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Friday, October 31, 2014

The Sinking Ship

I am letting go of what I can't control
the sinking ship that I once loved.
Is breaking apart before my eyes.
She was beautiful and sleek,
and moved at a clip over the water
But now she's worn and full of holes
And the water is pooling where once I proudly sat.
She is sinking, and I must go.
 
Oh I would raise her sails and empty her bilges if I could.
I would fix her with steel and wire and glue, yes I would.
But she is slipping below the waves, and there is nothing I can do.
I can't save her, and that is it.
 
Breathe deeply, and mourn as much as needed.
And move on as best I can.
A sinking, stinking, broken ship is something anyone can understand.
I am letting go of what I can't control

Christopher H. Holte 10/31/2014

Orpheus and the Reactor

Orpheus went into the reactor,
to rescue his love.
He found her there in constant hell.
When he gazed into the reactor well.
What a beautiful blue! Such an etherial hue!
But he was forced to remain as well.
Blood welled from every orifice.
and melted away his material shell.
 
What a strange dream was that love.
Playing his harp across the world.
His love was volatile and capable of beautiful violence.
Her hair burning brightly rising high in the sky
While her feet destroyed all who knew.
 
Yet he dreamed of saving her and embracing her beauty
Though all he found was death and sickness.
In the end the harp plays alone, with no one to play it.
And his dream melts like fire into the earth deep below.
While smoke rises slowly, poisoning the material world.

Christopher H. Holte 10/31/2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Great Deformation -- Introduction to the "Good Money" debate

In my previous essay I introduced his book and talked some about what he was saying. As I noted a lot of what he says is on the money, though not completely for the reasons he says. Where he is right is when he as he says "zeros in on the skunk in the woodpile" (page xv) of AIG. It's a theme in his book. Time and time again the Federal Reserve, it's shill economists and the corrupt Security Exchange Commission (SEC) used the excuse of "protecting" the economy to bail out fat cats and protect their cronies on Wall Street -- at the expense of the economy and main street. But the common reality is that our modern Wall Street ran a multilayer and ongoing con on the American people. He traces it back to Roosevelt, which is not surprising considering he despises Keynes, despises Democrats and despises Roosevelt. But I'd trace it all the way back to Alexander Hamilton and the founding generation, and specifically what happened when Alexander Hamilton was removed from the scene and lesser lights took over his project. If I can I'll talk about some of the same subject but call it "Hamilton's Revenge" and discuss the subject from a very different POV. His shibboleth of "Good Money" is actually part of the problem. And the alternatives he seems to feel would save the economy are so unrealistic and crazy that they are the reason that the cons felt they had to run cons and fool people instead of come up with an economic approach that was fair to everyone.

In his opening paragraphs he despises Paulson's "150 billion one-time tax rebate", Noting:

"President Reagan's great accomplishment had been the burial of the Keynesian predicate: the notion that Washington could create economic growth and wealth by borrowing money and passing it out to consumers so they would buy more shoes and soda pop."

Which of course is a misrepresentation of what Keynes actually said. (Though he fleshes out that even Reagan hadn't buried that notion at all later in the book). He then proceeds to blame Obama's 800 billion stimulus for the red ink that in later chapters he will note had already been spilled by George Walker Bush. But I can forgive him for this. He's talking about his "road to Damascus" moment in realizing that the whole country was being swindled and conned by his colleagues on Wall Street -- which after all is where he worked as a private equity investor.

Then he lays out his "revisionist history of our era" blaming the whole thing, of course, on FDR and making a Neo-Liberal/Austrian case for the why's and wherefores of the mess:

"At the heart of the Great Deformation is a rogue central bank that has abandoned every vestige of sound money. In so doing it has enabled politicians to enjoy 'deficits without tears' by monetizing massive amounts of the public debt.

But I don't see this bait and switch reality as a switch that rewards politicians or common folks. It rewards Wall Street executives and a few mega-rich folks at the expense of a short term pile of debt that will eventually crash. Yes AIG was running a corrupt derivatives operation, but the "politicians" bailed out the monied class not the ordinary people. Yes, we did away with sound money, but we did away with "sound money" because it created centuries of deflation and depression for ordinary people and really didn't do that much for the rich except putting an artificial and weak check on banks, bankers and their ability to print money for free and lend it at interest. If "Sound money" had been such a great concept it wouldn't have been permanently abandoned. And if "Eisenhower in the White House" and "William McChesney Martin at the Fed" brought back "sound money and Fiscal Rectitude" it was by investing in good capital investments by creating our interstate highway system and not breaking much. Yes, defaulting on the "Bretton Woods gold standard" ... "was the starting point for the present era of floating money" and "massive debt creation" but Stockman, sociopath that he is, is blithely uncaring about the consequences of the alternatives. He describes a world of policy where Low wages and long hours are what the rest of us 99% should expect and only his class of wealthy investors and silver spoon legacy babies matter in deciding economic affairs. What he inadvertently is describing in his book is an investor/political class that shamelessly looks out for the top tiers of the investor/political class -- and doesn't give a snit about who gets hurt by their fights as long as they are paid in Gold. I would even agree that the collapse of fixed exchanges and the fake Gold standard of the Bretton Woods system was not an optimal situation. But his notion that a fixed rate alternative and the Gold Standard was a viable alternative is unrealistic.

The IMF notes about Bretton Woods:

"During the 1930s states had experienced a series of connected problems: shortage of gold, exchange rate instabilities, the movement of "hot" money in and out of their realms, and the lack of a mechanism to adjust balance of payments problems. The IMF was designed to deal with these difficulties by putting in place an international monetary system that contained a stable exchange rates regime with some scope for revaluation ("pegged but adjustable"), provided for the convertibility of currency, provided a mechanism for overcoming short-term liquidity crises and an organizational actor for managing the system (J. Williamson, The Failure of World Monetary Reform, New York, 1977, pp. 2-28). The World Bank was designed to help the economic and industrial reconstruction of Europe and to help developing countries achieve industrialization. The purpose of the ITO was to propel states down the path of free trade, to stop them from defecting to protectionism as a way of responding to balance of payments problems (e.g. by imposing import quotas as an alternative to devaluing their currency). The ITO never emerged, because of US concerns. Instead, a weaker agreement known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade took its place. In this grand plan for international institutions in the postwar era tax, as an object of regulation, was absent. Keynes' letters and reports around the time of Bretton Woods do not discuss the coordination of tax policy between states. Tax policy, the implication seems to be, would be retained by the nation-state."

Bretton Woods in other words was Keynes creation. He apparently believed in "Good money" too. Stockman talks about his subjects in isolation as if our trade deficits had nothing to do with the breakdown of Bretton Woods and as if we could have stayed on the Gold standard without some coordination of tax policy between nations and without dislocations at home. Stockman does talk about those things but he doesn't seem to make the connection to why Nixon wasn't "perfidious" because he ended the gold standard (he was for other reasons) and couldn't maintain a gold standard or why FDR had to do what he did with our Gold Supply. [More later] The IMF article quoted goes on:

"It is an exaggeration to say that the whole Bretton Woods system broke down. What did break down was the rules of cooperation for the convertibility of the dollar into gold and the exchange rates regime. After the war, the US dollar became the international reserve currency. The US also went from being in surplus to running trade deficits. States at first wanted US dollars to meet their trade obligations. They were also happy to let the US run deficits since this provided liquidity in the international monetary system. This situation led, however, to a crisis first anticipated by the economist Triffin in 1960 (R. Triffin, Gold and the Dollar Crisis, New Haven CT, 1960). The problem was that if the US attempted to correct its balance of payments deficit it would cause a liquidity crisis. If it allowed its deficit to continue, other states would lose confidence in the dollar as a reserve currency and seek to convert their dollars into gold. US deficits continued to increase, partly because the US had to pay for its war in Vietnam. Confidence in the dollar started to slide. States began to seek, as the gold standard allowed them to, the conversion of their dollars into gold. The US reacted by announcing in August 1971 that it was going to abandon the convertibility of the dollar."[https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/209/42675.html]

Now Stockman does explain the string of bad policies that led to Nixon being forced to abandon Bretton Woods. And Nixon comes out smelling like Nixon always comes out smelling (machiavellian & ruthless). But Stockman's narrative doesn't hold up to even a cursory examination. Yes, the trainwreck that is our current deficit and the 2008 collapse was a long time coming. No it had nothing to do with the Gold Standard. Yes, it had everything to do with the class of vulture privateers that Stockman exemplifies, and the politicians they pay off and bribe. Pirates always want to be paid in Gold.

Winter is coming

Winter is coming.

The grass is still green,
but all the summer life has seeded
and is putting itself into a deep deep sleep,
Husbanding energy for the dark days ahead.
 
Sleep so deep,
that one would think life is dead.
The birds have fled
Down to the south
where it will be warm far from here.
And the sun will keep it's presence high above
While the dark creeps longer into morning and evening
and shadows arise.
 
Meanwhile we are here in the north
where the sun shines more brightly,
for the cold coming near.
And when the dark days come we will remember the sun.
And soon enough the cold will pass,
and the seeded life reawake at last.

Christopher H. Holte, written 10/28/2014 while visiting the 311 Fukushima group at facebook.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Sun sent her a ray

In reaction to the wonderful yet sad reaction to his mother's death of my friend, the activist Andy Gunderson.

The Sun Sent Her a Ray.

She lay down to sleep
begging her family not to weep
while the sun was shining in her window.
The sun sent her a ray
that drew her away
to where the light is waiting with a smile
 
Oh those gates swung open
all her loves awaiting
sending a spirit of joy echoing
with the smell of jasmines lingering
...and a breeze carrying her soul
to fresh places where this world falls behind.
 

Christopher H. Holte 10/22/2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fixing the Political Farm System

I've been talking about the need for progressives to run for low level offices at county, city, state as well as at Federal level. It's a great idea, but it turns out we need to fix our "farm system" as Chris Hayes just referred to it to make it more of a reality. He interviewed Brenda Carter and Jelanni Cobb today and referred to fixing our "broken farm system" for politicians. They went all the way down to the County level, cataloguing 42000 elected office holders from County to National. They found that "people of color are actually less represented at the county level".

Jelanni Cobb of the New Yorker pointed out that our use of "at large districts" allows majorities to dominate districts where there are minorities by diluting their votes.

The website "Who Leads us" notes:

71% of elected officials are men, 90% are white, and 65% are white men.
White men are 31% of the U.S. population but hold 65% of all elected office.
White men have 8 times as much political power as women of color.

They essentially are describing what used to be described as "Old Boy Networks."

And that is what we have to challenge in the Party System. They really don't tell us how to challenge this, but I have some suggestions -- Get involved in the Chambers of Commerce, in the Democratic Party, and don't be afraid to challenge the "old boys network" by creating new networks. This is why I've been talking about creating a "green democrats" or a "progressive democrats movement" to challenge insider domination of the Democratic party (and eventually use parallel orgs to do same with Republicans. But she notes that local political donors (rich people) dominate local politics along with the parties -- so this has to be a battle!! Have to break the gates open!

References and further reading:

Womens Donor Network
opensecrets.org
Sources:
http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/10/men_hold_71_percent_of_elected.html
http://wholeads.us/
More from Brenda Carter:
http://wamu.org/news/14/10/08/congress_too_white_male_and_wealthy_to_truly_represent_us_study_says
http://www.womendonors.org/brenda-choresi-carter-reflective-democracy-campaign-director/
http://www.womendonors.org/tag/reflective-democracy/
Jelani Cobb:
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/01/bullets-ballots
We can't fix "The Deep State" til we fix this farm system of Democracy:
The Deep State:http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state

Getting Federalism backwards

Chris Edwards in his webpage claims:

"Under the U.S. Constitution, the federal government was assigned specific, limited powers and most government functions were left to the states. To ensure that people understood the limits on federal power, the nation’s founders added the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” - See more at:http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/fiscal-federalism

However, looking at the Constitution that might be how Chris E. and most of our cons, interpret it. But I'm not sure that it's intent was t obe "specific" or "limited" or to limit functions to the states. On the contrary in Federalist One Hamilton warns against this view:

"Among the most formidable of the obstacles which the new Constitution will have to encounter may readily be distinguished the obvious interest of a certain class of men in every State to resist all changes which may hazard a diminution of the power, emolument, and consequence of the offices they hold under the State establishments; and the perverted ambition of another class of men, who will either hope to aggrandize themselves by the confusions of their country, or will flatter themselves with fairer prospects of elevation from the subdivision of the empire into several partial confederacies than from its union under one government."

Which seems to have been the plan of cons from Aaron Burr, the man who killed Hamilton to Jefferson Davis who led the Confederacy in it's rebellion against the Nation. And it certainly seems to be the attitude of modern cons who resist the will of the people as a whole by appealing to this notion that somehow he "Federal Government" should not be a General Government with the General roles of a general government. Hamilton as an ex Staff Officer of George Washington saw this as a threat. And there is nothing in the constitution about "specific" powers, but instead the preamble says:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The General Welfare is not advanced by sectarian violence, sectional rebellion, or the misuse of the courts and misinterpretations of the constitution for the "private, separate advantage" [Locke's definity of Tyranny] of contentious oligarchs. The founders, not even Jefferson or Madison envisioned a government that would be ineffectual with only "specific" powers. They would not have created a General Executive with monarchal powers like the President if they had had such a vision. Hamilton wrote his opinion in what gets rendered as All Caps in present day type. He thought it was that important.

"THE UTILITY OF THE UNION TO YOUR POLITICAL PROSPERITY THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE PRESENT CONFEDERATION TO PRESERVE THAT UNION THE NECESSITY OF A GOVERNMENT AT LEAST EQUALLY ENERGETIC WITH THE ONE PROPOSED, TO THE ATTAINMENT OF THIS OBJECT THE CONFORMITY OF THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTION TO THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF REPUBLICAN GOVERNMENT ITS ANALOGY TO YOUR OWN STATE CONSTITUTION and lastly, THE ADDITIONAL SECURITY WHICH ITS ADOPTION WILL AFFORD TO THE PRESERVATION OF THAT SPECIES OF GOVERNMENT, TO LIBERTY, AND TO PROPERTY."

Now there was a dialogue between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists with the Anti-Federalists later joined to Republicans such as Jefferson and Madison to limit the Federal Government from becoming a tyranny. But that is not the same as intending to emasculate it's role as a general government. Limited Government is achieved best when, contrary to my other Chris, the Federal role is "General" with the specifics left to local government. Which in many case should be much more local than the "partial confederacies" of often tyrannical states.

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed01.asp

The Tenth Amendment states:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."[10th Amendment US Constitution]

I believe that Hamilton, Franklin and to a lesser extent even Jefferson and Madison, envisioned a Collaborative Federation. A place where States and the Federal Government worked together, with neither ruling over the people but all exerting their power under the watchful eyes and with the consent of ALL the people. The right forgets that "the people" are as important in the 10th Amendment as the States and that that is why it was not anymore a successful avenue of appeal for State Tyranny than it should be for Federal Tyranny.

The Right wing savants like to make appeals to their own authority wrapping that authority in the Constitution or "Founders" or some other source like it was so much "Fresh Fish."

Disenfranchising people is unconstitutional. State or Federal. And the Constitution is meant to protect people at all levels of government from doing so.

Oh and his article is chock full of misrepresentations. Yes in 1817 President "James Madison vetoed a bill that would have provided federal aid to construct roads and canals" (See more at: http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/fiscal-federalism#sthash.KzUyjah8.dpuf)

"Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled 'An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,' and which sets apart and pledges funds 'for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,' I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated."

Madison vetoed the bill not because he objected to it's object or functionality but because he objected to the fact that the constitution didn't provide specifically for roads and canals. It appears that he intended that the United States would pass a constitutional amendment instead. Something that never happened. As Steve Lackner of the Free Republic notes: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2767135/posts

"Madison continued in his veto message, "and believing that it can not be deduced from any part of it without an inadmissible latitude of construction and reliance on insufficient precedents; believing also that the permanent success of the Constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the General and the State Governments, and that no adequate landmarks would be left by the constructive extension of the powers of Congress as proposed in the bill, I have no option but to withhold my signature from it, and to cherishing the hope that its beneficial objects may be attained by a resort for the necessary powers to the same wisdom and virtue in the nation which established the Constitution in its actual form and providently marked out in the instrument itself a safe and practicable mode of improving it as experience might suggest [i.e., the Amendment process of Article V]."

It was his last act and it through a monkey wrench into the countries modernization programs only for his term. Because the constitution did include the power "To establish Post Offices and Post Roads", that would be the justification for road building for the next 200 years it didn't impede development but the purpose of that veto has been misconstrued ever since. It did make it impossible to create a national canal and railroad system as those systems were privateered instead. The author notes:

"What then could the nation do if it felt it was prudent as a matter of public policy to allow for internal improvements? To Madison, the answer was provided only in Article V of the Constitution. The Constitution would have to be amended to allow for a measure that Madison himself as a matter of public policy actually supported. This may seem perplexing to some, because as Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black famously said, "The layman's constitutional view is that what he likes is constitutional and that which he doesn't like is unconstitutional." I would add that Supreme Court Justices all too often fall prey to this constitutional view as well. But matters of public policy, and matters of Constitutionality are not one and the same and cannot be confounded. Regardless of whether a policy is considered needed or unnecessary, we must always independently ask whether the Constitution permits it. Madison even stated, "I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals and the improved navigation of water courses, and that a power in the National Legislature to provide for them might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity."

Many of our problems are due to the fact that our constitution is an imperfect instrument and instead of improving the constitution of our government we've used tricks and cludges to get around it's weaknesses.

Some things I don't forget

I've got a list of lawyers & senior staff who I think need to be held accountable for our opening up of the gates of hell in 2002. It was a long slide that started with "extraordinary rendition" and has wound up with Prison guards routinely pepper spraying prisoners to make them more cooperative.

The ACLU is working to publicize the full extent to which the Bush Administration opened those gates, and our own Obama POTUS has helped them get away with it. The ACLU notes about this:

"Nevertheless, the Obama administration is still fighting to keep the full truth about torture – including photos the public hasn't yet seen – from the American people. But recently the courts and the Senate have been pushing back, resisting the government's claims that it can't reveal its torture secrets. As a result, those secrets may finally be dragged into the light."

A lot of the information has been published from leaks, and of course denied, and I've written about it before. The spigot was actually more open when Bush was still doing it.

"The government is holding back as many as 2,100 never-released images from Abu Ghraib and other detention centers overseas. The ACLU first sued for their release 10 years ago, and in August, District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the government must publish the photos unless it can defend withholding them on an individualized basis."

I don't need the images. My imagination fills in the details and they haunt my nightmares sometimes. I've got a list of folks in my head. I'm not going to get revenge. That's up to Divine Causality. But I won't forget either.

https://www.aclu.org/blog/human-rights-national-security/torture-secrets-are-coming

Other things I don't forget:

Corruption in our SEC:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/top-regulator-says-bank-c_b_6021296.html

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Rewriting History

I grew up in a world where Christopher Columbus was the hero who "sailed the ocean blue" and "discovered America" too. A world where local Indians saved innocent religious Pilgrims from starvation, and John Smith wooed Pocahontas and she became an English Baroness. It was only later that I learned that it was "more complicated." Nothing has changed much. I walked 5 miles to Harpers Ferry today and saw various paeons to Robert E Lee, a wax image of John Brown that depicted him as a black man, when he was in fact as white as I am. A paeon to some black fellow who resisted the assault on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry. In a world where Robert E. Lee is a hero and John Brown a blood thirsty black person it's no wonder that folks still have delusions of what the South was up to in 1859, much less understand the present. Of course it's "more complicated" than any mythologized narrative. But that is why we need to tell the truth. Columbus wasn't a demon and he didn't "discover" America except from the POV of Christian Europeans looking for loot and slaves. The Pilgrims were indeed saved from starvation by help from local indigenous folks, but they weren't innocent and they were endangered of starvation because they had arrived with dreams of plantation farming or finding gold and silver. Pocohantas did save John Smith from death, and she did marry a gentleman and live in Britain. There is some truth in the legends.

Liberal Fascism

We see folks rewriting history everywhere. Jonah Goldberg wrote a book "Liberal Fascism" which is a prime example of rewriting history. Yes, there were common ideological elements between 20's and 30's liberalism and 20's and 30's Fascism. But Goldberg's thesis of identity involves rewriting (or at least spinning) the actual record. He's not the only one.

Alternet notes:

"Jonah Goldberg that contends that Hitler and Mussolini were committed left-wingers, and that today's liberals are fascism's natural intellectual heirs. While this may sound like yet another Coulteresque quickie aimed at prying some money out of Dittohead Nation, Goldberg insists that it is actually a Very Serious Work that "isn't like any Ann Coulter book" because it presents an argument that "has never been made in such detail or with such care. Goldberg also goes to great lengths from the start of the book to say that he's not really saying liberals are fascists, but hey, here are 400 pages of similarities between liberals and fascists, and if you start associating the two of them by the end of the book, then that's not his fault."[http://www.alternet.org/story/72960/jonah_goldberg's_'liberal_facism'_brings_historical_revisionism_to_comical_new_heights

Brad Reid continues later:

"But what in the world do Hitler's Germany, Soviet Russia and America under the Roosevelts all have in common, you ask? For one thing, Goldberg contends that all of these regimes gained popular support by using sinister populist rhetoric that painted wealthy capitalists in a negative light. Through sheer ignorance or ideological blindness, Goldberg never explores why trashing wealthy plutocrats during the Gilded Age and the Great Depression had become both politically profitable and morally sound. Rather, he deems all populist rhetoric as a key piece of the anti-individualist "totalitarian political religion" that American liberalism shares with Communism and Fascism.">
"While a lot of this stuff is easy to laugh off, some of Goldberg's historical revisionism is downright sickening. In one particularly grotesque passage, he tries to obfuscate the Nazis' treatment of homosexuals by calling their attitudes toward homosexuality "a source of confusion." Oh sure, he writes, "some homosexuals were sent to concentration camps," but it's also true that the early Nazi party was "rife with homosexuals." I'm sure the 100,000 men who were arrested for being homosexuals in Nazi Germany, as well as the thousands more who died in concentration camps, were proud to see their brethren so well-represented in the SS."

What is funny (not in the nice way) to me is the observation that many publicly homophobic individuals in the modern anti-Homosexual movement among the Far Right in our own country are also "rife with" closet cases who keep getting outed by folks in the gay movement. From Roy Cohn in the late 40's and 50's to "Mister spread my legs" Congressman. It's not a new thing that the vanguard of any angry movement is replete with folks who hate themselves; women who are misogynistic, gays who are homophobic, minorities who are self hating, etc... So again "it's complicated.

If Goldberg were the only one engaging in revisionism we could sigh and laugh a little. But of course he's joined by Amity Schlaes, who wrote "The Forgotten Man" with the primary objective of rewriting the history of the Great Depression. The author of one mostly positive review notes that aside from trying to paint Calvin Coolidge and Hoover as heros the book turns economic history on it's head. David Warsh writes;

"What then /did/cause cause the Great Depression? According to Shlaes, an overheated market, culminating in the October Crash of 1929, had something to do with it. So did bad banking policy and protectionism. "But the deepest problem was the intervention, the lack of faith in the marketplace. Government management of the late 1920s and 1930s hurt the economy... Fear froze the economy, but that uncertainty itself might be a cost was something the young experimenters simply did not consider." But for the air of emergency fostered by "the world of theory, the world of the pilgrims," the economy would have quickly equilibrated by itself, with wages and share prices quickly "marked to market." The Depression would have gone into the history books as no more severe than the short, sharp "liquidation" that began the '20s -- a "quarter-hour" in the history of the American republic in Andrew Mellon's memorable phrase." [http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/07/david-warsh-on-.html]

In short her argument is the true believer argument that insufficient "faith" in free markets drove the great depression; the idea that somehow letting the economy completely crash would enable debts to be discharged and businesses to get rid of excess industry and get back to the work of making things. A theory that is not economics or ethics, but ideological dogma. As the author notes:

"There is very little support for this idea among professional economists. Consult Essays on the Great Depression by Ben S. Bernake, for example, and you will learn that a majority of macroeconomists have concluded in recent years that prolonged adherence to the gold standard played a dominating role in determining the worldwide monetary contraction of the 1930s. "We do not yet have our hands on the grail by any means," he writes, but countries that left the gold standard early were able to reflate their monetary supplies and price levels, while countries that remained on gold were forced into further deflation. In other words, some approaching a consensus exists among economists that poorly-designed institutions and short-sighted policies were at the heart of the Great Depression. ... (About this considerable volume of work, Shlaes has very little to say. ...) ..."[http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2007/07/david-warsh-on-.html]

But of course Krugman gets on her for going after (Our hero) Keynes with pure BS spin:

Grr. Keynesianism says that deficit spending can help create jobs when the economy is depressed. The Great Society wasn’t deficit spending, it wasn’t intended to create jobs, and the economy of the 1960s wasn’t depressed. It was social engineering; we can talk about how well or badly it worked, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with Keynesian economics."

When Roosevelt did his efforts to alleviate the Great Depression Keynes hadn't even made a name for himself. Instead the Chicago School of Economics and economists in our own country had to discover the principles that Keynes would later talk about by trial and error. Krugman continues:

"Now, LBJ did engage in some Keynesian economics: namely, he imposed a contractionary fiscal policy in the form of a tax surcharge in an effort to cool an overheating economy."

And unfortunately such measures do "work" somewhat. Even con economists have discovered that monetary policy rarely impacts the economy the way theoreticians predict (Mostly because banks are privateering institutions and not agencies of good government). But hte whole prupose of rewriting history is to substitute myth (lies) and legends (half truths and exaggerations) for concepts that someone doesn't like. Krugman continues:

"Alas, pretty soon we’ll have all the usual suspects saying that the Great Society proves that Keynesian economics doesn’t work — after all, the “experts” told them so."[http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/amity-shlaes-strikes-again/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0]

So Secessionist traitors like Lee are painted as heros. The Generals who fight them are portrayed as drunks. Causality is turned on it's head and modern Neo-Fascists call their opponents fascists because young folks have been groomed to rewrite history.

All this is intentional. Whether it's Schlaes, Anne Coulter, Goldberg, or Dinesh D'Souza, these rewrites give license to folks for whom "free enterprise", "oligarchy" and "markets" are a religion. The right recruits, grooms and trains intellectuals who will carry on family tradition and spread convenient propaganda. As he notes about Goldberg, William Krystal and Podhoretz:

"William Kristol and John Podheretz, Goldberg was raised by prominent figures within the right-wing movement and was trained from the start to be an influential public "intellectual." And just as Kristol and Podheretz's writings closely mirror the neoconservative views espoused by their parents, Goldberg's penchant for attacking liberals in the most shameless and slimy ways imaginable is unsurprisingly similar to the style of his mother Lucianne, a right-wing literary agent who first came to national prominence when she helped Linda Tripp break the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the press." [http://www.alternet.org/story/72960/jonah_goldberg's_'liberal_facism'_brings_historical_revisionism_to_comical_new_heights]

That might border on being "ad-hominem" except that the author has already shown the misrepresentations, spins and outright lies of his targets.

And it "works" -- if repeating easily avoided policy mistakes is your definition of "working."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Website Progress

I've finally back to work on my artscommunity.com website. I've been too distracted by other things to get really dug into it, but now I'm fleshing out my vision for what it should look like. It's been a while and I'd forgotten some things about basic syntax, so the execution takes longer than I expected. I'm mocking it up on my computer. It's going to, ultimately, consolidate a lot of stuff, but to start with I need the interface and a few elements to support some of my volunteer projects and create materials I can show to potential customers. I hate sales but I love developing marketing materials. I've been having fun building the elements. I should have done much of this a year ago. I haven't been procrastinating. It just takes longer than I expect to do anything. This is not an announcement, just a status report.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We Dance on the Second Law of Thermodynamics

As long as the sun shines with light and earth radiates infrared into the night
we dance on the second law of thermodynamics.
We are fossil sunstuff born in long ago cataclysms of dying suns.
Our lives dance due to things made from the chaos of spreading space and time.
 
Our eyes should be wide with wonder,
at the massiveness,
the mysteriousness of it all.
We live in a moment of creation and destruction,
and the more we feel it we realize we are in it's thrall...
We who are here are here because of ancient dreams and bursting things.
As if a single word were spoken saying "breath" from a single spot.
And you can hear the sound, the sound of creation all around.
It is in every moment, and we should hear it and sing along.
We create our present moment.
 
Dancing on the moment of creation we ride a wave coming from the past.
We have to live in the moment though not one moment ever lasts.
Born, awakening, sleeping, dying. Seven days in every moment.
You may see a book of paper. I see a book of life.
You may see a frozen dictation. But I see a blowing wind.

Christopher H. Holte Today, 10/16/2014

My Hypothesis confirmed -- Thomas Duncan died due to substandard treatment and now Nurses getting sick

The Nurses at the Presbyterian Hospital tell a horror story of how the late patient Duncan was given substandard treatment that probably contributed to his death. They make 5 allegations, which I extracted from a CNN report:

"A nurses' union is sounding the alarm about the lack of safety protocols at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas after two nurses there apparently contracted Ebola from a patient who later died of the virus."

This is a follow on post to an earlier post: http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/10/ebola-or-why-medicaid-expansion-matters.html

  1. Duncan wasn't immediately isolated
  2. The nurses' protective gear left their necks exposed
  3. At one point, hazardous waste piled up
  4. Nurses got no 'hands-on' training
  5. The nurses 'feel unsupported - fear retaliation for talking

http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/15/health/texas-ebola-nurses-union-claims/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

The nurses tell horror stories of how during his initial admitting process he was left in the hall and treated by Nurses wearing minimal protective gear. They then go on to say that when he was finally placed in an isolation ward the gear they were given wasn't much better. Thus it's only a surprise that only two nurses have tested positive for Ebola. And it remains to be seen if they will get the kind of first class care that is necessary for them to survive.

More details:

"The nurses' statement alleged that when Duncan was brought to Texas Health Presbyterian by ambulance with Ebola-like symptoms, he was “left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area” where up to seven other patients were. “Subsequently, a nurse supervisor arrived and demanded that he be moved to an isolation unit, yet faced stiff resistance from other hospital authorities,” they alleged."

They also note:

"Duncan's lab samples were sent through the usual hospital tube system “without being specifically sealed and hand-delivered. The result is that the entire tube system … was potentially contaminated,” they said."

They deny that Presbyterian understood or passed on CDC guidelines:

"The statement described a hospital with no clear rules on how to handle Ebola patients, despite months of alerts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta about the possibility of Ebola coming to the United States."
“There was no advanced preparedness on what to do with the patient. There was no protocol. There was no system. The nurses were asked to call the infectious disease department” if they had questions, but that department didn't have answers either, the statement said. So nurses were essentially left to figure things out on their own as they dealt with “copious amounts” of highly contagious bodily fluids from the dying Duncan while they wore gloves with no wrist tape, flimsy gowns that did not cover their necks, and no surgical booties, the statement alleged."

All this has policy implications. I'd like to think that what we need is a National Health Militia that is more like the Founders would have constituted it had they known what we know now. Further Reading:

http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/10/why-we-need-national-health-service.html

Source for second half of article:http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ebola-dallas-20141014-story.html#page=1

What is wrong with our attitude towards Ebola is now coming back to bite us:

http://mic.com/articles/100618/one-powerful-illustration-shows-exactly-what-s-wrong-with-media-coverage-of-ebola

Private Manning and Years of Tradition of Keeping Secrets

One reason why many folks of my Generation and older were shocked and angry when Private Manning "did his thing" is that we come from a long tradition of secrecy. I had friends and family members with clearances who'd sworn a blood oath to keep secrets and took that oath seriously. I was one of them. Sometimes I'd been let in on some of the secrets (illegally since the law doesn't let relatives let relatives in on them) but it was always with the implicit understanding we'd keep them for the family member. Most of the time a relative would point to an article in Science or Popular Mechanics and say "that's what I was working on." They were forbidden to talk about it, kept that promise, and suddenly this joker spills an entire database of secrets out to the press. I never read Manning's material first hand. I was offended by his action. I knew people who wanted to "take him out" for breaking the silence that millions of American men and women had been keeping on what our government was doing. We really believed that "loose lips sink ships" and that most of what we were doing was honorable (even the dishonorable parts) and for the sake of our country and even mankind as a whole. We thought we were the good guys.

In fact I was working with Military Medical ID secrets and had worked on Pay and Personnel, news releases, and other non-classified but equally private information. I took pride in keeping appropriate secrets and also agreed with that "oath keepers" notion that we would never obey an illegal or immoral order. But the reality began to set in even before Private Manning did his thing. And as time goes by I'm realizing that the secrets we were keeping were not good for our country, that such secrets sink ships even more than loose lips about them, and that we really need to rethink this whole "secrecy thing.

Trouble is

Trouble is, when we live in a society where we can trust each other but not those outside our own group that is a dangerous place to be. And we do. Russians, Israelis, Arab Nations, Vatican, French, British, emerging nations, ancient Nations, Chinese and even little countries like Rwanda, all have people keeping secrets. And "loose lips" really do "sink ships." The Pueblo was sunk to protect North Korean secrets. And the USS Liberty was sunk to keep Israeli secrets. We remember these transgressions because they illustrate the "great" (actually it's not great at all) "game" that is international spying, covert operations and terrorism. Folks die to keep secrets. Folks commit suicide, are murdered, are jailed, are defamed and blacklisted, suicided, labeled crazy or otherwise sidelined to keep secrets. And the law gives officials and judges power to keep secrets that shouldn't be kept. And the nature of the release of secrets is such that their release kills people, shocks Wall Street, brings down governments, and hurts people. Truth hurts. Untruth hurts more.

Keeping Crimes Secret Hurts a Lot more.

But keeping crimes secrets hurts a lot more. I had no trouble keeping my secrets because I understood them, was hiding nothing that shouldn't be kept secret, and it was my honor and duty to "fermé le bouche" about them. And I'm hyper-sensitive about such things, so I don't think I have the wisdom to decide which secrets ought not to be kept. But I'm out of government work because I no longer believe that much of what we are doing is right. There is a lot of crime committed in "secret-land" and it needs to be stopped. I believe the Congress needs to amend it's whistle blower and secrecy laws to make it easier to declassify information about crimes and harder for courts and the Government to use secrecy to cover them up.

Legacy of Ashes

Right now I'm reading "Legacy of Ashes" by Tim Weiner, and it is like all books on the CIA, FBI, etc... Told by authors who depend on professional liars for their source information. So it has a lot of tantalizing clues in it, and some areas that contradict what other books on the CIA tell me, and stories I've heard from some of those friends and relatives I mentioned. But it points to the fact that we don't get a straight story, even when the authorities are pretending to come clean. The meat of the story is how the CIA deflected the Church Committee and avoided prosecution after years of violating it's own charter, and that alone makes the book a good read. It's not definitive. Not sure there ever will be a definitive book on the CIA, spycraft involves regularly recording misinformation, disinformation and lies within lies. But it does have it's clues. For example on page 336 it discusses how Colby tried (mostly successfully) to dissemble, deflect and hide CIA domestic spying. Ultimately Colby let himself be a scapegoat too, but first he:

"by laying the issue of illegal domestic surveillance at the doorstep of Jim Angleton, who had been opening first class mail in partnership with the FBI for twenty years."

He then notes the treasonous attitude of Angleton (and by implication most of the CIA) when he quotes Angleton:

"It is inconceivable" he said "that a secret arm of the government has to comply with all the overt orders of the government."

Anyone familiar with the CIA and it's 17 fighting, struggling, rival and different internal agencies, or the Special Ops community, to any degree will recognize this quote as part of a "protecting the President" [from knowledge] attitude of many folks in our Security forces. It is dangerous to play with Special Ops. Unemployed Special Ops people formed the Nucleus of Mussolini's Fascist party in the 1900's and they are very dangerous folks to any civilian government. Anyone wondering how Obama can be continuing programs he criticized for reaching office need only hear this quote from Angleton and a few more to understand how hard it is to reign in a security state once it's formed.

More likely they'll quietly remind officials like Presidents where the real power is.

So I'm not onboard with keeping all the secrets that some of our officials want to keep in a democracy. I don't see Snowden the way I saw Manning, though I wish he'd focused on just the "bad secrets" and not spilled the beans on the huge spying capabilities I've known about for years. What switched me is that Angleton's words applied in 1975 and they never stopped spying domestically. And they not only kept secrets but lied. And not only lied, but lied for the private gain of a cabal. That is what hurts most. I innocently helped them betray my country. Snowden is nominally a traitor and were I forced to sit on a jury trying him I'd find him guilty. But so are the folks at NSA and the FBI who are undermining our democracy and subverting our countries basic principles. Like Angleton they assert impunity.

Legacy of Ashes: http://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Ashes-The-History-CIA/dp/0307389006

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why We Need a National Health Service

The Constitution was designed for a Networked but Federated system for responding to national threats. The founders divided into groups around George Washington, who would prefer a National Military ("Continental Army") and others who wanted more localized militia. But they all agreed on the need for collaboration and coordination. They just weren't sure on how to achieve that goal as militia forces had weaknesses in training and discipline and were not always effective over trained, disciplined "professional" forces like the infamous redcoats we fought during our revolt from Britain. The constitution spells out the powers of congress on our national operations including the duty and power to organize arm, and discipline a national militia.

Clearly the Federal Government is responsible for defending the country from all threats. And the founders clearly envisioned a medical component for the militia, though the science of health and the military was in it's primitive state when the constitution was written. Folks defending the Affordable Care Act were able to cite the 1792 Militia Act which mandated that militia members provide their own arms and the Seamans Act, which mandated that Ships carry insurance on seamen.

But I'm not defending private solutions for our health care issues. The authority for the arms requirement of the USA militia is in Article 1 Section 8 of the constitution as well as the commerce clause. I'm citing these because it is clear that the principle of Federalism involves collaboration and cooperation directed from a general staff with consent of legislatures and local government -- and that has been focused on national services from the beginning of our country. We need a National Health Service organized along militia principles.

Article 1 Section 8 Militia

The Surgeon General is an old position. He should be the Article 1, Section 8 head of a National Health Service Militia which should be the organizing, provisioning and disciplining body for that service under the supervision of congress. The Surgeon General should also be responsible for governing such part of them as employed in the Service of the United States. It should have 50+ membership branches (with intermediate administrative branches by region for organization purposes) with each member at the employ of the States. This National MHS and it's officers and education should be shared collaboratively between the member governors and the Surgeon General. The National MHS would have a governors Board composed of delegates from each subdivision and a legislative advisory board elected by general members (interested people) of the MHS.

Such organizations, being collaborative between States and Federal Government would be explicitly constitutional, but including a legislative advisory body within them ensures that Federal principles are replicated within the States. To do that right this principle needs to be replicated within each state as well. A section 4 Republican guarantee to every State involves replicating this structure within each State so that Hospitals, Schools, clinics, Towns, Counties and Cities are involved in this system and represented in it's governance.

What is missing from most of our top down bureaucracies is a rational legislature. A principle of good requirements and good lawmaking is involving the stakeholders in making such laws. A legislative advisory organization led by experts and elected representatives of an expert community can provide such guidance in an excellent way. This is what we need to organize our response to both emergency and to budget and policy decision making. Collaboration and bottom up forms to counter the effectiveness and inertia of top down decision making.

I propose that the HS include a HS membership organization (which can be an umbrella with chapters and subchapters) with formal advisory powers. It should be self governing and self-funding through membership or similar fees and independently bottom up run. It would be self governing over those parts of it's membership that are self funding. This would be a formal organization with open general membership and a "bar" of people of good character with voting powers and officer eligibility.

Federal Government as Collaborative Government.

The original vision of the Founders was of a country that would be a collaboration between the states. It also is one of Federalism and Commonwealth. It was not intended to be yet another incarnation of the Top Down bureaucratic Imperium of Rome. It was supposed to be a new idea of a new government that would be as Lincoln said "of the people, for the people and by the people". And we can make it so.

Discussion

Constitution on militia:

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

1792 Militia Act which mandated that militia members provide their own arms:

"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia by the captain or commanding officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this act. And it shall at all times hereafter be the duty of every such captain or commanding officer of a company to enroll every such citizen, as aforesaid, and also those who shall, from time to time, arrive at the age of eighteen years, or being of the age of eighteen years and under the age of forty-five years (except as before excepted) shall come to reside within his bounds; and shall without delay notify such citizen of the said enrollment, by a proper non-commissioned officer of the company, by whom such notice may be proved. That every citizen so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball: or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear, so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise, or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/06/26/george-washingtons-individual-mandates/

Seamans Act:

In 1790, the very first Congress—which incidentally included 20 framers—passed a law that included a mandate: namely, a requirement that ship owners buy medical insurance for their seamen. This law was then signed by another framer: President George Washington. That’s right, the father of our country had no difficulty imposing a health insurance mandate.[...]
Six years later, in 1798, Congress addressed the problem that the employer mandate to buy medical insurance for seamen covered drugs and physician services but not hospital stays. And you know what this Congress, with five framers serving in it, did? It enacted a federal law requiring the seamen to buy hospital insurance for themselves. That’s right, Congress enacted an individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance. And this act was signed by another founder, President John Adams.
That's from Einer Elhauge, a professor at Harvard Law, who continues, "not only did most framers support these federal mandates to buy firearms and health insurance, but there is no evidence that any of the few framers who voted against these mandates ever objected on constitutional grounds. Presumably one would have done so if there was some unstated original understanding that such federal mandates were unconstitutional."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fighting the Devil - written 1978

I am fighting the devil in my life
It is powerful and it is hidden.
And it is not a man, not a person.
It casts its shadow over my dreams.
It tries to blind me in my eyes.
It seems to feed upon my screams.
preventing me from seeing the Way.
Shadowing me with fears at the end of the day.

 

But I am a noble fighter, a warrior all the way
and though all tries to steer me towards ruin,
through the power of desires and delusion,
Yet I shall find my way
Using the power of the law of life,
To steer it better to steer it right.
Using the inward power of mystic wisdom
to see through to truth and through delusion
and act wisely and bravely, no matter my plight.

 

I am courageous and afraid.
Prone to foolishness and to evil.
Yet I am also noble and I'm brave;
Because I keep my eyes open and hold fast to the one law that endures;
When I persevere in doing what is right,
All the mighty forces of the Universe come to my aide.

 

Christopher H. Holte, written in 1978. I had already been practicing Buddhism for 5 years.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Don't cry

To Evi

Don't Cry

Don't cry my friend
If you're unhappy with long and painful sighs
Don't lament the end
for ends are always new beginnings.
Don't feel sorry for the past
Do learn, we need to learn fast.
the way to amend bad ends is to make amends.
...and move on.
 
To Jeannette

Little Girl

You have a little girl
such a bright and happy little girl.
Do teach her well and she will grow
to love you so, basking in the warm glow,
of love and loves greatest rewards
 
Try too hard to hold her in her grasp
and she will go
Try to hold her too hard
and you will never know, why you lost her.
 

Chris Holte, 1982

In the early 80's I tried to help a woman and her child who lived in East Germany, Dresden. I believe this poem was written thinking of them.

I Live pointing the way

I live in a world that's lost it's way.
I live at the end of one day
and the beginning of another
I live in a world, where brother lies to brother.
 
I live in a world of lost dreams,
where we wake up hearing our own screams.
A world of corruption
where people live who have forgotten how to sing.
We live in a world where dreams have died
yet still cry out in the night
tormenting their owners in the night
like lost ghosts lost in time.
 
I live in a world so confused
that the victims soon become the abused
where people confuse wrong with the right
and divine answers that are falsehoods
when the truth could be easily known
if they didn't perpetuate foolish behavior and suffering.
 
I live in a world of fear and delusion
where people seek happiness in wealth and illusion
Where greed destroys future and present
and people throw away the good without taking heed
of where their real value lies.
 
And I live and I dance and I sing.
celebrating life in internal freedom
I am one among millions of I's
I am I, unique and powerful in potential
And I know how things can be so I dance and I sing, pointing a way.
 

Christopher H. Holte 1981

When I pass

When I pass on,
I'll say goodbye,
pass the flag, pass the batton
And then simply die.

 

You may laugh,
you may cry,
you may do both
but when that moment comes
I just hope you think fondly of me,
And maybe even laugh

Chris 1990's, first recorded in 2001

Dreams -- August '81

To Hannya
Dreams, make the world grow warmer
when we're feeling cold
dreams keep us going
when our life feels tired and old
Dreams are the stuff of life
Isn't life itself a dream?
Dreams keep us smiling
When it seems we have no reason to
 
Dreams are like a child
with his parents standing by
There are dreams that are expectations
of what the future brings.
Dreams are like a young man
making his way in the world of things.
Recollections are an old man,
recalling his life as if a dream.
 
Dreams animate us, give us reason, let us fly.
Hold onto your dreams, with your feet on the ground.
because dreams give us courage,
lose our dreams and we die.
 

Christopher H. Holte, August 1981

If the Gods forsake me

Inspired by Marcus Aurelius

If the Gods foresake me
my country and my family
Then I pray I see the reason
and at least have some idea why.
 
If storms assail me
And I'm in a winter storm wearing summer clothes
then such must be my destiny
but that doesn't mean I shouldn't seek shelter.
 
If I am lonely
and deeply in love with you
and indeed my Karma is heavy
and you don't love me too.
Then too there must be some reason
and a cause or some lesson, maybe some long ago thing done wrong.
Maybe I can yet resolve if I change inside and grow strong.
 
If the Gods have abandoned me
and my heart is destined again to break
If I must suffer for your sake
Then I must apologize for the cause I made long ago.
 

Christopher H. Holte, 1981

Note: Marcus Aurelius wrote a similar poem long ago in his "Meditations"; "If the Gods have forsaken me" is a common fear and refrain among those who try to do the right thing or are engaged in struggle. Each of us have trials which we must pass through, sometimes blindly, or perish. During such times it seems that God or the Gods, or at least the love and support of God, has abandoned us. But in reality such is never the case, but rather we live in a world of causality where we are each tested by travails. With a powerful faith one summons the courage ("life force") to challenge such challenges. The true object of worship is the reflection of what we can be.

"If the Gods have forsaken me,
I and my family..." -- Marcus Aurelius

The night was vanguished for a moment

The night was vanquished for a moment.
A smile rose in his face and around his eyes.
It was like a clear day after a trail of rainy years.
It was like a spring day after a harsh and late winter.
 
He smiled and the smile creased his shriveled face.
It revealed him a handsome specimen of the human race.
He smiled for a moment in a kind of hope
that was the first time in years.
and then he shook your hand and gave himself away.
 
Do you wonder that the night was vanguished?
It was for him.
For it never again held such power
nor left him so impotent in it's face.
 

Christopher H. Holte, January 1983

Always Too Dark

Always the sky seemed too dark late at night for her,
when the moon glinted in her dark eyes,
She seemed to become a shadow in his mind,
unreal, like a vampire or a dream.
 
She smiled, but all he could see was his latest conquest,
images of a smile;
He took her hand and tried to lead her down a dead end road.
She took it back and they walked in silence.
 
He took her to his car and they got in
He took her home and she let him kiss her on the cheek
He went home dreaming of vampires and the goddess of snakes.
Always the sky seemed too dark in his dreams,
And he wondered at the delusion.

Written January 1983, CH Holte

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Understanding Argentina; Article on Formosa local news

FORMOSA, UN FEUDO QUE DUELE
EL APOYO DE LA PRESIDENTA AL GOBERNADOR DE UNA PROVINCIA SUMIDA EN LA MISERIA, EL NARCOTRÁFICO Y LA CORRUPCIÓN RESULTA UN MONUMENTO AL CLIENTELISMO PREBENDARIO. INSFRÁN-KIRCHNER, UNA SOCIEDAD DE BENEFICIOS MUTUOS, EN LA QUE PIERDEN LOS FORMOSEÑOS.
Con el pretexto de inaugurar una estación transformadora, la visita que la presidenta Cristina Fernández de Kirchner efectuó a Formosa días atrás tuvo la intención de brindar un firme apoyo a su aliado, el gobernador Gildo Insfrán -en los hechos una suerte de señor feudal vitalicio-, ante el pésimo panorama que de su provincia había difundido el programa televisivo de Jorge Lanata.
La desmesura que volvieron a adoptar los elogios de la Presidenta a un gobernador cuya gestión mantiene a Formosa sumida en la postración, el atraso, la miseria, los negociados, la corrupción, el tráfico de drogas, el hambre y la perenne desigualdad pueden explicarse por una perversa lógica partidaria: votos a cambio de caja y obras.
Son demasiados los formoseños que padecen los dramas, entre muchos otros, de la falta de agua potable, de asistencia sanitaria y de educación. Y en el caso de los indígenas de la etnia qom, debemos agregar los asesinatos impunes que sufren.
Por desgracia, son varias las provincias que podrían usarse como ejemplo de las peores lacras que resultan del ejercicio feudal del gobierno en esos estados. Pero pocas, sin embargo, ofrecen un panorama tan nefasto como el que muestra Formosa. Ese lamentable panorama es el que su gobernador quiere esconder detrás de los falsos logros que enumeró en el discurso con el que recibió a la Presidenta.
Una realidad que pretende ocultar la mostró Periodismo para todos al reflejar los graves problemas que afronta la comunidad wichi. Una semana después de emitirse el programa, un equipo de éste sufrió presiones verbales por parte de varias decenas de personas identificadas con el kirchnerismo local que lo obligaron a retirarse del pueblo de El Potrillo, a más de 300 kilómetros de la capital provincial.
Esa clase de avasallamiento sólo es posible cuando una provincia deja de serlo para retroceder a la categoría de feudo. Y como tal la gobierna Insfrán, quien desde 1995 es su gobernador, para lo cual tuvo que impulsar una reforma constitucional para habilitar la reelección indefinida.
Tal es su grado de cercanía con la Presidenta y sus funcionarios que Formosa escribió un oscuro capítulo del ya grueso libro de los negociados por los que está siendo juzgado y procesado el vicepresidente de la Nación, Amado Boudou.
En efecto, en 2010, Formosa pagó 7,6 millones de pesos al fondo The Old Fund por un presunto asesoramiento brindado a los funcionarios provinciales que negociaron con el gobierno nacional el canje de deuda. Esa operación se completó cuando Boudou era ministro de Economía.
Sin antecedentes de ningún tipo, The Old Fund, del presunto testaferro de Boudou, Alejandro Vandenbroele, y vinculado con el caso Ciccone, fue contratado por Formosa sin licitación ni concurso, por 7,6 millones de pesos para ese sospechoso asesoramiento. De ese monto, un funcionario muy próximo a Insfrán retiró 2,2 millones. Se trata de Martín José Cortés, director y presidente del Banco de Formosa.
Tampoco es de extrañar que en el feudo formoseño la oposición sufra persecuciones, como ocurrió con una suerte de inspección realizada por 30 funcionarios que concurrieron con cámaras de televisión al establecimiento agropecuario que la familia del diputado nacional (UCR) Ricardo Buryaile posee desde hace años en la localidad de Patiño. "No pudieron darse el gusto de encontrar trabajadores en negro. Sería muy bueno -propuso Buryaile- que también revisen los campos de los funcionarios de Insfrán con el mismo rigor, sobre todo aquellos campos de concejales del Frente para la Victoria donde se encontraron más de 700 kilos de cocaína."
Agregó el legislador que se intentó armarle una causa para fusilarlo mediáticamente "por pensar distinto, mientras que en los campos de Formosa todos sabemos que siguen aterrizando todos los días aviones con droga".
En 2011, la Justicia procesó al entonces concejal formoseño Héctor Hugo Palma por haberse hallado en un campo de su propiedad 701 kilos de cocaína. Palma se había dado a la fuga tras el secuestro de la droga, pero fue capturado y detenido.
Un federalismo que se declama, pero que no se practica suele producir la involución que transforma a provincias en feudos manejados con mano férrea por caudillos que se eternizan en el cargo. El autoritarismo que los caracteriza dentro de la provincia suele trocarse en franco servilismo hacia la Casa Rosada, de la que dependen para recibir fondos y obra pública. El unitarismo fiscal, desde el retorno de la democracia hace ya 30 años, nunca ha sido tan despiadado como ahora en el ejercicio centralizado del poder, paradójicamente ejercido primero por un ex gobernador de Santa Cruz y luego por una Presidenta de origen bonaerense.
Los elogios de la Presidenta a Insfrán, por carecer de base fáctica, constituyen otra afrenta para todos los argentinos y muy especialmente para los propios formoseños..
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  • Friend writes:  a dime a dozen. I don't read Spanish.
    1 hr · Like
  • Christopher Hartly Holte SUPPORT FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE GOVERNOR OF A PROVINCE destitute, DRUG TRAFFICKING AND CORRUPTION RESULTING A MONUMENT TO Prebendary CLIENTELISM. INSFRAN-KIRCHNER, MUTUAL BENEFIT SOCIETY, WHICH LOST Formosa. 

    Under the pretext of opening a new power transformer station, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner visited Formosa days ago in order to provide strong support to her ally, the governor Gildo Insfrán - in fact a sort of feudal lord - hiding the dismal picture that his province had through the Jorge Lanata television program. 
    The fawning excess of praise by the President of a governor whose managed of Formosa is mired in prostitution, backwardness, poverty, corrupt influence and bribery, drug trafficking, hunger and inequality can be explained by the perennial perverse party logic: votes in exchange for cash and works. 
    So much theater while formoseños suffering, among other things; from lack of potable water, health care and education. And in the case of the Qom indigenous ethnicity, we must add unpunished murders and oppression. 
    Sadly, several provinces could be used as examples of the worst evils that result from the exercise of feudal government in those states. But few, however, offer such a grim picture as Formosa presents. This unfortunate scenario is the governor hides behind false achievements listed in the speech that the President received. 
    A show that claims to practice Journalism and show the serious problems facing the community actually helps hide them. A week after the issuance of the program, a team suffered verbal pressure from several dozen people identified with the local kirchnerismo that forced him to withdraw from the town of El Foal, more than 300 kilometers from the provincial capital. 
    That kind of enslavement is possible only when a province cease to be self governing and goes back to the category of fief. As such governor Insfrán, who's been in his position since 1995, had to push a constitutional amendment to enable indefinite reelection.

    Such is the degree of closeness with the President and his staff that Formosa has written a dark chapter in the thick book [of dark deeds] and showed it's corruption trying and prosecuting National Vice President Amado Boudou. 

    In 2010, Formosa paid 7.6 million dollars to fund The Old Fund to allegedly provide advice to provincial officials who negotiated [kickbacks?] with the national government debt swaps. That operation was completed under Economy Minister Boudou. 

    The Old Fund, the alleged frontman of Boudou, Alejandro Vandenbroele, and linked with the Ciccone case, was hired by Formosa without bidding or competition, for 7.6 million pesos for that suspect advice. Of this amount, a retired official close to Insfrán received 2.2 million. This is José Martín Cortés, director and president of the Bank of Formosa. 

    Thus it's not surprising that the Formosa Govt. opposition suffer persecution, as with a kind of inspection by 30 staff who went with television cameras to the agricultural establishment that the family of local MP (UCR) Ricardo Buryaile has had for years in Patino location. "They could not have the pleasure of finding workers in black. It would be great" -proposed Buryaile [an opposition leader] - if they also visited the fields belonging to Insfrán officials, especially those fields belonging to the councilors of Front for Victory where more than 700 kilos of cocaine were found previously."

    Added the lawmaker who tried to aid [Buryaile] they got the media to try to "shoot him through the media" "for thinking differently, while in the fields of Formosa all know that every day are landing airplanes with drugs."

    Formosa is a major shipment point for drugs coming in from mountains on way to USA/North America and Europe through the Containership connection.

    In 2011, Justice indicted the then Councillor Hector Hugo Palma formoseño 701 kilos of cocaine that had been found in a field of their own. Palma absconded after the seizure, but was caught and arrested.

    Here the author is teaching:

    A federalism declaimed, but not practiced often produces involution which transforms into fief provinces handled with iron hand by warlords whose power is allied with those in office. Thus the Authoritarianism that characterizes power within the province is often bartered in ex subservience to the Casa Rosada, on which the Government depend for funding and public works. Paradoxically the prosecutorial Unitary governmental centralized exercise of power since the return of democracy 30 years ago, thus has never been as ruthless. This from a former governor of Santa Cruz and then a President of Buenos origin first. 
    Thus Praise of President Insfrán, for lack of factual basis, is another affront to all Argentines and especially to Formosa dwellers.
    12 mins · Edited · Like · 1
  • Christopher Hartly Holte Argentina has similar tensions between it's very powerful capital city, the province of Buenos Aires (which is as big as the country of Uruguay) and the rest of the country. Problems there reflect the things that scared our founders into creating the sort of Federation they did. At one time the provinces conquered the capital and at other times the reverse happened, and in both provinces and central government a corrupt dance occurs around power, taxes and banking. This article shows how corrupt power sharing and lack of local democratic republican forms, can corrupt an entire country and make life miserable for people.
    8 mins · Like
  • Christopher Hartly Holte You need not only the forms -- but the reality.
    7 mins · Like
  • Christopher Hartly Holte I like Kirchner. She seems very personable and has done some good things for Argentina. But she's also done some evil and this article is talking about some of the systemic evil that drives a corrupt system. The people in that system may be relatively good or very bad, but can never be virtuous because the virtues of their government are subverted by perverse incentives and power relationships.
    6 mins · Like
  • Christopher Hartly Holte formoseño means from Formoso. My wife was a Porteña because that is the popular term from someone from Buenos Aires city.
    2 mins · Edited · Like