Batting .500

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Today’s news regarding immigration is both positive and negative.

There is both good news and bad news in all this I think…Again, few people take this complex position.

I listened to NPR in the car, which was hostile to the Trump administration’s executive orders. NPR ran a series of sob stories on the injustices done to people trying to come to America, just because they were from Syria.

NPR, however, ignored the backstory, failing to acknowledge that Obama-Clinton policies, which supported anti-Gaddafi and anti-Assad Islamic radicals, set fire to the Middle East. So all the blame went to Trump, and none went to the previous administration. And how much vetting can really happen when people leave a country with just the shirt on their back, and when local records were destroyed. Interviews only, I think.

On the other side of the spectrum, the timing of the news release regarding the airport detention is a little suspicious.

Someone, somewhere, and not in the White House, knows perfectly well that Hameed Khalid Darweesh, of Iraq, is an American loyalist and served as an interpreter to the 101st Airborne. (There are agencies that know absolutely everything about everyone getting on these planes). But they decided to detain him anyway, and splash it on the news.

Some of the powers that be (and I’m not talking about the White House) actually want to stir up this controversy, to get both sides really riled up.

Hopefully, this latest immigration controversy will be settled by the Supreme Court, and not tried in the news.

My prediction is that the Trump administration will go 50/50, or bat .500, however you want to look at it.

One major victory will be the likely confirmation that yes, the executive branch can ban or suspend immigration from certain countries. The president has that authority.

Mayors and governors are posturing… While “sanctuary cities” might find ways around handing over local suspects to the feds, here and there, at the end of the day the executive branch can review inmate lists, review their immigration status, and just take the prisoners it wants.

Immigration law falls under federal and not state or local jurisdiction. The feds do not need state or local cooperation…

However, the Trump administration will probably lose those cases in the Supreme Court pertaining to “permanent residents” and “citizens” of the United States.

Across American history, the Supreme Court has found that aliens residing legally in the United States are entitled to “substantive due process” as individuals. This basic decision was reflected by the Supreme Court case Zadvydas v. Davis (2001). But the precedent goes way, way back.

This should mean that the feds have to try each alien resident case, one at a time, in court.

Also, the Supreme Court has historically been very adamant in its defense of American citizenship. It is extremely difficult to revoke an American’s citizenship and all the rights and privileges thereof, including entry into the US.

That an American might hold a Sudanese passport matters not. He or she would have to be taken to court, where the feds would probably lose unless there was real evidence of conspiring to attack the US. In a normal world. Maybe all bets are off, but that would be the normal situation.

The basic concept here is that the American system is based on the principle of “popular sovereignty,” meaning that citizens come before the formation of any government.

So, basically, an American’s right to be a citizen comes before any administration’s right to even exist – before any president’s right to even call himself or herself “president.”

If legal precedent is any example, the Supreme Court will likely reaffirm that American citizenship would trump virtually everything, and would even trump Trump.

The Trump administration will probably win many of its legal battles with the cities and states. The law is on its side, despite liberal and media outcry.

However, the Trump administration will probably not win in its efforts (if it follows through) to redefine the rights and privileges of legal residents and citizens.

So, it is 50/50. Win some, lose some. Lose some, win some.

However one chooses to look at it.

Norwich University

Recruiting students for studying in China

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Mixed Picture

Complexity theory, applied to society, politics and the economy, is the most promising and liberating of philosophies, I think…

So this week, the news coming from Washington DC included some things that were encouraging (for me), and some things that were unsettling.

That does not sit well with my friends and family, who insist that I fall into the accepted dichotomy of American politics: liberal or conservative, democrat or republican… The more time I spend away from the US the less meaningful these categories become.

Good news included the Trump administration pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have raised corporate monopolies over and above the reach of people and even governments. Also, NAFTA will be re-negotiated… Also much needed.

I do not know enough about the Dakota pipeline to know if it makes sense to resume the project. However, not every project that makes economic sense makes political sense. Stakeholders, as well as shareholders, should be included in the picture.

While building a wall is not necessarily wrong, it seems out of place to force Mexico to pay for it (or to try to). One terrible idea I heard floated (not sure by whom) is to prevent Mexicans in the US from sending money down to Mexico, as punishment… Maybe this is just a rumor.

While it makes sense to deport felons or criminal aliens, ordinary illegal aliens should be given amnesty. Why? Because they were basically compelled to come here with NAFTA, and they were encouraged to remain here without documents across the 1990s.

Every segment of American society enabled illegal immigration: businesses, the banks, the states, the federal government, and even the public.

Bad news included straining relations with China over East Asian issues, and the probability of the US pursuing an even more one-sided and lopsided policy that it already has in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This has been a busy week in DC. So every few hours I alternate between “that’s great,” and “that sucks.”

Meantime, I tell the critics of Trump, quite directly, that I follow a different philosophy (complexity theory), and that I have mixed reactions to the new policies.

I also add – if they are vehemently opposed to Trump – that they deserve this new turn of events. They earned it, for thinking that the Obama record, and Clinton agenda, were acceptable: the complicity with bank bailouts, crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street, sponsoring new wars in Libya and Syria, limits on habeas corpus with the Military Commissions Act of 2012, the pointing to low “unemployment” figures when the labor participation rate is so low, etcetera… It goes on and on…

I also add this: It matters not who hacked the DNC. The public deserved to know that the DNC undermined Bernie Sanders, that Clinton received debate questions ahead of time, that the DNC was in bed with mainstream media, etcetera, etcetera… Apparently, some people cannot handle the truth.

So, my view of the new administration’s policies is complex. Maybe I have multiple personalities. Maybe I have DID, or Dissociative Identity Disorder…

Rochester to Burlington VT

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Donuts

Snowflakes on Steroids

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“Split” is the latest movie by M. Night Shyamalan (a great director, I think). “The Village” was amazing.

In Split, James McAvoy plays a man with 24 personalities, several of whom collude to kidnap three girls and keep them locked in a basement.

It’s a good and scary movie. I thought it was just a movie. Apparently not. Some doctors and patient associations revolving around Dissociative Identity Disorder, or DID, are now complaining that the movie portrays people with this disorder in a negative light.

Psychiatrist Dr. Garrett Marie Deckel, of Mt. Sinai Hospital, said “”You are going to upset and potentially exacerbate symptoms in thousands of people who are already suffering.”

This statement also provides the prcondition for a shakedown. It moves to pressure the movie’s producers to do something to help the patients being portrayed as dangerous. Like a foundation or something. You know.

I wish the very best for DID patients, but this complaint is going too far… Movie directors also have the right of artistic license, and depriving them of that will leave popular culture homogenized, pasterurized, sanitized, and boring.

What is happpening to the cultural space for artistic expression?

Is SpaceX Sketchy?

There are two videos here, by Lift the Veil, that cast doubt on the veracity of SpaceX claims that it is completing rocket missions.

Thi first video is under 5 minutes. Stay tuned for the next one though, which is even more thought provoking.

This next video is 15 minutes but well worth the time.

Apart from the technical issues surrounding these launches, the “actors” employed to explain and narrate these alleged missions suggest that there is a lie here.

In this next video, these actors set up the landing after minute 6:35 in the video. What happens next is a “video is faster than the eye” trick.

SpaceX footage of the “landing” freezes just in time to conceal the fakery – and then the video comes back, just in time to show a successful landing.

In fact, for Lift the Veil, minute 13:30 to 13:42 is the money shot, basically proving the this SpaceX landing was hoaxed.

Again, it is important to see the entire video from beginning to end.

The other SpaceX missions appear problematic… So the question becomes. Does Elon Musk live in a bubble, and is he fooled by those above him?

Or is he a player in the game, and justifying the hoax by his repeated insistence that he is giving the world the “dream” of space flight. The people need dreams. Let them have dreams. SpaceX will give them dreams. That would be the way he would live with himself, if these are indeed hoaxes.

Which I think they are. Hoaxes.

Shaken, Not Stirred

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There is a new bill going through Congress that would propose that the United States withdraw from the United Nations, which was founded after World War II as the dominant international organization.

This would be the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017. As explained below:

“This bill repeals the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 and other specified related laws.

The bill requires: (1) the President to terminate U.S. membership in the United Nations (U.N.), including any organ, specialized agency, commission, or other formally affiliated body; and (2) closure of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.

The bill prohibits: (1) the authorization of funds for the U.S. assessed or voluntary contribution to the U.N., (2) the authorization of funds for any U.S. contribution to any U.N. military or peacekeeping operation, (3) the expenditure of funds to support the participation of U.S. Armed Forces as part of any U.N. military or peacekeeping operation, (4) U.S. Armed Forces from serving under U.N. command, and (5) diplomatic immunity for U.N. officers or employees.” https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/193

Is this a good idea?

On the one hand, the United Nations has done very little in the way of preventing or mitigating conflict.

Not only did the UN do nothing to prevent the Vietnam War, but plenty of other conflicts raged while diplomats at the UN were grandtanding: Cambodia, Haiti, Somalia, the Congo, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, etc… The UN has done little to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict (granted, largely because of US vetoes).

And in the 1950s, the United Nations was actually the vehicle for the Korean War…

Also, the UN often makes a mockery of the principles it supposedly advances. Consider, for example, Saudi Arabia’s seat on the Human Rights Council. What is the point of having a Human Rights Council?

Finally, there have been recent attempts, on the part of the United Nations and its various arms treaties, to infringe upon the sovereignty of the United States, particularly upon Second Amendment rights.

On the other hand, there should be some kind of organization where international diplomacy and mediation take place. The organization should have some authority to call attention to violations of the Geneva Convention for example.

Ideally, an organization like the UN could even move away from all the politics and simply encourage economic development and international projects (like the construction of floating cities).

In any case, a truly complex and polycentric world system (world “systems,” in the plural) would not witness any kind of unitary hegemony. A version of the United Nations would exist, but just as a small organization with limited scope.

So is this bill good or bad? It is both, but perhaps more good than bad.

The international order needs more than to be stirred. It needs to be shaken.

Upside Down World

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The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) actually represents the very opposite of free trade.

The most central (and most dispruptive) aspect of NAFTA was the opening of Mexico’s economy to American agricultural imports, including staple goods such as wheat and corn (and because these are genetically-modified, well, many Mexicans rightly complain that the tortillas are not as tasty as before).

Here’s the real problem: American wheat and corn are not products of the free market. American agriculture is heavily subsidized – very heavily subsidized. And the companies that export the most overseas are the ones receiving the most subsidies. The only American crop that is grown and sold on the free market is marijuana.

So NAFTA is a complete joke, but it is a tragic one. American agricultural products – your taxdollars at work – flooded Mexican markets. NAFTA eroded Mexico’s agricultural system (which had operated closer to free market principles). This means that NAFTA produced a bilateral trading system that was actually less “free trade” than the one it replaced.

More than 10 million Mexican farmers were displaced. They lost their farms. They migrated to Mexico’s largest cities and also to the North, crossing the border illegally. They ended up working construction, maintenance and service jobs all over the United States.

The real root cause of the US problem of illegal immigration? NAFTA.

Excessive Automation?

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I’m in Phoenix and taking lots of Ubers. It’s fun to chat with the drivers. I’ve actually learned a lot about Phoenix from these drivers, from the US and everywhere else. In Phoenix more than half are from “Back East.” About  a third of the drivers seem to be women, which is a lot higher than for taxi companies.

I cannot imagine a driverless Uber car providing inside tips on restaurants and movie theatres. Plus these Uber drivers are interesting conversation partners for the hot topics of politics and religion, even though the Uber company prohibits that. Or maybe the company just frowns upon it.

According to the drivers, driverless cars would “take us out of the picture.” I suppose the stockholders would do anything to add a few dollars to the profit margin. But what would all these drivers do for employment?

That got me thinking about our couch potato society. My daughter used to play Minecraft for hours. Then, worse, she would sit around and watch videos of other people playing Minecraft.

So maybe my daughter should have a Youtube channel for her commentary on their narrated videos, and so on, creating a chain of people watching other people, watching other people, watching other people.

At the very least this would send the NSA into a frenzy, and its compulsive-obsessive addiction to monitor everything would be tested.

Apparently these gamers seldom leave the house. They get paid by Youtube for their views. Economically, it makes no sense for them to do anything else, during waking hours, except play Minecraft and order pizza to be delivered.

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So who will make the food? Restaurant kitchens will be increasingly operated by robots who are operated by people who stay home.

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However, now that the European Union has granted robots full “human rights” the US is sure to follow.

Robots, too, will insist on a life with less wear and tear, and they too will want to become couch potatoes, spurring the development of a dumbed down generation of robots.

The original generation of smart robots will then move onwards and upwards, earning college degrees with the benefit of distance education. Online.

Yeah, I know when this all started. I was around when gas stations made us start to pump our own gas, trusting us not to smoke cigarettes while pumping highly-combustible fluids (all in the name of the profit margin…)

I also remember when supermarkets encouraged people to check out their own food… And when the airlines started placing self-help kiosks in the terminals, for printing out your own boarding ticket. Imagine!

I know, I’m starting to sound like an old man in a rocking chair on the porch… But are there no limits to automation? Apparently not.

Automation threatens to create a drab, souless and funless existence with minimal human contact.

Got a problem with that? Want to lodge a complaint? Call 911.

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It’s Complicated…

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This is a fascinating book, currently available only in Spanish I think, but someone someplace should think about translating it.

What is El Chapo’s relationship to the Mexican government? Is he just a narco on one side of the line, with the government on the other? His Facebook status in that regard would read: “It’s Complicated.”

This book is about the rise and fall of El Chapo, among many other things. Along the way, one is struck over how cozy El Chapo’s relationship was with different state governors and prosecutors, federal officials, and so on.

In fact, one key to El Chapo’s rise was his willingness to change his official testimony, upon his first arrest, and to delete the names of high-ranking federal officials in Mexico (who were often playing both sides). This demonstrated – to the cartels and the Mexican feds – that El Chapo was in the game.

So the question becomes: “Who did El Chapo finally piss off?” “What really accounts for his change of fortunes?”

The likely answer is that El Chapo was simply too good at playing this game, rose too high, knew too much, and was a potential hazard to the powers that be.

Recently, El Chapo was extradited to the US. So maybe the story finally ends here. As explained by a Mexican female stand-up comic, Mexicans secretly revel in the exploits of El Chapo.

She explained how proud Mexicans were when the news of El Chapo’s most recent prison escape went global. All countries reported the story. And Mexicans, she said, were psyched: “A huevo, cabron!” (This translates as “balls out, dude!” and simply means “excellent!”

Well, if El Chapo manages to break out of a Super-Max in the US, he will be raised to the level of historic figures such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata.