Parsing and summarizing current events with proverbs


If you are reading this blog, you are probably already aware that taxi drivers staged an hour-long strike to signify their opposition to Trump.


New York taxi drivers have their own response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban: A strike.

As protests continue to break out across major U.S. airports Saturday night following President Trump’s immigration ban, taxi drivers at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport have gone on strike.

In postings to social networks Saturday the New York Taxi Workers Alliance announced that from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET there would be no pickups at JFK as a protest to the immigration ban that some are taking as a ban on Muslims.

[end quote]

Whoa, that’s pretty amazing. They managed to suspend operations for SIXTY MINUTES. That’s not a strike, that’s an extended lunch break.

While the standard taxis were taking their 60-minute break, Uber drivers did not get the memo and continued to operate. This was probably not a calculated pro-Trump message; this was probably just independent contractors working for a rival company who had no idea that the mainstream taxis were taking a coffee break striking.

However, predictably irrational scriveners and snivelers are sensationalizing everything vastly out of proportion.


#DeleteUber is trending on Twitter as angry customers vow to scrap the ridesharing app after reports alleged that Uber drivers broke a strike staged by taxi drivers at JFK airport over President Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’
The New York Taxi Alliance announced a one-hour work stoppage at JFK airport Saturday evening as protesters called for immigrants, detained on the back of Trump’s executive order banning US entry to citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, to be released.

However many Twitter users noticed that Uber drivers were arriving at the airport to pick up passengers during the designated strike time, 6pm to 7pm, and took to the social media site to denounce the company’s actions.

[end quote]



Ideally, I would like to analyze the events in the light of common sense, with minimal sensationalism.

When doing amateur journalism, sensationalism is easy, common sense is difficult, and proverbs are a happy medium.

Common sense is difficult.

Consider, for example, the common sense advice of Ron Paul:


The solution to really addressing the problem of illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and the threat of cross-border terrorism is clear: remove the welfare magnet that attracts so many to cross the border illegally, stop the 25 year US war in the Middle East, and end the drug war that incentivizes smugglers to cross the border.

[end quote]

That’s very sensible, Dr. Paul. It’s a darned shame that you are too rational for your country. Why should I welcome you, Ron Paul Stormcrow?

Sensationalism is easier than common sense, as illustrated by the following exercise in rumor-mongering:


If you give anger enough fuel, eventually it leads to violence. I am certainly not suggesting that we should ever compromise on what we believe, but what I am suggesting is that there is a wise way to handle things and an unwise way to handle things.

Someday, widespread civil unrest is going to sweep across the United States and major American cities will burn.

My hope is that we can put this off for as long as possible.

In fact, I sincerely hope that this will not happen at all during the Trump/Pence era.

But you would have to be blind not to see the hate, anger and frustration that are all growing like cancer in the hearts of our young people.

[end quote]

Link 2 contains mere sensationalism. There are few relevant facts and no evident trend. The facts of the story are true, but useless and trivial. The conclusions are poorly supported. The writer obviously feels that the USA is corrupt and that a civil war would be a necessary catharsis – but those emotions are clouding the writer’s judgment regarding where and when the crises will arise.

There is a queasy half-drunk madness that besets some sensationalistic writers; such scribblers can still form coherent sentences, but they fail to see obvious objections to their vaporings. An example is this:


U.S. taxpayers will get a free wall by forcing Mexicans to pay for it by charging them to import the goods Americans consume from Mexico. Many food products that people living in the U.S. enjoy — like fruits, vegetables, and avocados — could be taxed an extra 20 percent under Trump’s plan. Mexican beer like Corona? 20 percent. Tequila, too. Cars, electronic equipment, machines, engines, pumps, oil, medical and technical equipment, furniture, lighting, signs, plastics, gems, precious metals, coins, iron, and steel products are Mexico’s top imports, which could be taxed 20 percent more.
But here’s what Trump and his short-sighted plan to pay for this wall won’t tell you: Mexico isn’t going to pay that tax — you are. By collecting an extra 20 percent in taxes at the border, Trump is about to charge you more for groceries at the supermarket. This will happen because Mexican exporters will have to raise their prices to account for the new tax, then that added cost will be passed on to the consumer. It happens every time a tariff is imposed. Not only that, but even non-imported goods go up in price because there is less competition in the market.

[end quote]

The obvious objection is that the projected future is obviously wrong. Here is a more realistic scenario.

1. Trump establishes tariff on crucial Mexican exports, such as Corona beer and furniture. Assume that each $1.00 worth of Corona beer will cost $1.20 in the USA. The extra $0.20 goes to the “Wall Fund.”
2. Americans decide to stop buying Corona beer. Some brew their own beer, others buy Sam Adams or Heineken. Similarly, Americans boycott Mexican vegetables and other products. (Who ever heard of an American eating a vegetable other than ketchup and french fries?)
3. Mexican companies such as Corona fail to make their expected money. There is very little money in the “Wall Fund.” The wall does not get built, but Mexican companies go out of business. Some small farmers also go out of business.

Obviously, Trump does not care about getting enough money to pay for the wall. Trump cares about terrorizing his negotiation opponents by “taking hostages” – not human hostages, but vital business interests.

When sensationalism is pushed beyond all sane limits, the resulting tommyrot cannot even be called “publicity” – it is sheer blather, and an example is shown as follows:


W.I.T.C.H. rises again to take on the patriarchy, white supremacy, and more
>The first week and a half of Trump’s administration has resulted in a radicalization of the left, with protests happening nearly every day and representatives struggling to empty their voicemails. Millions of Americans are tapping into the long history of protest and civil unrest to fight against Trump’s unconstitutional executive orders, among other things.
>So it’s no surprise that W.I.T.C.H. is also back.
>Originally founded in 1968, the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (the acronym was changed based on the protest, such as the Women’s International Troublemakers Conspiracy from Hell or Woman Imagining Theoretically Creative Happenings) is a group that argued women should fight not just to dismantle the patriarchy, but a number of left-wing causes. They dressed as witches, passed out leaflets and protested in the streets, “hexing” institutions of power.
>After fading away in the 1970s, W.I.T.C.H. is now back in Portland, Oregon, with an anonymous group using the name to fight white supremacy, sexism, racism, and capitalism, among other issues. “We pick back up the mantle of our forebears and adapt their purpose and spirit to the modern era. For us, that means retaining their desire to dismantle the patriarchy and fight for justice using the symbol and innate power of the witch, while being inclusive to all genders and centering intersectionality and anti-oppression as our core values,” it writes on its website.
>The organization is anonymous and encourages others to begin branches in their cities as long as they uphold their core values. So don’t be surprised if you see a group of witches at the next protest. And remember, anyone can hex.

[end quote]

Another link contains an anecdote of very limited usefulness:


The investigation was triggered in October 2016 after a female officer addressed the German parliamentary commissioner for the army, Hans-Peter Bartels as well as the German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen.

The female lieutenant complained that she had to go through various humiliating and degrading exercises and rituals during her medical training at the base. The recruits were forced to get naked in front of the fellow service members while other soldiers were filming them, she said at that time, according to Der Spiegel.

The soldiers attending the course also had to take part in “absolutely senseless and apparently sexually motivated medical exercises” that involved soldiers inserting roller bandages into their anuses. Both male and female recruits had to go through this. Such “drills” were also photographed, the officer added.

The officer’s complaint prompted an internal investigation into the matter that confirmed all the officer’s statements, Der Spiegel reports. The investigators also found that the violations at the base were not limited to degrading training exercises, but also included violent and humiliating rituals for new recruits.

Soldiers were tied to chairs for many hours and hosed down, according to the daily. After Volker Wieker, the Inspector General of the Federal Armed Forces, sent his special investigator to the base the number of discovered violations “rapidly increased.”

[end quote]

One can sum up that story as “abuse of power comes as no surprise.” It is an old proverb (dating back at least as far as Jenny Holzer) but it seems to be a reasonable way to make a factual journalistic story into something understandable.

To strike this expiring equine animal once more, here is a German explaining neocolonialism:


The partnership to prepare the temporary banning of most cash in India coincides roughly with the tenure of Raghuram Rajan at the helm of Reserve Bank of India from September 2013 to September 2016. Rajan (53) had been, and is now again, economics professor at the University of Chicago. From 2003 to 2006 he had been Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington. (This is a cv-item he shares with another important warrior against cash, Ken Rogoff.) He is a member of the Group of Thirty, a rather shady organization, where high ranking representatives of the world major commercial financial institutions share their thoughts and plans with the presidents of the most important central banks, behind closed doors and with no minutes taken. It becomes increasingly clear that the Group of Thirty is one of the major coordination centers of the worldwide war on cash. Its membership includes other key warriers like Rogoff, Larry Summers and others.

[end quote]

It’s not a shocking conspiracy theory, it’s just one of those niggling, detailed journalism stories, along the same line as Ida Tarbell, but infinitely more tedious. The take-home is “Abuse of power comes as no surprise.”

If one extends the tedious scholarship to the point where a simple article requires 73 footnotes, one leaves the realm of journalism and enters the murky water of history, as in the example below:


Marx thought that dialectically capitalism would pave the way to socialism. Rather, it could be contended dialectically that socialism paved the way for international monopoly capitalism, by serving as a transition in destroying tradition-oriented societies. Zbigniew Brzezinksi, speaking for the globalists, suggests as much in his Between Two Ages, writing that Marxism was “a further vital and creative stage in the maturing of man’s universal vision,” [73] so this hypothesis does not entirely come from left field.

Marxism became passé and has metamorphosed into sundry forms of other pseudo-revolt, culminating in the present phenomena of the “color revolutions.” Carefully planned for over a decade, the “spontaneous revolts” (sic) have been wreaking havoc on the ex-Soviet bloc states, and lately have put one of the last bastions of tradition, the Arab world, into turmoil, again as part of a dialectical process of capitalism. It remains to be seen whether the “revolution” will backfire on the plutocrats.

[end quote]

I haven’t read the article in great depth, but I don’t think it conceals any surprises about the abuse of power.

It is a mistake to think that one proverb suffices for all relevant stories.

Consider the following:

Uber is a very exploitative business. The workers get screwed over and the management takes way too big a cut. Therefore, Uber’s leaders are bad guys and their footsoldiers are idiotic, misguided stooges. The airport protestors are socially destructive degenerate madmen. Therefore, the protest leaders are bad guys and the protest footsoldiers are idiotic, misguided stooges.

Proverbs about the abuse of power are not the most informative angle here. This is an internal struggle between grotesque factions, and the lower classes are bound to be exploited regardless of who wins. This calls for a different proverb, e.g. “When the elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.”

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