Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Not Exact Repetition

I've noticed that history doesn't repeat exactly, and that if cycles repeat closely enough in time for people to see them completely, they can make noticeable change.

For example, the killing-protest-riot cycle in Charlotte, NC reveals a serious upgrade from the last cycle in Ferguson, MO -- and I don't think it was just because of the plethora of cameras.

There are three stories about the original killing, and all of them claim the support of video evidence:  1) the victim had a gun and was waving it near the police;  2)  the victim had no gun but a book, and the police couldn't tell the difference or didn't care;  3) --and this is the odd one-- the victim had a gun but wasn't brandishing it, and he had a perfect right to carry a gun, North Carolina being an "open carry" state.  The first argument, of course, is what the police are claiming.  Naturally, the second argument is what the local Blacks are claiming.  The third argument is being made by both Black community leaders and sympathetic Whites, which is a real first.

Another difference:  again, Black protesters marched in the streets during the day, while cops in riot-gear watched quietly.  Again they finished at sundown, whereupon a split appeared in the ranks;  more than half of the original protesters left, most of them heading for church to pray and plan, while the bunch that was left formed a screen of bodies to block the cops' sight, made a point of taunting and provoking the police -- which they called "standing up" for their rights -- while behind them others smashed car and shop windows and grabbed whatever they could.  But this time, the next morning, the Black protest leaders denounced that second group as "provocateurs" and repudiated the lot of them.  This is a brilliant -- and long overdue -- move.  It's probably the reason why the Charlotte confrontation hasn't escalated since, and there's serious negotiation going on between the community leaders and the police.

It would also be extremely useful to find out just who those "provocateurs" were/are, and who's behind them.  I'd bet on very covert money from certain Arab interests -- which is ironic, seeing how various Arab rulers have exploited Blacks since at least the days of ancient Egypt. 

A couple of suggestions I could give to the Charlotte PD, not to mention a lot of others:

A)  Hire more Black cops, and assign them specifically to patrol Black neighborhoods.  It will surprise and dismay a lot of people when the number of police-brutality incidents doesn't fall off, "racism" can no longer be used as an excuse for police misbehavior, and Black-on-Black crime becomes a serious national scandal.

B)  Put every cop in reliable body-cameras, with audio included and internal timers, that transmit as well as record, and that can't be turned off by the wearer -- along with car-cams.  And, given another bone of contention, the recordings therefrom will be legally public records on demand, within not more than 24 hours of any incident recorded thereon.  And, of course, altering the recordings will be a serious felony.

C)  Surprise: police must be subject to random drug-tests -- often -- which are designed to pick up traces of steroids and the more obscure stimulants.  Cop drug-use is one of the best-kept dirty secrets in the country, and is at least as big a factor in the current problem as racism or police militarization.

If the Charlotte PD is willing to adapt all of these reforms, I think the more intelligent folk in the Black community will be also willing to ask for police help in tracking down the origins of those "provocateurs".

--Leslie <;)))><    

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.