Note to Steven Bay

Note to Steven Bay


Edward Snowden's Supervisor Steven Bay Speaks

“Knowing what I knew at the time, l would have hired [Edward Snowden] again,” Steven Bay, a former cyberintelligence analyst for Booz Allen Hamilton, said today in Seattle at the IEEE Computer Society’s “Rock Stars of Cybersecurity” conference.

“Knowing what I know now, obviously, I wouldn’t,” he added.

Bay said today’s talk marked the first time he discussed his side of the Snowden story in a public forum.”  - as reported in Geekwire.

Edward Snowden, NSA Whistleblower

Steven Bay Talks at CyberSecurity Conference

Steven Bay was Edward Snowden’s supervisor as a contractor at the National Security Agency.  He spoke at a conference recently defending the mass data-collection programs run by the NSA.  He mentioned all the procedural and administrative protections in place to prevent misuse of American’s personal information. Edward Snowden’s outrage at the NSA’s and U.S. Government’s actions led him to expose the existence of these programs to the world.

Personal Question for Steven Bay

Steve, may I call you Steve? Steve, you were quite clear about all the procedural protections against the misuse of personal information of American citizens. I believe you, and further believe that those procedures are followed.
Given that, there is something you should think about:  all that and more was in place to prevent torture, and it happened anyway.

The tools, and data, that the National Security Agency relies upon can easily be used for political purposes, and probably already have.  I’m speaking about the targeting of the Occupy movement. No one doubts your procedures and sincerity. We doubt their resilience. I know from personal experience that there will be other NSA employees who will fall on the sword, professionally speaking, to stop political exploitation of your agency’s tools. But we all have seen how that is not enough to stop torture, and it will not be enough to prevent the use of the NSA's tools from being used for political purposes.

My question is whether or not, when the time comes, you will be willing to risk prison and a destroyed career to object when these surveillance tools are used to break up a peaceful political movement.  Will you be willing to go public?  Will you be strong enough to refuse?  Where do you draw the line? 

Most people will do nothing.  Will you?
Political actions protect civil liberties, and so do uncomfortable questions asked of elected representatives. Newspaper articles. Protests. Sunlight. That's the value of the public's right to know.  So they can make decisions about how their country behaves.
I know you believe what you are saying, and I don't doubt your integrity. I'm just saying that administrative rules, without external review, are not adequate to protect American freedom, because that is indeed what is at stake.


Clinton's Goldman Sachs Speech Quotes

Goldman Sachs paid speeches

Clinton's Speech to Deutsche Bank AG Oct 7, 2014

...Now, Jacques was talking about Eleanor Roosevelt, and I hope a lot of > you have seen the extraordinary Ken Burns documentary series on PBS about > the Roosevelts. It's just riveting. And you should see it if you haven't, > because it tells stories and shows pictures that have never been seen > before of Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. > > But Eleanor Roosevelt in particular is someone that I admire as one of my > predecessors, and I adore the book that Jacque's mother-in-law has written > about the relationship that she and her late husband, who was Eleanor's > personal physician, had with Eleanor Roosevelt. > > And you look at the documentary and you really are struck once again how > every generation has to do what it can to make sure that economic > opportunity is broadly shared and upward mobility remains at the core of > the American dream and experience. > > I mean, Teddy Roosevelt said it well. His commonsense slogan, the square > deal, captured the American imagination and still resonates today. > > Just think about the changes that were going on at the turn of the last > century: technological transformation, growing economic inequality, the > steady accumulation of vast power and wealth in the hands of a select few. > > Roosevelt was a Republican from the party of big business, but he resisted > both the elites who sought to protect their gilded age advantages and the > rising tide of populist anger that threatened to sweep the nation. > Instead, he stood up for the level playing field, no special deals, just a > fair shot for everybody willing to get out there and work hard. > > I think that's a message worth recalling today when so many hardworking > American families, and I add European families feel like they're falling > further and further behind, while they see, in their view, the playing > field becoming more unlevel, and feeling as though it doesn't matter how > hard they work because the game is rigged against them. > > Now, to me this is not just about fairness, although I think that's an > important principle. We now know, based on research done by the IMF and > others, that income inequality holds back growth for the entire economy. > There is no more important driver of growth around the world than the > purchasing power of American consumers. That is once again becoming clear > as we move forward more dynamically than a lot of our friends and allies > are economically. > > Stagnating wages translate into fewer customers, and that's not a new > insight. Just ask Henry Ford who first articulated it. > > And it's no surprise that many Americans feel frustrated, some even angry, > as you probably see in news coverage. And a lot of that anger has been > directed at the financial industry. > > Now, it's important to recognize the vital role that the financial markets > play in our economy and that so many of you are contributing to. To > function effectively those markets and the men and women who shape them > have to command trust and confidence, because we all rely on the market's > transparency and integrity. > > So even if it may not be 100 percent true, if the perception is that > somehow the game is rigged, that should be a problem for all of us, and we > have to be willing to make that absolutely clear. And if there are issues, > if there's wrongdoing, people have to be held accountable and we have to > try to deter future bad behavior, because the public trust is at the core > of both a free market economy and a democracy. > > So it is in everyone's interest, most of all those of you who play such a > vital role in the global economy, to make sure that we maintain and where > necessary rebuild trust that goes beyond correcting specific instances of > abuse of fraud. > > Last year, the head of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Terry Duffy, > published an op-ed in the *Wall Street Journal* that caught my > attention. He wrote, and I quote, "I'm concerned that those of us in > financial services have forgotten who we serve, and that the public knows > it. Some Wall Streeters can too easily slip into regarding their work as a > kind of moneymaking game divorced from the concerns of Main Street." > > We heard a similar point from a more global perspective this spring at a > conference in London on inclusive capitalism organized by my friend, Lynn > Rothschild, who's here with us tonight. Mark Carney, the Governor of the > Bank of England, offered what we in America might call straight talk about > how the financial industry has lost its way and how to earn back public > confidence. > > And I think his words are worth both quoting and thinking about. Here's > what he said. "The answer starts from recognizing that financial > capitalism is not an end in itself, but a means to promote investment, > innovation, growth and prosperity. Banking is fundamentally about > intermediation, connecting borrowers and savers in the real economy. In > the run-up to the crisis, banking became about banks not businesses, > transactions not relations, counterparties not clients." > > And then Mark Carney went on to outline proposals for stronger oversight, > both within the industry and by government authorities, but he noted > "Integrity can neither be bought nor regulated. Even with the best > possible framework of codes, principles, compensation schemes and market > discipline, financiers must constantly challenge themselves to the standard > they uphold." > > So this is a time when for all kinds of reasons trust in government, trust > in business has eroded. And I believe that it has to be rebuilt, not only > by those in offices in Washington or Albany but by so many of you. > > Over the years, I've had the privilege of working with many talented, > principled, smart people who make their living in finance, especially when > I was Senator from New York. Many of you here were my constituents, and I > worked hard to represent you well. And I saw every day how important a > well-functioning financial system is to not only the American economy but > the global economy. > > That's why as Senator I raised early warnings about the subprime mortgage > market and called for regulating derivatives and other complex financial > products because even among my smartest supporters and constituents I never > understood what they were telling me when they tried to explain what they > were. > > I also called for closing the carried interest loophole, addressing > skyrocketing CEO pay and other issues that were undermining that all > important link between Wall Street and Main Street. > > Remember what Teddy Roosevelt did. Yes, he took on what he saw as the > excesses in the economy, but he also stood against the excesses in > politics. He didn't want to unleash a lot of nationalist, populistic > reaction. He wanted to try to figure out how to get back into that balance > that has served America so well over our entire nationhood. > > Today, there's more that can and should be done that really has to come > from the industry itself, and how we can strengthen our economy, create > more jobs at a time where that's increasingly challenging, to get back to > Teddy Roosevelt's square deal. And I really believe that our country and > all of you are up to that job... >


Could we just get someone to say she quoted Duffy and Carney to them, to the effect that Wall Street had lost its way? On Nov 23, 2015, at 11:51 AM, Mandy Grunwald <gruncom@aol.com> wrote: I worry about going down this road. First, the remarks below make it sound like HRC DOESNT think the game is rigged -- only that she recognizes that the public thinks so. They are angry. She isn't. Second, once you start looking at speeches, you run smack into Maggie Haberman's report for Politico on HRC's Goldman Sachs speech, in which HRC isn't quoted directly, but described as saying people shouldn't be vilifying Wall Street. Maybe you think the Deutsche Bank speech takes the sting out of the Goldman report -- but I am concerned that the passage below will exacerbate not improve the situation. *Mandy Grunwald* *Grunwald Communications* *202 973-9400* -----Original Message----- From: Brian Fallon <bfallon@hillaryclinton.com> To: Dan Schwerin <dschwerin@hillaryclinton.com> Cc: Jennifer Palmieri <jpalmieri@hillaryclinton.com>; John Podesta < john.podesta@gmail.com>; Jake Sullivan <jsullivan@hillaryclinton.com>; Mandy Grunwald <gruncom@aol.com> Sent: Mon, Nov 23, 2015 11:41 am Subject: Re: Deutsche Bank Reviving this thread because AP is working on a story similar to Pat Healy's article in Sunday's NYT about HRC's "Wall Street image problem." The reporter, Lisa Lerer, plans specifically to note that her paid speeches to banks were closed-press affairs, and transcripts are not available. She is asking if we wish to characterize her remarks in any way. I think we could come up with a vanilla characterization that challenges the idea that she sucked up to these folks in her appearances, but then use AP's raising of this to our advantage to pitch someone to do an exclusive by providing at least the key excerpts from this Deutsche Bank speech. In doing so, we could have the reporting be sourced to a "transcript obtained by [news outlet]" so it is not confirmed as us selectively providing one transcript while refusing to share others. On Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 3:03 PM, Dan Schwerin <dschwerin@hillaryclinton.com> wrote: > Following up on the conversation this morning about needing more arrows in > our quiver on Wall Street, I wanted to float one idea. In October 2014, > HRC did a paid speech in NYC for Deutsche Bank. I wrote her a long riff > about economic fairness and how the financial industry has lost its way, > precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever > asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those > fat cats. It's definitely not as tough or pointed as we would write it > now, but it's much more than most people would assume she was saying in > paid speeches. (Full transcript is attached and key riff is pasted below.) > Perhaps at some point there will be value in sharing this with a reporter > and getting a story written. Upside would be that when people say she's too > close to Wall Street and has taken too much money from bankers, we can > point to evidence that she wasn't afraid to speak truth to power. Downside > would be that we could then be pushed to release transcripts from all her > paid speeches, which would be less helpful (although probably not > disastrous). In the end, I'm not sure this is worth doing, but wanted to > flag it so you know it's out there. > >

Sent from my iPad


The Saudi Standard

The Saudi Standard

War!  Again! Against an evil enemy, of course.  While we chart the offenses of our putative enemies, the crimes of our solid allies are ignored.

Before we find ourselves lost in yet another desert storm, let’s objectively state how bad a country has to be before we attack them with military force, including bombing.

I nominate the Saudis. As in, the United States does not go to war with any nation unless they act worse than the Saudis.  Let's recap the crimes of Saudi Arabia:
encouraging and funding radical Islamic terrorists
public beheadings for minor crimes and non-crimes imprisoning women, all women, with travel, money and clothing restrictions
use of chemical weapons. See video below:

The Saudi Standard is that a country would have to be at least as bad as the Saudis for the United States to declare war, provide military support, or use drones.  There.  Finally we have an objective, independent standard for decisions of military aggression.

Sins of the Saudis

The real weight in the Saudi Standard is the “aiding the 9/11 attack” part of the test.  Besides Japan bombing Pearl Harbour, no country has behaved worse towards the United States.  Now, the Saudi Arabian monarchy did not attack the United States as a country. But Saudi money and radical interpretation of Islam supports terror groups all over the world. Those groups carry out terror attacks against us and our allies. And because of the oil, we look the other way.

The latest news is a bill passed in Congress allowing families of people killed in the 9/11 attacks to sue to Saudi government.  Their claim is based on the participation of Saudi officials in preparing for the World Trade Center attack in 2001. See video below:

The Saudis are allies you could say only wish on your enemy.  If we can fight wars to protect Saudi Arabia from Iraqi invasions, then the nations we declare war on should at least be worse than them.  All that is aside from their monarchy system of government, which our soldiers died to protect.

It is our civic duty to ask for an accounting of our military decisions, and the real reason we are attacking, or supporting the attack, of other countries. It certainly can't be human rights violations, as almost no one is as bad as Saudi Arabia.


Cocaine Banking - review of Zero Zero Zero by Roberto Saviano

The Story of Cocaine in our World

Everyone Does Cocaine

The book first assaults our misperceptions. To dismantle general denial about the levels of popular drug use, the author takes us through a catalog of who in our lives is using cocaine. And I have to admit, when the idea that everyone uses cocaine was introduced, I laughed. I mean, it sounds absurd. No one I know uses cocaine, I thought. Then he takes you through the list of people you casually know, and the people they know, and the people who work at the businesses where those people get their dry cleaning done. And then you realize: I have no idea if any of these people use cocaine.

Going through the numbers Mr. Saviano presents, you see that somebody is doing all this cocaine. The alternative is to believe that there's a vast oversupply of cocaine all over the world, being produced and trafficked, but not bought. We know that is not true. So people really are using this drug, and heroin, to the extent the author asserts. It is really tough to internalize, though. I really think I don’t know anybody who does cocaine. Really. And that no one I come into contact with knows anyone who does, either. I comfort myself in thinking that the purchasers of this drug are all those people, those other, vacuous, soulless suburban types who watch tv every night.  Of course, I watch tv every night too, but somehow everyone I know is different from these cocaine-purchasers who are tacitly destroying the world. Or propping up the international banking system with liquidity, if Mr. Saviano is to be believed.
Roberto Saviano

The Trail of Cocaine

Zero Zero Zero takes the reader through the financial and logistical roads that act as veins to the body Cocaine. Its delivery system, innovations in transport, sea shipping, hidden in fruit imports, are interesting as well as plausible. I always said that Donald Trump’s real interest in Mexico has to do with drugs, as his brother died of a drug overdose, and those walls and stops he wants to put in place are coming from a desire for revenge.

Zero Zero Zero is well-researched and a well-told story. The detailed recounting of modern drug-dealing history is impressive and depressing at the same time. But at the end of it, certain conclusions pull at my sleeves:
  1. People do drugs.  
  2. People always will try to sell drugs to the people who do drugs.
  3. Successful sellers of drugs are always murdered.

Zero Zero Zero is quite the eye-opener about how heroin and cocaine find its way around the world. No doubt there. But the book never takes a step back from all the blood to analyze the entire system.

Demand Demand Demand

Mr. Saviano details the supply part of the illegal drug business insightfully. It is interesting, though, that he ignores other side of the economic equation: demand for drugs.

Maybe the problem is that people do drugs. For it is the demand for cocaine and heroin that spurs all this other illegal activity. Eloquent descriptions of the history and shifts in drug cartels and their methods are informative.  It is even skin-crawling at times. But the primary engine of all this destruction is never addressed:  people want to do drugs. 

Is it Mr. Saviano's contention that the fight against this corruption can only take place through supply side attacks?  We don’t know because he never tells us. In reading this book, it becomes clear that demand is the only thing can be attacked in this War on Drugs. And yet, demand is not written about at all. It is the cause and the reason for every bloody act described in the book, and nothing is said about its role in stopping the overall system.
Victorian Street Gangs Ruled London

An historical look at other invasive crime syndicates would have been helpful. After all, there were criminal gangs before. Did they last for thousands of years to continue to feed off the misery of others?  No. They fell. How did that happen?  A detailed listing of gory crimes does little to enlighten the reader, and only convinces me more that I should never become a drug dealer.

Of course, the rebuttal will be that this is the beginning of a truly worldwide criminal enterprise. I don’t believe it. If 300-year-old Chinese pottery shards can be found at the Londontown archeological dig in Maryland, United States, globalism has been with us for a very long time.

The Cost of Truth

Roberto Saviano confesses his personal and emotional journey for this truth-telling, asking himself why would he do this, subject his wife and family to stress and worry, and possible danger themselves. He discusses the reality of being under police protection 24 hours a day for years as a result of his reporting on organized crime in Italy. And yet he cannot stop looking and telling us about it. And his research is thorough. It starts in the Eighties and explains how the Columbian cartels were displaced by Mexican ones, the trans-Atlantic alliances for the shipment of Columbian cocaine, and how American demand for illegal drugs feeds this violent and awful business.

I can relate to truth-telling as a role and a duty, but have never made the sacrifices of Roberto Saviano. He must love his country very much to sear truth into its skin at such a cost.

Cocaine Banking

Hearing the hopelessness in the author's words, the reader could reasonably start feeling a little depressed themselves. The story is presented as a fait accompli. There is no going back now, we are all under the thumb of illegal crime lords who are using their cash to prop up post-Great Recession banks and small businesses that require a boost in these economic times.

Rather than a catalog of torment, the author could have looked to the weaknesses in the system.  Instead, all the reader is left with is stomach pains and a dull wish for death.

Aside from that, this blood-dripping tale offers no solution, no hope. So this humble blogger will put up her interpretation for the way forward.

Cheer Up, Mr. Saviano!

The book is excruciating in its descriptions of the role of illegal drug profits in a post-2008 cash-strapped banking system.  The facade of our financial system is held together by the raw cash of illegal drug sales, it argues. I am not in a position to dispute that, and will not bother. 

Even if true, Mr. Saviano still has reason to hope. See, I know something about these upper class types of international finance and banking. Not as one of them, but better, as one who worked for them. I can assure Mr. Saviano the this current system of reliance on the liquidity of drug money will not last beyond its need. When the international economy gets its footing again, the uber-elites will turn and cut the throats of the thugs whose money they happily take now. And probably keep their money, too. It will be done as it always is, through law enforcement. 

In exchange for cooperation, banking leaders will be allowed to go on banking, and the drug dealers and producers will be either dead or in prison. American prison. So I do not lose hope, and ask Mr. Saviano that he not lose hope either.  In America, the toughest, meanest gang is the middle class. And they always win in the end. The thugs are being used, lured into a belief of their power.  Instead, they are like a cat on a bed, preening and unaware they are about to be thrown to the floor. But for the now, for the minute, they think they are in charge.

I debated before writing out this balm, believe me, Roberto. Why warn them? Then I realized it didn't matter. They were already dead.

Trump Inner-City Campaigning... comic by Justin C. Benedict


Trump Is No Hitler - Explained

Trump is No Hitler 

You can tell the level of Trump panic by the number of comparisons to Hitler in your Facebook feed. I call it the Hitler index. Not to worry, Trump is not another Hitler, will not become another Hitler, and could not become another Hitler even if he wanted to, because of the issues outlined below.
My reasoning is based on the book "Hitlerland" by Andrew Nagorski which drew on unpublished manuscripts of Americans who actually witnessed Hitler's rise to power, knew Hitler and other German politicians in the mid-1920s through 1942.  It is a very good book and worth reading.

Racial Purity

From the beginning, Hitler was clear that impurities in the German race needed to be rooted out. By this, he meant primarily Jews, but others as well. Americans who met Hitler during his rise to power remember him referencing a "final solution" to the "Jewish problem." Of course at the time, they had no idea what he meant.

Trump does not define anything in terms of racial purity. He never suggests that the American "race" needs to be purified from Mexicans. First of all, there is no American race. The idea would be a non-starter as there are many people of Hispanic origin here. Mexico is only one place where they originate. Trump does not claim that all Mexicans need to be removed from the U.S., as Hitler did. Trump's focus is illegal immigrants, not Mexicans in particular, no matter how offensively he sells the idea.

In Germany, Jews were beat up in the streets, as were women who were engaged to Jewish men. These women were shaved bald, dragged through the streets half naked, and crowds of people would laugh at them and call them names as they were beaten. Nothing like this is happening now to women engaged to Mexican men.

More than that, there is a country for people to go to for safety: Mexico. There was no such place for Jews in Nazi Germany. From the beginning, concentration camps and mass extermination were Hitler's plan to rid Germany, and Europe, of Jews. Safety for Jews living in Nazi-controlled territory was non-existent because no other country wanted to take them. Sure, a few hundred were accepted by Switzerland and other countries, but on the whole, there was no safe place for the Jews to live.

Readers may react to this reasoning by saying that the sentiments Trump calls out in his followers are eerily similar to those Hitler aroused in his followers. It's a good point, and a correct one. However, xenophobia, racism and fear of social change are not new political weapons, and politicians who use them are not all little Hitlers. The degree to which Trump does this is nowhere near that of Hitler.


From Wikipedia: The Sturmabteilung; literally Storm Department, functioned as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). It played a significant role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s. Their primary purposes were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties, especially the Red Front Fighters League (Rotfrontkämpferbund) of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), and intimidating Slavic and Romani citizens, unionists, and Jews – for instance, during the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

There were hundreds of Brownshirts who followed the directives of the Nazi party. They wore uniforms and marched in pseudo military formations and pretended to be a military in its own right. Upon suggestion, they smashed windows, shouted and beat people up. Again, no reasonable argument could be made that Trump is doing the same thing.  Yes, Trump has strongly implied that people should be beaten, but there are no roving gangs of young people in America who are beating up Mexicans in every town and smashing up their businesses. That's what happened to the Jews.

For the Brownshirts to act with such violence and get away with it, there had to be tacit approval from authorities. Remember, the Brownshirts were active for ten years before Hitler came to power. Also remember, they were all killed once Hitler secured the support of the military.

Donald Trump supporters do not act like this. They probably couldn't even if they wanted to, which they do not. The Republican Party is an already-established political party, not an insurgent one like the Nazis. The most you will see is ugly insults and thrown refuse at rallies.

To get to the level of German politics in 1920s, each political group would have its own gang that oversaw "security" for its rallies and attacked gangs from other political parties. Now this is a point of some worry. The fights between supporters of each political candidate are escalating. There is increasing fear of violence, but more than the actual violence that has occurred. Yes, there have been some assaults. But again, the level of it nowhere near reflects what was happening in Germany during the rise of Hitler.


Germany was suffering from a severe financial crisis - much worse than the one in 2008. It caused blind panic and almost universal suffering. Veterans from World War I were left begging on the street, a source of national shame to compound the loss of World War I. Germany was forced to pay reparations to France, England and the United States which was a further insult to them, even if they did start the war.

German hyperinflation before World War II

Like people everywhere, Germans were looking for a group to blame. They blamed the Jews. Similarities to Trump's discourse are obvious: he blames Mexicans for our economic troubles.

There is no hyperinflation in the United States. We are not in a state of economic collapse. In 1930s Germany, people used wheelbarrows of cash to buy one loaf of bread because inflation was that bad. No one is doing that now.

Should the U.S. economy collapse, there would be a reason to be concerned about Trump's rhetoric. But that hasn't happened.

Hitler Was Insane

And let's not forget: Hitler was insane. Trump may be offensive and absurd, but he is not insane. Reports from Americans who met Hitler during his rise to power describe him as a person that was unable to have a conversation, as he had no interest in listening to anyone. He disliked anyone who tried to interject even a few words for "talking too much." Meeting with Hitler meant being a one person audience to one of his speeches. He never looked at people with whom he was having a conversation. Not to mention his meth addiction.

Trump is not an addict of any sort. He does not drink, smoke or do drugs. In fact, Trump's brother died of a drug overdose, and I think it's the real reason he wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Trump has managed to swindle scores of people over a long period of time. You don't do that if you are insane. Trump is noted as a very personable guy, and has many friends. You may not be one of them, but they are out there.



The Nazis led a nationwide boycott of Jewish businesses. And if you didn't want to take part in it, the Nazi Brownshirts would make it very unpleasant for you if you stepped into a Jewish-owned store. Nothing like this is happening to Mexicans or anybody else because of Trump.

Weak Institutions

The democratic institutions that could put a limit on Hitler were overwhelmed by his popular and political support. Hitler was forced to be a witness in a trial of one of his Brownshirts for murder. We would call it a hate crime. The man was found not guilty.

Hitler had tacit support from the Bavarian political establishment, such that his niece was shot under suspicious circumstances and Hitler was not even questioned about it. Or his Beer Hall Putsch, which was open treason against the German government and for which he only spent nine months in prison out of a five year sentence. If Donald Trump shot someone, there is no jurisdiction in the country that would look the other way. If Trump engaged in an open, armed revolt against the U.S. government, no political establishment would shield him from his full sentence.
Defendants on trial for treason for Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch

So, Trump is No Hitler

Much of what allowed Hitler to grab political power were the political and economic conditions in Germany in the 1920s.  Those conditions do not exist in the United States right now, nor are they likely to in the future.  Trump's style of political rhetoric, and its content, are troubling.  The answer to that is the ballot box. 

Are you registered to vote?

Are you registered to vote?


Pokemon Go - Because I'm Tired of Crying

Growing up in a very rural area, I always followed the news avidly, dreaming of the day I was big and could go to the places I read about. Politics and policy engaged my mind since grade school.

I remember my bitter disappointment when Madonna was put on the cover of Time magazine. It was unworthy of their stature.

Decades later, phone cameras and alternative media has shown American fault lines heretofore unseen. And I can't stop crying.

All those innocent people shot dead at traffic stops, or for being a mentally challenged person walking in the street. After the Dallas tragedy, both my minister and myself cried during church. I am tapping this out during break time at work, and tears are coming to my eyes.

So I downloaded Pokemon Go and spent lunch finding Pokemon. One was dancing on my knee! I caught him!

Five decades of disgust with people who sit and watch meaningful civil rights struggles and do nada are behind me.

I need a break. It's time for Pokemon Go. And I can't be the only one.

Humana Fraud - Georgia Redditors potentially discover widespread insurace fraud in their state's division of Humana

Deleted now, have copy:

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down and I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there - I'll tell you how I got screwed by Humana Healthcare.

My wife and I have been a Humana customer for years on a high deductible plan self-insured and we had our first baby born earlier this year in February.

For years we paid all of our medical expenses out of pocket because of the high deductible plan (which is fine - we preferred that over paying the higher monthly premiums because my wife and I are in good health overall).

The day our baby was born I called Humana to add our child to our policy. This is where our relationship with Humana went south.

We had no special medical issues with our kid or my wife and went home within a couple of days. About a month and a half later, at a visit at a dentist, I'm trying to find our dental policy number by logging in to Humana's website.

We have both medical and dental plans with them.

It's important to note at this point we are a highly digital family and we make sure to use and set email and phone notifications for anything we can. This is why we had opened the online account with Humana so we could easily pay online, get status updates, track expenses and payments, etc.

While logging into the website I saw a notice in one of the internal pages that the policy has been terminated. I figured 'that's odd'. I'm clicking through the Medical plan area and the same notice appears there.

I promptly call customer service and ask why has our policies been terminated. To make a long story short - apparently when they added my kid to the policy, they also marked the policy to be terminated by customer request - WTH.

The rep told me he'll get back to me and indeed he did after an hour or so and confirmed that this was a mistake and he submitted my policies to be re-instated and it would take a few days but it would be retroactive to the missing period.

I figured - 'well, s*** happens, but they made it right so ok'. He told me I had to re-add my payment account online (we used our credit card) because once the policy was terminated it also stopped any billpay.

The policy was reinstated a few days later, I went online and added our credit card again, they billed it for the missing period and everything was fine and back to normal.

As the months went by we continued using different healthcare providers for our baby and my wife (standard treatment stuff - vaccinations, wellness exams, etc) and the providers sent the bill to Humana claims as normal and whatever bills we had to pay during the deductible amounts came home and everything was fine.

Fast forward to the last week of June I can two letters in the mail from Humana.

One of them with brand new cards dated June 10 and another letter with an invoice dated June 16 with Payment Due July 1 showing $1953.51 due.

I figured that's odd. Looking at the invoice, it looks like we had 2 billing periods due + the upcoming one for July.

I logged in online to see what's going on, and I saw indeed there is a balance due of $1,953.51 as well. I'm looking at the payment accounts and the credit card is nowhere to be found - only an option to add a bank account.

I then go to the deductibles/claims area and I see it's showing a 0/$6,500 for my wife - also thought that was off since of course the bills from the birth were well over the deductible amount.

I call Humana to inquire about the deductible issue and the due payments.

I explain the situation and saying I got an invoice today with so and so to pay and I logged in, didn't see our credit card, had the issue with the deductibles not showing, etc - in short, explained I want to pay it and make sure all our deductibles are in place.

It's important to mention here - at no point in time in our life did Humana pay out anything for us because we've never hit our deductible and we didn't have any special events at this point in time besides our child's healthcare needs which, have their own $6500 deductible that started from scratch when he was born.

The lady on the phone proceeds to tell me that she sees our coverage has been terminated since APRIL 30 2016 because of no payment.

She continued to tell me that Humana sent out a letter in March saying they no longer accept credit card payments.

Of course - no registered mail or any proof on their end that a letter was sent or received. Apparently that's good enough when you cancel somebody's payment method for their primary health care policy.

I told her not only I never received such letter, I continued to receive regular mail for statements from Humana every month including this most recent letter that I'm staring at dated June 16 2016 with a due date of July 1 AND I have BRAND NEW CARDS PRINTED JUNE 10 2016.

I didn't yell - I know the difference between a customer service rep and the monster machine that created this scenario.

She told me that there's nothing she can do on her end but she can transfer me to the claims department that have more power on stuff they can submit.

While waiting for a new rep to come on the line, I checked my email to see if I received any emails about the payment account issue just to make sure and sure enough - I didn't.

The new customer service rep comes up, I explain the history and she proceeds to check the account.

At this point at least she did confirm that our deductible had hit its max amount and the claims are counted at over $7,000 for my wife. I figured at least when we figure this out we finally won't have to pay for stuff to her this year and finally enjoy the benefits of having health insurance - yay.

She says that the policy was terminated because no payments were received and it was cancelled to reflect the last date they got paid for (basically for April - back in March, when they cancelled our insurance and I had to re-setup our payment account with a credit card and pay it).

I explain this entire story again and she says the only thing she can do is file an appeal on the phone. We start doing that - had to explain the chain of events from scratch while she is typing the appeal.

We finish, she submits the appeal, gives me a reference number and tells me I'll be contacted within 5 business days. This was just before July 4th so I figured it might take longer.

A week later (July 7) I get a piece in the mail from Humana dated June 17th as evidence of termination (how convenient that it's dated a day after the last mail I got dated that says I owe them money to be paid in July).

I call today (July 12th) to check what's going on and the customer service rep tells me there was a decision made on the account on June 29th (!!!!) and they decided not to reinstate my account.

Mind you - we've been a paying customer for years, never once had them actually pay anything because we never hit our deductible and my entire request was just to pay them because of their issue of not telling me about the credit card payment method issue so my family can be insured again.

Interestingly enough, the first time in the business relationship with Humana that they're actually poised to pay anything, we get our policy cancelled and not willing to re-instate although I have plenty of hard paper evidence of continuous communication from them that does not suggest in any way our account is not in good standing or that our account was terminated.

I ask the service rep what recourse do I have - she says 'at this point if I re-submit another appeal they will just deny it'.

I continue to ask her if I can apply for coverage with another healthcare provider and she says only if I had a qualifying life event in the past 60 days otherwise I have to wait until the next enrollment period at end of year.

So this is where I'm at. Out of coverage and lost all of our deductibles for this year for the first time ever we used them in full.

What would you do? Who would you complain to?

How is it possible that a healthcare company can send you policy
terminating communications without any method of delivery confirmation for proof?

Did this happen to anyone else?

Von meinem iPhone gesendet


"Making a Murderer" is Not Entertainment

"Making a Murderer" is Not Entertainment

"Making a Murderer" crept up on me...

It's one of those things. You notice it slowly, as it pokes at your attention from one website, then your Facebook feed.  No one you actually talk to mentions it at all.  Finally, after a Slate article, you start to watch.

An addictive personality, like mine, will find itself in familiar woods.  You start to pay attention, and then you dive in, resentful of needing to breathe because of the breaks it causes in your new interest.  The frame of reference for your whole life changes.  Everything is repainted into a new portrait of the world.  I have focus.  I have drive.  I have a mission.

As someone who is familiar with my own mental tricks, I have learned a healthy dubiousness of my own reactions - which keeps me from moving across the country to pursue my latest obsession.  It doesn't stop me from detaining friends and acquaintances and telling them about the Making a Murderer documentary, its implications and frauds.  My friends, and husband, are tolerant and kind.  (I haven't tried this on my sisters yet.)

I am not alone.  The gripping Netflix series "Making a Murderer" is shocking the English-speaking world.  UK, South Africa, Hong Kong subscribers to Netflix share horror at what they see.

But what, exactly, are they seeing?

"Making a Murderer" Debates

Allison Hope Wiener, host of YouTube's CrimeTime on TheLipTV Channel, insists there is an entertainment element to "Making a Murderer."  Love you, Allison, but I disagree.  Her opinion is bolstered by the entertainment news coverage of "Making a Murderer."  Again, I disagree.  They may see the ratings, but none of them got the message.

We aren't just entertaining ourselves during this show.  In fact, "Making a Murderer" is not entertaining at all.  It is a difficult watch, and many report needing to walk away from it for a while because of the feelings it evokes.

We, the watchers of "Making a Murderer," are participating in a political movement.  The easy communication of ideas through the Internet has led to shifts in political power.  Before the Internet, local sheriff departments had little worry about their decisions being questioned.  Power like that was local, and only a reporter or a state-level or Federal prosecutor could change it.  These were the gatekeepers of appeal.  You had to convince one of them to follow your story before improper, or even illegal, actions could be confronted.  One person, or even a group of people, without the power of these gatekeepers, had no chance to affect the status quo.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, supposedly.  And the power to expose bad practices is a power in itself.  But the virtual world goes further.  It permits people to act.  It permits people to gather together and push in the same direction at the same time.  Their opinions and money can be directed very specifically towards a goal or idea.  Witness Bernie Sanders and his famous "let's have a fundraiser" speech that raised millions of dollars.  That effect is possible because the information highways built to facilitate commerce are the same roads used to communicate information.

The Evolution of News

Remember when we were young?  We ingested awful news, Mad Men style, while sitting in our living rooms.  Very passive, and powerless.  Reporters, the gatekeepers of knowledge, decided what we needed to know.  Then it was written down and read to us by some old man with white hair.  Eventually a blonde female was added.  An example of that dynamic in action is the information that smoking causes cancer, which had been discovered many years before being reported in the mainstream press.  Another is negative information about Scientology.  When there was a choke point in the news, and only a few people chose your information, the Church of Scientology could intimidate them with lawsuits and stalking.

Beginnings of the Information Tidal Wave

This process started to break during the Clinton Administration.  Local t.v. news teams began to do their own national stories, which differed from what was considered "the news" before.  The types of news that would never be reported: an affair with an intern, or that a murderer/rapist had a high level job on the Hill, were driving headlines.  The former gatekeepers began to lost their hold on American opinion, and lamented it loudly.

If they only knew.

At the time, one reporter actually said that he, and everybody else, knew of the powerful Administrative Assistant who was convicted of rape and attempted murder, but that it "just wasn't news." Can you imagine someone saying that now?  More than that, it speaks volumes about the disconnect between those choosing the headlines and those reading the headlines.

Not coincidentally, in the Nineties the Internet started becoming an important means of commerce and communication.  It was clear that a whole lot of money was going to pass through those wires, and everybody better get prepared for it.  What no one anticipated was the same "Information Superhighway" would be a conduit for information. 

News Aggregation

Then came the Drudge Report.  Matt Drudge famously worked at the gift shop at CBS Studios and fished discarded news stories from the trash and published them via email, and then later on a web site.  During the later Nineties, The Drudge Report became a pillar of news and information that other outlets had to follow, especially for salacious sex scandals of the kind ignored by the Washington press for decades.

The Great Cat Incident

"Making a Murderer" is all about political power.  It is the latest in a developing political trend that started with Anonymous uncovering the identity of two teenage cat abusers.

At some point, the Information Age gave all of us a way to act, as well as know.

It started with the boys who filmed themselves kicking their cat and posted it on YouTube.  The soon-to-be-notorious cat lovers of Anonymous tracked them down and outed them.

This video is an example from 2010, when users from 4chan became enraged at a video of cat abuse on YouTube.

It showed a young man abusing a family cat.  We know it is a family cat because Anonymous went on a mission to find out who hurt this cat, to get revenge.  That's right Kenny Glenn, I'm looking at you.  And see http://www.kenny-glenn.net/.  

In what has become a familiar story, the personal information on Kenny Glenn, his family, and workplace of his parents were publicized to everyone in the world.  It was a new level of public shaming.  

Bile was thrown at Glenn and his family for years afterwards.

The public expression of outrage morphed into a vigilante groups.  That's not a criticism.  The global online marketplace provided the same path to political expression as buying a pair of shoes.  The ability to remotely shop for linen meant that groups could now politically galvanize on a worldwide basis using the same electronic pathways.  

4chan's Great Cat Incident was not entertainment, any more than popular outrage about the Steven Avery case is entertainment.  It is a political expression.  It is power in a new context: global.  Before then, political power had geographic limitations.  The local sheriff, aside from rarely being trumped by the Governor or State Police or the FBI, usually enforced crime as he saw it.  That happened in the Glenn case.  

After the identity of the abuser and the health of the cats were known, follow-up outrage targeted the decision of local law enforcement to keep the cat in the same house.  Not for long, though.  People didn't just shrug and leave after the initial outing.  They followed the status of the cat and shrieked when they found out it had been returned.  Only then was Dusty the cat was moved to a safe home in March, 2010.    

The attention had forced a reaction from local officials where previously there might have been one article in the paper, but then it would have died down.  This time there was no gatekeeper to decide there were other stories to report.  So the unilateral decision of authorities was not the final word, the activists on the Internet were.

Before the information superhighway, no one would have found out who hurt that cat.  If it was discovered, the original law enforcement decision to not press charges would have ended the matter. What the Information Age gives us is the ability to reframe raw power.  A local guy, in his position of sheriff, has a wide range of reviews of his decisions.  It has never been that way before without a reporter from a powerful newspaper supporting you.  The revolution of ideas, consumerism is also a revolution of power.  You may have been king of your valley, but not any more.  People everywhere can see into your locale and hurt you if they don't like what they see.  They can get you fired, as has happened to more than one YouTuber.  They can put your information on the internet so teen boys can threaten you with sex crimes.

It's the democratization of power.  You used to need a media outlet to agree with you before you could trump local power brokers.  No more.

The next case to look at is the Stuebenville rape case.