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By Douglas Moran

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About this blog: Real power doesn't reside with those who make the final decision, but with those who decide what qualifies as the viable choices. I stumbled across this insight as a teenager (in the 1960s). As a grad student, I belonged to an org...  (More)

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Winning the battle but losing the war? Thinking strategically and recent events

Uploaded: Aug 18, 2017
In the time and place I grew up, we received repeated lessons about not sacrificing the ultimate victory by insisting on winning all the small battles. Sometimes it was in explicit advice from adults and older children, sometimes in stories, and it was constantly in the games we played. It started early in simple board games such as Checkers. Similarly in many sports, the design of the game forces you to constantly tradeoff small defeats in order to better position yourself to win the game. For example, in basketball, there are certain occasions where it is a good tradeoff to use a foul to stop the opponent from scoring, but because you have only a limited number of fouls to give, this is only for special situation.

As I got older, I encountered more stories used to reinforce this: They went from parables and discussion of immediate events to historical accounts. There was the Pyrrhic Victory and other stories where the tactical winner was the strategic loser (example, the Battle of Jutland in WW1). And other stories illustrating "He who defends everything defends nothing" (Frederick the Great) and stories whose lessons were first set down in The Art of War by Sun Tzu. For example, you could use maneuver and/or deception to win a battle with little or no fighting. A head-on battle was to be avoided when possible because there were too many uncertainties and the costs were high.(foot#1)

Intertwined with this was the teaching of discipline, including mental discipline and disciplined decision-making. Of course, different people acquired these skills to different levels, with the military being seen as a last-chance remedial course for boys who flunked. Aside: Some variations of the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment (delayed gratification) suggest that self-discipline is partly training.

The advanced lessons were first to understand when, why and how an opponent would lose discipline and then to consider how you might provoke or draw him into doing such. Second was to be alert to him trying to draw you into self-defeating actions.(foot#2) Although it is easy to say that you need to put yourself "in the opponent's shoes", it is also easy to forget to do this in the heat of the moment. The more difficult lesson is recognizing that putting yourself in his shoes is only the first step--it is not enough to look at the on-the-ground situation from his perspective because you are doing that with your biases, priorities, culture... and not his. History is littered with battles and wars lost because a seasoned commander could not take this next step.

Related lessons were "Just because you have the (legal) right to do something, doesn't make it the smart thing to do", or ethical ... And the ever popular Drivers Ed lesson "Being dead right doesn't make you any less dead."

----"The Resistance" to Trump----

I find the Resistance movement discouraging because it is repeating so many well-known mistakes of organizing. First, if everything is an outrage, then nothing is an outrage. Supporters become exhausted and cease to respond. Predictably people who have been inundated with alarms from The Resistance are unsubscribing and/or setting up filters to delete those messages. It is not just the individual messages being ignored, it is loss of the credibility of the sender ("crying wolf"). Once lost, it is a long, slow process to restore trust and one's credibility.

Second, the actions being advocated are often little more than Virtue Signaling or Clicktivism/Slacktivism. That is, activities whose goal is a combination of satisfying the participants' needs to feel that they have somehow contributed and to let them make that visible to others. Virtue Signaling had honorable origins. For example, in the early days of recycling, curb-side pickup enabled the early adopters to influence their neighbors to become recyclers, whereas your taking recyclables to a drop-off center was largely invisible, and thus had little influence on others. However, today "Virtue Signaling" is primarily used as a pejorative--describing actions taken primarily for one's own benefit ("Look at me and how virtuous I am").

My experiences have sensitized me to the first trap. For example, in the mid-1970s, I was part of a labor union that had won a multiyear fight for recognition and needed to shift to using those hard-won powers. However, a significant part of the leadership rejected this, treating everything as requiring mass actions. This crippled the union, and it took years to recover. It was here that I first encounter the (slightly paraphrased) assessment by the Paris Chief of the (1848) Revolutionary Police about famous Russian anarchist Michail Bakunin: "On the first day, he was a treasure. On the second day, he should have been shot."

----The alt-Right at Charlottesville/UVA----

Rules: The events in Charlottesville/UVA are much too emotional to have a discussion among largely anonymous, disconnected strangers. Those events, Trump, alt-Right, Antifa(cist) ... are off-topic here, and for those new to this blog, be aware that I delete off-topic comments. My intent here is to provide additional material from history that may be useful for teachable opportunities within appropriate groups. This could lead you to have more critical readings and views of reports of such events. By having a very different focus, I hope that this will be both interesting and useful.

In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a small US neo-Nazi party headquartered in Chicago, but it was difficult to understand how something that small continued to exist.(foot#3) Seeking publicity, they would hold the occasional rally or march, but that publicity was typically counter-productive: They came off as pathetic buffoons. From my recollection of the media coverage, it was impossible to tell if this was happenstance or media-savvy by the police (doubtful). The typical police deployment was to keep any counter-demonstrators widely separated from the neo-Nazis. The neo-Nazis wanted to project a message of strength, but got the opposite: Most photo and video coverage showed them as a small group milling around and needing the protection of a large number of police. Also, keeping the counter-demonstrators a distance from the neo-Nazis resulted in the photos emphasizing how few they were -- if the counter-demonstrators were allowed to be close, the impressions from the photos would have been that the neo-Nazis were much more numerous, the eye being fooled into not distinguishing some of the counter-demonstrators from the neo-Nazis. These tactics seem to negated the marches as recruiting tools--how likely is it for someone having seen such a march to say for the next one "Mom, I am going to drive 200 miles to participate in a demonstration. Don't worry. It involves me standing around in hot, humid weather for a couple of hours and listening to a couple boring speeches from pompous blowhards."

I suspect that the neo-Nazis hoped to be attacked by the counter-demonstrators, creating a narrative that they were attacked and, as valiant underdogs, fought for their rights and ideas. The prospect of such fighting might be a draw for others to join the core protesters. Also, fighting would have increased the amount of coverage and make it more prominent. The counter-strategy seem to have been to have their event be so contained as to have it be ho-hum--less interesting than a kitten stuck in a tree.

The Chicago neo-Nazis managed to get publicity in 1977 with a proposed march in Skokie Illinois that was blocked. The debate quickly turned to just how very despicable they were, that is, whether they were so extreme as to fall outside the very broad protections of Freedom on Speech. Again, not a good recruiting tool.

The KKK and similar groups were larger, but I don't remember any of their attempts at this type of publicity being successful.

Remember: This is not a discussion of Charlottesville, but prompting you to use the incomplete and potentially erroneous information about events to think about the larger lessons. For example, on the matter of blame, ignore your own assessment, and start by identifying the audiences important to each of the various participants and then think about how they would assign blame. Or flip that around and start with the various ways that blame could be assigned and identify the audiences that would have that perspective.

For the "exercises" below, I am hoping that you can find within yourself the ability to be completely amoral--stripping out the complicating factors of right and wrong so that you can focus on what was and wasn't effective for the various groups in reaching their various targeted audiences.

Exercise 1: Discuss with your chosen friends what is different between the situations I outlined above and Charlottesville?
- How much has the Internet changed things? For example, it can be superior to meeting in dank rooms and isolated backwoods compounds, but it does little to bring their message before the general public (one has to actively search for it).
- Why the difference in the police preparations and response? The police have been widely criticized for ineffective and belated action at this and many recent demonstrations. My inferences from what the police officials have said is that they have misaligned incentives, that is, that they are balancing the cost to them--criticism and legal actions--for the various levels of activity. But recognize that those incentives are passed down to them from the politicians and ultimately the public.
Consider the media coverage and ask which activities of the counter-demonstrators were effective for which audiences. Then where they were ineffective, what do you think might have been better practical alternatives. You (and I) don't have anywhere near enough information to be authoritative--this is just an opportunity to have you think more deeply about such situations.
(This is an open-end question and will be ungraded (smile)).

In the spirit of "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference" (Elie Wiesel), some actions are best condemned by ignoring or dismissing them as so insignificant as to not be worthy of your time. This can be effective against some groups that lack critical mass--they simply fizzle out or sputter along impotently. However, certain highly motivated small groups will respond to being ignored by turning to violence and terrorism: Terrorism is a weapon of those who are so weak as to have no hope of winning on their own, and instead try to goad the authorities into self-defeating actions, that is, making enough stupid mistakes to shift sympathies, later support, to the terrorists.(foot#4) While small, non-violent marches may be counter-productive for groups such as the alt-Right, other activities can provide them more leverage and thus call for different responses. For example, in places where people spent a lot of time passing through public spaces, posters and graffiti can have substantial impact.

Many of you have personal experience with a minor version of this in online discussions. You ignore peripheral attacks expecting that they will quickly die and be forgotten, drowned under the flow of the main discussion. Then there is the "Don't Feed the Trolls" problem: If you believe that most of the participants in the discussion recognize trolling you can, and should, ignore the troll. However, if not, how do you respond to get the troll to expose himself?

Exercise 2: If you were an organizer of a similar counter-demonstration, what would have been your goals, both in shaping the event itself and how it plays out in the media? What do you worry about and prepare for? Recognize that there will be people and groups showing up with their own distinct agendas--you have little, if any, influence over them, much less control. What can you--the sponsoring group--do to minimize their agendas being portrayed by the media as that of the larger group (Hint: very little).

Exercise 3: How big a problem is the alt-Right? Instead of plunging in, you should first focus on getting a usable definition--there are many competing definitions that differ on who should be included. You should then narrow this down to those relevant to this question. For example, categorizing all visitors to alt-Right websites as being members would include people doing research, for example, reporters, law enforcement, opposition researchers. Only then can you start to estimating how many members it has. Recognize that there are those outside the alt-Right who also benefit from exaggerating its size, power and influence. An analogy is that during the negotiation of the Versailles Treaty ending World War I, the Americans and British were baffled that the French generals were arguing for a larger German army, until they realized that that would necessitate (guarantee) France maintaining a large army itself.

----Demonstrations that turn violent----

For demonstrations intended to be non-violent, agent provocateurs are persistent problems. The obvious cases are those where your opponent seeks to discredit you. But all-to-common cases are those of "allies" who hope that the police response to their violent acts will radicalize other participants. There is a long history of demonstration leaders organizing marshals to thwart such people, and of those leaders encouraging all participants to help the marshals. This was common in the Civil Rights Movement, probably inherited from union organizers. It then passed on to the anti-Vietnam War movement and subsequent movements.

However, in the coverage of recent demonstrations in the Bay area I have seen little evidence of this. For example, TV coverage showed the Black Bloc provocateurs and other vandals and hoodlums routinely escaping police by melting into the crowd because the crowd lets them.

Exercise 4: (An issue of morality): At what point does a crowd qualify as sheltering a violent actor? What is the culpability of those in the crowd who are aware that such a person is using them as cover? What about people who would be foolish not to know that someone near them is planning an act of violence? For example, someone dressed in the mode of the Black Bloc, or even just wearing a mask?

----Conclusion----

Reiterating that comments about the Charlottesville demonstrations themselves, alt-Right, Antifa(cist), Trump and similar is off-topic here. There is more than enough of that going on elsewhere and those discussions indicate the implausibility of being able to have a reasonable discussion here.

Comments are encouraged that would help the readership think more clearly and critically about the broader issues and lessons from these events.

----Update----

2017-08-25: An opinion piece of potential interest:
"A Strong Opinion: Stop Counter-Protesting: Even if the protesters are the KKK, white supremacists and neo-Nazis by Rick Gell, on AlterNet.org under Activism, 2017-08-21. Republished by Salon, 2017-08-23.

----Footnotes----
1. Why use military history:
For accounts of decision-making and management, the military history literature is vastly superior to that for similar events in commercial business and politics. First, there tends to be better access for people writing critical accounts. Second, there is a larger market for this information, so you get multiple critical examinations and those accounts are often shaped into more memorable stories. Third, there are times and places where the military culture encouraged, even demanded, the documentation of events so that they could be passed on to both colleagues and the succeeding generations. This became more common as militaries became very large organizations.

2. Suck into making mistakes:
In high school, one of my friends was a through-and-through linebacker (later went high in the second round of the NFL draft). Because of his size and athleticism, the varsity basketball coach briefly tried to have him on the team, but he was inherently too aggressive. In one game, he fouled out in less than 2 minutes. He came off the bench and fouled on the inbound pass and then fouled rebounding on that foul shot. On the ensuing possession, he got a charging foul (3 fouls in rough 10-20 seconds). I don't remember the details of the remaining ones. This was only a minor surprise to me because I had played against him in schoolyard games and had quickly learned how to offset my disadvantages.

3. Small US neo-Nazi Party:
Extrapolating from what happened within the KKK, a significant fraction of its members may have police informants. One KKK leader reputedly claimed that informants were essential to the survival of the chapters because "they were the only ones paying dues". There is another questionable story that a chapter had shrunk to the point that its only remaining members were informants for various agencies (combinations of FBI, ATF, state police, sheriff, city police... in various tellings) but it took some time for them to figure that out. While the details of "enhanced" stories are not to be individually believed, the pattern of the collection of such stories may be telling.

4. Responding to terrorism:
The French-Algerian War has become the classic example: The French totally crushed the urban terrorists, but in doing so created such a backlash--in Algeria, France and the world--that France lost the war. Although it is hard to discuss dispassionately the US invasion of Iraq, it is regarded as another prime example where the terrorists won: al Qaeda metastasized from a tiny organization that could stage only very infrequent attacks into one with international chapters, affiliates and franchises that were cumulatively staging daily attacks and in many places controlling significant swathes of territory. ISIS then built on this.


----
An abbreviated index by topic and chronologically is available.


----Boilerplate on Commenting----
The Guidelines for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.

I am particularly strict about misrepresenting what others have said (me or other commenters). If I judge your comment as likely to provoke a response of "That is not what was said", do not be surprised to have it deleted. My primary goal is to avoid unnecessary and undesirable back-and-forth, but such misrepresentations also indicate that the author is unwilling/unable to participate in a meaningful, respectful conversation on the topic.

If you behave like a Troll, do not waste your time protesting when you get treated like one.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 10:17 am

[[ Blogger: Readers, this is a statement of reasons for discontent underlying some of the conflict. This is marginally on-topic because it talks about some of the motivations in the current conflicts. ]]

The American Dream of immigration in previous times supported the Industrial Revolution in which major cities - Pittsburgh, Baltimore, others had large industry that need manpower. Baltimore used to have Bethlehem Steel and was the second biggest port on the east coast. On the west coast we had major shipbuilding in the north and airplane building in the south. The Burbank Airport used to be Lockheed Martin. McDonnell Douglas was at what is now the Santa Monica Airport. WWII set up the middle class including black people. The military was the mixing pot where all people could be allowed to excel at their individual paces.

Fast forward to today and we have a limited industrial revolution that provides the jobs for newcomers. What we have is people coming in on Visas issued to consolidators who farm the people out to Google, others. No Social Security comes into play here and the companies have no requirement to match the FICA deductions. Those tax rules apply only to US employees who work directly for the companies.
End result is reduced tax base and reduced number of jobs and lots of angry people who can't figure out where the American Dream went. I think all of these strange groups are displaced people who can't figure where the dream is and are reducing the US history to a bunch of slogans that import no real facts or information. It is an evolutionary problem over time and needs to be reversed. We need to have sufficient industry to employ the mixed groups. Individuals cannot digest how they ended up in these reduced situations. The flow rides over the history and current events.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 3:54 pm

example of losing credibility... stories/headlines from today's NYTimes website (similar to what appears there every day)

[[ deleted: headlines about Trump. could provoke off-topic responses. ]]

and on it goes... echos reverberating in the echo chamber.

[[ deleted: more about Trump. ]] Way too much press coverage given to fringe elements of society on all sides .. which is why people disengage. This neo-nazis stuff has no meaning in our lives ... failure to properly ignore the fringe elements gives them power, attention is exactly what they crave for validation.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Dan, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Doug ... The fact that someone's name can't even be mentioned in certain company, or a topic such as gender differences can't be discussed in a civil manner without attributing the most base motivations to the person shows how far we have fallen into a hole here. I don't think you will be successful in having a dispassionate discussion of strategy ... that really isn't the point for most people involved in these arguments anymore. The centrist population has already dropped out of the conversation.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 4:53 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

@Dan

It wasn't the mention of Trump's name but rather the content of the headlines surrounding his name that I expected, from experience, to provoke responses defending Trump.

I agree with you about how far we have fallen into a hole and that "exchanges of viewpoints" have degenerated into shouting bumper sticker-type ideas at each other.

That is why I use my power as moderator to try to signal that this blog will minimize such and thereby encourage people who have something interesting to say to post something here that won't be drowned out by the shouting.

Trying to keep away from the edge results in me deleting things that would be quite acceptable in a normal conversation.

BTW: I found the non-responsive responses to the "gender differences" memo of the Google CEO and especially the YouTube CEO to be a very disturbing indication that we were deeper in the hole than I realized.
Aside: I have avoided mentioning the name of author of that memo to avoid being spotted by bots which automatically post comments. I have seen estimates that bots produce the majority of comments in discussions (mostly commercial ads).


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 5:15 pm

"How big a problem is the alt-Right?"

Not much, however one splits hairs to define and taxo them.

[[ deleted: characterization of the alt-right that seems to be only an insult. Not that it is unwarranted, but I don't want the precedent.]] They can build an irritating movement on [[such]], but not a dangerous one.

Strategy: encourage exactly that behavior.

Tactics: whatever builds a sense of victimhood in the current scenario.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 5:38 pm

Tactic: Laughter Web Link


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 6:51 pm

I define alt-right as alternative right. Initially, it was a term for Trump supporters who didn't identify with establishment Republicans, or "RINOs" [[Republican In Name Only]]. The alt-right was a "movement": the new conservatism.
One day, Hillary Clinton spoke of a festering internet underground on reddit and 4chan full of Nazi trolls who worshiped a cartoon frog. This was a fallacious statement, as certainly not all the "Pepe" or "KEK" fans were actual racists, but the label stuck.

The definition of 'alt-right" was still loose as many wearers of MAGA [[Make American Great Again]] hats proudly adopted the moniker... until Richard Spencer officially claimed the term and drew a direct connection to white nationalism, much in the same way Hitler appropriated the swastika -- a previously innocuous symbol -- to nazism.

Today, any conservative would be foolish to call themselves alt-right if they don't believe in white nationalism.

Whether neo-Nazis are a growing threat with swelling ranks since the election is arguable.

In my opinion, the threat of the "alt-right" is greatly exaggerated for political purposes. Also, many ultra-liberals seek a moral purity that is unattainable, as it still needs an "other" to demonize and place the blame on, whether it's the President or anyone they decide is a racist. We have seen many examples of destructive sanctimony throughout history, by those who sought to be morally pure through eradicating the symbols, voice, and eventually the lives of those who weren't. Right now, the hard Left, or "alt-left" is at the symbols and voices part.
[[ Blogger: unlike "alt-right" which was adopted to describe themselves, "alt-left" is used by opponents to lump various groups and their actions together.]]

Elie Wiesel was right about indifference -- but the true threat that we are indifferent to is a rapidly advancing social media technology which at best distracts us from productivity, and at worst creates clashing counter-narratives that makes us more prejudiced towards each other based merely on political views.

The cure is to join the "alt-center" by ignoring politics completely. Tear ourselves from the fixation on phone screens and focus on more pressing matters in our personal lives that demand our attention.



 +   2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 8:24 pm

"[[ deleted: characterization of the alt-right that seems to be only an insult."

Indictment, not insult.

I mean, heavens to Murgatroyd, we have to protect the tender sensibilities of David Duke and Christian Cantwell and their gentle followers. Especially the ones with guns.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Aug 18, 2017 at 8:48 pm

My opinion is that these strange groups on both right and left are limited in support except for a bunch of people who have made these groups a job with some funding by non-profits. In history there will always be a fraction of the population that indulges these activities. Our problem is to not allow them the freedom to injure and maim other people - or destroy property. Police standing down while destruction is in process will not work. Put the cities on notice, the police on notice that they are required to provide for the safety of the citizens and marginal groups are not calling the shots. It looks like we have handed over power to these marginal groups and that has to stop.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 19, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Insult?

No, accurate reporting: Web Link

You just cannot make this stuff up these days.

And you owe me my post back.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Aug 21, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Suggest that everyone read about the Civil War on Wikipedia. It is a lengthy piece but sets the stage for recent events. The groups are focusing on certain elements of that war and ignoring other aspects of the war. It has the biggest loss of life in all future US wars combined and is considered the Industrial War as it introduced many technologies and expansion across the US. It also involved the relationship with other countries in commerce for products from the south which were transported by sea. It moved freed slaves up to the north. There are so many complex issues in that war. Unfortunately in today's conflict complex issues are being reduced to one word slogans.
Glad that everyone enjoyed the eclipse today - wish we all could just move on and go forward as the US for mutually beneficial goals that can be achieved within the existing tax base for each state. The south produced the cotton and the north made it into products that were sold to Europe. All of the pieces need to be there to make it all work. And we are not in the Industrial Revolution with many industries to provide jobs for all levels of education - we cannot promise a better life for the rest of the world until we can resolve out own economic issues. We have to bring back industry so all people can have decent jobs.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 21, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

The previous comment contains multiple inaccuracies or misunderstandings.

1. Although there was some movement of African Americans from the South to the North during and shortly after the Civil War, the "Great Migrations" occurred in 1910-1930 and 1941-1970.
In the period after the Civil War, the old order was largely successful in establishing alternative versions of the economic aspects of slavery: exploiting labor, binding agricultural workers to the land.
An interesting part of the migrations of former slaves shortly after the Civil War was to the western frontier.

2. Most cotton in the pre-Civil War period was not turned into products in the North, but was rather shipped to Europe, especially Britain. The South hoped that by cutting off this supply, they could induce Britain, and possibly France, into coming into the war on their side. However, they had failed to do their homework. First, British industries had large quantities of cotton in warehouses (perhaps as a cushion against crop failures). Second, Egypt, India and other countries were becoming significant suppliers of cotton and could replace that from the South.
Instead of quickly selling the cotton before the Union established blockages, much of it sat in warehouses until captured by Union forces. Major strategic miscalculation.

3. What the Confederate statues represented when they were built. University history departments have become so politicized that you should treat the pronouncements of academic historians with great skepticism. However, the data shows that the peak of statue building was around 1905-1915 (PDF, page 14, legend on page 15), which was the roughly the 50th anniversary of the Civil War (1861-65) and also many of the veterans had already died or were likely expected to die. It was also during a period of persecution -- remember the first Great Migration began in 1910. So how much was the statue-building for memorials to the dead and how much was a statement of White Supremacy (the rationale currently being pushed by the Left)? The advocates for the positions haven't produced any documentation that I have seen, but only used their biases to infer the motivations of the statue builders.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 21, 2017 at 4:09 pm

[[ deleted: nothing but snarkiness peripheral to the main topic. ]]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 21, 2017 at 4:22 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

[[ Deleted. Off-topic and a rant (stretches of "shouting" via all-caps) ]]

[[ Blogger: 2017-08-22: Restored content so readers can judge for themselves. ]]

I have already discussed the reliability on articles relating to history on Wikipedia; NO RETURN RESPONSE. They allow Revisionist History and I don't rely on using Wikipedia as a legitimate site, just like Snopes. " Those who do not learn from History are doomed to repeat it " - Mr. Santayana.
I LEARN history of BOTH SIDES of a conflict, now that we have the Internet; The Germans had their millions killed by the SS too. " Victors Write the History Books " is an often said saying; now, we can learn direct from the source ( Ich Deutsche Lesen ). Our ( I helped built it ) has the potential TO END WAR AS WE KNOW IT. With the www, I can ( and do ) business over our www.

Racism FROM BOTH SIDES means that maybe people will understand that both extreme types of behavior does not bode well for our Union of States.

The words PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE are in our Federal Constitution.

When you exercise this right, you also have the responsibility to obey the word PEACEABLY when you exercise that right. When that restriction is violated IN ANY WAY, you have a mob with mob thinking. That RIOT is no longer a part of the 1st Amendment rules.

The cops DO NOT HAVE TO DO ANYTHING, INCLUDING PROTECTION OF ANY ONE PERSON OR A GROUP! That issue was decide in a SCOTUS ruling in Gonzales v.s. Castle Rock. That is why many police departments hide behind barriers they set up.

Sir, you are welcome to research these facts; see how things have changed by early PROGRESSIVE PRESIDENTS. Most of our RIGHTS are slowly being taken away.

Denver and Colorado were OPENLY CONTROLLED by the KKK in the 1920s and early 1930s. The MIGRANTS were told to " move along or it is 30 days in jail "

I have plenty more facts; these FACTS may set the ground rules about History. I and my parents suffered because of a real system used by Palo Alto. Are you prepared to take notice and dialog about this " win the battle but lose the war " issue about Palo Alto? I can define the issue in a few words.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 21, 2017 at 5:57 pm

"[[ deleted: nothing but snarkiness peripheral to the main topic. ]]"

Geez, peripheral? I was responding directly to your point 3. There is no reason for those statues to be there, except as monuments to a lost war replete with won battles (directly relating to title of topic), or documented sales slickery Web Link

[[ Blogger: That may be what you intended to say, but it wasn't what you wrote. Furthermore, there are plenty of moments in the US and elsewhere to the fallen in lost battles and lost wars. ]]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Aug 21, 2017 at 6:00 pm

[[ deleted: way off topic. ]]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 21, 2017 at 6:42 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

[[ Blogger: 2017-08-22: I have undeleted this comment in response to complaints below so that readers can judge for themselves my assessment that this commenter was becoming agitated in response to my moderating of his comment on this discussion thread.
]]

Examples of trollish behavior:

Did you have your name misspelled? It needs the a replaced with o.

Are you one of the rich taking food away from starving people?
Have you been a profiteer?

Did you help push the poor into East Palo Alto? Have you ever lived there?

Do you believe in RACIAL EQUALITY?

Do you believe you have superior intelligence? What is your actual measured IQ? Show me yours and I will show you mine. ( just like little kids playing doctor )

I gave you facts and you not only deleted them, you erased the fact that I made the post. Now THAT IS BEING A TROLL!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 21, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Apologies. You must now be logged in to post a comment - that is you need a PAOnline account, but the name that appears can be an alias if you want to be anonymous to the readers (and to me the blogger).

I am doing this because one individual "the punnisher" has become increasingly agitated because I have deleted his off-topic rants. Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to block individual addresses.

Update: the limitation on commenters has been reset to unlimited. I am exploring whether this was a glitch.


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Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 22, 2017 at 4:32 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Mr. Moran himself may be the perfect example of winning the battle but losing the war. By committing LIBEL multiple times against readers, he leaves himself and the PAO open to a civil suit.
Yes, I privately e-mailed about his consequences and here he just committed libel again! /now the newsgroup has to deny or support his behavior. No, I'm not agitated, I just wanted to inform him of his troll behavior, as I'm an expert at trolling, having administered a troll site.

He has really proven that he is a troll himself! Now to see if the PAO has become a troll site itself! This should prove interesting..


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Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Aug 22, 2017 at 7:45 pm

"Furthermore, there are plenty of moments in the US and elsewhere to the fallen in lost battles and lost wars. ]]"

Sorry, non-sequitur and off topic. Please delete.

You gotta set the right example for us pore lil' 'ol posters.

[[ Blogger: the above comment by me was part of an explanation for deleting his comment containing "But why spend all that money for statues of losers?"
Propositional (math) logic: If you assert both A and (not A) - which Curmudgeon effectively did - then every proposition (trivially) follows, that is, there are no non-sequiturs.
]]


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Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Aug 24, 2017 at 8:48 pm

This weekend will have two local events - one in San Francisco and one in Berkley. Now that we have been through a number of these events it will be interesting to see if the tactics used by the police and the event participants changes in any way relative to public comments related to previous events - lack of planning for crowd control nd political gaming for publicity. I think people have less tolerance for violence and damage to property. Also less tolerance to police "standing down" in the face of violence and damage.

I think people are recognizing that the state and city have the responsibility to maintain law and order and protect the general public - outlaw activity will not be tolerated. It is in part up to the location granting the permits for the events to clarify to the groups what will and will not be tolerated. Possibly the permit should stipulate a financial penalty in the event of property damage if it does not have that stipulation at this time.

Bottom line is that these fringe groups are taking over public discourse and terrorizing the public. And the police in some areas have allowed this to happen. The public says that has to stop.


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Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 25, 2017 at 7:08 am

The true purpose and identity of "Patriot Prayer" is murky and remains to be seen this weekend.

What I find the most disturbing is that they are deemed "white supremacists" by so many local headlines, and the majority of the local populace believe it. No doubt they will be showing up with "Love" and "no Trump, no KKK no fascists..." etc, only to find that there aren't any neo-Nazis on the other side.

It might end up looking like Boston, and quickly fizzle out as the Free Speech marchers are intimidated and blown away by the masses of liberals marching aggressively for "Love". What irony!

I don't think Patriot Prayer are white supremacists at all... but we'll see who shows up. And I would always contend that a weekend can be better spent than joining a polarized political gathering just to hold up signs and whine about things.


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Posted by Big Picture, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 25, 2017 at 8:03 am

The Big Picture here, it seems to me, is that the Right (mainstream) - having in recent history (George Bush II and Trump) come to power from the minority rather than majority, see the necessity of efforts to create a greater sense of mandate, to seem as if they represent the majority. There can be a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy there, creating a template for other rightwing groups to grow and entrench power from almost nothing to start.

Guiding Example: Jerry Falwell's moral majority introduced the culture war topics and a popular culture idea about what Christianity is (mainstream) that is still only mainstream in the media, not in actuality, either Biblical or in terms of political identity (a 2015 Pew Research study on denominations and voting found that still the only clearly majority Republican-voting denominations are evangelical, and not even all evangelic denominations, and that large mainstream Christian denominations like Presbyterians and Catholics are still majority Democratic voters, as are traditionally African-American denominations. The media can be reliably counted on to report religious activity related to politics, especially the fringe or outrageous, elevating the political Rightwing element and generating endless free publicity and recruitment, and to ignore or actively cull any purely theological counter arguments (the overwhelming importance of charity, humility, love, forgiveness, the corruptions of wealth, and the many who make strong theological arguments that the Bible doesn't actually condemn homosexuality, etc). The mainstream view of Christianity from the outside today has largely been built on such manipulation of the media (including the views of many Christians who are basically culture Christians who take their ideas about faith from the Zeitgeist more than deep theological study), and while the Rightwing political element of Christianity remains a minority, it has largely grown and assumed its preeminence through using the media effectively. A minority group achieves power and effortless recruitment, and doesn't have to actually ever become a majority to seem a majority, to bandwagon recruit, and to wield majority power.

This is the template for the rightwing groups today and for decades now. The focus of "resistance" should not be on what they are, but what they are becoming, and how they are using the media (including internet-related) to achieve it.

Look at what Trump achieved. He was arguably at best a distant third mainstream-right choice, but the two top choices, Rubio and Cruz, split the mainstream vote between them, and Trump came out as a frontrunner. This is sixth-grade school student council 101, that two equally popular candidates dilute the majority vote between them, allowing a third less popular candidate to win. Once he became the nominee, Trump had the vote of most Republican voters (which would have happened for anyone). What Trump has done is to focus efforts on shoring up the idea that the victory was a landslide, a majority, or because of a shift in ideas, when in fact he became the nominee largely because of this splitting vote effect and as the nominee, did not win the popular or the majority vote. But he is in power, and has an endless bully pulpit to increase support - which seems to depend on shoring up a mainstream idea about "the Left" that is largely manufactured (but the Left can be counted on to do little to effectively counter).

There is a *pattern* here (largely used by rightwing groups) that speaks to what the WNationalist are doing: if a group cannot achieve any kind of preeminence through their ideas or honest means, there are ways to use the media to create the illusion of a greater movement or support, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, increasing power and influence. This tactic is not limited to politics, but other controversies would be too off topic. The trouble is that the media (including internet) shrug their shoulders and say they only report the news, and thus they remain tools in the hands of those hoping to use the above tactics to create power from nothing. I do not see any popular understanding or effective counterstrategy to such efforts; thus, Trump's victory and powerful new example of such has given the alt-right a path forward, regardless of the POTUS's views of them.

I think reistance groups have got to do more big picture holistic thinking to be effective, and not be sucked into playing an unwitting part in their oppositions' tactics. I think in the past, the big picture thinking on civil rights (movement) may have played a bigger role in how police handled demonstrations as you described.


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Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Aug 25, 2017 at 9:27 am

Comments above concerning the splitting votes does not address the actions of the DNC in the last campaign. The irregularities in the legal and financial fallout continues to plague the DNC and the manner in which they operate.
As to theology much action to increase the contributions so that the individual religious groups can pursue their agenda. If you have not recognized it they also have a retirement plan and health plan that has to cover an aging group of baby boomer religious leaders and they have the same concerns that they do not voice as to covering their own business side of the books. The largest groups have hospitals, retirement villages, and church property that may be underutilized and a drain on the overall organization.
"Resistance" is a place holder for trying to think up a strategy to cover their bases and create a cohesive group think until the next big idea comes along. So how is that working? I don't think the general population is buying it. Legislators are paid to show up and work on projects affecting their districts and they are busy pursuing the wrong objectives.


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Posted by Big Picture, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:04 pm

@resident,
This is getting off topic. The Republican nominee splitting the vote issue has nothing at all to do with the DNC or the tactics I am trying to discuss, e.g., how a small fringe group can create a mainstream image and eventually, movement. Had either Rubio or Cruz stepped down much earlier (before the first primary election that gave such wind to the Tmp cmpn), the election from the Republican side would have been far different. This is, again, school council election 101 - and another reason it's a shame that schools have so often ditched student elections, because usually pople have to witness the result (what?! The two most popular kids in class lost to that joker nobody likes? Ooohhhhh, that's right, the vote was split.) before it dawns on anyone that elections aren't only about the popularity of each candidate in a vacuum. Rightwing groups have seen for some time how they can create the movement if they get the right publicity and cultivate the illusion of being more mainstream than they are (tea party is another example.

But then, I remember the point in time when the media outlets began to realize that reporting only on islamic terrorists gave the impression that muslims were all violent. In some respects, I don't think the counter to that, showing what mainstream Muslims really believe, has been that whole-hearted, leaving the religion and its followers open to being ongoing scapegoats. The same is true of mainstream Christianity, i.e., the Christianity based on the teachings of Christ, which really is nothing like (is actually the opposite of) the political-focused Republican-culture-wars-in-your-face-Ann-Coulter-hate-mongering stuff the media keeps unwittingly sending up. Yet the public idea of Christianity comes largely now from this political fringe. The media is only willing to deem something religious as newsworthy if it relates to politics, the religious counter (the theological underpinnings of actual Christianity) are not deemed newsworthy and even culled or suppressed, so there never is a counterargument, the same way there never used tobe any balance in the face of a mainly media-borne idea that all Muslims were terrorists. Again, this use of media to give wings to a rightwing extremist group (or any small group that could not achieve any kind of mainstream status otherwise, there are examples beyond religion and politics, but it seems for now mainly a rightwing phenomenon) has become all too common, with almost no analysis or appreciation of its power.


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Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 25, 2017 at 2:33 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

The point about extremist manipulating the media misses the point that the media actively seeks to be manipulated: It strongly favors "news" that comes neatly packaged and has minimal "some assembly required". This is why good PR people are well-paid. I learned this lesson in the 1980 with regard to reporting on scientific research, but there was an academic study at the same time that found that the substantial majority of business news in newspapers was derived almost entirely from corporate press releases.

You see it today where TV news seeks out extreme, sometimes irrational, spokespeople because "it makes good television". The problem of the "false equivalences" in news report has been a major issues for some time (especially on climate change and evolution).

The problem is not with extremists being successful in getting overblown media coverage, but a media that sees that coverage as very profitable.


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Posted by Resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Aug 25, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Welp, looks like the Crissy field event was cancelled. So much for the (phantom) neo-Nazi threat. And here I thought they were rapidly growing in numbers and empowered by media coverage... guess not. The unruly "counter-protesters" seem to take up all the oxygen now and scare anyone different into silence. Is that love? Is that acceptance? Congratulations, San Francisco!


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Posted by Douglas Moran, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Aug 25, 2017 at 5:38 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

An opinion piece of potential interest:
"A Strong Opinion: Stop Counter-Protesting: Even if the protesters are the KKK, white supremacists and neo-Nazis by Rick Gell, on AlterNet.org under Activism, 2017-08-21. Republished by Salon, 2017-08-23.


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Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Aug 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm

So now I will be off-topic. I was at the Friday night Redwood City event which had the Michael Jackson Tribute Band on the Square. The crowd was unbelievably big - twice from last year. All of those apartments being built are now occupied so the residence rate has grown greatly. Great happiness - people dancing and having a good time. No signs, no political discussion, no fights. What a great joy that such a diverse group can all hangout and be happy together. Then the next day event at Facebook and the event had such high attendance it was unbelievable. So the paper the next day is talking about all of the crowds in SF. I have to laugh - those crowds are not the regular resident citizens - they are tourists trapped in events beyond their control. I know - I have gone up to SF for one event and the rest of the people are trapped in some other event with signs. The regular citizen people just want to enjoy themselves and relax. And there are more regular people than the other group who drives from location to location to cause trouble. It has to be a small group of people who take all of their free time to make signs and march around. At some point it is counter-productive since all are painted with the same brush on either side of the ballot box - disruption is a pain to everyone else who have actual jobs and families.


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Posted by resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Aug 28, 2017 at 12:39 pm

So the Ninja Antifa (?) people came back big time in Berkley and the police were active up until their appearance then backed down when they went to work beating up people. There was supposedly 400 police officers there and they were overwhelmed? And the ninja people drained the water out of the orange barriers and moved them around - that is a new idea. So you have a mayor, police chief, and upward to congress people who should be outraged. How about the county personnel who should be outraged. How about the state senators who should be outraged. How about the Governor and Lt. Governor running for office? How about the Attorney General who thinks he is tough on crime? These ninja people are professional rioters - that is their job. Recognize and deal with the problem and quit blaming everyone else for it.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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