Trump’s foreign policy ideas focus on ISIS because of the deliberate targeting on American civilians, as “warfare”


First, Donald Trump’s erratic behavior after winning the election does worry me – making statements (in “Twitter storms”) that would ignore Supreme Court rulings (flag burning), complaining about “illegal voting” without apparent factual evidence.  Some of the people he courts seem to be “science deniers” and have ties with extreme positions on a number of issues (race, LGBT) in the past, even if some of these people claim their views have changed somewhat with the times.

I can even understand the preoccupation some people have with “family” or “tribal” loyalty, with the “take care of your own first” idea, and with respect for authority, and the idea that a lot of people who complain or protest are moochers or “second-handers” (to borrow a term from Ayn Rand in “The Fountainhead”) looking for attention.  I’ve leave all that aside for now.

I do share some of Trump’s concerns over national security, even the idea that the nation is in some peril (as the Washington Post characterized his speech at the GOP convention in Cleveland).  I would want to make “infrastructure” great again – but I would focus much more on some specific areas (like power grid security) and in general, would develop ways to make renewable energy use profitable and cost-effective.  I think that a progressive attitude on climate change is actually good for business and jobs.

I also share Trump’s concerns over the Left’s obsession with identity politics, and elevating victimhood, which I personally don’t find honorable.

So if I were the president-elect, I could make strong statements on some of these issues, without suggesting retaliation against opponents or critics, and without showing disrespect for the Constitution, and without baiting various racial, religious or gender-issue-associated groups.  Both parties would be fine with what I would say, especially the GOP mainstream.  And, yes, there are some things seriously wrong with the way Obamacare works now, and it hurts some people.

Before getting to foreign policy in this post, I want visitors to look at Christiane Amanpour’s speech about the developing threat to journalism. I also want to call attention to the hard-hitting journalism by Trey Yingst of OAN, with a story about him here .  Yingst has done some live discussions on Facebook about the carnage of civilians in Aleppo.

Washington Post editor Martin Baron has a major op-ed in Vanity Fair on the crisis,  His advice: do our jobs.

Margaret Sullivan talks about “access” and “accountability” forms of journalism and then says “Get over it, journalists, and then adapt.”But access journalism, as she defines it, would seem to violate objectivity (if you have to “join the team” first to have access — that’s a problem with bloggers and volunteer groups).

And to the best of my knowledge, it appears that most of the carnage seems to come from Assad, and maybe Russia, claiming to eliminate terrorists.  But in much of the rest of Syria and in northern Iraq, of course, ISIS is responsible for all the atrocities and carnage.

At this point, it’s appropriate to note that Donald Trump’s planned foreign policy seems to emphasize eliminating ISIS rather than also opposing Assad, or opposing Russian intervention in former Soviet republics.  NBC News has a good summary here.  Another source is the WSJ, here.  RT claims that opposing Assad would jeopardize US-Russia relations, here, but RT is a Russian site, so you expect that.

Trump seems focused on ISIS because of the asymmetry of the way ISIS seems to be encouraging its followers to target civilians at home in western countries, through social media (especially Twitter) recruiting and the “Dark Web”.  ISIS is effectively treating civilians in western countries, including the US, as combatants who bear the moral hazard of what their government does, and exposure to sacrifice.  It’s a kind of thinking that recalls to me my own journey with the Vietnam era draft, and the privilege of escaping the risk-sharing through student deferments.  It brings back a style of moral thinking of a half century ago when physical cowardice was viewed as a mortal sin.

So Trump can reasonably claim he is protecting individual citizens’ lives from personal peril by emphasizing ISIS, instead of the more distant and conventional threats posed by Russia and particular North Korea.

Along these lines, the latest information about the Ohio State perpetrator, Abdul Azak Ali-Artan is particularly disturbing, as in this CNN story.   Artan seems to be a “second generation” refugee, whose mother and sisters were fully vetted by DHS and State before he came to the US with a green card in 2014 from Pakistan, having fled Somalia (one of the world’s most lawless places – “Black Hawk Down”, in 2007).  It will be of concern to see if Artan was himself recruited first on “amateur” social media (or searchable websites) here, or if his radical views had come from living in Pakistan.  I’ve covered how Trump is likely to view this on Nov. 7 and 27.  Breitbart has pointed to material on Vocativ covering ISIS claims and training videos. Indeed, if social media and user-generated content platforms are being “weaponized” by foreign enemies, from a legal and constitutional viewpoint, this can be a grim development for the future of everyday Internet speech as we know it,

Can Trump “constitutionally” censor or shut down what is going on?  I’ve covered some of this before, but the idea that American civilians are being drawn into war as combatants sounds, to me at least, like a good theoretical (“war time“) justification which most Internet users in the US would not really grasp yet.  Trump seems to believe (as do I) that you take “real enemies” seriously at their word.   After the Paris 11/13 attacks, the FCC said it does not have the authority to shut down ISIS or terror-promoting websites, as in this article in The Hill (Note the analysis below of the weak infrastructure for reporting outages.)   Information on how to build pipe or pressure cooker bombs, flux weapons and even nuclear devices has abounded in published books even before there was a widely used public Internet (the “library” where “It’s Free”).  Remember the liability that Paladin Press incurred for one of its books, “Hit Man” (Wiki) – that didn’t need the Internet.   France has tried to make it a crime to visit terror websites, an activity that would normally be hidden with SSL and use of https (Reuters story ), and which Electronic Frontier Foundation will say a lot about.  Nevertheless, one can imagine the idea of making “possession” of certain terror-related materials a crime on par with possessing (and distributing) child pornography. Precise definition would be a problem (we are not Russia).

As someone who has followed some of the “doomsday prepper” crowd on Facebook, with all the talk of TEOTWAYKI, I would think that more emphasis on the bigger threats (as opposed to loan wolves) is appropriate.    Trump is critical of Obama’s deal with Iran, but some on the right (even Newt Gingrich) think that Iran  would be the most likely foreign power to try a mass EMP attack like what happens in “One Second After” (which NORAD might stop).  North Korea seems to be accelerating its belligerence with its nuclear weapons program.  In the past, some observers have claimed that North Korea would be able to reach northern Michigan through the Great Circle route with a nuclear-armed missile.  Now CNN recently reported that such a missile could reach Washington DC within four years.  And Kim Jong Un, who can throw a tantrum over a Seth Rogen and James Franco movie (“The Interview”), probably will do something provocative on Trump’s first day on office.  And Trump could reach with the red button himself, without preparation.  Here’s a recent article in FP about US Missile Defenses.  The Daily Caller has a map (Feb. 2016) showing the claimed range of the Taepo Dong 3 as 13000 kilometers, encompassing the entire US.  Of course, a long range missile could be contemplated as a high-altitude EMP blast over the middle of the US, and there is a good question as to whether NORAD (Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado — “War Games“) would stop it from ever getting here.

(Posted Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 at 5:43 PM EST)


P.S. (later tonight)  Check the New Yorker article today, by Monchillo, “The Hand of ISIS at Ohio State“.  That article links to a pdf image of Rumiyah, which ironically has an illustrated page on “character”, not as David Brooks defines it.  If you look up “Rumiyah” (“Rome”) on Google, you don’t find a direct site (maybe blocked) but you find foreign server sites with various spellings (Trend Micro hasn’t rated them, but it would warn on any it gets around to visiting).  I tried one on an iPhone (waiting for a movie to start) and it required login.  I could say that the magazine is rather like porn, or it is like an explicit slasher horror movie that’s “bad for you” if you’re young and impressionable.  If taken out of religious context, it’s just the kind of stuff most parents don’t want their kids to see, and some filters would take it out.  That takes us back to the kind of debate we had with the CDA and COPA. We’ve been in this place before, talking about 11/13 in Paris, Santa Barbara, and Pulse.

Women and most minorities don’t participate as well in online speech as well as “white men”


The Center for Innovative Public Health Research in New York City has published a study “Online Harassment, Digital Abuse, and Cyberstalking in America” here (58 pages), by Amanda Lenhart and Kathryn Zickuhr, link.

An article on Quartz by Alice Marwick says “A new study suggests online harassment is pressuring women and minorities to self-censor.”

The Internet, most of all modern social media, was built largely by economically advantaged white and Asian men, the article goes.  It also says “straight”, but there is “masculine gay” (mirroring straight values about power and success) and there is, well, “queer”.

The people who built social media they way it is are personally not very vulnerable to harassment or risk.  (Imagine who invulnerable the young Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network”, even as played by Jesse Eisenberg, looks – as well as his dorm buddies (one or two of whom were gay).   But people in various “groups” often are, and that includes most women, except for the most competitive or individually successful.  Women may be less likely to share because of fear or retaliation or stalking.  And in some families, individuals have to be concerned about bringing harm upon other family members (besides spouses and direct children).

Personally, I don’t like to share events I am going to on Facebook ahead of time, for security reasons.  Yet some people run events and organizations in such a way that they expect others to “play ball” in the way they use social media.  That works better with people who use Facebook with full privacy settings.  I do use Facebook as a quasi-publishing tool.  That has its own risks, which are more connected to politics than directly to personhood.  But that’s become my life.

Because I use these platforms now as a publishing too, I am fully empowered as a participant in the debates and resent others trying to claim I need to support their speaking for me.  But the study indicates that online self-censorship, out of security concerns, limits the participation of minorities even in debates, in the ability to speak for themselves, with the effect of democratization the Internet is supposed to offer everyone in the West.

Another issue of self-censorship, though, is many college campuses, with their trigger warnings and speech codes.

(Published: Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 at 9:30 PM EST)

Dictionarist as a language tool


Dictionarist is a language tool resembling a Swiss army knife: It’s a free online talking dictionary which provides translation in 20 languages.

This cool language tool translates to and from English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Russian, Turkish, Dutch, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian, Polish, Romanian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese. When combined, this makes over 60 translation options (English to French, French to English, Spanish to Turkish, Turkish to Spanish etc.).

Dictionarist provides example sentences in English dictionaries, you can use it to see how to use phrases in different sentences.

Dictionarist also pronounces the words in all these dictionaries. If you have ever wondered how a German would pronounce the word gesamtkunstwerk, click the image of the speaker next to the word and a German gentleman speaks.

Dictionarist also has a chrome plug-in with double-click functionality to view the translations in the pop up dictionary.

When you even double-click on a inflected forms of a word such as “knives”, Dictionarist can detect the root word “knife”. Not only in English, in all 20 languages.

Here is the basic link.

This is a guest post by Ugur Catak.


Google develops tools to counter recruiting by terror groups; teen entrepreneur proposes a tool against cyberbullying; OSU attack and radicalism online


Partly out of healthy self-interest to be sure, Google is developing methods to intercept teens and young adults looking to join terror organizations (ISIS or otherwise) and present them with information that would discourage further pursuit.

NBC News Saturday Night carried the story by Ronan Farrow, Roch McHugh and Tracy Connor, here.

The project “Redirect” was developed by the think tank in NYC for Google, called Jigsaw, link. Was the name of the group inspired by a notorious horror movie villain (the Lionsgate “Saw” series), originated by Leigh Whannel?


Donald Trump and even Hillary Clinton had, last December, suggested clamping down on much Internet activity as necessary to stop terror recruiting, which Trump has, with some controversy, regarded as a potentially existential security threat, at least discouraging “nuisance” use (Nov. 7).

On Nov. 25, ABC Sharktank featured a contestant, a teen Trisha Prabhu, who had developed a smartphone app called “ReThink” which could help discourage teens from cyberbullying.  This idea could fit into first-lady Melania’s ideas about reducing cyberbullying.

Update: Monday, Nov. 28, 2016


A major incident at Ohio State University this morning seems to provide evidence of radical recruitment (probably by ISIS) of a Muslim from Somalia (Abdul Razak Ali Artan) who vented his fraternal rage on Facebook shortly before the attack, as in this ABC News story  (with more details here).  He had apparently left Somalia for Pakistan and then come to the US legally with his family. This case can only heighten the security debate on the enemy online recruiting national security issue (Nov. 7).  Google’s tool is welcome news. (A later Inquisitr story on his rants is here.)

One video seems to give different facts about Artan. He does blame “the media” in part for the portrayal of Muslims.  This doesn’t quite agree with ABC’s account.

This one is blunt, probably from right-wing sources.

(Originally posted: Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at 11:30 PM EST)

Media outlets still fear Trump will try to deport “Dreamer” students and productive workers


CBS News tonight echoed fears that children of undocumented immigrants face an uncertain future in the Trump years, with this report.

The president of Pomona College wrote a letter to the president-elect, now signed by 250 other colleges, asking the new administration not to disturb children brought here by undocumented parents while getting their educations.  Some are on scholarships.  One female student interviewed by CBS came here at age one month as a baby and did not know she was undocumented until almost a teenager.

The  Washington Post this morning ran an op-ed by Zachary Price, analyzing the legality of how any mass deportation would work, saying that Trump cannot legally use information given by immigrants’ children when apply for DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) status under Obama’s rules, as that would violate due process.

Julie Hirschfield Davis and Julia Preston, on Nov. 14, for the New York Times,  analyze Trump’s more modest proposal to target criminals (first), with “What Donald Trump’s vow do deport three million immigrants would mean”.  The writers claim it would tear up communities.

Here is Donald Trump’s interview with Leslie Stahl, as Trump speaks to a divide nation on CBS 60 Minutes Nov. 13, link.  No “toddler CEO” and “Is that a question?” this time. (But maybe in 2020, when Mark Zuckerberg is old enough to be president.)

Large scale deportations, even limited to criminal records, could divert law enforcement resources and intelligence sources, and undermine the effort to stop terror, so it does not sound likely.  Still, some scenarios could have some students leavings school and scholarships, and some people not allowed to work.  Although there are rules on filing for asylum (like within a year of arrival), in some cases there could be more asylum seekers, who present a much more challenging problem for volunteer agencies than fully vetted refugees.  I personally don’t expect the large deportation effort feared by these media reports, as they would be totally impractical to carry out, to say the least.  But Trump is likely to deny future DACA status, under a tribalistic “you take care of your own first” mentality.


Update: Nov. 26

The Washington Post has a Metro Sections story by Arelis R. Hernandez about how different members of an undocumented family fleeing gang violence and extortion in Hondouras (El Salvador is even worse) are managing in Montgomery County, MD, “A family reunited in Md., but for how long?”  The father had crossed the Texas border illegally and managed to drift and find work in Maryland. The rest of the family was held in detention later when “caught” at the border and asked for asylum.  INS did allow the father to buy them a plane ticket to Baltimore and to house them.  INS currently will allow asylum seekers to be released to other relatives who are themselves undocumented when the other relatives don’t have criminal records (another wrinkle in the asylum system of which I wasn’t aware).  Trump could undo this, but again it looks very impractical for him to do so.

(Published: Friday, Nov. 25, 2016 at 11 PM EST)

The “alt-right”, reverse identity politics, and the easy profitability of some yellow journalism


I’m quite troubled by recent reports that Twitter has banned “alt right” accounts (Daily Beast ) , whatever that means – I don’t think you should ban an ideology (even Communism).  OK, you say, what about banning political Islam, or “radical Islam”, where Islam is viewed (by some vocal Trump supporters and candidates) as a political system (comparable to fascism and communism) and not as a religious faith per se.  In writing all this, I’d refer refers to the 3-column “government” article in the 1950 World Book Encyclopedia, that compares democracy, communism and fascism.

In fact, it appears that Twitter (and maybe other social media companies) are indeed banning specific individuals for more pointed misconduct and TOS violations, as the Washington Post had explained with an article by Amy Ohlheiser in July.  Milo Yiannopopoulos was apparently banned permanently for a tirade against Ghostbusters’s Leslie Jones.  Milo, a technical editor for Breitbart, has certainly been controversial as a “pink-con”.  Some of his stuff seems funny to me, simply making fun of other people’s obsession with political correctness and identity politics.

But what is the “alt-right” (or “alternative right” first associated with Richard Spencer, et al, and the National Policy Institute, which attracted demonstrators at a recent meeting in Washington DC), really?  The Southern Poverty Law Center has an explanation here in terms of American (or European or even Russian) “identitarianism”.  This sounds like a grandiose form of “identity politics”, which is one of the paradigms Breitbart loves to attack (paradoxically) — with “Black Lives Matter” as among the most excessive.  It also reminds me of a question on a 12th grade government test in 1961, to explain “institutionalism”;  the circumstances around the quiz created controversy at the time.  So, now, some civics teacher will ask about this new “ism” on his next quiz. (I have to add, there are disturbing accounts of pro-Nazi (or pro-apartheid) NPI behavior at a NW Washington restaurant in the Washington Post, not that widely reported yet). An account in The Atlantic is even more detailed and gratuitous.

Personally, I resent being defined by somebody else’s concept of group identity, whether white, gay, male, American – and I especially resent the moral expectation to give people in certain identity groups (“people of color”, etc) special personal consideration as brothers and sisters.  But identity runs away both ways.

There is particular concern over Trump’s plan to use filmmaker Stephen Bannon.  I checked imdb, and most of the films he has produced are about grievances of the right, especially against the Clintons.  Most of them aren’t available from Netflix (although I have watched “The Steam Experiment”, 2009). CNN explains Bannon’s ideology in a piece by Daniella Diaz, “Darkness Is Good”, here  rather like Michael Douglas screaming “Greed is good” in “Wall Street” (1987).  The article explains Bannon’s conviction that overseas developing countries have grown their middle classes at the expenses of our own working class, which was indeed more white at one time (and still is, but less so).  It also mentions Bannon’s interest in infrastructure, which could go in a good direction if it emphasizes power grid security, which in turn actually encourages decentralized development of renewable resources (as actually eventually profitable).  Bannon now claims he is (just) an “economic nationalist
But there is something about all of this, though, that sounds contemptuous of “ordinary people” when “in person”.

A Harvard Business Review article  “What so many people don’t get about the US working class” actually backs up these views.

The Washington Post has a revealing front page story Monday by Terrence McCoy, “For ‘the new yellow journalists’, it’s all about clicks and bucks” with the byline “lucrative site stokes alt-right, plays fast and loose with facts”.      The publication is Liberty Writers’ News, for example .   The article described the quick income stream from clicks on ads for what seem to me “low class” products like Viagra.  Some people in Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” will indeed click on bait (even if some of it serves malware, even ransomware) and read only what they want to hear.  It’s pretty hard for me to go to work for somebody to write their opinions and stories when I think they’re dubious.  Yes, it’s hard for me to sell somebody else’s message even if doing so could make a quick buck  There’s a curious and disturbing irony, that “yellow journalism” sites aimed for specific partisan audiences could seem to have less nuisance significance than even mine, should there be new security crackdowns on who can be heard., because they can pay their own way.

(Posted: Monday, Nov. 21, 2016 at 12:45 PM EST)

“Law and Order”: Will Donald Trump honor his own words? “Give unto Caesar” is just part of the law


A good friend on recently posted on Twitter that if the new president does do something really “Hitler-y” he would have to “put down” his “everyday life and do something.”

A few more friends, all of whom were the kind of people who would have survived Donald Trump’s boardrooms on the Apprentice and gotten hired (Trump really would like everyone I am contemplating writing this – all of them are “winners” in his worldview) used rather desperate language and four-letter words (atypically for them) early AM November 9 after Trump had been announced the Electoral College winner.  One European friend was flying back to LA exactly while the “whole world was collapsing” in those few hours of Election Night.   (OK, one friends stays focused on the Fighting Irish, San Francisco Giants, and Buffalo Bills.  And Jimmy Kimmel says he would be glad to be president with the Chicago Cubs’s Kris Bryant as vice president, too young at 24.)

Now, almost everybody will “give Trump a chance”.  We have no choice.  David Brooks has already predicted impeachment or resignation within a year.  That would leave us with Pence.  It seems right now that Paul Ryan is the adult in the room (or maybe Mitt Romey if he joins).

Seriously, anyone’s moral compass has to contemplate that in rare cases, it’s necessary to break the law.  I’ve gotten used to living in a “system” that is stable, and where Law and Order are continuous.  Trump indeed mentioned the NBC crime show at his Republican Convention speech in Cleveland.

So, yes, if I do somehow become involved in assisting, say, asylum seekers, I’m normally very concerned that everything I do is lawful.  That requires some due diligence on my part.  Indeed, volunteering in controversial areas requires personal risk assessment by the volunteer, and transparency from the organization recruiting help.  That isn’t always there, as identity politics gets in the way.

In a comment to my posting Nov. 17, I outlined a scenario where it’s possible that more of today’s undocumented people wind up homeless and charities recruit hosts to house them.  That obviously raises legal questions.  So does the idea of arranging for someone to come here to ask for asylum.  Yes, there are some harrowing stories on the Internet where this has been done (and they’re not fake news).  I can still say that right now, it’s my intention to always comply with the law as best I know it.

But can I promise that I would never break the law in every conceivable circumstance?  No.  A person’s moral compass has to allow for the idea that a breakdown can happen.  (Just read “Survival Mom” on Facebook.)   Imagine one is a Jew living in Germany around 1934.  Is it right to “break the law” to protect his family?  Of course.  And he or she would need some resilience or purpose, or else be the first one shot or taken to the camps.  Obviously, there can be times with illegal resistance is necessary.  Imagine being black in Alabama around 1963.  No one really gets to choose this.  In fact, an older LGBTQ person would find “never break the law” to be a canard indeed, as we often broke sodomy laws in decades past, with no thought that we were compromising real “morality.”

Let’s hope that the new president respects his own words – law and order – and the Constitution.  Right now, before inauguration, he seems to be on probation already.

(Posted: Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, at 6:15 PM EST)

Should a controversial president-elect affect “you” personally? Don’t believe Glenn Beck


Tuesday night, conservative commentator Glenn Beck told Anderson Cooper on AC360 that presidential election should never affect “your” private life.  The culture of the nation, yes.  But it should be life as usual for real people.

True, for much of my adult life, most of the pressing issues have relatively little to do with who is in power at an level of government.

But you don’t have to look very far to see why many individuals are anxious about what could happen to them personally as a result of the Electoral College upset win by Donald Trump on November 8.

The most “obvious” targets would be the adult children of undocumented workers.  We’ve heard a lot about “sanctuary cities” and “trust” states (California and Connecticut).  The very latest seems to be that Trump now says he won’t go after people who haven’t committed crimes.  What happens when people are picked up for misdemeanors or traffic infractions – that sounds like it could change, or become a focal point for some of the “sanctuaries” needing federal funds.  Police departments say that they need the cooperation of undocumented people who haven’t committed crimes to help ferret out real criminal and terror threats.  Going after undocumented people for its own sake could actually be bad for national security.

The video below presents an interview by CNN with an undocumented “dreamer” near the Trump tower (built by apprentice Bill Rancic) in Chicago.

Another obvious risk is an increase in profiling and shooting incidents on non-white looking people by police.  I hate the term “people of color”.  Latinos can look completely white, and some people (as in the Middle East or India) with slightly darker skin are technically (mostly) Caucasian.  The whole concept is ridiculous today.  President Obama is half white.  Imagine the spectacle (and risk of outright martial law in some locations) if there is another Ferguson-style incident somewhere. And there will be.

Still another group is people with individual health insurance under Obmacare.  Some have had their premiums raised for compliance-related coverages that they did not individually need.  Some of these people were understandably angry and voted for Trump (others had subsidies that took up the slack ).  People in states with only one exchange insurer were worse off.  Others, those with pre-existing conditions and low incomes, have benefitted from Obama’s accomplishment.  A sensible solution would be to combine reducing unwanted mandatory coverages with a reinsurance concept to cover claims related to pre-existing conditions.  As a businessman, Trump should understand already how reinsurance can work.

Another possible “target” could be people who work in media or even independent journalists and bloggers like me.  I’ve already covered that here (as on Nov, 7 Nov, 11, especially “citizen journalists”).  Matthew Yglesias of Vox throws some more light on the situation for different kinds of media with his “100 Days to Save the Republic” here where he speculates about oligarchical ties from Trump and an increase of what would amount ot SLAPP lawsuits.  At least one commentator has speculated that for Trump to roll back net neutrality would hurt small speakers.

As to sexuality issues, there are two main areas.  One is women who have unwanted pregnancies.  Trump sounds interested in appointing socially conservative justices who would overturn Roe V. Wade.  Then he says pregnant women would just have to find states where it was still legal.

Trump, thankfully, does not sound interested in rolling back gay rights.  In fact, early on, before he made some his horrific statements in the primaries about immigration, Log Cabin Republicans seemed to support him over other candidates.  It’s pretty clear that LGBT asylum seekers and refugee applicants could find Trump’s climate very challenging.  (Asylum would be unlikely for undocumented adult children, as above, because usually applications have to be filed within one year of arrival.)  But on other issues, Trump says that gay marriage and repeal of sodomy laws are settled (compared to abortion). New York Post has a relevant story here.   But then why does Trump consider Judge Pryor a possible nominee to the Supreme Court (Pink News story).   On the military, Trump is said to have supported the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” but oppose transgender integration.   In fact, Trump sounds personally less empathetic on transgender issues (as with the bathroom controversy) than other “mainstream” gay rights, and shows some interest in paying some heed to the silly “religious freedom” bills getting thrown around in southern and midwestern states. Trump had gay candidates on his Apprentice Show, and obviously he thinks there is other sympathetic “gay talent” out there similar to Peter Thiel.  Ted Cruz had accused Trump of supporting “New York values”.

A good question would be, if Trump wants to get rid of some government regulations, would he be interested in abolishing Selective Service, and assume we will never have military conscription again?

Certainly, government and presidential policies affected my own personal life in the more distant past, including my being drafted in 1968, and thrown out of school in 1961.

(Posted: Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 2:15 PM EST)

Trump could get interested in renewable energy if Thiel, Wilson, Andraka brothers, et al, press it; hint: national security


One of the more positive lynchpins of Donald Trump’s proposed policies is focused attention on infrastructure.

Trump has talked about clean coal (because so many supporters were from coal states), which is not good for the mountaintop-removal issue.  (It’s good to note here that Jack Andraka’s brother, Luke, won a science award himself for a project on reducing acid mine drainage, story ).  Trump is probably fine with the Pickens Plan for natural gas.  And he’ll probably try to push the Keystone Pipeline.  He might not be all that sympathetic to homeowners with fracking earthquake damage – or maybe he will surprise us there, because, after all, he comes from real estate.

But will he do anything for renewable energy: solar and wind?  He might look further than that, since Peter Thiel has been one of his advisors.  Thiel has supported inventor Taylor Wilson, who had built a fusion reactor at age 14.

There is plenty of criticism of Wilson’s claims, as in Qurora, here.   Fusion, as far as we know, requires a lot more energy to fire it up than the fusor can produce. Wilson has never claimed that fixing this will be easy. But Wilson also has proposed beefing up the power grid with small underground fission reactors to reduce the load on transformers (decentralizing power further) and making the grid more secure from solar storm damage and from terrorists.  This still sounds credible, but would require billions in investment.  But that idea might actually entice Trump, who probably would have hired Wilson on the Apprentice had Wilson been a contestant.  (I can think of some people who screamed about Trump election night, people who would have survived all of Trump’s Boardrooms – like Jack Andraka, Timo Descamps, probably Richard Harmon.  Trump could easily throw away his top talent if he doesn’t stay on point.)

Peter Thiel’s idea that college is a scam, and that he should encourage Mark Zuckerberg’s example by enticing other gifted teens away from college to start businesses (even infrastructure-critical ideas like Wilson’s) is a little dubious.  For Jack Andraka to fulfull his dreams, he has to become an MD anyway, all eight-plus years.  But college is still a tremendous social-and-people learning experience, for the start of adult life.  Remember that point in the WB series “Jack and Bobby” – which prognosticates the grim idea of a nuclear attack around 2040.

(Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at 11:45 PM)

Social media has unpredictable effects on politics; old organizing methods much less effective; and the fake news crackdown


Facebook, especially, among social media companies is getting a lot of scrutiny now for the way its news feeds skew reader perception of the news, sometimes with “fake” or “baited” stories, with the latest piece by the New York Times Nov. 12 by Mike Isaac.

I had covered this toward the end of my piece on the possible threat to citizen journalism on Nov. 7, one day before the election.  Some commentators say that Facebook’s algorithm for feeding news to users gave Trump an unusual advantage in the election, something comparable to a deep Knight post in a chess game.

The “problem” is that users get feeds based on their previous likes and other behaviors, among “friends” and pages that they “follow”.  People tend to follow and befriend others with similar worldviews.

The same people are less likely to get establishment-sourced news from newspapers or television.

We can think about the way people get news all the way back to the 1950s, when most movie theaters started shows with news reels (I especially remember those from the Korean War) which could give the government and large companies a platform for politically loyal propaganda.  Then television gradually took over.

Indeed, I remember looking forward to seeing the morning Washington Post on the sidewalk (finding out how the Senators did in a Midwest night road game – the old “A’s Hop on Pascual,, Too. 6-1” thing), and another paper, the Evening Star, before dinner.  It was from the Star that I first learned about Sputnik in 1957.

And in 1959-1960 we had a history teacher who gave pop quizzes on current events.  We had to read JFK’s “Profiles in Courage” before JFK was elected.

My own Facebook news feed is pretty balanced – a lot of hysteria from both sides.  I’m inundated by Survival Mom and the doomsday prepper crowd, because I’ve posted a few links to stories about EMP and solar storms and to possible efforts by Peter Thiel and Taylor Wilson to prepare long term solutions to power grid security problems (I surmise that Donald Trump is interested in this now but hasn’t said so publicly).  I also see alarmingly strident posts from normally “upscale” gay white men about Trump’s election.  I see a lot of identity politics.  I see a lot of everything, because my “following” market basket is indeed pretty balanced.  So I do see a lot of valuable “early warning” news stories on Facebook from smaller publications and pressure groups.

One result of social media is that people don’t feel that they need to be “organized” or to get out an organize others.  I don’t like to be recruited, or to recruit other converts or to chase people (1998 piece by me in the Minnesota Libertarian )  Conventional political operations as a career field seems threatened.  In earlier times, where only “gated” news sources had wide leadership, grass roots political organizing (the kind Barack Obama was good at in Chicago) was much more necessary.  But the unintended result in this past election might be that certain minorities (who are much less literate and savvy in their use of social media) simply didn’t feel prompted to get out and vote.

But social media (as I noted in the previous post) also perturbed how the “online reputation” problem, already growing and affecting the workplace by the mid 2000s, could be managed.  It would be much harder for governments or employers to silence people online when people had such powerful social media companies behind their backs. (That’s a good thing about the way the “dot com bust” was followed by consolidation of Internet service companies.)


Facebook could do the public a service by offering an “optional” newsfeed, not influenced by personal “Likeonomics”, based on an “opposing viewpoints” concept as I outlined on a legacy blog.  Facebook could find 5-10 non-profits to provide peer review of the feed.  Maybe Facebook should set it up as a separate site.


Update: Nov. 15

Both Google and Facebook are catching the “fake news” debate. Google can face criticism both over its ad network and its search engine algorithms.  There was a snow flurry when apparently search engines showed that Trump had won the popular vote (which is not true).

Google has announced a policy preventing the display of Adsense on deceptive sites, which presumably includes fake news sites, as explained in this Wall Street Journal article Monday.  The policy will prohibit the placement of ads on sites that “on pages that misrepresent, misstate, or conceal information about the publisher, the publisher’s content, or the primary purpose”.  I don’t see the policy yet on the Adsense page (as of Tuesday night at 9 PM EST) but it presumably can appear at any time. It would not seem to be directed at “amateur” sites per se.

Facebook’s stance seems more double-edged and is still evolving. I find different viewpoints online as of right now as to how serious it is about baiting readers with fake stuff.

Edward Snowden has discussed Facebook’s slow response to its click-baiting news feeds here.

Olivia Solon has a story on the Guardian that questions whether Facebook is serious about ending the click-baiting and exaggerations, here.  It also presents a “Trust project” to help users flag fake news indicators and suggests companies treat fake news the way they do spam blogs.  It’s not the same as defamation, but that’s another discussion. We’ll have to come back to this.


Update: Nov. 16

Vanity Fair has an important story by Jeff Zucker, “The Real Culprit Behind’s Trump’s Rise“, about blending entertainment and real journalism.

Twitter seems to be taking action against “alt-right” accounts, although when I checked Milo was still there (USA Today story).

(Posted: Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 at 11:30 PM EST)