Friday, January 18, 2019

Alger Hiss and World Peace

First, Hiss is not to be confused with Jerry Voorhis, as I have heard some people do.  Voorhis, who Nixon defeated in a red baiting campaign for Congress, was the deepest left of the New Dealer social democrats in Congress, pushing for free heathcare and education for all citizens.  But outside Nixon's '48 campaign--which was organized by infamous spymaster Allen Dulles and aided by a list of the big corporate names to sink the New Deal--no one has accused Voorhis with being a spy for Russia or even a Communist.  Voorhis congratulated Nixon on his victory and was often called on later by Congress and the news media.  His major work afterwards was with the "Cooperative" movement (agricultural coops), and as he had started and later donated a school at the site, is now considered the Father of Cal Poly Pomona.

Alger Hiss was a visonary in the FDR State Department who was pushing for peace with Russia under the terms of the Yalta agreement (which granted a Russian sphere of influence, while also permitting other spheres of influence for the allies).  This was also FDR's plan--no Cold War or resumption of hostility toward USSR as had been common since 1917.

But Hiss was accused and ultimately convicted of perjury in 1950 related to his denials he had been a spy for USSR.  This came after he unsuccessfully tried to sue Whittaker Chambers--a former gay lover--over defamation after Chambers claimed he and Hiss had been spies for USSR.  Chambers--as a cooperating government witness--was never charged with a crime.  Chambers had first fingered Hiss at the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Hiss's conviction was touted by Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy as proof of their claims that Communists had infiltrated the US government.

The case was controversial at the time and remains controversial to this day.  Hiss served three years and 8 months in federal prison then lived until 1996, outliving McCarthy, Chambers, Dulles, and Nixon.

After Hiss's conviction, Chambers became a star of the rising Movement Conservatism until his death in 1960, aided by the fact that his sexual orientation--which might offend movement conservatives--never became public during his life and remains relatively unknown.  Reagan awarded Chambers a Medal of Freedom posthumously.

Finally, the Cold Warriors seemed to have their day with the release of the Venona files (decrypted Russian messages in the possession of the NSA) in the 1990's. To some, these seemed to prove that Hiss was the spy as charged.

This article written in 2008 shows that the Venona papers show no such thing, and the double agent with code name ALES was actually another State Department employee Wilder Foote.

I would agree with my friend who has not yet stopped claiming that the Venona files seal the deal in this sense--this shouldn't matter to our understanding of what the right thing is now.

We both agree that right thing now is peace with Russia and all other nations, and shedding the "World Policeman" claim (actually it's been more like global thug).

I would go further and say that Hiss and FDR were right about this in 1945 as well, and this would be true even if Hiss had been a double agent*.  The case is made splendidly by The Untold History of the USA by Oliver Stone.  But this is a matter of only historical interest today.

Peace is step one to a better world.

And, to clarify, peace doesn't mean bombing the rest of the world into submission first, as we have long claimed necessary.  Peace means immediate cessation of all hostile actions and threats and full withdrawal of all foreign bases and redefining the mission of the military as defense of US territory alone.  Furthermore the de-weaponization and de-militarization of the USA and putting our people to work on the now crucial conversion to renewable energy and other sustainable practices.

(*Following a logically necessary but often ignored-by-partisans-and-idiots principle that the truth of a statement is a property of the statement itself and not necessarily that of a person who says it--who is in any case only one such person.  So otherwise good people may say untrue things for various reasons, and bad people may coincidentally say true things--perhaps in the process of trying to blend in with others who think that and control them.  Most certainly the real spy in the State Department echoed the ideas those around him.  Rather than directly attacking the popular New Deal and other social democratic messages, Movement Conservatives would smear the messenger as "Communist"--a term they made synonomous with traitor-for-the-Soviets--with little or no evidence.  This is further evidence of their corruption--which has helped corrupt reason and logic and politics in the USA ever since.)




Saturday, January 12, 2019

Free Will

To some, the subjectivists, Free Will is the most fundamental thing there is.

To illusionists, from William James to myself, it's an illusion, a story told after-the-fact.  Our conscious self is precisely this storyteller.  It's not a person-within-the-person in a grand theater pulling levers.  That notion is a meaningless recursion anyway.  If the person can't be explained, how can the person-within-the-person.  It's simply deferring the question.  If there is "Free Will", then how does a study of psychology even make sense?  I am a "caused thing."  How could it be otherwise?  Only by some magic, say, a God who "created" my "soul."  The reality is that while I myself have been caused, I then proceed to marginally cause whatever soul I have, if that concept even makes sense (which I think it does, in this sense, and to which a concept like justice or karma can be applied) through my own actions, which are the produce of a complex process only partly involving conscious choice as reflected back at the ultimate subconscious parts.  The caused me I don't know is the real me, but that real me knows the one I hear as the "free" me as one of it's many caused facets.

Taken apart, the subjectivist version makes not sense and is entirely impossible, objectively speaking.

Are you arguing your genes and the totality of your intake and experience from the time of your birth to the present moment have nothing to do with your actions?  If there is something else, what possible system of mass and energy engages it?

It is possible there a never-to-be explained factor.  But that proves nothing.  In many situations that can be shown to be quite small.  Is "Free Will" somehow tightly partitioned in some cases?

If there is something like randomness in human behavior, that sliver can hardly be equated with the grandious "Free Will."

Anyway, this is also one of the fundamental hypocracies of capitalism, the claim that preferences are somehow "endogenous."  That's to make you feel good about what's being done to you.

Meanwhile, ,gazillions are spent on direct and indirect advertising to make your opinion.  The indirect part is the very operation of the media companies themselves--dependent on advertising revenues they are always subservient to that, and the need to gin up more conflict to cover.

Somehow, in my experience, I learned the importance of critical analysis.  But that is simply one earlier experience that has had a relatively lasting effect, combined with various idosyncracies in my genes that makes me tend toward contrarianism rather than conformity.




Fast Cars

I'm still wondering what decent Electric Vehicle (EV) I'll be able to buy to replace my 2006 Prius before too long.

I have long been hoping that an EV would be my next car.  My dreams became hopes when I learned of the Tesla Roadster about 10 years ago.  Previously, we had been told that EV's with ranges up to 300 miles might require decades of technological development.  Now it's clear that was Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt probably spread by major automakers and their oil company owners and friends.

Tesla was in my hopes for a long time.  The Model S looked beautiful.  But it was way too big for my very small garage (which just fits the Prius--68 inches wide--neatly, and almost no more room to squeeze in anything wider).

Then the promised Tesla Model 3 sounded like it would be the car for me.  I put a deposit on one.  But when details emerged, they were wrong in 3 very important ways.  First, it is 10 inches wider than my Prius which already is hard to get into the garage.  Second, I don't like and fear for the safety aspects of the missing displays and controls in front of the driver, since all the controls and displays have been moved to a center tablet device.  Third, the rear window is very high, making for poor rear visibility.  I canceled my deposit.

The Chevy Bolt is small enough.  But by many reports, it has one key defect: uncomfortable thin seats.  I'm a bit overweight and demand thick comfortable seats.   I added my name to a letter to GM complaining about this.  Some were hoping for the Buick version of the Bolt to fix this issue.  But Buick has put off marketing EV's for several years, and now it looks like the best EV's from GM will be from Cadillac. Well, that's nice, but I'm not sure I can wait that long.  I'd also be very interested in an EV from Toyota.  But Toyota has been waging war on EV's by dissing the technology and promoting and making Hydrogen Cars instead for quite awhile, finally giving in to EV's only recently, and Toyota EV's may now be several years off, and I probably can't wait that long either.  Toyota is just another automaker with ties to oil companies, and the oil companies desperately want to hold on to the "filling station" model from which their business derives.  Hydrogen would do that, and that's the key reason why this impossible and useless technology was pushed for so long.  Elon Musk was right that an outsider was needed to challenge this corrupt industry and its years of misinformation.

I had been hoping to replace my Prius with an EV before my it was 10 years old.  Now it's 12, going on 13, and it looks like I may have to keep it running as long as possible until SOMEBODY introduces a suitable EV.

The Nissan Leaf, even in 2019, still has insufficient range.  Range must be higher than 200 miles to feel comfortable traveling to nearby cities.  Also many have noted that the air cooling in the Leaf batteries isn't as good as other automakers.  They use air cooling, and there have been issues in Arizona.  Sadly, Nissan didn't change this in 2019 when moving to more industry-standard batteries.  They added another fan to their air cooling system.

Now it's looking like Hyundai/Kia may be coming to the rescue with a number of EV's.  They have the Kia Niro and the Hyundai Kona.  Those sound good and one or one of those might fit my garage. Hyundai/Kia have established a record of satisfaction and reliability second ONLY to Toyota.  Plus they still give a good warranty.  (Width of both is 71 inches.  I might be able to deal with that.)

Unlikely source Car and Driver Magazine...gasp I used to subscribe to them once despite their being a global heating shill--but I like their critical style...shares my enthusiasm for the Hyundai Kona.

I miss the glamour and coolness and many features and aspects of the Tesla for sure.  (I don't miss the minimalism, which curiously don't apply to the ever featuring software.)  But one thing I don't particularly miss is one thing that stands out in the minds of many people.  The speed and incredibly quick acceleration.  In my opinion, that is overrated, unnecessary, and dangerous.  It seemed juvenile and jerky for Musk to develop and emphasize that so much.

It has always seemed to me that incredibly fast cars are inherently dangerous, and "high horsepower" is an unnecessary waste.  So, it shocked me when I started reading reviews in Consumer Reports that seemed to think it was highly desireable to have fast acceleration, which I'd define as reaching 60 mph in less than 10 seconds (with Tesla pushing for less than half of that).  I still think this was a sell-out on their part.  Where is the research that shows faster cars are safer in actual driving histories???  I'd bet insurance companies see it differently.

It seems to me that if everyone had slower accelerating cars, we'd all adjust to it, and all be safer overall.  The problem is not that some cars aren't fast enough, the problem is that some cars are too much faster than others.

Long used to the slower sorts of cars, I have somewhat feared getting behind the pedals of a Tesla.  When I'm in a pinch that needs acceleration, my impulse is to floor it and then concentrate on the movements.  These would probably be the wrong instincts for a fast car.

So, among other things, I hope Tesla and it's success don't kick off a new round in the "horsepower wars."  We were fine with cars with "sufficient" power, or even "adequate."

I think acceleration should be limited, say, to something like 0-60mph in 6 seconds.



Sunday, December 2, 2018

Politics

Taking a look at an English electoral map of the 1700's.  Very much like today, the Conservative heartland is the countryside, liberals of all stripes dominate the cities.

While "bicostal" is the claim of many Republicans about Democrats, the most recent map returns to the English 1700's form.*

James Madison had to be aware of this when he engineered the Electoral College, in a manner favoring the votes in less densely populated areas.  So he was aware than in addition to simply restraining the vicisitudes of popular democracy, it would be applying a conservative bias.

Contrary to the claims of many who hold it, that conservative bias favors established power, primarily, the rich, and their agents and successors.  James Madison trusted these guys (including himself) to have the best judgement.

As Noam Chomsky has said with a preceding take on Madison's work, Madison is rolling in his grave now.

(*This is partly because of gerrymandering, which has contained Democrats in their strongholds with impressive majorities, while elsewhere they are just shy of breaking through.  Going back to 2006, there were "splotches" of blue around the country, including but less limited to cities.  Gerrymandering has made impressive progress since then.  The best solution would be popular vote Presidential elections, and statewide proportional representation, both of which I've long favored, but don't waste any time campaigning for.  The current system is totally biased against any such change.  A revolution or solid left ownership of the polls would be required to attain it, attempts to do so by agreement notwithstanding.)

Chomsky also explained the conservative ownership of the State level.  At the State level, which most people don't pay as much attention to, the dominance of power and wealth is even greater, and in fact national wealth can gang up on state politics to help keep it that way.

Only in rare cases can states actually be progressive leaders, and even then it's been of limited success.

A national popular vote would be among the more politically liberating things.  Escaping from one key dysfunctional part of the Madisonian prison.


*****

The most assured way to sainthood in US political discourse is as war criminal.  All sins will eventually (or much sooner than that) be forgotten in vast honorarium, so long as the individual has kept up their faith in empire forever!

I will sanctify anyone able to replace the oligarchic extractionist exploitationist enforcerist imperial state with a universalist (universal economic rights including healthcare education and housing and work) green (massive public investment in green energy and transportation--with retained public ownership) participationist (let people handle their own affairs, especially in foreign countries, including all things that affect them such as their workplaces) society.




Monday, October 22, 2018

Your Papers Please!

The new push to redefine sexuality as strictly conforming to DNA or organs at birth, is another chapter in the reactionary drive to supress human agency.  All the better to conform to the needs of power, as always, by fully encircling intimidation.

It's a further abomination because "rights" such as Title IX are exactly where the most universal protection is applicable and needed.  Like gays, transgender people have been around since forever, and had long needed protection from small minded guardians of virtue.

The actual areas where DNA or birth organ identification is necessary, in medicine or scientific reasearch, do not need heavy handed federal "definitions."


Saturday, October 6, 2018

It's Done

This has to be a pivotal moment for respect for the Madisonian institutions, notably the US Senate and Supreme Court.

Not that I've had any respect for them in a long time, and had I known the whole history when I was younger, I would never have had any respect.  All these institutions were designed to supress real democracy by defusing it, and to guarantee the continuation of slavery.  When slavery was defeated, these same institutions worked amazingly well to protect wage slavery of varying degrees of oppressiveness.

The ONLY progressive Court in US history was the Warren Court, 1954-1969.*  Not surprisingly, that conincided with a golden age, in which the US may have been among the world's most progressive, socially and economically, domestically at least.  The progress during those years was enormous.  Segregation was ended, voting rights extended, and widescale poverty eradicated on an unprecidented scale...with the poverty rate reaching the lowest before and since.

Not that there weren't other factors...much was enabled by New Deal politicians and programs from 1932-1974.

These were all getting unfair abuse by the early 1970's.  You can almost pin the ultimate downturn to either the end of the Warren Court, or a particular decision regarding campaign finance in the early 70's, or virtually any major decision in the immediate post-Warren era, as the beginning of the free fall in social health we are experiencing today.

NOW, there are some positive signs, such as the once again acceptance, especially among younger people, of the word socialism.

Social Democracy was the essence of the New Deal era, and if we could merely get back to that level it would be huge social progress from where we are now.

And if we ever get the kind of majorities in Congress that Democrats had in the New Deal era, for real social democrats and not the usual quislings, we could impeach all the sanctimoneous corporate hack Justices on the Court, and start with all new progressives.

However, given the Madisonian design, increasing plutocracy and oligarchic control, the reverse may be more likely.

Vote!  But don't hold your breath.  Much more may be required now.



Friday, October 5, 2018

Kavanaugh

Kavinaugh was George W's Attorney, involved in the legalization of torture, and the coverup and defense of universal government surveillance.  And that's before 2006 before he was appointed to DC district circuit court, where's he's written a tirade of anti human decisions.  Because of that, "religious" conservative leaders like Pat Robertson have been demanding that he be appointed, and denouncing the "weak kneed" Republicans (who, to us, seem more like the scorched earth variety) in comparison with "fascist" Democrats.

He's provably perjured himself before Congress on this occasion and previous, talking about government wiretapping programs.

He shows intemperance and partisanship denounced by his Republican Predecessor, John Paul Stevens, who unusually is stepping down while still alive, and over by 2400 law professors. and by a leading Jesuit magazine (I haven't been able to figure out if his congregation is Jesuit), not to mention the National Council of Churches, and ACLU--who says they rarely take such positions.

Along with angry partisanship, he shows conspiratorialism-without-evidence to denounce his accusers, to evade answering questions.  These denunciations are picked up as gospel truth in the right wing-o-sphere, making him the ultimate partisan figure.

He was in his own words a puking drunk in his college years (which he lies about now) and apparently back to his high school years, and reportedly and believably committed a number of sexually agressive acts.  He refuses to accept responsibility and apologize for these acts, instead contributing toward further demonization and harassment of the victims.  He provably lied about many things in the hearings in these regards.  Not admitting any fault in the past, he continues to drink today and praises the activity, like a good shill for the Beer industry.  (By some accounts, there was far more than beer involved on some occasions in his past, especially hard liquor, and even 'Ludes--the drug ubiquitously used in sexual exploitation.)

Here are some of the best links:










Joe Laurie above at Consortium News is as good as always...but if you want to see more far right wing responses as ever in the comment section.

Ray McGovern below writes about Jesuit high school from personal experience and understanding, this is the article I originally promised though I feel the articles above have more important info.



Kavanaugh's appointment unifies (and discredits) the so-called #Resist Geroge W, who campaigned heavily for him, reportedly even more effectively than Trump.

People misunderstand the Deep State and what has really gone one.

The Deep State was at best agnostic about the election of Trump.  If not, he would have been shot down in the media earlier, instead of given endless breathless coverage.

WHAT THEY wanted to ensure, was continued war with Russia, despite Trumps self-reported desire to be more friendly with Russia.

THATS what the Russiagate nonsense perpetrated by the Deep State (since the leaking of Hillary emails, Hillary then being at the very center of the Deep State) was all about maintaining war on Russia, not about destroying Trump.  It could even be claimed that Hillary had decided to lose to Trump, by some of her bad decisions.  If the deep state had really wanted to, it could have destroyed Trump at any phase.  Instead, he had an active support wing within the Deep State.  But also, the collective push of the Deep State is always toward war and cold war, in this case, with Russia.

Well, Kavanaugh is part of this grand union between the Deep State and Trump.  So now the trolls have in my experience let loose in mass on many websites, denoucing all criticism of Kavanaugh.

These trolls actually come from the Deep State itself, perhaps some private power center.  They are most likely the biggest manufacturer of trolls.  The Russian troll influence, according to Robert Parry, was negligible in 2016..