What, Me Worry?

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” HL Mencken

As we head towards the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, it is interesting to look at a recent survey by Ipsos Public Affairs, Which countries are on the right track, according to their citizens? that was cited in an article by the World Economic Forum. The global conclusion was that people think things are getting worse:

Between October and November 2016, the percentage of people who believe things are on the right track in their country dropped by 2 percentage points to 37% globally.

The survey is conducted online monthly in 25 countries by Ipsos. The countries are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the US. Ipsos samples 18,110 adults aged 18-64 in Canada, Israel and the US, and aged 16-64 in all other countries. They were interviewed between October 21st and November 4th 2016, with about 1000 people participating in the US and other Western countries.  The survey has an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points.

Here is a chart giving a snapshot of right track/wrong track just prior to the US presidential election:

This shows the US in the middle of the pack, with 65% of those surveyed saying we are on the wrong track. That is consistent with other surveys of American sentiment. In China, 90% of people expressed confidence in their country’s direction, followed by Saudi Arabia (80%), India (76%) and Russia (58%).

  • Among Western nations, Canadians are the only people with a predominantly positive outlook (54%).
  • The US showed a small month-on-month drop in “right track” from 37% to 35%.
  • France and Mexico bring up the rear as their citizens have the least confidence in their country’s direction: 88% and 96% of the populace respectively believe that their country is on the wrong track. Only 4% of Mexicans think their country is on the right track!

Ipsos also surveyed the issues that worry citizens in each country the most. They asked the question: Which three of the following topics do you find the most worrying in your country? In the US, the top three issues were:

  • Terrorism: 33%
  • Healthcare: 32%
  • Financial/Political Corruption: 29%

It is not clear that terrorism is profoundly worrying to Americans, since 67% of those surveyed chose something else to worry about. Remember that the rankings are based on how frequently the item is mentioned as the first in a list of three issues. Here is an Ipsos chart that compares the number one issue people worry about in each country:

Only Turkey, Israel and the US ranked terrorism first. Americans fear terrorism slightly more than uncertainty with their healthcare (32%). And they worry about corruption slightly more (29%-28%) than they worry about crime and violence. Where are poverty and social equality? Seventh, with 19%. What about education? Ninth, with 15%. Maintaining social programs are 14th tied with inflation at 7%.

Fear is emotional, it is not driven by logic about actual levels of risk. Assessment of risk is (mostly) a logical process, with a tiny element of emotion. Acts of terror are frightening, but the likelihood of one happening to you is infinitesimally small in the US. It is therefore, an irrational fear.

OTOH, do people worry about being mugged when walking through a sketchy part of the city? Most do. How many actually get mugged? Not many. But that fear has a basis in fact.

And terrorism isn’t about killing as many people as it can. It is about gaining a political victory through terror. Think about the 9/11 attack in NYC. Millions watched the Towers fall. Those in NYC saw the smoke for weeks. That is the end point of terror, and probably explains why so many rank it as their top worry.

In the survey, six countries worried more about terrorism than the US. They are: Turkey (66%), Israel (51%), France (44%), India (43%), Saudi Arabia (40%) and Germany (34%).  Those countries all have more real-world reasons to worry about terrorism than do Americans.

However, our neo-con politicians in collusion with a number of think tanks, and the military-industrial complex, have made a significant portion of Americans believe it is a rational fear. They do this for financial gain and control.

Control keeps the grift going.

And, like Israel, the more Muslims we kill, the more terrorists we create. Where is the virtue in this for anyone except the Defense Department, Lockheed, Rockwell, Northrup, Raytheon, Honeywell and Wall Street?

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Turkish Democracy

Let’s pause in the ongoing discussion about the perilous state of US democracy in 2016 to focus on how far and how fast Turkish democracy has fallen.

Wrongo visited Istanbul in March 2013. At that point, Turkey seemed to be the better example of two Muslim-majority democracies that existed in the world (the other is Indonesia). Then came the Gezi Park demonstrations a few weeks later that left six people dead and 8,000 injured.

In July of this year, Turkey had an aborted coup attempt. In the three and half months since, Turkey has fired or suspended more than 110,000 government employees. They launched a military incursion into Syria, and have repeatedly threatened to do the same in Iraq.

So far, one third of Turkey’s highest-ranking military officers have been dismissed. Almost every major institution—military, judiciary, media, education, business—have been affected. And 170 newspapers, magazines, television stations and news agencies have been shut down, leaving 2,500 journalists unemployed.

Rights groups say the scale of the purges show Erdogan is using the coup attempt to crush all dissent. Erdogan has successfully manipulated the full-throated “patriotism” that the Turkish people showed after the attempted coup to create a constitutional change that would give him near-total executive powers.

The arrest and detention of judges, mayors, teachers, military personnel, civil servants, journalists and political opponents has shown that Erdogan is moving even further away from a pluralistic society.

On October 29, Turkey celebrated the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the Republic, but just two days later, the 92-year-old newspaper Cumhuriyet (The Republic) became the latest target in a crackdown on opposition media. The government continues to use the state of emergency following the July 15 coup attempt as a pretext for silencing Turkey’s few remaining critical voices.

The Istanbul prosecutor’s office said the staff at the paper were suspected of committing crimes on behalf of Kurdish militants and the network of Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric that Erdogan accuses of masterminding the July 15 coup attempt. The HuffPo reported that the state-run Anadolu agency said: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Journalists at the paper were suspected of seeking to precipitate the coup through “subliminal messages” in their columns before it happened,

Accused of using “subliminal messages.” This is the code language of authoritarian rule. Say goodbye to a democratic Turkey, it’s Erdogan’s country now. Such a sad turn for a nation full of bright and interesting people.

But it doesn’t end there. This week, also saw the State Department tell US Consulate family members to leave Turkey. The State Department has ordered the families to leave Turkey due to increased threats from extremist groups targeting US citizens.

Erdogan’s increasingly bellicose stance on the world stage has alarmed NATO (Turkey is a member) and the US, since it is becoming an ever more unpredictable partner, one over which we have decreasing leverage. From Reuters:

Erdogan warned this month that Turkey “will not wait until the blade is against our bone” in going after its enemies abroad and has hinted at a possible incursion into Iraq if a U.S.-backed assault against Islamic State in the city of Mosul causes sectarian strife which threatens Turkey’s borders. Frustrated that it has not been more involved in the Mosul operation, Sunni Muslim Turkey says it has a responsibility to protect ethnic Turkmen and Sunni Arabs in the area, once part of the Ottoman Empire. It fears Shi’ite militias, which on Saturday joined the offensive west of Mosul, will provoke ethnic bloodletting.

A Turkish ground operation in Iraq would be dangerous, risking embroiling its military on a third front as it pursues an offensive against Islamic State in Syria and against Kurdish PKK militants in its own southeast.

We need to think about how our two US presidential hopefuls would react to this mess once in power.

Whoever wins can’t just sloganeer about what to do with Turkey or about its ambitions in Syria and Iraq, any more than they can ignore what Russia’s and Iran’s objectives are.

Aydin Selcen, a retired Turkish diplomat who was consul general in Erbil, Iraq, the capital of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, said:

History is like a huge supermarket where you can find what you want. You can choose a historical perspective created to rally the masses. But you can neither build a foreign policy nor a military strategy based on that…

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump should stay out of the supermarket of domestic public opinion as well. The answers to dealing with Erdogan and the attack on Turkish democracy while simultaneously dealing with a hostile member of NATO will not be found in “The Art of The Deal.”

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The Pant Suit’s Scary Foreign Policy

There may be reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton, but there are no reasons at all to vote for Donald Trump — except for pure nihilism. For the Trumpets, there is little coherence about why he is their choice. Two threads emerge: First, that Trump will shake things up, that DC is its own bubble that must be burst. The current two party system is fraudulent and corrupt. Second, that rage against Hillary is sufficient reason to vote for the Donald. Neither idea, nor are both ideas, sufficient reason to elect the Pant Load.

So, Hillary has to be the choice for this election. She has a track record, and the only things you have to go by with respect to Trump are his mostly appalling business practices, and his appalling character, neither of which should inspire voter confidence.

However, Clinton’s track record and policies are not without concern. In particular, her foreign policy positions are frightening. It is clear that Clinton proposes to pursue a more militaristic version of the policies that have brought us where we are in the world. She would:

  • Enforce a “no-fly” zone inside Syria, with or without Syrian and Russian agreement
  • Issue an even larger blank check to Israel
  • Treat Russia as a military problem rather than a factor in the European balance to be managed
  • Try to tie China down in East Asia

We have little idea about what would she would do differently in Afghanistan or Iraq. What would she do differently about North Korea, Iran, or Turkey? We don’t know, but this should be frightening:

In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief. The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy…

And there is more: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The studies, which reflect Clinton’s stated views, break most forcefully with Obama on Syria. Virtually all these efforts…call for stepped-up military action to deter President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Russian forces in Syria.

The proposed military measures include…safe zones to protect moderate rebels from Syrian and Russian forces. Most of the studies propose limited American airstrikes with cruise missiles to punish Assad if he continues to attack civilians with barrel bombs…

Obama has staunchly resisted any military action against the Assad regime.

Apparently, the Iraq war was such a success that these policy experts want to repeat it in Syria. But, we are not as popular as we used to be, what with our drones droning all over the Middle East.

It is important to remember that when the Arab Spring erupted in 2010, the total Arab ME population was 348 million (World Bank data); today, it is 400 million. In the past six years, 52 million new Arab citizens were born in the ME, few of whom know a world without war, many who have limited education, schooling and economic prospects.

Should our next president be making new enemies in the ME?

We have a yuuge problem if our so-called foreign policy “elites” think the most “dovish” policy available is Obama’s current foreign policy. If this is the best that our serious policy thinkers can come up with, maybe we should just burn down the Kennedy School and Georgetown.

Wrongo thinks that 2016 is reminiscent of 1964, when LBJ ran against Goldwater. We had an anti-communist foreign policy elite looking for a fight with the USSR, and Goldwater was their man. America chose LBJ, because it was impossible to conceive of Goldwater having his finger on the nuclear button. LBJ was solid on domestic policy, but he listened to the elites, and launched us into Vietnam for no good reason, and with little public enthusiasm.

Today our anti-Russian foreign policy elites have Hillary’s ear, and there is a potential that she will mirror LBJ, getting us into another calamitous foreign policy adventure.

Wrongo will vote for her despite these concerns, as there is no alternative.

Bush’s policy should not be the starting point, with Obama’s foreign policy being the end point in terms of Hillary Clinton’s possible foreign policy options. If Bush’s policy was a complete failure, why on earth would she rely on a variant of it as the basis for our foreign policy?

Sadly, we are having this discussion less than two weeks before the election.

We have to hope that Hillary Clinton can be a good listener to options other than what the Neo-Cons are proposing.

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What’s JOE – 2035?

Haven’t heard of JOE- 35? Not surprising, since it is very difficult to find any mention of it in any major media news outlet. Google JOE- 35, and you get a series of links for a cast stone fire pit that is 35” in diameter.

Wrong. It refers to the “Joint Operating Environment 2035” [pdf] (JOE – 35), issued in July by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It lays out the environment that the military and the nation will be facing 20 years from now. It is written as a guide to how the Defense Department should be spending resources today in order to protect against tomorrow’s threats. They identify six broad geopolitical challenges the US Military will have to deal with in 20 years:

  • Violent Ideological Competition: irreconcilable ideas communicated and promoted by identity networks through violence. That is, states and non-state actors alike will pursue their goals by spreading ideologies hostile to US interests and encouraging violent acts to promote those ideologies.
  • Threatened US Territory and Sovereignty: encroachment, erosion, or disregard of US sovereignty and the freedom of its citizens.
  • Antagonistic Geopolitical Balancing: increasingly ambitious adversaries maximizing their own influence while actively limiting US influence. That is, rival powers will pursue their own interests in conflict with those of the United States. Think China in the Philippines.
  • Disrupted Global Commons: denial or compulsion in spaces and places available to all but owned by none. Think that the US will no longer be able to count on unimpeded access to the oceans, the air, space, or the electromagnetic spectrum in the pursuit of its interests.
  • A Contest for Cyberspace: a struggle to define and credibly protect sovereignty in cyberspace. That is, US cyberwarfare measures will increasingly face effective defenses and US cyberspace assets will increasingly face effective hostile incursions.
  • Shattered and Reordered Regions: states increasingly unable to cope with internal political fractures, environmental stress, or deliberate external interference. That means states will continue to be threatened by increasingly harsh pressures on national survival, and the failed states and stateless zones will continue to spawn insurgencies and non-state actors hostile to the US.

The report also warns that the rise of non-state actors such as ISIS, described in the report as “privatized violence“, will continue, as will the rapidity by which those groups form and adapt. The spread of 3D-printing technologies and readily available commercial technology such as drones, means those groups can be increasingly effective against a fully equipped and highly technological US military.

The study says:

Transnational criminal organizations, terrorist groups, and other irregular threats are likely to exploit the rapid spread of advanced technologies to design, resource, and execute complex attacks and combine many complex attacks into larger, more sustained campaigns…

John Michael Greer has a review of JOE-35 that is worth reading in its entirety. His criticism of the report is that:

Apparently nobody at the Pentagon noticed one distinctly odd thing about this outline of the future context of American military operations: it’s not an outline of the future at all. It’s an outline of the present. Every one of these trends is a major factor shaping political and military action around the world right now.

Like so many things in our current politics, the JOE projections are mostly about justifying current procurement/pork barreling by a linear extrapolation of today’s threats. That, and the institutional blindness that sets in when there have been no real challenges to the established groupthink, and the professional consequences of failure in the military are near-zero.

The JOE list may not be imaginative or fully predictive, but that doesn’t make it wrong. None of the problems they forecast are going away. For instance, the use of ideology to win and shore up support from potential fighters and allies is as old as ancient times, so why would ideological conflict NOT be an issue in 2035?

Threats to US sovereignty and territory go along with the Joint Chiefs’ recognition that the US is an empire most likely on a downward curve, unless there is great change in our policies, domestic and foreign.

In this sense, the report is quietly critical of our politicians.

The admission in the JOE report that we will be actively required to defend our home ground by 2035 is a mark of just how much our geopolitical environment has changed since 9/11.

It is indeed worth your time to read both the JOE report, and that of John Michael Greer very carefully.

Both will make you smarter than reading about the latest Trump outrage.

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Living With Muslims

Wrongo recently read a first-person article in the June 24th edition of Maine’s Portland Press Herald by Allison Hodgkins. She is an assistant professor of security studies and conflict management at the American University in Cairo. Hodgkins lives with 20 million Muslims for 10 months a year, returning to Maine for the summers. Her point is that they are not so different from the rest of us. Here is a long excerpt from her article: (brackets and editing by the Wrongologist)

The assumption undergirding the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States is simple: More Muslims equal more terrorism and a less secure United States. And while there is utterly no evidence of a relationship between increased Muslim immigration to the US and increased rates of domestic terrorism, as many as 50% of Americans support at least a temporary ban, one poll has found.

The question that no one is asking is: Why? Why would half the US electorate think that banning nearly one-quarter of the world’s population from entry is a good idea? Are we just a country of bigots?

No, we are not. As the push for marriage equality demonstrates, we are actually very tolerant – once we get to know the group or the idea. But that’s precisely the problem with relation to Muslims: We don’t really know many.

Muslims are only 1% of the US population, and they’re disproportionately concentrated in a handful of urban areas. A 2011 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 40% of respondents had never spoken to a Muslim and 24% had done so occasionally. Only 6% reported speaking with a Muslim daily.

What these numbers lay bare is that for the average American, their only reference points for Muslims are the occasional glimpse of a foreign-looking woman in a veil and, well, the likes of [domestic terrorists] Omar Sadiq Mateen, San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook or the Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

/snip/

Since we barely know the 3.3 million already here, we have no idea what it could mean to live with 3 million, 4 million or 5 million more.

Well, I do. For 10 months out of the year, I live with 20 million Muslims…Since accepting a position at the American University in Cairo, I have lived cheek by jowl with Muslims. Cairo, an urban megalopolis of 22 million to 24 million, is just plain teeming with them… From the moment I open my door in the morning until I close it at night, there are Muslims at every turn. The family down the hall from me is Muslim, as are four of the five families on the floor below. The crossing guard who scolds my son for not looking twice before crossing the street is a Muslim, and so are the guards checking IDs at the entrance of his school. I sit next to Muslims on the bus to work and gripe with them about the traffic.

/snip/

In an environment where being Muslim is the common denominator, it is absolutely certain that the person committing an act of terror will be an adherent of the faith. But Muslims are also the victims, the police coming to investigate, the reporters covering the event, the people queuing to give blood and the leaders charged with devising the best policy to counter what they and their constituents know is radical extremism promoted by groups of extremists.

/snip/

And when you live with 20 million Muslims, you hear them talk about this danger to their lives, their nations and their faith every single day.

Ms. Hodgkins’s point is we should assess the risks of Muslim immigrants to our homeland. Maybe get to know a few facts about Muslim involvement in acts of domestic terror, and meet a few Muslims before we ban all Muslim immigration.

You can hear the argument from the Trumpeteers: Of course the vast majority of Muslims are good, peace loving people who want the same for their families as the rest of us. But we can’t tell the good ones from the bad ones, so NO Muslim immigration until we get better vetting, screening, monitoring in place.

We couldn’t tell the good ones from the bad ones: That was the logic that led us to the internment of American Japanese in WWII.

OTOH, nearly all Americans agree that the vast majority of gun owners are good, peace loving people. But, since we can’t tell the good ones from the bad, how about banning all sales of guns until we get better vetting, screening, monitoring in place?

Sorry, we willingly accept the risk that American shooters will kill Americans. Since we are Second Amendment absolutists, those deaths are just collateral damage in the fight to protect our gun rights.

But if there is one death by a Muslim immigrant, the terrorists win.

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Friday Links – September 30, 2016

It’s been a busy week at the Mansion of Wrong, with out-of-town family staying with us. There were parties, dinners, trips to NYC, and limited blogging. Wrongo and Ms. Right accompanied our guests to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Since our first visit, the Museum decided to exhibit a composite of five floors worth of material from one of the Twin Towers that was heat-fused and compacted during their collapse. It is a truly horrible object, a charred and pitted lump of fused concrete, melted steel, carbonized furniture and less recognizable elements, a meteorite-like mass that no human force could have forged, and it is unforgettable. It is among Wrongo’s favorite pieces in the collection:

wtc-composite

This weighs between 12 and 15 tons. It is four feet high. If you ever thought that humans remaining in the WTC when it collapsed might have survived, consider this pancake comprising five floors of the North Tower. Please visit the Memorial and Museum if you haven’t been there yet.

Here are a few links for Friday wherein Congress acted with unusual bipartisan, but self-serving alacrity:

Congress overrode Mr. Obama’s veto of the bill permitting 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia: Despite the efforts of the White House to kill “The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act “(JASTA), it will become law after yesterday’s veto override. The vote was 97-1 in the Senate, and 348-77 in the House. Very few in Congress wanted to be seen as against the 9/11 families in the weeks leading up to the election. The bill allows 9/11 victims and their families to sue Saudi Arabia for damages. JASTA is fairly narrowly tailored to Saudi Arabia, but it is unlikely to result in any accountability on the part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In another show bipartisanship, Congress averted a government shutdown Wednesday as the Senate and the House approved a short-term spending bill, allowing lawmakers to avoid a crisis and return home to campaign. The Senate approved the bill by 72 to 26. The House then approved it by 342 to 85. This kicks the can down the road for 10 weeks, when the partisans will come out all over again with knives sharpened.

The House passed a bill Thursday that would give tax breaks to Olympic athletes who win medals. The measure does not apply to athletes with incomes over $1 million. The Senate approved it earlier this year. The House approved it 415 to 1. What Congress person wants to be viewed as anti-Olympian in an election year?

The lone dissenting vote came from Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), who said:

We’ve got a Zika crisis, an opium epidemic and gun violence in the news every day…I think those are the issues that Congress should be spending time on.

He is not Wrongo’s Congress Critter, but he has Wrongo’s vote. Why should Olympians get tax breaks when other extraordinary Americans don’t? Nobel Peace Prize winners and Special Operations soldiers still have to pay their taxes. You pay your taxes, (well, maybe not you, Donald Trump). Another piece of bad policy by Congress.

That’s three cases of false bipartisanship in one week by the cynical people we keep electing.

This article suggests questions that should be asked of Trump about his taxes. Trump claims he can’t release his returns because he’s under audit. That could be a legitimate concern. It would hardly be fair if hundreds of tax professionals who oppose Trump politically helped the IRS by publishing their own analyses of the returns.

But, Trump pissed off Wrongo when he said how smart he was not to pay any taxes. On the one hand, none of us wants to pay more than we have to, but then along comes a billionaire who pays no taxes, and brags about it.

This is the guy who complains about the size of national debt, and says NATO members aren’t paying their “fair share”, when he isn’t paying his “fair share”.

Finally, a statue of Eagle Glenn Frey has been installed in the “Standing on the Corner” Park in Winslow, Arizona. Frey died in January. You remember the lyric:

Well, I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see/It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me.

Frey’s statue joins that of song co-writer Jackson Browne that has been in the park since the late 1990s.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – September 25, 2016

So many stories competing for our attention this week. The bomber, the “driving while black” shootings, the upcoming debate.

Let’s start with Tulsa and Charlotte:

cow-aaa-b4-cops

And how many news reports do we hear about a stranded white motorist being shot, or a social worker lying on the ground with his hands in the air getting shot? The smart phone camera is the only disinfectant that may end this.

The Presidential candidates’ response to NYC and NJ bomber taught us quite a bit:

 

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

This shows the difference in the way Democrats and Republicans view the world. Democrats are trying to figure out why people are getting radicalized, who they are, and how to stop them. Republicans want to carpet bomb the place until the sands glow and let (their) god sort them out.

The Wells Fargo hearings gave us a rare moment of bi-partisan solidarity:

cow-shoot-wells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrongo does not endorse killing anyone at Wells Fargo or any other bank or Wall Street firm. But is putting a few behind bars too much to ask?

The debate is tomorrow, but what on earth will they talk about?

cow-debate-topics

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September 21, 2016

On-the-ground insight from the Chelsea area of Manhattan on Sunday: Long-time reader David P. gives us some, from the day after the bombing:

I just finished reading your Wrongologist entry for today.

OTOH, I find some evidence that fear is not (universally?) out of control. We drove into NYC yesterday [Sunday] after seeing TV accounts of the bombing in Manhattan at 23rd St, near 5th Ave. In a 10-block stroll through the West Village and Chelsea, I noted no businesses, of the sort normally open on Sundays that were shuttered. We had brunch at a restaurant on the corner of 20th St and 7th Ave., in the open air. The sidewalks were bustling and the street traffic seemed to be at the expected level for a Sunday. I exchanged a few social niceties and joking exchanges with waiters and other strangers; none seemed fixated on what had and was transpiring a few blocks away…

On the TV, both on Sunday and thus far on Monday (4 PM), local politicians and police administrators have given calm, factual, professional updates, with the politicians adding that the terrorist enterprise could only prevail if we were to give way to fear and allow our lives to be disrupted any more than necessary…

The ONLY sour note that I heard in the 40 hours since the first explosion was Mr. Trump’s irresponsibly premature pronouncement on a still-emerging event, coupled with his opportunistic attempt to blame it on President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Otherwise, from my perspective and at least in my corner of the universe, people seem to be vigilant without being terrorized.

I hope that the media will show the rest of the country that, here near the center of the terrorism bulls-eye, most of us are not succumbing to fear. I also hope that the rest of the country will notice that we are not voting for someone who, faced with those who would do us harm, responds with bluster and bullshit, rather than with quiet determination and deference to professionals who know what they are doing.

David

Some media, and of course the Pant Load, are trying to fan the fear. Some are saying “New York Attacked!” They want Americans to be more afraid for their safety than for the likelihood of losing more of our American values. Interestingly, the states that have seen terror attacks, NY, CA, MA, PA and VA are solidly in Hillary’s camp, while Florida is too close to call.

Perhaps when you actually have to face your fear, you think differently.

On a separate issue: There is a growing ACLU and Amnesty-led campaign to secure a pardon for Edward Snowden, timed to the release of the Oliver Stone biopic “Snowden”. There have editorials and op-eds, pro and con appearing all over the country in recent days. Few attempt to lay out the facts. In fact, the Washington Post editorial board is against his pardon. That is the height of hypocrisy, since the WaPo won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting based on the very information that Snowden took from the US government!

Glenn Greenwald, who helped Snowden get his information to the media said:

Three of the four media outlets that received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden — The Guardian, the New York Times, and The Intercept –– have called for the US government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the US with no charges.

The exception is the WaPo.

Back to the pardon, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) has recommended against a Snowden pardon. Marcy Wheeler tears their report apart, stating that in a two-year investigation, HPSCI failed to interview any of the direct witnesses, repeated known untruths about Snowden, and used the wrong methodology to conduct the damage assessment caused by the document releases. From Marcy:

One thing is certain: the public is owed an explanation for how HPSCI came to report knowably false information.

Snowden is a saint compared to the Congress jerks who signed off on this recommendation.

It is one thing to believe Snowden’s breach of a duty of confidentiality to the US government is not offset by the good that public knowledge of the NSA’s clandestine spying programs provided.

It is another to create a false report about the individual and the damage done.

There are probably a few dozen or so Dennis Hastert’s in Congress that are more than interested in suppressing any whistle blower’s information. Who knows, it could end a career.

Congress seems to have sworn an oath to complicity, not an oath to uphold the Constitution.

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Monday Wake Up Call – September 19, 2016

As everyone now knows, a bomb went off in NYC on Saturday. NY Governor Cuomo later said it was a terror attack. A second bomb was found and defused a few blocks away, while a third, also thought to be terror-related, went off in Seaside, NJ. A Saturday knife attack in St. Cloud Minnesota that wounded nine was declared a terrorist act.

These events all happened the day before the UN General Assembly meets for a week in New York, so the  bombings could have serious political meaning. But politicians are telling us these events are not linked. Just a coincidence, they say.

Meanwhile, this could be Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare, as Donald Trump says we are not strong enough in the face of terrorism, while Hillary has said that we are “winning” the war on terra. Trump told a crowd in Colorado Springs:

I must tell you that just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York. And nobody knows exactly what’s going on. But boy, we are living in a time — we better get very tough, folks. We better get very, very tough…

Because we’re not tough enough on terror just yet.

So today’s wake up is about America’s fear. 15 years after 9/11, it’s hard to remember what this country was like before: How the American spirit was so much stronger at the height of the Cold War than it is today.

Back then, we feared the USSR and dying (frying) in a preemptive nuclear war. We all believed we would have no more than 20 minutes to prepare for Nuclear Armageddon. There were municipal fallout shelters. Some had shelters in their homes. We practiced getting under our desks at schools, even though we knew that would be fruitless.

But there was a very different feel to America back then. People were far from paralyzed by fear; they controlled their sense of imminent danger. There was a military draft. We worked, took the kids to sporting events, and our kids went to school every day with far less concern for their safety than today.

Since 9/11, we do face very real threats from terrorism, by actors both foreign and domestic. But, the probability of instant death like we had for 40 years, from the 1950s until 1990, when the Soviet Union collapsed, doesn’t exist today.

Wrongo is not a student of mass psychosis, but asks, if the nature of today’s threat, while serious, does not lead to instant death for millions of Americans, why are we so paralyzed by fear?  No IED is going to end America as we know it, no gun or knife-toting terrorist is going to kill millions of Americans.

A zero domestic deaths from terrorism policy is doomed to failure.

For the past 15 years our last two presidents have said: “my first responsibility is to keep you safe.” But, haven’t we really needed leaders who would say: “my first responsibility is to defend your freedom and personal liberty?”

But no politician today would dare say that, because no one would vote for them. This is the nation we have become after 9/11, and we need to wake up before we surrender even more of the freedoms guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.

To help America wake up, here is “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, from their 2012 album, “Night Visions”. The song was Rolling Stone’s “Biggest Rock Hit of the Year” in 2013. This video has had almost 600 million views since it was posted:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Sample Lyrics:

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh,  I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flags, don my clothes
It’s a revolution, I suppose
We’re painted red to fit right in

I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse

Welcome to the new age indeed!

People should learn about England and Ireland during the Sinn Fein bombing attacks that lasted from 1969 to 2001. Wrongo lived in London for part of that time, and while fear existed and the risk was real, people dusted themselves off, and soldiered on.

We should not let fear decide our Presidential election, or further vitiate the Constitution.

Let’s all WAKE UP!

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Isn’t It a Pity?

Wrongo and Ms. Right were in PA on 9/11, and we attended an outdoor concert at the Longwood Gardens, about 30 miles west of Philadelphia. We went to see Taj Mahal, who was in fine voice, and the crowd loved him.

The opening act was Bettye LaVette, who has spent the last 50+ years trying to become a success in blues music, finally winning Best Soul Blues Female Artist this year. She acknowledged that we were gathered on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, and sang a searing version of George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity“. It redefined the song for the audience, who like Wrongo, remembers it as a statement on the breakup of the Beatles.

Ms. LaVette’s version packed a fantastic wallop, and seemed entirely correct as a way to think about the 9/11 tragedy, and the various other tragedies that 9/11 has spawned over the past 15 years.

Harrison wrote the song in 1966, but it was rejected for inclusion on at least two Beatles albums. He included it on his solo album “All Things Must Pass”, issued in 1970. The song hit #1 on the Billboard charts in 1971.

Ms. LaVette had included “Isn’t It a Pity” on her 2010 CD called “Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook”. Here she is doing it live back then, although it lacks the searing emotion that we heard from her on Sunday night, it is worth a listen:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Partial Lyrics:

Isn’t it a pity, isn’t it a shame
How we break each other’s hearts, and cause each other pain
How we take each other’s love without thinking any more
Forgetting to give back, now isn’t it a pity.

Some things take so long
But how can I explain
When not too very many people
Can see we’re all the same

Thinking about 9/11, brings to mind this from the Pant Load:

trumps-big-building

Its always been about The Donald!

The Pant Suit has problems of her own, what with Pneumonia gate and the “Basket of Deplorables”. Wrongo has had pneumonia a few times in his long life, and it failed to disqualify him for anything. The Basket of Deplorables used to be sold by Harry and David for Thanksgiving, aimed at the budget-conscious consumer.

Hillary’s apologized. Is there anything more quintessentially Democratic than making a perfectly legitimate attack, and immediately apologizing when there’s pushback?

(Mostly) weird links you probably missed:

Turkish prosecutor thinks that Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah GĂĽlen (who lives in the US), was appointed as a secret cardinal by John Paul II in 1998. Turks apparently love conspiracy theories, particularly when they can link Gulen, the enemy of Turkish president Erdogan with the US, the enemy-in-waiting.

There was a sushi chef fight on Long Island: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

The violence at the Ichiban Sushi restaurant on Montauk Highway in Oakdale left one of the kitchen combatants so sliced up, he had to be rushed to Southside Hospital. His injuries were not life threatening, police said. Police busted Kong Chen for assault. It was not clear what caused tempuras to flare.

Newly discovered blood fluke is named after Obama. What a way to help burnish his legacy! Left wing anglers now prefer the new Obama flatworms when fishing in fresh water. Right wing anglers are resisting calls to take the bait.

Here a list of North American companies producing edible insects for sale. Start wherever you are comfortable with your alternative sources of protein. Billions were killed so you could try eating bugs.

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