Tuesday, December 29, 2009

JMO - Appearance of Security

This recent attempt by an individual terrorst to blow up and international flight to Detroit, as some analyists and columnists have pointed out, only goes to show the failures in the system and the continued appearance of safety and security the Transporation Safety Administration (TSA) wants us to believe works. But while most of the current technology was in place and supposedly better technology coming, it only shows the obvious.

And that is the failures in the system weren't technical, but human. It's what helped 9/11 happen when the FBI had all the information before them but couldn't make the connections and communicate the concerns to the appropriate agencies to stop most of the terrorists. And by the way, let's not forget they also failed in Oklahoma City, where a "nobody" (off the FBI's radar) conducted the worst terrorist attack up to 9/11.

And the failure is that they're selling us fear. As I've always maintained, we, the citizens of this country, are not the enemy. It doesn't pay to look at everyone as a suspect or terrorist and treat us accordingly. It's insane, inefficient and unproductive. We need a system to focus on the few individuals who are truly, and I emphasize truly and not FBI fabrications, are terrorists.

And the failure is that we, as the same citizens, haven't decided what's an acceptable risk with terrorists. If we want 100% safety and security, are we fully prepared and agreed to sacrifice many of our civil liberties and rights to the the government which has shown the abuse those powers to their own agenda and goals, and not public safety and security.

So what is an acceptable riks? We accept commercial airplane crashes as the risk of flying. We can't accept the same level with terrorists for more freedoms at airports and on airplane? Are we willing to submit to indepth investigations for every citizen who flies? To be free from screenings and searches because we're not defined or identified as a threat?

I for one, as I've always said, want to see us go back to 9/10 and make the system better to find and prevent real terrorists from boarding planes. And if one occasionally happens as in this case, so be it. That's the new reality. Do we want to become a nation of fear or a nation of pride to challenge people, and the live up to the challenge?

That's our history, but it doesn't seem to be our future. Here's some questions to ponder.

Are we willing to accept complete body search via remote devices and complete baggage searches for both stowaway and carry-on baggage?

Are we willing to accept real body searches if we're deemed a potential theat because we innocently set off alarms?

Are we willing to have some, without explaining the reason or cause, tell us we can't fly?

Are we willing to accept the state where our whole identity rest in the hands of our government and with the airline and security corporations who will use the information for purposes other than flying?

That's what we looking at and the direction we're going. That's if we accept the 100% rule. We lose some of our rights, liberties and privacy for the pleasure of flying anywhere in the US and the world. It's not what I want. I want a better system, but I want it to preserve and protect our right, ilberties and privacy. And it's doable.

That's because as every terrorist investigation and event has demonstrated. The problem really isn't technological but human. We're the problem. Our own government is failing the citizens and travellers. That's what we should demand, not more technology, but better people. And live with the fact, like everything else in life and the world, shit happens.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

JMO - Sorry Mr. Sparks

I read a column in today's (Sunday 12/27/09) Tacoma News Tribune, found here. Sorry Mr. Sparks, I am afraid of you with your concealed weapons permit. Yes, I fear criminals with guns, and yes, being criminals, they deserve all the penalties the law can throw at them.

But I fear you as much because I don't know who you are, as will police should you act and use your weapon, and what you will do. I would rather know everyone around me doesn't have a gun and won't act stupidly or blindly worsening any situation for everyone else. And I fear you will, thinking you're doing the right and legal thing, act equally as bad as a criminal and do the proverbial, "Shoot first and ask questions later."

I'm not going to argue you know your weapons and how to use them. I respect your service to this country, but, as a veteran who has adequate experience with weapons, I served so I can be in public knowing I'm safe from other who don't have guns, even if they're experienced. I don't want to be a victim of your actions because you chose to use your weapon.

And not fully understanding the situation or circumstances, you might act beyond the need to disarm the situation and subdue any criminal(s). You might also excerbate the situation with your weapon, creating circumstances any criminal may act beyond what they might now if no one had a gun, which would endanger everyone else because you feel empowered and decided to act.

No one doubts having a gun is power, but everyone knows two opposing forces having guns only makes matters worse. And all the knowledge and experience won't change the course of events should both use their weapons, and make everyone else innocent, and maybe injured or killed, bystanders. No one needs to worry about those of us who aren't criminals.

Sorry, all the reasons in the world won't change the fact, even lawful as you are with your permit, carrying a concealed weapons is the last thing we need in public. We have police and other law enforcements officers to protect us. We don't need citizens thinking they're better or acting on our behalf.

So, please, Mr. Sparks, leave your weapon at home. You do more harm than good carrying it around. We don't know you, and we will fear what you can and may do. That's not being a good citizen, but only an inconsiderate one for everyone's sake. And if I'm in a situation where you, or anyone with a concealed weapon, is present, don't use it, even if a criminal has a gun.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

JMO - Betraying the Public

Well, dear Senators, or really Democratic and Independent Senators, you really did this time. I thought the Republicans were corrupt, especially as they demonstrated under the Bush years and with the antics this year against the healthcare reform package and other legislation, but you take the prize, and not just the prize but the host of prizes from the best, or worst, in show in political corruption to the best, or worst, in class for ethics and integrity.

You didn't just blow the public confidence out the window, you blew it out the front door and into the street. You totally betrayed the American people by buying votes to get the 60 votes you needed. You don't really care about healthcare reform, it's evident in the bill itself, full of pork and all sorts of other animal products, some found in cow pastures, all for corporations in the name of helping people, you only care about winning.

And that's what you betrayed almost as bad as the Republicans. They, and you at times, like the vote on the wars and war appropriations for Afghanistan but particularly Iraq, which wasn't related to 9/11 - you bought and paid for the lies, were the worst in recent history at corrupting the process and the results. The American people are now on the hook for trillions of dollars for decades into the future for these wars which won't be won, but like Vietnam, only worse, exited with a pseudo-victory.

But this time, you were so focused on winning you forgot what it was about, real reform and real help for the American people. And in the end, you did it for nearly $900 Billion, except you and President Obama, will promise it won't be that bad as healthcare costs will go down. Like my premiums, which by the way have never gone down and never will? And my coverage which never improves?

I've already written how you've lost me as a Democrat. Well, I won't change my party affiliation because I want to be a Democrat who votes against you within the party. Every candidate you present for election and every piece of legislation you present will automatically recieve a no vote unless you can prove the candidate is for the people and not just espousing political rhetoric for votes and you can prove every piece of legislation helps the people far more than corporations.

But most of all I want to see you clean up the deficit. President Clinton, with a lot of timely luck, managed to have a surplus budget and start decreasing the deficit. I want you do to the same for future generations. I want you to be fiscally conservatives toward corporations and fiscally helpful for and to the people, you know those Americans who voted you into office. And for God's sake, balance the fucking budget! If i can live within one, you can for us.

I want you to show you're really democrats, and not a disguise for gross corruption and incompetence as the Republicans have already shown. Otherwise, I'll be there, just an ordinary citizen exercising my right of free speech condemning you for your republican-like antics and results. And I won't speak out for let alone vote your candidates until I see something better.

And yes, I know my voice and vote is really insignificant and immaterial to you. But then I served my country during the Vietnam era. I am a veteran who served to make this a better country, not a corrupt one as you've demonstrated this year, and I expect in future years too. I hope you lose in 2010. You deserve to lose. And right now a lot of the shine has worn off President Obama, and right now I don't plan to for him in 2012 either.

And so dear Senators, as the old saying goes, "You screwed the pooch." with the American people. And we will get our day in the voting booth next November. We will remember because we live with what you've done to us and not for us.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

JMO - Dear Senate

Take a deep breath and then take the holiday break. Go enjoy time with your family. Get away was Washington DC. No one likes what you're doing with the healthcare reform legistlation. You've wasted too much time over two asshole senators just to get their vote while you have jettisoned the liberal measures in the bill the American public wants and the liberal senators are trying to keep and not bolt the bill altogether.

Just park the bill until January. The way the bill is structured isn't going to be liked by us, the people and voters, and you'll likely take a hit in 2010 over your view and vote, either way. There are some good parts in the bill, but there are also many bad to worse parts in the bill, some we know are for the drug and health insurance companies, and not us, remember the people and voters.

The bill as structured won't provide reasonable, affordable health insurance for the uninsured and underinsured. Remember the former group can't afford any insurance, so unless you provide it through a public program, something like Medicare for the older familes and Medicaid for the younger families, they won't buy it because they can't afford it.

The bill as structured won't provide better, affordable health insurance for the underinsured. They can barely afford what they have, so adding more insurance for more money won't help them. What don't you get about these people? We're already paying the bills for these people, remember us the people and taxpayers, through public programs, so make it official, reasonable, and affordable.

And as the bill as structured won't help the already insured. It won't reduce our premiums. Mine will go up 12% in January if you do anyting at all or nothing. The health insurance companies are already ahead of you because you had them write portions of the bill and you took their checks. Yes, you did, almost all of you, if not all of you. You're corrupted by their money.

You're power, ego and authority drunk. We see and know, and we see and know you're blind to your own arrogance, ignorance and indifference to us, remember the people, taxpayers, and voters. We see it in the photos. We hear it in the interviews. We read it in the newspapers. What don't you see, let alone understand?

So take a breath and take a break. You've gone too far and about to have the linb behind cut off, in not soon, in November 2010. We will remember what you did, said and wrote. And we will vote, and more than likely against you for being so obviously stupid.

And when you come back, remember Ted Kennedy, and ask yourself, what would he want and what would he do for us, remember the people, taxpayers and voters. And then convince us this bill is better, not with rhetoric but with the truth about it. We want the truth, not cow pasture material. We know it when we step in it but apparently you don't.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

JMO - When Democrats aren't

When they're not being democrats or democratic. Right now with the healthcare reform package they've managed to show how gutless and spineless they are for representing the people, the very people they promised to work for, us. They sided with a few extreme Republicans and one egotistic Independent to either remove or dilute provisions which have value for all of us or for all women.

And in the end they sided with the pharmaceutical companies on prescription drug reform, not allowing us but allowing companies, to import foreign-made drugs or US-made drugs shipped and resold in foreign countries. Our country has the highest prescription drug costs in the world, at least 2-3 times the nearest country and often 5-10 times more than most countries. And we're paying those same prices for cheaper foreign made drugs imported by the companies.

And in the end they sided with anti-public option folks not to provide reasonable and affordable health insurance to the 45 million uninsured in this country who will still rely on public assistance to clinics and hospitals mandated to serve them at a financial loss. We, the taxpayer, will still pay the bill, not share it with them but pay all of it. And that doesn't include the underinsured or those denied coverage for pre-existing conditions or denied coverage for illnesses or conditions with insurance.

And in the end they sided with the anti-abortion folks not to provide better healthcare for women and provide better and affordable service with the reproductive choices. They simply denied women for being women. All because a few old white men can't understand why a women should have the right to an abortion for personal or other reasons. They'd rather see a depressed pregnant woman and an unwanted child in this world, all in the name of their religious or family values.

And in the then they sided with one really arrogant and egotistic Independent Senator who can make an ass out of the Democrats and the Democratic party to show how gutless and spineless they really are when they need his one vote to pass the bill. They caved into him out of fear. Not reason, not being honest, and not representing us, but his trite and petty view.

And in the end they screwed the American people. There will be some good things in the bill, but it won't be what it could have and should have been. As Democrats they owed it to the American people to try and to get a bill really worthwhile, but this one is a shell, a shell game of politics. Not unlike everything else they don't get done for us. Sell promises for votes and they renige for corporate money.

And in the end the American people lose. Both good healthcare and good government. And the Democrats have now lost my vote from now on. They're simply the Emperor who has no clothes, standing at the podium declaring victory but clothed in the naked truth. Personally, right now, as I've said already, I'd like to see this bill fail. Fall on its face exposed as what it is, a sham and scam on the Americn people for the drug and health insurance corporations.

But then I'm not in the Senate, and verbally dancing as my Senators may do to sell it here, It won't change the bill or the truth about the bill. It's the old adage about making a silk purse. The bill really is pork, except we're buying the fat too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Wishes

Whatever the moments this holiday season, find time to enjoy the company of family and friends and the simple joy of life.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

JMO - Indian Tribes

I was reading about the healthcare debut and how the proposed bills not only exempt indians and Tribes from mandatory health insurance, it will increase the government funding of their already free healthcare for nearly 2 million on Tribal reservations. That's on top of the $500 Million for them in the Stimulus bills previously enacted.

When the President met with the Tribe recently, they all called for more federal money to help indians. Except that many of those same Tribes operate casinos across the country for huge profits to the Tribal leaders and members, which is exmpted from many state, local and federal taxes the rest of pay as individuals or legal entities.

In additon the Tribes are exempt from state and local laws, despite not only using but demanding local and state services paid by taxpayers. They're exempt from many federal laws since they're declared soverign nations within the United States and their reservation not governed by the United States. Where else can an indian commit a felony, drive to a reservation and not only not be arrested, but never be prosecuted.

Here in Washington State, many local counties and cities prohibit or restrict fireworks over the Independence Day (July 4th) holiday. Yet Tribes operate fireworks stands just inside reservation boundaries selling illegal and more powerful fireworks to anyone, and there is nothing we can do to regulate it except the token, and rarely enforced. ordinance prohibiting transportation of the fireworks outside the reservation.

Yet, it's the local hospitals and police who have to respond to complaints and injuries from those same fireworks.

When a local Tribe wanted to build a huge amphitheater in a rural area which would unduly burden the people and resources of the local area, the county sued to prevent it. The Tribe won and we paid for new roads, water/sewer treatment, utility and other infrastructure to service the Tribe's entertainment center. And we didn't and don't get any share of the profits.

During the proposal stage when the State tried to negotiate a compromise, the Tribe told the State and everyone else where to stick it, that they had the right to do with thelr land what they wanted and we simply had to accommodate them. When the county said no to the new roads and services, the Tribe eventually paid some of it, as well as some of the new law enforcement, but not completely and the residents have to live with the noise, traffic and problems.

That's only some of the examples of the Tribe's arrogance against the rest of us as citizens and governments.

So when do Tribes stop coming to Washington DC with the hand out for money when they already have all the money they need and just need to manage it or share it with all members or with other Tribes. They demand independence from not only the US government, except of course when they need money, and they demand independence from us, the citizens of this country, but claim discrimination if and when they're treated like the rest of us.

And we write the checks so we don't offend them. Why? When will they stand up for themselves and really and truly be independent?

I've worked with indians from many Tribes over the years, and they've often some of the most generous people you'll ever meet. I've also found they're not the best money managers by any stretch of the imagination, and for a Tribe, that's a financial disaster, but always at the taxpayers expense when we wrote the checks and bailed them out when the money was lost.

And now they're getting more money for healthcare. I won't argue they don't have the best healthcare system in this country. But why it that our mistake and our problem? What happened to them solving this themselves? When will they realize they are the own worst enemy?

I won't argue the Tribes have done some good things. They were the critical part of saving the fisheries in Washington State. About half of the salmon originate from Tribal hatcheries (eg. Lummi Tribe in NW Washington). And there are other examples of some Tribes doing well managing their reservations to balance their history, the environment and the economic conditions for all members (eg. Warm Springs Tribe in Oregon).

But there are failures. The family leaders of the Hoh Tribe on the Washington coast embezled all the federal monies and grants for several years and the FBI had to take over the Tribal finances. The contracted government agencies and companies never recouped the money or was anyone convicted. It just wasn't made public to avoid the political fallout.

When some floods destroyed a Tribal community and moved the reservation boundary, losing land to adjacent federal or state land, the Tribe complained, and sure enough, we gave them land and then moved and/or rebuilt the community. None of them or the Tribe are required to have flood insurance like the rest of floodplain home owners to recieve compensation and avoid the government from bailing them out. We just wrote the check.

In short, Tribes aren't what we've been lead to believe, and they're no better than we are when it comes to money and power. They're equally greedy, but more so because they can always claim discrimination and get the taxpayer to write checks. And in the end, though, it always seems to me the Tribes want their cake and our cake too and then want us to both make it and pay for it. But don't touch anything they make, cake or money.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NPR - Suicide

I've read the news stories about the recent suicide of Mike Penner, formerly known as Christine Daniels. Mike transistioned to being Christine on the job as a sportswriter for the LA Times and then transistioned to resuming life as Mike. And then committed suicide. While the newsstories are ok, a lot of people, especially in the transcommunity Christine affliated herself with during her transistion, have come out of the woodwork to talk about suicide, and suicide for transpeople.

Unfortunately, and in my view, almost all of them have it wrong. That's because if they don't have the experience of seriously attempting it and either failing, which is itself something, or changing your mind just before, as in my case, you don't have a clue what's really about. I also saw this with the suicide of my nephew, with what I suspect is the intentional suicide of my brother (took over ten years from drinking and smoking), and with what I suspect my Dad when one day he just quit life and died two days later.

Almost all those who haven't personally dealt with suicide put the reasons on the external pressure on the person. It's the obvious and the things they can see, since they can't see, let alone hear, the thoughts and emotions of the person who committed suicide. It's the obvious to assess blame it wasn't the person's fault except that, as some do, blame them for being weak or not asking for help. And they are so wrong.

Suicide is a choice from internal pressures. It's always from within looking out, not lookng out and reacting to those pressures. They see themselves as the reasons. It's not like someone said, it was all the pressures to be someone and conform to the accepted standards of those type of people. It's from the feelings about being someone and conforming to those standards with your own self-identity.

I know many will say it's just two sides of the same coin. True to some extent, but it's still two different sides of the same coin. And both sides are totally different. The forces on a person doesn't make the contemplate and then commit suicide. The forces inside the person reacts to those forces driving them to contemplate and then commit suicide. It's all about what's inside the person, their view of the world and their life.

And it's all about what choices they see, which slowly narrows to where there is at best two and at worst one. And when it's gets to one, all there is to rescue the person is themselves. We can't. We can't because they don't see it. That's what all these folks completely miss, and will never see unless they've been there enough to know.

Your view of life is like sitting at the bottom of a deep well. You're surrouding by darkness and all the help dropping to you is lost in the darkness. All the sounds muted by the silence of the darkness. All the light gone except what's in your own soul and spirit. And that's what will rescue you, as it did me.

It truly reduces to the simple choice of life or death and it's not something the person thinks, that's for how the commit the act. It's about what they see about life, not just their life, again as many spectulate, but simply life itself. It becomes the choice deep inside you and only any spirit to live will change it.

And what folks don't get about this too is that it never goes away. Once you've sat there, feel the silence of the darkness, the warmth of being there, you never lose it. The question is if you decide to go back or keep it hidden within you so no one knows it's there, and you can and maybe will go back.

And as they say, been there done that. And yes, it never goes away.