Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

On Wrecking a Few Popular Delusions of Jingoists in USA: Dec 2, 2016

December 2, 2016 1 comment

A couple of comments to a recent post of mine made me write up this one to address and wreck some popular delusions concerning the real-life power of USA. As many regular readers know, my analysis of events is based in objectively measurable reality as opposed to parroting “conventional wisdom” or deferring to “credentialed experts”. My dislike and distrust for what passes as “wisdom” and “expertise” is based on witnessing many instances (in multiple areas of human endeavor) where they turned out to be disastrously and systemically incorrect. My prediction that Trump would win the republican nomination and presidency almost a year before those events occurred is one recent example where my detached objective analysis beat the predictions of pretty much every single highly-paid ‘journalist’ and ‘pundit’ in the main-stream media.

But enough of that. Let me now address some of the popular delusions (and talking points) of people who believe that the USA is a far more powerful country than objective evidence suggests.

While it is unlikely that “Not Born This Morning” is an especially strong believer in the power or competence of USA, as a country or as a military power, one of his comments contained a talking point that is quite popular among jingoists trying to rationalize the many unsuccessful and disastrous armed interventions by USA in other countries since WW2.

Many, many, many more Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Afghan, were shot, burned, bombed, slaughtered in various ways by the same race that committed genocide on “American” soil less than 200 years ago. So, who really “got their asses kicked”. Unfortunately, the popo will be very well supported by those who have driven Smith & Wesson and Rugers (and others) stock up about 1000% during the past 8 years.

As I mentioned in my reply to that particular comment, the relative number of casualties are irrelevant as long as they do not affect the final outcome of that war. Victory or defeat is almost exclusively determined by who prevailed once it was all over. So, USA lost the Vietnam war because the then North-Vietnamese state was still around after the USA left South-Vietnam. Even more humiliatingly, North- Vietnam then went on to defeat South-Vietnam a few years later resulting in their unification. In other words, all the american lives lost and hundreds of billions spent on fighting that war did not change the final outcome- and were thus spent in vain. Vietnam won and the USA lost..

The Iraq war(2003-2010?) and Afghanistan war (2001-present?) are two more contemporary examples of how the USA lost wars that it was supposed to win. In both cases, initially successful military occupations quickly degenerated into prolonged and bloody decentralized insurgencies that made USA basically pack up and leave in one country (Iraq) and quietly scale down to pave the way for an “honorable exit” in the other (Afghanistan). We can certainly talk about the number of dead on each side, but that does not change the outcome of either war. In both cases, the USA was unable to prevail over persistent and decentralized insurgencies. Perhaps more importantly, it was unable to prevail despite having far more money, weapons and technological resources than its adversaries.

I subsequently came across another common talking point of jingoists- this time from a commentator named “Yusef”. He wrote the following:

If U.S. objectives in Vietnam are understood regionally, it is possible to argue the U.S. did prevail. Most of the region, for example Indonesia, was just as ripe for Communism as Vietnam, yet never fell to Communism, even when the established regime was toppled in what appeared at the time to be a leftist coup. A lot of these other S.E. Asian countries are more geopolitically important to the U.S. than Vietnam, and some of them are very oil rich. Vietnam did suffer terribly and suffers to this day…Anyone but a crazed fanatic would look at the example of Vietnam and wish to avoid it at nearly all cost.

One of the more popular delusion among the jingoists is that the actions of USA, even when not successful, are part of some “clever” overall strategy. In the aftermath of their defeat in Vietnam, many “public intellectuals” in USA tried to pass of their failure as example of success. They made the claim that war in Vietnam somehow stopped the progress of communism in SE Asia. But is that claim even realistic let alone true? Well.. it is (like many other claims by “public intellectuals” in USA, total bullshit. Here is why..

Even at the height of its power and influence, state communism as an ideology was never exactly popular outside Russia. It is no secret that most east-European countries who were part of the ‘Eastern Block’ and Comecon had no great love for, or belief, in state communism. Leaders in China largely used state communism only as far it allowed them to receive assistance from Russia during the 1950s and facilitated mass murder of dissidents during the cultural revolution in the 1960s. The ostensibly communist movements in South-East (and East) Asia have an even weaker link to state communism. Indeed, it is fair to say that all those supposedly communist movements in Asia were actually anti-colonial and nationalistic movements. Their connection to state communism was largely a consequence of being supported by Russia and to some extent China and fighting against their erstwhile west-european colonizers and a USA that wanted to recolonize them.

The idea that USA entered and fought the Vietnam war as part of a grander strategic move against the spread of communism is therefore an ex post facto myth concocted once it became clear that they could not win that war easily in the mid-1960s. It also helped see that disastrous war to a fairly gullible audience at home- at least till 1968. There was never any worthwhile possibility for state communism to spread in South-East Asia- and they knew it. Post-colonial political movements in other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines etc were always about establishing self-rule, enriching local elites and promoting dominant ethnic groups in those countries. As many of you know, a majority of those countries (even the ones on good terms with USA) also experienced a series of internal ethnic strifes and violent government changes during that time. Also many of those countries ended up implementing fairly socialistic policies for members of their dominant ethnicity.

To put it another way, the participation of USA in Vietnam war had no worthwhile influence on the trajectory, policies and governing style of other populous countries in that region. Those countries, if anything, used the american obsession with stopping communism to obtain favorable loans, industrial investments and other favors from USA. I could make a far better case for countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines using the USA to get what they wanted than the other way around. The belief in USA that they somehow stopped communism in South_east Asia by fighting the Vietnam war is therefore something the establishment in that country must tell itself to avoid confronting that it fought an unnecessary expensive war and then lost it to a bunch of people who were seen as racially inferior to them.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Initial Thoughts on the Likely Trajectory of a Trump Presidency: 1

November 19, 2016 7 comments

In a previous post from another series, I had written about how my predictions about Trump winning the republican nomination and presidency came true. Many of these predictions, found in older posts, were made many months before those events occurred and more importantly before all those so-called “experts” even considered the possibility of said events occurring. I was also able to predict that HRC would lose because of a serious lack of enthusiasm among the ‘obama coalition of voters’ that made both his presidential victories possible.

As some of you are aware, many “pundits” and “experts” are now busy concocting ever more complicated explanations for Trump’s “unexpected” victory in the 2016 presidential election. These range from the semi-plausible such as a reaction to prolonged socio-economic stress to fanciful ones involving the russian government. Not to be outdone by credentialed bullshit artists of the establishment, many of the right and alt-right are also spinning their own fanciful explanations for Trump’s victory. These range from the wishful such as a resurgence of white power to the bizarre which see Trump as some sort of genius at “persuasion”.

My explanation for the rise of Trump, as documented in a previous series of posts, is not particularly fashionable or gratifying. Instead, it explains the rise of Trump (and similar people around the world) as an almost inevitable consequence of rapidly declining nation states filled with mostly less-than-human people and run by a sheltered and incompetent elite who cannot visualize of world that is not neoliberal. In other words, the rise of Trump and similar “leaders” is as inevitable as a rash of large forest fires during especially dry years in California . My point is that, the rise of people like him is a symptom of serious systemic problems rather than a temporary disturbance in otherwise functional systems.

Having said that, I will now make some initial predictions about the likely trajectory of a Trump presidency. But before I do so, here are two caveats. Firstly, I am assuming that the next four years won’t see any unpredictable and extremely significant events such as imminent comet strikes, super-volcano eruptions or something along those lines. Secondly, I am assuming that the american populace does not suddenly attain wisdom and enlightenment. Personally, I am far more certain about the second caveat holding true than the first one.. but that is just me.

1] Trump’s campaign promises for massively increasing spending on rebuilding infrastructure, make-work jobs and restraining corporations from outsourcing will receive far more push-back from establishment republicans than democrats. While he might be able to eke out a few token victories on those issues, it is unlikely he will be able to fulfill most of his populist promises- at least as perceived by the people in rust belt states who voted for him in 2016. In other words, unless there is some massive movement to stop establishment republicans from running again in 2018, his populist agenda is pretty much dead on arrival.

In case you have forgotten, establishment republicans and democrats are just two different flavors of neoliberalism. Both are supported by, and in thrall to, rich individuals and institutions devoted to asserting power over the masses by impoverishing them. The unpleasant reality is that neither group of elected officials have any interest in improving the lives of most people. Indeed, they would rather preside over a collapsing society as long as they are can stand on top of its ruins. The establishment types, especially in the republican party, have therefore no real incentive to go along with any plans that might improve the lives of most people- and every incentive to stop them.

2] The establishment republicans, on the other hand, have every reason to vigorously pursue all their unpopular neoliberal and neoconservative policies under a Trump presidency. These include privatizing social security and medicare, eliminating medicaid, undermining scientific research, crapifying education etc. They will also try to do it by linking to legislation meant to fulfill watered down versions of Trump’s populist promises. It does not take a genius to figure out that doing so will result in a massive increase in Trump’s unpopularity. The establishment republicans will however see this as killing two birds (boosting neoliberalism, hurting Trump) with one stone.

The added complication in this scenario is that some of Trump’s promises regarding deporting millions of hispanic residents and subjecting blacks to even harsher policing will also backfire in “unforeseen” ways. Let me explain that previous sentence in some detail. All system of governance, regardless of the lethal force they wield, can survive only as long as the majority of people see them as largely legitimate. Even openly totalitarian societies like former communist countries were largely seen as legitimate by their populations till the last decade of their existence, largely because they could deliver on their promises and maintain a functional and orderly society. That might no longer be the case in USA, if the republicans push forward with their corporatist and neoliberal agenda.

3] Trump, ironically, might never be widely seen as legitimate- but not because of the electoral college. As many of you know, almost half of eligible voters did not vote for him or HRC. This almost-half of the population does however participate in all other aspects of being an adult resident of USA. Consequently, any lack of improvement in their circumstances combined with establishment republican further abusing or impoverishing them will likely lead to an unprecedented loss of legitimacy for him and establishment republicans. The loss of legitimacy for him will likely be far stronger than that suffered by any president in living memory- largely because the USA has not experienced a decade of almost continuous decline of stagnation with patches of anemic “growth” in the last hundred years. Like they say.. victory has a thousand fathers while defeat is an orphan and always requires a good scapegoat.

It also does not take a genius to figure out that establishment republicans will start disowning him as his popularity and perceived legitimacy falls. Doing so will however also simultaneously corrode their own (and linked) claims at legitimacy, resulting in further rounds of disowning. Pence, despite all his establishment republican connections and frantic maneuvering, will suffer an even more severe drop in his public legitimacy- because he is seen as both an acolyte of Trump and an establishment republican. Also, there are many others republicans wgo would be eager to fill his position and wield his power.

4] Some of you might have noticed that those who are already part of a future Trump administration or are vying for positions in it are.. for the lack of a better word.. ideologues with a rather tenuous connection to the world as it exists in 2016. Even his picks to date such as Jeff Sessions, Mike Pompeo and Michael Flynn inhabit a world where the USA is still an indispensable nation which can get away with anything. In other words, his administration is going to to be full of people who mentally live in a world that does not exist. Indeed, the the period between 1946-1961 and to a limited extent between 1991-2001 was the closest reality came to the fictional world they inhabit. The reality is that the actual capabilities of the USA are a shadow of what these people (mostly white men who grew up in a different era) assume it to be. In case you think otherwise, I would like to point you to the recent thorough defeats of USA in Iraq and Afghanistan- both of which largely occurred under the previous republican president.

The reality is the USA does not have the financial capability, dominant influence, adequate number of soldiers, appropriate weapons, sufficient technological edge or industrial capability to actually win a war against any determined adversary- be that another competent nation-state or a popular non-nation entity in any part of the world. While people in the current Obama administration do seem to (if grudgingly) understand this reality, it appears that those being recruited by the Trump administration are prone to magical thinking. While it is possible that they might ultimately accept this new reality, it is more likely that their lack of connection to the real world of 2016 might result in them entering into new unwinnable and ultimately humiliating conflicts with nations such as Iran, China and yes.. even Russia. Also, going back on less than favorable multi-lateral agreements and treaties might make it basically impossible to enter into similar agreements in the short-term.. or possibly ever again.

To quickly summarize this post, I think there is a better than 90% chance than a Trump presidency might make the disastrous second term of Bush43 look competent and organized in comparison. Of course, there is a small chance that he might be able to become a true (agnostic) populist and succeed- but that looks less likely with each passing day. In an upcoming post of this series, I will try to enumerate the ways in which the neoliberal establishment will try to make him fail in a spectacular fashion.

What do you think? Comments?

Fake Moral Outrage by Establishment against Trump will Benefit Him: 3

October 26, 2016 6 comments

In the previous post of this series, I talked about how the rapid and continuing fall of public trust in mainstream media over the last 15 years has greatly diminished their ability to hurt Trump’s chances in the 2016 general election. This fall in public trust has greatly diminished the ability of other associated organs of the media to hurt Trump’s real-life popularity. Many of you might have heard about a series of “polls” conducted by various mainstream media outlets over last 3-4 weeks that supposedly show HRC with 7-12% point leads over Trump.

So you might ask- aren’t all these recent “polls” evidence of the decline of Trump’s popularity and chances of winning the general election?I would say – NO. Here are the reasons I think that most, if not all, of the recent telephone-based polls might have been rigged to spread a false narrative about Trump losing to discourage his supporters from actually casting their vote in the general election.

1] Both HRC and Trump had better than 99% name recognition among the american electorate prior to them even entering the primaries of their respective parties. Compare that to previous presidential elections and ask yourself- did previous presidential candidates like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Bob Dole, Barack Obama, John McCain, Mitt Romney had such widespread name recognition among the electorate prior to announcing their intention to run for office? Some of you might ask- why does that matter? Well.. it matters because most people make up their initial impressions about others after getting to know them and will continue to maintain that impression unless confronted with multiple lines of evidence that they were wrong.

In other words, we have all known (for over two decades) that Trump is a brash loudmouth who loves to associate and have sex with attractive and often much younger women. I would go so far as to say that revelations of Trump being a secret beta and nice guy would have done far more damage to his image and popularity than behaving like himself. Similarly, HRC has almost always been almost perpetually associated with shady deals, ‘legal’ lying, selling political favors, taking money from other rich people and generally being a robotic corporate puppet. Even her staunchest public supporters do not describe her as honest, trustworthy or a decent human being.

Given these facts, it is hard to believe that people are actually surprised by revelations that Trump enjoys the sexual company of attractive women. I mean.. he was just saying what every physiologically normal guy in the world thinks and would like to do- and most women know that too. As many of you know, HRC’s husband has actually settled charges of sexual assault by numerous women throughout his public life, while HRC was simultaneously trying to discredit them. Furthermore, the vast majority of people know that the relationship between HRC and her husband is well- business like rather than based in any emotion familiar to most people.

2] The most peculiar thing about all the polls in the previous 3-4 weeks which show HRC having a significant lead over Trump is that they are all phone-based polls. The more eagle-eyed among you might have noticed that in tracking polls (which have been historically more accurate) show the race to be fairly even between the two- with a surprisingly high number of undecideds for this stage of the race. So why is their such a large gap between the results of tracking polls and telephone-based polls? And perhaps more curiously, why did this gap open up around 4 weeks ago? Well.. here is what I think is happening.

Tracking polls unlike telephone-based polls repeatedly survey the same large group of individuals. In other words, the choice of whom to survey is made before the intensive phase of the election has started. Consequently, properly done tracking polls tend to be more accurate and far harder to manipulate than other types of polling- especially telephone-based polls. In contrast to that, telephone-based polls will almost inevitably sample a constantly shifting set of individuals. While this shifting polling base is not problematic by itself- if the polling is done honestly and with appropriate statistical corrections, it can be easily manipulated to give a desired answer.

For example- You can easily inflate HRC’s poll numbers by oversampling white-middle aged women with a college degree living in certain zip codes. You could also over-sample registered democrats or frame the questions in a way that makes the person say that they will vote for HRC, even if they do not intend to do so at voting time. It is also possible to reject responses favorable to Trump by applying biased corrections or just plain faking the numbers. I have been in science long enough to know that a significant part of research published in “top” peer-reviewed scientific journals is not reproducible and likely the result of fraud, numerical manipulation or cherry-picking of data.

3] We already know, thanks to Wikileaks, that HRC campaign operatives spend a lot of time and money cultivating “journalists” in mainstream media. We also know that these “journalists” or presstitutes are more than willing to take orders from the HRC campaign and write false news stories, hit pieces on people the campaign wants to attack. Furthermore, these presstitutes have been shown to allow the HRC campaign to write articles and hit pieces that are then attributed to others and suppress information damaging to that campaign. It does not therefore take a leap of imagination or reasoning to believe that other organs of mainstream media, such as pre-election polling, are at least equally compromised.

We know for a fact that Bernie Sanders frequently received 10-15% more votes than he was expected to, based on such polls, in the democratic primaries. We also know that the HRC campaign was busy sabotaging his campaign through rigging of the rules of who could vote in primaries, stacking super-delegates against him, getting presstitutes to write hit pieces on him and otherwise denigrating him. Some of you might remember how AP called the democratic primary, based on a lead of one super-delegate, the evening before the last set of party primaries. It should therefore not be surprising if the entire “Trump is falling behind in polls” meme is fiction concocted by the HRC campaign in close co-operation with the mainstream and corporate-owned media.

The next post of this series will contain actual examples (with links, figures and charts) of what I am implying in the current one.

What do you think? Comments?

Fake Moral Outrage by Establishment against Trump will Benefit Him: 2

October 16, 2016 3 comments

As I mentioned in the previous post of this series, there are three main reasons why the attacks on Trump by the establishment and mainstream media have failed to have any lasting effect on his standing in the supposedly “objective” polls and, perhaps far more importantly, his popularity as measured by size and enthusiasm of his rallies. Moreover you can see large numbers of his non-paid supporters routinely hitting back in the comments section of numerous negative propaganda articles put out by the mainstream media. As some of you might remember, mainstream media presstitutes have been writing articles about his campaign “melting down” or “in disarray” for almost a year now.

Even supposedly “good” presstitutes like Matt Taibbi have written more than one article on the downfall of Trump. Don’t believe me? Here is a link to an article he wrote on September 6, 2016 – How Donald Trump Lost His Mojo and here is a link to one he wrote on Oct 14, 2016 – The Fury and Failure of Donald Trump. Though both articles pretend to be different, they have an almost identical basic theme- namely that Trump is imploding. But there is a problem with them in that they do not reflect observable reality. The point I am trying to make is that all mainstream media articles predicting the imminent demise of Trump’s presidential campaign are almost totally based in wishful thinking rather than an objective analysis of events.

So what is going on? Why are even supposedly “objective” presstitutes like Matt Taibbi writing the journalistic equivalent of ‘Letters to Penthouse’ than anything vaguely resembling journalism? Why has wishful thinking and make-believe replaced anything vaguely resembling journalism? Why are so many journalists willing to believe something is happening when there is no worthwhile evidence of it happening? Why are so many journalists unwilling to see Trump supporters as anything other than stupid and racist whites? And perhaps most importantly- why do these journalists exhibit so much hate and contempt for people who support Trump?

Well.. there are many reasons for the way in which the mainstream media is treating Trump and his supporters. Some of these reasons are linked to the corporate consolidation of mainstream media outlets that has occurred in the previous three decades. Other reasons have to do with pressures linked to diminution of employment opportunities in mainstream media due to the spread and ubiquity of the internet. Still others have to do with the extreme geographical and socio-economic separation of well-known journalists and the people and subjects they write about. But the single biggest reason behind the biased reporting by mainstream media presstitutes has to do with false consciousness– as defined by Engels.

The vast majority of presstitutes who still work in mainstream media owe their jobs to their social connections and access to the establishment elite rather than their merit or ability. Furthermore, the career stability and prospects of almost all well-known or wannabe well-known presstitutes are linked to extent that they will prostitute themselves to the establishment elites. Consequently they see themselves as loyal servants and defenders of the status quo which allows their patrons to keep on screwing the majority of people. Many presstitutes also believe that cultivating subservient relationships with the establishment elite will result in them being invited to join the group. While that does work out for a select few- the vast majority of mainstream media presstitutes who toil away to impress their elite patrons are seldom rewarded with anything beyond a regular paycheck and occasional invitations to elite gatherings and similar small favors.

It is now quite easy to understand why mainstream media presstitutes will uncritically support and defend the most outrageous mistakes and behavior of their patrons- from supporting the war in Iraq, supporting the housing bubble, supporting various financial bubbles to supporting war with “insert name of country”.. you get the picture. It is therefore a mistake to see the mainstream media in supposedly democratic countries like the USA as anything more the flunkies and stenographers of the establishment elite.

Trump and his supporters (especially his supporters) present the single largest internal challenge to american establishment elite in living memory. It therefore follows that all flunkies and stenographers of the establishment (aka presstitutes) believe that he and the movement behind him must be defeated and demoralized. Unfortunately for them, we live in 2016- an era where they have irreversibly lost their previous monopoly in controlling flow and dissemination of “news” and information. It also does not help them that a very small percentage of the population believes in what they have to say. I see their futile attempts at undermining Trump as being the final major attempt of their failing and decaying vocation to influence the course of events for the benefit of the establishment elite.

What do you think? Comments?

Fake Moral Outrage by Establishment against Trump will Benefit Him: 1

October 15, 2016 16 comments

The previous week, or two, has seen the mainstream media being involved in the coordinated release and promotion of one (or more) audio recording of Trump making some allegedly lewd comments about women. They have also solicited and promoted the personal testimonies of women who have mysteriously remember instances of Trump groping them many years ago. Needless to say, these stories are poorly sourced and look very suspiciously timed. I should also point out more than a few of the accusers have direct, or indirect, links to the Clinton political machine.

It is most peculiar that the mainstream media is promoting these suspiciously timed stories about Trump while simultaneously ignoring the still ongoing releases of John Podesta’s hacked emails by WikiLeaks. As some of you know, the emails released so far by WikiLeaks contain many revelations relevant to the electability of Hillary Clinton in the general election. Also,if you do not know who John Podesta is or need to refresh your memory of him- here is a link about him.

These leaked emails, among other things, highlight the extremely close relationships between her and large corporations and financial institutions- thereby justifying the commonly held belief that she is a tool of corporations and the elite. Other emails from the same leak have shown her disconnectedness and contempt for non-elite americans, especially if they are white and resident in non-coastal states. We now finally have full transcripts of at least three paid speeches given by her to Goldman Sachs (at about 230k per speech) and damaging excerpts from many similar speeches given to other banks and corporations.

Perhaps more disturbingly, these speeches have revealed that she admits (public positions vs private position)that she will say anything to get elected. It certainly does not help her credibility to privately say that Saudi Arabia and neighboring gulf Emirates fund and support ISIS/ISIL and then accept millions of dollars from them- including a million dollar check birthday check for Bill Clinton. There are others where she privately calls “common core” a failure, defends fracking, is against legalizing marijuana, is still totally for gay marriage.. you get the picture.

However almost none of these important revelations about HRC are being discussed in the mainstream media. The mainstream, or more properly the establishment, media is full of endless interviews of poorly aging white women who claim that Trump sexually molested them years ago. Oddly enough, none of these women made a formal or informal compliant about his alleged behavior at that time. Infact, many of these accusers continued to be on very good terms with him until he announced his intention to run for the presidency. Furthermore, there is no way to verify the veracity of their claims via third-party testimony or other forms of objective evidence.

The endless promotion of such news items about Trump while simultaneously refusing to cover the Podesta leaks strongly suggests that the mainstream media (in collusion with the Clinton campaign) is deliberately running a massive fake news operation against Trump to stop his democratic election to the presidency.

While there are those who think such negative coverage by the media will hurt Trump over the long-term, I think otherwise. And here is why.. How many of you remember the attacks on Trump’s emotional stability from three months ago, or the attacks originating from the Khan family a couple of months ago or those by Alicia Machado from three weeks ago. In every single case, these attacks had no real lasting effects on Trump’s standing in the polls. At best, these attacks appeared to have some negative effect in some polls for a few days followed by a rebound. In a future post, I will also share my thoughts on the apparently odd behavior of major pre-election polls.

So why are all these attacks on Trump by the Clinton campaign and mainstream (old) media failing to have any real effect on his popularity? Well, there are many reasons.. but they can be broadly classified into two categories. Firstly, it comes down to credibility or the lack thereof. It is no secret that constantly repeating stories and allegations with the same themes in absence of support from events in real life hurts credibility of those sources. The mainstream media have been crying wolf for so long that very few people (as a percentage of the population) still believe them.

Moreover, the internet allows Trump to issue his rebuttals and make counter-accusations to an audience that is far larger and more engaged than that now available to mainstream media. Some of you might know that many of Trump’s recent campaign speeches have between 200-300k YouTube views (per speech) within 48 hours of uploading them. Furthermore the footprint of people who believe him, or follow him, on various social media platforms is in the tens of millions. Between that and his very well attended rallies, he has a far larger non-traditional media presence than HRC.

Secondly, the public image he has cultivated over three decades is such that controversies that would sink conventional politicians have no negative effect on him. Everybody knows that he is brash and rude rich guy who likes the company of attractive women. That is part of his image and appeal. Nobody expects him to speak like Obama or anybody else from an east-coast ivy league university. His lack of pretense about enjoying fast food or wearing ill-fitting suits makes him look normal and real in comparison to politicians with HRC who are incapable of anything approaching spontaneous or normal human behavior.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, people have grown to associate the media image of politicians like HRC with greed, corruption, lying and systemic decay. It does not help that public trust in institutions, from the medical establishment to journalism, is at an all time low- and still going down. In this environment, a candidate like Trump appears more viable and reasonable than all those credentialed expert-types whose only apparent skills seem to be finding new ways of scamming and looting the majority of people. We also cannot discount the possibility that some of his supporters want to elect him for the express purpose of destroying the status quo- one in which they have no worthwhile future.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Inability of USA to Stop North Korean Nuclear Weapon Program

September 9, 2016 3 comments

As many of you might have heard by now, North Korea conducted another nuclear test explosion yesterday. Some of you might ask yourself- How can a country like N. Korea, which is supposed to be poor and largely isolated from the rest of the world, keep on developing nuclear weapons. Perhaps more importantly- Why is the USA, and the supposedly all-powerful west, unable to stop them?

Well.. here are the reasons.

1] The technology to develop nuclear weapons is not particularly complicated, especially if you are a sovereign nation with more resources and manpower than those available on a small island or archipelago. Regardless of what some pretentious white guys spouting technical jargon might make you believe, the technology and tools necessary to design and make a few viable nuclear weapons have been fairly commonplace since the late 1970s. Obtaining enough fissile material that is either enriched beyond a certain percentage (for U-235)or with impurities below certain levels (for Pu-239) is the single largest technical constraint.

Any nation-state with a decent level of industrial capacity and access to uranium ore can either enrich U-235 or build nuclear reactors to create Pu-239. It is therefore really about the willingness to do so..

2] Some politicians in the USA suggest that it is possible to exert pressure on North Korea through China. I however see this belief as an example of wishful american thinking. Think about it- Why would China care about what USA wants in this particular situation? What do they have to gain by playing along with such an american request? The reality is that China is too large and powerful a country to be bullied by the USA. Furthermore, there is an interesting precedent for their unwillingness to stop supporting the North Korean nuclear program. China, you see, is the single biggest reason for the success of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program. It also goes without saying that a nuclear capable North Korea is no real threat to China.

In other words, ensuring that North Korea has a modest nuclear weapon capacity is far more strategically useful to China than towing the american line and pressuring them to stop developing nuclear weapons.

3] Most people in USA believe that North Korea is very isolated from the rest of the world, except for maybe China. While that is true- as far as most of its citizens/ subjects are concerned, the government itself is pretty pragmatic about having restricted mutually beneficial ties with certain countries. It is therefore not surprising that the North Korean nuclear and missile program have ties with equivalent programs in other countries such as Pakistan and Iran. Some of you might be aware that the missile program of Pakistan received considerable help and support from its equivalent in North Korea. It is hard to believe that such an exchange was one-sided, if you know what I mean. Similarly there is some evidence that the Iranian nuclear program did benefit from the assistance of North Korea and once again, it is unlikely that there was no quid-pro-quo.

To put it another way, the government of North Korea is not made up of ideologically driven nutjobs who lack any significant contact with reality. They may be evil, but they are not stupid.

4] There are many advantages for sovereign states possessing nuclear weapons. For one, it makes you immune from any serious military attack from other sovereign states, such as the USA. It is no secret that possessing nuclear weapon capacity is the best way to protect your country and the elite system within it. The elites in North Korea know that they have no future if they allow the USA to pressure them into capitulating before their populace. They know what happened to Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi. They know that the USA would not have to be cause the current situation in Syria if that country possessed nuclear weapons. They know that Pakistan can get away with what they do largely because they have nuclear weapons. They know that USA would never be able to pressure Iran like it did, if it already had nuclear weapons.

Simply put, the benefits of having nukes far outweigh the problems associated with developing and having them- especially for the North Korean elites.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting Links: Sep 1, 2016

September 1, 2016 2 comments

Here are links to a few interesting articles I came across recently. They are all about how the “security” or “law and order” agencies in the USA (and other western countries) have become addicted to uncontrollable growth- with openly voracious and cannibalistic behavior. One of the linked pieces also makes the point that such growth creates new vulnerabilities for the host society which are far worse than the problem this growth was supposed to solve.

Link 1: Former Anti-Terror FBI Employee now finds Himself a Target

As a FBI surveillance employee, Ray Tahir spent the last decade tailing Muslims in counterterrorism cases. Among the investigations whose surveillance Tahir led were those of the charity Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development in Texas and North Carolina’s Daniel Patrick Boyd, who with others was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to commit murder, maiming, and kidnapping overseas. Both FBI cases had their critics. The American Civil Liberties Union described the prosecution of Holy Land Foundation as “discriminatory enforcement of counterterrorism laws.” In the Boyd case, as in other informant-led FBI stings, there are questions about whether the men convicted would have done anything at all were it not for the FBI’s involvement. As the FBI targeted Muslims in the United States following the 9/11 attacks, Tahir was among the front-line employees who made some of these cases possible. Now, he alleges, he has become a target himself.

Link 2: Leaked Catalogue reveals a Vast Array of Military Spy Gear offered to U.S. Police

A Confidential, 120-page catalogue of spy equipment, originating from British defense firm Cobham and circulated to U.S. law enforcement, touts gear that can intercept wireless calls and text messages, locate people via their mobile phones, and jam cellular communications in a particular area. The catalogue was obtained by The Intercept as part of a large trove of documents originating within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where spokesperson Molly Best confirmed Cobham wares have been purchased but did not provide further information. The document provides a rare look at the wide range of electronic surveillance tactics used by police and militaries in the U.S. and abroad, offering equipment ranging from black boxes that can monitor an entire town’s cellular signals to microphones hidden in lighters and cameras hidden in trashcans. Markings date it to 2014. Cobham, recently cited among several major British firms exporting surveillance technology to oppressive regimes, has counted police in the United States among its clients, Cobham spokesperson Greg Caires confirmed.

Link 3: Hacking the US with only a Sound

Unlike the classic example of yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater, this panic can be induced by anything that sounds/looks/feels like a threat rather than the claim of a specific threat (like “fire”). Nearly anything can set them off. Here’s three examples of that over the last two weeks (there have been many more): JFK Airport- Unfounded reports of gunfire led to an evacuation of terminals. Police march passengers out of the terminal with their hands up. Police speculate that it was started by load fans of the Rio Olympics. CrabTree Valley Mall (NC)- Unfounded reports of an active shooter leads to a panicked evacuation of the mall. LAX Airport- Unfounded reports of a shooter led to people storming the jetway doors and spilling out onto the tarmac, people barricading themselves into bathrooms in multiple terminals, and more.

This public reactiveness may become the new normal both here and in Europe. If so, we can expect people take advantage of it. Here’s how. All it takes is a single audio clip. Like this or this either near a public space or done remotely on a timed playback device is all it would take to ignite the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that leads to a large-scale evacuation. In fact, people are so reactive now, I suspect it wouldn’t even take a sound that is explicit, only something that sounds similar. Think about this for a moment. The ability to shut down a public space for hours: anytime (just walk in and play the sounds); remotely (low-cost playback device on timer/remote activation); or on a large-scale (thousands of people playing the sounds on their smart phones in public spaces simultaneously)

What do you think? Comments?