Tuesday, March 03, 2015

when the good guys-- aren't

Do you want to get really mad at government overreach and viciousness? You know the kind of thing that takes you back to Randy Weaver in Idaho and David Koresh in Texas where the government acted like outlaws themselves in their zeal for nailing someone for something.

ATF has done this kind of attack and gotten dinged for it. Once in awhile it has broken into someone's home, guns waving. The owner figures it's thugs and starts shooting. Turned out they had the wrong address. Ooops sorry we just killed you when you didn't understand we were the good guys.

I wrote a book some time back called Her Dark Angel which went into how government can be. I know right now this is all about police and shooting too quickly; but the kind of thing described in the above article has happened and most of the time, we as Americans are clueless about it.

In Her Dark Angel, the hero had been coerced into working undercover. When he tries to explain to the heroine how this works, she is horrified as she sees the government as being the good guys. He sees it as not always that different from the ones they are trying to catch.

Often my books have those in law enforcement as being the heroes but frankly it's not always how it works and the story above reminded me a lot of my earlier book.

Monday, March 02, 2015

making the case for war

While John Oliver, on his wonderful HBO show, was showing us how badly our infrastructure is crumbling-- across the US because we aren't willing to pay to fix it, while some of us worry about the drought threatening the middle of the United States and into California (including a lot of Mexico), while others are concerned with too many children not being vaccinated leading to a return of diseased we haven't seen in decades,  while others worry about fair immigration laws, what is the right wing in Congress busy plotting-- a new war.

If Neocons get their way, the United states will be back in a war, this time with a far bigger enemy than the last ones. Neocons see only one solution to any problem-- bombing and killing. They are already rallying their support for such a war, which they do want. Part of that is asking Netanyahu to speak to Congress. This man wanted war before he got elected; so at least Israelis know what they are getting with him. Do Americans?

Right now, Americans don't want war. According to that article, it's why Obama didn't drop bombs in Syria in 2013, when he wanted to. Currently Americans don't want the kind of war we would face if we become involved in another land war in the Middle East.

Does anyone believe they can't though get jingoed into it? This is a country that spends its time in front of televisions, wants Twitter length explanations of any difficult subject, and loves the excitement of violent wars. Especially if it doesn't mean their kids have to fight the wars. It's how it worked to get enough people on board to invade Iraq where there was no excuse.

So the Neocons are busy again saying there is only one answer. Generally speaking, these are people who never fought a war. They hope to go over the head of our President and get one started anyway. If Israel bombs Iran, where does that leave us? I read an article claiming they threatened to do just that in 2014 and the US said, you head there with bombs and we'll shoot your planes down. They backed off. What I just said has part of the right wing salivating over the power to bomb regardless of the cost.

Well, why not, they don't intend to pay the cost. They just send off the troops (made up of sons and daughters from the lower and middle classes), cut more taxes, block any regulations on finance or environment, enlarge our debt, and then say it's the fault of Democrats when the debt spirals and we have bridges collapsing.

Amazingly, this tactic works with some Americans. Well, look at the size of the debt (18 trillion dollars), and you see the argument for it being a problem; but the solution to the problem of all that interest being paid is not what you might think-- increase taxes. No, it's cut them more and also all the programs that help the poor. It's their fault. It will be the same argument made if we got into what will be a far more major war with Iran-- pay for it? Why should we?

So Netanyahu is going to make the case for war and a lot of Republicans are going to cheer. Will that convince the rest of America-- enough to do it?

Friday, February 27, 2015


Every time CPAC meets, I am inundated with the various candidates giving speeches. Even though I only watch MSNBC, which is a very left wing cable news station, the speeches are impossible to escape. I limit myself these days to watching news maybe twice a week... if that. But the stories are on all the Internet news sites too.

Sometimes though what is said is funny. To some, Scott Walker, the destroyer of unions, is the great white hope. He's attractive, dynamic, but also ignorant. Perfect. The cartoon/photo satire world has taken advantage of one of his less intelligent comments to create an image, which I think is humorous and hope you do too-- whether rightie or leftie. Hey, it's good to laugh

There are a bunch more of the images showing what Walker managed to face down... not in person, of course. I am not sure he's the funniest of these potential candidates to run our country but the image is a winner. I know ISIS is not funny at all, but the idea that Walker posed here certainly is-- that his experience putting down teacher unions qualifies him to run the country.

Update: for those who think Walker has been a primo governor, check this out.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

how serious is it for Americans?

As our country goes through its own turmoil regarding who governs, what is ethical, how many wars can we handle, what about taxes, health care, the poor, etc. etc., the world has something big going on. It can be argued-- how big and will it impact our lives? I'm not talking global climate change (which also could change the dynamics on everything), I'm talking about the Islamic State (separate this from the religions of Islam) which is not really staying in Syria and Iraq and could be a factor worldwide. The question some ask is why should I care-- it's over there.

Many, on both political extremes, are angry at Obama for not seeming to understand what the Islamic State is as he says it's not Islam. I have read far left blogs that tore into the writer of the above article. Their view is it's not Islam that has made the Islamic State behead people, crucify children, burn people to death. 

Except how do we explain the zeal leading young people, from around the world, to want to head to Syria and join up? Lust to kill? Hardly. The most recent example has been three teen-age girls who flew to Turkey, their parents had no idea, to go to Syria and become brides of ISIS fighters. Now think about this for just a minute. Let it sink in.

The girls, if they aren't stopped first, may also end up fighting. But what led Straight A students, lovely girls, to want to leave their homes in England and head to a land where they may be killed or at the least have their freedoms taken away. They lived in a country where they could do as they wished, wear a head covering or not. Those freedoms will be gone once they are in the Islamic State. There if they disobey an order, death is the likeliest result. What leads young women to choose that culture?

They were recruited, of course. That's going on around the world. But it's not just putting a romantic glow on danger and war but the real appeal comes from religious zeal. If you already live in Syria or Iraq, in regions under the control of the Islamic State, you don't have a choice in a lot of this. These girls did. In the Islamic State, children as young as twelve are taught to use guns and called Lion Cubs. They are taught only religious dogma as they go to war when not in school. 

If it all stayed in Syria and Iraq, we might feel sorry for people in those countries, but is that the goal of the the new Caliphate?

With Libya, at least for now, in chaos, where Coptic Christians can be beheaded simply because they are not Islamic, it's not hard to see this moving across the Mediterranean to Europe in at least terrorist acts. It already has with bombings and it probably began there in England with the beheading of the English soldier, Lee Rigby. This was when most of us thought how insane that he'd be attacked that way-- before we understood what was going on.

Economically, to keep going, the Islamic State is receiving help from around the world. They are earning money. Some of it by despicable means like having organs harvested from their captives. Their hostage business has been profitable as some countries don't mind funding them to get their people back.

A lot of the Middle East used to look stable to the outside world because of strong-arm leaders who were brutally cruel but mostly secular in their goals. Men like Hussein and Gaddafi were Muslims but not fundamentalists. Women didn't have to wear the hijab or burkha. They had more freedom than in say Saudi Arabia where even today their freedoms are very limited. 

When Obama tried to say respecting other people's religions or jobs would solve the ISIL problem, I groaned as did a lot of people in the moderate end of politics. It was, however, exactly what people on the far left already believed. He infuriated the far right by not suggesting, as Jeb Bush recently did, that we should go to war more places to attain our domination. No, those weren't his words but what else would accomplish the neocon goals of American influence becoming the law of other lands? 

Unlike the far right, I don't think Obama wanted to sell us out by what he said. I just think he buys a very liberal view of life where logic rules and people basically want to be nice to each other unless something has warped their view-- and then that can be fixed. Yes, a very sweet world we would all live in if we just did this or that. 

Except as a moderate, I don't see that works. Besides human nature being a factor in how people behave, nobody should underestimate religious zeal where logic doesn't play a role. 

The leader of the Islamic State is drawing those to him by using religion. He may even believe in what he is saying. He is no secular leader-- yet anyway. He is claiming to be the one they have been waiting for to usher in the Apocalypse. That kind of claim is what leads young girls to run away from home to head to a war torn land. That kind of thinking does not listen to logic. It is on a crusade! To fool ourselves as to what we are facing is not about to help the situation. Yes, most believers in Islam are as horrified as the rest of us at the cruelty that has been used. It doesn't take most of them to make this a worldwide crusade!

Friday, February 13, 2015

John Kitzhaber, Oregon's governor... maybe for awhile longer... or not

Last night, I went to bed thinking about the latest scandal involving a governor-- this time mine. Being a Democrat, although a rather moderate one, I favored John Kitzhaber all four times he ran for governor. I was pleased when he came back from his first two terms to run again. We donated to his campaign. Although he is a liberal, he also stood up to the unions in an attempt to balance Oregon's budget. I think tried to balance right and left agendas...

First time he ran for governor, he married a woman who he then had a son with. She seemed delightful, business woman, attractive and bright.

The divorce as soon as he finished his second term came as a shock. It would not have had we known him better. In 2002, he had met a woman at a conference. After his divorce, he began openly dating her. The woman was 20 years younger, beautiful, intelligent, had her own business in Bend. No big surprise he was attracted to her.

When he ran for governor in 2010, after the last Democrat finished his two terms, he had this woman at his side but they weren't married. They have yet to marry. She is quite a number in every way someone can imagine-- good and bad. this article on Bloomberg pretty well lays out the current situation-- as much as any can right now

The story of her past made the news right before the elections in November. Would it have turned the election if the right hadn't put up such an extremist? Hard to say, but Kitzhaber won handily-- kind of reminding me of Clinton after his scandal broke.

Oregonians like Kitzhaber for his independence and cowboy ways. He talks of fishing on the Umpqua where he had a home at one time, not sure about now. He is someone a person can like for his love of nature, as well as agree with their political stances.

The woman he is with has evidently been quite a grifter, who didn't give up her ways when she got him to run for governor again and used his position to bag big contracts for her business. The hysteria is building in Oregon to try to force Kitzhaber to resign. Others are talking recalls which cannot happen until the summer, if at all, given he was just re-elected for a fourth term based on his positions and character...

Recently, the Willamette Week has gone after him with one after another articles, which indicate she got big bucks with the belief she would influence him in their favor. What we don't know is if she did. We know she got the money but not what he did for it. Did he then give contracts that rewarded those who attempted to influence her? If he did, there are several other governors who got in big trouble for that kind of thing. I would honestly have never believed he'd be one of them. Other than being a foolish old man, bewitched by a smooth talking, beautiful woman twenty years younger than him, what else did he do that deserves his being kicked out of office-- and the Secretary of State, who is more liberal than he is, taking the seat for what is almost a full term?

Despite what some say, the rumors were out there before the election.  The 2014 alternative offered by Republicans was so abominable that Kitzhaber would have been elected anyway whether others had heard the rumors or not.

In January, Kitzhaber should have brought in a special prosecutor given that the Attorney General has her own conflict of interest regarding her husband, and the Secretary of State has plenty to gain by his resigning. The Democrats may well like having a far more liberal governor.

But if he did something for the money she got, then he likely will have a criminal consequence ahead and his troubles won't just involve staying as governor. Think Bob O'Donnell and the Chicago rep who is in prison right now.

The voters who want him out are mostly right wingers who never wanted him in. The Dems in the Oregon legislature maybe think they can get through more of their liberal agenda with Brown.

I, being a moderate, am not happy about this; but it isn't just who will be our governor. Even more, it's how can a man destroy his life for a woman who manipulates and has no clear set of ethics-- beautiful or speaking nicely or not. We know for a fact she did take the money, intended frankly to peddle influence or bribe. We know she didn't file all the fees in her income tax. We know her background. There is only one thing we don't know.

Did he actually let her dictate his policies? If there is quid pro quo on this, the Willamette Week will be bringing it out. The interesting connection to how they might be getting that info could go back to who our Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum, is married to-- Richard Meeker, the publisher and co-owner of the Willamette Week. Does the plot thicken and is their pillow talk quite interesting these days?

I know ours was last night as we thought through all we have been hearing and some of the dumb things our supposedly smart governor has done-- like firing staff who told him what she was up to. Nothing like how love can blind-- despite what he recently said. Worse, for him, is the likelihood that if he loses the governorship, maybe even does time in jail if he really did let his influence be bought, she won't stick with him. She has always been out for herself-- from her history from before him and her activities as Oregon's first lady-- kind of.

It's a very sad story. 

Update: With Kitzhaber's resignation, I was doing more research into his life and what got him where he is today. This was interesting as the economic situation in which he finds himself John Kitzhaber and finance.  If true, it might explain some of what went down. Not a good place to be at 67. While some politicians make a lot of money off their office, others really don't get much. He could, of course, have sold that home and lived in Mahonia Hall, the governor's mansion in Salem. It's a huge house and not one that I'd find particularly inviting. 

I wonder if our new governor will decide to move there. She has an iffy situation ahead too as she has to immediately start campaigning to keep her job if she wants to anyway. In 2016, Oregon law requires she run to fill the last two years of the term he just won. 

As the first openly bi-sexual governor, Brown has some who will immediately be eager to see her do well-- and some who are suspicious of those who aren't easy to pin down for gender.

Brown also has a political history which may mean trouble ahead. When Oregon was dealing with the PERS (public employee pension) problem in terms of its budget, she worked to get a bill out that would rein back on what PERS will cost. When it was voted on, after she got other Democrats to vote for it, she voted against it. That doesn't leave a good feeling and leads to the question of how much can she be trusted when power is at stake. Maybe she had a good reason to turn on the bill-- as in it wasn't what she had wanted; but it does leave a question. Elsewhere I read she has a problem ethically with taking money from Comcast to support the merger with Times Warner... 

Interesting times. Sad ones too. I like our governor and feel badly it has ended this way for him politically speaking. I hope he does well now and somehow can make a good life for himself--however he now chooses to do it. One expert last night said he doesn't think Kitzhaber will end up with jail time because of how Oregon law leaves a lot of leeway, but for Hayes, that is less certain.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

stories out there

Lately, I must admit that I have much more interest in human interest stories than I do in hard news. Well, exactly what is hard news anyway? What is happening with ISIS? Taxes and deficits? Who will be running for president in '16? Climate change? How much can we know about any of that-- at least for now.

As to what I mean about human interest stories, a recent example would be the transgender story of Bruce Jenner. I have followed it-- although I have never seen a single episode of the Kardashians and am sure I'll not be watching whatever show revolves around Jenner making the transition to a female.  I do though find it interesting; so am reading the stories that come along.

It was amazing to me that a man could wait until he (I am using he because as I understand it, until he makes the transition, he is appropriate) was 65 to decide to make a change from male to female. I was surprised that he could have gone through all those marriages and had all those children and not dealt with this sooner. 

On the other hand, it makes sense. I remember when I turned 60 and thought-- I've done what I had to do, what was expected of me to do-- the rest is for me. Maybe that's where it's at for him. Certainly his kids are beyond this being a huge deal for them. A bigger deal has been how their lives have been exploited by reality tv but then that has also made them wealthy, so...

In following the Jenner stories, I came across one regarding his recent auto accident, which led to a woman being killed. The media is full of it since some are mad at Jenner already over having been in the Kardashian shows and others for turning female. As was the case with deflategate, the media is eager to jump onto a story like this without waiting for the facts. This hunger for instant news is part of our world today but not an admirable part.

When I saw the photos from right before the accident and right afterward, it aroused some questions. How does a photographer take photos right before an accident? One way occurred to me-- they were there waiting for it. Jenner said he had earlier been followed by Paparazzi. What if they didn't feel him in a vehicle was enough story and created a bigger one? It would not be the first time if so.

Try this scenario. They see Jenner driving down the highway pulling a trailer. Either they pass him or they call someone else up the road and tell them he's on his way. I am not sure if there has been any investigation yet regarding the driver that triggered this tragedy, but it was someone driving a Prius who suddenly stopped in the highway. I have read it was a female and she claimed it was for a light-- except the police aren't buying that as the light was 300' ahead or something like that. So what if the photographer was waiting for an accident they knew was about to happen as they were going to cause it?

The leading car, a Prius slams on brakes. Driver of Lexus slams on hers to avoid accident. Jenner slams on his and the photos start happening as he's almost on top of the Lexus. He is though pulling a trailer; so his stopping time is not as fast, and he hits the Lexus. He was turning to try and avoid her and that pushed her into the oncoming traffic where a Hummer slammed into her and killed her. Lots of photos are taken of the aftermath, Jenner in particular. They immediately show up on tabloid sites. 

Who profited from this accident? Is someone ruthless enough to cause an accident like that just for money?

It reminded me of something that happened to us a few years back. We were on a country road where the speed limit is 55mph. We were coming to where a road crosses it with stop signs on both sides. Two cars were there and the second one back, a beater, zoomed out right in front of us and then slowed down. My husband slammed on the binders, and we were able to avoid the accident with a lot of accelerated heartbeats. We assumed at the time that the plan was that we'd hit them and they'd sue. It happens.

What I just described to you is all human interest, character and what often happens in life. Where it comes to Jenner, it might not be what happened, but it's the kind of story I prefer following.

Another story that is much in the news is why John Boehner would have invited a head of state to speak to Congress, a leader from a region where war is always on the precipice.  Is this borderline treasonous when there are ongoing debates regarding sanctions against Iran, where that leader, Netanyahu is running for reelection, when the President of Boehner's own country was not consulted? Why would someone do this other than to undermine his own government because he really wanted to run it-- except he wasn't the elected leader.

The energy behind both these kinds of stories can be used in fiction for how characters manipulate each other, but one has me more upset because it impacts my country in a very direct way. Well, maybe in some ways the first one does too as the insatiable appetite for scandal in our culture leads to some of the desperate risks paparazzi take to get their photos with no concern for other humans. 

This does not even touch on why a news anchor might become a pathological liar... or maybe it does ;)

Sunday, January 18, 2015