Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

TRUMP 2016!!! There’s a pony in there somewhere…

Here is why I hope TRUMP wins sufficient delegates before the GOP convention:
1.       If the GOP keeps their Convention rules Trump will go against Hillary or Sanders and lose.  And the GOP will suffer for years to come (as if demographics hasn’t already condemned any future GOP Presidential candidates to ruin. 
2.       If the GOP changes its convention rules and offers someone capable of beating Sanders or Hillary, Trump could go rogue and permanently divide the GOP, perhaps even destroying the already suicidal  “two-party’ system.   Not likely…but a guy can dream.   Either way the GOP suffers tremendously this election and will have to transform itself to a more rational institution if it ever hopes to regain any shred of relevancy.
And here is a risky desire.  I hope Trump wins the presidency.
Our ‘democratic’ ‘two party’ system is failing us with its 'winner take all', gerrymandered, moneyed, obstinate ways.   Our Constitution is incapable of dealing with the global threats we face using independent agencies in our increasingly and irreversible interdependent world.
We (and our system) are addicted to staying the same -- and only make changes in response to great pain, suffering, and/or abject failure.  It doesn't really matter who is President.  Last week a "Dear Next President" letter from our nation's intelligence agency leaders essentially said...'be prepared! Things are going to get worse!'   At this point there is no way to avoid that, and whom ever is in the White House in 2017 will likely get blamed for whatever comes next.   I'm guessing that having Trump in office in 2017 is a ‘win/win, but maybe we all lose’ proposition.   He will get blamed for whatever crisis happens and our nation's failure to respond or recover promptly.   And, when we bottom out as a nation…there’s a 50/50 chance we could start off new-- in the right direction.  The bad news…is that we still might go in the wrong direction... and there is also a roughly 50/50 chance that the crisis(s) coming during the next Presidency will cripple our nation permanently.
Either way...It’s time for some profound changes…and Trump could be our ‘last best hope’. Clinton or Sanders with a Republican led House and Senate will only take us further down the rabbit hole.  At some point in the not to distant future...I'm guessing again, we have a 50/50 chance of crossing the point of no return.   That 'exponential growth of technology' thing is just to much for my Pleistocene brain to deal with.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Genocide. Never again! Or never ending.

Genocide Again?  Congress just acknowledged it with a ‘non-binding Resolution’ that passed 393 to 0.  At least they agree on something.   But here’s the real crime.  They won’t do anything about it.  Again!   

After the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust during World War II the world said “Never Again!”.  No one could imagine allowing such a horrific crime against humanity to ever occur again.   But we have. Repeatedly.   Since the end of World War II after the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide all nations have stood by and watched it happened again, and again, and again, over  100 times!  At the cost of well over 22 million innocent people.

Now, we stand by again as ISIS continues to slaughter and mutilate thousands.  Why?  One simple reason.   We insist on national sovereignty trumping human rights.   Nations, including the US, would rather stand by and allow the continued mass murder and mutilation of Christians, Yazitis, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and other religious minorities than risk the lives of US solders stopping it.  Even peace activist and the peace movement has been silent. They appear to be so averse to using military power anywhere that they flinch at the prospect of it being used even to enforcing international law against mass murder.   

Their knee jerk reaction to the use of any military force is as murderous as the knee jerk reaction of President Obama’s resistance to using more forceful means than drones to stop the mass murder and rapes.   Peace activists remain more concerned about the use of drones and their inevitable murder of hundreds of innocent people as collateral damage, than their concern about the mass murder of tens of thousands by small pockets of violent extremists that those drone are targeting to kill.   

The definition of Genocide is clear.  And ISIS is still conducting it nearly a year after this crime against humanity was first identified.

Secretary of State John Kerry did say we will “do all we can” to hold the perpetrators of genocide accountable in a court of law, but he didn’t mention there is no global police force to capture them or bring them to trial.  And by the time one is created, if one ever is, hundreds of thousands could be killed.   And the world remains with no way of preventing it or the next genocide, or no real way of deterring future genocides given that the existing international courts may not have the technical jurisdiction over terrorist groups.  If ISIS were allowed to become a nation state and decided to sign onto the ICC treaty, then it’s leaders would no longer be immune to prosecution.
That’s a little loophole insisted upon by nation states (mostly the US) that never wanted their own soldiers or leaders to be called before a tribunal if they were accused of committing a war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. 

This the grand flaw in the UN system.  The structural certainty that national sovereignty (legalized murder) will always trump the protection of human rights.

Few people realize that more people were killed in the 20th century from genocide, (unusually governments killing their own people) than from wars.  In the last century about 100 million people died in wars and revolutions.  During the same time period nearly 160 million innocent people were killed in genocides by their own governments.   A right that remains for all sovereign nations.

For now we must settle for the ‘moral authority” to address genocide.  Until ‘we the people’ create the “political will” that is called for by the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance, we will just have to let the protection of human rights lay low on the global governance agenda.

U.S. Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb) a sponsor of the unanimous resolution that passed Thursday said “I sincerely hope [it] will raise international consciousness, end the scandal of silence, and create the preconditions for the protection and reintegration of these ancient faith communities into their ancestral homelands’.

What will it take for Rep. Fortenberry and others with political levers to raise the necessary international cooperation that could end the scandal of persistent inaction.  Action that is long overdue and essential to creating the conditions for ending this genocide -- and preventing future genocides…and finally keeping the world’s promise of “Never Again!”?

Months before the horrific attacks on 9-11 a former Clinton administration bioethics adviser warned that the completion of the human genome at time made development of bio-genetic weapons nearly certain within five to 10 years and called for an international commission to monitor genetic experiments that could lead to genocidal weapons. Mr. Moreno, a University of Virginia biomedical ethics professor spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Francisco that year and said "You could identify a unique antigen in a certain group of people and try to knock it out and create a blood disease, such as anemia,"

Such unprecedented weaponry is only a matter of time.

Voters this season are largely motivated by the dysfunction of our own government. Regardless of how our elections turn out, policy makers at every level need to start addressing the dysfunction of our ‘international law’ system and structures that lack any enforcement capacity - and even less capacity to prevent future genocides, wars, pandemics and terrorism (including bioterrorism) efforts that are inevitable.  And, increasingly inevitable in a world lacking any means of justice. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Don't blame Trump. We the people are the problem.

David Ignatius is correct in stating Trump will make our country worse (Washington Post 3-11-16), but using Fukuyama’s example of the US Forest Service to highlight the consequences of “conflicting political mandates and poor management” missed the most egregious and clarifying example.  Fukuyama assessed “Medicare and Medicaid“as “22% of federal budget” but U.S. policy makers refer to it as ‘Health Care’.   The true basis of ‘health care’ is prevention.  Our government created ‘Med’ this and ‘Med’ that -and then label it “Health Care”.   We the people allow it to do the same thing with national security and foreign policy.  We call our military the “Department of Defense” but use it primarily for offensive uses.  Uses that create more enemies than we kill.  Mountains of tax dollars are persistently devoted to expensive and preventable consequences (war, terrorism, disease) instead of investing in root causes in the first place.  And ‘we the people’ keep electing and supporting candidates that offer nothing different.   If our nation’s problem is dysfunctional government, Trump isn’t really to blame.  We are.   

Monday, March 14, 2016

Trump/Sanders 'Slip' going global.

Seeking a root cause is something journalists, scientists or statesmen do.  Not politicians.  Mark Twain once said the difference between a politician and a statesman, is that the politician is thinking about the next election.  The statesman is thinking about the next generation.   Here in lies the popularity of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, both unpredicted front runners in the upcoming election.   While supporters of each may claim the mantel of statesman for their favorite candidate, the root cause of their popularity is now hotly discussed.   But one root cause is never mentioned.
A basic understanding of earth quakes is helpful at this point.   We are now witnessing a significant tectonic political shift.   Geologists refer to it as the “stick-slip” phenomenon.  Over a long period of time, minor tensions continue to build below the surface.   Eventually something hidden slips -- and the ground above that we all saw as predictable suddenly trembles.   The severity of disruption and sometimes violent upheaval is dependent on four factors; the location of the slip, its depth, the quantity of the stress released, and the characteristics of the ground above.   Interestingly, the trembles can be detected everywhere in the world.  The Trump/Sanders slip is no different.
We can now see the results of the underlying tensions that have been building for years if not decades.  Economically we have troubling inequality, astronomical debt, and fear of another recession.   Our privacy is increasingly lost in hopes of preempting terrorist threats that are escalating both at home and abroad.   The return of tensions between superpowers and the alarm of global consequences from failed states – linked to terrorism and the exponential growth of dual-use technologies that are providing increasing affordable means of WMD production and proliferation.   Add in a rational fear of ecological calamities or health risks due to global warming, species extinction, or lethal toxins in our food, air and water.  Or, the growing anxiety over the inevitable emergence of a Spanish-flu like pandemic after already experiencing traumatic and unresolved perils of Ebola and Zika outbreaks…and don’t forget the militarization of our police and overflowing prisons associated with a war on drugs and lack of domestic job opportunities … the list continues.  And, the tremors are not over.
Each insecurity contributes tensions to the slip that we are now witnessing.  But they are not root causes.  What largely goes unnoticed is that each of these troubling domestic factors has an irreversible and increasingly important global factor – each with another root cause.   Here’s the troubling reality.  The root cause is obvious and has been acknowledged throughout history -- and then routinely ignored by U.S. politicians.   Why?   Because, these global factors cannot be resolved using our existing political system and structures.    The structure that each U.S. politician has given an “oath” to “preserve, protect, and defend” is our Constitution.   It doesn’t help that these politicians also have a short term vested professional interest in re-election.  An election determined by a general public that has been taught to worship our nation’s founding document, celebrate our “Independence” every 4th of July, and told repeatedly that our ‘national sovereignty’ is key to preserving our freedom and security.   An assertion that is patently false on every level.   Sovereignty is a God given individual characteristic.  ‘National sovereignty’ is an archaic idea based on 600 year old treaty that suggests governments be allowed to do as they please within their own borders. 
Understanding this makes identifying root causes easier than expected.   And, they are increasingly self-evident once one looks at the forces freely transgressing all national borders.   Addressing these root causes at the source will not be so easy.  But addressing them there will be infinitely cheaper and more effective than building walls or deporting undesirables we must find who are within those walls.
So, our Constitution and Bill of Rights is flawed.   Since its creation several flaws have been corrected.  One we did the hard way -- after the horrors of a civil war.  The other was through nonviolent citizen action giving women their rightful vote.   The flaws that remain contribute greatly to our political dysfunction that persist in inhibiting us from effectively addressing a growing array of unprecedented threats to our freedom, security and prosperity.   As smart as the Framers were,  their Pleistocene brains were like ours.   They had way of understanding the pace of change that would come from the exponential growth of new technologies on transportation, communication, criminal activities, weapons development and environmental impact.   Many Americans still don’t.  
The US National Intelligence Council Global Trends 2030 report’s overview in the “Game changer” chart under “Governance gap” asks, “Will governments and institutions be able to adapt fast enough to harness change instead of being over whelmed by it?”  The answer is a clear and resounding, “No!”  Given the Congress we have today…”Hell no!”
During a September 24, 2015, Senate hearing on Intelligence and Cybersecurity issues Senator Angus King (I-ME) questioning of National Security Agency Director (Admiral) Michael Rogers.   Senator King stated “There’s a survey I commend to your attention and I’ll submit for the record.  [It was] done late last year -- of national security professionals across the government….one of the fascinating results is that US political dysfunction, they ranked as a higher threat to national security than a nuclear armed Iran, Vladimir Putin, China’s military buildup or North Korea. The only thing above political dysfunction was Islamic Extremism. So that is a shocking…Political dysfunction being a national security threat!  You know Pogo. ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.’ ”
Our Constitution was created to resist change.  Its framers clearly understood the risks associated with making quick and easy repairs.   They intentionally made structural repairs to our Constitution slow and cumbersome -- but not impossible.  They understood that adaption to change was essential to survival –a fundamental law of biology.  
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." Thomas Jefferson
 It is now the rigidity of both major political parties that threatens us.  Without sweeping change within both parties that can lead to significant changes in our laws and Constitution our future is increasingly impearled.   Optimism would be foolish.   Historically our system only accepts grand changes after catastrophic consequences.    
There are additional flaws Congress has created with an overburden of laws – laws that if enforced, diminish both our freedom and or security [not the prosperity of contractors].  Just looking at our government’s procurement procedures for computers, weapons systems, vaccines, antibiotics, or electrical transformers - any delay in acquisition could mean millions of deaths, not to mention the chain reaction impact on our economy and Bill of Rights.
From the perspective of our nation’s debt and budget deficits (which many experts claim is our greatest national security threat), our capacity to finance the maintenance and protection of our critical infrastructures isn’t possible.  Building new infrastructure to maintain a competitive economic advantage with the rest of the world is suggested only in frustration.  
Focusing just on education;  US graduates in math, engineering, computer science and foreign languages…each essential to our national security for weapons design, intelligence gathering, efficiently running our government, and generating wealth to purchase these things…are urgently needed.  Many must be recruited from abroad.  (See:  France’s shortage of laborers while building the Maginot Line, and hiring of Germans to assist in construction)
Immigration reform is needed, but with the largest number of global refugees now seeking a new home since World War II the threats of immigrants taking our jobs, blowing up our cities, or raping our women -- the proposals for building a wall is mentioned frequently while any proposal for building a global system to prevent the growing global insecurities that create refugees in the first place, is never mentioned.
Thus, the popularity of Trump/Sanders.   Unfortunately, no President can or will change anything of substance regarding these menacing global factors until “we the people” change.   So sit back and watch the underlying global pressures continue to build even after 2016. An unprecedented shift is coming.  The only question is.  Will the greater ‘slippage’ be in the direction of our own choosing?  Or, will we be totally at the effect of the unmanaged and unprecedented ground shaking to come when rational thinking and wise actions are unlikely to prevail?
At the very least we must stop our existing political system from passing more laws that create additional resistance to change.  And then, undo those already enacted.  Like gerrymandering or ‘money equals speech’.   Or revert to the Constitutional mandate that “The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand.”    Today most U.S. Representatives have over 700,000 constituents making it more difficult for citizens to effectively lobby or petition for change. This ratio does make it easier for well-funded lobbyist groups to do it.  This single glitch may be one reason most people feel disconnected from ‘government’.    The math alone even makes each vote less important.  But this flaw should not be used as an excuse for the public to virtual abandon our daily opportunity to urge specific changes in government policy.  Or government is still responsive to “we the people”.   Unfortunately, most of us point to favored moneyed interests as the government’s main problem and have never even met with an elected official to request action. 
Both Bernie Sanders and Trump have proved that people with ideas can be as equally as effective as unlimited PAC money.   Every politician rightfully askes for our help at the ballot box.   Few ask us to meet with them once they are elected.   We need not wait for them to invite us. 
But what would we ask for once we meet?   I’m confident that every U.S. citizen, immigrant and most people worldwide want three things.   Freedom, security and prosperity.    And that these three are intimately related.
Senator Ted Cruz remains a GOP Presidential contender.   He recently announced his three fundamental goals if elected.   “Freedom, security and growth’ for all Americans.  It’s unclear why he used the term ‘growth’ instead of prosperity.   Cancer grows, but with enough prosperity we could cure Cancer.   Cruz’s grand error was stating that ‘defending our national sovereignty’ is essential to achieving them.  Unless he expands these three fundamental human aspirations to the global level, we U.S. citizens will sustainably enjoy none.
In June of 2015 the Commission on Global Security, Justice and Governance (co-chaired by former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim Gambari) released its report titled “Confronting the Crisis on Global Governance”.   In summery it says our international system and structures have failed us.  And, unless we restructure our global system to jointly pursue ‘justice and security’ for all, no one in this increasingly interdependent world will have either.
If we really value sustainably maximizing our own individual freedom, security and prosperity, we must put to rest the idea that our independent institutions/structures (the major foundational flaw in our Constitution) can resolve our greatest national/international problems.    Problems that are interdependent by definition will require a global solution.   And only by addressing root causes will we find affordable, non-violent, sustainable solutions.
So what is the one root problem that fuels local, national and global unrest in our hyper globalized era and world?    Injustice.    I’m not going out on a limb suggesting that the Bible, The Torah, The Quran, other books of faith, our own Declaration of Independence, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have all affirmed the importance of treating people fairly and equally.   Love one another.  Protect the innocent and the weak.  Do unto others.  Thou shalt not murder…  They all point the same direction…toward justice.   
If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today and understood the evolution of weaponry our species now has available to all, he would probably say we are reaching the end of that long arch.
Other great orators, thinkers, statesmen, philosophers, spiritual leaders and even a few politicians have offered the same ideal.  It is even inscribed above the entrance to the US Dept. of Justice, Washington DC.  Justice is the great interest of man on earth. Wherever her temple stands, there is a foundation for social security, general happiness and the improvement and progress of our race.”
It is in our DNA to distrust government.   Governments nearly always become abusive.   Separation of powers, openness, electoral accountability, and a bill of rights that puts the protection of individual freedoms above the rights of the government or state -- are fundamental elements of a functional and sustainable government.   Without these the ‘rule of law’ on the global level -- the ground we all share will continue to shake violently anywhere we stand.   Until we build a new global system and structures based on justice, no President, no Congress, no military power, no prayers, will cure our dysfunctional state of governance. 
Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all": Edmund Burke
"An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - MLK
"The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms and false reasonings is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges. You would be convinced, that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator to the whole human race, and that civil liberty is founded in that; and cannot be wrested from any people, without the most manifest violation of justice." -- Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804)
Source: The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe". Frederick Douglass
True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice. Jane Addams (First American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize).
"Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just." - Blaise Pascal (1623- 1662) French mathematician and philosopher

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." -  Desmond Tutu