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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

I'm kinda happy to see 2015 go. I was actually fine with 2015 til just before Thanksgiving when I fell and broke my leg. Because of my broken leg I'll be glad when this year is over. Meanwhile I'm chilling on Herb Alpert music and hanging with my cat.


¡Feliz año nuevo!

And may the year be full of love and productive things.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

You need to Eat Beans Boy

I don't remember the job market ever being easy. Once when I was still in college I found a job as a temporary. Went into a warehouse and was assigned to unload a train car. At first they'd have me moving boxes while everyone worked hard. Then the other guys handed me the one hand-truck, sat down and started shooting the breeze, while I continued removing boxes and stacking them inside. At about 5 minutes to 10 they took the hand-truck from me and told me to sit down and take a break. No sooner than I sat down the supervisor came through. He was as regular as clockwork, and this repeated itself all day. At the end of the day I asked if they needed anybody the next day and he said "heck no, you need to eat beans boy." That experience taught me to be careful with "friends" as well as enemies. I think that is as close as I ever came to a Union job.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Four Freedoms and Six Basic Rights -- The Second Bill of Rights

FDR's Four Freedoms

Late in his life, Roosevelt articulated 4 Basic Freedoms that everyone ought to have. These are:

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Freedom of worship
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Daniel Schávelzon Buenos Aires Negros, Jews and Nazis

I got to meet Daniel Schávelzon a few years ago when my wife was bringing his archeology to Howard University through the Spanish Department. He is an urbane, intelligent and wise person. And he was a friend of my wife. She had even interviewed him on one of our trips to Argentina! I had put his works on the back burner when I moved out here to Brunswick as they'd gotten packed up into Boxes, and as I'm not as connected to Howard as I was while my wife was alive. So it was a shock this week when I was sitting in my living room half awake and recovering from a broken leg. And they did an episode of "Hunting Hitler" -- and who was one of the archeologists helping them?! Daniel Schávelzon!

Argentina is one of my favorite countries. That doesn't mean it doesn't have a sanguinary past. On the contrary Buenos Aires and Montevideo both have a history that is as dark as any Southern City in North America. When we toured some of the archeology sites featured in "Buenos Aires Negro" -- they were exactly like what is in the basements of old houses in Alexandria or Georgetown. Shackles, private prison rooms, torture tools, used to subjugate and control slaves; all in the basements of upscale walk up townhomes (row houses) in fancy neighborhoods. At least places like "La Boca" were painted really pretty. The tourist traps focus on tourism, industry, and Tango. Daniel Schávelzon dug into some of these houses and found evidence of Argentina's past as a majority black city. Argentina, unlike Maryland or Virginia, freed it's slaves 5 or six times before civil wars and new methods of slavery made black chattel slavery uneconomic. The two cities were transhipment points to mines in the West of the country and plantations all over. The origins of Tango were in mulatto communities combining half remembered African religion and dances with European music traditions. Jaz, Tango and most of the really good dance music of the world, were invented by people who would die without the outlet of music and singing.

And so it is that oppressed people who weren't allowed into the USA wound up in Argentina. Jews, Syrians (including what are now known as palestinians), Italians, Spaniards,... We should have sent a copy of the statue of Liberty to Argentina; except many of the immigrants never could "rise" out of poverty.

And Racism has been part of the equation since the beginning. The racist leaders of Argentina tried to deal with their "negro problem" by drafting black folks. The civil wars and regional wars between provinces or between countries like Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina etc... were fought with drafted immigrants and former slaves. The women were left behind and scrambled for a living.

Jews fleeing the Holocaust, some of them, arrived in Argentina. They were followed by Nazis. Maybe even Hitler! The children of those Nazis would run the Argentine Military in the 70s and 80s.

Further Reading

Daniel Schávelzon
Archaeology and architecture prehispanico Ecuador. National Autonomous University of Mexico; 1981. ISBN 968-5800-20-0
Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Latin America. Restoration of pre-Hispanic buildings in Mesoamerica: 1750-1980 Studies in Conservation, Vol 37, No. 4 (Nov. 1992), pp.. 285-286.
Archaeology of Buenos Aires. Editors Emecé. 1999. ISBN 950-04-2044-9
Stories of eating and drinking in Buenos Aires. Editorial Alfaguara Argentina. 2000. ISBN 950-511-659-4
I believe I have a copy of the following:
Black Buenos Aires - Historical Archaeology of a city silenced. Editors Emecé. 2003. ISBN 950-04-2459-2
Tunnels of Buenos Aires, stories, myths and truths of the American Buenos Aires underground. 2005. ISBN 950-07-2701-3 Tourist tenements of Buenos Aires; 2005. ISBN 987-9473-54-X

Monday, December 14, 2015

Privateering in Medicaid

The Right Wing in this country learned to rip out a page from the strategy of progressives. If they take their abusive agenda's, call them "reform" and throw in words like "reform", pay lip service to the programs "service needs", and use big words, they can fool most people reading their articles into thinking they are talking about the real thing and not simply privateering on a source of public revenue. It all sounds good until you dig into the reality of their proposals.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Memorial Day Tears


While the grills burn,
and hotdogs pop and sizzle,
While the sun shines,
and white clouds fluff like popcorn across the sky.
My own memorials weigh me down and I cry.
Rows and Rows of friends and family.
Rows and Rows of beaten and burned.
Rows and Rows of stories unlearned.
They at last lie in peaceful sleep.
But my eyes fill with tears and I weep.
Oh, spare me talk of hatred and glory,
Spare me your fear mongering and lies.
The dead fear nothing, only the deluded fear their brothers.
And only fools kill children and mothers.
While everyone weeps for their own children,
The dead sleep.
Fear saves no one.
Perfect security is impossible
The insecure with their bluster create perfect insecurity with their fear and anger.
I'd rather our children muddle on, muddle by.
Then create perfect insecurity with violence.
Let the popcorn pop and eat your hotdogs,
that is how we should remember these things,
Not by watering the earth with our tears.
Let me watch the little ones stumble around.
Let me hear the birds chirping and other sounds.
I don't like the sound of silence after a bomb blast.
I don't like the ringing it leaves in my ears.
I don't like watering the earth with my tears.
Rows and rows of flowers I want to see.
Bees that buzz, and trees that grow tall and strong.
Let's dance and build, and live and thrive,
nobody should be forgotten, we should all celebrate.
Maybe flowers can grow from my tears.

First written in 2012 -- updated 12/13/2015

Christopher H. Holte

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Zombie ideas that won't die

At least when you shoot a zombie in the brain it finally stops coming at you. Not so with RW economics.

Alternet has a fun little article on Krugman's Friday Column: I'd cite the column directly but I used up my freebie quota at the NY Times and am too broke to pay them.

And besides Janet Allon does a better job of contextualizing his comments anyway. Krugman is too polite to take the argument where it needs to go. These are Zombie ideas that never die. The notion of Zombie came from lurid stories of Voodoo and New Orleans Witch Doctors, so calling these ideas Zombie economics follows from years of economists (even sometimes former hucksters) calling them "Voodoo Economics." They were voodoo when they were new ideas. But they won't die!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Many Kinds of Privateering

I'm using the word privateering in lieu of privatization, and other terms, for a specific reason. First of all the behavior is not new, is traditional, and while George Lakoff brought the term back the original word had the same meaning:

privateer (n.) Look up privateer at
1660s, "private man of war," from private (adj.), probably on model of volunteer, buccaneer.

Lakoff's revival from wikipedia:

"From a blend of privatization +‎ profiteer. Coined by George Lakoff in his book, The Political Mind. It describes a widespread and corrupt practice that has not previously had a name and, being nameless, has not been publicly aired or even notices as a single practice. The word previously existed with a related meaning, but has mostly gone out of use."

Lakoff is brilliant, but he didn't invent the word. He revived it. To be precise it originally meant a person, ship or company with a license to do private warfare. However, this older meaning, is what privateering was from the beginning -- private - warfare/ private government. For most of the same thing they were the same thing. Filibustering and freebooting were also privatized warfare, fought with private armies. And all these were privatizations of warfare originally. Privateers were pirates who had permission to steal (take prizes) from an enemy fleet of merchant ships. Privatized warfare (privateering) was once the only kind of warfare, so the only difference between a pirate and a privateer was whether the sponsoring government was considered legitimate by the victims. So Lakoff's revival of the term is consistent with it's etymology.

This becomes even more clear when one realizes that the predatory activities of early private pirate companies like the East India Company involved privateering of government functions. When Thomas Roe reached the court of the Moghul Emperor, the way that he and his successors were able to manage to loot most of India, involved convincing the Moghuls to give away privileges to the East India company, including formerly government functions. The term for that could be called "privatization" -- but the general term is privateering. [see Origins of the East India Company]

This post is part of a series. I'll update it with more information as I get it. Privateers are pirates. The main difference is that most pirate ships were completely outlaws from the Point of View of Official aristocracy. They had to share the loot fairly with the crew. Privateers get a letter from government that says that their looting is perfectly legal. So the only pirates privateers have to share loot with -- are fellow privateers. Lakoff didn't invent a new word. He revived the meaning of one that had been eclipsed by other euphemisms.

An examination of the connection between land pirates and aristocracy; and between sea pirates (Sea Dogs) and modern Corporations quickly confirms the diagnosis. We are fighting piracy. Okay, it may be all "legal like" -- but the rules are the same as any other mafia. "It's just business." AND We made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

Bad Business AND BAD Government = Privateering. Indeed, I believe that privateers and privateering are barely legalized rent seeking, grifting, theft; in other words barely legal piracy.

More on Pirates and Privateering
The Pirates Dilemma
Some references and further readings on Lakoff:

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and of Mideast Peace

I remember when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. He was one of my heroes. He was assassinated by one of his own people. It was an amazing thing to observe and it occured even as he was trying to negotiate a peace treaty the the Palestinians. Turns out we have more to fear from our own than outside terrorists. Or rather we have more to fear from fear itself.

The New Yorker has this article on the subject:

Books OCTOBER 26, 2015 ISSUE, Shot in the Heart When Yitzhak Rabin was killed, did the prospects for peace perish, too? BY DEXTER FILKINS []

The Author notes that that assassination was one of the most effective coups in modern history:

"Two years earlier, Rabin, setting aside a lifetime of enmity, appeared on the White House lawn with Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a former terrorist, to agree to a framework for limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories; the next year, somewhat less painfully, he returned to the White House, with Jordan’s King Hussein, to officially end a forty-six-year state of war. Within months of Rabin’s death, Benjamin Netanyahu was the new Prime Minister and the prospects for a wider-ranging peace in the Middle East, which had seemed in Rabin’s grasp, were dead, too. Twenty years later, Netanyahu is into his fourth term, and the kind of peace that Rabin envisaged seems more distant than ever."

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Holocaust Sacrifice

This was a man whose life was cut short
Disappeared for no crime
Punished by a lawless court
Where the torturer was judge, jury and executioner
And there are no appeals.
The motto was;
"You must have done something."
He was offered as a sacrifice to Wall Street Baalim;
A burnt offering to the false gods of commerce
While the world looked the other way
And sad dancers danced a tango.

Christopher H. Holte, 12/4/2015


From Raquel:

Daniel Horacio Partnoy, nuestro hijo
4 diciembre1957/ 8 agosto1983
Cómo olvidar, cómo perdonar
"La meta del terrorismo de estado durante la dictadura militar no sólo fue eliminar la vida de los jóvenes más brillantes de esa generación y de personalidades destacadas sino también causar un daño emocional, psíquico y social a sus familiares. My hijo Daniel fue una víctima más de aquel tremendo horror. Hoy diciembre 4 sería su cumpleaños."

She writes (translation):

"Daniel Horacio Partnoy, our son December 4, 1957 / August 8, 1983 How can we forget, how to forgive.
The goal of state terrorism during the military dictatorship was not only to eliminate the life of the brightest young people of this generation and outstanding personalities but also to cause emotional, psychological and social harm to their families. My son Daniel was a victim of that terrible horror. Today would be his birthday December 4th."

For more:, she has some wonderful, if sad art.

And my poem in Spanish:

Este era un hombre cuya vida era puesto fin
Desaparecidos de ningún delito
Castigado por un tribunal sin ley
Cuando el torturador era juez, jurado y verdugo
Y no hay apelaciones.
El lema era;
"Usted debe haber hecho algo."
Se le ofreció como sacrificio a Wall Street Baales;
Un holocausto a los dioses falsos de comercio
Mientras que el mundo miró hacia otro lado
Y bailarines tristes bailaron un tango.

Rotten Boroughs, Poor laws

Mankind has always done better collectively, when worker and employer, city and countryside, rich and poor, looked out for each other. When John Locke used the word "commonwealth as a translation of "civitas" [see Commonwealth according to locke], he was creating a terminology for a world where "e pluribus unum" [Out of many Unity] could be reality. This concept of commonwealth predates Christianity, and the notion that one should protect those who can't help themselves is more Christian than not. One can think of Queen Elizabeth as expressing a progressive mood in England.

British Poor laws date to 1601:

"In 1601, England was experiencing a severe economic depression, with large scale unemployment and widespread famine. Queen Elizabeth proclaimed a set of laws designed to maintain order and contribute to the general good of the kingdom: the English Poor Laws. These laws remained in force for more than 250 years with only minor changes." [SocialHistory]
"Essentially, the laws distinguished three major categories of dependents:
  1. the vagrant,
  2. the involuntary unemployed, and
  3. the helpless."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Paul Simon Tells us how to win elections

The problem is all inside your head
She said to me
The answer is easy if you
Take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle
To be free
There must be fifty ways
To win an election
You Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
Call all your friends, Sen
You don't need to discuss much
Just chop off the RW BS, Lee!
Tell them to serve US, or else!
And get yourself free
She said it's really not my habit
To intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning
Won't be lost or misconstrued
But I'll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To beat the cons
She said "it grieves me to see you in such pain;
Let me explain to you how we can win elections again;
You don't need to be someone else or even a jerk.
You can do it, but it takes a lot of work
So I'll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To beat the cons
She said we all have problems with Politicians who are jerks,
and their bad decisions are what it is that really hurts.
But you don't have to vote for them!
You don't have to vote for them at all!
So I'll remind you at the risk of being crude:
There must be Fifty ways to beat the cons!