Friday, July 21, 2017

Robots and Personalization. What Truman Could Teach Trump But Would He Listen? The Un-serious President?

This from a dear friend, fellow tennis player and memo reader. (See 1 below.)
1)"Looks like this should be mandatory reading !
Subject: Book entitled: Big Agenda,
                                    President Trump’s Plan to Save America
          By David Horowitz

This book is a call to arms. For we are truly in a war for the survival of the United States of America as intended by our founding fathers in the Constitution. 

This book reveals the goal of each party and their opposite principles in the role of the Federal government. The opposition has grown vitriolic over the last years and exploded with the election of Donald Trump (yes, anarchy in the streets, not just protests).   The book details the hidden strategy of the progressives together with the help of the media.  The attacks on Donald Trump and his attempts to return to the fundamental principles of our country are ceaseless.  But the book also offers specific steps to restore the USA. It should be required reading for our representatives and senators. Unfortunately, the Republican Party is fragmented and some former leaders are not helping. Could that be because Donald Trump is not politically correct?

So, I urge you to get a copy from the library (or wherever) and learn what Trump, the legislature, and the Supreme Court need to do to overcome the years of decay.   And yes, they will need the support of the “deplorables” as Hilary called us.
Speak Up!

God Bless America

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same”.   Ronald Reagan."
I consider The Wall Street Journal one of the best newspapers in the nation and often post articles from its pages.

In this memo I found three of real/read interest.  The first deals with my concern/interest regarding robots.

Robots will replace humans and the author believes it will allow more humans to work where personalization cannot be replaced by robots. (See 1 below.)

The second article discusses what Trump could/should learn from Truman and why. (See 1a below.)

In the third posting, Peggy Noonan gives Trump deserved credit for bringing attention to the stale state of the establishment but takes him to task for operating autonomously and being "un-serious." (See 1b below.)

We voters are justifiably angry about the fact that those we elect have let us down but that is no reason to believe a president bereft of heft is the answer.  Perhaps the contentious nature of our politics, the extremism of the mass media in its desire to destroy and which knows no bounds and the demands of an impossible job no longer attract the caliber we so tragically need.  Maybe the talent pool rather opts out for state leadership positions but are unsuited and/or unwilling to seek the top job

Time will tell.

1) Don’t Fear the Robots

Smart machines will replace some jobs, but they will create many more by generating new wealth and higher demand for products and services

By Jerry Kaplan
The field of artificial intelligence is now more than a half-century old, and today we are seeing one of its periodic hype cycles, with commentators fretting that the next generation of robots will bring massive unemployment. Are we doomed to a future in which hordes of desperate job seekers compete for ever-scarcer work, while a handful of owners grow rich on the labors of their mechanical servants? Will robots “do everything better than us,” as Elon Musk warned at last week’s meeting of the National Governors Association?
Notable commentators ringing the alarm include Carl Frey and Michael Osborne of the Oxford Martin School, who estimate in a 2013 paper that 47% of all U.S. jobs are at high risk of falling to computerization in the next few decades. In a report published this year, James Manyika, Michael Chui and colleagues at the McKinsey Global Institute offer a more refined view of the changes ahead. They repeated the Frey-Osborne analysis but focused on the potential of artificial intelligence to automate not jobs but discrete tasks (since we use robots for specific activities, not to fill jobs). They project that, by 2055, more than 50% of all work-related tasks will be subject to automation.
Such studies naturally raise concerns that we may be on the brink of an unprecedented employment crisis. But robots aren’t mechanical people. They are a new wave of automation, and like previous waves, they reduce the need for human labor. In doing so, they make the remaining workers more productive and their companies more profitable. These profits then find their way into the pockets of employees, stockholders and consumers (through lower prices).
The historical record provides strong support for this view. After all, despite centuries of progress in automation and recurrent warnings of a jobless future, total employment has continued to increase relentlessly, even with bumps along the way.
More remarkable is the fact that today’s most dire projections of jobs lost to automation fall short of historical norms. A recent analysis by Robert Atkinson and John Wu of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation quantified the rate of job destruction (and creation) in each decade since 1850, based on census data. They found that an incredible 57% of the jobs that workers did in 1960 no longer exist today (adjusted for the size of the workforce).
Workers suffering some of the largest losses included office clerks, secretaries and telephone operators. They found similar levels of displacement in the decades after the introduction of railroads and the automobile. Who is old enough to remember bowling alley pin-setters? Elevator operators? Gas jockeys? When was the last time you heard a manager say, “Take a memo”?
In the face of such evidence, why do so many experts and futurists continue to warn of an impending crisis? The crux of their argument is that the coming wave of artificially intelligent computers and robots can do virtually any job that a human can do, so everyone’s job is on the chopping block. As the logic goes, if artificial intelligence is getting so smart that it can recognize cats, drive cars, beat world-champion Go playersidentify cancerous lesions and translate from one language to another, won’t it soon be capable of doing just about anything a person can?
Not by a long shot. What all of these tasks have in common is that they involve finding subtle patterns in very large collections of data, a process that goes by the name of machine learning. The kinds of data vary, of course. It might be pixels in cat photos, bytes streaming from a dashboard camera, millions of computer-generated games of Go, digital X-rays or volumes of human-translated documents.
But it is misleading to characterize all of this as some extraordinary leap toward duplicating human intelligence. The selfie app in your phone that places bunny ears on your head doesn’t “know” anything about you. For its purposes, your meticulously posed image is just a bundle of bits to be strained through an algorithm that determines where to place Snapchat face filters. These programs present no more of a threat to human primacy than did automatic looms, phonographs and calculators, all of which were greeted with astonishment and trepidation by the workers they replaced when first introduced.
And robots may not be welcome in the growth occupations of the future. As we become wealthier, consumers are likely to allocate an increasing share of their income to premium services. This is precisely the segment of the economy where personal care, face-to-face interaction and demonstrations of skill are critical to the value delivered.
Luxury hotels are not prized because they are more efficient but because their staff is more attentive. People pay more to watch a barista brew their latte than for a comparable product from a vending machine, and I somehow doubt that our grandchildren will want to tell their troubles to a robotic bartender or prefer to stick their hands in a manicure machine. In the future, the masses may make do with simple-minded domestic robots while the upper crust hires ever more butlers and maids. The Jetsons, after all, were a middle-class family.
This trend may begin to play out in our own lifetimes. Many consumers are likely to conclude in the next decade or so that they no longer need to have a car of their own. What’s called “transportation as a service” (autonomous taxis, on-demand vehicles and ride sharing) will save the typical American family more than $5,000 a year, according to think tank RethinkX.
The irony of the coming wave of artificial intelligence is that it may herald a golden age of personal service. If history is a guide, this remarkable technology won’t spell the end of work as we know it. Instead, artificial intelligence will change the way that we live and work, improving our standard of living while shuffling jobs from one category to another in the familiar capitalist cycle of creation and destruction.What will we do with that extra money? Spend it, of course—on vacations, clothes, restaurant dinners, concert tickets, spa days and more. That means increased demand for flight attendants, hospitality workers, tour guides, bartenders, dog walkers, tailors, chefs, ushers, yoga instructors and masseuses, even as artificial intelligence reduces the need for drivers, warehouse workers and factory operators.

The politically astute Cold Warrior knew how to navigate the tides of populism at home while maintaining America’s leadership abroad

No longer. President Donald Trump, backed by a substantial segment of the American public, has distanced himself from some of the key foreign-policy assumptions and policies of the postwar era. Longstanding pillars of American strategy—free trade, alliances in Europe and Asia, defense of human rights, commitment to international institutions and the rule of law—have come into question as the new president denounces today’s global architecture as a bad deal for the U.S.
Responses to the shift have ranged from bewilderment to outrage. Mr. Trump’s exit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership—a carefully negotiated trade agreement intended to lock the major Asian trading states into a relationship with the U.S. that would exclude China—shocked free-trade advocates and Asia experts. His repeated descriptions of NATO as obsolete and his refusal (until his recent trip to Poland) to endorse the mutual-defense commitment at NATO’s heart left many wondering whether Mr. Trump still considers the alliance essential to U.S. security. A drumbeat of news stories pointing to alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign has further muddied the waters, with many concluding that the president’s Russia policies have more to do with his personal concerns than with the national interest.
But populism is nothing new in American politics. In 1947, when Truman, George Marshall and Dean Acheson laid the foundations of postwar U.S. foreign policy, populism was every bit as strong a force in our politics as it is now. Determined to engage with the wider world but also deeply aware of their political situation at home, Truman and his team acted pre-emptively to head off a populist revolt. They modified their rhetoric and policies to address the concerns of a skeptical public and found ways to make their assertive Cold War policies appealing to, among others, angry heartland populists.
This is something that foreign-policy leaders in both parties have failed to do in recent years, and the election of Mr. Trump was in large part a consequence of that failure. His populist attacks on the sacred totems of establishment foreign policy probably attracted more voters to his candidacy than they scared off, and the Trump administration now threatens to undo many of the historic accomplishments of the Truman years.
In the winter and spring of 1947, as the White House followed the dismal economic and political news from Europe, Truman and his team knew that American public opinion stood firmly opposed to any big new overseas commitments, including foreign aid. Republicans had captured control of Congress, and an angry GOP majority that included the communist-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin was intensely skeptical of foreign involvement and entangling alliances.For those of us who continue to believe that the policies and institutions devised after World War II served the U.S. well and remain essential today, the question is what to do now. In a best-case scenario, Mr. Trump’s impressive foreign-policy team would convince their chief and his more populist advisers that Trumanism makes sense, and the president would work to make this case to his political base. Failing that, the best alternative is to convince the American people themselves that Trumanism is a better choice for the U.S. than Trumpism. Whatever the case, those of us who want to conserve the achievements of postwar American policy will need to do what Truman did: meet populists on their own turf and engage them.
This was all very well in theory, but Truman faced widespread political resistance to this agenda. On the left, many liberals still wanted to conciliate rather than to confront our wartime ally Stalin. On the right, many conservatives were isolationists or unilateralists who had just cut U.S. spending on foreign aid. “Mr. President,” Sen. Arthur Vandenberg told Truman in a meeting at the White House about the urgent need for American aid to Greece and Turkey, “the only way you are going to get this is to make a speech and scare the hell out of the country.”The Truman team was clear about its own strategic priorities. The U.S. needed to block Soviet expansionism in a shattered Europe at a time when the continent’s traditional great powers had collapsed and could neither defend themselves nor rebuild their economies without massive American help. The U.S. also needed to take on the global role that the British Empire had played at its zenith: The dollar would replace the pound as the world’s reserve currency, the U.S. Navy would replace the British fleet as the guarantor of freedom of the seas, and American power and diplomacy would replace the British in building international institutions to manage the global economy and the emerging postcolonial world.
Truman and Vandenberg understood something profound about the politics of American foreign policy. While foreign-policy professionals in government, the academy and the media are often motivated by hope—the prospect of building a global trading order, for example, or of making the world more democratic—the public at large tends to be more focused on fear. If the American public had no fears about emerging threats elsewhere in the world, it would be very hard to get public support for an activist foreign policy with high-minded ambitions. Truman took the fears of the public seriously and tried to give them constructive expression: They were a crucial source of the political energy needed to power America’s global engagement.
To this end, Truman and his team summoned the specter of a global communist conspiracy directed by the Kremlin and told the American people that defeating this enemy was its highest priority. Administration surrogates painted a terrifying picture of communist advances across Europe and warned that if Europe fell, America would be next. And it worked. Congress appropriated the funds and passed the key legislation that gave Truman the foreign-policy tools he needed. American public opinion would continue to support a strong anti-Soviet foreign policy through the long years of the Cold War.
Truman’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, defended the administration’s approach in his memoirs. An official trying to gain public support for foreign policy, he wrote, is not “the writer of a doctoral thesis. Qualification must give way to simplicity of statement, nicety and nuance to bluntness, almost brutality, in carrying home a point.” Acheson estimated that the average American with a job and a family had perhaps 10 minutes a day in which to think about foreign policy. “If we made our points clearer than truth, we did not differ from most other educators and could hardly do otherwise.”The Truman administration’s anticommunist rhetoric was denounced by many intellectuals and academics as crude, naive and counterproductive. George F. Kennan, one of the architects of the administration’s strategy, was so distressed by what he saw as the militarism of America’s subsequent containment policies that he left government and became an eloquent critic of U.S. foreign policy. Walter Lippmann, the most influential foreign-policy pundit of the day, made known his displeasure with Cold War fearmongering again and again. Sophisticated Europeans shuddered at what they saw as an excessively harsh and Manichaean view of communism—even as they gratefully accepted the American aid and protection that Truman’s rhetoric made possible.
Today’s advocates of continuing U.S. global leadership and engagement need to keep in mind both parts of Truman’s achievement: formulating a farsighted national strategy to address the issues of the day and then educating the public to support it.
The threat of jihadist terror on a mass scale, the growing danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of radical regimes, the possibility of debilitating cyberwarfare, the economic and political challenge posed by a rising China, the impact of globalization on American jobs—these are widely shared concerns for millions of Americans. Even in our current moment of populist retreat, such fears, together with abiding popular attachment to trusted allies such as the U.K. and Israel, are strong enough and real enough to serve as the political foundation for a new wave of American global engagement.The world is more complicated today than it was in 1947. America’s challenges are more complex and, in some ways, harder to address, even if no single threat is as urgent and overwhelming as the one posed by the Soviet Union under Stalin. But the fears of the American people are also more complex, and a national strategy that clearly addresses those concerns can succeed both in domestic politics and in the world at large.
The same cannot be said, however, for a cause dear to many in the foreign-policy establishment: There is today very little popular support for the Wilsonian belief that the spread of democracy can solve America’s most urgent foreign-policy problems.
The disasters that have unfolded in all of these countries in recent years have driven home the idea, for many Americans, that foreign-policy experts have no idea what they are doing. It is useful, in this regard, to acknowledge that it’s not just populists who sometimes get foreign policy wrong.
This, too, follows a familiar pattern. The same arguments were made about anticommunism in Truman’s day. But just as you could then be worried about communism without wanting to nuke Russia, you can be deeply concerned about the growth of jihadist ideology and violence today without wanting to start a war with Islam.A Trumanist approach—popular but not populist, moral but not moralistic—would start by showing some trust in the foreign-policy instincts of the American people. To take one obvious instance where popular and elite views diverge: Ordinary Americans are inclined to favor a firm, decisive response to jihadist threats, while foreign-policy elites tend to worry much more about the possible effects of American overreaction.
Indeed, it is when people think that their leaders don’t share their fears, or are incapable of acting on them, that popular fear often turns to populist rage. If the average American thinks that the political establishment isn’t really worried about terrorism, the public is likely to become more xenophobic, not less. If the public thinks that American trade negotiators don’t put the protection of American jobs first, people are more likely to become protectionist than to study the economics of the issue. If the average American thinks that the political class doesn’t really care about illegal immigration, the demand for border walls will grow, not diminish.
Truman and Acheson could have joined the intellectuals and the pundits who scoffed at the public’s “naive” and “simplistic” views of the communist threat and the other challenges of the day. But they had better sense than that. They understood that connecting their strategic goals with public fears was the key to success—even if there was a certain cost to be paid at times in policy. They preferred a blunt, accessible strategy that the public and Congress would support to a more intellectually sophisticated one that could never take hold in the real world. As a result, they were able to set the U.S. and the world on a course that, for the past 70 years, has yielded an extraordinary stretch of prosperity and peace.
We must hope today that American leaders, from the president on down, can be informed and inspired by the example of that historic success. Truman’s combination of strategic vision and political pragmatism is exactly what the U.S. and our turbulent world need right now.
Mr. Mead is a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., a professor of foreign affairs at Bard College and editor at large of the American Interest.
Appeared in the July 22, 2017, print edition.

1b) Trump, ObamaCare and the Art of the Fail

What happens when we elect a president who prefers to freelance rather than to lead.

It was a political drubbing of the first order. A new Republican president and a Republican Senate and House put everything they had into a bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and couldn’t do it. The leadership is rocked. The president looks confused and hapless, while publicly enacting determination and a scolding tone toward those who’d let him down. He rarely showed signs of fully understanding the details or even the essentials of the plan he backed. His public remarks were all over the place: He’ll let ObamaCare collapse of its own weight; he’ll replace it with something big and beautiful; just repeal it; no, let it collapse. He criticized Hill Republicans: They “never discuss how good their healthcare bill is.” But neither did he, not in a persuasive way.
Republicans on the Hill need a popular president with the quasi-mystical clout presidential popularity brings. Mr. Trump does not have it. They need someone who has a serious understanding of his own policies and can gently knock heads together. I remember the story of a GOP senator whose vote President Reagan badly needed. Reagan met with him privately, pressed hard, the senator squirmed: I just can’t do it, Mr. President. You know I’d jump out of a plane if you asked me, but—
Reagan leaned in and said: “Jump.” The senator laughed and gave up. I’m going to tell anecdotes like this until I feel better.
It is true that a central dynamic of the failure was the truism that once people are given an entitlement, they aren’t keen to see it taken away. But another reason some senators voted to repeal ObamaCare in the past and refused now is they believe the ground has shifted. Back in their home states, in the almost-decade since the economic crash of 2008, and since the Obama era, what they’ve seen is more need, not less, more anxiety and dysfunction, and more public skepticism that change will constitute improvement. In politics you have to know how to read the ground, the real topography. You can’t just go by the work of past mapmakers, you have to see clearly what’s there now. It’s unconservative not to.
As for Mr. Trump, the first six months of his presidency suggest many things, including that what made him is thwarting him. He is a man alone, independent and ungoverned. He freelances not because circumstances dictate it but because he is by nature a freelancer. He doesn’t want to be enmeshed in an institution, he doesn’t want to have to bolster and defend it and see to its life. He wants to preserve his freedom—to tweet, to pop off, to play it this way or that. One of the interesting things about his New York Timesinterview this week was that he met with the reporters alone save for his aide Hope Hicks. Afterward members of his own White House reportedly had to scramble to get tapes so they’d know what the boss said.
But presidential leadership involves being to some degree an institution man, upholding not only a presidency but a government, even its other branches. He doesn’t understand this. In any case he doesn’t do it. It is all a personal drama. This aspect of his nature will probably make further legislative failures inevitable. In time, though no one in the White House seems to fear this, it will lead to his diminished support. His supporters will likely never hate him, and won’t be severely disillusioned because they weren’t all that illusioned. They’ll probably always appreciate him for blasting open the system and saving them from normality—i.e., the dumb, going-through-the-motions cynicism of Washington. They are sympathetic because of everything he is up against—every established power center in Washington—with no one behind him but his original supporters.
But at some point baseline political competence is going to become part of the story. If the president continues to show he doesn’t have the toolbox for this job, he’s going to go from not gaining support, which is where he is now, to losing support. He’s not magic and they’re not stupid.
As for health care, Sen. John McCain, recovering from surgery, had it right: “One of the major problems with Obamacare was that it was written on a strict party-line basis and driven through Congress without a single Republican vote,” Mr. McCain said in a statement. “As this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare’s failure.” Congress, he said, must return to regular order, hold hearings, work across party lines, “and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors.”
Mr. Trump should have done this from the beginning.
Is there any legitimate hope of a bipartisan solution? It can be fairly argued, as Jim Geraghty does in National Review, that a Democratic Party that relentlessly lied to pass ObamaCare—you can keep your plan, you can keep your doctor, premiums will go down—is unlikely to consider conservative reform ideas in good faith. Democrats will press to keep individual and employer mandates and the status quo on Medicaid; they’ll want billions in higher subsidies to get insurers back into failing exchanges. Some will want more money to offset larger-than-expected claims for insurance companies in the state and federal marketplaces, some will want single-payer. Mr. Geraghty: “Conservatives who oppose government mandates, subsidies, bailout and state-run health care won’t like any of that.”
They won’t.
And yet no fix or improvement in health care is going to be broadly accepted unless it comes from both parties. No reform will be accepted unless it’s produced in a way that includes public hearings in which representatives make the case and explain it all. And any fix, because of America’s current political nature, will be temporary. Democratic presidential hopefuls will be campaigning two years from now on single-payer, whatever happens with this bill.
And health care in battered, anxious America will continue to play against Republicans.
Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, beats the drum for the bipartisan approach. His logic: The ACA is wobbly; if nothing is done “prices will get outrageous and people will revolt and rebel.”
“Why inflict this much pain?” he says in a telephone interview. “The elderly, the vulnerable—you’re scaring the bejesus out of them.” The Republicans, he says, have tried everything else. “Why don’t you sit down and work with us?” He too asks for regular order.
Yes, he says, some Democrats see this as an opportunity to go for single-payer, but that would be “a big change”: “If you want to talk about that, do a working group.” For now, Mr. Manchin says, both parties should focus on Medicare, Medicaid, the private market, pre-existing conditions—issues on which quick or clear progress can be made. He notes that the Senate has 11 members who are former governors. As executive branch veterans with on-the-ground experience, they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. They’re mostly moderate, not extreme. Get them in on this, he urges. “We still have some reasonable people here,” he says. “Some are just a little too quiet.”

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