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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thoughts on Defending Democracy and Second Amendment

In Switzerland, the purpose of the second amendment is on display. It's cantons are each prepared against invasions that nobody in Switzerland ever expects to happens, but they are prepared to keep their neighbors neighborly. The concept behind the second amendment was invented in places like Switzerland. The purpose of the second amendment was to avoid a standing army by having a strong militia. (http://www.snopes.com/politics/guns/switzerland.asp). In Switzerland all the males are drafted. In the USA we have the National Guard, and then we have militia which often are no better than USA Nazi or fascist Brownshirts. I beleive we need to bring back a nationally organized militia to avoid the brownshirts and to strengthen democracy. If we want that, maybe we need to imitate the Swiss.

In Israel they have a similar system, though they exempt too many people from it. Israel would be well off imitating the Swiss. The Swiss have multiple religions that once were at each other throats. Originally the militia also had the job of protecting Swiss protestants from Swiss Catholics as well as from outsiders. A secular militia enables freedom of religion by encouraging people to distinguish between tribal and religious identity -- and national or civic identity. If everyone is Swiss; Buddhist, Christian, Moslem or Hindu, first, then there is no reason to kill as "Non Swiss" folks who are not one's own sectual preference.

Teaching civic identity and civic values is part of establishing and maintaining civilization. Civitus versus "tribus" is the reason the concept of "civitus" was invented in the first place. You can't have functional markets or urbanity without the ability of many disparate people coming together under uniform laws to trade and exchange. Sorry but markets might govern themselves, but they have to have a government to exist. It may look like anarchy, but the regulations, the uniform weights and measures, the money that can be trusted, etc... are all features of government. And if everyone was trained in how to use a fire arm and the principles of our democracy, that would be a civil government. "Secular humanism" isn't opposed to religion, that is a modern myth. Secular humanism is just an expression of the concept of "civitus" taken to modern times.

Maybe, we need to bring back the militia, with a uniform "basic training" so that young adults can grow up together and responsibly use fire-arms. And they would need to have a license as a result -- and only those with such a license should be able to acquire one. So if someone has a gun, it is secured according to regulations, used by someone who knows to empty the bullets out before cleaning it, etc...

Criminals sometimes move outside the law on their own, but often they are pushed there by exclusion from legitimate society. The concept of civitus is around the notion we should pull them into our comity and create a civilization rather than warring communities and tribes. Even tribal communities usually have something like that. They take the kids, train them, run them through an initiation ceremony and after that they are adults, act like adults, feel they are adults and usually are ready to be adults. Militia plays that role in civilized societies on a larger scale.

And Militia is part of how modern democracy got started, and ancient democracy. The first step to democracy is the general assembly. And most general assemblies were initially of men who could fight to defend a town or village. An army can provide a rough democracy to a town and in ancient England the Yeomanry won their rights because their arrows and weapons were necessary to the survival of the British Crown in it's wars and civil wars. They won rights by being able to fight for them, and then not having to do so, because the official government; barons, clerics and officials -- had to respect them.

Representation usually came with the ability to provide armed forces as well. Our militia made the difference in our revolution against the British, but it was the unity of it, and it being led by a trained officer corps that made the difference. Hence the words "well regulated militia" in the constitution. We've had a standing army due to external wars, but if we weren't constantly war-mongering at the behest of war-profiteers we wouldn't need such a standing army. And we've traditionally drawn our standing army by drafting people who spend the rest of their obligation in militia. Police, fire, rescue, all have their origins in militia. We need to have a stronger National Guard, and train people so they can be part of our society -- and that starts with training them to be in a militia. It doesn't have to be an armed militia; fire brigades, flood brigades, medical brigades, even science and health brigades, could fill the bill too.

So we should use the National Guard, strengthen it's functions, and include within it medical corps, first responder training, fire and rescue training, first aid. All the stuff folks like me learned as a boy scout. And use that institution to create a real bottom up institution to involve our young men in our society.

Anyway, I'd take most of our guns, the heavy caliber ones, and move them to armories, that would just also happen to be associated with community centers, firing ranges, and where people could learn to fire a gun, and if they wanted an AK-47 or AR-15, keep it in a gun locker under control of a Sargent there. Then should there be a disaster they'd be the first responders, not some invading army. And if someone wants to play with his assault rifle, he can do it some place where he's not going to hurt anyone. Or she.

We need a smaller standing army, but a larger commitment to militia and to training our young people. Now I'd organize it on a membership basis, with National, State, county and local member branches run by full time soldiers, backed by a membership organization where militia members would have a voice in their own affairs with elected structures and general assemblies. The right to assemble is in the constitution for multiple reasons.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Bandar's Wasta: Bandar's Rebels start their campaign against Sochi

The Daily Beast reports that the two bombings in Russia are most likely aimed at the Sochi Olympics. The Chechens are fulfilling Bandar's threat that he'd sabotage the Winter Olympics if the Russians didn't cooperate with him on Regime Change and establishing a Taliban Government in Syria. The Israel's and USA seem to be (mostly) cooperating with the Saudis, but the Russians refused to and so Bandar warned them of the consequences. I wrote on this back in December when Al Qaeda influenced operatives in the USA were pushing for us to invade Syria and topple Assad so that Saudi Backed Salafists (Al Qaeda types) could take over there. (http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/09/so-obviously-about-oil-that-one-is.html). At that time I quoted a leaked warning from Bandar. It's worded Mafia style, but then most of this stuff is:

"As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us."

So now we have the beginning of a Chechen campaign. Daily Beast reports that the attacks are most probably:

"...the work of Chechen rebels inspired by or under the command of separatist leader Doku Umarov, who has called on his followers to unleash “maximum force” on Russia in the run-up to the Sochi Games. As the head of a group called the Caucasus Emirate, Umarov has claimed responsibility for a spate of prior suicide bombings in Russia that killed over 100 victims, including the 2011 attack on the Domodedovo airport, the 2010 bombing of the Moscow subway, and the 2009 targeting of the high-speed Nevsky Express train. Umarov and his cohorts have also been blamed for a suicide bombing outside the Chechen Interior Ministry in 2009. In July, the U.S. State Department declared the Caucasus Emirate to be a foreign terror group and put a $5 million bounty on information leading to Umarov’s arrest."

Can't say that Bandar didn't warn them. Mess with the Saudis and they'll turn loose their Jihadist Salafist fanatics on you. Can anyone be surprised at the results? Will we see a massive attack like Black September on Israeli Atheletes in the 70's? Or will the Russian Secret Police be able to hold the attacks to minimum. But it won't be for the Saudis holding back. The CIA probably knows about the paper trail, but enough of them seem to be on the side of Al Qaeda that they probably won't do anything. Bandar Has Wasta.

Now Umarov used to claim to be a Sufi, not a Wahabi (Salafist) but it appears that money comes with influence and he no longer seems to deny it.

Further reading:

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920913001403
http://abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=487161

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Grinches Takes Washington

The GreenGrinch has a plan

After the Grinch failed to steal Christmas,
The King of Grinchdom was very upset with him,
He hadn’t stopped that infernal singing,
He hadn’t enslaved or dispossessed them,
Or put them to work in Grinchville factories
Or made them fight in Grinchine wars.
Instead he’d given them back all that well taken loot!
and acted very un Grinchlike, such an uppity snoot!
“We can’t have Grinches who act like Who’s
They might get liberal, they might laugh and smooze.
We can’t have who’s who don’t know their place,
To be poor and stupid and work for our race.”  

So indeed drummed him out of their society.
And gathered in their retreats to figure out a strategy.
He was quite content because his heart had become so big
He quite preferred Whoville
But the King of the Grinches didn’t know what to do.

Their king asked his council; “What will we do?”
WE still despise Christmas,
And Hanukah, and Ramadan,
And Marzipan, fruitcake, milkshakes, eggnog and fun.
WE still despise people getting together,
and quite enjoying the nasty weather.
Unless they are rich like Duke GreenGrinch.
And Duke GreenGrinch spoke up:

"Would that he were just acting, he had a very good plan.
Act nice and they went to sleep and he had it all there.
The key is that he made the mistake to actually care.
He dressed like Santa, and they bought the whole lie.
And didn’t look twice when he stole everything around.
Ah, I have an idea now how to make this all right!
An Army of Grinches to descend on the Capital!"

The GreenGrinch executes


So he went to his treasury and called all his guards,
And started investing in pork and lards,
Then called all his advisors,
and all of his youngest Grinch-lairds,
and he sent them to school to learn PR and business,
and he bought up schools, colleges and created institutions to schmooze
And with Grinches for teachers, he taught Who’s to be Grinches,
They learned about bottom lines, cost cutting and money,
and were taught that Christmas was quaint and quite funny.
And this thing called marketing made them pretend to love it.
While using it to sell soap, and guns and bombs.

And he bought all the newspapers and put Grinches in charge,
It wasn’t so hard, they flocked to his standard.
And he bought a thing called TV, and radio, and ambitious whovians.
He trained an army of Grinch lawyers to put poor whovians in jail,
And make sure this thing called justice would serve Grinches without any fail.

Then he assembled an army of Grinches to march on Washington,
Wearing tailored uniform suits, Grinch smiles, and beating little Grinch hearts,
They said “The Whovians are making war on Christmas” year after year,
until even the whovians believed it, in their irrational fear.

Now his army was ready, the plans were in place.
No need for a sleigh, the army had portfolios and briefs at the ready.
And they marched on Washington with abandon and glee,
They were going to save it from Christmas!
The Grinches were ready!

So they marched on the city and filled all it’s halls,
And stole all of it’s money, and painted all of it’s walls.
They still put up the lights and the carols and trees,
But the carols blazed out of boom boxes, recorded years ago,
And were sung by Grinches who rewrote the language!

You had Rancid Previousgrinch,
and his dog Baymore,
the Drunk prince of the House,
And Duke Greengrinch, all fat and smiling like a cat.
You had Rupert Grinchdock with his newspapers and radio,
And his army of Grinches marching in tow.
The Grinch Cantor was singing, Grinch Ryan leading the song.
GrinchConnell lead the singing and the Grinch press the chorus.
The music was Christmas, but the lyrics all were wrong:

“Deck the halls with balls and chains, fa la la la la la la la la
‘tis the season for whips and chains, falalalalalalala
Now yon carrion wants a job! Lob him out! In the snow, tra la la.
We serve our master King Greengrinch, fa la la la la, la la la.”
And their legions descended on Washington and thoroughly trashed the place.

Oh I wish there was a happy ending here, but there isn’t.
If you see them for what you are, you’ll soon be seeing double;
You see the Grinches are still in charge, and you and we are in trouble.
They stole Christmas again, and nobody noticed.

Happy Hanukah, merry Christmas, joyous Kwanza and a better new year, I hope.

Story References Doctor Sues’s book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” rest is parody, pure fiction, and mostly my own imagination.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Faux and the Republicans stole Christmas this year

This year the Republicans have done their best, and finally succeeded, in stealing Christmas (or Hanukkah, Ramadan or solstice) from millions of Americans. They shot down extended unemployment benefits for the millions of Bob Cratchets whose Scrooge "Job-Creators" outsourced their jobs to either SE. Asia or to a computer/robot. And they decided to recalculate retirement benefits so they've messed with veterans. All in a wonderful Christmas Package that the mainstream media called a "miracle of compromise". Yes, compromised is the right word. They stole even the lump of coal.

As usual when Faux news hypes up it's anti-semitic and mean "War on Christmas" it is abusive projectionism. Folks really have to stop falling for the red outfits and remember what red flags are really all about. The entire lot of them are an army of Grinches.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Organizing Communities around the Post Office

In the book "The Kings Best Highway" the subtext is that the Post Office was the organizing principle around which the initial British Colonies organized themselves. The mission of the Post office was originally to provide communication between all the outposts of the British Empire and it's relations. As a result when one hears "post office" one should think about more than mail delivery, because the post office is - and should be - also an "outpost", "branch", "office" of the Government. The key here is to remember that it shouldn't be a branch of a bureaucracy but of our democracy as well. The make or break moment for settlements in the Americas has always been when they could finally get mail service. In Colonial times, when the British accused Benjamin Franklin of being "the evil genius" behind the colonial revolt, the accusers were probably thinking of the time when he was Post-Master and the post office was allowing Postmasters to open up private newspapers to supplement their income. The Post office is the source for a free press, as well as the catalyst for most of our modern transportation: Rails, Airlines, Telegraph, Highways, Telephone, even canals. The movie The Postman (and David Brin's book that it was based on), follow the logic premised here and illustrates how important it is that we have a functional post office to our countries survival.

Semi Privatized Post Office gets it backwards

This country created the "Committees of Correspondence" during the 1770's largely because they couldn't trust the bureaucratic and Royally controlled British Post office. When Paul Revere's crew road to let folks know the "Regulars are Coming" they were working as an alternative post office because The Royal Post office was spying on the mail being sent officially. Later we'd establish a national post office, and still later the constitution would establish a National Post office, unfortunately we seem to have used the British Model instead of Benjamin Franklin's. When Jefferson fretted about the National Post Office that:

"You will begin by only appropriating the surplus of the post office revenues; but the other revenues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a scene of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get most who are meanest. We have thought, hitherto, that the roads of a State could not be so well administered even by the State legislature as by the magistracy of the county, on the spot. What will it be when a member of N H is to mark out a road for Georgia? Does the power to establish post roads, given you by Congress, mean that you shall make the roads, or only select from those already made, those on which there shall be a post?"[Src]

Jefferson was right in that the Post Office became a means of patronage by which senators and congressmen would jockey for roads and bridges in their state, and sometimes neglect those in other states. But it also is severe failure of imagination on the part of the founders, most of whom were trying to get in on the patronage that Jefferson alludes to. Privatizing the Post Office into just a mail delivery service is missing all the opportunities for how a Post Office can be a democratic institution. Indeed the Post Office has made private fortunes at public expense for most of it's history -- world-wide.

Privatizing postal functions dates all the way back to when the Post Office sponsored Stage Coach traffic, and Toll Roads, for bulk mail delivery in order to sponsor better personnel transportation for private benefit while improving mail delivery. Modern UPS, Federal Express, and similar private carriers wouldn't exist if the Government hadn't let them in on the monopoly. And the Post Office played a role in creating law and order as lawless persons inevitably would steal from the Post Office and thus attract US Marshals who'd come and enforce the law.

In some countries the post office owns the rails, in some it also owns the banks. In some it owns (or owned before they were privatized) both. In Germany the Post Office (before being privatized) owned a giant consumer bank, and all communications. In Japan it still owns the banks (For now). Privatization is often seen as an alternative to bureaucracy. This privatization has made a few well connected business entrepreneurs filthy rich over the past 300 years, mostly by subsidizing startup enterprise by the taxpayers and then letting the business-folks suck the value of out the resulting privatized systems. T-Mobile, was once part of the German Transportation monopoly. I remember visiting Germany in the 80's and being impressed with the Rails, communications and Post Office. Now it is a private company -- but it still has a monopoly position in Germany. This is not totally evil, but it's a transfer of wealth from individual citizens to companies and from the companies to private persons -- who got very rich without doing much.

Bureaucratic Post Office versus Post Office as Democratic Institution

The British model isn't necessarily the best way to go, nor is privatization. Sure they are great ways to make fortunes for a few people. But we still wind up with services that are top down, top heavy, bureaucratic and potential tools for repression and repression, even when privatized. Jefferson alluded to a better way, but he never quite connected when he said that administration would be better by the "magistry on the spot" because we haven't really taken a cooperative "people's" approach to our institutions since the constitution was written. We used to have post masters at every post. The early Post Masters ran free presses which helped "guarantee a republican form of government" replicated down to town and county. We can do better than that if we treat the Post Office as a democratic institution and run it as one.

The Post Office is not just a mail delivery service, it is also an agency of the Government. In prior times it has collected taxes, enabled people to pay bills to the government, and acted as such. The post office is still the heart of governing action if one considers that the basis of most social media is the "email". If the post office is an agency of the people then it would be an agency with democratic attributes and the ability to replicate them to the entire country. It should reflect the people with a direct relationship with local legislatures. It should be integrated with State and local government. That was Jefferson's complaint, but there is no reason one can't have Federalism and still have such cooperation. People should have a right to assembly within their settlements, and a right to representation within all their local governments and that includes the companies and institutions they work in. If the Post Offices themselves are an agency of government -- not any government but all government, and especially an agency of democratic government. Then their job is to uphold rule of law as well as deliver mail, to ensure that no central government terrorizes its citizens, not merely stamp envelops. It's a limited scope but the local postmaster or marshal should have the job of ensuring that elections are fair and that all the people in a locality have a say in the business of that locality.

Privatizing communications, transportation, banking and other such functions makes private fortunes, but it is giving governance over them to private barons. For that reason it takes things the opposite direction. Instead of the Post Office and it's privatized branches acting as agencies and trustees of the people's good, they become buccaneers and freebooters of the people's goods. Folks go from being equal citizens to being subjects. Private rule tends to first milk, and then bleed and loot it's subjects. It may be more efficient to have an accountable executive -- but the keyword there is accountability and to get that there has to be oversight. Someone has to watch the overseers other than the local baron.

What made the old Post Office invented by Franklin so effective is that it also was an agency of legislation and adjudication, oversight and even a free Press. We could have defined the countries government in a way that would have worked for everybody if we'd been as creative in developing our Post Office as in using it as an agency for aggrandizing private fortunes. The Post Office should be an agency that replicates democratic features from the community upwards and from the General Executive to the locality. If the "magistry on the spot" were in charge of the local Post office -- and accountable to the people -- then post masters would be more effective at doing their jobs and these monopolies wouldn't be monopolies but services to the people.

The Post Office should own and manage the buildings that government is done in,should own the "communications system" and this should be organized on a service membership basis replicated down to County, Township and community with citizens having a say at all levels either through local elections. And it's okay to privatize the executive, but that executive should be serving the people and under their watchful eyes. The people should own the tracks, the system, the wires, and the function of the system as a whole. Not private plutocrats.

Individual enterprise that improves everyone's position is a good thing. Enterprise based on looting, privatizing (privateering) and monopolistic practices is not. Instead of complaining about the way the Post Office function was abused, what might have been better is if Madison and Jefferson had organized the Post Office on the principles they liked. A simple "bottom up" rule would have made the Post Office a Democratic Institution and ensured the "locality" that Jefferson talked about, and also a Federal one. "Every community shall have the right to postal service, to petition for and to establish a post office for it's community, and the General Government shall link these post offices and ensure that communications and goods are delivered to their intended recipients in the best possible manner."

Further Reading
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_7s4.html

Review of "The Tragic Situation"

David Brooks in the New York Times today contends:

"Sometimes life presents clear choices, but often it presents tragic situations. A tragic situation is one in which you are caught in a vise between two competing goods, so it is necessary to compromise one or the other, or maybe a bit of both. Or it’s one in which you are pursuing something good, but you must fight brutal enemies along the way, so it is impossible to be virtuous while being innocent."[http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/opinion/brooks-the-tragic-situation.html?_r=0]

But that is a false choice, especially in the case where David Brooks tries to apply it. A tragic situation is where one is forced to choose between horrible outcomes. A choice between "competing goods" is not tragic by definition. The second choice is also a false choice. It is only a tragic choice if the warrior loses his soul along the way, or the enemy wins.

The real tragedy of Tragic situations is that virtue doesn't guarantee success but abandoning virtue guarantees failure.

One can fight brutal enemies and remain virtuous. And while it may be impossible to remain "innocent" while doing so. The goal of a wise person is not innocence but wisdom. One cannot remain innocent while growing up. A grownup is not innocent. One may be righteous, but that is rare, more often one must be "Repentant". Brooks writes:

"A tragic situation means you are trying to pursue some large good project, but you are caught in a circumstance that imposes awful necessities."

No a tragic situation is one where the outcome is death and dismemberment. What Israel faces is perilous but not yet tragic.

David claims:

"Israel is caught in a tragic situation. It’s surrounded by an Arab world that is largely hostile to its existence. No Arab leader has enough legitimacy to make peace. It is in a region marked by failed states, decentered radical Islam and rampant turmoil. "

Israel's situation is worse than he describes but still not tragic. It is surrounded by an entire world that is becoming increasingly hostile to it's very existence. Europeans, Christians, Anglo-Brits, all are starting to question whether Israel even has the right to be in the Palestinian corner of the Fertile crescent. And a lot of this is the result of Israel's own behavior. Before 1967 most people accepted that Israel was a righteous place, but the behavior of West Bank settlers, improved propaganda efforts by the Palestinian diasporah, and the behavior of Netanyahu, and his predecessor Ariel Sharon, has undermined Israel's claim to righteous virtue. It's not just the Arab leaders who lack legitimacy. Netanyahu has refused to challenge his own far right influences or bargain with his neighbors. Israel's situation is difficult. It only will become tragic if it refuses to handle that situation with diplomacy and wisdom. Nobody is actively ready to blow Israel up, for all their rhetoric. But it could happen if everyone involved behaves foolishly

David next claims:

"Today this brutal situation boils down to one torturous choice, which Ari Shavit captures in his superb book, “My Promised Land”: “If Israel does not retreat from the West Bank, it will be politically and morally doomed, but if it does retreat, it might face an Iranian-backed and Islamic Brotherhood-inspired West Bank regime whose missiles could endanger Israel’s security. The need to end occupation is greater than ever, but so are the risks.” "

It might face an Iranian backed and Islamic brotherhood inspired west bank regime, or it might face a Saudi Backed and Al Qaeda inspired West Bank Regime. Israel sabotaged the moderates over the past 10 years of fear and loathing. It could go on occupying the West Bank forever, in which case it will eventually face economic collapse, after which it won't be able to afford a military. It is easy to take a 99% solution and eliminate all the risks. That is not virtuous behavior. Israel doesn't have the option of a genuine holocaust against Palestinians. It has no choice but to withdraw from occupied territories and work for a "West Bank" that tolerates Jews living there in return.

David next gives an analysis of the Settlers:

"But there will always be those whose minds recoil from the ambiguity of a tragic situation. Some of these people turn into amoral realists and decide in the brutal situation that anything that advances survival is permitted. Under their leadership, security becomes insecurity because security measures are taken to the extreme. These are the people who want to permanently colonize the West Bank."

These people are the ones whose immoral behavior, hiding behind highly parsed interpretations of the bible and their own greed and ambition, whose vicious behavior is undermining Israel's ability to survive in the Mideast. David doesn't seem to see that the difference between them and those he claims are on "the other side" is nil. He claims

"On the other side, there are people whose minds seem to flee, almost by instinct, from ambiguity to absolutism."

That describes the Settlers, that describes the Left wing which eschews the whole idea of a homeland for religious people or a particular tribe, and it describes the moral viciousness of folks who claim to be "good people, with high ideals" but who are actually bad people with pernicious ideals. And the description also describes many of Israel's individual enemies.

And one has to realize that justice is a matter of balancing legal abstractions such as justice, rule of law, equity, with compassion and with the recognition that one makes deals after a war to settle the war because there is no restoring all the things that were broken by the warriors. There is nothing virtuous about war. For all the efforts to wage war virtuously, it is a vicious, killing, destructive FUBAR reality. And settling wars requires compassion, requires everyone who has been hurt (victim and victimizers) to tell their stories and recognizing that contending people's are both victim and victimizer -- none can behave completely virtuous in war. Though they have to try - and usually fail.

And David is right about so many people who refuse to look at Israel from all angles, or see the middle east clearly, including many of the combattants on both sides who:

"want to judge [] according to black and white legal abstractions. They find a crime or an error and call for blanket condemnation (these people tend not to apply this standard to themselves)."

The same argument can be made about most partisans; left, right and "peace-nik", but justice requires finding all the facts and overcoming tunnel vision. If Arabs in the Gaza strip are suffering from Israeli attacks, Israel suffers from their constant bombing. Both actions are illegal in a condition of peace, but symptomatic that there is a continuing war between Palestinian Muslems and Palestinian Jews (Arabs and Israelis). As David notes:

"you rarely see them taking the perspective of people they dislike. They don’t acknowledge that even the most humane projects often involve error, fear and sin along the way."

Strategy is the key to settling this war. The great generals understand their enemies better than their enemies do. That is why Great Generals are also great peace-makers. Iran is not an implacable enemy. The Islamic Brotherhood is no more dangerous than Al Qaeda, and no more dangerous than the Irgun was, or it's modern equivalents. Virtue in war involves understanding the enemy. It doesn't mean not killing that enemy, but it does mean being accurate, strategic, and remembering that one day one has to make peace. A Good Hunter understands his game whether he's shooting it or just learning it's movements.

Israel should consider that it's not big enough so that removing parts of the West Bank from it's boundaries would be the end of the world, and that it has to win the argument for world opinion, not just the ground battles. It was at it's best when the world saw it as David against Goliath. Being a Goliath doesn't work well for Israel. Samson destroyed himself because he couldn't connect power and virtue. Israel needs to make these settlements with the Arabs regardless of what the Arabs do next.

There is a strategy to peace and war. One should never go to war until the war is already won in the planning. One guarantees peace when one is prepared for peace.

Frank Herbert said it best in his Dune series:

"Fear is the Mindkiller, fear is the little death that destroys all..."

Come to think of it, after rereading David's article and rereading my own critique I'm realizing that his description isn't of a tragic situation but a farce! It is time that Israel develop some leadership and stop waiting on the Arabs to develop any. Where is their Abraham Lincoln or Mandela?

Further reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/opinion/brooks-the-tragic-situation.html?_r=0 David Broder's article

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Too Light! Too Dark!

The After-Image too dark

Horror:
Is knowing you are losing a love
...and there is nothing you can do, but
go on pretending that life goes on
and you'll find your way on through
Grief:
is a tearing out from within which gushes a sea of tears
That flow and fall and ebb and flow
until the waters are dried and
there is no place left for them to go
Loss:
where we are left wandering in a dry salty land
where once there flowed a sea.
...And there is no love left for the bereft
Just an endlessly yawning cleft
Where once was a beating heart
There now is a hole
And where once there was pride and purpose
Just a keening soul
Too Bright! Too Dark!
And it is too bright
The afterimage too dark.

Salinas Versus Texas and a Corrupt Supreme Court

Corrupt Supreme Court infringes right to silence

Court now says: "You have no right to remain silent. If you do that act shall be used against you in a court of law

Brandon L. Garrett, writing for Slate, reports in an article "You Don't have a right to Remain Silent" That:

"On Monday, in a case called Salinas v. Texas that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, the Supreme Court held that you remain silent at your peril. The court said that this is true even before you’re arrested, when the police are just informally asking questions. The court’s move to cut off the right to remain silent is wrong and also dangerous—because it encourages the kind of high-pressure questioning that can elicit false confessions."

The court has moved so far to the right on this issue that they have forgotten that self incrimination is not only an issue for the guilty but for the innocent, and that a person who opens his mouth can incriminate him or herself even when innocent. If the man in this case owned a shotgun of the same make and type as that of the Perpetrator, or suddenly realized the gun had been out of his control for a time, then his reaction was natural. The court has been reversing not just the letter of Miranda and 5th amendment rights but the sense. Now "You do not have a right to remain silent. If you remain silent that silence will be held against you in a court of law."

At this moment many of our governors, legislators and judges act like government should be run as business, should serve big business, and should serve the wealthy and not the rest of us. At the same time the Supreme Court is ruling that ordinary people don't have 5th amendment rights anymore, the wealthy still have those rights and powerful corporations have impunity from any obligations and more rights than the rest of us. This is a shame. This is something evil and corrupt. Courts are not about shoving hundreds of people into and through the system as rapidly and arbitrarily as possible. Prosecutors don't have a duty to win cases, but to uphold justice. And despite corrupt lawyers and justices claiming that law and justice is not about justice, it is.

And when it's not: the judges and legislators who make it unjust are corrupt.

Further reading:

Slate article http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/06/salinas_v_texas_right_to_remain_silent_supreme_court_right_to_remain_silent.html

You can read the article for yourself if you want to. But if you are interested in further comments they follow.

"Here are the facts from Salinas: Two brothers were shot at home in Houston. There were no witnesses—only shotgun shell casings left at the scene. Genovevo Salinas had been at a party at that house the night before the shooting, and police invited him down to the station, where they talked for an hour. They did not arrest him or read him his Miranda warnings. Salinas agreed to give the police his shotgun for testing. Then the cops asked whether the gun would match the shells from the scene of the murder. According to the police, Salinas stopped talking, shuffled his feet, bit his lip, and started to tighten up.

Salinas might have been guilty. Then again he might not have been. But him being uncomfortable under questioning is not evidence he's guilty of the crime he was charged with.

"At trial, Salinas did not testify, but prosecutors described his reportedly uncomfortable reaction to the question about his shotgun. Salinas argued this violated his Fifth Amendment rights: He had remained silent, and the Supreme Court had previously made clear that prosecutors can’t bring up a defendant’s refusal to answer the state’s questions. This time around, however, Justice Samuel Alito blithely responded that Salinas was “free to leave” and did not assert his right to remain silent. He was silent. But somehow, without a lawyer, and without being told his rights, he should have affirmatively “invoked” his right to not answer questions. Two other justices signed on to Alito’s opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Antonin Scalia joined the judgment, but for a different reason; they think Salinas had no rights at all to invoke before his arrest (they also object to Miranda itself). The upshot is another terrible Roberts Court ruling on confessions. In 2010 the court held that a suspect did not sufficiently invoke the right to remain silent when he stubbornly refused to talk, after receiving his Miranda warnings, during two hours of questioning. Now people have to somehow invoke the right to remain silent even when they’re not formal suspects and they haven’t been heard the Miranda warnings. As Orin Kerr points out on the Volokh Conspiracy, this just isn’t realistic."

And of course the moment they invoke the right to be silent, that is taken a proof that they have done something wrong and are guilty by police and prosecutors. So being silent on a question becomes evidence of guilt. More tools for corrupt police to railroad people with.

"The court’s ruling in Salinas is all the more troubling because during such informal, undocumented, and unregulated questioning, there are special dangers that police may, intentionally or not, coax false confessions from innocent suspects. I have spent years studying cases of people exonerated by DNA testing. A large group of those innocent people falsely confessed—and many supposedly admitted their guilt even before any formal interrogation. Take the case of Nicholas Yarris, who was exonerated by DNA testing in 2003, after 20 years in prison. He had been convicted and sentenced to death in Pennsylvania for the murder of a woman found raped, beaten, and stabbed near her abandoned Chrysler Cordoba."

The legal scholar Brandon L. Garrett notes that the mere familial knowledge of the victim reported by a person being questioned was enough for the police to claim he confessed and was guilty. Even though years later we find out that the person wasn't guilty at all, but had been railroaded.

"When informally questioned, police said, Yarris volunteered that he knew the victim had been raped, and that the victim’s Chrysler had a brown “landau” roof (a vinyl fake convertible look). That was a striking detail, especially since the police had kept it out of the press. No tape was made of the interrogation. The police didn’t even produce notes. And now that DNA has cleared Yarris, we know his confession was false, and that he must not have volunteered the fact about the car roof at all."

Yarrow had been railroaded because he'd been willing to talk when questioned without representation present, or a record being made.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in Salinas encourages the kind of loosey-goosey, and easily contaminated, police questioning that led to Yarris’ wrongful convfiction. Salinas may very well have been guilty of the two murders."

The legal standard in criminal cases is "beyond a reasonable doubt" and that makes it hard on prosecutors and police. As the Brandon L. Garrett notes:

"But in many cases, as in this one, there are no eyewitnesses and not much other evidence of guilt: That is why the police may desperately need a confession."

And that, along with the corrupt attitude of many of our judges and prosecutors nowadays, gives them an incentive to cheat, lie, misrepresent, substitute "civil proceedings" abusively, or misuse the statements people make under pressure to railroad innocent persons into confessing or engaging in plea bargaining despite being innocent.

But the standard is still justice, at least nominally and that is why Garrett notes:

"And that makes it crucial for them to handle interrogations and confessions with the utmost care."

But with our corrupt supreme court and corrupt lesser courts that is no longer the issue. The issue is the "efficiency" with which persons can be found guilty or herded into the system.

"The court appreciated none of the pressures police face, and how they can squeeze an innocent suspect. Alito and the other conservatives were not troubled that there was no video to confirm that Salinas was in fact uncomfortable as well as silent. If Salinas had answered the question by exclaiming that he was innocent, could police have reported that he sounded desperate and like a liar? The court’s new ruling puts the “defendant in an impossible predicament. He must either answer the question or remain silent,”

That is exactly what the police would do. And our current courts and judges will accept a patent lie from a prosecutor or law enforcement official over obvious facts. The purpose of Miranda rights was to prevent this kind of situation where one is guilty, innocent or not, whatever they say and to make sure that justice is delivered to the actual miscreants -- not denied by police officers and lawyers who themselves are criminally corrupt.

The article notes "that Justice Stephen Breyer said in dissent (joined by the other three liberal-moderates)":

“If he answers the question, he may well reveal, for example, prejudicial facts, disreputable associates, or suspicious circumstances—even if he is innocent.”
"But if he doesn’t answer, at trial, police and prosecutors can now take advantage of his silence, or perhaps even of just pausing or fidgeting."

Ultimately, this decision shows a corrupt court that serves the forces of injustice, not justice, and that won't protect basic rights or basic principles of justice.

"Questions first, rights later is the approach the court’s majority now endorses. And by giving the police more incentive to ask questions informally, the new ruling will also undermine the key reform that police have adopted to prevent false confessions: videotaping entire interrogations. Why not try to trap a suspect before the camera starts rolling? In only a few cases like Yarris’ will there be DNA to test. The likely result of the court’s embrace of shoddy interrogation tactics: more wrongful convictions."

Slate article http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/06/salinas_v_texas_right_to_remain_silent_supreme_court_right_to_remain_silent.html

Related Posts:
A Corrupt Court, Tuesday, June 26, 2012: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2012/06/corrupt-court.html
A corrupt decision blind to corrupt access and influence October 8, 2013: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-corrupt-decision-blind-to-corrupt.html
Corruption, Racketeering and the Supreme Court, Wednesday, October 16, 2013: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/corruption-racketeering-and-supreme.html
Corrupt judges on the Supreme Court. October 23, 2013: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/corruption-judges-on-supreme-court.html
Corrupt Court and Undue Influence and access according to Founders, Thursday, March 27, 2014: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/03/corrupt-court-and-undue-influence-and.html
The Expected Corrupt Decision by a corrupt court, Saturday, April 5, 2014: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-expected-corrupt-decision-by.html
Is Quid Pro Quo the only kind of corruption that Government can regulate. April 5, 2014: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/is-quid-pro-quo-only-kind-of-corruption.html
Undue influence and Dependency Corruption or why the Supreme Court Decision was so corrupt, April 21st, 2014: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/undue-influence-and-dependency.html

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bandars Bandits, 9/11, and CIA frauds

I've had a lot of trouble believing our government had ANY connection to 9/11. But recently I've seen more and more evidence that the Saudis may have orchestrated the attacks. When I was researching what was going on with the Syrian controversy I found abundant evidence of the intricate relationship of Al Qaeda and the Syrian rebels. Further, around that time there was a leak of a conversation between Bandar and Putin that had Bandar boasting about controlling the Chechen rebels, which corroborated other materials I'd read previously. Worse indirect evidence of the relationship between the CIA and Bandar came out when he arrived to take over the Rebel Effort and almost the entire body of, obviously corrupt, CIA officers present cheered. But now a report comes out, again leaked, that corroborates what anyone observing the Saudis could deduce from other available facts. The New York Post -- whose stories I wouldn't ordinarily touch with a 10 foot poll -- has an author named Paul Sperry who reports:

http://www.news.com.au/world/north-america/inside-the-saudi-911-coverup-and-the-report-which-will-never-be-made-public/story-fnh81jut-1226783752992

The New York post reports:

"The findings, if confirmed, would back up open-source reporting showing the hijackers had, at a minimum, ties to several Saudi officials and agents while they were preparing for their attacks inside the United States. In fact, they got help from Saudi VIPs from coast to coast:"

The article then notes that in cities around the country the hijackers were helped directly:

"LOS ANGELES: Saudi consulate official Fahad al-Thumairy allegedly arranged for an advance team to receive two of the Saudi hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — as they arrived at LAX in 2000. One of the advance men, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, left the LA consulate and met the hijackers at a local restaurant. (Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks, while Thumairy was deported back to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.)"

According to the LA Times Fahad Al Thumairy was deported in 2003, but not prosecuted. Ordinarily the following would be "guilt by association, but the hijackers were driven by the same Salafist theology that makes Saudi Arabia repress it's women and create organizations like the Taliban, that was supposedly so bad in Afghanistan:

"SAN DIEGO: Bayoumi and another suspected Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, set up essentially a forward operating base in San Diego for the hijackers after leaving LA. They were provided rooms, rent and phones, as well as private meetings with an American al-Qaeda cleric who would later become notorious, Anwar al-Awlaki, at a Saudi-funded mosque he ran in a nearby suburb. They were also feted at a welcoming party. (Bassnan also fled the United States just before the attacks.)"

The article continues:

"WASHINGTON: Then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and his wife sent checks totaling some $130,000 to Bassnan while he was handling the hijackers. Though the Bandars claim the checks were "welfare" for Bassnan's supposedly ill wife, the money nonetheless made its way into the hijackers' hands."

Prince Bandar recently boasted about his controlling the Chechens. He is known for his "Wasta" or ability to get things done. I don't personally think Bin Laden would have done anything without at least a tacit nod from him.

"Other al-Qaeda funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy — so much so that by 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington had dropped the Saudis as a client."

Riggs eventually folded because of it's low standards in whose deposits it took. But the first principle of investigating criminal behavior is "follow the money". And if Saudi Arabia weren't a massive oil state with tremendous leverage over the United States, this would have been enough for a trial. Maybe we should have invaded Arabia instead of Iraq?

"The next year, as a number of embassy employees popped up in terror probes, Riyadh recalled Bandar."

Bandar was recently returned to the Stage, and NOBODY except the wingnuts, were encouraged to even notice that he was recalled because he most likely masterminded or at least funded 9/11.

"Our investigations contributed to the ambassador's departure," an investigator who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington told me, though Bandar says he left for "personal reasons."

None of the high level perps have been prosecuted. We pretend that Saudi Arabia was a fellow victim in 9/11. As a result, As with the assassination of JFK, criminal behavior gets buried out of RealPolitick, unethical considerations. As result of that we wind up with a CIA - and other frenemies like the Saudis - who apparently think they can get away with anything. The result of that is:

  1. we wind up with EPA officials who pretend to be CIA agents and nobody questions them.
  2. rogue CIA actions that wind up leaving agents lost in places like Iran.
  3. And a whole lot of unanswered questions and corruption.

Get away with something and the country doesn't get justice. Instead the corrupt officials involved feel emboldened and their impunity gives them an incentive to commit more crimes. The result is massive corruption and oppression resulting from kleptocracy.

The questions anyone should ask is, how many real CIA agents are getting paid to sit in US departments on taxpayer money? Why was the CIA able to mount a "rogue operation" or was it really rogue? Do we really want folks going around the world breaking laws and doing their own arbitrary business? But of course we've been brainwashed that these are real "wars" and that our enemies are the enemies of our frenemies. I'll bet the EPA officials didn't criticize this person for being in his job since 1994 while pretending to be a CIA agent, because they were afraid to question the CIA. I am, but I'm doing it anyway.

Further reading:

http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2013/09/syrian-chemical-weapons-attack-false.html
Thumairy deported: http://articles.latimes.com/2003/may/10/local/me-deport10
Rogue Agent in Iran:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/12/15/kerry-rejects-notion-us-has-abandon-american-missing-in-iran-says-hunt/
Why would agencies believe "CIA" as cover story?
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/another-epa-official-under-investigation-in-cia-scheme/2013/12/11/4a321030-6288-11e3-91b3-f2bb96304e34_story.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/another-epa-official-under-investigation-in-cia-scheme/2013/12/11/4a321030-6288-11e3-91b3-f2bb96304e34_story.html

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Many Forms of Freebooting

The difference between a pirate, and a privateer, is that privateers traditionally have a letter or charter that legalizes their otherwise illegal behavior. Traditionally it was known as a "letter of Marquee" and would give the pirate permission to prey on enemy ships and make war on enemies of the state for the duration of a war between States. They were supposed to stop when peace came. Indeed most elite pirates who got hung as pirates were privateers who just hadn't been able to stop themselves when the war ended, from seeking loot. Captain Kidd spent most of his life as a privateer, not a pirate. A lot of smugglers were also pirates. A lot of privateers were too. Captain Kidd just got caught. When a privateer or smuggler engaged in piracy, and wanted to keep his image of "respectability" he'd operate under a fake name, and to make sure things went right, he'd kill his victims. "Dead Men Tell no Tales" was a corollary to "Pirates hang, but gentlemen retire a squire." There is know way of knowing how many pirates really were hung and how many were more successful than they let on. Piracy is thievery after all. The pirates we all hear about and that are depicted in tall tales were mostly open thieves living on the edge of a noose. But when J.P. Morgan boasted being a descendent of Henry Morgan, the official story was that Henry Morgan died in Panama. Piracy is also about the successful operation of secrecy. Blackbeard was really Edward Tech. The official story there is that he was killed and his head chopped off by the captain who killed him. It makes a great story. A lot of pirates ended under mysterious conditions with stories of their families continuing and them continuing under a new name. Who knows? A lot of important families were founded by folks who made their money elsewhere and suddenly arrived acting like a gentleman. After the age of the classic privateers we had the freebooters known as Filibusterers who led private armies all over the world. Some of them established or came from established families who have names that are still important. William Walker for instance tried to conquer Latin America to reboot slavery there.

Privateers, Buccaneers and modern Freebooters.

Well nowadays we have freebooters who use their corporate charters as letters of marquee. Privateers who seek to privatize more than war, but whole functions of government that were traditionally the prerogative of Kings. These Buccaneers and Freebooters have set it up so that they sail the entire world. Lafitte would be envious and his ghost and descendents probably are running a New Orleans smuggling operation. Blackbeard's descendents wear expensive suits. Morgan's operation has become a giant company that wears his name and only flies his flag on the owners ghost yacht or a rum brand. French companies are members of this new "brotherhood of the coast" every bit as English Buccaneers and even Indian, Chinese, and Japanese buccaneers. They even use each other ships. Where-as before the pirates sailed the seas looking for loot, or carrying smuggled goods, or dealing in drugs and liquor, now it's all legal-like. The corporate charter has become a "letter of Marquee", and instead of declarations of war, they freeboot based on trade treaties that give them license to loot and steal all over the world.

Modern Buccaneers form armies of corrupt lawyers, propagandists, and legislators. Some examples of their freebooting:

  1. leveraged buyout followed by junking the company. Perfected by Baine Capital under Buccaneers like Mitt the 47% Romney. Buy the company with borrowed money. Strip it of it's assets. Anything worthwhile ship overseas and then close down the factory, loot it's pension plans, and put it in bankruptcy and junk it, or simply sell it to the unsuspecting.
  2. "Lean and Mean" Six Sigma reform driven by lowest price producers usually involving prison camps in Vietnam or China. Usually following after "restructuring" as jargon for looting.
  3. "Reverse Mercantilism" Buccaneering involving exporting dollars to buy goods cheap while paying high tariffs or other hidden costs to US exports in return. We hire pirates in other countries to use prisoners and prison camps to make our goods -- at least until we can setup a similar prison industry here (well on the way).
  4. Privatizing privateering. Who needs to be a pirate if one can wear a nice suit. Run politicians 'against government' and then use their offices to loot and steal at will and all "legal right." At this point we have buccaneers taking over entire cities so they can loot them "legal light". Most modern piracy gets it's modern "letters of Marquee" from the government while decrying any form of socialism that actually helps the marks. "libertarianism" is the motto of modern pirates. After all one can't be free if one can't freeboot! Who needs to worry about Government if you own it? Henry Morgan got to be such a great pirate by being Governor of Jamaica. Buccaneers ever since have aimed their guns at Governments so they can take them over and loot at will.
  5. Once you've got the loot what better way to use it than to buy the bank? Old style freebooters would put their gold in a vault and then lend out paper money bills until something happened and people wanted their gold back. Then they'd flee town. Such cons were known as grifters. Nowadays you don't even have to have any gold. Just a charter from the Government and the government will pick up the tab if anyone gets wiser about your reserves. So the buccaneers operate their reverse mercantile and "corporate takeover" looting from the safety of a banking Headquarters with gold plated faucets in the bathroom! Henry Morgan's descendent J.P. Morgan used to fly his father's flag on his yacht. His ghost gets hauled into court again and again for fraud, with never an admission of guilt or a single person going to jail. Henry Morgan would be proud, court settlements of this kind are basically bribes to keep the records sealed so that the stolen-from can't sue in court. Henry Morgan and J.P. Morgan would both be proud. Banking looting is perfectly legal. They are almost back to Robin Hood era holding peasants upside down style robbery.
  6. Ground Looting piracy in the form of energy companies who get "mineral rights" to property they have no business acquiring and then move in and steal minerals or oil resources, pay off (in bribes) local officials and politicians around the world (including in the United States) to get access to trillions in resources and loot these resources til they are gone -- often leaving behind poisoned wells, soils, rivers and destroyed mountains, towns, countries. Imagine if Henry Morgan had spoken better Spanish. Again he and JP would be proud.
  7. Nuclear Piracy; A particularly diabolical form of ground looting that involves building nuclear power plants, looting out poisonous rocks and refining them into pure poison that can be used for nuclear blackmail or to produce electricity and high levels of radiation which kill workers and periodically blow up like a cheap iron cannon, killing everybody nearbye. All paid for by local governments who think that somehow possessing a nuclear weapon is a magic key to entry into modernity. The nuclear pirates are polluting countries from China to Europe and ocean shores from the entire Pacific to the Mediterranean, even to Somalia.
  8. Arms Smuggling pirates; build weapons, including nuclear ones and gin up wars and conflict so they can sell expensive arms to both government and the folks the government is repressing, and to both sides of ethnic conflicts which are usually over the equivalent of which side to break a soft boiled egg on.
  9. Oh and the pain buccaneers, who take voodoo medicine and turn it into placebo pills and poisons which they market all over the world, and then use their money to buy hospitals and doctors and raise prices so that the only way people can get medical service is to buy insurance, which then becomes a protection racket for the privateers.

I could go on with more details of just how this piracy under the marquee of a corporate charter amounts to modern privateering and filibustering but I think this brief list gets the point across.

Further Reading:
Related Posts
Two Generations of Pirates
[http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/02/two-generations-of-pirates.html]
Justice and Oligarchs Hightower talks about J.P. Morgan Chase
Justice and Oligarchs Hightower talks about J.P. Morgan Chase
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/01/justice-and-oligarchs-hightower-talks.html

Monday, December 9, 2013

High Levels of Radiation measured in Encantado Brazil

The Fukushima disaster is doing more than providing trace radiation readings. It is registering major fallout contamination all over the world. We've gotten so used to such contamination that we don't realize what it means to us. Sure, the levels aren't high enough that hair is falling our or people are dying directly. But they are high enough that it is causing stochastic disease; degraded immunity to disease and energy levels, and increased odds of various cancers including leukemias, lung cancers, thyroid cancers, and a whole host of others. The governments response to fallout contamination, all over the world, is to put a classification stamp on the information and treat those who disobey the gag orders as nuts. So when someone gets one of his reports into a newspaper or magazine it is a rare and encouraging thing. One activist I've met recently is a young fellow named Samuel Dal Pizzol who recently wrote about his own measures in Encantado Brazil, inland from Porto Alegre in the area that is part Pampas and was once part of the little country of Uruguay. It is a land of Gauchos and farmers, and beautiful country. And they are getting radiation there.

"recorded peaks of up to 86 uSv / h ( microsievert per hour , unit for measuring radiation) , a result considered very high . Although the "discovery " , Brazilian nuclear experts and authorities found that the region of Encantado no risks of contamination."

Read more: http://noticias.r7.com/internacional/cientista-amador-tenta-desvendar-misterio-radioativo-no-rs-mas-autoridades-negam-contaminacao-09122013

86 microsieverts per hour is a high enough reading. And the experts know this, but our governments seem only unanimous in their desire to treat this ongoing disaster as a publicity and propaganda issue, rather than doing anything about it. "No risk of contamination?" This is evidence of contamination. And people with geiger counters have been measuring rates double or tripple the previous background all over the world since Fukushima started.

Samuel Dal Pizzo is an ordinary young man, living in a place that is out of the way in a part of the world where everybody in the rest of the world confuses Buenos Aires with Rio De Janero, but the locals know the scale of their own countries is grand. I consider him a hero and hope we realize the massive fraud and injury being done to us by the folks involved in manufacturing Atom Bombs and dangerous reactors -- before we get worse.

I once tried to pretend that everything was okay after a series of disasters. And everytime I said "at least it can't get any worse" it got worse. And our situation with Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and other sources of massive contamination is the same reality, the more we pretend that this time "we've learned our lessons and it can't get any worse" the more we find they haven't learned anything and are setting up the next one. Each disaster worse than the previous. We have found out just how incompetent, reckless and cheap the people running the nuclear system are. I hate saying that because I grew up in a family of engineers, some of whom were involved in this industry. But this system of secrecy, restrictions on information, and hiding failure has already led to multiple cascading massive potentially earth threatening earthwide disaster. We need to wake up before the people running this industry kill us all.

Samuel Dal Pizzo is a hero and we need more like him.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Suicide Watch

She's too sweet to be on any kind of suicide watch.
Don't let the downs keep you down,
or the topsies unbalance you to fall.
Don't let pain and suffering become a wall.
There is a moment you realize they don't own you.

Sadness and pain, exhaustion and depression,
are just a normal cyclic expression.
When one is exhausted and sad it is time to sleep.
When there are people who need us,
we have promises to keep.
When sadness is indescribable, it is time to sing the blues.

She's too sweet and precious for anyone to let down.
We all need love, 

to feel your love, 
to give you love, 
to let you know;
 

That the cold days of winter, yield beautiful snow.
 

And that there is something lovely in naked trees
and winds that howl when they blow.
It's sad to see those markers, that remind us where our friends go.

But that doesn't last, green things grow from the ground,
where it was dark yesterday, tomorrow there will be sun.
 

And our loved ones are rooting for us,
we've got things to do,
and reasons to keep one foot in this world,
while letting our hearts to soar.


Christopher H. Holte


Based on a response to someone's sadness.

ACA, IT and Dismantlng the New Deal

I've been a requirements person on complex medical IT systems. I did apply to the folks running the ACA program, but they didn't hire me. I'm kind of glad because if they had I'd be the designated "firee". The hurdles that ACA faced were so many and large that what is happening to the workers trying to make it work is both familiar, and painful, to me to watch. It has all the issues I'm so familiar with on Joint projects involving multiple developers and unclear/unrealistic requirements. I don't doubt that someone needs to be fired, but I suspect they won't fire him or her, but instead will fire the designated "firee". It's the sort of job I regularly get hired for, and I've learned how to manage. Had I worked on the ACA implementation it either would have succeeded or I'd have specific notes on why it doesn't work.

Integration

The Front End suffered from what is known as "changing requirements". The Republicans refused to cooperate with the creation of ACA. The Republicans tried to destroy it. The Supreme Court allowed the States to opt out of cooperating with it's creation, and the same states that opted out of cooperation also opted out of the Medicaid extensions that would have made it work better for the customers, us. And this all was in flux and still is in flux. It's difficult to deliver the right software if one doesn't have the requirements for what that software is supposed to deliver until just before the delivery deadline. In fact, impossible.

Unfortunately, while I've worked as a requirements manager requirements are written by politicians, bureaucrats and officials, and if the requirements are contradictory, the software created will be sketchy. Infighting, changing rules and requirements, insufficient funds, etc... all contribute to problems with schedule, delivery and cost. Those are a triangle that no amount of hope and will can change. It takes money, time, and breaking down a problem into it's pieces and tackling the pieces. That they got what they did up on the first day was about exactly what I expected. One can ask or a Cadillac but if one only has resources for a toy wagon, won't get one.

The backend of the ACA requires cooperation between private insurance companies and the Federal Government. It had to be rebuilt because originally the Federal Government was going to refer people from a national website to State Websites. Where the State websites are healthy, the system is working well. The Federal government did something right. The Federal Government created a standardized form, called the 834, which is supposed to be filled out online and sent to the insurers. This was a good way to standardize the requirements across the board.

But to ensure that piece works they needed to do integration testing. They had virtually no time for integration testing so the integration testing they are doing is with live data, online, and that is a mess. It is a predictable mess, and the engineers are right to point that out. But not having "enough time" or resources is never an excuse when problems arise, so someone's head will roll. A scapegoat is needed. I volunteered but didn't get the job. As a Requirements manager that was always my role or that of the project manager. In this case the requirements were unstable and always changing, the project managers were dealing with shortages of time and resources, and that always adds to the cost and dysfunction of the result. But probably some Project managers will lose their jobs. The iron triangle of program management is time, resources and scope. And the faster you slap something together the lower the quality.

I'm sure all this will eventually come together. Government IT projects take a lot of time because they are complex, require sustainment, and most business project management types are only concerned with delivering the minimum possible on the contract, getting the biggest return from government disbursements, and so all the risks are always with the program office, unless a private company under-bid on it's deliverables and can't deliver -- and even then the contractor seems to manage to get paid for the shoddy things it delivers.

Here one solution would be to require the insurance companies to electronically verify the 834 form and if there are problems request corrections either from the Government or the insured. [For more see: Glitches, but as with all private contractors I've ever met, there are some bean counters who are only concerned with what they can get away with. They are perfectly capable to ask for extra money to fix a problem they were originally required to deliver differently on. Any excuse will do. The Republicans are such privateers they prefer to sink programs that they can't loot. Kind of like some of the contractor managers I've met.

Every identified problem can be fixed. It will add to the costs over what would have happened had the plan been realistically costed, funded, scheduled and executed, but that is what always happens with governing efforts. They are messy because people don't cooperate, because with new things, stuff gets missed, and because folks listen to marketeers more than engineers. It was going to take as long as it is taking to roll out ACA. Some of the problems they are facing are inevitable. When I worked on the Theater Medical Information Program (TMIP) we had many features where doctors and other stakeholders told us what they wanted (or we had to guess) and we delivered different from what they wanted and had to fix it. Good requirements requires a lot of up front work, and hurry up and get it done projects rarely budget money or time to that, and so FUBAR is built in.

When I first worked on the TMIP program, the users were so unhappy, I drew a tank shooting at us in my notebook based on comments from one stakeholder who was making such withering comments that I was wondering if I was working on a shelfware project and she was going to bring in a tank and blow us up. By the last few months I was there the Program was working so well she was praising it and my Manager was considering finally staffing my job with enough personnel to keep up with all the work. I did my job by relying on the engineers and project managers. If you can get the requirements right up front you can get any job done right. ACA has requirements that depend on the States, and when the States decide to cooperate the people will get what they want. In Government the people are the stakeholders, and as people see what they are getting they'll tell program management what they want. Sometimes managers forget that. Certainly at that project we had our share of folks who didn't get the message that it wasn't about what we wanted or padding profit margins, but delivering medicine to injured and hurting people.

In one project there were some things we couldn't get done on time despite having gotten the requirements, because we couldn't get the requirements approved in time for them to be built when they needed to be built. That is how obstruction works. It threatened whether the software could be used. I left before I found out the denouement, but I believe fortunately the contractor got away with the late delivery and I've heard the problem got fixed after I left. Obstruction is sneaky and can undermine anyone's efforts. I can only imagine what it's like having an entire faction of people obstructing one's efforts.

But that doesn't excuse the Republicans.

ACA was a heritage foundation idea. Most of us Democrats wanted a single payer system to extend what we've already done with medicare and medicaid to everyone. As we can see from the sabotage of the Republicans, they've been actively dismantling things done for rural and city places, such as rural hospitals! That their own base depends on. They refused the "medicaid expansion" that would have brought medical coverage to the poor and restored medicaid coverage that the Republicans had been cutting all along. But this represents a wholesale attack on the poor and middle class, including 47% of their own base in rural areas. It is time for us Progressives to step up to the plate and get our Democratic Politicians to support a New Deal for folks, or to back real progressives and get them out of office. We need to point out that their own supporters are being betrayed with bait and switch arguments that gin up racism and fear in order to get folks to vote against their own interest.

Further reading:
http://www.npr.org/2013/11/30/247898470/glitches-in-digital-insurance-forms-threaten-aca-rollout