Friday, March 31, 2017

"Homeland" Makes the US Senate More Real

Had I not seen "Homeland," now in it's 6th season, last night I would not have comprehended what the witnesses testifying before the Senate Committee on Intelligence were talking about this morning.
Clinton Watts: Follow the Bodies

The panel answering questions included a  Georgetown professor Godson and a live wire named Clinton Weeks, a former FBI agent now cyber security/terrorist consultant, who provided a punchy, quotable counter part to the more lugubrious professor ,who actually had some real wisdom to impart but the Senators kept cutting him off because he is about 70 years old and has not learned how to express complex thoughts in 140 characters.
Watts, on the other hand, is younger and apparently doesn't care what the Senators think of him, and he suggested at one point, when asked how we might come to an understanding about what the Russians are up to, "Well, just follow the dead bodies." 
There are all sorts of Russian, who have had something to do with disinformation schemes turning up dead on the streets of Moscow, London, Kiev and who knows where else?

I've been asking all my friends for months: What difference does it make whether Russia tried to influence the 2016 American election?  Everyone was trying to influence that election from the FBI, to the DNC to the RNC to the UK to advertising agencies in the employ of various PAC's , to--you name it. They still had to persuade American voters.

This is where "Homeland" comes in.  Max stumbles into a trollstation, run by a deliciously nasty, oily, smarmy Steve Bannon/ Rush Limbaugh/Fox News type called Brett O'Keefe,  who makes his fat living on conspiracy theories and Breitbart fake news.  He has obtained the helmet cam from the last mission showing the death of the President elect's son, which he edits in such a way to make it look like the son was fleeing from the enemy when, in fact, he was rushing forward to rescue one of his fellow soldiers.  This is run with a tag, "Cowardice runs in the family."

The seamy underside of this troll station is shown on Homeland visually,  but the testimony at the Senate fleshed out how trolls actually can do their damage.
Watts described how Russian trolls got voter registrations in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and targeted fake news stories to specific voters in those states with nuggets like Hillary was running a child sex ring out of a pizza joint in Washington, how she was dying of AIDS and other juicy bits which could then be re tweeted across Facebook and other sites. If you can just find where the crazies, borderline personalities, unhinged live, then you can push their buttons big time. Then these alarmed patriots do their 21st century version of Paul Revere's ride and alert everyone on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter and who knows what?
Counties which voted for Obama and Trump: Trolls Did Their Work Well

Of course, all this depends on the gullibility and stupidity and lack of critical capacity of a public which also devours National Enquirer space alien stories, but when Watts described how methodically you could seek out the Kool Aid drinkers in these critical states, you could see just how they could have manipulated the election.

Citizens United is irrelevant if all that affects is TV advertising. Who even notices TV ads any more, when you've got a story about Hillary cashing in insurance policies from the dead foreign service officers of Benghazi?
I saw it on Breitbart and Fox: It Must Be True

As Watts noted, when you've got a fat target for your fake news in the commander-in-chief, that's all you really need. If you can count that pushing his button will immediately get the response you want, aren't you sitting pretty? All they have to do is feed Mr. Trump a story and it's gone viral at 5AM the next morning.  Obama tapped the White House, 3 million fraudulent ballots, the FBI killed Vince Foster on Hillary's orders and Obama was born on Kenya, the son of space aliens.

Angus King observed Vladimir Putin was dealt a really poor hand, but he played it superbly. He could not match the US in expenditures for aircraft carriers and warplanes, but he could invest a paltry few million in cyber warriors and get the results he wanted in the election.

Watts added that Putin did not even have to depend on Trump winning. If Trump won, terrific. But if Putin could stain and damage Hillary Clinton enough, even if she won, she would come to office wounded, damaged goods.

Why did the US not match Russian trolls and cyber manipulations?   Because spending money on hardware, airplanes and ships is so much more appealing than investing in software and human beings.  As Watts  noted wryly, while the Russians were recruiting and training cyber warriors who were exploiting voting sectors in Wisconsin, the US was rejecting good potential hackers and trolls because "they'd smoked weed at some geek party ten years ago."

Obadiah Youngblood, Red House

Even the stone faced woman sitting behind Mr. Watts had to smile at that.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Playing President on TV

You know that TV commercial, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."
The implication being, oh, well, that's all you really need to be regarded as a real doctor, because what's on TV is real. It's a fact.

Mr. Trump, seems to me, is just a fake President, but he plays one on TV.

Worst thing for a bad product: Good Advertising

Thing is, likely that's good enough for 40 million Americans, maybe 60 million.
They keep interviewing Trump voters and nary a one seems to have any second thoughts about their votes.

Obadiah Youngblood, Goonie Bird Pink Lake

Fantasy League Candidate

What this state (New Hampshire) needs is the perfect candidate for Senate, who can then go on to become President.
Trouble is, opinions differ on what constitutes perfect.
My ideal candidate would be totally unelectable, but I like him and this is my fantasy, so.

We will start with his positions, then get to his personal attributes.
Just try not to think of Josiah Bartlet. For one thing, he had multiple sclerosis, and for another he was too short. And, having been a governor, he was too often willing to compromise and do what political leaders have to do, like allow those astronauts to die somewhere above the earth when all he was giving away was a secret government program which could be used to put nuclear weapons on satellites--which the Russians must have suspected anyway.

But back to my perfect composite candidate. I will use "He" but you can substitute "She" as you like.

Here's how he answers policy questions:
1/ Abortion: He would say he would allow abortions but not infanticide and he would quickly add drawing that line has always been where the rub is. He would say he does not believe a two cell conceptus is a human being with all the rights of a human being, and he would place IUD's for free into any female over the age of 12 who wants one no matter what her parents think. But then he would offend the other side by saying he thinks while Roe vs Wade drew the line about right at 21 weeks gestation, the Court did that in view of the age of "viability" at the time in 1972, and that might have to be lowered, possibly as low as 18 weeks.  This might pose problems because amniocentesis can't be done until 17 weeks. But you might say for certain genetic defects the procedure could be done as late as even 22 weeks.

2/ Transgender rights:  He would say he believes there is too little public understanding of what a transgender person is and the first step to assuring transgender rights would be to put a discussion of the biology and psychology of sexual differentiation and sexual preference and gender identity into public schools receiving federal funds, no matter where those schools are--Alabama or Alaska.  Having said that, he believes there is a significant difference between transgenders and homosexuals, although they do share the common burden of being mistreated for something they cannot readily control about themselves.  As for "bathroom" laws, that is the wrong battlefield to choose as even public bathrooms can be made private enough. Locker rooms are another matter. For that we need an anthropologic discussion about why we have public nudity laws, and why we segregate the sexes in locker rooms and toilets and for that matter, in athletic competition.

3/ Healthcare:  He would say he is in favor of a public/private system, on the model of the British system, or possibly, the Finns or the Swiss, in which a basic health insurance would be offered as a Medicare for All, but if you have a Cadillac plan through your job, the government would do nothing to impede that. We also have to understand health insurance is not healthcare any more than auto insurance is an auto mechanic.  The government's role in training physicians, in paying for medical research at university hospitals and elsewhere should be examined and likely enhanced.  The Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control, not to mention the VA healthcare system should all be improved by dollars and by critical examination.  Take money away from the military budget and give it to the hospitals.

4/ Military spending: We have to think what we want from our military. Do we want to get the next warplane to fight the Russians or do we want, for the same money, a division of marines or SEALS or Rangers who we can transport to Iraq or Afghanistan to try to blow away the Taliban or ISIS in a brief battle and then disappear into the night?  I would vote against the warplanes. We've got enough sabers to rattle at the Russians. We now need a military we can use as a quick strike force and get the hell out. That means getting out of Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria yesterday.  The War on Terrorism is not a war any more than the war on crime. We need a military which can be used surgically and then returned home, not a military capable of becoming an occupation force.  We should not send Americans into cultures they do not understand to negotiate with mullahs or village chieftains about how much opium they are going to grow.  If the Navy needs an aircraft carrier group to launch strikes and then disappear, we can do that, but drones might be cheaper.

5/ Homeland Security: This requires extensive intelligence but the FBI has become too political. Jim Comey ought to be fired and replaced by a Director who serves a four year term to be drawn from the intelligence/police community much as Supreme Court justices are judges and lawyers drawn from a community of expertise. Same with the CIA and the NSA.

6/ Environment:  We should go whole hog encouraging wind and solar. We need the Dept of Energy to act like the National Institutes of Health, in providing funding for research and development and then you can let private companies compete to make solar panels and windmills cheaply and sell them widely. A solar panel on every roof is my motto.  Fracking has made us energy independent by releasing natural gas, but we have to look at what it does to earthquakes.  There is no such thing as clean coal. Shut down those coal mines and send those miners to plants making solar panels. They may be old and think they can't learn a new job, but I bet if you pay them, they can learn solar panel construction.

7/ The Economy: Stop worrying about deficits and debt and start spending government money to stimulate the economy bigtime. No more trickle down from the upper 1%. Screw the upper 1%. Tax them at 50% and make them pay for the winner's share, just the way we do with lottery winners.  Invest all the trillions we need to rebuild roads, bridges, tunnels and throw in fast rail and bike trails and internet connectivity right out to the farmers.

8/ Immigration:  We are all immigrants, but prior waves of immigrants--Irish, Italians, Scandinavians, Jews, Germans, Poles, Asians--for the most part arrived legally, with jobs and families or friends waiting to sponsor them. The difference with Hispanic illegal immigrants is they are the only group which can simply walk across the Southern border.  I'm not sure how many we can absorb comfortably, but we ought to make plans to absorb as many as we can comfortably and then we have to deny the rest.  That means, in tactical terms, no wall will prevent the flow. A wall can, at best slow it down or divert it, but the flood will simply flow around the wall.

One tactic might be to grant immediate citizenship to well behaved illegals already here who have demonstrated they are productive law abiding people. Illegal immigrants who have raped or murdered or become a threat can be locked up just as you would lock up any violent felon. You don't have to deport them.

Once the 11 million have become official citizens, we can expect them to help identify new illegals. If they become a problem by sheltering cousins and relatives who sneak in illegally, the whole family gets deported to whatever country we can find for them.
We have to realize none of these tactics might work. When you can immigrate by foot, there may be nothing we can do to stop you.

9/ Police:  We have to recognize while most police may be doing the job we want them to do, a portion of police have entered the police because it gives them license to exercise their sadistic impulses. These guys are simply criminals with badges. If we are going to license police to kill, we have to be sure, just as we do with doctors, they do not abuse the privileges we give them. When a policeman is seen murdering a citizen on video, he goes to jail just like any other felon.  Trust but verify. Use statistics but be critical of what those statistics mean, and get police back to walking beats, knowing the people in their communities and becoming friends not an occupying force.

10/ Trade and the Economy:  I don't know enough about trade deals to be dogmatic, but from what I can see the reasons manufacturing jobs have declined, factories closed, towns which were company towns declined are not because of nefarious trade deals and globalization.  You can reopen a factory plant and the 3,000 jobs there will be done by 2,000 robots and 100 workers.  Technology has cost those manufacturing jobs, not NAFTA.  People say they don't want jobs sitting in front of computer monitors. Tough luck. You can build solar panels, but you'll likely find yourself punching a computer keyboard in the process, although you will still need to lay hands on the panels.

So that's my guy.

What's he going to look, sound and be like?

If he's a male:
He needs to be sufficiently tall, have a good, preferably low voice, star quality hair, project aggressiveness. Maybe he was a high school wrestler or linebacker who went to college (state school) and majored in engineering or computers, or physics or biology and then to grad school in something technical. Then he worked in academia for a few years, on to industry, maybe a stint in some relevant governmental agency.

If she's a woman:
She has to be able to project aggressiveness without flaunting it. So she has to have video as a college basketball player, maybe at the  University of Connecticut or a soccer player, something which shows her trading punches or kicks. Maybe a swimmer, but at a high level.  Then grad school in engineering or medicine. I like medicine best. Maybe cardiology. Not pediatrics. Not obstetrics. Something where she treated males and brought them to their knees. Cardiology, invasive cardiology.  Or she could be a surgeon.  She's succeeded in a man's world and she cannot be intimidated but she doesn't have to prove it.

That's all folks.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What is a "Fact?" Fact Free Zones and The Truth About Trump

One of the best classes I ever had in college occurred without warning during a literature class with Professor Rosenblum, a tweedy, humble man who was listening to a student's response and asked, rather innocently, "But what is a fact?"

Eyes rolled all around the room, but I was fascinated.
Eventually, the usual things got rolled out: "Well 2 +2 =4."
"Oh, that's a definition. Math is all about convention. Actually, 2+4 =4 in a base 10 system, but not in others."
"I am sitting in this class," another student offered.
"Well, yes, we can agree on that," Professor Rosenblum added, "But how we apprehend your presence may differ, and while you may be physically perceived to be here, you may be a million miles away in some ways, or, in your mind, you may be back in your dorm room with a girlfriend."

As the years went by, I thought of all sorts of unassailable facts, like, "The heart pumps blood to the brain." These are "facts" of mechanics, which we can see and there is so much every day empirical observation and experience, they are beyond much dispute.

Nevertheless, it all comes down to evidence, definition and perception.

When I watch Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo, they struggle with their exasperation with President Trump for his fact free tweets and comments, or for his denying "facts" which they know to be true facts.

But much of what they assert are true facts is open to interpretation. Take Trump's claim crime is up in America, that inner cities are rife with and riven by crime. They play a clip of Newt Gingrich defending Trump's assertion about high crime rates and what he says is the experience of the inner city citizen makes him think crime is up, emotionally, even if crime statistics suggest otherwise. The murder rate is down. Rapes are down. Armed robberies and assault are down, according to police and FBI statistics and yet Trump says crime is up.

But what Gingrich is saying is, if you are the victim, it doesn't feel like crime is down to you.
And as anyone who has watched "The Wire" will know, crime statistics in particular are often "massaged" to make police departments look better.

Murder rates are more intransigent, because when you have a dead body, one would think, it's hard to deny there's been a murder. Unless...the dead body is ruled by the medical examiner to have died from natural causes, and again, as Wire viewers know, police may argue with the ME to classify a death as natural causes because they do not want to be saddled with a murder they cannot solve. Makes their statistics look bad.
Trump claimed his inauguration crowds broke all records, but the Washington Post published the "fact" that the crowd was smaller than for Obama. They published photos to substantiate this "fact." But crowd estimates are notoriously inaccurate and who knows when the Trump crowd photos were taken? Were they shot after he finished speaking or well before?

In medicine, we are dealing with "facts" in every New England Journal of Medicine article: People eating a high fiber diet are found to have, despite previous claims, no reduction in colon cancer. But for how long were they eating the diet? Was it long enough to affect the development of colon cancer, which may take years? What did they consider a "high fiber diet?"  How were the colon cancers detected? Is it possible some were missed?  The statement of facts often generate long debates over analysis. 

The thing about a statement like: "Hispanics love me," or "Women love me," is they are statements of emotion, not subject to measurement. Surely, some Hispanics love Trump, and you are not meant to think all Hispanics love me. That is understood. Same for women.
Trump, in a sense, deals in the unassailable because he strives to reach a data free zone.

She is so crooked. Well, how crooked is so crooked? And what exactly is crooked? If she takes a fee for a speech to Wall Street while she is Senator and she may govern some legislation which regulates Wall Street is that crooked?

Trump is also well attuned to indemnifying himself against fact checkers. He'll say, "Well eighty percent of those immigrants are rapists. Or something like that. I don't know but a lot of them. A lot. Really incredible. Just too many."

So, he'll back off, immediately, saying, essentially: "Don't hold me to a number. Whatever the true number is, it's too high."

Then there is the area which is simply untestable, which Trump seeks out: So 6 million votes, the number he lost the popular vote by, were all "fraudulent" votes, cast by phantom fraudulent voters.  And President Obama wired tapped Trump Tower. How do you prove President Obama did NOT wire tap Trump Tower? Just because nobody has located those wires...Just because nobody FOUND those weapons of mass destruction doesn't mean they weren't there. Just because Obama's birth certificate was presented to the press, well documents can be forged. Oh, you'd be surprised what Trump's men were finding about Mr. Obama's birth.

What is frustrating Camerota and Cuomo is that Trump won't play their game and argue about what the "evidence" says is actually happening.
Another problem they have is they have no real news many days, so they talk about the latest Gallup poll, as if the Gallup poll on the President's approval rating means anything.

The truth is, news media people like Camerota and Cuomo, who I like, are simply not all that well educated, in the liberal arts sense. So they get emotional about "facts" and they are not capable of analyzing what really frustrates them with Trump.

You'd think CNN would have people to help them with this.

Personally, I'd like to respond in kind:
1/ Mr. Trump's hair is fake hair. He is more than a comb over; he is bald.
2/ Mr. Trump has erectile dysfunction, which may explain his over compensation with respect to women.
and all like that.

Monday, March 27, 2017

President Trump: Max Headroom Comes to Life

The Donald is the ultimate entertainment-as-reality creature.

Then there is the advertisement in which the actor admits he is not really a surgeon but he plays one on T.V., so he should be taken seriously. That's The Donald.

Max Headroom was a British TV character who was created to look like a computer simulation of a real person, but not a real person. He was the creation of corporate greed and the public's hunger for an anti establishment figure who denigrated the idea of expertise and respectability. He was only ever a head and shoulders figure, created in a time just before computer technology had its big bang.

He was born around 1984 and disappeared soon thereafter, but he has returned  to life, like some latter day Frankenstein, as Donald John the Trump, President of the United States.

The Brits around this time also created "Spitting Image" puppets who looked like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and Reagan would be awakened at night, in a state of confusion and would inevitably push the bedside button unleashing nuclear holocaust.

We have got to stop taking Mr. Trump seriously. He is an entertainment figure, a reality show star of unreality.

If we are ever to bring him down, it will be with the instruments and devices of his own creation:  Comedy.

You could not kill a Toon, as well learned in Roger Rabbit, with ordinary weapons--bullets, axes, bombs would not touch them.

You needed a special dip to kill a Toon.

To undo and erase Mr. Trump, we need a media solution as well.

Russians: Oh, Plueeeeze!

Here's my personal experience with Russians:

1. A Russian cardiologist decided he wanted to do real estate development and he demolished the ranch house next door to my house and he built a McMansion which towered over my house, making mine look like a carriage house next door and in fact it was so out of character for the neighborhood people simply referred to it as "the monstrosity," and you never had to ask what they were talking about. Everyone knew.

2. Russian ex-pats, maybe they were embassy employees, used to play ice hockey on the C&O canal down the street from my house whenever the canal froze over, and you could hear them shout "Da! Da!" whenever anyone scored a goal. They were young men and they looked like they were having fun and you sort of had to like them.

3. I was at a dinner party once with Tim Sebastian (BBC) and Anne Garrels (NPR), news media people who were fluent in Russian and they both  were clearly enthralled by Russia, which Tim described in rapturous detail.  "The smell of sweat in the Moscow subway. The energy. The sheer magnetism of the place." 

4. A Russian émigré sold me my new Ford Taurus station wagon. He told me he was a Jew and in Russia that was stamped into his passport. I don't know if that was true. I do know the car turned out to be a lemon, suffering the fate a large number of that model suffered for about four model years--recurrent transmission failure.

5. My son made me watch an entire  Maria Sharapova tennis match. I have enough ADD, I cannot sit still to watch any sports event I'm not playing in, but he made me watch. It took 2 hours.  Her opponent looked to me to be the better player, quicker, more precise shots, better ball movement and placement, but Sharapova was relentless. She'd lose a game, a set, but she kept on coming back at this smaller, more agile player, until she finally wore her down and beat her. I don't know if you can generalize to all Russia from Ms. Sharapova, but that did seem to be the Russian strategy during WWII.

6. A Russian émigré friend worked for Voice of America, and he was a delightful fellow, with a wonderful, mordant view of the world--he simply expected the government to lie, all governments--Russian and American and British--it's simply their default posture, he said.
"But the Voice of America is a government agency," I said. "Do you lie for a living?"
"I say what I'm told to say. I cannot know if it is true or not. But since it comes from the government, I assume at least some of it is not true."
"So you lie for a living?"
"At least here," he smiled, "I lie for the good guys."

One thing about Vladimir Putin and the current Russian government, it's pretty obvious he kills people who displease him. Rather a more aggressive response than tweeting, but it does have the virtue of clarity, and, apparently, there is a long tradition of this sort of practice in Russia.

Having said all this, do I care if Mr. Putin worked hard to help Mr. Trump get elected?
Not in the least.
I worked hard to persuade others to vote against Mr. Trump.
In the end, it was the decision of the voters.
The voters were bombarded with information and misinformation and they knew enough to distrust all of it.
Doesn't matter whether the Russians released stuff about Hillary's emails. I cannot believe any of that was determinative.  All sorts of things undermined HIllary: Her speeches to Wall Street for $225,000 a pop which she could never satisfactorily explain, could never shake the idea she was bought and paid for by Wall Street, her stand on abortion, her gender, her pant suits. Who knows what combination of things cost her Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida?
But the Russians had no chance of changing minds in any of those places, no matter how persuasive they tried to be.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dreams of the Worm Turning

Remarks at Prescott Park, Fall, 2017

Jumbotron shows images of adorable immigrant children coming in at Ellis Island mixed with more recent children at the detention centers for women and children in Texas, mixed with images of the wall along the Texas border and the Statue of Liberty.

Leftist Marching Band and Revolutionary Rhythm Section play under a flag:  Liberty League, Indivisible They are playing “With a Little Help from My Friends,” then “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Old man walks on stage and sings, acapella , to the tune “Oh, Death.”
Ooh Trump!
Whooooah Trump
Won’t you build me a wall right away?
Well, what is that I can’t see
With no Trumpcare taking care of me.
Well I am Trump none can excel
I’ll open the door to heaven or Hell
Whoa Trump someone would say
Could you build me a wall right away?
The children prayed the preacher preached
Time and mercy is out of your reach
I’ll fix your  eyes so you can’t blink
I’ll fix your brain so you can’t think
I’ll close your eyes so you can’t see
This very hour come and go with me
Trump has come to take your soul
Leave your body and leave it cold.

Old man leaves stage handing microphone to MC, who wears a hat “Qui Tacit Consentit”

MC:  Wow! Will you look at this crowd!  Biggest crowd since…well ever. 
And the lines of people still trying to get in!  Thousands out there. Stretched all the way back to the Maine border, which is, I admit, just the Piscataqua River, but really incredible. 
I heard this is even bigger than the crowd at the Inauguration! Which, I don’t know, may be true. Lady in the parking lot told me. Same lady who told me vaccines cause mental problems. So incredible. Really. All the way to the border.

And I heard Paul LePage is building a wall on his side of the border. You know Paul Le Page: He's the first coming. Now we've had the second coming of the Mesiah. But Paul was the first. And he’s building this wall and he's making New Hampshire pay for it, because, you know, Maine is open for business. And you know what that means.  Do you know what that means?  Tell me, what does that mean? I never could figure that one.

So you’re probably wondering why I invited you all here today.

I’m asking myself the same thing. Really, I think it’s group therapy.
Not like a group hug. I’ am so  through with hugs, man, really had enough of that. Time is over for talking about how scary life is, how mean, how uncaring--had enough of that.

So what do we do?  Well, we are here in a pretty small state, so what can we do? We are not the smallest state by population. There’s Rhode Island, and Wyoming. Is Wyoming actually a state?  They have two Senators,  must be a state.  Then again, Kentucky has two senators and looking at that as a indicator of statehood, well, the bar for statedom has got to be pretty low. What, really, is a state? One thing is it has got to have borders. Walls, not so much, but that may be coming. Personally, I think if they extended that wall down in Texas all the way around that state, we might all be better off. Keep those Texans behind that wall. Like crating Fido, you know? But that's not really why we're here.

I digress. I do that a lot. It’s better than smoking pot and it’s just as diversionary.

Even, small as we are, people pay attention to us. For about two weeks in January, every four years, they pay attention to us and then they move on.  It’s like “Will you still love me tomorrow?” And they never do. Talk about a one night stand.  And we fall for it every time.  
But for those two weeks, it’s really fun.  And then, about seven, eight months later, that’s the typical gestation period, we find out what we got.

So, I had this idea:  Maybe we could actually have a conversation. You know, not just wham bang, thank you New Hampshire, but maybe we could actually say something that mattered.

Did you know that when one of George Washington’s slaves escaped, Ona Judge, she somehow got all the way from Philadelphia to New Hampshire—man, she must have really not liked Washington—and Washington, well, he was a nice guy in a lot of ways I guess, but he apparently got pretty worked up about his property getting up and leaving, so he told the governor of New Hampshire he wanted his property returned to him—and this was before the fugitive slave act—and the governor of New Hampshire said, “Well, actually, what you are calling your property, is a human being, and this particular human being says she does not want to be owned by you, or anyone else.”

“But you can’t listen to that. That’s my property. She doesn’t have any rights.”
And this was way before Dred Scott, right?

And the governor said, “Well, maybe she doesn’t have any rights in Mount Vernon, but up here in Portsmouth, she is a human being and human beings have rights.”

Now, of course, I wasn’t around at the time. And in the 18th century, there were no recordings or TV or youtube, but I like the story the way I told it. Sort of alternative facts, or alternative history. And, any way, the essentials must be pretty close, because Washington never did get his slave back. 

She was the winner, in that one. She was a refugee who got across the border and was free.  And, far as I know, people around here are happy she did.
So, we've said and done important things before. No reason we can't do that again.

We The People Vs. We The Maps

We the People is the way our Constitution begins.  That document describes the rules and outlines of a new nation, and it begins not with geography, or money, or descriptions of purple mountain majesties or rivers, but with the people. 

A government of the people, by the people for the people, Lincoln said, as he formulated the reasons for the second American Revolution which was the Civil War. 

But, of course, Hamilton, Jefferson and Washington and enough of the founding fathers, those 18th century men in whigs and silk stockings were afraid of "the people" so they constructed a country of states with borders and the government embodied land, borders, states as players just as important, more important than the people. 

Looking at the 2016 census, you can group the states in different ways, but there seem to be several distinct categories:

1.  States of roughly 20 million or more souls:California (39 m), Texas (27 m), Florida (20 m) New York (19m). These are the Huge States. (4 states)

2. States of 8-13 million:  Pennsylvania (13 m), Illinois(13m), Ohio (11m), Georgia (10m), North Carolina (10m), Michigan (10m), New Jersey (9m), Virginia (8m). These are the Big 8 States. (8 states)

3. States of 4-7 million: Washington (7m),Arizona (7 m),Massachusetts (7 m), Tennessee (6m), Indiana (6m), Missouri (6m), Maryland (6m), Wisconsin (6m), Colorado (6m), Minnesota (6m), South Carolina (5m), Alabama (5m), Louisiana (5m), Kentucky (4m), Oregon (4m), Oklahoma (4) Connecticut (3.5m)  These are Middleweight States.  (17 states)

4. States of roughly 3 million: Iowa(3m), Utah (3m), Mississippi (3m), Arkansas (3m), Nevada (3 m) Kansas (3m), New Mexico (2m), Nebraska (2m), West Virginia (2m) These are the Lightweight States. (9 states)

5. States of less than 2 million: Idaho, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming. These are the Mini States. (12 states)

2016 vote by population

All these states get about one Representative in the House per 700,000 population. But in the United States Senate, Barbara Boxer represents 18 million voters where Bernie Sanders represents 312 thousand voters. 
2016 vote by counties

Until the 2016 election, half of the biggest group (Middleweight) states were liberal, blue states, but that fell to 1/3 with the election of Trump. Of the Huge states, half are liberal, half conservative. Of the Big 8 States, only 2 are consistently liberal, the other 2/3 flip back and forth. Of the lightweight states only one (New Mexico) is liberal. Of the dozen Mini States, 1/3 are reliably liberal.

Of the 21 states in the Lightweight and Mini divisions only 4 are reliably liberal (New Mexico, Hawaii, Delaware and Vermont.) 
The End Result of Disproportionate Political Power

If the Senate were reconstructed to reflect population, then 17 states which now exert disproportionate power would enjoy only a power proportionate to their people.  These 17 states now stand in the way of a single payer/government option for health care, a Supreme Court which lives in the 21st as opposed to the 18th century, a robust environmental protection agency, the development of wind and solar power on a scale which could connect nearly every American home to the grid without increasing CO2, the resurgence of labor unions and any hope for a fair break for the middle class, free college tuition at reliable not for profit state universities, a tax code with is friendly to the middle class and which asks more from those to whom much has been given, and a huge new infrastructure program could be undertaken which would provide full employment for generations. 

If the Supreme Court were composed of 9 voting justices, the 9 most recently appointed, with 2 new justices appointed by the President with each Presidential term, then progress on a multitude of fronts would be possible.

But that is not the America we have. We are still living with the distrust of We The People which we inherited from some men who were slave owners and from some who simply distrusted the rifraff.