Tactics

Tarun Chhabra, now a senior director on Biden’s National Security Council, wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2020 an article titled “The Left Should Play the China Card: Foreign Rivalry Inspires Progress at Home,” Chhabra argued that framing “large-scale public investment” as a way to counter China was the surest way to get conservatives on board.

Asia always has been perceived as a direct competitor. The increased, mindless abuse on US Asian citizens today by the socially inadequate Trumpists and racists reflects how misdirected the US electorate becomes when dealing with sophisticated, foreign diplomacy issues.

Mariner is concerned about Chhabra’s militant attitude. It is very true and proven throughout history that a foreign enemy unifies the home front. It is also proven, even back to the Mesopotamian wars in 2900 BC, that if the home front wins the skirmish, the losers are deliberately killed or made into slaves. (Did the reader see the news clip where a man shoved an older Asian woman to the ground and stomped on her face?) Today it’s a game of teamsmanship not survivorship.

During World War II, Asian citizenry was collected and imprisoned in internment camps until after the war – something like seizing a whole hay pile for fear there may be a needle. Innocent lives were ruined. The same was true for Germans and Italians although their appearance protected them to a great degree. The point is that militancy quickly will unify a nation but at great cost to civilized behavior and especially to a democracy. With the Trumpists running at large and with the nuclear warhead potency of social media, this is a dangerous strategy.

Mariner believes the real war will be fought with international economic liaisons, something like drafting the best players to make a championship team, otherwise known as supply chain economics.

It boils down to this: Who is our most dangerous enemy? Congress.

– – – –

But wait! There is another enemy: plutocracy. As if corporate graft weren’t already a major influence in legislation, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon urges companies to play a bigger role in fixing the world’s problems. He thinks government isn’t up to the job. Already Big Data has used the pandemic to install tracking devices in hospitals, police departments and corporate marketing activities with virtually no regulations. Does the American citizen want to place control over ethics, morality and citizen rights in the hands of corporations? God forbid they may be successful instead of our woeful government. (Note that JPMorgan is a prime target of the democrats who want to restructure the role of banks.)

We may appreciate the social awareness of today’s boycotting corporations; we shouldn’t let them be in control of social issues.

As a footnote, remember the TPP? It failed because it was written by corporate interests instead of government diplomats. They wrote it in a way that ignored human and national rights.

Ancient Mariner

The New Global Economy

In a number of posts mariner has suggested that stand-alone national economies have peaked and are not the solution to the economic future. Virtually every economist feels that the economic health of the globe is failing more rapidly on a yearly basis. This may not seem as evident to the rich nations because they have a depth of wealth and assets that continue to produce profit but there are many telltale signs that even the wealthy nations have gathering clouds. (Mariner loves to mix metaphors)

Interestingly, the industry that has forced nations to reshape their economic philosophy is rare-earth minerals. In a report by The Economist the point is made that only a handful of nations have rare-earth resources (US has only one mine in California). Two of those nations are China and Peru.

Couple the disparate distribution of rare-earth minerals with the immense demand in the manufacture of electric cars, lithium batteries, jet aircraft, computers and dozens of lesser products and a classic supply/demand situation arises that will further unbalance global economics, making just a few nations wealthy while more nations succumb to severe trade imbalances.

A second but less focused desire to reshape world economics is the political war emerging among the wealthier nations. In this century China, United States, India, the European Union, Canada and Japan have taken deliberate steps to restructure international liaisons by developing supply chain relationships. Supply chain economics guarantees a dependable GDP for participating nations. The one example in recent times was the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which created an economic role for 11 nations on the Pacific Rim.

As a first time effort, TPP failed by displacing cultural and human rights in each nation in favor of capital gain; in effect the partnership would have authority over national governments. That should be a lesson learned as supply chain economics matures.

One muses that as China seeks to unify the small Pacific Rim nations, might the United States do the same with the Caribbean – yes even Cuba?

Ancient Mariner

On Character

When mariner and his wife moved to Maryland, he had thoughts of entering politics. He and his wife even campaigned actively for Bobbie Kennedy. He quickly became disillusioned. Unlike religion which requires devotion to and belief in morality and advocacy, politics requires just the opposite: make deals about anything – not just legislative language but in terms of self-interest, graft, favoritism, party mandates, graft, quid pro quo and graft.

During this century, mariner is reminded more strongly every day of the fish tank he had years ago. The legislators are the fish and greedily accept the cash and favors fed to them by corporations and plutocrats.

There are a few ideologues, AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) stands out among the few. On the conservative side, it’s the old timers who remember marching under the flag of fiscal responsibility but even they have compromised their principles, going into deep national debt not for national stability but to unnecessarily cut taxes to the rich, underwrite Donald’s wish list and eliminate regulations that controlled corporate quality assurance and required at least some allegiance to citizens.

Whenever a politician stands against opportunism and defends the righteousness of moral responsibility (Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney come to mind) it is noteworthy.

As always, the dysfunction is traced back to the electorate. When Liz Cheney voted to accept the vote of the Electoral College – even though she knew it would provoke an energized primary campaign against her in Wyoming – she stood for moral responsibility. Of course the electorate doesn’t recognize the higher qualities of leadership and representation that transcend party politics.

The simplistic mind of the electorate is why the run-of-the-mill legislator will not let go of Trump policy – competition in the primaries. The naive electorate (mariner cannot for his life sympathize with this mindset) wants controversial, sort of like ‘go big or go home’ politicians. This mindset is a greenhouse in which to grow dictators.

The one legislative action that will placate the electorate is jobs and good wages AKA the infrastructure bill. The minority leader says no.

Just as a footnote, the content of the infrastructure bill counters many of the standards and the government philosophy set under Reagan. Things may go easier in 2122 if younger republicans and democrats replaced the fuddy-duddies.

Ancient Mariner

IF

IF the reader was born before the Vietnam War (1954), their core understanding of reality and related social values is outdated – functional but outdated. Life values accumulate via growth experiences until around the age of 25; developing pragmatic skills through adulthood by participating in society benefits society. The opportunity to successfully participate in society fades after the age of 60 because two younger generations have created a different reality during their growing and productive years.

A good analogy for elders is walking lost on a Manhattan sidewalk at noon. What is important to social stability is that everyone over 60 has earned and deserves a pleasant time during their retirement.

It is true that some personalities will insist on an active, decision-making role in this century but their values and experiences are not quite in tune with the needs of a newer society.

IF

If the reader believes in the sanctity of the Universe, its tough and rugged rules for existence, its rules for sustaining a sensitive balance of life forms and further that all life forms are subject to the rules of Nature – then the reader tends toward being a naturalist. Perhaps the broadest philosophical point for a naturalist is sustaining Nature’s status quo, its balancing act among all matter living and nonliving.

Being a naturalist, the reader is aware that Homo sapiens has tinkered with longevity beyond what Nature would grant. Just in the modern era, the lifespan of humans in 1943 was 53; today it is close to 80. “Why,” the reader might ask, “has society nearly doubled the lifespan of humans but feels no responsibility for the overpopulated outcome not only concerning humans but their imbalance with the rest of the ecosystem?” Three alternatives have been tried that inadvertently limit population but have not become a sustained practice for balancing human population:

(1) Execution. Imposed death of family members and servants was practiced by Egypt for centuries; even today there is a voodoo group that still practices ceremonial sacrifice for the good of the family or society. A small remnant of ritual assassination remains through execution of unwanted criminals. And, of course, before the invention of explosives, changes in culture or climate forced relatively large armies to brutally kill each other in a war.

(2) Limited reproduction. From time to time, especially in Asian societies, a family was constrained by social rules to have only one child. A different variation existed recently when Asian families decided not to have that one child be female because males were more valued for their opportunity to work and bring more resources to the family. In 2015 Xi Jinping removed the offspring limitation for economic reasons.

(3) Prevented reproduction. These methods can be considered to be common practices to prevent pregnancy; for example, abortion, sexual preventatives like condoms and vaginal obstruction, and pharmaceuticals.

If one is a naturalist, given the overpopulation issue, one is confused by a culture that insists on enforcing the birth of children who may not be wanted or who will burden the life of the family beyond normal circumstances and at the same time other factions insist on pregnancy as a personal choice unaffected by reproduction issues.

As is almost always the case, Nature controls biological balance. Does the reader know that caucasians, Asians, Europeans, Russians, in fact the whole world is losing population? Just in the United States, where white supremacists are active, the white race will be a minority in the 2124 Presidential campaign and will disappear as a political entity by the end of the century.

Mariner is reminded of the noted mouse and rat studies in the 1960’s that showed when the caged population reached a point of imbalance in terms of space, mating environments and social bickering, the population suddenly dropped to about a third and stayed there for a long period.

Ancient Mariner

These are trying times

Trying times is an understatement.

The migration of tens of millions of people, exacerbated by a changing climate, will be one of the mega-trends of the 21st century, Bryan Walsh writes in Axios Future:

“For both humanitarian and political reasons, wealthy countries like the U.S. will need to figure out a way to handle a flow of people that may never stop. People make the difficult decision to leave their homes for many reasons, including conflict and crime, political persecution, and the simple desire for a better life.

“But a growing factor is the push of extreme weather and climate change, which disproportionately affect people living in poorer, hot countries that are already a major source of migrations to the U.S. That means the U.S., as well as the rich nations of Europe face a permanent and likely growing flow of climate migrants that they — and the international refugee system — are ill-equipped to handle.

“The catch: Climate change’s precise role in migration is tangled up with more immediate factors, like security and economic well-being.

“A Gallup survey released this week found that more than a quarter of the population of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean — which would amount to 120 million people — would like to permanently move to another country.

“42 million of those want to come to the U.S.”

More and more folks recognize that global warming is real. In the United States the political resistance comes from fossil fuel interests, the Trumpist anti-science movement and twentieth century conservatives. The combination of global warming, social modification due to artificial intelligence, a global virus pandemic and an apocalyptic shift in global economy – all at the same time – easily is more disruptive socially than the eruption of Vesuvius was to Mediterranean society or the environmental disruption caused by Krakatoa.

It is true humans are their own worst enemy. There are some egregious habits like death by war, life by stunting the Earth’s natural threats of viruses, visceral disorders, unnaturally prolonged lifespan, and other relationships that would control human population.

Adam Smith’s concept of moralistic capitalism no longer serves the common people. For one thing, there are far too many common people; for another, capitalism is competitive and slowly has separated wealth from the far too many common people; and finally there are far too many common people for the amount of natural resources available.

Humans added to population by inventing self-propelled transportation that easily spreads population centers over greater areas, easily heated homes and technologies capable of wiping out any number of biomass balances from air and water pollution to the directly related extinction of over 16,000 species.

These are trying times!

The trouble is, we can’t go back. We’re stuck with this mess and finally must take drastic actions to restore order – actions that we should have been managing all along but didn’t bother.

Has anyone seen Chicken Little? Is it true Amos went back to the farm? Guru is taking strong antidepressant pills.

Ancient Mariner

Freedom of Speech

A brief quote from Leon Wieseltier in White Rose Magazine:

“After everything that liberalism endured and survived, after the unimaginably savage assaults of fascism and communism, we must steadfastly fight for it all over again, and we must begin again at the beginning.”

Wieseltier defines liberalism as the antithesis of authoritarianism. Liberalism can be conservative or progressive but it exists as a willingness to let things evolve naturally and to stay within sight of individualism. In his article, Wieseltier takes a different view of the terrorists and racists and includes the opposite side of Black Lives Matter and protests against police brutality. All of them, he contends, are starting at the beginning to recapture the individualism that has disappeared more and more rapidly in the last fifty years.

He fears that it will get worse before it gets better. The reader can imagine the cost to individuality from the Internet and its many homogenizing activities; the psychology of orderliness is no longer a person-to-person experience rather it is a form of compliance with the status quo – the path of least resistance, the easiest way to comply with social norms.

Mariner often has cited the 1980 Reagan shift that separated profit and national commitment into the wealthy and their corporations while letting go of obligation to the citizenry at large. (Mariner is not alone in this opinion; it is a very popular assumption among economists and sociologists.) In a vague manner, the common citizen had to take what the plutocrats offered – top down instead of bottom up. Between automation of the soul and oppression of life’s rewards, liberalism has largely disappeared.

The ideological collapse of the Republican Party is a symptom of these times. So is the progressive democrat charge into socialist solutions. Lost in between are liberalism and the importance of individualism. Expressed in Constitutional terms, there is no right to freedom of speech.

Perhaps Wieseltier has it right: we must begin at the beginning, perhaps not in open violence but in rearranging the ethical core of our nation; fighting need not be abusive but it must take physical action.

Ancient Mariner

In the news

֎ An interesting poll from GALLUP. What’s interesting is that in one year China jumped significantly over Russia as the greatest enemy of the United States:

Americans’ Perceptions of the U.S.’s Greatest Enemy

What one country anywhere in the world do you consider to be the United States’ greatest enemy today?

Feb 3-21    Feb 3-20      Change
%    % pct. pts.
China 45 22 23
Russia 26 23 3
North Korea/Korea 9 12 -3
Iran 4 19 -15
Iraq 2 7 -5
Afghanistan 1 1 0
United States itself 1 1 0
Mexico 1 1
Saudi Arabia 1 -1
Middle East (non-specific) 1 -1
Japan 1 -1
Israel 2 -2
Syria 1 -1
Pakistan 1 -1

The reader must take note that this poll coincides with the coronavirus pandemic. Still, despite the economic catastrophe affecting every nation, China’s size and fast rising GDP (7 percent) makes that nation look more healthy and successful than the US. Further, the cultural differences cause concern as China continues to squeeze individual rights and continues virtual genocide against the Uighur and Kazak Muslims in Xinjiang Province. Finally, modern technology has opened a new arena in spying and warfare that makes every nation paranoid.

֎ While the politicians, public, fossil fuel corporations, press and social media continue bickering whether global warming exists, Federal agencies are taking scientific information seriously. The agencies are trying to figure out models of projection that will predict damage.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Housing Finance Agency and NASA all have met with analytical firms to explore tools that will help protect taxpayers, banks and homes from rising seas, worsening rainstorms and severe droughts linked to climate change.

Mariner advises readers not to invest in coastal properties – especially in Florida where the peninsula will shrink by one fifth including everything below Lake Okeechobee – places like West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Naples and the Keys.

֎ Has the reader seen the news clips of folks on spring break? Sigh. Because mariner’s wife is brave and dutiful and has ventured into the outside world, he has been in virtual quarantine. He has spoken in person only to three other individuals in a year. The vaccination occurred so fast that he didn’t even speak to the technician. Mariner is old and fossilized but he is concerned what this year of isolation has done to elementary school children. Prepubescent children suffer subconsciously and will carry silent aberrations for the rest of their lives.

֎ A growing strategy by the GOP is to blame Joe for immigration numbers. Mariner suggests no President of any party, no authoritarian figurehead can alter the growing migration issue not only from Latin countries but from every country into every country around the globe. The reason: weak global economics and changing climate. Even squirrels know to migrate to mariner’s feeding station when there’s a foot of snow on the ground.

֎ Not in the news but referencing the post about pop psych, mariner is reminded that the pop psych terms ‘inductive’ and ‘deductive’ are similar to ‘what’ and ‘why’.

Ancient Mariner

 

Nation Tectonics

Recently mariner wrote a post describing the new international strategy of nations integrating responsibility for economics and other international issues rather than using traditional treaties and trade agreements. He learned that Joe Biden already has started dialogue with this strategy in mind. From Axios:

“President Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken meet virtually Friday with the other leaders of “The Quad” — an alliance of Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. that aims at being a counterweight to China, which the administration calls “the biggest geopolitical test of the 21st century.”

The reader may recall in the post that there was a ‘sumo’ league forming around the Pacific Ocean. The quad mentioned includes two of the three sumos: the US and India. Australia already is feeling China deliberately undermining its fishing industry and comically if not seriously, India and China are in a battle using the number of toilets each has to represent modernity.

While the Quad may tie up GDP and political influence among the larger Pacific nations, China also has the ‘Belt and Road’ strategy to bind the Far East, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia into a giant supply chain. It’s almost like plate tectonics except it is nations slowly moving into a new economic era.

Mariner is eager for North and South America to establish a similar supply line dependency. Think how many issues could be normalized if both continents had better governments and economies. Maybe immigration would go away if there were no reason to flee failing governments.

Ancient Mariner

Trends

֎ From NEWSY:

“A White nationalist movement that fueled a new rise for Europe’s far-right continues to gain momentum around the world and is helping to lure in and radicalize new recruits, according to terrorism experts. The French government dissolved the world’s first major “Identitarian” group in February, but not before its underlying ideology spread to at least 16 countries, including the U.S. White nationalist groups have become increasingly emboldened in their efforts to recruit. An explosion of propaganda, stickers and banners warn of a coming “invasion” of immigrants.”

The article documents the growth of far-right vigilantism around the world – perhaps because the numbers of immigrants grow due to collapsed economies and shifting climate and aided by social media. Here in the United States there is enough economy at the moment to curtail the use of field artillery and military assaults. Still, the political force is growing. The target will be the democratic concepts of any government: the government itself (January 6), voting (GOP?) and civil liberties (elect Donald again).

Mariner doesn’t believe that within the United States there will be a collapse of democracy – which already has happened within NATO and middle-eastern nations but for the US it will be a thorn in the side of progress through these difficult times.

֎ GOP: When is it time to put the ol’ horse down?

Here’s the current breakdown of all Senators by age:

80s: 7
70s: 24
60s: 38
50s: 19
40s: 12

So around a third are aged over 70 and around two thirds are over 60.

Term limits would solve the problem. A maximum of three six year terms should be enough to make a decent contribution (mariner believes there should be an age limit as well). The point is this: The GOP perception of conservative government hasn’t changed since 1980. It hasn’t changed because the old fogeys, who grew up and established their career in a time that no longer exists, are still in charge of GOP politics. The turtle is 79; mariner’s senator is 87. Don’t forget our Presidents: Donald left office at 75 and Joe is 78.

The entire Senate is over the hill; of 100 senators, 69 are over 60! What saves the democrats from the same extent of criticism is that the democrats always are trying to change something rather than defend the status quo.

The coronavirus, introduced by godly forces tired of lagging progress, has short-sheeted the GOP. The GOP quickly must remake their bed – much more quickly than the normal evolution of economics and culture would require.

In case a reader doesn’t know how to put the ol’ horse down, it is quick and bloodless: don’t vote for them. Not only that, vote for someone under 55.

֎ Make note of the term XR (extended reality – a term from gaming corporations that has become a term meaning take as much human activity and responsibility as possible and put it on the Internet). Many corporations are redefining their dream income model to be completely online and, this is the interesting part, be the sole owner of entire segments of society. AirB&B sees itself as the Department of Housing and Urban Development for all homes in the US; Uber imagines that all cars – repeat, ALL cars – will belong to Uber. Already Zuckerberg is challenging antitrust lawsuits by saying the Internet is the competition. All money, too, will be bitcoins. A big question: which corporation will own all the banks and credit card companies?

So the government will have a lot less to worry about since corporations will automate everything using proprietary software. Who will own all the votes?

Ancient Mariner

Some of this, some of that

֎ Strolling about on the search engine, as is mariner’s wont, he came across an infrequent word that took him back to college/preacher days when he was reading about religion, philosophy and logic and as a preacher, dealing with religious understanding as part of his job. The word is ‘theodicy’. Mariner had to search for a while but he found a post written in 2016 about this very topic. The subject of theodicy had been raised when one of his nonagenarian friends used the word. Mariner was surprised that someone actually knew this word and its context in theology. A discussion ensued about the goodness of God, whether goodness was derived from human experience and other obtuse considerations.

The next day mariner wrote the post in an effort to settle the meaning of the term theodicy. Mariner provides the reference if you are curious about theodicy; be forewarned that there definitely is no room for emoji and other iconery. [Go to the Home page and search “Theodicy and Secularism” posted March 19, 2016.]

֎ On a less esoteric front, March is upon us. Living on the 40th parallel, small thoughts of gardening, shrub pruning and weed killing poke into consciousness. This past winter was unusual in that there was significant snow cover for about three to four weeks. This snow just now is disappearing as the Sun’s rays melt it away.

Having the snow cover for so long has been hard on small wildlife. Mariner’s shrubbery has exceptional damage caused by hungry rabbits, eating some smaller shrubs to the ground. Rabbits are one of those creatures nature put in place so predators would have something to eat. In a town, there are no indigenous predators.

Sometimes a fox will take residence in town; they are excellent predators. Once in a while the few Redtail hawks will capture a young rabbit and sometimes one of the few feral cats will catch one. None of these predators, however, do enough damage to control rabbit population. In his defense, mariner has become a predator, too. But he isn’t any better at killing rabbits than all the other town predators. So it will be another year of cursing the rabbit in the yard because the rabbit is between mariner and his rifle.

֎ Moving on to more serious matters, mariner wrote in a few posts about the need to have multiple nations bond together administratively in order to manage global issues. An early, embryotic move in this direction is how nations are dividing chores among themselves to deal with China. Note this paragraph from Politico:

“COUNTERING CHINA WITH … MODULAR SECTORAL ALLIANCES? The Wall Street Journal reports progress within the Biden administration on how to organize containment of China. According to the report, alliances would be sectoral and the members would differ with each issue. The core alliance members would be the G-7 countries, with others added according to need: a modular model that avoids new bureaucratic institutions and resembles calls for a T-10 group of democratic tech allies. For example, Israel on tech and artificial intelligence, or India on trade issues. Don’t expect that every country will announce their participation.”

Ancient Mariner