Sunday, September 10, 2017

SENSE AND IMMIGRATION



I've said this before, and it seems that I have to say it again, because so many supposedly-educated people insist on believing that ideals are more real than facts.



These are facts: the United States today has the third largest population in the world, and overpopulation is not a good thing.  The country with the largest population on Earth, of course, is China – with one and a half billion people.  The second largest is India, with one and a third billion.  Both those countries are desperately trying to cut their populations down, using methods that wouldn’t be tolerated in the US, and their human rights standing is a growing embarrassment.  The US trails them with a mere 325 million, but even so, our physical, social, political and economic resources are straining at the seams.  The last thing we need is immigration.  If anything, we should revive the use of Exile as a legal punishment. 

I can predict the usual reactions to any such statement, and when you look at them, none of them are reasonable.  First, America is not just “a nation of immigrants”, as any “Native American” can tell you.  (Isn’t it ironic how people who sneer at “Nativism” claim to love the “Natives”, but won’t learn from them?)  Other things the Indians could tell you are that open borders and unchecked immigration are not good ideas, and no, you cannot trust the government.  Second, no, a constantly growing population is not required for an “expanding economy”;  growing technology and innovation are.  Third, and most important, not everybody who wants to come here wants to be like us.  The difference between immigrants and invaders is how much they’re willing to assimilate and how much they simply want to conquer us and take everything we have. All humans may be born equal, but all cultures are not.  And yes, there are whole cultures in the world who believe it’s their duty to be invaders, and conquer the world.  I’ll name no names, but you can tell who the invaders are by peculiarities of their culture;  among other things, they believe it’s their duty to use all women as breeding machines and to outbreed their neighbors.  These are people whom we absolutely do not need, and should not take in, no matter how good their excuses. 

Right now there’s a great wailing about the “Dreamers”— children brought into the US illegally by their parents and allowed to stay under the DACA act, who have grown up in the US and know little to nothing of any other country – close to a million of them.  Surely these kids (many of them no longer minors) are assimilated Americans, aren’t they? 

No, as a matter of fact, there’s no guarantee right now that they are.  But there is a way to be sure;  revive the old law which allowed foreigners of any status to join the US military and, if they served a minimum tour and earned an honorable discharge, to gain citizenship with their discharge.  Anyone who wants US citizenship enough to risk life and limb to gain it pretty clearly deserves it.  Also, US veterans who have been denied citizenship for any reason short of committing felonies or not completing their tours must be lawfully reinstated no matter how they started out.  That should take care of the “Dreamer” problem.

But continuing the usual business of letting illegal immigrants stay has got to stop, and there’s really just one way to do it. 

Congress must declare a ten-year moratorium on all immigration, period.  And order the border patrol, INS, and all related agencies to concentrate their efforts on letting nobody across the border except legal tourists and wild animals.  Yes, use the drones, and yes, build The Wall.  As for all those “asylum seekers” and “compassionate” cases, the US government can pay for compassionate plane-tickets to any compassionate country that’s willing to take them – and their relatives too.  But they can’t come here.  We simply can’t afford this invasion anymore.


--Leslie <;)))><      

Sunday, September 3, 2017

POLITICAL THEATRE, CHARLOTTESVILLE: TRIUMPH OF THE SWILL




On August 13th, when President Trump had announced a press conference in advance, a  long-planned demonstration – protest and counter-protest – in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in a vehicular attack that left one woman dead and 19 people injured,  the TV news (MSNBC, CNN) reported.  They also showed video footage of the attack itself, and a few very brief (less than 2 seconds apiece) video shots of the protesters and counter-protesters – too brief to identify anyone or read any of the signs clearly, but enough to show a large police presence: local, county, and state.  Later the TV news reported that a helicopter holding two state troopers, who had been observing the protesters, had crashed not far from the demonstration, killing both of them.

Those were the facts, and exactly all the facts, reported on the news, TV or otherwise.  Everything else was speculation, exaggeration, errors (at best), and political rants aimed at Trump – for hours. 

When Trump opened his press conference, he was obliged to make a speech about the tragedy, in which he condemned “violence..on many, many sides”, and called for unity and public civility before he got on with the good news: his two bills passed that would reform the VA health system and provide better healthcare for veterans.  The Democrat politicians and media promptly howled that in daring to claim that the protesters – “Unite the Right” – were “morally equivalent” to the counter-protesters – primarily Black Lives Matter and Antifa – Trump had proved that he and his supporters are all “white supremacists”, and therefore Nazis.  This is an odd claim, seeing that for the previous several weeks they’ve been denouncing Jared Kushner, Trump’s smart Jewish son-in-law and chief tactician. 

Annoyed by the illogic, and the runaway speculation based on very few facts, I spent most of the week searching the net and querying on Facebook for anybody who had more verifiable information.  Besides collecting a lot of amazing scolds for daring to demand facts, verification, analysis and logic, I eventually got answers from people who had seen, if not the incident itself, a lot of the background leading up to it.

The beginning of the story is the recent demand by the NAACP that all the Confederate monuments in the southern states be taken down.  Why?  Because the very sight of them is “offensive”, “oppressive”, “reminders of slavery”, “symbols of white supremacy”, and supposedly inspired a white bigot to murder nine churchgoers in 2015.  As to why these old monuments hadn’t been offensive/oppressive/murder-inspiring before Trump was elected – or often for the century and more before that – nobody seemed to have an answer.  For that matter, nobody seems to have thought of a more artful – and less expensive – solution: put up more statues, of Union soldiers, famous Abolitionists, famous Black heroes like Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Nat Turner, and so on. Such a dialog in art would only have benefited everybody, but today’s political organizers don’t seem to be interested in dialog, or debate. 

The real reason for this campaign is that the NAACP felt obliged to rein in BLM, because BLM’s excesses were turning public opinion against Black activism in general.  To assert its authority, the NAACP had to flex its muscles before the BLM crowd by taking up a showy political campaign – and attacking Confederate monuments fit the bill.

But anyway, when the NAACP set its sights on the Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson memorial statues in Charlottesville, the city council complained.  For one thing, those statues, and the park they stood in, had been constructed in 1929 by a wealthy philanthropist, who had also commissioned a children’s park in a poor Black neighborhood, which included a memorial statue of Booker T. Washington.  For another, removing the statues would cost the city $700,000 – more than enough to create a children’s park in a poor Black neighborhood.  Hopefully the cost could be offset by selling the statues, but raising the money and making the sales would take time.  The city asked for six months.  The NAACP grumbled.

Enter a collection of anti-Trump investors.  Who?  Well, they were obviously very discreet about their identities, but from the results of their planning we can tell that they hated Trump, had the money to pull off a caper of this size, and were either very good at political manipulation techniques or could hire the services of those who are.  This narrows the field of suspects considerably.  The name Soros comes to mind.  So do Ayers and Dohrn.

Actually, this bunch may have been active for quite a long time.  Racism, despite its personal appeal, has been steadily dying in America since World War Two.  Anyone who was there couldn’t help but be impressed by the heroic performance of the Tuskeegee Airmen, the 222nd, the Red-Ball Express, the Code-Talkers, and so on.  Likewise, all the world saw that Nazis were world-class losers;  they started the worst war in history – and lost.  Outside of the Arab countries, racism in general and Naziism in particular grew increasingly unpopular.  This is why the landmark case, “Brown vs. Board of Education”, could reach the Supreme Court, let alone pass, less than 10 years after the war ended.

So, racism was rapidly dying in America.  By the 1980s, the total membership of the once-mighty Ku Klux Klan was so reduced that it couldn’t come up with a salary for its last Imperial Wizard, David Duke.  He was reduced to selling his services as a political Judas Goat, and most of his income came covertly from the blatantly Marxist Southern Poverty Law Center.  According to FBI statistics, the only places where racism still flourished were inside prisons and in Black, Latino, and Asian slums.  Outside of prisons, even long-announced nation-wide conventions of white supremacists – KKK, neo-Nazi, or even Richard Spencer’s “alt-right” – drew crowds of little more than 100 attendees.

Yet racism as a political tool – the “stick” in a stick-and-carrot game – was too useful to be allowed to die.  Certain cynical/mercenary organizations, from political parties to real-estate companies, made a point of fanning the flames for their own gain.  Google-search the term “blockbusting”, and consider the career of the famous Rev. Wright, and particularly the SPLC.

I saw a case of blockbusting when I was young, and to anybody with any grassroots political – or theatrical – experience, the tactic was obvious.  A Black supposed-family had bought a single house in a formerly-White working-class neighborhood, and within a week the “street theatre” had started;  torn and dirty curtains framed the windows, trash and broken bicycles filled the front yard where a large and loud and ugly dog was chained, a fat and slovenly-looking Black woman leaned out a window and yelled “Leroy!  Leeeeeeroy!” constantly, a radio at another window played R&B music at ear-splitting volume all day and much of the night, a skinny Black man sprawled all day in a ragged armchair on the front porch with a bottle of booze in his hand, and a half-dozen young Black men gathered around a half-disassembled trashy car in the driveway – supposedly repairing it, but more likely trashing it further, while swearing merrily in obviously ghetto-punk accents. 

What I did was stroll up to one of the supposed mechanics and whisper to him: “You’re over-acting.  Tone it down or everybody will catch on.”  He indignantly replied, likewise in a whisper: “No way!  These dumb honkies will believe anything.”  I shrugged and walked on – down to my college campus, where I reported the incident not to the police but to the local chapter of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (remember that one?).  I later heard that some impressive-looking Black men in suits, with big briefcases, came to have a talk with the acting troupe about the unwisdom of promoting racial stereotypes.  In any case, by the next day the trashed car, the garbage, the dog, the torn curtains and the loud actors were gone.  The house stayed quiet for a week, and then a respectable Black couple with a little daughter moved in.  They behaved like any other family in the neighborhood, and there was no further trouble. 

That was my introduction to political theater, and I remembered it well.  After that, I and my assorted radical buddies kept an eye out for indications of manufactured racism and political provocateering.  We couldn’t help noticing, as end-of-century approached, that even as we saw racism die out among the common folk and common culture, there were more alarms and reports of “growing right-wing fanaticism” and “increasing racism” among the intelligentsia – usually emanating from the SPLC.  That was when I learned to research actual crime figures from the FBI – and noticed the varying political biases of different government bureaucracies.  I worked for a state Welfare department for awhile, and saw it myself (among other corruptions, which I wound up writing a song about).

In any case, there was a well-entrenched political/economic cabal waiting in the wings to exploit the Charlottesville problem.  I suspect them of having founded BLM (for Blacks only), and then Antifa (for everybody else), based on their experience with blockbusting.  Certainly they were responsible for inflating the “alt-right” out of nothing, for they used the same CoIntelPro trick that we saw the FBI use, decades ago, to cripple the Feminist movement (research Andrea Dworkin, and her ultimate effect on the National Organization of Women).  Richard Spencer had called for a nation-wide “white nationalist” convention a few weeks before, and despite the free advertising the media gave him, actual videos of his convention show that it drew fewer than 125 attendees – and a visible number of those were obviously provocateurs. 

When it came to actually organizing the protest rally in Charlottesville, Spencer was pushed aside and an experienced organizer named Jason Stossel took over.  It’s most intriguing that Stossel became the manager of this whole campaign, seeing that until last year, when he dropped out of public sight, Stossel had been a big wheel in the Occupy movement.  ‘Twas he who applied for the permits, and – when the city council refused – brought in the ACLU to get him the permit on grounds of “freedom of speech” – much as they had 30 years earlier for a proposed Nazi rally in Skokie, Illinois, and actual rally in Chicago – which turned into a marvelous political comedy (long story).  On losing its case to the ACLU, the city govt. of Charlottesville agreed to grant the permit – which had promised all of 500 “alt-right” marchers – but grimly warned Stossel and his crew that the city could not guarantee their safety.  This is an odd notation, seeing how many police – local, county and state – the city began calling up for the targeted day. 

And now things become a bit strange.  Witnesses in Charlottesville, including a Black blogger, reported seeing at least 6 charter-buses come rolling into town and unload passengers toting duffelbags who were wearing yellow T-shirts with black letters on the front reading either “BLM” or “KKK” – passengers on the same buses.  That would have made 300 passengers total. And on getting off the buses, they scattered off to two different staging-grounds for the two different kinds of protesters.  There is no public record that the local police observed any of this, or kept track of where the protesters were staging, yet it’s hard to believe that they didn’t know.  Oddly enough, just a few days before this, notices began showing up on various social media reminding people of CoIntelPro activities the police had pulled off years before, and warning how to tell provocateurs among protest marches.

According to civilian residents in Charlottesville, the day of the torchlight parade, gangs of “Nazis” capered showily around the city, wearing military flak-jackets and big swastikas, carrying Nazi flags and “assault rifles”, yelling racist epithets and insults.  One bunch of them reportedly scampered into a Black neighborhood, until the neighbors went into their houses and came out with shotguns, whereupon the scary Nazis promptly made themselves scarce.  It would be hard to find more blatant provocation. 

That night the “alt-right” protesters held their long-planned torchlight parade in the park.  Apparently the police had talked to them earlier, because this time they showed up in plain casual clothes, with no flags or “assault rifles”, signs or swastikas – only tiki torches.  (Technical point:  if you’ve ever done any camping, picket-line marching or vigils after dark, you know that the tiki-torch is the worst open-flame lighting you can use if you’re going to be moving at all;  it’s fragile, poorly balanced, and likely to spill.)  Whoever decided to buy tiki-torches for the event was ill-experienced at torchlight parades, but – as the extensive videos of the march show – very experienced and skillful at managing picket-lines.  For one thing, the crowd was spread thinly into a circle around the park so as to make its numbers look bigger;  at first glance one might think there were a thousand marchers, but the police estimated not more than 200. 

For another, close observation of the march videos soon reveals three distinct kinds of protesters.  Most obvious are the picket-captains, no more than one-tenth of the crowd, the ones constantly scanning the area and leading the chants.  The second group, making up at least half the marchers, are notable for their demeanor;  they march with the quiet economy of athletes, or soldiers, or people who have walked on a lot of  picket-lines.  They keep a regular watch on the picket-captains, and they pick up almost instantly on changes in the chants – as if they had learned the chants beforehand, and recognized their lines.  Finally there’s the third group, maybe 100 of them, who act enthusiastic, loud, undisciplined and clueless.  These are the ones who break ranks to run up and shout at passers-by, then dash back into the march when any of those passers-by look threatening, wave their tiki-torches around sloppily, burst out with slogans of their own, and take awhile to hear and repeat the chants – and often repeat them wrong.

Pay special attention to two particular chants: “Blood and soil” and “The Jews shall not replace us”.  What do those slogans have to do with old statues of Confederate generals?  Not a thing.  Those slogans were used at Nazi Party political rallies in Germany, leading up to the 1933 elections – and never again afterward.  It would have taken a lot of detailed historical research to discover that, and precisely all those chants are good for is to brand their shouters as Nazis.  What possible political purpose would that serve?

Now, note how those obscure slogans are used by the marchers.  First the picket-captains fall silent, and the second group – call them the trained troops -- quickly follow suit, while the clueless third group keeps chanting until they hear the slogan change.  The picket-captains start chanting, clearly: “The Jews shall not replace us”.   Then, within a few seconds, the trained troops pick up the chant almost accurately, at most cutting it down to: “Jews shall not replace us”.  Eventually the clueless take up the new chant, but – clearly being ignorant of the original and its meaning – repeat what it sounds like to them, which is “You will not replace us”.

The conclusion is hard to avoid.  More than half of that supposedly White Supremacist crowd was made up of trained, experienced professionals – possibly the half of the crowd brought in on those buses who wore KKK T-shirts.  The real “alt-right” marchers, maybe 100 of them including Richard Spencer himself, were not running the show and almost certainly had no idea what was really going on. 

Now let’s look at the real rally in the park the next afternoon.  First, news-videos show the “alt-right” protesters gathering in a staging-area near Emancipation park, and the Antifa counter-protesters gathering in similar staging-area on the opposite side of the  park.  The “alt-rights” wear ordinary sports of casual clothes, and carry two kinds of shields: round wooden black-and-white shields, and full-body clear or white plastic constructions remarkably similar to police riot-shields.  Obviously somebody had warned the “alt-rights” what to expect from Antifa.  News-videos also show the Antifa troops carrying bags of suspiciously-heavy bottles and spray-cans actually being lit into homemade flame-throwers with 3’ flames. 

At the rally’s beginning, a collection of local clergy and their congregations tried to block the “alt-right’s” entry to the park with their bodies and picket-signs – which any experienced picket-line marcher could tell you was an extraordinarily stupid, even unconstitutional, move since the “alt-right” protesters already had legal permission to go into the park and hold their rally.  The “alt-right” response was interesting;  they formed a ragged flying wedge, with the full-body-shield carriers at the point, and charged into the counter-protesters, knocking them aside or to the ground.  Significantly, the “alt-rights” without shields, as they dashed through the opening, barely paused to swat the fallen counter-protesters with sticks or aimed quick kicks at them.  If you’ll look closely at the videos, you’ll notice that the shield-bearing “alt-rights”, while slamming the counter-protesters to the ground also positioned their shields over the fallen counter-protesters, enough to at least partially shield them from those passing kicks and swats. The one of the counter-protesters who took a noticeable injury – a young Black man with a cut on his scalp that bled profusely – was quite capable of standing up and complaining loudly for the cameras just a few seconds later.

The Antifas, being alerted to this activity – How?  By whom? – came running over to the entry to the park and filled in the gap with their own bodies and a a large wooden sign prepared in advance.  This allowed the local clergy-and-congregations counter-protesters time to get out of the way of the “alt-right” second wave.  It’s not surprising that the clergy-and-congregation crowd sincerely believe that the Antifas saved their lives, seeing what immediately followed.  The “alt-rights” and the Antifas joined in a merry brawl, and the news-videos show remarkable differences in their tactics.  The “alt-rights” made excellent use of those shields, particularly against the Antifas’ loaded bottles and spray-can flame-throwers.  If anything, the “alt-right” hand-to-hand techniques showed more characteristics of military training.  In any case, at the point when the flame-throwers came out, the local and state police put in an appearance and – finally! – separated the two groups.  The “alt-rights” accepted the police action stoically, as if they’d expected it, while the Antifas were indignant, as if still spoiling for a fight;  in fact, as they retreated behind the police lines, the Antifas continued to heave loaded bottles at the “alt-rights”, bottles which sometimes fell short and hit the police, who were not pleased. 

Shortly after this, a certified schizophrenic named Adam Fields got into his car, sped down the street beside the park, and rammed into a group of counter-protesters, killing one of them and injuring another 20.  Broadcast videos of the ramming show the car already in motion, so there’s no way to tell what happened before Fields started his run.  Some witnesses have claimed that the Antifas threw their loaded bottles at Fields’ car, after which he accelerated.  The police, who chased after Fields’ car an soon caught him, have kept very quiet about their evidence.

Also intriguing is the fact that a few minutes later a state-police helicopter, which had been flying low over the far end of the park, mysteriously crashed, killing the two troopers on board.  The police were not pleased by this incident either, and are likewise keeping their knowledge of it close to their vests. 

In fact, the behavior of the police, local and county and state, in this whole situation is puzzling.  Their usual method of dealing with conflicting crowds is to keep the groups as widely separated as possible, yet police present on both days complain that the Mayor of Charlottesville had told them to “stand down” until told otherwise.  News-videos confirm that the police stayed away from the confrontations until the serious weapons came out, and generally did a poor job of keeping the crowds separated.  More than one resident has noted that it’s almost as if the city government wanted the “alt-right” and the Antifas to brawl with each other.  Still other local witnesses have commented on how the Antifas came to the city supplied and spoiling for a fight, and how angry they were when the police stopped them. 

What few people have mentioned is the peculiar professionalism of the “alt-right” crowd – at least half of it, anyway -- compared to the behavior of the Antifas.  Just where did the “alt-right” marchers get that expertise, and how did such a twerp as Richard Spencer know how to get hold of them?  The simplest answer is that he didn’t; Jason Stossel, with his previous connections to Occupy, did.  

Around this time news of www.crowdsforrent.com, https://crowdsondemand.com, and reports of private armies for hire began showing up on the Internet.  The fact that such things exist is intriguing by itself.  The fact that they advertise their services for “protests and rallies” is disturbing. 

The political reasons for staging such events as we saw in Charlottesville are obvious, seeing what use all the anti-Trump politicians and media made of them.  I find it most interesting that the media’s chief source of outrage at Trump is that he dared to treat the “alt-right” and the Antifas as “morally equivalent”.  Their claims that “Tump is a Nazi” haven’t held water, and their claims that “Trump’s support-base is Nazis” haven’t held up either, but at least they’ve cost him some “popularity” points in the ratings.  Was that enough to be worth the cost – in unknown amounts of money and three innocent lives – of this piece of political theater?  And is it possible that nobody in the media recognized political theater when they saw it?  Has investigative reporting deteriorated that far?

--Leslie <;)))><                  

Thursday, August 24, 2017

POLITICAL THEATRE, PHOENIX: EXPECTING SOMETHING SQUALLIER




On August 22nd, President Trump spoke at a Republican rally at the Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.  Thousands of his supporters attended, and at least two thousand Antifa protesters showed up outside.  The city was ready for them;  shopkeepers in the area closed early and shut their security-gates, and a very large (undisclosed) number of police came early too – to keep the protesters well separated from the attendees.  Trump, as it turned out, didn’t have that much to say, and the rally itself soon grew boring.  The real show was outside.

Despite common stereotypes – yes, spread by the major news media – Arizona is not a “red state”;  it’s a weird state.  Among other things, it has no racial majority.  Its base population averages a little over 30% White, a little under 30% Indian (mostly Navaho), roughly 30% mixed White and Indian (which is exactly what a “Latino” is, and most of those are Old Spanish, not Mexican – long story), a little over 5% Black and a little under 5% Asian.  This demographic spread is not precisely reflected in the police department (Asians usually have much better-paying jobs, and Indians who go into police work prefer to take jobs as Tribal Police on the reservations), but there are a lot of non-White cops in Phoenix.  This means that Phoenix police can’t afford to be racist. 

Also, this is a “Constitutional carry” state, which means that any non-felon can carry a firearm within the state, concealed, without a permit.  Anybody you pass on the street could be armed, at any time, and everybody knows it;  this means, as Heinlein once noted, that Arizonians tend to be very polite in public.  People who are visibly impolite in public promptly brand themselves as foreigners at best, dangerous at worst – and easily identifiable to the police.

It should not surprise any Arizonian that the police stood calmly, shoulder to shoulder, blocking access roads and keeping the readily-identified Antifa protesters (BLM stayed away;  there were almost no Black faces among the protesters) safely away from the Convention Center and its attendees – no matter how the protesters stamped and waved and yelled – or that the attendees, Arizonians themselves, also remained calm and polite despite the provocation.  And the Antifas did do their best to provoke – but only verbally, until the sun went down.

Now remember, all of this was extensively videotaped by a lot of reporters from a lot of different local TV stations, and shown on those same stations that night.  They rivaled each other to show different angles, physical and political, of everything that happened – and what happened was remarkably revealing.

First, after Trump had left, and the crowds were quickly informed by loudspeaker from overhead circling helicopters, the attendees got up to leave – and that was when the Antifa crowd started its action.  The protesters who had simply come to wave signs and be noticed began to walk away, leaving the serious Antifa crowd – who surged toward the departing attendees, yelling insults at them.  The departing attendees very nicely refused to be provoked – one woman, being railed at by a man claiming to be “Hispanic”, archly asked: “Can you show us your legal immigration papers?  Can you show us your ID?” – before the police gently but firmly pushed the man away.  There was only one man, in an SUV, who responded rudely;  he drove past the Antifas, flipping them a Nazi salute out the window.  The Antifas took after him on foot, throwing those loaded bottles, but police on motorcycles went after him faster and chivvied him out of the neighborhood.

This left the Antifas no target except the police themselves, who were politely but firmly ordering the crowd to disperse.  The Antifas let loose with those loaded bottles, rocks, and hand-cannister pepper-spray, which the police handily deflected.  The Antifas, or course, refused to disperse, but threw more bottles, at al.  The police tossed a few tear-gas canisters, one of which a protester kicked back, whereupon the police kicked it aside and started shooting “pepper-balls” – small balls which break open on impact, scattering powdered tear-gas – much harder to pick up and throw back.  The police also formed arm-in-arm barriers fronted with plastic shields, and moved slowly but steadily forward, pushing the Antifa crowd down the streets and away from the Convention Center.  The Antifas retreated, but formed tight defensive knots from which to hurl their missiles and shoot their own pepper-sprays.  There are no reports that they used lighted hair-spray as small flame-throwers.  The police responded with smoke-grenades and flash-bangs, which spoiled the Antifas’ aim, and continued to push them down the street.  Eventually the Antifas gave up and departed.  Afterward, of course, the Antifas complained to the media about police “excesses” and “brutality”, but the videos didn’t back them up.

The two remarkable things about this incident are, first, how intelligently the police were deployed, and second, how the Antifas’ tactics mirror those which BLM and friends used in Ferguson, Missouri, three years ago.  Back then, for day after day, the local protesters marched in the streets complaining about the police, then gathered at a rally where local preachers spoke, then scattered around sundown to their homes or various churches.  That was the point when the BLM “activists” would peel off from the church crowd and run about the city’s streets, smashing windows, robbing stores, and setting fires – not caring how many of the stores were Black-owned.

The Antifas in Phoenix were thwarted in their hopes of copying BLM in Ferguson because the Phoenix shopkeepers closed and secured their stores, and the police did not abandon the area once Trump had left.  One can almost pity their disappointment.  The media certainly did.  Even the supposedly-impartial New York Times concentrated its attention on the poor protesters who were chased off with tear gas:  “Hundreds of people ran off, streaming into the surrounding streets, coughing and wiping tears from their eyes” after “Trump’s divisive speech”. 

At his speech Trump lambasted the media for lying and bias.  The media – outside of Phoenix, anyway – returned the favor.  The inhabitants of Arizona, who had seen the whole thing, were unimpressed by both of them, and particularly unimpressed with Antifa. 

--Leslie <;)))>< 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sabotaging Medicine


First, a bit of information that every nurse, EMT, or first-year Biology student is supposed to know by heart: antibiotics must be taken for their full course.  Usually this is two weeks of three doses per day, sometimes it's weeks longer, and rarely it's only ten days.  This is because bacteria have several defensive strategies, just as the antibiotics have several attack strategies, and it can take a long time to deal with them all.  It's vitally important that the bacteria all be killed, because if even one survives, it will pass on the trick/immunity of its survival to its descendants.  This is how bacteria become immune/resistant to antibiotics, and particular antibiotics become useless.  The problem with giving antibiotics too much, too freely -- such as, to livestock -- is not that the livestock get too little, but that small amounts of the antibiotics get passed on to whoever consumes the milk or meat, and kill off only the weaker bacteria while leaving the stronger/resistant bacteria alive.  Under-dosing, by any means, with antibiotics creates bacteria resistant to those antibiotics.  That's what happened to the original form of penicillin.  All healthcare professionals are supposed to know this.  Keep that in mind.

Now my case was just the opposite;  when I was a little kid I got a severe case of pneumonia, bad enough to put me in the hospital, and the doctors shot me up with massive doses of penicillin.  The penicillin killed the pneumonia bacteria completely, but left me permanently allergic to penicillin.  Ever afterward, I had to rely on tetracycline to clear up all my bacterial infections.  That was all right;  tetracycline worked well with my personal chemistry.

The problem was that, over the past ten years or more, it's grown harder and harder to find doctors willing to prescribe tetracycline.  When I asked why, I got dozens of different excuses -- mostly revolving around a theme of "We have much better antibiotics these days".  A few personal experiences showed that those "much better antibiotics" cost about ten times as much as tetracycline, or even classic old penicillin.  Uhuh.

A little more research (gods bless the Internet!) revealed a few more interesting facts about both of those old standbys.  First, both of them were developed so long ago that their patents have run out;  this means that anybody can produce and sell them without paying royalties to the original -- or the last -- patent-holder, which makes them cheap.  Second, both antibiotics are easily found in nature -- penicillin derives from blue bread mold (I wrote a song about that), and tetracycline from an African beer-yeast;  it was only the refining process that could be patented.  The basic breeding-stocks can be readily found, collected, bred and refined -- just about anywhere, by anybody with the knowledge, which is likewise commonly found.  Third, both remain reliable killers of most kinds of bacteria, despite sloppy over-use by everyone from incompetent medics to corner-cutting factory-farm managers.  So, they're cheap, easily made and reliable: everything that big pharmaceutical companies hate.  No wonder doctors are discouraged from prescribing them.

However, I found that by insisting -- and maybe claiming "allergy" problems with the shiny-new expensive antibiotics -- I could still get prescriptions for tetracycline, which still worked just fine, thank you.

Then, about six years ago, I discovered at least one doctor at my local clinic using a new tactic.

I'd gone there with a pesky jaw infection, gave the usual explanation about my allergies, and asked for a "full course of tetracycline".  The doctor frowned, but wrote up a prescription and handed it to me, and started to head out of the exam room.  Fortunately I'm a very fast reader and have a habit of always reading my prescriptions as soon as I get them, so I caught the anomaly before the doctor could escape.

"Hey!" I snapped, "This is wrong.  This is enough for only one week;  a full course of tetracycline takes two weeks.  You'll have to change it."

He didn't like that, and he used the Argument From Authority: "Who's the doctor here?"

"Who's the doctor's daughter?" I countered, "And who's been taking tetracycline all my adult life?  It's never prescribed for less than two weeks."

He retreated to the second line of Argument From Authority: "I've could show you where it's ordered in the Official Publication."

I called his bluff: "Yes, please show me that exact page."  I didn't mention that I intended to xerox it as soon as I got my hands on it.

He shifted to: "It's not convenient.  If you don't like that prescription, give it back, and go see another doctor."  And he grabbed for the paper.

I snatched it out of his reach and replied: "You know perfectly well that it'll take me a week to get another appointment, so I'll make do with this for that long."  And I hurried out before he could come up with another excuse.  I also didn't mention that I wanted to have his signature on that prescription, in case he tried to squirm out of the clear malpractice.

First thing I did on my way home was stop at a copy-shop and get several xeroxes of that prescription.  Second thing I did was stop at a drug-store and get the original filled.  Third thing I did was take the best xerox copy, touch it up a little to make it look like a genuine original, take it to another pharmacy and get that one filled too, just in case (no, I'm not afraid that the DEA or somebody like them will come after me, these long years later, for illegally purchasing antibiotics).

Fourth thing I did was look up the phone numbers of the city health department, the county health department, the state health department, and finally the CDC in Washington, DC.  I spent the rest of the day phoning those various Expert Authorities, asking if anyone knew about this new -- and dangerous -- tetracycline policy, and who had ordered it.  All I was able to reach were various secretaries, none of whom had a clue about any policy of under-prescribing tetracycline, and somehow none of them were able to reach anybody who did know anything about it.  A few more days of phonecalling brought no different results, so eventually I phoned the biggest newspaper in town, told them my tale, and asked if they knew anybody who knew anything.  The reporter I talked to had an eager note in his voice when he promised he'd "look into it", so I guessed that he actually would do a bit of investigating.

He must have raised enough questions with enough of the right people, because the next time I needed to get a prescription for tetracycline, the doctor (a different one) had no trouble writing me a scrip for a full two-week course.  I thought that was the end of the problem.  Silly me!

A couple years later, troubled with another bacterial infection, I went to my local clinic here in Arizona, and tried to get a prescription for tetracycline again.  This time the doctor claimed that tetracycline had been "discontinued", supposedly because so many bacteria were now "resistant" to it, and nobody was even making it anymore.

Surprised by this, I made more phonecalls and Internet searches.  I found that tetracycline was really still being manufactured -- but only for "veterinary" use, and not much (just one company in the US) of that.  Nowadays, you can only find tetracycline -- and penicillin, for that matter -- sold for use in tropical fish tanks.  Other pet owners have advised me on how to calculate the dosage for other animals, but you have to mix the powder in distilled or boiled water yourself.  The interesting part is that these supposedly-useless old antibiotics still work on the majority of bacterial infections.

What I see happening here is a years-long deliberate campaign of sabotaging two old reliable -- and cheap -- antibiotics.  Now, who would have the ability to pull off a campaign this widespread and this effective?  And who would have motive?  Think.     
           
--Leslie <;)))><  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A REAL Federal Healthcare Bill


I don't usually write posts this close together, but the whole healthcare flap pretty well requires it.  Look, I've worked in the healthcare biz, have been a public healthcare recipient, and have friends in curious corners of the biz -- such as professional medical billers, coders, and clerks: the people who really deal with the nuts and bolts of healthcare funding.  I'm convinced that these are the folks that the federal govt. should be talking to.  But to start:

If Congress simply repealed the ACA/Obamacare bill, federal public healthcare would simply go back to what it was before.  That included Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans' Administration and, if you please, a division of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  The latter two consist of supplying hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses and treatment to those two groups of citizens -- for free, or close to it.  The previous two consist of funneling tax money through the state govts. into health-insurance companies, with certain written limitations.  We've all seen repeated scandals about the insufficiency and lousy quality of the VA system, and nobody has asked the Indian tribes what they think, but they've been using the money they're earning through their casinos to fund hospitals of their own.  As for Medicaid, it's full of so many traps and pitfalls that social workers warn their clients against it.  Medicare is, and was, just plain insufficient;  its coverage falls far short, and its paperwork is horrendous -- as any medical clerk can tell you.  And all four of them wasted money at an unbelievable rate.  Those are the shortcomings that the ACA was supposed to deal with -- and didn't.

I recall that while the ACA was being debated, there were protesters marching around waving signs that said "JUST FIX MEDICARE", and looking back, that made far more sense than anything the fed. govt. has proposed since.  Here's how I think the fix could be done.

First, Congress should go, hat in hand, and humbly beg the Government Accountancy Office for another copy of that report it sent to Congress years ago, which was ignored: the report on redundancy, waste, and downright corruption in the federal bureaucracy -- which listed some 1500 govt. departments/offices/bureaus/etc. which should be completely abolished in order to streamline govt. services, save money, and reduce chances of corruption.  This time don't ignore that list, but take the GAO's advice and abolish all those departments, every last one of them.  Take the money that frees up, and dedicate it to funding the improved federal healthcare system.

Then, having shown sufficient respect to the GAO, set it to the task of putting together a healthcare bill that will work.  Tell it to pay due attention to communications from citizens who know something about the problem.  Yes, set it parameters:

1)  An absolute minimum of regulations, especially the sort that create paperwork -- which requires clerks/coders/billers/etc. to deal with the paperwork, which creates excessive bureaucracy and costs.

2) Abolish the ACA and Medicaid outright, but expand Medicare to cover everything that both of those did -- and more: pre-existing conditions, experimental treatments, and all.

3)  Make Medicare pay directly to the healthcare providers, not go through insurance companies.  Medicare is supposed to be the poor folks' insurance, not provide a cash-cow for insurance companies.  Add penalties for any healthcare provider who thinks they're too good to accept direct Medicare payments.  And insist on no co-pays.

4)  Launch a thorough investigation into the pharmaceutical industry, the FDA, and collusion between them to keep prices of medicine high and discredit non-synthetic -- and cheap -- treatments which are more effective.  Apply punishment where it's due.

Then stand back and let the GAO do its work, at which it has shown itself to be quite competent.  Once the GAO comes up with a workable bill, written as much as possible in plain English rather than Legalese or Bureaucratese, pass it with NO amendments.  Don't let anyone hide any cute little bits of pork in the bill.  If repairs are needed later, pass amending bills separately -- and only after fully transparent argument and discussion in Congress.

Now that would produce a really efficient and workable federal healthcare bill, one that would allow people with enough $$ of their own to get their own private health insurance but would provide a basic healthcare safety-net for the rest of us.  It would also give Congress the time and space to concern itself with other serious matters of government.


--Leslie <;)))>< 

The Wave Begins To Crest


The next-to-next-to-latest news gem in the ongoing saga of Trump and the Russians is that Trump is supposed to have questioned some loose-lipped lawyers in the White House about pardons -- i.e. whether he could pardon unnamed people, or even himself.  As more than one news pundit has noted, this is a remarkable echo of Richard Nixon's actions during the Watergate scandal.  Coincidence, or a deliberate tease?

Along with this was another leak by a loose-lipped White House insider that Trump was checking to see if he could fire Mueller.  Oooh, shades of Watergate again!  Enough to keep the Liberals panting.  Mueller himself made it clear that he would not go down easily, nor be swayed by any such threats.  And of course Trump took absolutely no action in that direction.  And why should he?  He was only poking at Mueller to see if he'd fold or fight -- plus teasing the Democrats/Liberals again.  He really wants a guy with guts and integrity in charge of the investigation!  

The next-to-latest juicy bit is that Trump is now throwing Jeff Sessions under the bus, supposedly because Sessions recused himself on the Trump-and-the-Russians investigation when he should have stood fast.  Uhuh.  I'm sure that excuse will satisfy the foaming-reactionary segment of Trump's supporters, seeing that Sessions is the last of their crowd whom Trump appointed to high office -- and who were shot down for various reasons (leaving their jobs to more "moderate" -- or at least rational -- candidates, which I suspect was Trump's plan all along).


Ah, but the latest and greatest piece of news is that Jared Kushner is testifying to Congress -- in a closed (secret) session -- under oath, about all he knows of the Russian Caper.  I daresay they'll get quite an unexpected earful.  Just how much of it they'll be able to leak, in turn, to the media and therefore the public, is a good question.

Pause here for a couple flashbacks. 

Remember that when Trump had that fateful last meeting with Comey, that the then-Director of the FBI at first claimed that there was nobody else in the room.  Only later did anyone mention that there actually was a third person there, whom Comey had overlooked as a mere secretary -- but who turned out to be no less than the Director of the CIA.  How did Comey miss that?  Either Comey was incredibly inept at his job or CIA directors -- like their agents -- are very good at not being noticed.  Or both.    

Second flashback: recall that when Trump Jr. had that meeting with the Russian lawyer in Trump Tower 'way back last June, the number of people at that meeting was enough, as Rachel Maddows pointed out, to have filled the elevator.  There was Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, various other members of the presidential campaign, two or three Russians, and... on the Trump side of the table, an overlooked translator.  An overlooked and forgotten translator.  Uhuh.

So what is Kushner telling that congressional committee in closed session?  My bet is that he'll tell them about his connection with the CIA, and that just might lead into his father-in-law's CIA connection too.  And who/what do you think that "assistant" was that filed the paperwork for his security clearance?  Now think about the implications of that.  It means that the Russians went trawling the Trump campaign, and called up a school of sharks.  No wonder they only talked about the trade-sanctions in distant terms of international orphan adoptions, and Kushner arranged to leave the meeting early.  The Russians, when they exited, left a dossier on the table which was supposed to contain juicy dirt on Hillary, but the Trump team never used it -- most likely because that "overlooked translator" grabbed it first, trotted it over to the CIA office, and then pronounced it untrustworthy.  We do know that the hacked Democrat emails which showed up soon afterwards on Wikileaks didn't have anything really good on Hillary -- and really didn't effect the outcome of the election.

Now, how much of this will Mueller and company agree to reveal to the public?  Tell all, and they pretty well exonerate Trump, embarrass hell out of the Democrats, and discredit huge chunks of the media.  Tell too little, and of course they look as if they're covering up for Trump and the Russians.  Besides, the Democrats and the media will only yell for more blood and demand that the committee put Trump himself on the stand -- and he could reveal a helluva lot more.  The other shoe has got to drop sometime -- and the longer the wait, the bigger the impact.

I think (and I suspect Trump does too) that Mueller will do the honorable thing and tell all.  That means the political wave is cresting and about to break.  The whole Get Trump movement will be discredited, disintegrate into the embarrassed/quiet and the hysterical/loud. 

And you'll hear long laughter from the briar-patch.


--Leslie <;)))><           

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

One Toe Over the Edge

I was going to write a post about the fun and hi-jinks of WesterCon this last 4th of July weekend, but the political games in Washington make it clear that I've got to hurry up and make my personal predictions before they come true.  Therefore...

First, let's back up a ways and take the long view.  Remember back during the Bush administration when Bush and Co. put together a collection of assorted American capitalists to develop Russia's Siberian oil-fields and help rebuild Russia's collapsed economy?  Remember that one of those capitalists was Donald Trump.  Now, any such gang of influential rich guys going off to do business in Russia back then would inevitably have had a few visits and briefings from the CIA or the NSA or MI, or any combination thereof.  Trump, as I've often said, is no fool;  he would have listened and learned well.

One thing I'm sure he took to heart, if he hadn't already, was the importance of secretly recording himself and everything that happened around him -- especially when dealing with the Russians.  Another thing he would have learned was that you can never trust any Russians who have even the smallest connection to the government -- and the higher the rank, the greater the efforts to lie, spy, swindle, blackmail, and manipulate.  Trump, who had been swimming with the sharks most of his professional life, would have thoroughly understood that.  The third thing that he would have learned, not to mention seen for himself, is that Russia's economy was in shambles, even its famed military was and is an economic wreck, and that the only thing that keeps China from marching in and conquering it is that China's economy -- and culture -- is secretly just as bad if not worse.  Both countries, and a few others whose names I'm sure you can guess, are 90% pose -- Showoffsky -- and very little power.  Of course, when that power includes nukes, it has to be taken seriously.  I'm sure Trump would have seriously considered the implications of this.

A fourth thing he would undoubtedly have considered were the advantages of remaining very cosy with the CIA, at least.  Remember, this was decades before any thought of running for president had entered his head.  The idea of being a "civilian supernumerary" Secret Agent of the CIA would have been very appealing.  You can bet he kept those contacts!  Keep that in mind.

In any case, that contact helped make Trump quite successful in Russia.  He wasn't robbed of money or building materials (a serious problem in Russia), wasn't blackmailed (as note his laughing off that Russian story about the whore peeing on the bed), built his buildings and came home with a large amount of Russia's money.  What's more, back in the US he kept on selling buildings and real estate to rich(!) Russians at exorbitant prices -- and collecting large amounts of Russia's money.  Seeing how much of Russia's economy (better than 50%) is done on barter, one has to wonder why so much of Russia's money has been transferred to the hands of an American capitalist.  Democrats have sneered that Trump is money-laundering for Putin & Co., but it isn't money-laundering if he doesn't give it back.  And there's no evidence that he's given it back.  I really don't think that he could have pulled off a scam like this without a little bit of CIA "oversight".

Pause here and consider what Putin wants, what Russia wants to get out of all its political/economic fancy-dancing.  Why, what else could it want -- desperately, with its economy staggering as it is?  Why, trade with wealthier countries, of course!  Obama's trade-sanctions taken off.  And maybe some way to get that money back from Trump.

Trump has strongly indicated that, out of all those foreign economically-staggering but nuke-armed countries, he'd prefer that Russia survive and the rest go down in flames.  Why?  Because for all its totally corrupt society, Russia's government at least has to be realistic about its survival -- and can be reasoned with.  The reasons why Russia is that rational and other countries aren't would take another whole article, and this one is already long.  Suffice it to say that during all the decades of the Cold War, when only the US and the USSR had nukes, neither side ever used them.  I'm sure we can all think of other countries that would not be so forbearing.

Consider also that Trump is a more-than-slightly-shady businessman, who loves to brag and talks like a used-car salesman -- when it suits him, but I daresay few people on this planet know more about economic warfare.  The CIA would gladly make use of his expertise.  It's a perfect partnership.

One more thing to ponder is Trump's claim that lots of other countries have tried to "meddle" in our elections -- by giving large chunks of money to particular political campaigns, dropping assorted lies and half-lies into respectable news media, trying to hack our voting systems -- and have been trying for a very long time.  None of them have had much success, for reasons that would take another long article to explain.  Only American politicians themselves have ever been any good at American election fraud. 

Only now are the Democrats trying ferociously to spread the story that any foreign government tried -- and, they hint endlessly, succeeded -- to manipulate the presidential election, and only so they can howl that Trump really, really shouldn't have won.  You'll note they never mention the fact that the Chinese government filtered money into Hillary's various campaigns, which should certainly count as foreign election-meddling.  And never mind the long financial and propaganda campaign funded by certain Arab/Muslim countries!  Oh no, it's all Trump and the Russians, and it's never happened before.  Yep.   

The interesting bit is that, aside from saying it's all fantasy and flatly denying the charges, Trump hasn't come right out and shown evidence to refute them.  If anything, he's allowed his backers to fan the flames of Liberal hysteria into a raging inferno -- which has begun to catch some of the hysterics themselves, most notably in the mainstream media.  Note how CNN got caught trusting too eagerly in unverified stories from "an unnamed source in the Intelligence community".  Note too how Rachel Maddow, a very clever woman, exposed a very good forgery of an NSA document (purporting to confirm that members of the Trump campaign "colluded with the Russians") and revealed that, if MSNBC had run with this story, it would have eventually been discredited as badly as CNN. She speculates at length upon just who in the Trump camp could have perpetrated this fraud, and her favorite choice is Jared Kushner;  this isn't surprising, since the smarter Democrats have figured out some time ago that Kushner too is quite smart, in fact probably Trump's major tactician, and desperately want to get rid of him.  It never seems to occur to her that the perpetrator might have actually been someone in the NSA, or the CIA, or even MI -- all of whom, remember, support Republican administrations as firmly as the FBI supports Democrat ones. 

Well, whoever has been feeding the Democrats fuel for their fantasies is clever enough to have quickly abandoned the tactic that Maddow exposed.  Instead, mirable dictu, we have Trump's own son admitting -- at least partially -- to the current scandal about the Russian lawyer, back during last summer's campaign, enticing him to come talk to her about stolen emails that supposedly revealed dirt about Hillary.  The story goes on to claim that not only Don Jr. but -- of course -- Jared Kushner took the bait and went to the meeting.  Ah, but there the story sort of fizzles out;  Junior claims that the Russians (the lawyer and her "friend") only talked about adoption laws.  The stolen emails wound up being publicized, first on Wikileaks and then (in fairly innocuous excerpts) in the media.  Trump joked about stolen emails but never exactly quoted them.  In other words, although the Liberals are drooling buckets and already howling for impeachment, charges of treason, and mental fitness examinations, there's still no proof or even direct evidence of that legendary "collusion".  Nonetheless, the story has gained so much momentum that all the people involved will soon, soon, be hauled in front of Congress to testify -- certainly including Kushner, and possibly even Trump himself.  The game is rushing toward its conclusion.  As Maddow herself noted, this is "either the end, or the beginning of...something really weird."

I vote for "something really weird".

What if, having lured lots of blood-lusting Democrats and a good number of hostile Republicans into exposing themselves as dupes and hysterics, Trump finally reveals the real story -- with proof -- and discredits the lot of them, in front of the whole world? 

Maddow commented, about this latest story, that if she had been sent that enticing email from a Russian official, the first thing she would have done would be to call in the FBI. 

Well, why not the CIA instead?               

What if Trump has been working with the CIA all these years, brought his smart son-in-law into the game, and steered the lesser lights (including Junior) accordingly while keeping them blissfully ignorant?  What if Kushner made that little bureaucratic error about registering as a go-between for a "foreign power" because he had already been working with the CIA for years, and automatically thought of himself as a government agent?  What if Trump and his cronies know perfectly that all those foreign powers, including the Russians, who had repeatedly tried to "meddle" in our elections had failed laughably -- because he'd seen the proof?  What if, in fact, he'd scr*wed the Russians royally and had Putin by the short hairs? 

What if he could prove all this with decades' worth of video/audio recordings -- which, he could honestly say, weren't "tapes"?  After all, almost nobody uses clumsy old tapes and clunky "wires" anymore;  for many years, state-of-the-art recording devices have used electronic data transmission and storage, sent from cameras and microphones that could be disguised as jacket buttons.  You know who has access to state-of-the-art spy gear like that today, and it isn't the Russians.

Well, that's my prophecy.  I daresay we'll see very soon if it's true.

--Leslie <;)))><