A quick thought: Quieted by a 50-50 Senate split …

“A 50-50 split in the Senate with a reduced Democratic majority in the House not only puts the GOP back into their familiar position as “obstructionist”, but gives Biden-Harris some cover to not present as progressive an agenda as the Far Left would like to see. Centrist and center-right senators like Angus King, Susan Collins, Rand Paul, and Joe Manchin will take more of the spotlight.

Mitch McConnell will still play the “parliamentarian” role, using Senate rules to delay floor debates, filibuster, or, if he is lucky, table certain items.

The last thing Kamala Harris will want, as president of the Senate, is the optics of having to do a yay or nay on any progressive legislation. She’d rather Collins, Paul, and Company head off any controversial bills before they hit the floor for a vote. She can’t afford to enter the 2024 presidential race inaccurately labeled a progressive.

Commodity, currency, and energy traders may get over their initial nervousness about the volatility a liberal Congress may introduce when they realize that the “adults” are finally in charge … 

It’s time for the silly season of campaigning …

Article II, Section I of the US Constitution as amended by Amendment XII of the Constitution describes the design and function of the Electoral College. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, the popular vote in each state determines the number of electors awarded to a presidential candidate. Given all the hub bub over election interference and voter fraud, why not get rid of the Electoral College and consequently the popular vote and return the selection of president and vice-president to the Senate and the House of Representatives where the ticket winning the majority of the quorum becomes the next president and vice-president? Americans feigning concern about their non-participation in the presidential election would find solace in voting out any senator or congressman who voted for the ticket not of their liking.

There are advantages to this approach. First, the transparency of the vote eliminates charges of voter fraud. A public vote by each senator and congressman puts him or her on the hook. Second, the ‘silly season” of election campaigning is reduced since candidates will not need to invest much time or money trying to persuade 535 senators and congressmen versus 150 million potential voters.Third, the citizen has to spend some time learning about their incumbent congressmen’s philosophy and policy stances as their views will help determine who they select for president and vice-president. Congressmen and senators will have to be transparent with citizens as their seats become increasingly vulnerable with their added responsibility of voting for president and vice-president.

Citizens will see an increase in their electoral power because every two years depending on who their congressmen and senators choose for president and vice-president citizens are in a position to clean out incumbents.

Question is, are citizens prepared for that kind of increase in electoral power or would they rather the comedy and status quo of the silly season?

What does the narrative of fair trade with China mean?

This morning I watched the Fox Business Network‘s Mornings with Maria.  They have been featuring news clips of an interview that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had with host Maria Bartiromo where he criticizes China’s trade policy toward the United States and warns Americans of the Chinese intent to steal American intellectual property and Americans’ personal information.  The United States has been making it clear for years that it is unhappy with what it describes as an imbalance in trade between the two nations.

China has a potentially large consumer market, its emergence stymied in part to its current status as a creditor nation where it finances other nations, including the United States versus living off of the dead aid provided by western nations as part of their policy of noblesse oblige toward emerging, lesser developed countries.  In addition, given its growing economic power, it is easily in a position to influence economic affairs in southeast Asia.  As a provider of inexpensive telecommunications equipment it has been able to enter Europe’s telecommunications market providing competition for American made telecommunications products.

But at the heart of the American narrative may be the fear that the Anglo-American world view or philosophy is being challenged by an alternative Chinese view that, if not held under control, will replace the Anglo view thus making the current American narrative on political economy i.e. the greatness of the republican form of government combined with a free market, less attractive for leadership in other nations to use the American model for governing their domestic and foreign trade affairs.

Pompeo and other American leaders have been using the media to signal to Americans that China’s actions are a threat to the American economy thus a threat to the American way of life.  I can see the broad strokes.  For example, if China continues to lock the US out of additional trading opportunities in China and can price the US out of European and other Asian technology and manufacturing markets, America’s wealth and trade influence would shrink and the US would be forced to become more self-reliant.  America, facing a challenged supply chain, would see shortages and increasing prices for goods and services thus the threat to the American way of life.

Pompeo also describes China’s activity as a threat to American democracy.  That threat I don’t buy into and I see it more as a jingoistic ploy than anything else.  Democracy refers to a citizen’s ability to participate in the process whereby political leaders are selected.  Pompeo has yet to state his case in a cogent manner.  He has insinuated that China has deployed an influence campaign targeting voters and elected officials alike but has provided no specifics.

In addition, the terms fairness and balance are continuously uttered, likely part of the jingoism campaign, as Americans tend to conflate fairness and balance with democracy.  A fair and balanced trade relationship between two countries has nothing to do with how the leaders in each respective country are chosen.  Americans should be asking themselves and their leaders why connecting these points creates such a sound political narrative that US electorate would have no other choice but to support any legal initiatives or actions that promote escalated tensions.

And the legal actions and initiatives are being turned up.  The Justice Department recently told PBS News that 60% of its trade cases are against China and that its actions against China are more in line with stopping illegal activity versus expressing an intellectual bias.

I see law as the codification of an originating philosophy transmitted via a narrative and  refined by politics and policy.  What is missing here is the jurisprudence.  For the citizen to properly understand the government’s legal actions against China trade policy, the focus has to come off of messages that conflate democracy, fairness, and balance, and look for the philosophy that is being promoted.  Conflation promoted by government officials should open up the citizens’ minds to questions about the mismatch between the politics, the policy, and the messaging.

Getting to the why is critical.

Social media: Democracy takes a back seat to the need to control political messaging …

Narrative is a public resource and it should be expected that political factions will try to exercise control over a narrative in order to validate their authority to administer other public resources and implement policies for society.  Arguably China is among the most stringent in controlling expression of thought while pursuing a path of collective prosperity for its citizens.

The American model for expression places an emphasis on the individual and places the onus to pursue prosperity on the individual with certain safety nets in place to take care of the individual should she fail to capitalize on the opportunities provided by a predominantly capitalist and democratic society.  But is the promotion of individual expression and pursuit of prosperity more façade than reality in American society?  I think the attack on social media is peeling the onion on that façade with a suspect business model providing the knife for a brutish peeling of this tear causing bulb.

President Donald Trump and conservatives have made no bones about their perceptions of treatment by social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.  They believe that Twitter and Facebook have used their algorithms to divert or silence conservative messages exchanged on their platforms.  Conservatives have been building the narrative that these platforms silence free speech and the narrative has fed the idea among the conservative rank and file that their free speech rights are being violated.

On this point the conservative rank and file should take a quick read of the United States Constitution and stay consistent in their support of the private sector.  Facebook and Twitter are not the government.  They are not state agencies.  The right to free speech is a restriction on government behavior and private sector agencies such as Facebook and Twitter are free to associate with and facilitate the inclusion on their platform of the type of subscriber of their choosing pursuant to the behavior they prescribe in their subscriber agreements.

Sections 230(c)(1) and (2) of the Communications Decency Act provide Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms additional protections by holding them harmless for any indecent or libelous content produced on their platforms by their subscribers.  This code was birthed by a policy to encourage commercial growth on and use of the internet as a communications medium.

As a medium for exchanging political messages, it should really be no surprise that political factions would target the applications that run on internet infrastructure and enable the exchange of information to a global public.  If political messaging is managed properly, the most potent narratives could be created that shift political power from one faction to the next.  Conservatives, who already perceive social media platform owners as liberals, are wary that stifling conservative messages as policy serves to weaken their ability to acquire, expand, and maintain political power.

What Americans should be mindful of is that the end game of a political faction in the United States is no different than the end game of a political faction in China, The Gambia, Ghana, or Italy.  The end game is to control the matrix of narratives that validate a political faction’s authority over public resources and speech is one of those resources.  Democracy introduces inefficiencies in the end game strategy, but these inefficiencies are the costs incurred from maintaining a social policy of freedom of expression.

What the politician must constantly be mindful of is maintaining the strategic position of controlling the narrative and ensuring that position via tactics that disclose a preference for squelching public opinion.  I have heard this concern expressed by administrators and regulators behind closed doors.  This is the reality of democracy and its relationship to free speech and media.  It’s a front and the best politician paints the best narrative to maintain this front.

Unfortunately for social media, it has unwittingly become the target for the front …

Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District Needs New Blood…

Government is a big fat private equity/venture capital firm backed up by guns with cash to spend. Georgia’s Fifth District needs a congressional rep that can not only divert as much cash to the district in the form of grants, business loans, subsidized health, but spends every waking minute creating new pools of capital via legislation and sending that money home.

This representative should also be aggressive in recruiting or assisting in the creation of Afro-owned enterprises that can provide value in a 21st century digital economy. Many, particularly those living in the 30310 zip code, would like the opportunity to live and work in their portion of the district versus having to commute across town for work. Other taxpayers in the more affluent sections of the Fifth District are enjoying this privilege.

Democracy as a concept is being laughed at around the globe and rightfully so because it is accompanied by a disparity in the allocation of capital. Capital must be the first word spilling off the lips of any congressman representing poor people. There is now an opportunity for the Fifth District to seek out a candidate that can shake things up.

Politics is a blood sport. There is no time for weeping for fallen warriors and the tired horses they rode on….

Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District needs new blood …

How does government enable us to serve the Energizer Bunny we call society?

The struggle we see today over control of government is disingenuous.  Hell.  It is downright phony.  As I write this, the two major parties vying for control of the United States government, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, are centering their narratives on political packages they believe meet the desires of the electorate such that the electorate gives one of the parties control over legislation, administration, or both.  But do either offer any real change as to how the current model of government operates?

For the better part of the last 230 years or at least since the United States ditched its mercantilist economic policies, the United States has followed a policy that favors private control of the factors of commercial production where individuals or associations of individuals keep as income the revenues minus taxes and costs of production.  Such a policy under-girded by the concepts of liberty and freedom is hoped to incentivize these private owners to create innovative products while enticing the consumer to borrow money and purchase product.  Not only does the exchange between producer and consumer create taxable events thus revenues for government, but the ability that the producer and consumer have to autonomously enter into contracts to purchase validates the government’s authority over the jurisdiction of the United States.  Government hopes that the freedoms producer and consumer enjoy along with the protection of the infrastructure upon which trade is conducted will engender an allegiance to American government, American culture, and American “society.”

Freedom and liberty are essential parts of the American government’s narrative and for all the squabbling between the two major parties, that base narrative has not changed, although it has been my observation that Democrats don’t use those words much as opposed to Republicans who enjoy attaching the words to markets and commerce.  Government’s role is to sell the prevailing narrative.  The economic policy component of the narrative is capitalism and this policy component, while not explicitly referred to in law, is implicitly referred to in various statutes as “markets”, “commerce”, “trade”, “full employment”, etc.

I think, however, that government has a more metaphysical role as well.  Government’s other role is to convert human energy into something consumable.  Humans prey on each other and technology and to some extent, the democratization of technology, has made that predatory behavior less obvious.  For example, currency is a technology.  We invest varying amounts of energy in capturing it and expend energy purchasing with our currency items for current or future consumption.  Our energy via currency is converted into tax revenues for government and profits for investors.  Through fiscal policy and the policy of capitalism, we are reduced to the function of a battery.  Unlike Neo, we are unable to unplug.

While humans have moved horizontally from the era of direct cannibalization, government keeps in place an alternative form of cannibalism; one that extends our lives via social welfare safety nets, investment in medical advances, the delusion of growth via travel and institutional education, laws protecting our person and property, financial services promising comfort in retirement, and media stimulation to ease the pain and suffering stemming from being consumed five, six, seven days a week.

Who does this energy transference ultimately serve?  I cannot say for sure.  When I see poor people in grocery store aisles struggling over the affordability of food.  When I see people dying because they cannot afford surgery.  When I see people having to work well into their seventies instead of resting and enjoying the status of a venerated elder while passing down knowledge to younger generations, I cannot say that this energy transfer system that we call the political economy serves the common man.  Rather, it serves us up…

So, what is government?  Government is a cannibal.  Government tenderizes us for consumption.  Government sells us on the requirement to comply.  Government enables us to serve the Energizer Bunny that is society.