Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Amount Of Oppression And Hate In The World Is Overwhelming - Makes It Hard To Blog Because There Is Too Much To Protest

When I was a grad student I wrote, in my head, what I called at the time, a 'social science fiction' novel.  That was back in the mid 1970s.  I should have written it - it was prescient in a number of things.  A basic part of the social structure in the book was a set of television connections that allowed people to connect with others all around the world.  I was back in LA after three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand.  Lots of ideas swirling in my head.  I was reading all sorts of social science and writing papers and substitute teaching elementary school to help pay for tuition.  There were a couple of days where I taught a Kindergarten class in the morning and a graduate class in the evening.  So my novel still only exists in my head. 

One of the key moments in the history of humanity in my book, was when a group of Tibetan monks, in an isolated monastery, through intensive years of meditation, discovered that forces far out in space were using earth as a 'farm.'  The product they were harvesting every 30 to 60 years, was 'goodness.' It turned out to be a rare commodity found in few places in the universe.  After such a harvest, people fought each other, more people became criminals, wars broke out.  It took 30 to 60 years for 'goodness' to gain a foothold among humanity again.  And then the aliens would return to harvest their crop.  The monks in my story teamed with scientist to block the space powers from harvesting the earth's 'goodness.'  

I've been thinking about this metaphor a lot during the Trump administration.  It seems like there was a massive harvest of goodness prior to his administration.  And now we have to nurture a new crop.  

That's prelude to a couple of things I've been reading and/or watching.

Here's a Tweet video from Al Jazeera on Uighurs incarcerated in China (not far from that fictional Tibetan monastery.)

I Care A Lot

We watched this Netflix film last night in mild horror.  Marla Grayson (character) is a Guardian for seniors who can't take care of their affairs.  She works with a doctor who refers patients to her, then goes to a friendly judge who, because it's an "emergency," gives her guardianship of the patients.  Then she goes to the patient's house - in this case Jennifer Peterson, who is wealthy and living a great independent life in an upscale neighborhood.  Grayson shows her the court order, and gets the incredulous victim to the Berkshire Oaks facility.  I haven't givien much away - because Jennifer Peterson in essentially imprisoned within the first 20 minutes of the movie.  How it happens is what's so scary.  Grayson is truly evil. 
"Writer/director J Blakeson was partially inspired by real-life news stories about shady guardians like Marla Grayson. In an interview for the film’s press notes, Blakeson said, “It started when I saw news stories about real-life predatory guardians who game the system and exploit their wards. And I was horrified. Imagine opening your door one day and there is a person standing there holding a piece of paper that gives them total legal power over you. That idea terrified me—and seemed very relevant right now. It plugged into themes that I am interested in exploring —themes about the power of authority, about people vs profit, control vs freedom, humanity vs bureaucracy. It reminded me of Kafka’s The Trial​. I knew I had to explore it.”

If you want to go down a similar rabbit hole that Blakeson did, check out New Yorker reporter Rachel Aviv’s excellent 2017 essay on the guardianship phenomenon, “How the Elderly Lose Their Rights.” It’s a great read, and no doubt inspired many elements of Blakeson’s script. "  (From  Decider.)

I'm so glad I was able to let my mom stay in her own house.  In hindsight hiring a full time caregiver wasn't necessarily more expensive than a nursing home would have been, and far less disruptive.  But Jennifer Peterson never even had a choice.  The legal work was done behind her back by a series of corrupt transactions.  

I also think about a similar phenomenon in Alaska - payees.  These are people hired to take care of the money of people who are mentally or otherwise deemed unfit to take care of their own finances.  I have a mentee who has been scammed by a couple of payees.  There's really almost no oversight for these people who manage the money of people seen as unfit.  How can they possibly keep their payee accountable?  

One last story - Police Violence, Race-Based Trauma, and Mental Health among Filipina/x/o Americans.  This one is all too familiar, but it's is about a Filipino-American, not an African-American. It's co-authored by University of Alaska Anchorage's faculty member Dr. EJR David.  Here's an excerpt:

. . . Mr. Quinto experienced what seems like a mental health-related episode. Not knowing how to handle the situation, his sister and mother called 911 for help.

Police officers and emergency medical technicians were dispatched to the scene, but police officers arrived first. His mother and sister reported that Mr. Quinto had already calmed down when the police arrived and that he laid on the floor in his mother’s embrace. Nevertheless, the police still grabbed him off his mother, pinned him face down to the floor, and handcuffed him. One of the officers kneeled on his neck and back, while another officer held down his legs. Mr. Quinto’s sister and mother said he was not resisting or fighting back, but instead twice uttered: “Please don’t kill me”. After several minutes, he spat up blood from his mouth and lost consciousness. A cell phone video taken by his sister captured his limp body being taken away. Mr. Quinto died 3 days later. . .

The article goes on to put this into a larger context of the lack of mental health treatment, race, and police in the United States.   

Monday, February 22, 2021

Alaska Redistricting Board To Begin Interviewing Legal Firms To Counsel The Board

I got the following email message today from the Alaska Redistricting Board staff:

"The Redistricting Board will be meeting Friday, Feb 26 at 2:30pm and tentatively again on Tuesday, March 2nd at 3pm.  Please note that the bulk of both meetings will be dedicated to interviewing legal firms who responded to the Board's RFI for legal services. The interviews will be conducted in executive session.  Friday's meeting will have an agenda item or two for discussion prior to going into executive session.

The agenda and board packet will be posted here in the next couple of days:

http://notice.alaska.gov/201511 "

That link gets you this information:

The Alaska Redistricting Board will meet by teleconference on Friday, February 26 at 2:30pm.

The public may listen by audio stream through http://akleg.gov or by calling one of the following phone numbers:

 - Anchorage 563-9085

 - Juneau 586-9085

 - Other 844-586-9085


If you want to get email messages about meetings and other redistricting board news, go here.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

"LEFFINGWELL attempted to push past me and other officers. When he was deterred from advancing further into the building, LEFFINGWELL punched me repeatedly with a closed fist"

George Washington University's Program on Extremism has a website where you can see the documents being submitted about the people apprehended by the FBI and, I think,  other law enforcement agencies.

"The Program on Extremism has launched a project to create a central database of court records related to the events of January 6, 2021. This page will be updated as additional individuals are charged with criminal activities and new records are introduced into the criminal justice system.

If you’d like to contribute to offset the costs associated with court record fees and research on this and other projects, you can support the Program’s research here."

Different people have different documents filed.  Some I've seen are (links take you to an example):

Affidavit in Support of Criminal Complaint

Statement of Facts

Criminal Complaint


Detention Memo

 The documents I have looked at were mostly Statements of Facts, which seem to have the following general structure (I've given an example of each part):

1.  Identify the person filing the report and where they work

"On January 6, 2021, your affiant  [a person who swears to an affidavit.], Michael Attard was on duty and performing my official duties as a Special Agent. Specifically, I am assigned to the Counter-terrorism squad tasked with investigating criminal activity in and around the Capitol grounds. As a Special Agent, I am authorized by law or by a Government agency to engage in or supervise the prevention, detention, investigation, or prosecution of a violation of Federal criminal laws."  From:  https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/Aaron%20Mostofsky%20Statement%20of%20Facts.pdf

2.  Background information on what happened January 6 in the Capitol
"On January 6, 2021, a joint session of the United States Congress convened at the United States Capitol, which is located at First Street, SE, in Washington, D.C. During the joint session, elected members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate were meeting in separate chambers of the United States Capitol to certify the vote count of the Electoral College of the 2020 Presidential Election, which had taken place on November 3, 2020. The joint session began at approximately 1:00 p.m. Shortly thereafter, by approximately 1:30 p.m., the House and Senate adjourned to separate chambers to resolve a particular objection. Vice President Michael R. Pence was present and presiding, first in the joint session, and then in the Senate chamber." From https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/Greg%20Rubenacker%20Statement%20of%20Facts.pdf

3.  How the agency got information about the individual being charged."
"On January 7, 2021, the FBI received several tips from the public (tipsters) that PATRICK MONTGOMERY of Littleton, Colorado, was seen in photographs posted on Facebook inside the Capitol building Senate Chambers on January 6, 2021. The persons providing the tips also indicated that MONTGOMERY had posted photographs from inside the Senate Chamber on that same day.
A tipster, who will be referred to as T-1, identified MONTGOMERY as the man circled in a photograph below, wherein he appears to be standing inside the Senate Chambers:
MONTGOMERY appears to be part of the crowd that entered the Senate Chambers on January 6, 2021, and, as explained below, MONTGOMERY is wearing the same clothes as he was wearing outside the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Your Affiant spoke with T-1 on January 12, 2021. T-1 told your Affiant that IT is a Facebook friend of MONTGOMERY and that IT knew MONTGOMERY because they worked together as river guides for three years.
Another tipster, who will be referred to as T-2, provided a post from MONTGOMERY’S Facebook page, wherein a member of the public posted on Facebook the photograph above and a commented to MONTGOMERY asking, “Is this you? I saw it on another page and it looked like
Case 1:21-mj-00044-RMM Document 1-1 Filed 01/13/21 Page 3 of 8
you.” T-1 responded, “I have saved this photo and will be indetifying [sic] you to authorities,” to which MONTGOMERY replied, “Got nothing to hide...”
Following this post, MONTGOMERY corresponded with T-1 by email on January 7, 2021. T-1 provided the email exchange to your Affiant. MONTGOMERY’S email address contains the name of MONTGOMERY’S hunting company, Pmonte Outdoors: pmonte3006@[redacted]. In response to T-1 stating, “You have been reported to the police in DC as well as the FBI,” MONTGOMERY responded, “I’m not a scared cat or running from anything. . . . Im [sic] so deeply covered by the best Federal Defense lawyers in the country in case you chicken shit cry boys don’t want it takes to defend our freedom from these corrupt politicians.” MONTGOMERY went on to explain, “I didn’t storm the castle violently. My group was let in peacefully by the police we were talking to with respect. We came a[n]d left peacefully before the anarchist and Antifa showed up breaking shit and being hoodlums.”  From https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/Patrick%20Montgomery%20Statement%20of%20Facts.pdf       

4.  Description of the person and what that person did

"At approximately 2:30 p.m. on January 6, 2021, I was performing my official duties on the first floor of the United States Capitol building. In reacting to the crowd that had breached a window of the building, I moved to a hallway in the northwest corner of the building, i.e., the Senate wing of the Capitol building. While there, I attempted to form a barrier with other officers to stop or deter additional individuals from entering the Capitol building. In the course of this effort and while inside the Capitol building, I encountered an adult male who later identified himself to me as Mark Jefferson LEFFINGWELL. LEFFINGWELL attempted to push past me and other officers. When he was deterred from advancing further into the building, LEFFINGWELL punched me repeatedly with a closed fist. I was struck in the helmet that I was wearing and in the chest. Working with other officers, I was able to gain control over LEFFINGWELL, who attempted to struggle while being detained. I transported LEFFINGWELL to United States Capitol Police headquarters for processing. While in custody, but prior to being advised of his Miranda rights, LEFFINGWELL spontaneously apologized for striking the officer. When told that the officer who LEFFINGWELL had struck was me, LEFFINGWELL apologized to me for striking me."  From:  https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/Mark%20Jefferson%20Leffingwell%20Statement%20of%20Facts.pdf

5.  List of the specific charges.
"Based on the foregoing, your affiant submits that there is probable cause to believe that BRIAN MCCREARY violated 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(1) and (2), which makes it a crime to (1) knowingly enter or remain in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority to do; and (2) knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions. For purposes of Section 1752 of Title 18, a “restricted building” includes a posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service, including the Vice President, is or will be temporarily visiting; or any building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance.
Finally, your affiant submits there is also probable cause to believe that BRIAN MCCREARY violated 40 U.S.C. § 5104(e)(2), which makes it a crime to willfully and knowingly: (D) utter loud, threatening, or abusive language, or engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place in the Grounds or in any of the Capitol Buildings with the intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session of Congress or either House of Congress, or the orderly conduct in that building of a hearing before, or any deliberations of, a committee of Congress or either House of Congress; (E) obstruct, or impede passage through or within, the Grounds or any of the Capitol Buildings; and (G) parade, demonstrate, or picket in any of the Capitol Buildings." From:  https://extremism.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs2191/f/Brian%20McCreary%20Statement%20of%20Facts.pdf

When I started writing this post I went through various statements and took some excerpts to give you a sense of what they say.  As I looked at various statements I realized they followed a general pattern.  So I went back and developed the above list of examples of each of the five part of the statements.  

So, now that I've finished that, I have already given you a lot of excerpts.  But below are the ones I started out with.  

From this Statement of Fact

"TIMOTHY LOUIS HALE-CUSANELLI (HALE-CUSANELLI) of Colts Neck, New Jersey, traveled to the District of Columbia to participate in a rally and protest at the U.S. Capitol. HALE-CUSANELLI is enlisted in the United States Army Reserves, and also works as a contractor at Naval Weapons Station Earle where he maintains a “Secret” security clearance and has access to a variety of munitions.

On January 12, 2021, I received information from an individual who has been enrolled as a Confidential Human Source (“CHS”) with NCIS. The CHS reported that HALE-CUSANELLI told the CHS that HALE-CUSANELLI was present at the riot at the United States Capitol Building and, as part of the riot, he entered the Capitol building itself. HALE-CUSANELLI then showed CHS videos on his cell phone which depicted HALE- CUSANELLI making harassing and derogatory statements toward Capitol Police officers both inside and outside the Capitol building.

During our meeting on January 12, 2021, the CHS reported to me that HALE-CUSANELLI is an avowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer who posts video opinion statements on YouTube proffering extreme political opinions and viewpoints under the title the “Based Hermes Show.” HALE-CUSANELLI also posts similar content in other forums. Prior to traveling to the rally and protest on January 6, 2021, HALE-CUSANELLI wrote “Trust the plan, it’s the final countdown, stay tuned next episode” and 'Trust the plan, major announcement soon.'”

From this Statement of Fact

"On or about January 6, 2021, an individual called the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center to report that the individual seen in the widely circulated Getty Images photograph (Figure 1) was named ADAM JOHNSON. The caller claimed that ADAM JOHNSON was a resident of Bradenton, Florida, and that the caller knew this information because he/she shared a mutual friend with ADAM JOHNSON. The FBI conducted research on government databases and learned that there was an individual named ADAM JOHNSON associated with residences in two cities in Florida: Bradenton and Parrish (which is near Bradenton). A search of the Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles returned ADAM JOHNSON’s driver’s license photograph. By comparing this photograph to the image of PERSON 1, your affiant reasonably believes that PERSON 1 is identical to ADAM JOHNSON.

On or about January 8, 2021, the FBI consulted with members of the Speaker’s staff and learned that before the forced entry to the Capitol building began on January 6, 2021, the Speaker’s lectern was stored in the Speaker’s Suite, located under a staircase to the third floor on the House side of the Capitol building. On or about January 7, 2021, the lectern was found by a member of the Senate staff in the Red corridor of the Senate wing off the Rotunda in the Capitol building. According to the House of Representatives’ curator, the Speaker’s lectern has a market value of more than $1,000."

From this Statement of Facts:

"SCHAFFER was among the rioters who sprayed United States Capitol Police officers with “bear spray,” a form of capsaicin pepper spray sold by many outdoors retailers, as part of their efforts to push the officers back inside the Capitol and breach the Capitol Building themselves. SCHAFFER was photographed and captured on surveillance video carrying “bear spray” and engaging in verbal altercations with Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol Building.SCHAFFER is seen holding a clear sunglasses in one photograph, and bear spray in other photographs.

The photographs show SCHAFFER in a blue hooded sweatshirt under a tactical vest with a baseball cap that reads “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member.” The “Oath Keepers” is an organization that characterizes itself as a militia of former law enforcement and military personnel and has often, as a group, urged President Trump to declare Martial Law in order to prevent the Congress from certifying the Electoral College Results.

SCHAFFER, who is the front man of the heavy metal band “Iced Earth,” has long held far-right extremist views. During an interview in 2017, SCHAFFER identified himself as an “anarchist” and referred to the federal government as a “criminal enterprise.” During that same interview, SCHAFFER stated that the 2016 Presidential election was 'rigged.'”

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Moose Darting

 The doorbell rang about 10am this morning.  A man in a fluorescent vest was outside.  I'd gotten a red tag on my car a couple of weeks ago saying it would be towed if I didn't move it.  I have moved it since then, but my first thought was that this was the tow truck.  

But no, he was from Alaska Fish and Game.  Could he have my permission to go into my backyard and dart the moose.  I didn't even know there was a moose in my back yard.  I said sure and went to look out a back window.  

Sure enough.  In fact there were two resting in the yard.  (That brown lump in the upper left is the second moose.  

He shot the dart at the closest moose which went up the hill and scampered over the fence. (I'd noticed the other day when I went to the compost heap that there was only about a foot and a half of fence above the snow these days.)  Then he was aiming at the second one who'd gotten on its feet by this time.  

They found the dart for the first moose in the snow.  The assistant is holding the dart in the red circle.  

The ADFG agent gave me this card.  It's the weekend they're getting DNA samples as part of a moose population census.  Maybe a neighbor called.  I don't know.

I'd read the article in the Anchorage Daily News yesterday, but didn't think I'd be quite this involved.  

“We could drive around all we wanted, but we would never find that moose in the back of somebody’s house without without the public calling in,” Saalfeld said.

When someone calls in a moose sighting this weekend, it will trigger a series of events. Biologists receive the alert — they average around 1,000 moose tips each weekend. Then, one of seven two-person teams will head to the location of the report.

From there, they fire what’s known as a “biopsy gun,” which lightly strikes the moose with a dart, Saalfeld said.

The dart is designed to pop out quickly, only retaining a bit of tissue that scientists can use to determine that moose’s unique DNA and record it as part of the Anchorage moose population.

“Most of the moose don’t even feel it, or if they feel it, it’s very light,” Saalfeld said. “And they actually typically lay down or sit on top of it, and we have to wait sometimes a pretty good amount of time before we can actually go in and recover that dart because the moose is standing right on top of it for so long.”

The moose in our yard didn't take it that casually.  They got out of there as soon as they felt the dart. Or maybe it was seeing a guy with a gun.  Now I feel a little guilty giving permission to dart them in our yard.  The moose looked like they'd found a comfortable place to rest and then they got shot with a dart.  I doubt they'll be back in our yard for a while.  

Friday, February 19, 2021

2020 Alaska Redistricting Board Debuts Its Website

A post-Civil War map of the newly purchased Alaska sets the mood for this decade's Redistricting Board website. This is NOT your typical government agency look.  Especially compared to the site of the last Board.  This is a very user friendly site and offers Alaskans an easy portal to the redistricting process.  And now that the Census data isn't due until late summer, this is a good time to start exploring the site.  

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Easy To Sort Out The Top Anchorage Mayoral Candidates

I'm going to make this as brief as I can and encourage others to find their way to other forums so they can judge for themselves.  April elections tend not to have that many people voting, and with so many candidates, there's a good chance that there will be a runoff in May.  Those have even fewer people voting.  So your vote counts a lot.  On the other hand, the Municipality has a vote by mail election, which tends get more participation.  

 I watched the mayoral forum hosted by about 20 non-profits that one would have to say lean toward protecting the environment, diversity, and those in need.  The zoomed through a lot of questions and it quickly separated the candidates into, what seemed to me, the well qualified and the less qualified.  

Just as any large private or non-profit business would focus on people's experience and knowledge of the organization and or similar ones, when we elect a mayor we should be hiring someone who isn't going to be learning on the job.  So the first thing that struck me about the candidates was:

Knowledge and Experience With the Municipality

Basically, there were four candidates that stood out as reasonably well versed in what's happening in Anchorage and would be reasonably well prepared to start from day one.  These are folks who, unsurprisingly, have been very involved with the operations of the Municipality:

Bill Falsey - is a former Municipal Attorney and the he was the City Manager.  The first position gives you a ring-side seat and the second actually puts you in the ring.

Forrest Dunbar - is a current Assembly member.

Bill Evans - is a former Assembly member.  

George Martinez - has a lot of government experience in New York and has been involved with community organization in Anchorage since at least 2008.  He worked as a special assistant to Mayor Berkowitz so he has a handle on a number of municipal issues.  He's currently head of Leadership Anchorage at the Alaska Humanities Forum

All four were familiar with the various programs and issues that were raised in the forum and were able to speak to the questions with obvious detailed knowledge of the issues.  

In my mind, these are the people qualified to step into the job and be able to do the do real work from Day One.  The others are going to have to learn on the job.  That's not really what we need.

Articulate and Able to Represent the Municipality Well

The four above were all good spokespersons.  I found George Martinez to be the best speaker - very fluent, clearly had his thoughts well organized and articulated, and conveyed a sense of caring.  Dunbar and Evans were next.  I found Falsey about wonky.  He knew the technical details and was able to say a lot, quickly, but I didn't feel a lot warmth.  High on rationality, not so high on charisma.  

I took a lot of notes, but what I've written above is probably more important than the details of the answers which were focused a lot on parks, diversity, outdoors, indigenous issues, and a little on downtown.  

The other candidates really were far behind in both factors above.  They were not people who had any real experience with Municipal government that was greater than any one off the street.  Mike Robbins said he was in the raise in response to how the Municipality handled the pandemic response.  Businesses were badly hurt.  I don't disagree with that, but I lean more to the side that believes they would have been hurt a lot more if the Muni hadn't take the strong action it took.  

Heather Herndon spoke about being fourth generation Alaskan, she said growing up in Alaska she was never aware of people being treated differently because of the race or ethnicity.  She made some cryptic references to indigenous people saying there were some in her family.  

Several candidates seemed to cast themselves as 'normal people':  Anna Anthony is a mother and a little one made noise in the background a couple of times.  Jeff Brown said he represented the 80% of Anchorage residents that agreed on most things.

Another factor might be generational - who best represents the future and will be best able to take us there?   Of the four most qualified, Dunbar and Falsey are the youngest.  At this point in the pandemic, those who kept forgetting to unmute are automatically disqualified.  It's ok for ordinary folks, but not for someone about to lead one of the biggest organizations in Alaska.  They just don't have what it takes to learn quickly to adapt to change.  T

Gender and ethnic diversity will be a consideration for others.  

Click to enlarge

Jeff Brown and Joe Westfall came in late, after I took the screen shot. Julie was the moderator.  Wikipedia lists five additional candidates who did not show up: 

Dave Bronson

Darin Colbry

Reza Momin[10]

Albert Swank Jr.

Jacob Seth Kern

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Anchorage Mayoral Forum Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - Facebook - 5 - 630pm

Yes, we vote on Anchorage's next mayor April 6, 2021.  That's about six weeks away.  Wednesday (tomorrow as I write this, but today probably for most of you reading this) is a good chance to start getting a sense of the candidates.  Nine have accepted invitations for the Forum.  Start figuring out who you can clearly eliminate and who you want to support.  Too bad Prop. 2 which will give us ranked choice voting in 2022 on the State level, isn't in effect for this election.  We wouldn't need a runoff election if no one gets 45% on April 6.

[UPDATE Feb 17, 2021 - I should have said the quoted info comes from an email I received, as does the image.]

"The Alaska Center Education Fund, Anchorage Park Foundation, NAACP Anchorage, and other local partners are co hosting a virtual Mayoral Candidate Forum, tomorrow.  We are looking forward to engaging candidates about the issues that affect our community. Anchorage's parks, trails, climate and economy are critical for a healthy and sustainable future. We look forward to hearing the candidates’ visions for our city.
Tune in via Facebook Live from 5 - 6:30 pm Wednesday, February 17 or register TODAY on zoom to be a part of the conversation.
 Check out the Facebook event >> 

Anna Anthony

Jeffrey Brown

Forrest Dunbar

Bill Evans

Bill Falsey

Heather Herndon

George Martinez

Mike Robbins

Joe Westfall"

Click on the image below to see it bigger.

Monday, February 15, 2021

NPR: Is Business More Nimble And More Effective Than Government?

How did we get to this point, where NPR asks a "capitalism expert" this question?  The intro was that corporations were cutting off campaign contributions to legislators who supported Trump's big lie about the election and the insurrection. 

"SACHA PFEIFFER, BYLINE: I want to reel off some of the ways that the corporate hammer has been coming down recently. We saw Dominion and Smartmatic sue former President Trump's allies for lying about their voting machines. We saw companies, including American Express and Morgan Stanley, suspending their donations to key Republican lawmakers. The PGA pulled its tournament from a Trump golf resort. I see this happen, and it makes me think that the corporate response to political controversy has been more nimble and possibly more effective than the government one - effective if you disagree with what these politicians were doing. Am I fair to view it that way?"

Here's a link to the whole piece. 

Let's start with the most obvious thing that Sacha Pfeiffer missed here.   The very fact that she points to corporations withdrawing campaign funding from politicians who supported the lies, should have tipped her off to the answer:   politicians aren't independent of their corporate funders.  

Maybe a better question would have been, "Why didn't the corporations let the politicians know they disapproved of the ex-president's lies and fomenting an insurrection before the impeachment votes?"

Sacha Pfeiffer also conflated elected federal officials with government.  They are just one, small, if powerful, part of the vast  federal government. But these are elected officials, not the people who actually carry out government functions.  These corporations got most of the Republican House and Senate members AND the president elected in the first place.  But the career employees of the government - whether in the CDC or other health agencies, or in the State Department, or in the military, or the post office  have been doing their best to keep serving the people of the United States, despite the corporate funded politicians.

And, as I've pointed out here before, there are many, many governments in the US.  From Wikipedia:

Governments in the United States[1]

(not including insular areas)

Municipal (citytownvillage...) *19,429
Township (in some states called Town) **16,504
School district13,506
Special purpose
(utility, fire, police, library, etc.)

For NPR to seriously pose the basic question "Is business more effective than government?' shows us how far to the Right NPR has moved.  This is the argument conservatives have been making for years. It's their argument for making government as small as possible. And yes, corporations can be more nimble than governments at many decisions, simply because one person has the power to decide:  a CEO supported by a Board of Directors who picked him (I use the male pronoun because that's still the vast majority and yes it can be more complicated than that).  The US House has 435 people and the Senate 100 who all have an equal vote in every decision.  And businesses and governments have very different goals.  One goal of government is to provide those things that corporate America can't - like take care of the people who don't have the money to purchase corporate America's products, from food, to health care, to housing.  

There's lots and lots of things to discuss on this topic, but trying to focus directly on this particular segment, my last issue is that Sacha Pfeiffer turned to a person she described as a 'capitalism expert."  Why?  Why not have a different kind of economist?  Why not ask a 'government expert?" Why not have more than one person to respond?   I don't know what else her expert said that got cut out, but I would reiterate the most glaring omission:

The corporations can make these decisions faster than the politicians because corporations own most if not all of the Republican Senators and House members (and at least a part of many Democrats.)  

The fact that they can have an effect by withdrawing their campaign funding should make this point obvious.  

The real question should have been: why didn't they tell their political shills what they wanted before the politicians voted on Saturday? 

The 'capitalism expert' probably hinted at the answer to this unasked question when he said, they act on profits, not principles.  I'd guess they didn't know how all this was going to play out.  So they didn't know until it was pretty much over how it all might affect their profits.  It wasn't until they saw for themselves the House Impeachment Team's case.  

So, in fact, they didn't actually respond much faster themselves.  Otherwise they could have leaned on their bought politicians to vote for conviction.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

This Is So Cool - Radio.Garden Offers You Easy Access To Any Radio Station In The World

David Pogue (@Pogue)  tweeted a link too Radio.garden.  You get to a page. Click open and 

you then  get the world, literally.  Each green dot is a radio station.  And when you zoom in you get

told the location and many more local green dots.  Put the circle on the dot you want and start 

listening.  I'm listening to music from Kerala on the southern tip of India right now.  

Have fun.  And if there's something happening in some distant (from you - remember you are also in a distant part of the world from others) part of the world, you can quickly tune in to local or nearby stations to get the new direct.  Many capitals, at least, have an English language station.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Alaska Redistricting Board To Get Census Data "By Sept. 30, 2021" Along With All The Other States

The following notice comes from a US Census Bureau redistricting blog via an email from the Alaska Redistricting Board Executive Director Peter Torkelson.  (He offered to email a notice of the next Board meeting when I asked if there were an easier way to find out meeting times than the State Public Notice site.  Thanks, Peter.)

FEB. 12, 2021 — The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that it will deliver the Public Law 94-171 redistricting data to all states by Sept. 30, 2021. COVID-19-related delays and prioritizing the delivery of the apportionment results delayed the Census Bureau’s original plan to deliver the redistricting data to the states by March 31, 2021.

Different from previous censuses, the Census Bureau will deliver the data for all states at once, instead of on a flow basis. This change has been made because of COVID-19-related shifts in data collection and in the data processing schedule and it enables the Census Bureau to deliver complete and accurate redistricting data in a more timely fashion overall for the states.

The redistricting data includes counts of population by race, ethnicity (Hispanic or Latino origin), voting age, housing occupancy status, and group quarters population, all at the census block level. This is the information that states need to redraw or “redistrict” their legislative boundaries.

In preparation for the delivery of redistricting data products, the Census Bureau has been in close coordination with each states’ official nonpartisan liaisons to understand the impacts of the delayed delivery on individual states. Since 2019, states have had access to prototype geographic support products and data tabulations from the 2018 Census Test to help them begin to design their redistricting systems. This is one tool states can use to help minimize the impact of schedule delays. In addition, the Census Bureau today completed the release of all states’ 2020 Census geographic products needed for redistricting. This will enable states to redistrict promptly upon receipt of their 2020 Census tabulation data.

I'd note that this is a significant delay (potentially six months if it takes until September 30) from ten years ago when the Alaska Redistricting Board got its data from the US Census Bureau on March 15.  That post explains some of the rules at the time - like having to have the first plan done within 30 days of receiving the data.  (I apologize for the missing photos on that page.  They weren't mine and some are apparently no longer on the original sites.)  I don't know whether any laws have been changed since then.  Back then I learned about the rules because they were explained at the Board Meetings.  There have only been a few meetings this time round and they've all been COVID kosher.