Enough Already!

There is rising angst these days on Facebook about the internment of Japanese-American citizens right after Pearl Harbor.
It was done by a liberal president (FDR) and the very liberal Governor of California — the soon-to-be liberal Chief Justice of the United States, Earl Warren.

That said, the overreaction was of its time, and the Untied States had just had the Pacific Fleet had almost completely been sunk!

I lived through Dec. 7 as a young child, and felt the palpable terror deep in our mainland. You can’t place today’s morales, and ethics, on those in the past.

It was terrible. The Japanese-Americans were badly treated and their property seized. They deserve reparations, perhaps even their children deserve reparations — but at some point reparations as a concept must end. The Italians do not owe the Greeks because the Romans enslaved the Greeks.

Sorry, Anti-Vaxers

As a Libertarian, I am more than just a bit sympathetic with the anti-vax people but I also recognize the value of the herd effect of vaccinations in a civil society.

I know the anti-vax people believe their cause, but we live in a society into which hundreds of thousands of low-income illegal aliens flood our nation annually from Third World countries, and we no longer have Ellis Island to check them for disease.

I sympathize with the anti-vaxers, but that’s about as far as it goes. If there were a sufficient number of the in a geographic location, I could see establishing a Charter School for them so that they could exchange diseases among themselves (and there may be in Marin County and Orange County), but that’s about it for accommodation.

The standard public school system is so bad that such a solution might benefit everyone.

Waiting for Leadership

Yemen is a mess, but it is Saudi Arabia’s problem — the Saudi’s oil fields are vulnerable and the Saudis and the ISIL oriented fighters in Yemen know it. The Saudis have a decent fence between the two nations, but that was only sufficient if Yemen had a relatively friendly government, and today it decidedly does not. The Yemeni rebels simply don’t have the muscle to take on the Saudis.

Now that the UAE is back in the fray through Jordanian airfields (token, to be sure), and the U.S. is still in the sky, SOMEONE has to field that famous “boots on the ground” — and while that should be Iraq, we have already seen how quickly they can run. It is reported that Delta Force is active on the ground.

ISIL was reputed to have 30,000 fighters when they rolled down that two lane “highway” from Syria, and the number appears to be 50,000 today. The Kurds have held ISIL at bay, and neither the promised German or US guns have arrived, but the armies that exist in the area. The well trained 80,000 man Jordanian Army could do it, and we don’t know if they have either decided or brought up reserves to do it, but they could.

Turkey could, but they won’t. They have a Muslim nation, politically secular but under a Muslim leader who appears to be more in league with ISIL. To be perfectly honest, there is no one until the “”new” Iraqi Army — which is more likely to be similar to the “Old” Iraqi Army — is ready…about 18 months.

We theoretically have a coalition, but it is AWOL. I understand that the president hates to “project American power” — and that is a deeply held American feeling as well, but once in awhile it needs to be done. FDR recognized that before our forced entry into WWII. Of course his interest was European, Washington D. C. being on the East Coast virtually guarantees that we have been and will continue to be Eurocentric, so he was delivering war goods to Britain long before there was a declared war.

But FDR was prepared to take leadership.

Obama is not.

Lying By Omission of Facts

The president’s declaration that Christians should get off their high horse should have been placed in historical perspective…but it wasn’t!

Heaven knows, a a Non-Believer it is not up to me to defend Christianity, but I am a Non-Believer, not Anti-Christian, so I’ll take a view more Christian than did the president.

The president surely knows that the Crusades were designed, at least in theory, to re-Conquer Jerusalem, the most sacred of Christian sites which had been seized by the Muslims. Certainly the Crusaders, at least some of them raped and pillaged on the way to recapture the “Holiest of Cities.”

Now exactly why the Crusaders wanted Jerusalem is not clear, since the Romans had reduced it to ruins in the First Century, but I look on the Crusades as sort of a Tulip Craze, and I lump Japan’s Attack on the U.S. IN 1941 in the same boat — sort of mass insanity that becomes even more contagious as it rolls.

Anyway, I put little blame on the Crusaders because they were of their time, and readers of this blog know that I am very much an anti-Presentism, Presentism being the belief that you can place todays morals and ethics upon people who never had those morals and ethics.

History is absolutely filled with wars, plots, poisoning, incest, rape, murder,,,in fact that is the way we study history…the French and Indian Wars, the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Civil War…

So the Crusades were history by men of their time, as was the Inquisition of the 15th Century, and US slavery, which had a history going back into pre-history.

To the credit of Christians, they have evolved. While they no longer rape and pillage in the name of their faith, no longer support slavery, no longer burn Heretics at the stake, ISIL does. Not only do they do 12th Century atrocities here, more than a Millennium later, they relish in their inability to conform to 21st Century norms.

Yes, Christians once did terrible things. Even our early generations treated Heretics, Witches, and Indians badly, but they too were of their day. The president made no attempt to place his remarks about Christians in their proper historical light. I suspect he did that purposely because he wants to bring his heritage — both his American and his Christian heritage down a peg or two, because he wants to normalize if not equalize everyone and everything.

It is not quite Socialism, but it moves in that direction.

Why I Support the Concept of Common Core

Let me tell you why I support at least the concept of Common Core. I want national standards, because I lived the problem on no standards.

Now I admit that the implementation of those standards has left a lot to be desire.

I graduated from a tiny school in Texas, and I was fairy smart. I went to Trinity University as a Math Major. I went to the Naval Academy in Annapolis and found out that I was among men (and they were all men at that time) whose slide rule (if you are old enough to remember those) I was not qualified to carry!

The only way that the academies get geographical representation, is to let Congress Critters appoint four nominations in each academy at any one time — or else every Cadet or Midshipman would come from Massachusetts. No one from MISSISSIPPI, Louisiana, California or Hawaii could ever enter an Academy!

There are certain common pieces of knowledge that all educated people need to know. As a Professor of Computer Science, I was dismayed by the lack of knowledge of my students, so I devised my own “Common Knowledge” test 88 questions) on which my wife and Editor each scored 77 correct.

The test was administered only to those who wished to take it, and one would think that would be those who thought they could do well. The AVERAGE was SEVEN! The HIGHEST, was TWELVE!

I support, not cookie cutters, but everyone knowing the basics. How we get there can be under local control, but Common Core was devised by STATES, not the federal government as some would infer. Yes, the Feds have tried to co-opt those standards, but they did not write them!

“Beware The Greeks….”

The newly elected Greek president, Alexis Tsipras, has said the he intends to end austerity, and renegotiate the debt. Brussels and Berlin are not amused.

(Alexis Tsipras was elected from a political party called “The Party Of The Radical Left.)

Margaret Thatcher’s brilliant observation that, ” The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money” is that, in the case of Greece, there is no one else’s money.

And, without the EU lending them more money, they will not in the future.

Apparently, Alexis Tsipras has not heard of Christina Kirchner, the president of Argentina. Her nation has delayed and delayed billions owed to hedge funds in New York, but.a Federal Judge hearing the elongated case has ordered them to pay up!

Their refusal has caused Standard and Poor to call Argentina in “Sovereign Default,” and the day of reckoning is nigh.

The European Union was wondering if the Euro would survive Greece leaving the EU, but more recently the Brussels/Berlin axis has decided the EU would be better off without Greece.

The problem that Alexis Tsipras has is exactly what happened to President Obama –indeed EVERY president of every country discovers on the first morning of his presidency, best described by the term, “Holy Crap! I had no idea it was that bad!”

There follows a dance to hide, dissemble, delay the problems, trying to keep the balls in the air — hoping the problems will either solve themselves, get solved by other nations, magically disappear, or can be nuanced sufficiently to be passed on to the new president.

Greece has its problems, but the reflected problems impact the EU and, since the EU is our main trading partner, to a minor extent, the US.

The Fear of AI

The advances since I wrote one of the Navy’s first Artificial Intelligence programs — probably the very first such program — have been exponential.

Today, my program would only qualify as “weighted values” program, because it had no Feedback Loop or an AI Engine (Inference Engine). It was designed to take all of the usual data — training, armament, fuel load, overhaul schedule, etc. and tell a Destroyer Squadron Commander which ship to deploy on short notice if one of his ships had a problem in Vietnam. (As if he didn’t already know, intuitively!)

By the time I was a Core Adjunct Professor of Computer Science teaching Artificial Intelligence, the craft had vaulted into something special, like a program at La Guardian Airport the told Controllers which runways to close or open as storms rolled across that huge airport, I real time.

Modern AI is so much better still, and people like Bill Gates, Stephen Hawkins, and Elon Musk are expressing concern about the future of AI. They have a much better view of the situation, and they would say problem, and I have no opinion on their opinion but I just think it is inevitable.

If it is inevitable — and it is like nuclear proliferation and cloning, in fact all technology. Once identified and developed it will proliferate. My concern is much less technology, which is the concern of the above mention scions of technology, than the social impact which is much more immediate — the rapid loss of jobs and the potential for social unrest the could result.

A hotel in Japan has announced that upon opening, 90 % of employees will be Robots. Said Robots will check in the guests, take bags to the room, clean the rooms, deliver the Room Service meals…the hotel hopes to exceed the reported 90%. Here at home, hospitals are using food and medicine by Robots.

As this replacement of workers increases in an effort to get labor costs under control, a modern approximation of the Luddites will appear, in the form of Labor Unions trying to protect wages and benefits. At some point in each industry, the increasing manual labor cost curve crosses the decreasing Robot cost curve.

Workers usually equate their wages with their labor cost, but, depending on the business, total labor costs can be 140% of the wages. Medical benefits, retirement, replacements for sick leave and vacations, Workman’s Comp….the list of costs in addition to the wages just keep adding up.

Before we get to the fear about AI taking over the world, we may have awful social unrest as governments wrestle with fewer workers supporting growing unemployed.as I have remarked before, the Greeks had their own Robots — called “slaves” and few people actually worked, so they gathered at the Forum to discuss whatever Greeks discussed. (They then repaired to some neighbors home, where they lay on couches and drank wine mixed with water and were entertained by women of suspect repute. Actually they were more like Geisha. Who were more conversationalists than prostitutes…though some may have been both.)

Sounds like a winner to me!

Scott Walker Scores!

The general consensus is that Scott Walker stole the Iowa beauty contest, and that is good news to me because he is my early favorite. Scott won three elections in a Blue State, against a phalanx of union members, many of whom were bused in from other states to occupy the State House.

One of my early favorites was Bobby Jindal, but he fell heavily this past weekend by leading what I consider a religious revival in Louisiana, and, a potential candidate I had previously downgraded because he was a preacher, Mike Huckabee, rose somewhat in my opinion because  he said he was not running as a preacher, but as a former Governor.

I certainly do not ask a candidate to give up his faith, but my concern is that it should not be his major driving interest. While not all Founders were Christians, many were, but none were preachers. Reading their letters and speeches, they did believe either in God or a higher power, but their faith was mentioned in passing without being a revival event.

We live in a world where Muslim extremists — and even if it is a small percentage, a small percentage if 1.2 billion is a lot of people — still live in the 12th century, and are sensitive to anything that reminds them of the Crusades of that 12th century because they live in the 12th century, remembering their glory day when Islam controlled Greece, Turkey, Spain, Sicily, Southern Italy…

When President Bush said, in September, 2001, “”this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile,” that was more than an unfortunate slip, that was a rallying cry for extremists.

Now much of the glory days of Islam geography was under Muslim freebooters, admittedly — Muslim pirates and local potentates not under any international political  leadership or any real religious leadership either.

But the Islamic geographic map was large. That large geographic map mitigated against a real Caliphate because the extent of the communications was not there. That made the Muslim world more susceptible to a semi-coherent “Army” of Crusaders picking off one portion at a time.

(I say the Crusaders were semi-coherent because they were not an “Army” in the standard sense…sort of a gaggle of peasants, merchants, Knights with 30 men retinues, and Kings/Princes with thousand-man retinues: All involved in a “Holy War” and promised eternal salvation by the Pope should they die in battle. We have heard echoes of that, recently.)

What we DONT need is any political leadership that reinforces the United States is a “Christian Nation” or that we are on a “Crusade” in the Middle East. Within the past few years the secular country of Turkey elected a Muslim president, and moved away from the Western orb. We don’t need our secular country to move into a Christian nation, reinforcing in the minds(sic) of the radicals that we are on another “Crusade.” That will just draw more to their cause.

Markets Are a National Health Thermometer

There were five million home sales in 2014, of which one million were new-home sales.

Interest rates are at historic low rates, and might even slide further, but there is also a drag on the market — low inventory.

You might logically think that low inventory and low interest rates would equate to higher prices, but, alas, that is not necessarily so. The missing ingredient is Buyers.

There aren’t enough to drive the market higher.

Why? Well, we fished out the pool over the previous several years and it takes some time to replenish the pool.

I have been a Real Estate Broker for 32 years, although I am now a “Boutique” Broker — I only handle the real estate of my friends. Real Estate is a market just like any other market, although it is one where normal people participate…without knowing they are participating in a financial market.

I hope that people do not know they are participating in a market. I hope they buy their homes because they love the looks, price and location. I hope they buy their home because it will keep them warm and dry.

That is because I am a Real Estate Broker. I am NOT an Investment Broker. I don’t know, or care if the market is going up or down for any particular client — I only look at the market overall because I care about markets in general as an American.

Markets are the thermometer for the health of the economy, and of America.

 

 

Hillary Knows, But Is Playing To The Crowd

Hillary wants us to understand our adversaries, but my concern is that if she she understands our adversaries herself, she is playing politician to those who do not understand our adversaries.

They are, unfortunately, the majority..

In short, Muslims and Christendom have been in conflict for more than a millennia, and Jews and non-believers are lumped into the term “Infidel” although they are more than willing to be spectators to the Christian Muslim kerfuffle. The Muslim will not permit this, but we must remember that Muslims have ruled many nations (think Spain), where Muslims permitted Infidels to live in peace — so long as they paid tribute.

Into this peace came the Crusades, eight in number although only the first few could be called armies, and the final Crusades were just more armed processions to Jerusalem.

(The first Crusade was substantial (100,000 Knights and Nobles) in 1095. Now THAT was a Crusade!)

While this was a “European” endeavor, it was mostly FRENCH (strangely enough). Now you may not consider the French particularly warlike, but the Crusades were anchored primarily in the Normandy area of France, which was an area populated by farmers whose previous lives were spent in an endeavor you may have heard of.

(They were Vikings!)

Now the Crusaders were a rough bunch, easily approximating the excesses of ISIS, and they raped and murdered across the continent, through the Byzantine Empire, and into Muslim territory. They savaged Jewish communities as well as Christians and Muslims.

Anyway, it is a long and murderous, history including the Barbary Pirates trouble — it was here that the newly formed United States built its first REAL Navy, a Navy designed to subdue the (Muslim) Barbary Pirates.

(It was NOT here, as commonly believed, that we decided that famous, “Millions for Defense, but not one penny for tribute!” That was actually said by  Robert Goodloe Harper, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, regarding FRANCE in the famous “XYZ Affair”)

(It was, however, there that we signed a Treaty of Tripoli, approved by the Senate unanimously and signed by a Signer of the Constitution, President John Adams) declaring that, “the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

I only mention this because I read comments on-line that “This is a Christian Nation” and it is in some ways THAT grates against other religions. We ARE a nation founded on Western, which is to say Judea Christian CONCEPTS — but we are NOT a Christian nation!

As I say, our problems — not with Muslims, per se, but with sects of the Muslim religion, have a long, long history, and one unlikely to be solved by “understanding” them. We must first try to understand who “them” are, and they are the many branches of the Muslim religion, some very violent, and morphing as they go.

Hillary is an educated woman. She knows this, but she is also a politician and knows that many do not know the history or the problems entailed with the various sects of the Muslim religion.