Friday, June 30, 2017

Will Crowd-Funding Bring A Return To Democracy?

To win office, a candidate needs to campaign. Campaigns cost money - for advertising, for staffing, for people to man the phone banks and to hang reminders on doorknobs. To get enough money to run for office, a candidate has needed to solicit well-to-do donors, people who live on invested money. And to fulfill their legislative needs. Until now...

Now, a dozen or more internet sites let people raise money for their own causes.  A Facebook ad can be shown to 5000 people for a dollar. As funds are raised, mailing lists are bought and traded. If the cause is just - like fighting a case up through the courts, or running for office - then it can get funded if enough people support it. From a donor list, a candidate can build a mailing list, and from this he can recruit dedicated staffers and eager volunteers.

In last November's US elections, the voters who disliked Hillary Clinton acquired more electors than the voters who disliked Trump, so we didn't get Clinton for President. Bernie Sanders, whose more positive platform is built out of what people say that they want, what they like rather than dislike, was shoved into the background by the Democratic leadership, who needed the party platform to reflect what corporate donors had said they wanted.

Bernie's group is still around, still hanging out in the background, as the Republicans collapse in place. 

The Democratic Party asked Bernie for his mailing list the other day. His "Revolution Now" group responded that while the list worked to bring lots of money into the Bernie camp, it wouldn't do the same for the Dem Party. People who gave to Bernie wouldn't be very likely to give to the corporate puppets. 

Here and now the split begins. The split between corp-funded politics and crowd-funded politics. Corp-funded politics has turned both parties into echo-chambers. Crowd-funded politics may rescue them both.

The Democratic Party will need to adopt Bernie's platform if it wants to do crowd-funding.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Day 101

Day 100 of the Trump Administration has come and gone.

Two grand juries have convened to investigate Russian influence on the election. One of them is about ready to return the first indictment.  How deep the corruption of our government goes awaits discovery.
Mr. Trump has begun making a public debacle of his confusion:
... 7 Baffling Moments From Donald Trump’s AP Interview
... Trump Takes Latest Stab At Historical Analysis: ‘Why Was There The Civil War?’
... Trump makes puzzling claim about Andrew Jackson, Civil War

Fox News is in disarray, having lost mainstay Bill O'Reilly to lawsuits from abused women, losing today the corporate vice president who told female employees to suck it up, and predicted to be losing by the end of the week, Sean Hannity.

The President will be welcoming a mass murderer, the president of the Philippines, to the White House:
Human Rights Groups Denounce Trump’s White House Invitation To Murderous President Of The Philippines

The President's hotel properties constitute a vast 'tip jar'. He is over half a billion dollars in debt:
A Guide to Donald Trump's Huge Debts—and the Conflicts They Present

The Republican Party has split in two between diehard conservatives who care more about pushing their own agenda than the future of the party and moderate conservatives who might find themselves voted out of office if they were to follow the diehard agenda. The replacement for Obamacare that one of them favors is unacceptable to the other, and vice versa. So it stalls.

The people are demonstrating massively. If this same energy gets invested in the 2018 elections, the de-corporatizing of America may have begun. The general welfare - as mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution - is not to be disregarded. Despite what Ayn Rand wrote.

The times, they are a-changin'.

Monday, March 13, 2017


The 'divide and conquer' strategy used by Mr. Trump works when both parts can then be conquered. This worked for Stalin - first he got rid of the non-revolutionary Mensheviks, then the Leninist Trotskyists, then anyone who wasn't Stalin.

Trump is dividing off those who differ with him and condemning them to the outer darkness of 'no more Presidential Press Conferences for you' space. And the like. Shunning those who criticize. Threatening supporters who might. This is a formula for a leaky bucket.

Perhaps Trump's father used the threat of separation from the family wealth as a way of keeping his son in line. Today, being shunned by Trump allows conservatives to stand aside while his empire collapses.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Teaching Survivors

It seems quite wonderful that we whites are now digesting the notion of white privilege. It’s very subtle. Next, can we look at ‘intellectual privilege’? 

Can we look at a grading system in schools that brands the slower learners as ‘D-students’, making them want to contend physically for that which they can’t yet do mentally, and to bully their way through life? Can we look at competition in schools that allows the weakest to feel ashamed? 

We are told that this models the world, that we will need to compete with our peers to survive, but survival in the world today requires the ability to cooperate and adapt to other peoples’ needs to create fertile spaces where we all can be nurtured.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Re-seeding The Center

I'm concerned about whether a rational two-party system can survive.

Two feet make us mobile. Two eyes let us see depth. Two parties - if they meet at the center - convey the best ideas from all directions into the decision-making process.

Meeting at the center depends on agreeing on what is true, and on what is good. If a center could be defined by asking what principles we all have in common and what facts we all agree on, perhaps we can build from there. A majority on all sides might agree on...

The sacredness of life.

The right to autonomy.

The right to associate equally with others.

The right to build a common good.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Trumpocalypse: The Forward View

What may happen, now that Trump has been elected...

Continuing klutziness. The gaffes will continue. His tweets will drive the news on slow days.

He will continue to change the subject quickly and belligerently when he is being criticized.

The internet will have more than one working group tallying Trump's impeachable offenses.

A dis-investment campaign. Foreign investment in US businesses may dwindle.

A stock market slump as things begin to fall apart. Maybe short sellers will drive it quite a ways down.

For each candidate in Trump's cabinet, a campaign to block their confirmation in Congress. An internet work-group profiling them in depth.

Struggles on the issues will continue. The fight for a national $15/hr minimum wage. The fight to end police brutality. The Bernie platform. The right to safe water.

Further Russian involvement in the Middle East.

China raising its credit rate. We owe them so much. We may need to start paying more interest.

Growing interest in non-violent solutions.

Possible further false-flag military incitements.

Possible alignment with Russia, turning the world against us both.

Possible oil-igarchy, carbon's last stand. Government by Koch Brothers. Scientific truth redefined.

Distributed power generation from alternate sources will continue to take hold. Sun power now cheaper than wind.

Any program that strengthens the safety net will be a battleground.

Validated voting systems will be an issue. Paper ballots will be a desirable.

Voter suppression will be an issue.

Corruption will be a continuing issue. Corporate corruption. The ownership of the world.

Human rights will be a continuing issue. Civil rights. Equal rights. The right to nurture a common good.

The cost of militarism will be a sore thumb for a long time. Pro-active peacemaking may ensure its disuse and dwindling.

Internet architectures will become ever more adaptive, ever more esoteric.

The truth of things will become ever clearer, ever faster.

 Man 's perception of man will become ever more subtle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


The president-elect has become a nightmare for Republicans. An embarrassment that grows and grows.

As a candidate, Trump called for Russia to hack his opposition. Russia hacked his opposition. He sent fund-raising letters to the heads of major nations. Told it was improper, he sent more of them. 

Told to divest himself of his business interests, he has failed so far to do so. He must convert to cash. Given that his business runs on credit (from a German bank) he might wind up owing money. So he will never do so. His business will then always be in place for anyone seeking favor.

His choices for members of his cabinet include four billionaires and three retired generals. His choice for Secretary of State, announced yesterday, is an oil man who is a friend of Putin.

Trump has stumbled over diplomacy, upsetting applecarts in the Far East. He said he is too smart to listen to daily intelligence briefings. Trashes the CIA for saying that there was a Russian influence in the US elections. 

He is, after all, the smartest man he knows, as far as he knows.

How soon will he blush? 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ten Days To Shake The World

The votes against Hillary Clinton outnumbered the votes against Donald Trump - except that they didn't. In ten days, the Electoral College will be deciding if this matters. Mrs. Clinton is now ahead by 2.7 million votes. However, Mr. Trump has acquired enough electoral votes from low-population states to perhaps decide this election.

Meanwhile, Trump is wasting no time in showing the world what kind of president he will be. He cut his daily intelligence briefing to once-a-week. Called the president of Taiwan, upsetting decades of delicate far-eastern tiptoe diplomacy. He's appointed four billionaires and three retired generals to his cabinet. A good formula for a coup, someone noted.

It appears that Wall Street overplayed their hand by courting Hillary Clinton so aggressively. So visibly. These things are usually done on the QT. The result was a kick in the balls to Goldman Sachs by the working class. Who now own the presidency.

An era of 'neo-liberalism' - of letting the market determine fiscal policy - appears to have ended. Trade deals that move jobs overseas are about to be undone. The feeding of taxpayer dollars to big businesses may end.

Given that Trump is considered by many to be a psychopath and is facing a child rape case, he may not make it to inauguration. Pence, who has a major history of homophobia, may not be a whole lot better. But he's governed, and will probably be our next president.

Wall Street has lost control of the government. Where we go from here is up to the people. An issue-driven electorate can build democracy from the bottom up. Or trash it.

As of morning 12/10/16, Trump has just now put the CIA on his enemies list for exposing the Russian influence on his election. He's doing his best to offend enough people and break enough eggs in the next nine days so that the electoral college will turn him down.

He has nine more days to get himself out of this presidency thing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Third Debate

Good fortune allowed me to view this evening the third and final U.S. Presidential debate.

The difference in personal style between the candidates was pronounced.

The depth of detail in the responses was much greater in those given by the candidate who has had prior government experience.

Candidate Trump was called again and again on his behavior. The character of his responses to these questions confirmed his behavior. Rough and abrupt, oversimplified, free-associative, with little overall plan. At one point he began a run-on sentence that ran on and on for a minute or more with asides, stand-alone phrases and mottoes all strung together, a data dump of words, a vast word salad.  He had forgotten the question.

Candidate Clinton described plans and programs.

Several good zings were gotten in in both directions, with Clinton delivering one-two punches, occasional knockout blows, and continuing to talk while Trump talked, just as he had talked over her in the first debate.

Candidate Trump failed to confirm that he would accept the results of the election. He's not really going to be in a position to deny them. If he promotes the overthrow of the government, he may run into some problems.

Trump's followers may need missionary help.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How To Help Republicans Think

One curious trait that leads Republicans to stumble is that they often cannot foresee the results of their own actions. Their inability to foresee results may be linked to the fact that they cannot see that they have this weakness.

Suppose someone were to ask a Republican "What would happen if Hillary were unable to continue her campaign? What would the Democrats do, then?"

The obvious answer is that the Democrats would nominate Bernie Sanders. Who was running 14% ahead of Trump a month ago, when Hillary was running only 7% ahead of Trump. Would Repubs rather Trump run against Hillary or against Bernie?

Question Republicans. It will do them good to think.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

'Periscope' Shares U.S. House Sit-In With The World

Forget cable. Forget network news.

The information revolution has just subsumed it.

Today, the leadership of the House of Representatives, faced with a sit-in by Democrats demanding action on gun safety laws, turned the House cameras off. Normally, several video cameras feed the action in the House to CSPAN.  The House leadership is said to be hostage to the gun industry. They are not able to look a gun law in the eye. They don't want to risk damaging their cozy cash relationship to the NRA. The Dems, on the other hand, are appalled at the casual availability of almost every type of gun, and at the way, time after time, semi-automatic rifles are used to commit mass killings. They want guns only in the hands of the sane.

Where once this act of turning off the video might have been damaging to a demonstration, today it simply led to a re-routing around the blockage:
"In the absence of cameras, Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) broadcast clips on Twitter of members speaking. C-SPAN then broadcast Periscope and Facebook Live streams of the action."
"Up Periscope", Mr. Speaker.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Freedom To Kiss

As I gave my boyfriend a quick kiss before he hopped on the uptown bus yesterday, it shook me to realize that the sight of two guys kissing as we just did was what had lit the fuse of last night's broken-minded killer in Orlando.

I will still publicly kiss my friend good-bye every time he comes to visit. It is my freedom. Yours, too, if you ever need it. You don't have to use a freedom to have it. But sometimes you need to use a freedom in order to keep it. So we kiss.
"On March 29, 2016, Farrokh Sekaleshfar — a British-born medical doctor and Shi’a Muslim scholar — was invited to speak at the Husseini Islamic Center just outside Orlando, Florida.

During his sermon, “How to deal with the phenomenon of homosexuality,” at the Sanford-based center, the scholar and sheikh described in characteristically sotto voce what it meant to do the compassionate thing for gay people:
“Death is the sentence. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about this. Death is the sentence.”
He continued: “We have to have that compassion for people. With homosexuals, it’s the same. Out of compassion, let’s get rid of them now.”
He.Actually.Said.That.  That.

He gave God's permission to a maniac so that he could kill. It was surely not the first time Sekalishvar has said this, nor is he the only one among his crowd saying such things. The maniac was prepped to kill gay people.

This supposed wise man has certainly made a target of himself. There are crazy gay people, too. With guns. Inciting a killing can kill the inciter. A thought that must be on many people's minds today.

Does killing God's creation make you holy? If you think that gayness is not part of God's creation, then why do thousands of species have gay members? There are gay penguins, for heaven's sake. They kiss. Self-righteousness is not righteousness. Prudery is not propriety.

Islam is not the only religion with preachers who call for the killing of gays. Christian pastors do it, too.

Here are four of them. In the last video, one can see a pastor calling for the execution of gays and then introducing presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

Pastors put their sermons up on YouTube. Some of them must now be frantically combing their collections, making sure that every mention of killing gays is deleted before unfriendly forces discover them. The links above may not last forever.
Hindus and Buddhists seem a little less worried about variations in lifestyle. Their cultures are a little more mature.
So it is that gay people need to celebrate our own happiness, and to celebrate the advances in human rights that now allow us to be married and which protect us in some places from losing our jobs for being gay. The wisdom of Socrates, the plays of Shakespeare, the music of Tchaikovsky would not be ours if there were no gays.

We are, we always have been, we always will be.

We kiss.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Feeling The Change?

In 1953, when George Jorgensen had his genitals snipped and became the media darling Christine Jorgensen, my 11 year-old schoolmates, on seeing one of us with his hand in his pocket would ask, "Feeling the change?"

It was that long ago. 63 years ago. Trans women have been using the ladies room for 63 years. Trans men have been using the mens rooms. And suddenly Republicans have a problem. Six decades of no problems and suddenly Republicans have a problem.

One would think that they had run out of things to attack. Attacking gays is so gauche these days. Global warming, torture, US support for oppressive governments - a person would think they'd attack these things. But they can't. They own these things.

So, to prove that they are brave fighters in God's holy army, they attack transgender people.

How sterile the vanities. How sad the souls that must compete for darkness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Can Democracy Be Seeded?

I was raised in a home where we would discuss things at the dinner table and hold a vote. Would we go to the little lake up the road tomorrow and picnic and swim? Or stay home and work on projects? What is the best name to call the new dog?

When grown, I entered the world expecting my opinions to be taken seriously. I discovered that peoples' opinions weren't taken seriously. I became an activist.

Nowdays, in my email comes a dozen petitions a day to be signed, sent from Credo and a slew of do-it-yourself petition generator sites.

Activists abound. Activism is alive and well. The forces for democracy that produce democratic government are alive and well. 

Suppose every family had discussions in which everyone's opinion was heard and where a majority ruled? What would the children become? Every child would have unmet expectations for democracy.

America tried to mandate a democratic government for Iraq in a world where people were comfortable with dictatorship. Didn't work very well. Democracy can't be built top-down. 

But if the yearning for democracy can be built, perhaps democracy will come. Perhaps the survival of democracy can be ensured.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Mathematics Of The Mix

Eleven candidates for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Presidency have been competing with one another. The very mathematics of it - the arithmetic - assures that success is not with them.

Each candidate has ten others doing their best to keep him down. Each feels a need to outdo all ten of the others in jingoism and chauvinism. Each candidate must be more unique than ten others.

Running perhaps for the Republican ticket is Donald Trump, who is having one heck of a time. He has captured about 40 percent of the Republican vote, as of this writing. Ted Cruz, whose foreign birth gives many cause for pause, is next below him at 19 percent. All the other candidates are in the single digits. But they have their supporters.

The Democrats are almost equally tied at this point between two candidates - Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders' support is slowly building among the people. Clinton's support is slowly growing among the rich and powerful. Either of them could beat Trump in the general election.

It would not be surprising to see a lot of corporate support switch from Republican candidates to Clinton. She's the more conservative of the two possible winners. At the same time, Sanders may inherit some tea-partiers who believe in "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" - an old Republican motto, not honored in recent years.

The election for President may then be, within the primary of the party most likely to win, a race between corporate institutionalism and populist humanism.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Metric for Totalitarianism

Censorship, to the extent a government can get away with it, is the beginning of totalitarianism.

Remember Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", the book about book-burning?

An international standards group has just designated "Error 451" as the symbol to be returned when your attempt to visit a site has been blocked by a government:
As a standard error related to the functioning of the internet, this code's usage will probably be tabulated and will appear in reports. It's a new data point.

This is an instance of an information age structure, "The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), a global body which reviews internet standards" exercising control over its domain that quantitatively monitors, and, by publicizing wrongs, now controls, the polity.

You may remember the principle of 'working to a metric'. Pay programmers by the number of lines of code they write, and you get a lot of really short lines. By introducing this information blockage measuring device, the IESG has created a similar metric.

Which countries will be the ten worst blockers of internet information flow? Who's the most total totalitarian?

The totalitarian totals. Another circus has come to town.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Racial Terrorism In America May Not Work Too Well

In Minneapolis, white supremacists who had previously been counter-protesting a Black Lives Matters demonstration over the police killing of Jamar Clark, last night shot five BLM demonstrators. Thankfully, no one was killed.
"... last week Jamar Clark was shot during a "struggle" with the police. Witnesses to his death are stating he was handcuffed and shot execution style in the head. "
Demonstrators had been calling for release of the video of the Clark shooting. The shooters had been threatening them.

There is a strong chance that the identities of last night's shooters are known to those who can turn them in. So here will be something for America to digest.

They intended to inspire terror. With weapons. Organized as a team. And they attempted to kill.

The brother of Jamar Clark thanked the demonstrators for their support and encouraged them to end the demonstration
"... in light of tonight's shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step."
The act of terrorism succeeded in pausing the demonstration. For now. The struggle for justice for Clark's killing will undoubtedly continue. The terrorism by gunfire certainly brought national attention to it.

Here we are.

The NY Daily News depicted the head of the National Rifle Association as a terrorist  a day ago. War is going on. War on the addled warriors right to own guns. War on the marketers of guns designed for mass killings.

Given the intrusive nature of the American security apparatus, the perpetrators are surely already in the system. Now, so also is anyone six handshakes away from them. Digital dossiers on all of them are being pulled from data warehouses and cross-linked into a walkable terrain.

A new database exists. "Armed White Supremacists And Friends In The Minneapolis Area." For some organizations, it may have been around for years.

It will be a race to see who discovers the perpetrators' identities first. The police? Anonymous? The Southern Poverty Law Center?  Anonymous members have probably had these people under observation for a while. They have interesting little hobbies like that. SPLC keeps a close eye on racist groups. They all inform the authorities when they see something illegal happening.

A simple google on "Armed White Supremacists And Friends In The Minneapolis Area" finds 398,000 results. Anyone can play this game. Finding the perps should not be very difficult.

Nothing like being the center of attention.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Bernie Sanders Files Bill To Legalize Cannabis

Senator Bernie Sanders, contending with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic presidential candidate, has introduced a bill in the Senate that would legalize marijuana, putting its governance into the hands of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Just as anyone who wants to can brew wine, I would imagine that soon anyone who wants to can also grow weed. Fifty-eight percent of Americans think cannabis should be legal. There is a similar bill in the House. This bill will be in the news until election day.

Bernie's agenda calls for a lot of things that a majority of Americans want but which both parties have been ignoring, mired in the glory of internecine warfare. His agenda calls for:
  1. Rebuilding Our Crumbling Infrastructure
  2. Reversing Climate Change
  3. Creating Worker Co-ops
  4. Growing the Trade Union Movement
  5. Raising the Minimum Wage
  6. Pay Equity for Women Workers
  7. Trade Policies that Benefit American Workers
  8. Making College Affordable for All
  9. Taking on Wall Street
  10. Health Care as a Right for All
  11. Protecting the Most Vulnerable Americans
  12. Real Tax Reform
His take-down of the drug war's favorite football comes as a surprise. But a majority of Americans wanted it.

From now until election day, Bernie may introduce bill after bill that will bring about what a majority of Americans want. He may present his agenda to the American people as a series of Senate bills.

How can Hillary top that?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Charm School For Cops?

This would be a great way to make money. Send law enforcement officers to charm school. The reduction in risk of lawsuit payouts for bad policing could fund it.

Charm schools teach how to get what you want graciously. They teach equanimity under stress. How to be gracious in the middle of difficulties. 

The idea could even make for a TV series, where cops who have learned quiet grace outclass their grosser peers. Education - and TV shows - like this may improve police-community relations. Police would learn how to solve problems without becoming an emotional participant.

Even if only a few officers - perhaps senior officers - receive the training, the understanding of how to accomplish difficult tasks without losing composure could filter down through the ranks. So it's really a cheap investment for a city. Taking a class in these skills could be part of a policeman's training. Failing a class in social skills should be a cause for concern. Failure may screen out recruits who are innately unsocial and could become liabilities.

If someone were to negotiate with finishing schools on one hand and law enforcement organizations on the other, acting as a middleman, there could be fees and commissions. The reduction in risk of lawsuit payouts would fund it.

Charm school for cops.


  1)  Identify jurisdictions that have already paid out large sums for police misconduct.
  2)  Determine what funding is available for risk reduction.
  3)  Identify finishing schools in those localities that work with adults and could hold seminars and week-long study sessions.
  4)  Contract with the schools to act as their agent.
  5)  Sell the plan to the aldermen.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tortured In Guantanamo

Guantanamo still holds prisoners who have been there for years and never been charged with a crime. It is force-feeding prisoners who are trying to kill themselves by refusing to eat.

This is America.

From TruthOut:

Tortured in Guantánamo, Uncharged Prisoner Details a US-Created Hell

From his new book being published by Little, Brown, the words of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, somewhat redacted by his torturers:
"After several days in isolation I was transferred to the general population, but I could only look at them because I was put in the narrow barbed-wire corridor between the cells. I felt like I was out of jail, though, and I cried and thanked God. After eight months of total isolation, I saw fellow detainees more or less in my situation. "Bad" detainees like me were shackled 24 hours a day and put in the corridor, where every passing guard or detainee stepped on them.

The place was so narrow that the barbed wire kept pinching me for the next ten days. I saw --------------------- being force-fed; he was on a forty-five day hunger strike. The guards were yelling at him, and he was bouncing a dry piece of bread between his hands. All the detainees looked so worn out, as if they had been buried and after several days resurrected, but ------------------- was a completely different story: he was bones without meat. It reminded me of the pictures you see in documentaries about WWII prisoners.

Detainees were not allowed to talk to each other, but we enjoyed looking at each other. The punishment for talking was hanging the detainee by the hands with his feet barely touching the ground. I saw an Afghani detainee who passed out a couple of times while hanging from his hands. The medics "fixed" him and hung him back up. Other detainees were luckier: they were hung for a certain time and then released."

"You're not a man, and you don't deserve respect. Kneel, cross your hands, and put them behind your neck."

I obeyed the rules and he put a bag over my head. My back was hurting bad lately and that position was so painful; --------- was working on my sciatic problem.[4] --------- brought two projectors and adjusted them on my face. I couldn't see, but the heat overwhelmed me and I started to sweat.

"You're gonna be sent to a U.S. facility, where you'll spend the rest of your life," he threatened. "You'll never see your family again. Your family will be f**cked by another man. In American jails, terrorists like you get raped by multiple men at the same time. The guards in my country do their job very well, but being raped is inevitable. But if you tell me the truth, you're gonna be released immediately."

I was old enough to know that he was a rotten liar and a man with no honor, but he was in charge, so I had to listen to his bullshit again and again. I just wished that the agencies would start to hire smart people. Did he really think that anybody would believe his nonsense? Somebody would have to be stupid: was he stupid, or did he think I was stupid? I would have respected him more had he told me, "Look, if you don't tell me what I want to hear, I'm gonna torture you."

Anyway, I said, "Of course I will be truthful!"

"What terrorist organizations are you part of?"

"None!" I replied. He put back the bag on my head and started a long discourse of humiliation, cursing, lies, and threats. I don't really remember it all, nor am I ready to sift in my memory for such bullshit. I was so tired and hurt, and tried to sit but he forced me back. I cried from the pain. Yes, a man my age cried silently. I just couldn't bear the agony.

--------- after a couple of hours sent me back to my cell, promising me more torture. "This was only the start," as he put it.

 This is America.

 A bio of the author:
"Mohamedou Ould Slahi was born in a small town in Mauritania in 1970. He won a scholarship to attend college in Germany and worked there for several years as an engineer. He returned to Mauritania in 2000. The following year, at the behest of the United States, he was detained by Mauritanian authorities and rendered to a prison in Jordan; later he was rendered again, first to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and finally, on August 5, 2002, to the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was subjected to severe torture. In 2010, a federal judge ordered him immediately released, but the government appealed that decision. The US government has never charged him with a crime. He remains imprisoned in Guantánamo. "

Being held without being charged is of course a violation of a person's constitutional rights.

Visibility will free this man. It doubles every two years. Visibility may also detain "William the torturer", the person who interrogated him.

This is, after all, America. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chelsea Manning Punished For Outdated Toothpaste

Chelsea Manning, who, as Bradley Manning shared to the world the video taken by an American helicopter as its gunners casually shot reporters and who exposed a lot more of the illegal shenanigans that had been going on, and who is now in jail, is being punished for having outdated toothpaste.

It's a medical misuse of toothpaste, they say.  Because it's a pain-control toothpaste, therefore medical. It all makes sense.

This writer has not just one, but two of these toothpaste tubes in his medicine cabinet, gifts from the dentist. Both are several years old. The risk of interdiction by the forces of law and order for the crime of allowing these tubes to become outdated seems slim.

Disuse is not misuse. An easy mistake, though, for simple minds to make. 

Manning did also bump some dishes onto the floor. That was perhaps an error of judgement. But the toothpaste, the toothpaste! 

She was not allowed to have her lawyer present. The prosecutors were trying for long-term solitary for her, but she was given several weeks suspension of recreational and library privileges.

Long-term solitary for outdated toothpaste. What if they had succeeded?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Marriage For All

The US Supreme Court has decided that the right to marry does not depend on gender.

Any single adult can marry any other single adult.

Those opposed to anything gay, particularly those who make a living off their opposition, are writhing on the floor. They'll find something new to do. The rest of us seem to be celebrating the happiness we see around us.

It may be that the world sees a larger message: that the arbitrariness of societies - and of governments - can be changed. The good will of the people can be made the law of the land.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Is Pot Legalization The Next Gay Marriage?

Five years ago, a gay couple in the U.S. wanting a full legal marriage could do so only a in handful of states. In the rest of the world, there were only a few countries - mostly in Northern Europe - where a gay marriage could be celebrated.

Today gay marriage is becoming universal.

Today in this country if a newly married couple strolling down the street wants to share a joint to celebrate their union, they can do so only in a handful of states. In the rest of the world, there are only a few countries, mostly in Northern Europe, where people can freely and legally smoke marijuana.

Tomorrow, full cannabis legalization may become universal.

While the players are different and the politics not the same, the similarity between the two revolutions is remarkable.

With both, there were half-way measures.  Civil unions united gays, but it wasn't marriage. Medical marijuana programs allow some to smoke, but it isn't freedom for all. Just as "separate but equal" failed to provide racial justice, civil unions and medical marijuana fail to provide full access to what should be one's rights under the law.

Both involve arbitrary laws that assume false realities. Denying gay marriage limited the freedom of as much as ten percent of the population. Denying use of cannabis limits the freedom of the whole population.

This limit to our freedom may change. A majority of Americans favor full legalization. In Congress. members in both parties are calling for full legalization of cannabis.

As the 2016 election approaches, Democrats may realize that pot legalization initiatives will draw Democratic voters to the polls. Republicans may decide to beat them to the punch and legalize it before they can attract the new voters.

One can only hope.

And this insanity called the drug war can come to an end.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The End Of The Leonhart Era At DEA

Drug warrior Michelle Leonhart has resigned as head of the DEA.

A resignation under fire - she failed to fully investigate the subversion of DEA employees at sex parties in Colombia. Congress wants to talk.    

04/21/15  DEA chief to step down, Congress probes sex party leaks

She was a Republican holdover. Getting a replacement through Congress was not an option.

She leaves a remarkable legacy. Studied ignorance, for example:

Mal-administration. A suspect was locked in a cell. Nobody fed him. Nobody cared:

"For 13 of the 14 years I have worked on this issue, when the DEA came to a hearing, committee members jumped over themselves to cheerlead," said Bill Piper, a lobbyist with the Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legalization group. "Now the lawmakers are not just asking tough questions, but also getting aggressive with their arguments."

Cannabis Heals

Cannabis is perceived by the FDA as having no medicinal use. So they put it in their "worst drugs" category:
" ... drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence."
No currently accepted medical use? Google ("Cannabis Heals").  And find...

       23 Health Benefits Of Marijuana

What research has learned to date:

Cannabis can be used to treat glaucoma, reverse tobacco damage, help control epileptic seizures, decrease the frequency of childhood seizures, stop cancer from spreading, decrease anxiety, slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, treat muscle spasms, lessen the harsh side effects from hepatitis C treatment and make the treatment more effect, treat inflammatory bowel diseases, relieve arthritis discomfort, keep you skinny and help your metabolism, improve the symptoms of lupus, and spur creativity in the brain.
" ... a recent study in Israel showed that smoking a joint significantly reduced Crohn's disease symptoms in 10 out of 11 patients, and caused a complete remission of the disease in five of those patients. "
It "reduces pain and tremors and improves sleep for Parkinson's disease patients. Particularly impressive was the improved fine motor skills among patients."
It helps veterans suffering from PTSD.
It helps protect the brain after a stroke.
It might protect the brain from concussions and trauma.
It can help eliminate nightmares.
It reduces the pain and nausea from chemo and stimulates appetite.
It can help people cut back on drinking.

The post at the link above includes links to the research studies that have demonstrated the different benefits of cannabis.

Google ("Cannabis prevents") and you get

   20 Medical Studies That Show Cannabis Can Be A Potential Cure For Cancer

How much longer can the FDA with a straight face keep cannabis classified as a hazardous substance? It's just going to get more and more embarrassing as time goes on.

In June, 2014, "DEA Asks FDA To Consider Rescheduling Marijuana From Schedule I Drug

Good for them. And did anything happen? Ehhh.

If the health of people in the states where recreational marijuana is made legal improves, then there may be massive interest in total legalization. At some point, the FDA is going to need to respect established science.With a blush, perhaps.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Unforgivable Forgiven

A race war he thought he would start.

Instead, the world saw those whose loved ones he had killed forgive him and pray for his soul.

Charleston sits, shafted by a flagpole flying the Confederate battle flag at full mast while all state and federal flags are at half-mast.

After emptying his gun into his victims who had gathered for a prayer meeting, the killer then held the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger again. At some level, he knew it was empty, so his act was symbolic.

He will continue to live, but his life has been killed.

He is named strangely, with an androgynous first name, "Dylann" a middle name "Storm", and the last name "Roof".  There may be a story or two behind all that. He may have been raised in strange ways.

Even now, it appears the killer was a good friend of an African-American peer, went haywire when his girl rejected him for a person of color, possibly the peer, and channeled his rage into racism.

Had he had counseling as he went through these changes, he might have had a better sense of his choices. That small absence in his life killed nine people.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

America Indivisible

When I was a child, we pledged allegiance to "one nation, indivisible" in school every day. Or pretended to do so, if we happened to be of a church that pledged allegiance only to the highest and did not pledge allegiance to anything made by man. Man, who somehow contrived to misunderstand the simple commandment, "Thou Shall Not Kill".

And then the word "indivisible" was replaced by the words "under God". "One nation, under God ..."

The Goddists had outnumbered the Buddhists and Taoists and Atheists and Apathiests. Being split among themselves, the Goddists then pulled the nation in all directions. What was once indivisible became divided, multiply fractured.

There was money in damning the Democrats, and the Republican party flourished until it itself fractured. As seen in the Indiana imbroglio noted below, corporate interests now support gay rights. Those who derive an income from spouting social conservatism have so far failed to do this. The corporatists and the 'tea party' conservatives have split. Money is marching elsewhere.

What is indivisible in America is the peoples' will to govern.

"With freedom and justice for all."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Indiana: Would-be Shunners Are Instantly Shunned

Last month, Indiana passed a law allowing gays to be shunned by local businesses. Businesses didn't have to serve people they thought were gay. Before anyone could report actually having been shunned, Indiana found itself losing money, shunned by major corporations who didn't want their gay employees victimized.

Their shiny new 'shunning' law stood tall for a week. Then it was amended to indicate that it did not condone any type of discrimination. Since the law does still allow religious norms to trump minor laws in other areas, what remains of it would seem to empower the "First Church of Cannabis", which has applied for a state charter. The sacramental value of cannabis is not to be taken lightly. It has a history which must be honored.

The state is in damage control mode.

The governor, in dabbling with the dark side, has dashed his hopes for a run at the Presidency. 

There had been warnings:

 03/25 3:56 PM  Christian Group Is Ready To Boycott Indiana If Governor Signs ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill:
"Wednesday, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) — or “DoC” denomination, which claims around 659,000 members in North America and has been headquartered in Indianapolis for almost 100 years — sent a letter to Pence asking him to reconsider. The group threatened to relocate its general conference, which is scheduled to bring around 6,000 people to Indianapolis in 2017, if the state-level RFRA is approved. "

3/26 3:30 PM  CNBC  The business case against Indiana's religious faith:
"The Indiana Chamber of Commerce was narrow in its opposition to the religious freedom law in a statement earlier this week..."
"...But other voices from the business community went further. Columbus, Indiana-based Cummins, the world's largest diesel engine maker—which has been among the nation's most outspoken business voices against LGBT discrimination statutes—publicly opposed the new law in strong terms, fearing a weakened hand for corporations based in Indiana when trying to lure top talent to the state."
Yet, the deed is done.

03/26/2015 2:28 PM  Indiana's Governor Signs 'Religious Freedom' Bill:
"Indiana business owners who object to same-sex couples will now have a legal right to deny them services after Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law."
 03/26  06:57 PM  Gov. Mike Pence signs 'religious freedom' bill in private:
 "His action followed two days of intense pressure from opponents — including technology company executives and convention organizers — who fear the measure could allow discrimination, particularly against gays and lesbians." 
This didn't work out as well as expected...

The Midwest houses many sects who have a tradition of shunning. When my mother became a divorcee, she was shunned by our childhood church. Women in the church wouldn't talk to her any more. The tighter the sect, the heavier the shun. The notion is embedded in the culture.

It was a thoughtless law. Some fences work both ways. Some kids would grow up, move on and never come home again. The law was provincial, and provincially naive. 

  The shunning of the shunners immediately begins:

03/26  2:49 PM   Salesforce Cancels Programs in Indiana in Protest of Anti-Gay Bill
03/26  4:13 PM   Set phasers to shun: George Takei encourages boycotting Indiana over ‘religious freedom’ bill
03/26  4:30 PM   Keith Olbermann ESPN calls on sports leagues to abandon ‘medieval’ Indiana over anti-gay law

03/27  2:42 PM  Apple CEO Tim Cook Warns Arkansas Not To Pass Anti-Gay Bill Like Indiana
03/27  4:10 PM  Corporations And Celebrities Agree: Anti-Gay Indiana Can Get Bent
03/27  6:12 PM  Hackers have allegedly taken down Indiana's official website in response to Pence's Bigotry Law

  Indiana notices:

A day later...

03/27 11:36 PM  Indiana officials look to stem religious objections fallout
03/27      SAN FRANCISCO: Mayor Ed Lee Bans Work Travel To Indiana For City Staffers
03/27      Celebrities protest new Indiana law

03/28  10:12 AM EDT  Indiana Officials Scramble To Contain Fallout From New Anti-Gay Bill
03/28  12:09 PM  Charles Barkley Wants NCAA To Pull Final Four From Indiana Over Anti-Gay Bill
03/28    2:12 PM   Angie's List Cites Anti-Gay Law In Halting Indiana Expansion

  The governor attempts a half-way solution:

03/28       INDIANA: Gov. Mike Pence Promises New Bill To "Clarify Intent" Of Anti-LGBT License To Discriminate Law:
"He adamantly insisted that RFRA will not open the door to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. But he did acknowledge that Indiana’s image — and potentially its economic health — has been hurt badly by the controversy."
(03/30) 11:43 ET  Indiana GOP leader admits ‘No Gays Allowed’ sign would be legal in most of the state

03/29  8:57 AM  Angie's List Cancels $40 Million 1000 Jobs Indiana Expansion Over Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Law
03/29 11:01 AM  Mike Pence Dodges Questions On Anti-Gay Discrimination In Indiana
03/29  3:56 PM   Indiana governor: New law 'not about discrimination'

  His solution doesn't solve much:

03/29  9:43 PM  Whoops: Indiana’s anti-gay ‘Religious Freedom’ act opens the door for the First Church of Cannabis
03/30 12:36 AM  Indiana University president: 'Reconsider this unnecessary legislation'

03/30 2:34 AM  When Mike Pence tells you SB101 isn't anti-gay, he's lying.  (See the names of the homophobic activists standing behind him at the signing ceremony.
03/30  7:03 AM  (watch) Ind. Guv Won't Say Whether New Law Allows LGBT Discrimination

03/30   9:19 AM As backlash against Indiana's license-to-discriminate law grows, damage control is failing
03/30 11:11 AM  Conn. Gov. Will Sign Executive Order On Travel In Protest Of Indiana Law

  Chicago's mayor invites businesses that are worried about discrimination to bring their jobs to open-hearted Chicago:

03/30 11:46 AM  Emanuel Trying To Raid Indiana Firms Over Religious Freedom Law:
(Chicago mayor) "Emanuel sent letters to a dozen Indiana based companies criticizing the law and urging them to move their headquarters to Illinois and Chicago in particular, according to Crain's Chicago Business."
03/30  1:47 PM  Here Are 17 Major Companies Protesting States' New Anti-Gay Laws
03/30  2:48 PM  NCAA: 'If we have to move events' from Indiana, 'we'll do it'

03/30  2:53 PM  Dems hammer Pence for posing with anti-LGBT activists while signing ‘religious freedom’ bill 
03/30  3:28 PM  Indianapolis mayor (R) wants legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation:
 “Forty years of history as one of the most hospitable places in America should not be placed in jeopardy because of this act,” said Mayor Ballard. 

  More businesses scream and holler:

03/30  3:59 PM Indiana's Anti-Gay Law Prompts Thousands Of Businesses To Stand Up For Diversity
03/30  5:47 PM Breaking in Indy: Nine CEOs call on Pence, legislature to modify 'religious freedom' law
03/30  7:17 PM  Subaru announces disgust with Indiana law
03/30  7:42 PM  Boycott these 5 common products made in Indiana
03/30  7:59 PM  GOP Mayor Of Indianapolis Signs Executive Order Protecting LGBT Community
03/30  9:12 PM  Breaking in Indiana: Right Center (right) Indy Star Editorial: 'Fix this law Now'.

  The conservative Indianapolis Star says  "FIX // THIS // NOW":

03/31       Here’s the front page of today’s Indianapolis Star.  Also, here.

03/31  1:59 AM  Indiana GOP Leaders Shocked Their 'Religious Freedom' Law Is Seen As Anti-Gay

03/31  8:59 AM  Leaders Of Indiana Companies 'Deeply Concerned' Over LGBT Discrimination Law
03/31 10:08 AM   'Parks And Rec' Actor Nick Offerman Cancels Indiana Show Over Anti-Gay Law
03/31 10:27 AM   Gap, Levi's Join Other Big Companies Protesting Anti-Gay Laws

  GOP presidential hopefuls rise to the defense of homophobia:

03/31 10:59 AM   GOP Presidential Hopefuls Rise To Defend Indiana Law That Many See As Anti-Gay
03/31 12:11 PM  Everyone Is Laughing At That Poor Dumb Idiot, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
03/31 12:57 PM  The True Intent Of Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill, According To The People Who Helped Write It (includes the signing picture)

03/31  1:34 PM  Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Either Confused Or Misleading Everyone About His Controversial Law

03/31  2:10 PM  Marriott CEO Calls Indiana’s RFRA “Madness” and “Idiocy”
03/31  2:37 PM  USC Athletic Director To Boycott NCAA Meeting: I Have A Gay Son
03/31  3:36 PM  NASCAR: Indiana law fosters intolerance, exclusion
03/31 4:14 PM  The 2015 Final Four Schools Respond To Indiana Anti-Gay Law

  The governor admits a fumble:

03/31  6:07 PM  Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Says He 'Could Have Handled' Religious Freedom Law Better
03/31       REVEALED: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's Ugly History Of Anti-LGBT Advocacy
03/31  756 PM   Breaking: UConn Coaches Won't Travel to Indianapolis for Final 4 Due to Religious Freedom Bill

  Indiana pizzeria innocently assumes gays might possibly order a pizza for a wedding reception:

04/01       Indiana Pizzeria Vows To Never Deliver A Pizza To A Gay Wedding

04/01 10:36 AM  Yelp Users Troll Indiana Pizzeria That Refuses To Cater Gay Weddings

  The shunners are shunned more and more:

04/01  9:45 AM  Jeb Bush Seems to Shift Tone (into reverse) in His Praise of Indiana Law
04/01 10:23AM  David Letterman: 'This Is Not The Indiana I Remember As A Kid' (VIDEO)
04/01  2:00 PM  Mayors, coffee shop owners, and crackers speak out against Indiana hate law
04/01  2:45 PM  Indianapolis Bakery That Refused To Make Cake For Gay Couple Has Gone Out Of Business

  Arkansas governor sees it coming, deflects it:

04/01       In Reversal, Arkansas Governor Says He Won't Sign Pro-Discrimination Bill
04/01       LIVE VIDEO: Arkansas Governor Holds Press Conference On Anti-Gay RFRA Bill
04/01  3:59 PM  Walmart Praises Arkansas Governor For Refusing To Sign Anti-Gay Law
04/01  4:42 PM  Arkansas Governor's Son 'Proud' To Have Urged Dad To Veto Anti-Gay Bill

  An annual church convention cancelled:

04/01  4:55 PM  Disciples Of Christ Cancels 2017 Convention In Protest Of Religious Freedom Law

04/01  5:41 PM  (Illinois) Sen. Kirk Bashes Indiana Law As 'Bigotry' And 'Un-American'
04/01  5:43 PM  Indiana's website appears to not be functioning at this time.

04/01  9:37 PM  Former Indiana Governor (D) says 'enough' to RFRA
04/01        Tech Giants Denounce RFRA Bills

  Religion laws fall into retreat:

04/02  9:51 AM  Jeb Bush Flip Flops On Indiana Anti-Gay Law: 'We Shouldn’t Discriminate'
04/02        Climbdown on the ‘gay discrimination’ laws: Arkansas and Indiana both prepare new versions in bid to end furor over religious protection measures

04/02  6:42 PM   Indiana Law Went Too Far For Most Americans To Support

  The law is fixed:

From the signing on March 26 to the 'fixing' on April 2nd took seven days. The internet expedites justice.
04/02  7:32 PM  Arkansas, Indiana enact fixes to measures seen as targeting gays
04/02         INDIANA: GOP Lawmakers Add LGBT Non-Discrimination Language To RFRA

04/02          Indianapolis in crisis mode after tourism hit by religious bill
04/03          Bills enacting Indiana-style religious freedom law (in Nevada) dropped
04/04          Indiana Residents Rue Damage to State’s Welcoming Reputation

  The humor of the situation is not lost to everyone:

04/06 10:55 AM   Zach Braff And Donald Faison Will Make Pizzas For Your Gay Wedding In Indiana
04/06  1:48 PM  Why The Christian Right May Never Recover From Indiana

04/07         Indiana: Church of Marijuana founded to Exploit Religious Freedom Act
04/13         Indiana Hires PR Firm To Rebuild Image After 'Religious Freedom' Fiasco

Will Indiana now win contests for "Most Welcoming State" ?

There is potential:

01/15/2014   Indiana Minister Boots Gay; 80% of Congregation Also Goes Away 

Not every congregation shuns gays. Some congregations shun their minister.