Thursday, October 22, 2015

Zingers from the watch today -- Syria, Benghazi hearing, Bush versus Koch brothers

"The watch" -- that part of my life when I observe a few extra dimensions of the mainstream life of humans around us. So much is happening that I feel I owe a few comments on that, even though I had an eye operation (thankfully the final one) this morning, and put more effort into issues in physics (not really ready even for blog, but they will hold).

1. Syria

Syria -- first order anxiety as I see on France24 that lots of folks are excited by plans for a new deal to "unify Syria." Unify?  Part of this is good news, maybe, on the diplomatic front, but if we all come together to shoot our foot... oops. "Unify" -- it sounds like things Condalezza Rice used to say about the new well-design democratic state we would install in Iraq, at that wonderful moment when US forces really were triumphant in a big way accepted by the people. But even a clear military victory, popular support and a nicely designed Ideal Form of a utopian constitution, is not enough to create real democracy, or even sustainability. That's such a surprise to the twitterheads who know nothing of history, who sometimes cite Santayana ("Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it") but seem to forget it.

Was there ever a case where a military victory led to functioning democracy? In my view, yes.
I hope we do not have to learn how resilient the present government of Germany is if there is a combination of a new depression and massive stimuli toward xenophobia (antisemitism in a literal sense, as Arabs are Semites). Still, on the whole, it is the best example of positive successful "nation building" I have ever seen. If a hundred people try something, and 99 fail, it is weird when people pay less attention to the one success than they should. (This also applies to Stirling engines, carbon tolerant high efficiency fuel cells, and skin structure for reusable space vehicles -- all areas where things are in awful shape, but models of success are available.)

One of the keys to the success in Germany after World War II was FEDERALISM. NOT the idea that a new unified central command or parliament should have effective control over everyone and everything.  The opposite was one of the keys to the utter failure of Condalezza Rice, which is a primary cause of everything we face today with ISIL. Please, le's be creative, but not that way again!  SANCTUARY ZONES and even demilitarized zones within Syria (or even some neighbors?)
Strong humanitarian protections, and recognition of special status in a positive way to those who went to Europe and came back. That kind of thing.

In fact, the success in Germany was based on really serious social science research -- an important subject, not all of social science, but a subject which Lamar Smith is energetically and successfully dismantling in the US. How soon will he also deismantle evolution itself, as he has dismantled many key technology R&D areas vital to US security? I often wonder what his motives are for the truly colossal -- and perhaps irrevocable -- destriction he has already wrought. Perhaps the torch wil be passed back to Germany after all, reversing the change of about a century ago, much as the great success of Trajan forced a recovery plan for Rome where the cultural and engineering torch went back to Greece... while the Roman area proper became like living hell for a long while. Why, Lamar, do you seem to determined to do that for us?

In any case, there is some reason to hope that Putin is engaged in as serious and constructive a plan as France24 seems to think... and yet that he may be wise enough to resist the silliness. Will we need more new German wisdom to keep us in balance, not just for phase one but for the outcome? We will see.

2. Benghazi hearings

I did not watch it all, due to the eye issue. But there are some zingers of importance.

One of the objective members of the investigation (no, not all of them!), gave an interesting summary... that Hillary mainly delegated the response to requests for beefed up security, as is appropriate unless one were warned of certain complications, which she never was. (No one was at the top.) At the mid level, the people pushing for rational action felt as if there was a strange organized subgroup sneaking in at every turn to stall things, and to affirmatively guarantee there would be no leak of information about the real problem to higher-ups. This is not democratic dialogue, where people are welcome to opinion but support the integrity of the process. It was something else. Something very serious, something infinitely more serious than Hillary's emails.

In fact... I need to limit what I say, for health reasons, but I have seen first hand that this is
incredibly serious. I see the primary responsibility to belong to Dick Cheney, who certainly did not just go quietly into the good night. It is not just State. There is a book, "A G-Man's Journal," which, in the last chapter, spells out the beginning of a very deep and serious breakdown at FBI -- which he,
a staunch conservative, attributes to a kind of Giuliani faction in favor with Clinton's. But it became a WHOLE lot worse after that.

It took longer to reach NSF than other important agencies, but it did get there. (I MUST oversimplify, to get back to bed soon.)

I learned that gmail WITH the correct security settings is infinitely more secure than my official government email was, since not only were Engineering servers quietly hacked into by the Chinese, lurking quite quietly, but also that other network, which was not so secretive. I learned that real security DEMANDED not leaking stuff to the bad guys. But no, it was certainly not a question of security violations in my case, since I have no security clearance anyway. But it amazes me that people don't realize that a sincere Secretary of State might legitimately feel she had both a right and a duty to make her own judgments, reasonable judgments, about difficult and murky tradeoffs in the security area.

I don't think it is a coincidence that folks chose to create a great embarrassment exactly this week by hacking personal email of CIA director from before he took that job (when I hope he was briefed on basic security procedures with personal email). Forcing EVERYONE to rely on compromised systems plays into the hands of those who have compromised them. This is not imagination -- but it would be very ill-advised and dishonorable to spell out specifics of folks who are part of the compromise who know they are not really protected by whistleblower laws.

3. Brothers

Just as I was stunned by Jeb Bush not facing up to the dire new reality in the Middle East, and the key role of Cheney's push for an invasion of Iraq in causing that, the elder Bush circle is stunned by what we the people make of this (i.e. "God help us, not an expanded version of THAT!").
They are puzzled that it seems to imply a rejection of W, hurting Jeb by association with W, yet W himself is much more poopular. Huh? How?

Seeing from the watch, there is no paradox at all. Bush senior insisted that W allow Cheney to be his VP, to be his "babysitter," a reliable instrument for what the senior circle really wanted. For years he did, and Cheney did far more damage than most people realize, damage putting the next president at ruisk no matter who he or she is. We desperately need someone tough and experienced in administrative struggles to have any chance of protecting democracy in that next round, and it it certainly matters how Congress turns out. But W is more spiritually sincere and connected than
his father or brother, and he broke the bonds.... too late for some parts of the government, but a big help from others.

I find myself wondering: how much of the power in the Republican Party today actually under puppet like control of the Cheney/old-Bush circle, how much under Koch control, and how much really independent and patriotic and sincere? I worked for one of the third category Republican in 2009 (Specter), but the bad guys used dirty unAmerican tricks to get rid not only of him but of many really crucial players in that same group, players whose efforts were really essential to hopes of US national security among other things.

A friend of the Koch network recently asked me to reconsider my distance form them -- and I do remember times suggesting to Obama circle people that there might be times to try to deal direct with tea party people INSTEAD of the old leadership, especially in cracking down on areas of overwhelming corruption. Cozy corruption is not safer than Trump. But certainly, carelessness in regards to the legitimate emissions of the Federal Reserve, NSF and EPA can also be life threatening.

"G-Man's Journal:" the old FBI, for all its imperfections, was scrupulous about not turning into something like the Roman Praetorian Guard, a part of the problem in political instability and erosion of Roman ideals.   I do not believe that the recent investigations of Worden, Clinton and others stay true to that pattern. If I worked in any of those agencies, I would look carefully over my back at times. (OK, My son asked me to watch the movie The Winter Soldier... and that was appropriate, not in details of course, but we need to worry about robustness towards terrorism from within more than lone wolves at the bottom.)

My views of all this are certainly influenced by something which happened a decade ago, when, in international travels, I ran across a kind of "Mein Kampf" of the Third Caliphate movement.
What they want next more than anything is a new US war against Iran, patterned on the old one one Iraq, so as to neutralize all the main forces capable of defending people who insist on resisting the world rule of Sunni sharia under proper royal families. Cheney, as head of Halliburton... had headquarters in the Gulf, and was a reliable contractor for those folks. And they could see Bushes as a possible royal family for the US, seriously.

God help us. Indeed, I agree with Pope Francis that only true elevated spiritual engagement, connecting DIRECTLY to more than half the people of the world (not just some clerical elite), is probably our only hope of survival at all as a species.

Luda and I have discussed Obama and Pope Francis....  and the problems they face within the mundane organizations they nominally head. But no, I am not proposing that Trump become Pope.

The FBI investigation of Chakkah Fattah has interesting implications. On the one hand, it eliminated the most important resistance to Lamar Smith's far advanced program to turn NSF funding into something more like his old political stakeholder system... but Fattah himself had become a crucial lead force in something equally dangerous, the ignorant development of funding for deep brain stimulation... seen as a great source of new money for some medical people (as if we needed to have a bigger budget hole in that sector!) but also as a way to get more obedient and reliable soldiers and workers...

The deep traps around us on all sides really call for a higher level of awareness and consciousness than we seem to see around us in most of the mundane world...

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