Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tucker Carlson: We Are Ruled By Mercenaries Who Feel No Long-Term Obligation To The People They Rule

I'm posting this transcript from Tucker Carlson speaking on Fox News, because I think it's important enough to preserve.  In other words, "Yeah.  What he said."


Happy New Year. Newly-elected Utah senator Mitt Romney kicked off 2019 with an op-ed in the Washington Post savaging Donald Trump’s character and leadership. Romney’s attack and Trump’s response this morning on Twitter are the latest salvos in a longstanding personal feud between the two men. It’s even possible that Romney is planning to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020. We’ll see. But for now, Romney’s piece is fascinating on its own terms. It’s a window into how the people in charge, in both parties, see our country.

Romney’s main complaint is that Donald Trump is a mercurial and divisive leader. That’s true of course. Beneath the personal slights, though, Romney has a policy critique. He seems genuinely angry that Trump might pull American troops out of the Syrian civil war. Romney doesn’t explain how staying in Syria would benefit America. He doesn’t appear to consider that a relevant question. More policing in the Middle East is always better. We know that. Virtually everyone in Washington agrees.
Corporate tax cuts are also popular in Washington, and Romney is strongly on board with those too. His piece throws a rare compliment to Trump for cutting the corporate rate a year ago. This isn’t surprising. Romney spent the bulk of his business career at a firm called Bain Capital. Bain Capital all but invented what is now a familiar business strategy: take over an existing company for a short period of time, cut costs by firing employees, run up the debt, extract the wealth, and move on, sometimes leaving retirees without their earned pensions. Romney became fantastically rich doing this. Meanwhile, a remarkable number of those companies are now bankrupt or extinct. This is the private equity model. Our ruling class sees nothing wrong with it. It’s how they run the country.

Mitt Romney refers to unwavering support for a finance-based economy and an internationalist foreign policy as the “mainstream Republican” view. He’s right. For generations, Republicans have considered it their duty to make the world safe for banking, while simultaneously prosecuting ever more foreign wars. Modern Democrats generally support these goals. There are signs, however, that most people do not support this, and not just in America. In countries around the world — France, Brazil, Sweden, the Philippines, Germany, and many others — voters are suddenly backing candidates and ideas that would have been unimaginable just a decade ago. These are not isolated events. What you’re watching is populations revolting against leaders who refuse to improve their lives.

Something like this has been in happening in our country for three years. Donald Trump rode a surge of popular discontent all the way to the White House. Does he understand the political revolution he harnessed? Can he reverse the economic and cultural trends that are destroying America? Those are open questions. But they’re less relevant than we think. At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live?

These are the only questions that matter. The answer used to be obvious: the overriding goal for America is more prosperity, meaning cheaper consumer goods. But is that still true? Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones, or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy? They haven’t so far. A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff. Yet drug addiction and suicide are depopulating large parts of the country. Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot.

The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would if they cared. But our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to understand our problems.

One of the biggest lies our leaders tell is that you can separate economics from everything else that matters. Economics is a topic for public debate. Family and faith and culture, those are personal matters. Both parties believe this. Members of our educated upper-middle-classes, now the backbone of the Democratic Party, usually describe themselves as fiscally responsible and socially moderate. In other words, functionally libertarian. They don’t care how you live, as long as the bills are paid and the markets function. Somehow they don’t see a connection between people’s personal lives and the health of our economy, or for that matter, the country’s ability to pay its bills. As far as they’re concerned, these are two totally separate categories.

Social conservatives, meanwhile, come to the debate from the opposite perspective, but reach a strikingly similar conclusion. The real problem, you’ll hear them say, is that the American family is collapsing. Nothing can be fixed before we fix that. Yet, like the libertarians they claim to oppose, many social conservatives also consider markets sacrosanct. The idea that families are being crushed by market forces seems never to occur to them. They refuse to consider it. Questioning markets feels like apostasy.

Both sides miss the obvious point: culture and economics are inseparably intertwined. Certain economic systems allow families to thrive. Thriving families make market economies possible. You can’t separate the two. It used to be possible to deny this. Not anymore. The evidence is now overwhelming. Consider the inner cities. Thirty years ago, conservatives looked at Detroit or Newark and were horrified by what they saw. Conventional families had all but disappeared in poor neighborhoods. The majority of children were born out of wedlock. Single mothers were the rule. Crime and drugs and disorder became universal. What caused this nightmare? Liberals didn’t want to acknowledge the question. They were benefiting from the disaster, in the form of reliable votes. Conservatives, though, had a ready explanation for inner city dysfunction: big government. Decades of badly-designed social programs had driven fathers from the home and created what they called a “culture of poverty” that trapped people in generational decline.

There was truth in what the conservatives said. But it wasn’t the whole story. How do we know? Because virtually the same thing has happened decades later to an entirely different population. In many ways, rural America now looks a lot like Detroit. This is striking because rural Americans don’t seem to have much in common with people from the inner city. These groups have different cultures, different traditions and political beliefs. Usually they have different skin colors. Rural people are white conservatives, mostly. Yet the pathologies of modern rural America are familiar to anyone who visited downtown Baltimore in the 1980s: Stunning out of wedlock birthrates. High male unemployment. A terrifying drug epidemic.

Two different worlds. Similar outcomes. How did this happen? You’d think our ruling class would be interested in knowing the answer. Mostly they’re not. They don’t have to be. It’s easier to import foreign labor to take the place of native-born Americans who are slipping behind. But Republicans now represent rural voters. They ought to be interested. Here’s a big part of the answer: male wages declined. Manufacturing, a male-dominated industry, all but disappeared over the course of a generation. All that remained in many areas were the schools and the hospitals, both traditional employers of women. In many places, women suddenly made more than men. Before you applaud this as a victory for feminism, consider the effects. Study after study has shown that when men make less than women, women generally don’t want to marry them. Maybe they should want to, but they don’t. Over big populations, this causes a drop in marriage, a spike in out of wedlock births, and all the familiar disasters that follow: more drug and alcohol abuse, higher incarceration rates, fewer families formed in the next generation. This isn’t speculation, or propaganda from the evangelicals. It’s social science. We know it’s true. Rich people know it best of all. That’s why they get married before they have kids. That model works. Increasingly, marriage is a luxury only the affluent in America can afford.

And yet, and here’s the bewildering and infuriating part, those very same affluent married people, the ones making virtually all the decisions in our society, are doing pretty much nothing to help the people below them get and stay married. Rich people are happy to fight malaria in Congo. But working to raise men’s wages in Dayton or Detroit? That’s crazy.

This is negligence on a massive scale. Both parties ignore the crisis in marriage. Our mindless cultural leaders act like it’s still 1961, and the biggest problem American families face is that sexism is preventing millions of housewives from becoming investment bankers or Facebook executives.

For our ruling class, more investment banking is always the answer. They teach us it’s more virtuous to devote your life to some soulless corporation than it is to raise your own kids. Sheryl Sandburg of Facebook wrote an entire book about this. Sandburg explained that our first duty is to shareholders, above our own children. No surprise there. Sandburg herself is one of America’s biggest shareholders. Propaganda like this has made her rich. What’s remarkable is how the rest of us responded. We didn’t question why Sandburg was saying this. We didn’t laugh in her face at the pure absurdity of it. Our corporate media celebrated Sandburg as the leader of a liberation movement. Her book became a bestseller: Lean In. As if putting a corporation first is empowerment. It’s not. It’s bondage. Republicans should say so.

They should also speak out against the ugliest parts of our financial system. Not all commerce is good. Why is it defensible to loan people money they can’t possibly repay? Or charge them interest that impoverishes them? Payday loan outlets in poor neighborhoods collect 400 percent annual interest. We’re ok with that? We shouldn’t be. Libertarians tell us that’s how markets work: consenting adults making voluntary decisions about how to live their lives. OK. But it’s also disgusting. If you care about America, you ought to oppose the exploitation of Americans, whether it’s happening in the inner city or on Wall Street.

And by the way, if you really loved your fellow Americans, if it would break your heart to see them high all the time. Which they are. A huge number of our kids, especially our boys, are smoking weed constantly. You may not realize that, because new technology has made it odorless. But it’s everywhere. That’s not an accident. Once our leaders understood they could get rich from marijuana, marijuana became ubiquitous. In many places, tax-hungry politicians have legalized or decriminalized it. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner now lobbies for the marijuana industry. His fellow Republicans seem fine with that. “Oh, but it’s better for you than alcohol,” they tell us. Maybe. Who cares? Talk about missing the point. Try having dinner with a 19-year-old who’s been smoking weed. The life is gone. Passive, flat, trapped in their own heads. Do you want that for your kids? Of course not. Then why are our leaders pushing it on us? You know the reason. Because they don’t care about you.

When you care about people, you do your best to treat them fairly. Our leaders don’t even try. They hand out jobs and contracts and scholarships and slots at prestigious universities based purely on how we look. There’s nothing less fair than that, though our tax code comes close. Under our current system, an American who works for a salary pays about twice the tax rate of someone who’s living off inherited money and doesn’t work at all. We tax capital at half of what we tax labor. It’s a sweet deal if you work in finance, as many of the richest people do. In 2010, for example, Mitt Romney made about $22 million dollars in investment income. He paid a federal tax rate of 14 percent. For normal upper-middle-class wage earners, the federal tax rate is nearly 40 percent. No wonder Romney supports the status quo. But for everyone else, it’s infuriating. Our leaders rarely mention any of this. They tell us our multi-tiered tax code is based on the principles of the free market. Please. It’s based on laws that congress passed, laws that companies lobbied for in order to increase their economic advantage. It worked well for those people, but at a big cost to everyone else. Unfairness is profoundly divisive. When you favor one child over another, your kids don’t hate you. They hate each other. That happens in countries too. It’s happening in ours, probably by design. Divided countries are easier to rule. Nothing divides us like the perception that some people are getting special treatment. In our country, some people definitely are. Republicans should oppose that with everything they have.

What kind of country do you want to live in? A fair country. A decent country. A cohesive country. A country whose leaders don’t accelerate the forces of change purely for their own profit and amusement. A country you might recognize when you’re old. A country that listens to young people who don’t live in Brooklyn. A country where you can make a solid living outside of the big cities. A country where Lewiston, Maine seems almost as important as the west side of Los Angeles. A country where environmentalism means getting outside and picking up the trash. A clean, orderly, stable country that respects itself. And above all, a country where normal people with an average education who grew up no place special can get married, and have happy kids, and repeat unto the generations. A country that actually cares about families, the building block of everything.

What will it take a get a country like that? Leaders who want it. For now, those leaders will have to be Republicans. There’s no option at this point. But first, Republican leaders will have to acknowledge that market capitalism is not a religion. Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster. You’d have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families isn’t worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society.

Internalizing this won’t be easy for Republican leaders. They’ll have to unlearn decades of bumper sticker-talking points and corporate propaganda. They’ll likely lose donors in the process. Libertarians are sure to call any deviation from market fundamentalism a form of socialism. That’s a lie. Socialism is a disaster. It doesn’t work. It’s what we should be working desperately to avoid. But socialism is exactly what we’re going to get, and soon, unless a group of responsible people in our political system reforms the American economy in a way that protects normal people.

If you want to put America first, you’ve got to put its families first.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

So there I was...

Years ago, I participated in a Corps level army exercise.  Early one afternoon, the 3 man CI team I was on found the Corps headquarters almost completely unguarded (one squad on patrol), with a single antenna sited within 50 feet of the command tents. They had one huge generator running everything. It was a hundred meters or so out beyond the hive of tents, because it was noisy and smelly.  We got hold of an O/C (referee), and told him that our team was going to shoot the generator. (He ruled it would take 3 shots to disable.)  He got another O/C to go turn the generator off himself, while we moved about 100 meters along the wood line.  Then we waited for the repair guy to show up. We shot him, too. Then we relocated, because the nearest patrol was only a half hour away.  The O/C thought the whole thing was hilarious.
The entire Corps command center went dark for the rest of the day. No lights, no computers, no comms. No backups, either, apparently.  One Sergeant Major had brought a whiteboard and pens in his own footlocker, and tracked the battle himself based on the reports of radio relays from a truck.
When the command center got power again the next morning, it hadn't moved, and their sole antenna was still in position next to the tents. So when they started broadcasting again, we called an artillery strike in on their location, and killed everybody. The 3-star was PISSED.

The only survivor was that SGM with the white board.  He had been having the truck with the radio move at least once per hour.  When the radios went live again, he got in the truck and had the driver move over a kilometer away into the forest.  We had a drink with him later, and laughed about the whole thing.  We didn't know it at the time, but the maneuver units performed a lot better without the Corps micromanaging them.

The General ordered the MPs to arrest us if they ever saw us again.  Not exercise mock-arrest, either.  Oddly enough, he didn't get his 4th star, and retired after turning over command the next year.

That's what I call a job well done.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Quantum Gravity redux

One of my faults is a dislike of repeating myself.  That doesn't work well with the blogging and education format.  So I will repeat and clarify my previous thoughts.

Most of what you can easily find on the web about relativity (both special and general) is bunk and half-truths.  As Terry Pratchett said, it's "lies for children".  I have guesses as to why this is so.  Most people, and this includes scientists, don't actually know much about what they're talking about.  Scientists don't know much about the real world any more.  They are mathematicians working with computer models.  And they're not taught to write well.

So, here is my explanation of relativity, garnered from years of layman research and thinking.

You cannot explain relativity without explaining gravity.  You cannot explain gravity without explaining quantum fields.

A quantum field is how each of the forces that comprise the universe exists and operates.  Each force has its own field.  Particles are standing waves in those fields. The fields interact with each other constantly, according to specific laws.  Changes in the electric field produce changes in the magnetic field, and vice versa.

Spacetime is a field.  It governs motion.  Gravity is a differential in that field.  Everything tends to move from a higher level to a lower level, gaining energy as it does so.  The base energy of the spacetime field is a large positive number.  All other fields derive their energy from spacetime, reducing it accordingly.  This reduction propagates spherically at the speed of light.  (Since the fields have been around since the beginning of time, most of this propagation has already happened.  We just see changes now.)  Gravity is an effect, not a cause.  And it pushes from empty space, instead of pulling towards concentrations of energy.  (Although I will admit, that is a bit of "Six of one, a half dozen of another.")  The spacetime field, as all other fields, is quantized.  ('Quantized' is a fancy term for working with integers, not real numbers.)  In fact, spacetime quantization may be the cause of all other quantizations.  There is a minimum bit of energy, and a minimum bit of time and space.  But these minimum distances and times are relative to a particle.  Spacetime is not a static, integer grid, but rather a smooth flow of the real numbers.

Look at the curvature of spacetime.  That is to say, the difference in energy levels across an area.  If you take a reference from a flat plane parallel to the resting energy of spacetime, you can see the angle made at each point.  The sine of this angle is the motion associated with this spot, where 1=c, the speed of light.  The cosine of this angle is the time associated with this spot, with 1 being the slowest passage of time possible.  Note that these numbers are what a particle at that spot would experience, based on the spacetime curvature.  Please note the elegance of this.  Sin^2 + Cos^2 = 1, as Einstein proved the relationships of Special Relativity are based on the Pythagorean theorem.

Be aware that an alternate explanation is that the angle could be derived from a simple fraction of the whole - how much energy remains at that spot.  This has a subtle but important difference from local curvature.  This distinction could be tested by conducting experiments with atomic clocks at the various Lagrange points, most particularly L4 or L5.

What I just described is special relativity.  This is the laws of motion and experienced time for a single moment in a static universe.  General relativity is what you get when you turn the universe back on, and have constant movement and change everywhere.

Please note that any particle gains energy as it moves down the spacetime slope (stealing it from spacetime), and loses energy as it moves upslope (returning it to spacetime).  Please also note that particles maintain their own speed and perceived time by having their own forward-reverse energy differentials.  (forward is lower energy, reverse is higher energy.  There is not net gain or loss, but a lot of energy can be involved in creating the difference.  That's how AC power works, by the way.)  This explains red/blue shift and differences in perception between viewpoints.

Please also note that the numbers generated are perceived, not actual.  There is a baseline of space and time, independent of every observer.  If this were not so, then photons could not exist, move, and change.  To a photon, all space is the same point, and all time is the same time.  Where would they travel, and when would they change?

Please also note that spacetime has an exact meaning.  Motion is space divided by time.  Therefore, for motion to exist, there must be a field governing both space and time.  And for that to work, along with the basis of quantum theory, there must be a minimum time and a shortest distance.  There must also be a largest possible energy, along with a lowest possible (non-zero) energy.

There is no disconnect between relativity and quantum theory.  There are no paradoxes.  Infinities exist only in the mathematical descriptions.  Scientists, being human, often forget (or never learn) that the map is not the territory.  The math is not the reality.

Quantum randomization is the effect of quantized waves interacting over a smooth spacetime.  Integer based distances interacting while moving on a real number line always round up or down, but which way they round is based entirely upon things you cannot detect, since all you can see is the integers themselves.  Everything is deterministic, yet simultaneously random through the wonderful effects of mathematical chaos.  Small differences can have major effects.  Or sometimes not.

Are black holes hollow?

First off, watch this:  PBS Spacetime

The most interesting take - the entire energy budget of a black hole can exist on its surface.  The surface area expands linearly with energy.

Huh.  So that means that black holes could be hollow.  Absolutely nothing would exist inside the hollow shell.  Which actually makes sense, if the bottom limit to the spacetime energy field is zero, not some negative number presumably smaller than infinity.  And our universe ends at the edge of the real number line, and does not enter the complex plane.

It also explains how black holes can have an electric charge that affects anything outside themselves.  (Work with me here.  If black holes derive from point-like singularities inside the event horizon, and electric fields propagate at the speed of light, then the electric field cannot flow from the singularity to out beyond the event horizon.  Both of these things cannot be simultaneously true.)

Of course, the inside of a black hole would still be the place on the map labeled, "Here be dragons."  There could be an absolute nothingness inside, devoid of all energy.  Or, perhaps, the place where the complex plane impinges and intersects with our "real" universe.  Remember, the gravity at every point inside a hollow sphere is equal to the gravity at the shell of the sphere.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

A very merry Christmas to you and yours, from me and mine.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

Thursday, December 20, 2018

DOD delenda est

The Pentagon, and the DOD leadership and management as a whole, is completely and utterly broken.  Not only are they a bunch of weasels, they are, for the most part, sniveling, incompetent, cowardly weasels.

As example #1, the Air Farce is still slow-rolling the light attack aircraft program into oblivion.  We've only known we needed these ground support planes for 17 years now.  That's 4 world wars, if you're counting.  Read Commander Salamander's thoughts on the subject.  

This leads me to something I've been contemplating for quite some time now.  The Pentagon concentrates all its attention, money, and cronyism on preparing (badly) for "the big one."  This degrades the existing forces, in addition to using sledgehammers to kill mosquitoes.

It's time and past time to build a completely separate organization, dedicated to fighting LIC/insurgencies. This new organization needs to be completely separate from the rest of the DOD. It should include ground, air, and brown water components. The ground component needs to be wheeled, leg, and airmobile infantry, with supporting arms and sustainment services. The air component needs to be surveillance, ground support, transport, and sustainment, and a complete ban on supersonic aircraft. The brown water component needs to have patrol, sustainment, and transport capabilities, along with a few cutters seconded for near-shore (dare I say littoral?) work.
Write it into their charter that the entire service may not employ, directly or indirectly, more than 4% commissioned officers, with a further 4% warrant officers authorized.

Women "warriors"

What Mr. Briggs said.  "Women warriors are like pizza bagels."

Since this topic came up, I felt the need to comment on just what a bad idea this is, has been, and forever will be.

Women may handle household stresses better than men, but they don’t handle battlefield stresses at all.
Coed barracks work exactly like coed college dorms, but with extra added drama, and the chance of sudden death during the work day.
Women perform adequately in limited roles in a static defense. There have been successful women snipers, for example.
Women perform admirably in noncombat support roles, like intelligence, nursing, and the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned paperwork shuffling.
Women perform absolutely abysmally in any direct combat role. They are useless in the assault, and worse than useless when defending against an assault.
History lesson – In WWII, the Soviets fielded a few all-female large units. The Germans reacted to this development by acting as if those units were gaps in the Soviet lines. They weren’t wrong. The Soviets soon withdrew and disbanded these units, sending the women to support positions in the rear.
Men are irrational in the presence of women. Women utterly destroy the morale and cohesion of any combat unit they are in. Not to mention being completely useless at 90% of necessary tasks in the field, due to being too physically weak. There is a tradition of women “paying” men to do their chores out in the field, because they simply can’t, or don’t want to.
Personal story – When I was in 7th Army PLDC (Sergeant School), lo these many years ago, I was in a mixed squad. Oh, how the women told us that they were just as good as we men were at everything. No, they were even better! Then we went out in the field, and only one of the four females acted like a soldier. (The butch lesbian. Go figure.) When I was squad leader, I gave the M-60 machine gun to one, the tripod and spare ammo to another, and the PRC-77 radio and batteries to the third useless complainer. I made them carry their share of the load until they sat down, cried, and refused to go any further. That took all of about 20 minutes, during which we had marched less than a mile. Then I took everything from them. Their combined loads, plus what I was already carrying. And humped all of it the entire rest of the day without complaint, and without slowing down. (I weighed 142 pounds back then, and was carrying at least that much load.) I even had them give up their personal packs for other squad members to carry, since they were so tired and weak and frail. They didn’t tell us how wonderful they all were again after that. And nobody else put up with their malingering bull#@% after that, either.