Friday, May 12, 2017

Ethics In Your Face!

I read an article this morning about how a government worker was embarrassed as she explained the US policy of governmental ethics while instructing foreign governmental officials how the US holds its leaders to a high standard of ethics and how the ethics standards are checked and double checked. Instead of sitting awe struck and attentive, one of the government officials basically asked how their policies are going with Trump as president. I can imagine how the class broke up as the educator was laughed into embarrassed silence. I'll bet she would have handled open disdain better if they had taken off their shoes and thrown them at her as once happened with George W. Bush when he was president. I remember the outrage of the Right and the braying of the Left when that aired on the news.

I doubt if the blank-eyed stares of previous foreign students was due to awe at how well ordered the ethics policies, checks, and balance were in the past. The dumb-founded foreign officials were because the foreign officials didn't understand that the oh-so-helpful US government educator really had no idea that ethics in the USA were about as useful as tits on a boar hog and about as airtight as Hillary's excuses for why she lost the election last year.

People's hackles will become fully erect at the hint that the USA is not the epitome of ethics and that no government official at any level has ever engaged in anything that hints at conflicts of interest. How dare they?

Moreover, how dare we?

What gives the United States the right to tell other countries how to run their own countries? One might quip, "The CIA," since the CIA has been actively involved in meddling in who is elected as a country's leader for decades. There are lists of budgets and documents that detail exactly how the election of leaders in South American countries have been handled and who was chosen to win and to lose.

And here comes the conspiracy theorist name-calling.

If you don't already know about it, George W. Bush had a list of which Middle Eastern country leaders and governments were to be removed from office. Cheney knew about it of course since George W. delegated most presidential tasks to Cheney so George W. could practice his painting and vacation on his ranch in Texas. Bill Clinton was more hands on than hands off when it came to meddling in other countries' democratic elections and took no small pleasure in toppling leaders left and right. Slick Willy has changed his tune since he is too busy -- or at least was until Hillary lost the election -- soliciting funds for his and Hillary's retirement funds and private island resort where all the world's leaders can bask in the sun while pledging and paying millions to the Clinton Foundation to combat hunger in Africa and cure AIDS around the world in the form of private clubs like the facility in Haiti while the people continue to live in squalor in shanty towns around the island. And all those jobs, the Clintons promised the Haitians when they promised to help clean up the hurricane damage from 2013 are about as illusory as the clean water and 21st century sewer treatment facilities that were built by the Clinton Foundation.

The Clinton are really too easy a target when it comes to ethics since neither Bill nor Hillary know the first thing about ethics since they are still demanding to know what the definition of IS is.

Obama, masquerading as a Christian while still practicing Islam in a private room in the White House, was busy buying American hostages from Iran to seal the deal while urging the world to give up sanctions against Iran and chip in with some enriched uranium so the Iranians could build nuclear power plants to ease the burden on the average Iranian citizen. After all, don't Iranians deserve to have lights and electricity for their illegal satellite dishes when the Ayatollah cuts off their Internet?

Seriously? The US has no business teaching the world about ethics or complaining about how Trump turns his back on ethics and continues his conflicts of interest. We do not really want to get into the conflicts of interest that are rife in politics in the US or this post will be so long no one will take the time to read it.

Amidst calls for Trump's impeachment, the ethics committee is having a hard time keeping a straight face while they educate foreign governments how to keep their own governments ethical and conflict of interest free. Okay, so foreign officials are laughing boldly in our faces. Isn't that better than sniggering behind the country's back?

Ethics is a word college students learn in a class and thumb their noses at while they dive into the swamp of politics stroking hard for the filthiest spot in the pool.

The US has no business teaching the world about anything except how to keep its nose out of the world's business. Point to World War I and World War II if you like, but the United States didn't get into those world wars until the wars were almost over and the hard work done. The US should have stayed out of Vietnam and Korea as well. We have not done the world a bit of good and the good that those wars did the United States has long been bankrupted.

Trump is doing for $1 a year what presidents before him did for hundreds of millions of dollars and he does it in the clear light of day. Trump is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, but that is who the people elected instead of some speechifying hypocrite whose only aim was to destroy the USA and bring it to its knees. Job done!

Keep your spy hats firmly on your heads and the blinders blacked out because Trump is not going to change and for once the abuses of power are done in the full light of day instead of covertly while claiming to be aghast at the scandals he found out when it broke in the news on CNN. Welcome to a really transparent government at last. Sorry if it looks a little dirty, but at least now you know.

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Balancing on a Razor's Edge

Whatever you think of FBI director James Comey, it seems he is still a political football. I'm sure he was not surprised when President Trump called him on the Oval Office carpet and fired him. I am surprised Trump didn't fire him sooner. Then again, I am surprised by much of what Trump does. Trump seems unfocused and far too often emotional, acting out rather than acting from a stable emotional base, but then he's Trump and his emotions seem set to a hair trigger attached to his mouth and his tweeting fingers. Neither a good or stable position from which to act. If Trump was a warrior with decades of scars and battle experience to his credit, I'd guess he was a berserker.

I've heard and read comments from Democrat and Republican views that Comey is a nefarious master mind, that he is a dirty cop, that he is an honest dupe, that he was colluding with Hillary, that he is now colluding with Trump or at least has been backed into a corner where he has been forced to dance to Trump's since last spring, and on and on and on. The Democrats and Republicans and yanking on Comey from both sides, blaming him, challenging him, lauding him, applauding and demonizing him. My views are far less quixotic and less changeable.

From the beginning when Comey laid out the results of the investigation into Hillary's server, I believed he was honest and doing his best to stand up in a hurricane clinging to the nearest upright and stable anchor doing what he could. I was outraged that Comey gave Hillary a pass especially after stating that the Secretary of State had been extremely careless with classified documentation but that no prosecutor could prove she had the intent to commit an illegal act.


Hillary installed a server in her home and ran all of her emails through it. Hillary, when subpoenaed by Congress to answer questions and produce all devices had her server treated with Bleach Bit to erase all traces of her communication from the server, lost devices, and destroyed devices even with a hammer. I guess Hillary had been watching too many movies where junkies tossed their stash in the toilet and flushed it all way. No evidence, no crime.

There remained evidence on Anthony Weiner's laptop in his home for instance and in thousands of emails sent to people all around the world, including emails to Obama who was president at the time, and many of the emails still had evidence of classified markings on them. She was seen in photo and video tap, tap, tapping away at her Blackberry here and abroad and it was public knowledge that her communications were not secret even when sending and receiving secret information and that Hillary had been hacked by operatives from governments, allies and enemies. How does none of that provide enough proof of intent that a prosecutor wouldn't give his pension and eye teeth to prosecute? Such evidence is a game changer, a career maker, a lock. And it wasn't enough to prove intent? Was Comey high on crack? Was he insane or in the early stages of Alzheimer's who no longer recognized friend, foe, or family? How do you state publicly that the Secretary of the State of the United States of America under President Obama, a woman who has served in high office, and who was married to the president of the USA and was First Lady for 8 years, didn't know what a classified document looked like and lied about sending and receiving classified information was extremely careless when handling classified documents is not guilty of a crime? American citizens who were attached to the military services are still serving jail sentences for less and one general at least in recent memory was destroyed by being extremely careless with his pillow talk to his mistress when divulging classified information. How does Hillary get a pass?

Well, Hillary's husband, ex-president Bill Clinton, flew down to Phoenix and entered Loretta Lynch's plane where Mrs. Lynch dismissed her aides, companions, and guards and spent 30 minutes in the plane on the tarmac in Phoenix purportedly discussing grandkids and golf while Hillary was still under investigation. That had to have given Comey pause that the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ), his boss, was carrying on a private conversation with the husband of a woman under investigation by the FBI and the DOJ that none of her entourage were allowed to hear. Loretta Lynch, instead of recusing herself and allowing someone else to take the lead on the investigation, said in a press conference a few days later that she did indeed meet with her old friend, Bill Clinton, wife of Hillary who was under investigation, and that they talked about their grandkids and golf for 30 minutes and that she would accept whatever the FBI and the DOJ teams suggested. I knew then, if I hadn't figured it out before, that the fix was in. Hillary was going to get away with her extremely careless handling of confidential information.

Hillary was also going to get away with her extensive attempts to get rid of the evidence of her carelessness. Obama had covered for her and covered for Hillary still. Lynch was obviously in the bag and Lynch was the only person who could convene a grand jury to indict Hillary so she would stand trial before a jury. James Comey was obviously caught in a no-win situation no matter what he did, which is why he outlined Hillary's actions and summarized his findings by saying that no prosecutor would touch the case given the fact pattern he found because Hillary was not guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt. Huh?!  Isn't that something the prosecutor has to determine? Did Comey talk to a prosecutor, see a prosecutor, hear a prosecutor say there was insufficient evidence or cause to get a clear verdict on Hillary's guilt? Did Comey have a secret meeting with a grand jury and prosecutor to claim Hillary's case had insufficient evidence to prosecute and indict? What was going on? I was back to Comey must be high on crack again because nothing else made sense.

I watched Comey give evidence in congressional hearing after congressional hearing and he seemed lucid and honest, but I've been fooled by pathologic liars before. Was Comey another such sociopath?

No, Comey's background and family were involved and "...being paid millions of dollars that Comey accepted from a Clinton Foundation defense contractor, Comey’s former membership on a Clinton Foundation corporate partner’s board, and his surprising financial relationship with his brother Peter Comey, who works at the law firm that does the Clinton Foundation’s taxes."  Seems Comey isn't so honest after all. 

Stories that follow the money dog Comey and the people that read such stories question Comey's integrity and his honesty.  No one has mentioned whether or not Comey was a Hillary or Trump supporter that I've seen, but how Comey votes isn't supposed to matter; he's a cop, and agent and director of the FBI, he doesn't have a political voice in all of this -- or does he? 

Hillary claims that FBI director James Comey was the reason she lost the election. Hillary also claims the Russians were the reason she lost the election and then further claims that she lost because of . . . well, there's a long list of reasons, including Anthony Weiner’s cellphone, Fox News, WikiLeaks, and the fake news of the alt-right. I'm sure as the days go on and Hillary continues her many $250,000 speeches the reasons will accumulate as fast as the donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments that only want to do good. 

Oh, wait, those foreign government payments ended before Hillary lost the election to Trump and have failed to begin again when the Electoral College certified Trump's win. That must be a big blow to the poor and needy the world over who were being helped by the Clinton Foundation. I'm certain the hurricane victims in Haiti will continue to send their regrets for the loss of their share of the charitable donations from the Clinton Foundation.

I prefer to think of James Comey as a good and honest cop who was caught between Obama and Hillary on one side and Loretta Lynch on the other side and doing the best he could to keep his head above water even though it no longer matters because Comey was fired as director of the FBI this week. Congress has found no evidence so far that Russia hacked the elections or were in any way involved in hacking documents and emails from John Podesta, the DNC, and Hillary and her team. Those documents and emails, none of which Podesta, the DNC, or Hillary and her team have been refuted, were leaked by people within the Hillary camp and/or working for the DNC and John Podesta who wanted the American people to see the real Hillary when the cameras are off and the reporters have gone home. The American people saw and chose Trump over Hillary and James Comey, with all of his double talk, will fade with time or end up covering the bird cages around the country for his trouble. I would imagine Comey will heave a sigh of relief once he is finally out of the crosshairs and off the public's mind.

I do believe Comey was an honest cop caught in an impossible situation and unable to do his job, relying on someone -- anyone -- to figure out what was going on and realize that Hillary would get away with her actions as she has so many times in the past, not because of her lame excuses or her paranoid scapegoating, but because the powers protecting her were more powerful than the truth. James Comey will have to rely on short term memory loss amidst the inundation of persistent data dumps and media howling that shift with the constantly changing mainstream currents. Maybe now Comey can relax since he is no longer balancing on a razor's edge.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Price Has Changed

For decades we have been told that magic comes with a price, and not just magic but power. The message has been central to every book, movie, and TV series. The supernatural genre has touted the formula for over half a century and even longer: magic/power comes with a price.

The most recent TV series to focus on the price of power was the innovative Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Vampire slayers were a special breed of demon, though the slayers never knew they were demons battling demons until it was made clear in the final season that slayers, young women, were imbued with the power of a demon, a very powerful demon, turning the slayer into a killing machine who didn't live very long, dying young and violently by the hand or through the power of some demon stronger and more powerful. That is until Buffy, the Valley Girl who died and kept coming back to fight again, even when she died the last time and had gone to her reward (it was suggested Buffy went to Heaven).  All she knew was that she had been pulled out of a place of eternal peace and dragged back to Earth to continue fighting, a point brought out during their only all musical episode, Once More With Feeling.  Well, Buffy and her friends, and all of Sunnydale, were under a demon's spell that force everyone to sing their lines and their lives until the spell was broken -- or in this case, the demon discovers that it wasn't Dawn who had cast the spell with a wish, but Xander and he wasn't the demon's type. Spell Broken. Song Ended. Price paid.

Look at any supernatural book, movie, and TV series (and there are a lot) and you will find the central theme is the price of magic/power. That is until Teen Wolf comes along. Scott McCall, asthmatic klutz and freshman at Beacon Hills High School.  Scott is determined to make the Lacrosse team. Well, Scott made the team the year before, but he spent the whole season riding the bench. Another year and another tryout for the asthmatic freshman determined to make the team even though it means coughing up a lung and lying dead on the field while both teams run over his played out body, likely near death, as long as he scores a goal. Stiles, Scott's best friend and son of the local sheriff, also wants to get off the bench and score a goal or two before he finishes high school, although death will likely come from Stiles's penchant for solving crimes and getting in law enforcement's way with his theories, often astute and just as often dismissed because Stiles is just a kid.

Following a scanner call about a dead body in the woods, Scott and Stiles get separated and Scott is bitten. What's worse, Scott has to hide the injury since his mother, a nurse at the Beacon Hills Memorial Hospital, would kill him if he doesn't die from the bite. A bigger problem is that the wound heals by itself and leaves no scar. The biggest problem of all is Scott not only making the Lacrosse team, but playing better than the star and captain of the team, rich boy heart throb and all around athlete, Jackson, who is determined to find out how Scott suddenly got so good. Well, of course Scott is now a star athlete with power and precision. The bite he received was from a werewolf and now Scott is also a werewolf and, it turns out in subsequent seasons, so much more.

At any rate, Scott is driven by a desire not only not to hurt innocent people but in controlling  the change, what Derek Hale, a born werewolf, son of a family of werewolves who have been protecting Beacon Hills for a very long time, as have the druids also living in Beacon Hills and allied with the wolf packs as guides, teachers if you will, a role druids have played for centuries. Scott is different. He doesn't want to be part of a pack, especially not Derek's pack when he finds out Derek's uncle bit him and made him a vampire. Scott ends up forming his own pack of friends like Stiles, his best friend, Allison, the daughter of a family of hunters who for over 400 years have hunted supernatural creatures like Scott, Lydia, the most popular girl in school and also a bean-sidhe (banshee) who was bitten by Peter Hale, Derek's uncle, and other friends and acquaintances of Scott's, misfits and losers bitten by Derek to increase his pack. Scott's pack is not only unusual since it is not comprised of other werewolves, but Scott is also unusual because he advocates not killing innocent people when he is under the moon's spell.

The difference with Teen Wolf is not only that as a supernatural series the focus changes from the price of magic/power, but to the ultimate gift of power and how it can be used to do good. Buffy did good with her vampire slayer powers and she saved "the world a lot" as was engraved on her tombstone when she died taking down a god. The X-men, people changed by supernatural means into vampires, werewolves, and the like, and increasingly shows like Teen Wolf have begun to sing another tune, not that magic/power exact a price, but that magic/power can be redeemed by helping others. With the focus off the price and on the good that can be done, what shows is a reversal of the paradigm that being special, supernatural, and powerful for whatever reason is no longer about what it costs but what such special abilities, talents, power, magic even can do for those around the gifted one.

There have always been those who have used their gifts to harm others, and that is also demonstrated in Teen Wolf, but the overriding theme, the central point is that whatever befalls us to change us, no matter how bad it seems, does not have to destroy our basic humanity or the need to help those around us. No more angst over being forced out of a normal life into a life of supernatural abilities. Instead, the monsters have decided that they do not have to be monstrous or killers, except for Jackson who had a bad reaction to being bitten by a werewolf and became a kanima, a slithering monster with a paralytic sting in its tail, bent on vengeance and destruction. There are some instances when a werewolf bite kills and others when the bite is rejected and the bitten shifts to a shape that is more akin to who the person is on the inside, in Jackson's case a Kanima.

I like the new paradigm shift from magic always comes with a price to the price of magic can be used to help others and defeat evil. I like that a lot because it signals a shift in the creative zeitgeist that focuses on saving/helping our fellow beings. No longer are the monsters out to destroy us or add to their evil numbers, although there are those who do and are defeated because humans, even humans who have been supernaturally changed, are complex beings with loads of baggage and their fair share of Jekylls as well as Hydes.

Even as the political scene is in upheaval with the opposition looking more like lynch mobs determined to deny their opponents their rights and freedoms as the discourse shifts from civil debate to riots, looting, burning, and calls for death to the opposition, it is heartening to see that there are some groups focused on helping their enemies rather than destroying their enemies. That is a positive shift that will resonate throughout the world. We do not need war to change people's minds. We need to show our enemies there is another way, another path that will benefit us all. When magic is used, we don't need to weigh the price, we need to accept the change and help our fellow humans triumph over their own worst natures by showing them a safer path.

That is all. Disperse.