Category Archives: politics

Herd immunity may be the least worst option, but we won’t consider it

It seems that the world has a collective inability to think long-term about the COVID-19. Everybody seems to assume that after the first quarantine is lifted, that life will go back to normal, but that is not very likely. It will take 1 to 2 years to develop a vaccine and probably another year to mass produce it and vaccinate most people on the planet, so we are facing 2 to 3 years of dealing with the coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2.

A few countries have developed more effective strategies to deal with the coronavirus. South Korea is the only country which has managed to stop the number of COVID-19 cases from growing. It uses wide-spread testing, rapid response and contact tracing, which is expensive and requires an effective government to hunt down every case and test every person who came into contact with the infected. Japan has kept its number of cases low, through social norms based on cleaniness, hand washing, mask wearing and people following the rules when authorities impose quarantines in an area, but its number of cases is still growing. Singapore has imposes strict quarantine rules and contact tracing. Hong Kong has basically shut down, by closing the schools and imposing a strict quarantine, and closing the border with China. A number of countries like Taiwan and Vietnam have so far managed to keep the coronavirus out of their country by catching the cases at the border.

Nonetheless, I doubt that these tactics will contain the virus for the next 2 to 3 years. Once businesses start operating normally and social gatherings take place, it is likely that many of the countries that have been able to do rapid response and border catching will have to go into quarantine and start shutting down their economies just like other countries are doing.
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The bitter lot of the establishment Dems

Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the establishment Democrats! For aeons they have ruled their party, but now they see the horde coming. They are caught between a dragon and a smelly, unwashed horde. The dragon is detestable, but he is corrupt enough to be bribed and lazy and incompetent enough that he isn’t a real threat to their way of life. The horde, however, is filled with cries to take away their power and privilege, and they fear it more than anything.

They declaim the barbarian ruffians and their low-born ways, and rend their garments in dismay at what their beloved party has become.

They turn seeking a champion to fight off the horde, but alas, they find no champion to defend them from the ravages of the horde.

The blade of their former white knight has grown old and rusty. It is almost sad how much he has declined mentally, so he can barely take to the field any more.

Their savior in the wings turned out to be nearly as bad as the dragon that they need to defeat on the field of battle, but without any of the dragon’s populist appeal.

Their bright young page, so good looking and clean cut, turned out to be devious and untrustworthy. The upper crust of polite society liked him, but the unwashed masses, especially the browner folk, refused to give him the time of day.

Their stalwart, who was the backup to carry their standard when their white night fell, proved to be sharp tongued and quick witted in her public banter, but the browner folk barely paid her any mind.

They used to detest their final option, but she was far less of a threat than the horde that they see coming. They were ready to give her their blessing as a last ditch effort to prevent the horde from taking over. However, once her supporters figured out how little spine she had, they abandoned her and joined the horde.

Oh alas, oh dismay! How cruel to accept the bitter fate set before them. They must either join the horde or bow before the evil dragon. They will lie about it, but deep down they know that they have only themselves to blame for their bitter lot in life, so we cannot join them in their tears.

Whether you believe Bernie or Warren, this dispute harms the progressive cause

At this point, it is impossible for us to know exactly what was said in that private meeting between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in 2018, and it frankly shouldn’t matter, since it has nothing to do with the policies that either Sanders or Warren will try to enact as president.

My personal belief is that Bernie told Warren bluntly that Trump will employ sexism against her, and she interpreted that as meaning that no woman could win the US presidency. Given the fact that Bernie wanted Warren to run for president in 2015 and there are a number of indications that he would have chosen Warren as his VP if he had won the nomination in 2016, Bernie was probably trying to warn Warren, and she took that warning in a different light to mean that no woman could win.

I’m afraid that the current dispute between Bernie and Warren means that the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is going to lose. My best guess is that Bernie will win Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and California, and Biden will win South Carolina and a bunch of Super Tuesday states, but it is unlikely that any of these will be run-away victories, so there will be no clear front runner. Warren, Yang, Buttigeig, Steyer and Bloomberg will have enough money to stay in the race till the bitter end, so it will be very hard for any candidate to get over 50% of the delegates before the convention. If Bernie is going to win, he needs Warren’s delegates, but I’m afraid that they have created a rift that will make if very difficult for Bernie to come to an agreement with Warren, such as offering her a position as his VP.

Likewise, there is the possibility that Bernie will need to throw his delegates to Warren in order to prevent Joe Biden or another establishment candidate from winning the nomination. In order for that to happen, Bernie will need Warren to commit to certain policies, but this dispute will make it harder for Bernie and Warren to come to any agreement at the convention.

Before this dispute, I was pretty sure that both Bernie and Warren would be willing to put personal considerations aside and act for the greater good of the progressive causes that they champion. However, if they can’t act as a united front in the convention, it becomes more likely that the establishment Democrats will consolidate their delegates around one candidate and win, which is why these recent events make me sick.

Whether you believe Bernie or Warren, this dispute helps no progressive. Many of Bernie’s working-class and minority voters are considering Biden and many of Warren’s white liberal supporters are considering Buttigeig, so if voters change their mind after watching this dispute, they are likely switching to establishment candidates. According to a recent Morning Consult poll, Bernie and Warren have the first and third highest favorability ratings among Democratic voters, respectively, and this dustup is likely to damage the reputations of both the progressive candidates in the race.

The real villain in this dispute in my opinion is CNN. According to Cenk Uygur, CNN sat on this story for months before releasing it right before the CNN debate, which seems like a transparent ploy to drive up its ratings, as Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone points out.

CNN didn’t even try to be objective in how it reported on the story or how it asked the questions during the debate. In my opinion, something Bernie said in a private conversation to Warren is not an appropriate topic in a debate, but if CNN decided to ask a question about it, the CNN moderator should have asked both candidates to tell us what words they recall from that meeting, rather than simply assuming that Warren’s telling was correct. CNN was clearly more interested in generating sensational sound bites and pushing its own political agenda during the debate, rather than trying to inform the public. The CNN commentators on the debate failed entirely to discuss what Nathan Robinson at Current Affairs calls Warren’s “credibility gap” and examine her “long history of saying untrue and distorted things for politically opportunistic reasons.”

America at a fork between two diverging paths where the status quo won’t hold

America will either go populist left or populist right, but it won’t stay the same. The old neoliberal paradigm which has governed American politics for the last 4 decades holds very little appeal for the majority of voters in the U.S. who are growing increasingly alienated from the current system that governs in the interests of the wealthy and powerful. Sooner or later, the American people who the polls show to be thoroughly disgusted with the current system will vote out the corporate centrists in both parties who have spent their careers promoting it.

I am both more hopeful and more fearful about American politics than I have ever been in my entire life. America might become a progressive European-style social democracy that leads the world in tackling social inequality and climate change and reducing militarism around the globe, or it might devolve into a dangerous right-wing dystopia, filled with inequality, racism, sexism, zenophobia and religious bigotry which oppresses minorities and walls out the rest of the world. It appears to me that the US is standing at the fork in the road, and is teetering between two fundamentally different paths.

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Problemas serios en el informe preliminar de la OEA acerca de la elección boliviana

He leído las 13 páginas de los “Hallazgos Preliminares” de la OEA acerca de la elección del 20 de octubre en Bolivia. En la primera lectura creo que demuestra que hay muchas evidencias de fraude electoral. Sin embargo, yo veo varios problemas en el informe después de la segunda lectura del mismo.

El primer problema es que la OEA no es un organización adecuado para juzgar la evidencia electoral porque la OEA tiene un historial que apoya la posición de los EEUU y sus acciones en las elecciones de 2000 y 2010 en Haití demuestra que la OEA no es una organización fiable en cuestiones de análisis electoral. Se necesita un análisis por otro grupo que tenga un pasado de independencia política. Continue reading

Bolivians are divided in opinion, which will only complicate the painful path forward

Bolivia recently witnessed the dramatic end of Evo Morales’ presidency. From what I have been able to gather, I would guesstimate that roughly a fourth of Bolivians are convinced that Evo Morales was forced out of office by a coup d’etat. A larger percentage between a third and a half of Bolivians are convinced that Evo was forced to resign, because the MAS Party committed widespread election fraud.

I am struck by how passionately both sides believe that they were wronged. The MAS partisans believe that it was possible that the MAS improved its winning margin from 7% to 10% after the unofficial quick count stopped reporting results, because most of the late tallies were coming from rural areas which heavily favor the MAS. Many of the Masistas that I have talked to believe that it was just a few bad apples who committed election fraud, but not the result of a systematic campaign directed from the top of the party. MAS partisans are convinced that the Organization of American States is not a neutral party, and the US and its surrogates in Latin America have long conspired to overthrow Evo. If asked how they explain the finding of widespread election fraud by the OAS, they will say that the OAS took a few isolated incidents of fraud and projected that to have occurred everywhere in the country.
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Conservatives have only themselves to blame for the Green New Deal

American conservatives are finally starting to acknowledge that climate change is a real problem, and not just some dastardly liberal plot to raise their taxes and control their lives. Even though the majority of Republican voters now say that they believe that climate change is happening and humans are the cause, they are still engaged in a type of denialism about the kinds of solutions which are required to tackle the problem. Continue reading

Responding to a critic of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

Kim Iversen is a progressive YouTube commentator who I generally respect, but I profoundly disagree with one of her recent videos discussing why a number of progressives in the US House of Representatives, such as Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna and Ayanna Pressley, voted for a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the state of Israel.

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Trump’s counterproductive ban of Huawei

When the Trump Administration decided to ban Huawei, it displayed a shocking level of ignorance about how the global tech industry operates. It is not surprising that the US government sees Huawei as a threat. Huawei is the now the second largest smartphone maker in the world, growing from 5% of smartphone shipments in Q1 2015 to 17% in Q1 2019. Likewise, Huawei has become the largest maker of telecom equipment in the world, growing from 8% of the market in 2013 to 29% in 2018.

The problem is that banning Huawei from using tech from American companies will have widespread consequences in the American tech industry and the economy as a whole. One out of four of Huawei’s 263 suppliers last year were American companies, and I suspect that those companies (Flex, Broadcom, Western Digital, Qualcomm, Micron, Seagate, Intel, etc.) will be lobbying like mad to reverse this decision, because they know that Huawei, unlike ZTE, has the resources to either make their own chips or to use Chinese suppliers, so they will be cut out of Huawei’s supply chain. For example, Huawei’s Kirin processor is already competitive with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon and Huawei will no longer be selling to the American cellular market, so it can stop using Qualcomm’s modems. Continue reading

We should be grateful that Mueller just made Trump unimpeachable

I always thought that the Russian collusion story was improbable and largely a distraction pushed by the establishment Democrats to deflect from the fact that they ran such a horrible presidential campaign in 2016 that alienated their base and the working class. Rather than reform the party, the establishment Democrats used Russia as their excuse for why they lost and most of the media ran with that story.

What bothers me is that the media invested so much time in the Russia story which was always sketchy when we have much clearer cases of Trump doing specific policies in favor of Saudi Arabia, Israel and China and receiving personal financial benefit in violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution. However, what most bothers me is the fact that the Russia story sucked up so much oxygen that the media didn’t focus on Trump’s policies, which is what matters. The other thing that bothers me is that the Russian collusion story has helped push the US into a new cold war with Russia.
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