In this theory the words of the Constitution mean exactly what they say and cannot be interpreted in modern terms. They have to be interpreted the way George Washington and crew interpreted them.

Except when originalism and textualism where inconvenient to right-wing agendas, as with gun control laws, which he consistently ruled against.

This enabled Scalia to deny that women have rights other than the right to vote. He denied that Congress could create good laws and programs, unless they were specifically listed by in the Constitution. He even ruled that Congress cannot regulate campaign donations as part of its duty to regulate elections, because that is trumped by the right of wealth individuals, corporations, and labor unions to spend all they want on an election.

But originalism and textualism were a phony agenda, a means to an end. Scalia did not rule that guns using technology more modern than that of 1780 could be used only the the U.S. military and police forces. No, he even voted to overturn parts of the Brady Bill.

Scalia's real agenda was to push the nation towards an authoritarian, right wing, Christian (and evenually Roman Catholic) government. Perhaps with slight variations from the Pope Pius, Mussolini, Hitler, General Franco model. But certainly in the direction of the fascist model.

Some people say Scalia could be charming in person. People said the same thing about Mussolini and Hitler.

Scalia denied the reality of the Evolution of Species. He tried to force religious theology to be taught in public schools.

Scalia denied the rights of people to affirmative action. Affirmative Action is Justice, because it makes up for past injustice. But Scalia wanted to steer the nation towards ever increasing injustice.

Scalia was un-american. He was against democracy and human rights, including the right to the pursuit of happiness, instead of misery under a Pope. He wanted to push America into a purposefully ignorant society of obedient religious nutters.

Scalia was a liar and a scumbag in a black robe, which is pretty much what his Jesuit teachers were aiming for.

Within the Catholic Church Scalia refused to accept the move away from fascism known as Vatican II. While we may be unfortunate that he was ever appointed to the Supreme Court, and to some point he did manage to persuade people to find ways to interpret our Constitution in a fascist manner, we are lucky he was just one of nine.

More on Antonin Scalia by William P. Meyers: Impeach Antonin Scalia [June 28, 2012]

Friday, February 5, 2016

Bernie Sanders: Progressive, Socialist, or just Liberal?

Is Bernie Sanders a really a Socialist or just another Liberal?

I cannot point out too many times that people tend to see specific a word as representing a specific, real object. But we all have had the experience that one word can mean many things, and that specific things may have more than one name. Words of the day: socialist and progressive.

The Democratic Party Presidential debate in New Hampshire on February 4, 2016 provided lessons in both semantics and real politics. It was a long debate. Anyone who listened to it, or who reads the transcript, might reasonably select different points to emphasizing in reporting on it. Not surprisingly, Bernie advocates believe he won the debate, while Hillary advocates believe she won the debate.

I am not concerned with who "won" the debate. I am not registered in any political party, but I certainly have a political agenda. And I have priorities. I put the environment first, international peace and justice second, and American economic & legal justice third. But I have an opinion about just about every detail of politics, society and culture.

To me the debate was an important read on Bernie Sanders' foreign policy. Hillary Clinton is too hawkish for my taste, but of course she is much closer to mainstream sentiments than I am.

Bernie harps on Clinton's vote to attack Iraq (which was a war crime, if you use the Nuremberg criteria for war crimes). But Bernie's rabble rousing speeches always fail to mention his vote to attack Afghanistan (which was a war crime, if you use the Nuremberg criteria for war crimes). When pointed out, he changes the subject, as he did in the debate. When it is pointed out to his supporters, they usually go back to the Clinton Iraq vote.

In the debate there was a second part to the question. Both Hillary and Bernie were asked, by the moderators: what would you do about the U.S. troops currently in Iraq. Hillary gave a clear answer without hesitation: she would leave the troops there, subject to the situation changing. Bernie tried to evade answering, but when pinned down said, or I should say mumbled, that he would leave the troops there.

Bernie is also for fighting ISIS, preferably with other nation's armies. It is a hypocritical position for someone who claims he has been screaming for 50 years about American job losses. Isn't killing ISIS soldiers a paid job? Why should that skilled labor go to foreigners?

Forgive me if I wax sarcastic. It's the "I'm perfect," from Bernie, "He's perfect" from his chorus of followers chanting that has become irritating. But then I'm from California, in fact northern California, where a Bernie Bot seems to be lurking in every smoke-filled room. No, not tobacco.

In short, when pushed to comment, Bernie was just as hawkish as Hillary. Too hawkish for me.

I was surprised and pleased that Hillary finally started poking at Bernie's allegedly perfect Progressive credentials. I think earlier in the campaign she and her advisors assumed she would beat Bernie easily. She did not want to alienate his followers, as she will need their support in November. But his follows drank his kool-aid, not knowing, as he himself remembers, what a bad little boy he has been these past thirty years.

Hillary pointed out that he voted to deregulate derivatives. Bernie did not deny it, he just went on to change the subject. Bernie Bots would be all over Hillary if she did something like that. They would claim it is proof that she is just a pawn for Goldman Sachs. But in all the commentary I've read today (admittedly just a fraction of what there is), I have seen no Bernie Bot criticizing Bernie for that vote. Maybe Bernie Bots don't know what a financial derivative is.

The Democratic Party is no home for Socialists. I would say the Democratic Party is socialist-influenced. Sanders bought the socialist line in college (so did I). Now, in his dotage, apparently doing something about it is on his bucket list. Great. Do something about it, if you can. I personally favor mixed systems, though I would probably argue about what specifically should be socialized and what should be left to free markets. Also I favor worker ownership of business, not the centralized government bureaucratic ownership of business that Sanders favors. Though I might make an exception in some cases, like localities owning their own utility companies.

So hurray for Bernie, but I've had enough of old white socialist male domination in my lifetime (most of my friends were fellow leftist activists). I'd like to try old white female liberal domination for 4 years, especially since the alternative is Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio.

I have watched a lot of bullying done by Bernie supporters both on the Internet and in my local area. At the comments section of the New York Times, for instance, you would think 98% of the Democratic Party voters favor Bernie. I've found that if I even hint to many voters around here that Hillary might be the better candidate, suddenly they want to talk. The rabidness of the Bernie Bullies is not something they can turn off. Most people need that personality defect to maintain a leftist stance in America. But bullying does not a Democracy make.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Nazi Party Before Adolf Hitler

"Hitler is a good Catholic." — Rudolf Hess, May 17, 1921

Adolf Hitler became "Party Comrade No. 55" in the fall of 1919 in the city of Munich in province of Bavaria in Germany. The Armistice that had ended World War I had been signed on November 11, 1918, while Hitler was in a hospital, recovering from poison gas used by the Allies against German soldiers. If you no anything about history at all, you probably know that Hitler went on to become the Chancellor of Germany and is generally considered the baddest of bad guys of the 20th century.

The party that Hitler joined, and quickly became the leader of, was not yet known as the Nazi Party. It was the German Workers Party (Deutsche Arbeiter Partei or DAP). At that time its members were all in Munich. The DAP was part of a broader trend of mostly small parties and clubs that were trying to combine nationalism with socialism. This trend was a spontaneous response to the combination of national sentiment with socialist thinking that was global in scope. The main line of development that led to the DAP originated in Austria, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the empire broke up at the end of World War I.

In Austria Roman Catholicism was the only legal religion. "In the face of the dual threat posed by socialism and capitalism, the Christian Social Party succeeded in attracting workers, shopkeepers, and white collar workers with national-social and anti-semitic catchphrases." [Bracher p. 51]

By origin Adolf Hitler was Austrian, not German. Yet the dividing line between Austria and Germany was an artificial consequence of politics. Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, on the Bavarian-Austrian border. The Austrian Empire had many ethnic groups, but the key rivalry that led to national socialist ideology was between ethnic Germans and ethnic Czechs. Despite the Marxist idea that class divisions were more important than ethnic divisions, within the Empire many labor unions ending up splitting along ethnic lines. Union workers wanted a party that fought the capitalist bosses, but they did not want to work with other ethnic groups.

The Roman Catholic Church contributed three critical components to the national socialist mix: anti-Semitism, the leadership principle, and corporatism. It should be noted that is was not the only source of these practices. Leninism, in particular, contributed strongly to the idea that an authoritarian party organization was necessary to seize power.

People and ideas moved freely from the German ethnic areas of the Austrian Empire to Bavaria. The first German Workers Party had been founded in Bohemia in 1904, but was centered in Linz, where Adolf Hitler went to school. As a young adult Hitler lived in Vienna (painting postcards but mostly living off money sent by his family) and read pamphlets written by German nationalist-socialist and Catholic anti-semitic groups, but did not join any.

The Bavarian version of the German Workers Party, or DAP, was founded at a conference held between January 2 and 5, 1919, at the Furstenfelder Hof. The founders were Anton Drexler and twenty-five of his coworkers from his railroad shop. At the time Munich had just passed through an attempted seizure of power by leftists that had been put down by the German military, police, and their right-wing allies. The DAP was just one of many such groups and conspiracies.

Hitler was in the employ of the military when he first contacted the DAP. Essentially, he was their military liaison. He was 30 years old. He already was anti-semitic, a German nationalist, and anti-capitalist, though he had never been a worker receiving a wage from a capitalist boss. As an soldier he was angry at Germany's loss of the war. The signing of the peace treaty at Versailles on June 28, 1919 gave a strong impetus to all right-wing groups in Germany. It was grossly unfair to Germany and did not keep the promises U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made to induce Germany to stop fighting. [Wilson tried to keep his promises, but was overruled by the British and French Empires.]

Within a few months Hitler became the most important person in the DAP, mainly because he devoted himself to it full time, whereas Drexler continued to work at the railroad shop. Hitler focused his recruiting on former soldiers, rather than the factory workers the DAP had been founded on.

On February 24, 1920, the Party had its first mass meeting. There Hitler introduced a new name, the National Socialist German Workers Party, or NSDAP, which connected it ideologically to nationalist socialist groups in Austria. He also introduced the revised party program of 25 points.

When thinking about the Nazis and World War II, there is a critical point that is always left out of the American and Vatican propaganda versions of Nazi history. It is best to just quote the point, number 24: "The Party as such advocates the standpoint of positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination."

Apologists for the Catholic Church later tried to (and still try to) use the adjective "positive" to deny that the Nazi party, like the Italian, French, Austrian, Polish and Spanish fascist parties, was aligned with the Roman Catholic Church. Hitler, an astute politician, talked almost constantly. By selecting carefully, a propagandist can make him sound like an atheist, a good Roman Catholic, or a pagan.

It was ultimately the Pope and the German military that together selected Hitler to be Chancellor of Germany. The explicitly Roman Catholic parliamentary party in Germany confirmed that selection.

Hitler was not just the head of the National Socialists in Germany. The National Socialists of Austria quickly accepted him as their leader as well. The Austrian national socialists were almost exclusively good Roman Catholics. The Austrian Roman Catholic Church was particularly anti-semitic.

The most reasonable interpretation of the phrase "without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination" was to leave room to recruit Lutherans, not just Catholics. In Bavaria almost everyone (except leftist atheists) was a Catholic. But Hitler wanted to rule Germany, which was majority Lutheran. Not a particular problem for Hitler, since Lutherans had been anti-semitic going back to Martin Luther himself.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Immigration Amnesty is Racist, Sexist, Classist and destructive to the environment

There is a lot of talk about immigration right now. It is a teaching moment. Political candidates who want to be President are talking a lot of nonsense.

Start with the basic facts:

The U.S. is overpopulated and creates more ecological destruction per human than any other country on earth (yes, including China).

The economy can not be expanded infinitely.

There has been growing economic inequality.

Immigration amnesties lead to further illegal immigration.

Illegal immigrants mostly compete for the lowest paying jobs. Even legal immigrants tend to compete for entry level jobs, though some are wealthy or educated enough to join the upper class or upple middle class as soon as they get here.

Who else competes for the lowest paying jobs in America? High-school dropouts, and even graduates, of course. That means mainly children of people who themselves are marginally employed or work regularly, but for low wages. Working class and welfare class women. And, disproportionately, people who have traditionally been discriminated against, including African-Americans, American Indians, etc.

The people who advocate for immigration amnesty, and hence for unlimited future immigration to the U.S., are well-intended. They see it as a human rights issue.

And there are long-term benefits to immigration for the economy. More people means more demand and more workers, and so more GDP. Legalized immigrants can better match their talents to the job markets. That is why the Republican establishment used to lead in advocating for more immigration, including immigration amnesty. That is why the largest single amnesty was put in place in 1986 under President Ronald Reagan.

The immediate impact of new immigrants, whether legal or illegal, is pressure on those jobs that require little skill to perform. They are often hard jobs. This includes childcare, cleaning services, and unskilled physical labor. These are exactly the jobs that unskilled citizens, including poor white, black, and hispanic citizens also want. The competition for these jobs pushes down wages, often to below the official minimum wages. It makes finding full time work difficult, except perhaps during brief economic booms. It makes it even harder for families that have been in the United States for generations to accumulate the resources necessary to climb out of the bottom of the working class.

That is why labor unions, otherwise pretty liberal and supporters of the Democratic Party, have traditionally been for minimal immigration.

The effect on the U.S. and global environment is also negative. Most illegal immigrants come here because they are greedy and want to have a higher standard of living than they would have in their native nation. To the extent they achieve that they are using more energy and other natural resources. They are generating more greenhouse gasses, and they are speeding up global warming.

In an ideal world the idea that "all men are created equal" might mean that men and women could move freely, to live wherever they want. We don't live in an ideal world. We live on a dying earth where most nations are already populated beyond what is sustainable. That is particularly true of the United States.

What we really need is a one-child policy in the United States. Mexico needs a one-child policy. So does Canada. So does nearly every nation on earth.

So what is wrong with my dear liberal and leftist friends? They are mostly herd animals, and they are not much for thinking for themselves. They "buy" a package of positions on issues that make them feel good about themselves. They want an environmentalist merit badge and a human rights merit badge. On many issues those badges are quite compatible.

But not for immigration. Increasing immigration and anything that encourages illegal immigration are positions that have practical consquences. They help rich white employers and bankers. They hurt working class men and women, and disproportionately hurt black workers. And they hurt the environment.

Congress should change the immigration law to allow in a number of immigrants each year that will not have a negative impact on employment for unskilled citizens. Congress should not grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hillary Clinton v. Bernie Sanders: Who can put a chicken in your pot?

"A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in every Garage?" [Herbert Hoover campaign, 1928]

The Republican Party candidate of 1928 had good intentions. Herbert Hoover was a mining engineer best known for organizing the civilian food relief efforts for Europe during and after World War I. He had a reputation for honesty, which was important given the scandal-ridden administrations of the Roaring Twenties.

His campaign slogan was "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." Cars were still somewhat new and many people did not own one. Having a meat dish once a week was also still beyond many American families. This was despite the generally upbeat economy of the 1920s.

We all know how that worked out. In 1929 Herbert became President Hoover, and late in 1929 the stock market crashed. Then the economy crashed. Then the banks crashed. Then we had the New Deal, but the economy did not really recover until 1939, when war in Europe created demand that got America's factories rolling again. By 1946 most of the world's factories outside the U.S. had been destroyed, insuring American economic prosperity and dominance for decades to follow.

Now Democrats are being asked to choose between Bernie Sanders, a career politician from Vermont, and Hillary Clinton, who needs no introduction. [Links are to their campaign web sites, in case you don't already get as many email solicitations for donations as you would like]

Today most Americans can afford a chicken once a week, even if they are using Food Stamps. Most Americans who need a car have a car.

But the idea stands: everyone wants more. The welfare people want more welfare, the workers want higher pay, the middle class business people want more than they have, right on up to the highly discontented billionaire class.

But let's just worry about the lower middle class on down, the small business owners and assistant managers, lower ranking professionals and bureaucrats, the hourly workers, freelancers, and the economically marginal.

Lets call whatever Hillary and Bernie are promising a chicken. Who is most likely to put a chicken in your pot?

Consider that the Republican candidates have an ancient recipe for boiled chicken: lower taxes and lower services. A proven recipe for some people having billions of chickens and some having none.

Whoever is President, whether it is Hillary or Bernie (or O'Malley or a new face), will face a Congress that has plenty of Republicans in it.

That chicken will have to be fought over. So, who do you want fighting for your chicken?

Right now the left wing of the Democratic Party clearly wants Bernie. His campaign speeches promise much. He promises to tax the rich to pay for everything. But when you look at his record as a politician, it is almost devoid of accomplishments. He mostly boasts of voting against things he does not like.

If Bernie is President he will try to wrestle the whole chicken from the Republicans.

Hillary, on the other hand, will give the wrestling match some thought. She we get as much chicken for us as she can. Maybe half the chicken, maybe most of the chicken, maybe just a leg. But if Hillary is elected, we will at least get some chicken.

Bernie won't get us so much as a feather. What he will be best at is criticizing Hillary for not getting the whole chicken.

That is why he is so appealing to angry leftists. They've been living on anger so long, they've forgotten what chicken tastes like.