Monday, September 12, 2016

Watching History Replay

Today being the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there are memorial documentaries all over TV.  There are also a few appeals on the Internet for personal reminiscences: where were you, and what were you doing when it happened, and how did it affect your life afterward?  So, here's my account -- with added thoughts.

It was early morning here in Arizona, and I was asleep in bed with one of my lovers when his housemate slammed the door open, ran in, and yelled: "Wake up!  Wake up!  Arab terrorists have crashed a jetliner into the World Trade Center!" -- and then ran out again, back to the TV news.

We woke up fast, took all that in, and the first words out of my mouth were: "This means war."

As we crawled out of bed and felt around for anything to wear, my lover asked why I had said that, and I explained.  History is my hobby, and I'd been noticing for a long time the parallels -- and differences -- between the political/economic situation today and in the years just before World War Two.  We'd had an economic "recession" for years that left large numbers of people unemployed or underemployed, much like the Depression.  We'd seen the rise of a passionate fascist movement overseas, using Jews and the western nations for scapegoats, often using the exact same propaganda -- which it spread with great volume and efficiency, through large numbers of agents and immigrants, around the world.  We'd seen the other countries of the world squabbling with each other, accepting easy bribes and easy excuses to ignore their danger, as the fascist regimes began flexing their muscle with scattered but growing attacks, demands, takeovers of minor countries and outright war with others who were our allies, until finally the fascists were ready to attack us directly.

9/11 was the replay version of Pearl Harbor.

As we watched the news for the next several hours, I saw the differences between then and now.   For one thing, the current fascist enemy is decentralized, not the product of or contained by any one country (or two, or three) and its official government, but spread unevenly across several countries and semi-independent of their governments.  This new fascism is rooted in fundamentalist religion rather than racism or nationalism, and uses laws enforcing religious tolerance to cover and excuse its actions, a religious tolerance which of course it does not extend to any other religions in territories which it controls.  It also has the advantage of controlling territory which contains a valuable resource, which it uses to bribe other countries' governments into complacency or compliance.  

The attacks on the WTC were intended to cripple our economy, the one on the Pentagon was meant to destroy our military command-center, and Flight 93 had pretty obviously been aimed at either the Capitol building or the White House and meant to paralyze our government.  All of them had failed in different ways;  Flight 93 was brought down by heroic passengers,  the Pentagon was much more fortified than the attackers had expected, and the WTC was not the control center of our economy.  Our economy is much more decentralized than the fascists had expected, and that expectation reveals something about them and their societies.  This attack had succeeded in arousing fury and determination without doing any damage to the US's ability to wage war.

If the US had declared war then against the heart of the enemy, instead of just a minor satellite, the whole regime would be gone by now.  Instead, the US and its allies took up a limited, vague, inconclusive war which allowed the fascist regime time to regroup, refine its tactics, gain more territory and spread hundreds of thousands of its agents into the countries which could otherwise oppose it.  This means that the "allies" have lost the advantage they had 15 years ago.  The real war, when it comes, will be as bad as WWII.

--Leslie <;)))><     


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Election Follow-Up

Well, here's the report on the local (very local) election here in Buckeye, at least what I saw of it.  First, the local guy from the county election board drove by at 0-dark-30 and picked me up, and drove me and a couple of other volunteers to the nearby high-school gym, where we set up in the front hall.  There was a line of rickety little collapsible tables, shrouded with cardboard privacy screens and supplied with pens, two of them set low to accommodate any voter who rolled in on a wheelchair.  There were locked boxes for taking in the mail-in ballots that other voters might walk in by themselves, and about half the voters did just that little thing.  There were several ballots laid out on the long gym-tables: Republican (with red tabs), Democrat (blue tabs), Libertarian (purple), and Green (green, of course), plus ballots -- and separate tabulating machines -- for folks who lived in the city proper and those living (like me) out in the county.  Finally, there were ballots for voters who had registered "independent" or "no preference", but who could vote in the primary elections for every party except the Libertarians, who have "closed" primaries in this state -- to keep anxious Republicans from sneaking into Libertarian primary elections and taking them over. 

This is a serious concern, since Republicans in the state legislature have pulled various tricks trying to throw the LP off the ballot.  Most recently, they passed a law requiring LP candidates to collect 20 times as many signatures to be put on the official ballot, while reducing the number of signatures for Republican candidates.  The LP replied by sending out two different mailings to its registered members, revealing the trick, listing its own candidates, and telling voters to write them in.  This is pretty clear evidence that the Big Two parties -- particularly the GOP -- are worried about the growth of third parties, especially the Libertarians.

So there we were by the dawn's early light, most of us retired folks with free time for this, laying out ballots and checking the machines, referring constantly to the elections manual (we had about four copies between the ten of us), and setting up the coffee machine and snacks for the staff.  As the juniormost of the lot, I got the job of observing the voters as they put their ballots into the county-residents machnines -- and afterward handing them their "I Voted" stickers.  It was a wonderfully simple job, except for the fact that I'd somehow put my back out of line while running for the transport car, and the plastic chairs we had were godawfully painful.  My job had the label of "elections clerk", which sounds a lot more impressive than it really was.  There were also "elections judges" who checked the voters' registrations, and a roaming "elections inspector" who wandered between our polling-spot and two others in town, checking to see how we were getting along.  Some of the older voters, who'd done this countless times, knew all the older staff and had thought to bring cookies.  The whole scene had a jolly party atmosphere, where we gossiped and munched snacks and talked about anything except -- by common consent -- politics.

'Twas all great fun, except for my sore back, and I promised that when I did this next time I'd bring a back-brace, my own seat-cushion, and a good book for the long slow stretches between waves of voters.  Predictably, we got the waves during lunch-hour and just after quitting-time.

Having been following the story of the Diebolt vote-tabulating machines and how easy they are to hack, I took care to note the name of the machine where I was assigned: "Sequoia Voting Systems -- Optech Insight".  I haven't been able to link that name to any of the incarnations of Diebolt, and would be grateful for any information on it.

Not that I think any election hacker would have had much to work on with that machines.  I kept watch on the ballot counter, and the total number of county-resident ballots that were put into that machine were... 7.  Yep.  7 votes.  There were a whole 42 ballots put into the city machines, another dozen mail-in ballots handed in, and of course nobody knew how many mail-in ballots had been actually mailed in beforehand.  Hey, this is a small town!  The county elections guy promised that we'll get "the really big" numbers in November, but seeing what the total population of the Old Town district is, not to mention the popularity of those mail-in ballots, I somehow don't think anybody will be standing in long lines.     

Monday, August 22, 2016

Don't Laugh!

Is there anybody out there who doesn't know that I'm a lifelong ideological Anarchist?  Okay, so try hard not to giggle when you hear what I'll be doing next week on election day. 

I'm going to be a local poll-watcher.  No kidding.

Why?  Well, the simplest answer is: money.  I lost a lot of trees this past summer, and the county pays $140 for a day of poll-watching, and every little bit helps. 

More to the point, though, I'd like to see the elections business from the inside, for once.  This is a small town, the polling-place is the local high school, and the process should be pretty simple.  The gang of us will have to show up the previous day, after school, for a three-hour training course -- and I'll definitely take notes.  I particularly want to get a good look at the tabulating machines.  If I see the word "Dieboldt" anywhere, you can bet that I'll raise a stink.

If the ballots will be counted by hand, I'll keep an even closer watch.  Back in Chicago I saw plenty of ingenious ways to disqualify ballots, and I'll be looking for them. 

Most especially, I want to see how many 3rd-party votes show up.  The number of voters registered Libertarian, and Green, in Arizona is one of the better-kept political secrets in the state.  It'll be fun to see the local media try to ignore the actual poll results, especially this year, when everybody is so disgusted with the Big Two.  The mainstream-media have been squawking merrily about Democrats refusing to endorse Hillary and Republicans refusing to endorse Trump;  what will they do when double-digit percentages of voters refuse to endorse either of them?  *Snicker*  Anyone who thinks that Arizona is a "red state" doesn't live here.

The only thing that could be more fun on election day would be poll-watching down in the border counties, where I could see how the Navajo votes goes.

--Leslie <;)))><   

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Fix Is In

Rasty has been watching the political commentaries almost non-stop for the past couple weeks, chortling over the anti-Trump jokes.  He's seriously worried that Trump will be elected, on the grounds that the average voter has the IQ of a fence-post.  In vain do I keep telling him not to worry, Trump won't be elected;  the Democratic National Committee has been planning this gambit for years, the fix is in, the election is rigged, and Hillary will be our next POTUS.  How do I know?  Hey, I lived for 12 years in Chicago, dealing with local and grassroots politics, and I know for a fact that Democrats are much better at stealing elections than Republicans are.  Republicans tend to cheat on elections by cutting people off the voting rolls and "losing" ballots, while Democrats cheat by inflating the voting rolls and stuffing ballot boxes.  I was registered to vote in Chicago, and I'm probably still voting there.  Yeah, Hillary's going to get it.

For you political naifs out there who wonder why this will be a disaster, I recommend that you go up on the Internet and carefully search Hillary's real political history, not just what her flaks advertize.  She has a very long history of lying like a rug, lying when she doesn't have to, lying about matters large and small.  She also has a record of chasing political power by means open and covert, and trimming her political policies to get it;  what she's for one year she's against the next, so long as it's politically popular, and none dare call it flip-flopping.  Her record on real support of women's issues varies from spotty to downright nasty, and far from being "the people's candidate", she's disturbingly cozy with crony capitalism;  where do you think she (and Bill) get those hundred-thousand-dollar "speaking fees"?  But above all, she has constantly shown a tendency to ignore, evade, and end-run the Constitution.  Yes, a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe, but Hillary will do her best to be a disaster.

So what can we do in the face of this oncoming train-wreck?

Well, we can vote for anything but Democrats for congressional offices: not necessarily Republicans, but Libertarians, Independents, and Greens -- they're all on the ballot this year.  Getting a mixed non-Democrat Congress will put the brakes on Hillary's tendency to wipe her butt with the Constitution without guaranteeing Republican deadlocks.  And let's hear no knee-jerk squall about "wasting your vote";  the Libertarians and even Greens have shown remarkable increases in the polls as more voters become disgusted with the Democrat and Republican candidates.  Breaking the long media policy of blacking out any mention of the third parties, CNN a few days ago gave the Libertarian candidates an open hearing on its Town Hall program.  Johnson and Wells made an excellent showing, answering questions from both the MC and the audience with a marvelous sane clarity that won them a standing ovation.  I suspect the Libertarians' percentage in the polls went up as a result, because the mainstream media carefully avoided mentioning them -- or their appearance on the program, or the current standing of the Libertarian Party, the next morning.  And the Greens have been showing political ads all over the major networks.  So have independent candidates for offices from senator on down.  The old media wall of silence is crumbling, and voter predictability with it.

More to the point, if any of those third-parties can get 15% in the opinion polls, they can get into the televised presidential debates.  In the debates, the Libertarians are likely to show themselves as a beacon of shining sanity, honesty, and responsibility in a sea of politics-as-usual   In that case, they just might collect enough of the final vote to give us that desperately-needed anything-but-Democrat Congress.

Cross your fingers -- and vote Libertarian.

--Leslie <;)))><         

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Shameless Plug/Review -- "Eyes of the Setting Sun"

For the past few years I've been making a little extra money doing online editing, so I wasn't surprised when an old Chicago buddy -- Chris Madsen -- asked me to beta-read/edit his SciFi novel for him.  Now in all the years I've known him, more than 30 by now, he's always been a professional systems analyst, computer programmer, technical writer, and rabid SciFi fan, so I expected to find computer references in his book.  Well, that's like saying you expect to find a firecracker or two at the New York City 4th of July celebration.  Every scene, and sometimes sections of scenes, are headed by programming instructions that clarify the plot.  I've heard that programmers who pick up this book find that they can't put it down.  What's more, the main character -- surely the strangest heroine in all of Science Fiction, and that's saying a lot -- has her brain interfaced with a computer;  she refers to it, commands it, argues with it, and searches it for hidden revelations as the plot develops, and every cybernetic conversation has the solid ring of authenticity.

Half the fun of following the plot is that it zigs and zags between past and present, building a surrealistic mosaic with a clear programming guide. And all this is against the background of a dystopian future that the heroine is trying to repair with various unlikely allies and all-too-likely enemies.  Eyes of the Setting Sun is a wide-ranging, slow-building, SciFi techno-thriller with some startlingly original scenes and concepts, not to mention characters.  It's a damned good novel for a first-time author, which is why I'm shamelessly breaking the rules to tout a book that I've personally worked on.  So I'll say no more, except go to, look up Eyes of the Setting Sun and read the excerpt.  Even non-nerds will love it.

--Leslie <;)))><  


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Downspiral: The Steady Corruption of Black Lives Matter

The assassin who ambushed and killed 5 cops in Dallas, Texas, claimed he was avenging Black men killed in Minnesota and Louisiana.  'Tis pity that nobody had time to tell him: "You idiot, you shot the wrong cops!"  Then again, it's unlikely he would have cared;  any White cops would have served.  The Baton Rouge cop-killer was a Black Muslim, and clearly he wouldn't have cared either.  Now everyone in America is aware of the problem of over-militarized -- and sometimes doped-up, on speed or steroids -- cops attacking, beating, and killing unarmed or otherwise helpless civilians;  for some reason, most people aren't aware that it isn't just Blacks who become victims.  Vicious cops have shown themselves quite willing to attack, beat, and kill White, Latino, Asian and Indian civilians.  Google "Kelly Thomas" and see a rather graphic video on YouTube of a retarded young White man being beaten to death by a small horde of disgustingly eager cops -- also White.  So when did this stop being a police-brutality problem and become a racism problem?

That can be laid entirely at the feet of the organization called Black Lives Matter.  Formed after the Ferguson, Missouri mess, BLM made a point of denouncing -- as "racist", of course -- anyone who tried to claim that all lives matter, and police brutality is more than a Black problem.  Now why would they do that?  Well, first they made the reasonable demand that cities with large Black populations should hire more Black cops and have them patrol the Black neighborhoods.  Then the demands got wider, and further out: universal employment, Black History taught in all schools, an end to US involvement in the middle-east, and -- after blocking traffic in a major city -- dissolution of the entire police department.  Most recently, one of their spokeswomen demanded reparations for the years of slavery: "Open your checkbooks and hand over your car keys".  The unspoken corollary is: "We'll disrupt your city if you don't give us what we want."  In other words, within a year of its inception, BLM became a Black extortion ring. 

And now they've upped the ante.  After over a year of BLM's bombast, Black extremists have taken to ambushing and killing random cops.  The perpetrators were killed in the resulting shootouts, so never had time to say they were inspired by Black Lives Matter, but they'd certainly seen and heard BLM's propaganda.  BLM's response has been rather mixed: a few standard statements about how they never said to go around killing cops and they didn't personally deal with these nuts, the usual shifting of blame to Police Racism, and so on.  They haven't been notable for exhorting their audiences not to kill cops.  The implication is pretty clear. 

So is BLM's obvious and rampant stupidity.  People at large are beginning to notice that BLM is deliberately fanning racism for fun and... profit.  Already there are grumbles to have Black Lives Matter legally declared a domestic terrorist organization, and of course those embattled police departments across the country are willing to comply.  Though BLM has no formal connection with the Black Muslim organization, their parallel rhetoric puts them in the same political camp.  Given the number of recent Jihadist attacks, in the US and elsewhere, the next step is an easy connection to make.  If BLM had wanted to call down the police -- and not just local -- on their heads, they couldn't have done a better job. 

In these days of lightning-fast mass communications, we've seen other political groups -- the Tea Party comes to mind -- corrupted with amazing speed, but Black Lives Matter didn't start that clean to begin with.  The Black Muslim movement in America has been around for half a century, and though it has kept a low profile in recent years, it's an obvious target for Jihadist recruiters.  It wouldn't be hard for the various agencies of Homeland Security to find evidence for connections, and BLM will be toast.  After that, like drug cartels in the Latino slums, they'll be heroes only to the gang-banger crowd.   

Did anyone in Black Lives Matter foresee this before it started peddling Black racism for fun and profit?

--Leslie <;)))><  


Monday, July 11, 2016

Historical Essay Contest!

Well, for the second week in a row I'm posting somebody else's message, but I think this one is worth it too.  Here are the particulars:

Pro-RKBA group The Zelman Partisans is holding an essay contest. The
prize is an Israeli rebarreled Mauser,formerly Nazi-era German.


Win This Historic Israeli Freedom Tool

Enter and tell us why you’d like to own this beautiful, rare, and
historic Mauser Karabiner 98.

This rifle was born in 1940 in the factories of Nazi Germany. It was a
tool of hatred and oppression. But eventually one of those particularly
Jewish miracles possessed it.

Sometime later in that decade, after Hitler’s evil was crushed, this
rifle and others like it found their way to the hands of Jewish
liberators in Palestine. The Jews of America and Britain paid to
purchase the guns and smuggle them to their brothers and sisters in the
Middle East, defying a British embargo. Most of the Mausers that found
their covert way to Israel were Czechoslovakian. This rifle is one of
the rare few remaining that were made for Hitler and transformed by Jews.


I have no fiduciary interest.

The sheer amount of history tied up in this gun is amazing.  Please do search it on the Internet.