Monday, February 29, 2016

Hillary's Emails - Where From Here?

Hillary's emails.

Is that really a topic to bother with? Considering a variety of things, like how this was handled by previous Secretaries, even Republican ones (like Secretary Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice) who did pretty much the same with their emails. So I ask again, is this really even a thing? Or yet another conservative attempt to attack another Clinton, or just another Democrat?

Because let's face it, almost everytime in recent history Republicans have called for an investigation like this we have later discovered (as we knew to begin with) that was just a partisan political effort and not a true concern as they openly professed. Just a desire to make their job easier (or possible) by taking down a Democrat in their way.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that: "For some historical context, Secretary Kerry is the first secretary of state to rely primarily on a email account."

Once the FBI found (or was shown?) classified information in Clinton's or her aide's emails, it triggered an investigation. That means nothing at this point until they finish. It's like the IRS auditing you. It happens. Much of the time it goes nowhere, but it's better to review and be wrong than not and be right. But in this case I see this all as more of an historical event than one of criminal actions.

It is also odd how normally in the conservative mindset this kind of a waste of money would be considered, well, a waste of money. It is through their typical fear and paranoia however that we see the conservative mindset trumped over considerations of money saving and big government involvement, IF there is a potential to prove their fears correct, and especially if it can be at the detriment of a political enemy.

Consider how useless Republicans in congress have been in the past two administrative terms of Barack Obama. How obstructive, destructive and regressive Republicans have been and continue to be. How twisted and turned about their political policies and ideals are and have become. How skewed their priorities are, beyond even that of how skewed most American's priorities have become mostly though Republican efforts and those of their supporters in the military \ corporate \ industrial complex.

I would submit that a similar group of High School students could easily have gotten just as much done and more, and more useful issues settled, had we swapped out all of our Republican Congress with kids. Kids who would have worked together simply for a good grade. All with no connections either to the regressive beliefs, greed or political ignorance of either the "Tea Party" or lobbyists.

I met former and only ever head of both the NSA and the CIA, Michael Hayden back in the 90s at the same security cyber group meetings where we used to get briefings in Seattle from so many smart and in-the-know people. His book Playing To The Edge - American Intelligence in the Age of Terror, is definitely worth a read.

People like Richard Clarke, former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism for the United States and many others who went on to becomes heads of departments and agencies. We got briefings from the DIA, NSA and many others over the years drawing cyber and police people from Canada to Washington D.C. to even Australia

Hayden had something interesting to say on Fareed Zakaria today that changed my mind on Hillary's email situation. But it's not how you might think.

Time as we all know, marches on. Technologies advance faster each year so that most of us find it difficult to keep up with. Government departments and agencies tend to lag behind the citizens on much of this. I know I had the newer flat screen monitor technology at home and at work before many if not most government agencies did.

Only in some departments are they consistently abreast of technology, when it is their prime directive. Such departments as the CIA, DHS, the NSA or other lesser known such alphabet soup named agencies we all know and may never have heard of.

What the Hillary email situation has (and I refuse to call it a "scandal", it's just not) brought up is not whether she shared classified documents in her emails. She didn't, though some documents were later classified as secret in either the natural course of events (few I'm sure if any) and through political maneuverings by Republicans (all of them?). Even Michael Hayden gave a nod to that theory in question of the practice of making documents secret after their creation and dissemination.

What is important in all this is that what Hillary did was not illegal, but from here forward it needs to be.

What is important is that for one of the few times, Republican partisan whining as actually brought to fruition, a change in how things are done. Though as adults they could have gone about this in a far more logical and procedural way. But again rather then just do the job they exist for, they had to go about it in such a way as to attempt to inflict damage on a major member of their opposition political party.

It deeply saddens me that half of our political parties are so destructive and self aggrandizing at almost every turn. Why Republicans can't simply do their job, why they have to do almost anything but simply legislate, is quite beyond me. Seriously, beyond any rational and thinking person who does not see government service as anything but a way to serve the people, all the people, and not only those you think you represent or that you feel support you.

Anyway, what is important in all this is progress and making things better.

What had worked in the not so distant past for those like previous Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell when he did the same thing, is no longer worth the risk. Technology and cyber hacking have advanced to a point that we need now to start to positively seek security on an "at war-like" basis. We need professionals, in house, running, monitoring and handling these types of email servers FROM NOW ON.

Because the once invisible Cold War has turned into the not so invisible Cyber War.

My suggestion would be to drop this partisan effort to besmirch the reputation of Secretary Clinton and change the laws. Then audit everyone necessary to be sure they are using the correct procedures being handled by the correct people. People who will be running tech that will continue to be handled correctly both during and after those individuals leave their positions so that there is a continuity of security and advancing their technologies, sometimes on a day by day basis.

The issue here is bigger than Hillary, or Republican's juvenile hatred for her or their attempts to waylay her run for the presidency.

That is to say tech and security needs to be handled by a department and not an individual member of government or their own people, even if they are very good. It needs to be handled by a department whose sole responsibility it is to stay on top of technology and security issues.

Seems like a no brainer, right? Sure, now it seems real obvious, and in highsight.

It's possible an individual Secretary or such person could hire even better people than a government department might have available. But that isn't the only consideration. And yes that department needs to be assured they will always have the best minds and best maintenance of those minds and have the abilities to stay as far ahead of technology and security issues as possible.

We need these changes and an audit now. How to ever get it through a republican held, do nothing congress is beyond me though.

I would apply an audit to assure people are adhering to these new changes, deal with the situation, not chastise anyone at this point, but be sure they and their emails and technologies are properly migrated to where they now need to reside. We don't need a massive witch hunt, we don't need people scurrying about trying to save themselves or others. We just need to be sure things are being done properly NOW and then continue to do them properly from now on. We need people to be on board, not looking for ways to abandon ship.

As Hayden put it if he were a foreign intelligence agency he would be on this with everything he had to try to hack technologies that aren't being handled as will as they could be, or by in house security and technology experts. Though don't be fooled, he'd already I'm sure have been working all along (hopefully unsuccessfully) on those in house types, too.

We need to protect our people. We need to protect their work and efforts as related to their emails and technologies with everything we have. We also need to focus on what is most useful for America, to stop wasting time on trying to count coup on our enemies on the other side of the political partisan aisle.

What is important, what our priorities should and need to be, is the security of America, Americans, and our American government employes and chief execs and through them our foreign country friends. And enemies.

If that last statement confused you, then you should now see why this all needs to be handled by the experts. Experts we have constant access to. People who can address not just the tiny miniscule technical issues involved in day by day, minute by minute, and nanosecond by nanosecond administration of email and technologies, but also the macro sized global issues involved in maintaining national security.

Where nowadays in this fearful new world one email can potentially, change the world.

Let me leave you with this thought....

A very brief video about Bernie Sanders by Dick Van Dyke. What he says is true. Whether or not you think he could or should be President, or could handle it or if he's qualified or he most qualified, Dick Van Dyke is absolutely right in what he says.

#BernieSanders #HillaryClinton #Conservatives

Monday, February 22, 2016

Biopic Not Documentary: Benghazi, 13 Hours, Teenage Bodyguard

I've been looking for something to blog about that is relative to my writing and art. Many of us have of late been immersed in the insanity that is national politics and international issues. I found one that was born from politics and delves directly into those things, screenwriting and film production in general.

The web site recently had an article about the film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016).

In that article they claim:

"The Benghazi movie 13 Hours was supposed to help bring Hillary Clinton down, but that mission's not accomplished."

Where did they get the idea that it had anything to do with politics and not just a vehicle for talent, and to make money for a studio? Salon had an article on just that topic. Yes, it is a project filled with considerations, politically speaking. Mostly from the right wing trying to make something out of nothing. When it has been shown time and again and with each new incarnation of what was supposed to have happened, that it was simply a bad situation turned worse?

"The 2012 Benghazi attack took place on the evening of September 11, 2012, when Islamic militants attacked the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith.Stevens was the first U.S. Ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. The attack has also been referred to as the Battle of Benghazi." - Wikipedia

I personally find it sickening that the right has pursued this tragedy for political purposes. Just as they have done so many others disgusting things going back to President Bill Clinton related to a personal marital issue. Something they only pursued in order to embarrass a sitting Democratic president, to push him basically into entrapment through yet another in a never ending series of fishing expeditions in order to find anything they could then pursue.

The right knows no decency in politics.

From what I have been able to gather it is typical that the right would claim Benghazi was the fault of the left, of Hillary and Obama, of the Obama administration in general. However, so much of the blame actually falls on the Republican party for previously cutting funds too much for these consulates worldwide that previous year. But we shouldn't talk about THAT now, should we?

It's repeatably been shown that all the disingenuous and disinformation from the right has no bearing in reality for what actually happened. But it served its purpose because even today it is a rallying cry among many conservatives about how the democrats are scum. Like thy bully in the schoolyard, starting a fight and then pointing at the victim and crying that they started it. It's a juvenile but effective tactic.

I'm unsure of the purpose (sort of) of that web site in decrying the film as a political statement rather than what it is, a film for entertainment to explore the types of things that happen in a situation such as this. It is not however some kind of legal document, documentary or even docudrama to explain what had happened. Those in the right who try to push it as such, are just being dull and base as usual.

Enough of politics here though. It's not why I'm writing this.

13 Hours is just a film. From what the accounts are of it so far, a pretty good film, regardless of how much money it has made. I watched it and found it a pretty good film. The truth behind it really isn't the point.

How does a screenplay get made for a film like this?

This is why I chose to blog about this film. I have myself written and am currently rewriting my own film biopic (biographical picture, first use according to Websters' is 1951 probably from Billboard industry magazine). MacMillan defines it as: "movie based on the events of someone’s life."

I had always thought it was bi-opic ("opic" for ocular, visual, "bi" for biographical) but I think bio-pic makes more sense. Oxford defined it as: "1950s: blend of biographical (see biography) and pic." So either way.

Point being, a biopic is a film for entertainment based on real events and people. But not adhering 100% to reality and again, films are made to make money.

It is after all the, Film Industry. Not the Film Historical Society.

My friend and I back in 1974
The title of my biopic is Teenage Bodyguard. It is also known as, Slipping The Enterprise. In the photo above I'm standing in front of my parent's car. My friend home on leave from the Army, the rifle in the in front of me and the shoulder holster and .357 magnum aree all are in the screenplay.

It is about a week out of my young life at eighteen in 1974. A week with me against the Tacoma mob who called themselves, "The Enterprise", while I was with one of their strip club waitresses, a frightened "murder witness".

It seems they wanted to "talk" to her. She however wanted to get the hell out of town, For myself, she had convinced me that I just wanted to see her safe. It was an interesting week. This mob had law enforcement up to the Sheriff and Prosecuting Attorney in their pocket. It was later that decade when many of them were indicted, found guilty and sentenced to prison in a well publicized trial.

I have mentioned this story and screenplay before but I don't think I've gone into detail about how one takes history, what actually happened, and turns it into an entertainment film for audiences. Many events films have been made from would be pretty boring in a theater and would best be left for the History Channel. But even History Channel realizes the need for entertainment in their history shows if they want to survive as a network.

To make a biopic interesting there has got to be artistic licence involved.

You have to skew things a little or a lot to make a film entertaining, to entice and thrill. Otherwise it's just boring. True, some documentaries have been very entertaining. It's all about the desire and orientation of the project from the beginning. In a case like a film such as 13 Hours, or American Sniper for that matter, the purpose was to make a film for entertainment, a drama with action, essentially. As always in these projects, there is a desire to make money. Otherwise no one will touch it, produce it, I'm sure.

Military type stories are easier to make entertaining merely by their nature. But the reality of say, two men sitting in a calm during battle, who just sit there and talk with much of what they communicate coming through the shorthand of their professional orientation, where they could communicate much without a need to speak, would be quite a boring film. So you have to dramatize, make things up, use things you find from their letters, recorded voices, comments from family, friends and coworkers. Compress, hybrid things, information, situations and even people.

In essence, you make Art.

In my own screenplay for Teenage Bodyguard I was the principal character, Time was my enemy in my trying to remember things as they happened and writing it all down decades later. I had to research for months to find the associated issues that happened back then. As it turned out, through my research, reconstruction of events and reconsideration after all these years, I discovered a part of my past that I didn't even know existed.

Things happened to me during that week in 1974 that I had no clue about when they were happening.

I was lucky. Unlike those in 13 Hours, who died, I survived, obviously. Especially as I am writing the screenplay, the audience may very well know, as the film would begin in a theater, that I survived.

They do not know however, the background (as I didn't at the time either). Or if my client survived, the strip club waitress running from the mob. They believed she had witnessed an anonymous murder. She believed they had committed the murder (and probably did).

To this day the murder is labeled, "homicide by unknown suspect".

I know what I know from spending that week with her until she could escape to get on a plane, leave town and never be seen again. And I never saw or heard from her again. Did she live through the week I spent with her, armed with a .357 magnum in a shoulder holster, protecting her? Did she make it to that plane? If she didn't survive, am I still experiencing the guilt from failing at my task as bodyguard, even though I was at the time only eighteen?

If in reality and in the end I had gotten her on her flight (and I'm not saying that I did or didn't), did she survive through that next day, week, or month? Or did the mob finally catch up with her? They had to know where she came from and was probably going back to. How hard would it have been for a crime organization who had national connections, who could reach back to New York City as well as Las Vegas, to kill her any time they liked?

What I knew was pretty boring. I can't tell you here all that I knew or all that is in the screenplay but reality needs a plan to make it a film. It's all in how you tell it, what you tell, building tension, allowing limited release, injecting elements of surprise, humor, fear, and so on.

During the construction of the screenplay you have to use the screenplay format to flesh out what will work and if you have to change things for artistic license, or follow a plan that in some ways deviates from what actually happened, then that is what you have to do.

It is not a historical document after all. Speaking for myself, that is something that took me years of screenwriting to get over, and then actually get down to writing it. I first ran into the concept of staying true to the original, in doing an adaptation of a novel for another author. Then I did another for another author.

Writing an adaption is in many ways like writing a biopic.

You have a kind of blueprint to follow. Rather than historical events and people, it is a novel previously published and therefore, for some people, a kind of historical event. You have to remain true to the "event(s)", the story, perhaps for fans of the novel, and remain true to the spirit of the original.

But you have to make it entertaining for the novel reader too. You usually don't want merely to put the novel on the screen because frequently that just doesn't working. Transliteration from novel to screen (or real events to screen) can easily fail. It's easy to test out. Many times taking an original, and exactly duplicating it on screen simply fails. What works in one format for a variety of reasons just doesn't translate well to another format.

And therein lay the major disparity between what many expect and what a screenwriter and filmmaker produces in a biopic.

For instance, rather than showing a scene exactly how it happened the writer may not follow what happened for various reasons. It is the filmmaker's hope however that by the end of the scene the viewer will have experienced the same or similar feeling necessary to have understood what happened. That is, to understand the scene and in using it as set up for the next scene or for the film overall.

It may not however follow physical reality but rather emotional reality.

Therein lay the artistic license. This angers some people, annoys others, and yet has little or no bearing on many as long as they enjoy a good film and feel they have gotten their money's worth.

For others however, it becomes a political statement if not outrage.

Such is the filmmaker's dilemma and life in making a biopic. When it goes wrong, it goes horribly wrong. But when it goes right, it is Art.

In my own screenplay I had my memories to work with. What I had lived through. I had the advantage (and disadvantage) of being the primary character so I could as screenwriter query myself any time of the day or night when needed.

However there were things and information I did not have and so they required some artistic license to be able to flesh out the story. I did not know for instance, what the woman I was protecting was thinking, only things she said to me, and only as best as I could understand here at the time and eventually remember in what she said and did.

I did not know what the mob was thinking or doing, other than anything I may have seen them do, or historical references to them in documents at this point in time. And that turned out to be a lucky thing and a sticky situation.

This mob in Tacoma as it turned out was highly documented in the newspapers back then, in books and as well in court documents from trials. From all that and from what happened to me I was able to piece together quite a lot. I came to understand more and more of what exactly had happened to me. I found for instance that a "friend" of mine had basically been throwing me to the wolves in order to save himself and his housemate.

I discovered that this "mob" I was up against and who called themselves, "The Enterprise" (and thus my alternate title for the project in being, "Slipping The Enterprise" as we were trying to slip past them), were a motley and dangerous crew.

How do I explain what I was up against when even I didn't know it at the time?

How do I use exposition of the mob's activities and orientation? How to characterize them? The time the screenplay takes place is a good five or six years before their major arrests and court trials. This was a crew who had their hands into many things, as well as paying off law enforcement, judges and, arson and murdering people. Even to the point of threatening their enemy's families and children.

I really had no idea who it was up against. Though I have to say if I had known, it would only have led me to be more careful and circumspect in my actions at the time.

I had to show in the screenplay a crew's activities mostly after the fact of the time I had been dealing with them. In finding that method I found a unique and interesting kind of time shifting format. You get to see what I was going through, and who I was up against by interspersing their history with my story. All through their activities throughout the 1970s.

It was a remarkable concept once it hit me.

I researched for a long time and then wrote out specific times and events. Then I built that into and around my story as a frame beginning with my introduction and activities with the woman in question. A woman who was I see now in hindsight, kind of in shock throughout most of that week.

She would seem fine during the day but then in quiet times she would be very reflective and just...odd. A kind of Post Traumatic Shock type of condition, possibly.

After hearing from her some of her life in the strip club and around a dangerous crew of criminals, it became apparent that she was definitely afraid of them. Like a caged animal trying to get out of town, fearful in what she had seen the night she was at the club during the murder in the parking lot. Even though she claimed she had seen nothing, hadn't she?

She had entered the parking lot about 2AM when the murder went down, but said that she hadn't seen a thing. From my examination of the event and from reports, I find that hard to believe. She swore that it was done by the mob to one of their own guys, a bouncer who worked for the club. A nice guy she said who was nice to her and "the girls", meaning the waitresses and the strippers at the club. But how could she be so sure they committed thee murder unless she somehow had first hand knowledge of it?

The Enterprise had blamed it on someone else and I'm sure they wouldn't have appreciated her turning up to claim otherwise. They had killed before and they killed again. The police involved that night were potentially on the crew's payroll. Something which was later uncovered through the court trials.

Their main bad guy along with the rest of them, went to prison. Including the County Sheriff. Now most of them are dead. Except for that main bad guy. And he was a bad, guy. He is out free now, living in Tacoma, Washington. Something I hadn't expected when I started researching all this. Especially since in the screenplay I used him as the focus and fulcrum for the storyline and pivotal in the murder. Through him we experience much of who that crew was in the screenplay.

In the story I've written he does things he never actually did, but it enhances the story and brings it all together. Otherwise this would have to be a TV or miniseries. As it is it works well together.

The biggest problem I had was in the exposition of who I was at that point in time, and making in it believable. I was an unusual character myself in my past experiences by that time at eighteen. If anyone at eighteen was ready to handle a situation like that, it had to be me.

The waitress was really pretty lucky in finding me, or more precise, in our being thrown together by our mutual friends. Friends who once I had picked her up from their place, didn't want to know where she went after that and didn't want me to tell them. I should have seen that red flag. I should have seen it as not just odd, but a big flashing red light. It wasn't until forty years later that I finally realized much of what was going on back then.

As shown in the screenplay I didn't see that friend much after that week. Then we lost complete touch, until one day I accidentally ran into him and his new wife and baby at the Tacoma Mall. He acted very oddly that day and now I finally know why.

Was he surprised I was still alive that day? He acted like it. Or was he simply nervous (which I had believed at the time) in that I might let it slip that he had been a drug dealer at one time for many years? Was he afraid his family was in danger and that I might pull a gun and shoot him down for what he potentially had once done to me? Possibly in my finally having figured it all out, and then tracked him down for retribution?

Many years have passed since back in those days and I hold no animosity against anyone now about it all. I just find it all interesting academically, now. Whether or not had had expected me to get killed or whether he thought I was seeking retribution, is simply lost in the past. I only seek now to share an interesting story and hopefully produce an interesting work of filmmaking.

As for my friend and what happened to him, as for the woman I spent a week protecting from a mob of murderers and criminals? We know what happened to them, but whether she survived or not?

We may never know. Perhaps it will play out in the film once it's produced?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Allegory of the Myopus and Leeries

Happy Presidents' Day! I hope you had the day off and a great week! Speaking of which, there is a White House petition about voting no confidence on Congressional Republicans and their obstructionist actions. They are paid to work for what they were elected for and they take our money and yet, they do not do their job. Whichever side you are on, we should all still expect they do their job and not do anything-but-their-job, as we have seen them do time and time again. Moving along.... I've said this before but... part of the problems we're seeing is no that one notices. Let me put it this way.... Substitution, Assimilation, Habituation. Substitution: We are lied to, changes are put into place. The further we get from the original lie the more ingrained and believable the lie becomes. Assimilation: Lies are told professing that things are getting better for the reasons and lies given previously but then as things degenerate further, other reasons are given and distractions are caused or dwelled upon when they happen ("Can't be having them think what we did caused it after all"), making it all much worse. Habituation: People become used to the status quo which is worse than it was before and now people believe the lies because of what they were told and sometimes in very little time it becomes hard to see what the truth once was and currently is. Then the people are told the fix is more of the same. Things continue to get worse, all while pointing the finger at those trying to now fix it but few can believe them or understand any longer. In fact it seems so far out of reality that the popular vote is for more of what is causing the issue. More, more, more, fix it, fix it, fix it, desperation, follow those who act like they know what they are doing because they act so self assured and oh I hope they are not lying to us. But that occurs less and less to even occur to many. Consider the story of the ridiculous thought. Or this short tale for clarification: "The Allegory of the Myopus and the Leeries". In a magical and far off land it becomes reported that people were beginning to DIE left and RIGHT. This frightened the people as their leaders told them to run for safety, that horrible things were approaching. "Run to the cliff! There is SAFETY there! No one will go over the edge. The edge is good! Trust us! We won't allow bad things! There is more freedom there. Pay no attention to how far from the cliff edge we all are over here on our Hillock!" The people running were the Myopus. Others screamed warnings as those running to "safety" fell off the cliff. Those few others who had stopped running and instead looked around, could see what was happening. Those few were the Leeries. They tried their best to tell the others to stop their advance to destruction. But those blindly running called the Leeries "brainwashed" and weak, socialists, communists, or even worse. They said they were people who wanted everything for free instead of running to the edge with everyone else. The edge which only seemed scary to the Leeries so they yell for people to stop. Or maybe the Leeries wanted the Myopus to die? Everyone knows the edge is where safety truly lies. Those on the Hillock continued shouting, "Run faster, get to the cliff!" All while they sucked down fine wines and grinned. Some of their underlings remained among the crowds doing their bidding and preaching the message. Those lesser types were protected by those on the Hillock. Others beneath them preached what is being preached to them by those between them and those upon the Hillock. Those in the middle were protected. But those below them reaped no benefits. 

Then even they too went over the edge with the masses of Myopus. No one heard any more from them. They were gone and simply no longer relevant. A few were very strong or simply lucky, and they survived. They didn't go over the cliff. They looked with disdain among the others, berating them all as weak and thus elevating themselves. They began to feel as important as those on the Hillock. Those who will only ever see them as they do all the rest. As those to be used and discarded. Traded and abused as mere capital. Still the masses continued to the edge of the cliff and many fell. Finally one day enough began to see that something wasn't adding up. Because this kind of thing cannot go on forever. Even those on the Hillock once knew that. Yet they too have been deluded and continued to believe themselves invincible. Eventually enough voices were raised and some began to take notice. That was when the crackdown on them really began. Through false laws, by removing them from society in various and obvious ways, they took their votes and their voices, and the dissent slowed to a trickle. The voices quieted. After a while though more voices are raised. Eventually a tipping point is hit until finally a couple of lone voices find themselves in position to take the lead. To convince others they can actually make change possible. They say: "You do not have to go over the cliff! You can simply throw those on the Hillock over the cliff instead. Once again the people can be happy!" Eventually through changes even those old and new up on the Hillock could be happy. But they could not see it. They fought even against their own best interests and that of all others. They could not see that they are not the only ones who were important. It was to be a long journey. They may have to build a fence to stop the people from continuing to go over the cliff. Some louder voices were raised. They pointed beyond the shores and said:
"Yes, yes! Build a wall but to keep those out because they are the problem, not us!" 
Many screamed out in joy because the answer was easy and an easy answer, even when it is wrong, is preferable to a real and more difficult answer that seems to them, to be impossible. A new thing becomes available. Many people begin to learn of possible alternate Truths and within those reside the old, the hidden and actual Truth. How does this all end? Well, it's never very pretty. Whenever you have someone in control and try to remove them, most especially if it's a monster or a vast and incorporated machine, they will fight more than ever as the removal begins and realization dawns that the end is near. Once they know there are only moments left, that is when the fighting will be the most horrible, the most damaging. When all stops are pulled out and attempts are made to try to damage anyone attempting to remove them from their perch upon their cherished Hillock. Possibly a scorched earth policy is adopted and then the real damage begins. All or nothing. Either they will have it all or no one will have anything. And yet, even though half of the people continue to believe their imposed and self imposed mass delusions, a light begins to shine out of the shadows. People previously unrealized are seen and more and more come to terms with what has been happening. With a great and mighty effort the now wiser people begin to push through the foolish and the ignorant, and against their best efforts they try to save them too. In the end they try to save the entire land and all who are living there. Because that is how it is done. That is how it should be. Finally even the foolish people come to realize they had made a great mistake. 

Many apologize, many give thanks to those who deserve it, but most cannot apologize. It is hard to admit that everything you have believed in has led you to your own demise. Even when others tried to warn you. It is hard to admit you did wrong, because you think that may destroy you in the future. And you may be right. Those who had saved everyone are much happier now. Of those who were on the Hillock, many were deposed. Then new ones from below took their places. Some have been replaced by their own children who now see the way things can be and who begin to appreciate that you do not need massive amounts more than you can ever use. Even though they will still have so much more than they can ever use. But that is capitalism. That is freedom. Freedom can be a great thing. It can also be a terrible thing in the wrong hands. Just like capitalism. Just like any pure thought, it can be abused when the wrong filters are put into place. Or the wrong people gain control or too much power. In a closed economy such as the world is, unlimited wealth has to be limited. It cannot be allowed to run rampant. That is not communism or socialism. That is reality. Finally people could see how vast wealth can lead to vast abuse. How that needs to be controlled for the benefit of those on the Hillock, as well as those far beneath them and any and all others. In order for those on the Hillock to be protected, they must protect those below them. All people must be protected but those who control the people. Therefore, the people must control the people. As their new life settled in, everyone was much happier. Some grumbled, but even they came to realize they were much safer now. After all, in everyone being safe, everyone is safe. In the meantime on yet another Hillock, one at which no one is looking, new people arise looking to bring back the old regime. It is an ancient story. A few of the secretly powerful are still around because no one ever knew about them; only those well known among the people. Many others are there still in place. Just as when a congress changes through term limitations, there are always those who remain from term, to term, to term. Running things behind the scenes. Those who are like the people, the Myopus and the Leeries and this is a good thing. Knowledge needs to be retained and to be passed on. When you have those who are upon the Hillock, or on a far bigger Hillock, one that no one is even aware of, who are supporting those who are wealthy and powerful and elected by no one other than their privilege, then there is no control, only desire, only their plans, only their actions for their purposes. What is that purpose one has to ask? But who can ask "what purpose" when few even know that purpose exists, or that those people exist, other than through the symptomatology of how things are running, and being run? It takes constant vigilance. It takes always fighting for the people to live well, over that of merely existing, or in supporting wealth, power, and control over the people. It takes living in and maintaining a country built to sustain the people... and not just the powerful.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Golden Oscar's Black Category

White Americans are the racial majority. African Americans or Blacks to simplify, especially with some like Whoopi Goldberg saying they are just plain American, but in order for me to differentiate in a post about race... are the largest American racial minority amounting to 13.2% of the population.

Hispanic and Latino Americans amount to 17.1% of the population, making up the largest ethnic minority. For more on that see, race vs ethnicity.

13.2% of Americans are Black? That's hard to believe because much of the time it feels more like 30% or 40% with all the news coverage. Of course much of that may have to do with other issues like 24 hour news cycles and news trying to sell advertising, the bane of news media. Even if the overall numbers of Blacks aren't that large, their issues surely are. I'm just surprised the number is so low.

I only mention this because of the recent noise about the Oscars being too white. All of this is a complex subject, but I will try to keep this brief, or it could go on at length. Consider also how this somewhat has to do with any racial minority (or minority in general) in any country anywhere in the world.

Statistically, it's possible if not reasonable for there not to be nominations other than whites. I don't find it despicable as some are in speaking out about this. Unfair? Possibly.

In 2014, Blacks were 13.2%, in 2010 - 12.6%. So, really? Well, apparently so. That just makes it look less horrible.

I was thinking in my ignorance that it was about them not getting nominated, not that they simply do not exist in the Academy. That somehow whites weren't voting for them, not that there weren't enough Blacks to vote for themselves. If there are just more white films, it just makes it harder for Black films to get voted up, it's in the numbers. It must mean we need more Blacks and Hispanics in the Academy.

Let's face it, the winners being chosen has a hell of a lot more to do with who wins than quality.

Yet you have to consider the numbers nationwide, too. Who is paying for the movies that are being watched? It makes me wonder at the anger over the Oscars in there being no Blacks being nominated. Though I can see how it could happen, considering just the statistics and the stats of the Academy.

"Oscar voters are nearly 94% Caucasian and 77% male, the LA Times found. Blacks are about 2% of the academy, Latinos even less at less than 2%."

Here's my point.

Perhaps we need a category for best picture and actor\actress in the black category.

Blacks do win Oscars and I'm not saying eliminate them from that potential mainstream avenue. If however, they had their own category, this could simply never happen again. In that vein there would always be a black actor Oscar every year. Until it starts not happening anymore in the mainstream categories wherein we could then delete that special category and perhaps give it to Hispanics and Latinos.

Then the Hispanics. 2014 - 17.4% (2010 - 16.3%). Wait. So there's more Hispanics? So where is the outrage there? Was a Hispanic nominated? Did I miss someone? I'm very confused. Then why don't we have a Hispanic category same as I mentioned above for Blacks.

Do we need one for Latinos now as well as Blacks? Then do we need one for Asians? What about Indians (no, East Indians, not First Nations or "Native American's" (a term I never much cared for)? I don't think we need to get carried away with this.

After all Blacks have a special case in America and with the talk from the UN about reparations for slave descendants, so maybe we should have a special Black category? That way we guarantee not only that they do not get left out at Oscar time, but they are guaranteed to have at least one, best film, actor and actress, and maybe more if they are nominated in the primary categories.

I agree that something has to happen. With numbers on both minorities below 20% each this is simply going to continue to happen. Unless we do something proactive to end this. Baby steps, one step at a time and this could be a first step, a first reasonable and welcome step.

Okay, have at it.

Just know that I only mean well in what I just said. I'm actually on everyone's side. Certainly though I'm not on the side of racists. I am just trying to understand the situation, learn from it and open a discussion and one of the best ways to do that is to suggest a solution. Because you can't fix a solution unless you first have one to consider and modify, or suggest a better suggestion over the initial one.

Talking about a problem after all requires first recognizing the situation, the problem, evaluating it in finding the parameters of the issue, proposing a solution however bad it might be as a starting point, all in order to have something to discuss about it. That, is how we get around to fixing it.

Okay I've done my part. Now it's up to you.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Terrorist, Zealot

I was watching The Blacklist last week. A character said something about a criminal they had caught being a Zealot.

A bell went off in my head.

I, we, many of us, have been talking about religious fundamentalists, Muslim terrorists. But I've seen normal citizen Muslim Fundamentalists talking in interviews about how they are the real fundamentalists and how terrorists aren't and have hijacked their Islam and fundamentalism. Terrorists have subverted the citizen's, the true believers, not these charlatan's benign fundamentalism which is not so much a literal interpretation of Islam but a search for the purity that can be found within it.

See, that's what religion is actually about. Finding the spirit of it, the purity within it, the benign and the beautiful. Once you turn religion into something ugly like Daesh has, well, it's an ugly faux religion. Mohammed becomes The Great Satan. You, and others like you Daesh, have done that.

Choosing to select out the most violent and damaging elements in a religion is, as in any religious choosing, just that, a personal choice. A choice to be destructive. Because for a certain selection of individuals it hits the pleasure centers of their brain, configured in such a way through information received and then doted upon, as well as the physical brain structure.

Throughout those many the individuals in these groups, such as Daesh (ISIL, ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, etc.), the balance sways from one side to the other whether it is their learnings or the way they are hardwired as to why they are how they are. And within those elements, the intensity of their purpose sways along with it.

So what are these terrorists, other than merely criminals?

There is an historical record of Zealots in the bible and through the historian Josephus.

So why is nobody calling them Zealots? Too much historical theistic baggage associated with them? Because these were originally Christians and not Muslim as are these modern terrorists and so would be seen as offensive? Or does Zealot not fit since Islam didn't even exist back when Zealots did, in Islam being a newer religion, but still one of the major three major harsh, anachronistic desert or Abrahamic religions.

Much as using terms like The Crusade isn't very useful in referring to Islamic references, calling Islamic terrorists Zealots, may very well be incorrect. However in the same vein as George Bush referring to terms like "making a crusade" in trying to irritate terrorists (or in calling Saddam Hussein, "Soddom" or "SaDamn"), so would calling them Zealots be considered offensive to them.

But also and more importantly to the rest of the Muslim world (as we really don't care much if terrorists are offended or not) and I really don't see a need to offend the majority of the Muslim world, most of whom really aren't doing anything wrong.

"According to the Jewish historian Josephus, three main Jewish groups existed at the time of Christ—the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. He also mentions a fourth group called the Zealots who were founded by Judas of Galilee and Zadok the Pharisee. Josephus notes that the Zealots “agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord" (Antiquities 18.1.6)." -

These types of shall we call them, nutcases(?), have been around for a long, damn time.

So, what does it matter? It matters because it tells us much about them that has long been documented. These modern Muslim terrorists aren't some new phenomenon like some of us believe. Using suicide vests is. But it's not a new tradition, sacrificing themselves for their beliefs. It's an old tactic using a new technology. Explosives.

"Of importance in New Testament history, the Zealots led a rebellion when Rome introduced imperial cult worship. The Great Jewish Revolt began in A.D. 66. The Zealots successfully overtook Jerusalem, but their revolt was ultimately unsuccessful. In A.D. 70, the Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple. A remnant of the Zealots then took refuge in Masada." -

So, the "Masada people", known by that moniker for that terrestrial land formation where the Siege of Masada in 74A.D. occurred. Surrounded by Roman troops it led to the mass suicide of 960 Jewish family residents of Masada as well as the Sicarii rebels and families, at the end of the First Roman\Jewish War.

The Masada victims have  been praised and thought very highly of all through history since it happened, for standing by beliefs to the bitter end. In fact mentioning Masada has become shorthand for a positive consideration of sticking with your beliefs to the end, regardless. 

People don't usually mean to take it to you and your family's death.

"Because of their often-violent tactics, the Zealots have been called some of the world’s first terrorists. Though the label is only partially true (not all Zealots were violent), the reputation of Zealots as forceful, aggressive agitators carries a significant lesson for us. Jesus chose Simon the Zealot, a man who likely desired to forcibly remove the Roman government, and He also chose Matthew, a tax collector working for the Roman government. Both Simon and Matthew, though natural enemies, were part of the Twelve. What a beautiful illustration of the peace Jesus brings! Today, God still brings healing and changes lives. Those with a violent past or extremist tendencies can be transformed as God uses them to spread the good news of Christ’s love for all people." -

"Good news of Christ's love". Unless those zealots are Muslim, an offshoot of Christianity, which is an offshoot of Judaism and Buddhism. 

Overall this tells us a lot about our current terrorists... zealots, the world's Muslim oriented infestation. 

Who were the Sacari?

"In 66 CE, at the beginning of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire, a group of Jewish extremists called the Sicarii overcame the Roman garrison of Masada and settled there. The Sicarii were commanded by Eleazar ben Ya'ir,[3] and in 70 CE they were joined by additional Sicarii and their families expelled from Jerusalem by the Jewish population with whom the Sicarii were in conflict. Shortly thereafter, following the Roman siege of Jerusalem and subsequent destruction of the Second Temple, additional members of the Sicarii and many Jewish families fled Jerusalem and settled on the mountaintop, with the Sicarii using it as a refuge and base for raiding the surrounding countryside.[7][8] The works of Josephus are the sole record of the events that took place during the siege. According to modern interpretations of Josephus, the Sicarii were an extremist splinter group of the Zealots and were equally antagonistic to both Romans and other Jewish groups.[9] It was the Zealots, in contrast to the Sicarii, who carried the main burden of the rebellion, which opposed Roman rule of Judea (as the Roman province of Iudaea, its Latinized name).
According to Josephus, on Passover, the Sicarii raided Ein-Gedi, a nearby Jewish settlement, and killed 700 of its inhabitants.[10][11][12]" - Wikipedia

Kind of an annoying people by anyone's standard. Unless I suppose, you were one of them but even then I bet some of them thought they were annoying.

The point of all this is that it tells us what our modern day version of the zealot is like, who they are internally and, the extent to which they will go for their cause. However ridiculous and unrealistic it may be. That makes them dangerous and frequently, unreasonable. Not crazy as some claim. But focused. When you focus on something unreal, unrealistic, that really creates a problem. For yourself and everyone you come into contact with. 

A problem we have seen and continue to see in American conservative and religious groups.

They do things that are counter productive for others and for themselves, and they break things. The current Republican party is a prime example of political dysfunctional function and something they have broken.

Some great strides in recent decades have come about in things like hostage negotiation and negotiating through difficult and dire circumstances. However look how things have gone in the Middle East in that vein. Now consider zealots, coming from those people in that region. Our own defective conservatives and their issues in America are weak by comparison. So using many of these new techniques is questionable at best. We have taken here in America basically to containing them until they fizzle out, then collect them. It's better than situations like Ruby Ridge, or Waco, Texas. When it came be done.

Finally what this history of dysfunction, of destructive fundamentalism, of zealotry tells us is just as I'd suspected and as many others do. Ultimately they are doomed to failure.

It may take special weapons and tactics and I do not mean what you see in movies. Not what you might be thinking of, visualizing. But perhaps something we haven't even thought of yet. What beats people like this is choking them off until they can see their beliefs die, until others see those beliefs die, or in converting them.

Which is typically most easily done with lead moving at high velocities or in very fast burning substances rated at over 7,000 feet per second. That is to say, explosives, think drone attacks in the Middle East, drones which I must say, I am against probably about 90% of the times they are used as collateral damage in killing civilians for me, is unacceptable.

All this effort by terrorists, all this destruction, the killing of so many innocents and so many of their own soldiers, of their own Muslim believers, all for them merely to fail in the end, or sooner.

We can see it. They can even see it. The point is that none of that matters because they will still do it.

What that means to us is that we have to finish them off. Because they cannot find a sane conclusion on their own. In their seeking their most sane conclusion, to the rest of us it simply appears, insane.

Thanks for that religion, youth, greed, disparate in economic status, and so on. Because much of what terrorists are after and what has ignited their anger, bitterness and actions, are not necessarily what it seems, or what they claim. In the end they are just as stupid and deluded as many of the rest of us.

We just don't usually go around killing people becuase we're pissed off, or blame it on religion. We need to see them accurately, understand their motivations. Their actual motivations. And for that we can see back over time how this can come to be and how we can wipe this mind worm (implanted idea that grows, evolves and cannot easily be rid of) religious infection that overflows out onto other areas in the Human Experience.

But initially it all begins in one fundemental thought. When that thought is not a good one, or even if it is a good one, it can lead to some very negative and most of the time, unnecessary consequences.