Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Coaches become Brilliant when Their Players become Great

   Coaches become brilliant when their players become great. I think of how Doc Rivers has Chris Paul on his Los Angeles Clippers squad. But, when Paul went down injured, the team lost three out of four. I think of how Brad Stevens has "discovered" Isaiah Thomas. Thomas was a pretty decent player all along, but has blossomed into a superstar in Boston. I wonder but what Stevens' touch didn't make the difference in elevating Thomas's game.
   And, I think of George Hill here with the Utah Jazz. He began the season hot. This is not a young player, that he should still be developing a la Isaiah Thomas or like Stephen Curry did. But, I wonder, the same, but what his best days might yet be ahead of him, if a coach were to turn him loose. I wonder if George Hill would assume superstar status.
   Great coaches are made by great players, and sometimes the greatest part of coaching is in finding them.

Monday, January 30, 2017

We Wouldn't Ban Our Veterans and We Shouldn't Ban Our Refugees

  You cannot point to those from countries where terrorists are dominant without pointing at our veterans. You think we should fear refugees from such countries as Iraq, Iran and Syria? Look at the mass shootings in the U.S. More than a third of the perpetrators of the worst mass shootings since 1984 have military backgrounds.
   So, one could argue that we should be just as cautious of bringing our own military back as we are about bringing refugees in from the war-torn countries.
   Of course, let our veterans come home. No one even questions that. It is the right thing to do, even if they, as a lot, are more prone to committing mass murders than the average person.
   But, also let the refugees come. Yes, there does exist the chance of a terrorist slipping in among them. But, don't judge the bunch by the few. Just as all veterans are not mass murderers, so all refugees are not all terrorists.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Freedom of Refuge can only Exist if You have a Place to go

   Every person has the right to refuge, or should. Let this right be listed alongside others as one of the most basic of human rights. When the Declaration of Independence says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," this is one of them.
   Or should be.
   If you are persecuted, you have the right to flee, even as the Mormon pioneers did. If your lives are in jeopardy, you have the right to flee. If economically, work provides you no more than poverty where you are, you have the right to flee.
   Refuge is a right.
   And, if there is a right to flee out of one country, there is the right to flee into another. Freedom of refuge can only exist if you have a place to go. With whatever restraints we place on refuge and immigration, we should be mindful not to encroach on the unalienable right of the immigrant to obtain refuge.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

With or Without a Ban, We Should Seek a Solution for Refugees

   The plight of the Syrian refugees remains one of the larger humanitarian crises of our time. So, then, finding a solution remains one of the larger societal needs.  President Trump's ban goes the other way, though, reducing the help already extended to the refugees. Now that a federal judge has struck down part of Trump's order, we wait to see what will happen.
   I didn't so much as find the order in the listing of presidential actions at whitehouse.gov when I checked about an hour ago. Has it been removed due to the judge's action?
  Of note, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this evening issued a statement calling on people and governments to seek solutions for those fleeing physical violence, war, and religious persecution.
   Bless President Trump, for he could yet take action to help. Bless him that he might. As leader of the free world, he is in position to help find a way to ease the refugees' suffering.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions

Friday, January 27, 2017

Governments should not Pick People; People should Pick Governments

   Government should not pick their people, but rather the people should pick their governments. If we went with this row of reasoning, governments would not be granted power to mandate who could live within their borders.
   If you are not catching my point, let me be clearer. Governments would not be able to restrict people from moving in. Immigration would be open. Borders would be open.
   There would be an exception. If we grant that governments exist to protect the people, then they should be allowed to screen out those who might do harm. If there were due reason to suppose the person coming would bring harm, then that country would have cause not to accept the individual.
   That opens up the question of whether governments should be allowed to shield out immigrants for fear of overpopulation or fear of terrorists coming in. I will only say, I can see how those reasons can be bent into excuses. I can see how those fears can be latched onto and used to exclude people who will do no harm. If you exclude the whole, when it is but the one who will do harm, then you do harm, you exclude entire classes of people wrongly.
  (Note: Blog rewritten morning of Jan. 28, 2017.)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Freedom to Choose Your Spot on Earth is a Right

   I believe the right to move about freely is a basic human right.
   This is a right challenged on two fronts the past few days. There was Trump making good on his campaign promise to build a wall, and there was the lashing back when Israel announced it was going to build 2,500 more homes in the West Bank.
   To me, the right to go where you want, live where you want, and choose the country you want, is a basic human right. Does it have any limitations? Yes. You do not have the right to go anywhere to do harm. Nor do you have the right to escape justice after doing harm to other people's rights. Countries can and should protect their borders against criminal elements.
   I favor allowing Israel to build its settlements. Rather than banning some people from the West Bank while allowing others, I say let them all be welcome. But, if you will, let them vow not to do harm to each other.
   And, I favor allowing those not inclined to criminal behavior to come to America. If they are not going to do harm, let them come. If you would increase the background checks to guard against harmful (criminal) behavior, do so. But let the simple folk and the hardworking job-seekers come.
   Freedom to choose your spot on the earth is a human right. Freedom to harm that spot is not.

I Embrace Trump's Call for an Investigation

   Nay, let us not tell Donald Trump there is no evidence of the voter fraud he speaks of. There is. I do not know that I favor all the voter I.D. laws various states have considered. But that various states adopted them shows they believed such voter fraud is real.
   And, now we would say there is no evidence?
   Now, supposing people from south of the border were getting to vote due to lax I.D. rules, which way would they be likely to vote -- for Trump or against him?
   We've long feared voter fraud. Dead people voting has long been a concern. I see no reason to suggest there is no evidence of voter fraud. Instead, we should welcome an investigation, and demand that it be fair and even-handed. I wonder, though, if this isn't a thing difficult to investigate -- if it isn't putting a heavy onus on the Intelligence Community.
   Still, however much investigation can be brought to pass, I welcome. Never has our election system been so vulnerable. With ballots being mailed out, they can be stolen from mailboxes. They can arrive at addresses where people have moved out. They can arrive at voters who do not want to use them, and end up being used by friends who do.
   Not too long ago, there was no such thing as malware able to alter votes on electric voting machines. That, too, is a new vulnerability.
   Maybe an investigation will not uncover many incidents. Perhaps that is a difficult assignment. But, perhaps if it lists all the dangers and does no more than point out all the ways our system can be compromised, that will prompt us to make changes to bring about a safer and securer system.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Should Israel have the Right to Settlement?

   How we settled America might be a worthy model for how to settle the West Bank. Whoever wanted to was free to move to the unoccupied area. Swedes were not saved land, and Chinese were not banned from lands. All were free to come. If the land was in Spanish Territory, you still could move there without restriction -- you didn't need to be Spanish.
   Such a fair model might be worthy for the West Bank.
  Is freedom to settle where you want a right?  It was in America. But, should freedom of settlement also be considered a right in Israel? Consider this first from what the UN says. Is freedom of settlement  a principle found in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights? I consider it might fall just short, after reading articles 13 and 15. You read the two articles and judge.
   Article 13
  (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
  (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.
   Article 15
  (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
  (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
   The question is whether the West Bank is considered part of the state of Israel. If it is, then Israel has the right to move settlers in. I belief most, though, would suggest the West Bank is not part of Israel, although Israel is the occupying state.
   There are other arguments to consider, as to whether Israel has the right to settlement. But tonight, I consider but the above two vantage points.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

If the Palestinians want the Land, let Them Come and Claim it

  Israel has announced it will build 2500 more homes in the West Bank, and I wonder why they should not be allowed to.
 Why not an open West Bank? Instead of banning anyone -- Palestinian or Jew -- let them all in. Whoever wants to build, let them build. Yes, I know your answer is that that would not preserve a nation for the Palestinians. Israel is keeping the new settlements together, though, and separate from existing Palestinians, if I am correct.  So, if the Palestinians want to claim more, let them build their own new settlements to claim what land they will. A land rush is might be, but let it be. In the Old West, you claimed your land by going there. No one said, This land is reserved for those coming from New York, or England or wherever. If the Palestinians want a franchise, let them come and claim it.

How do I feel about the Job Freeze? You see an Opening, Take it

   If you see an opening, take it. I guess that's the way I feel about President Trump's hiring freeze. It's an opening in the fight against debt, so I wish we would utilize it.
   A hiring freeze might be an effective way to chip away at spending. There are more than two million civilian federal employees. That workforce in 2016 cost $267 billion. Say you could chip $20 billion off through the hiring freeze, that might not be a great amount out of a total budget of $4 trillion, but it is still a little bit.
   And, we don't know how many jobs are expendable. So who knows how much the savings will be until we get it there and do it.
  The nice thing about a freeze is that no one is losing their job. You just aren't replacing them when they quit retire. This stabilizes your economy as you down gear.
   I am aware you cannot have a hiring freeze and expect it to work without managing it well. Simply cutting jobs will fail, as some jobs are essential. You do not want to cut essential services, essential positions, so you would need to shift people's assignments as the workforce dwindles.
   You would need to do some cheer leading, some coaching, some coaxing. Leaders would need to step in and provide leadership, encouraging the employees to not only do more than they are, but to not be upset that they are doing more than they are.
   And, at times you might need exceptions. Some positions might not be able to be cross-filled. You would need to be flexible enough to hire when hiring is a must.

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Hiring Freeze will Work only if it is Managed Well

   Shall we consider this: Would a good hiring freeze on federal government employees help rein in the national deficit? President Trump announced a freeze today. Now, we must wait to see how it pans out,
   But a hiring freeze intrigues me.
   As a way to fight government bureaucracy and the national debt.
   Of course we need to employ enough people to perform the necessary functions of government. And, I can see I am not in position to say how many jobs can go vacant without causing problems. But, I welcome an attempt to cut some of our deficit through this approach. I welcome trying this. If it does not work, it might need to be dropped, but at least give it a good, honest try.
   How well it works might depend on how well it is managed. If you need to shift some employees when critical positions open up, you must do so. One problem might be that the federal workers will not swing work from one spot to the more critical spots simply because they see cutbacks as an attack on their employment. They might well want the effort to fail. If you can get them to sign on to help the effort, that might be the only way it will succeed.
   And, is this hiring freeze no more than window dressing? George W. Bush announced a hiring freeze in 2001 at the beginning of his administration. Whatever happened to it? How long did it last? Do presidents just do this for the show, but not follow through to see that the freezes are truly effective?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Freedom of Religion Includes Freedom to Teach Creationism

   Freedom of religion ought to include the freedom to instruct your children in faith, a friend of mine suggests. Freedom of religion should include the freedom to tell the creationist story.
   And, I agree.
   More than just that, this is also a matter of freedom of speech. We should be free to utter the story from Genesis. It should not be banned and hushed from our schools.
   But, the freedom to speak is also the freedom to not speak. There are parents who do not want their children being taught the creationist story. They, as well, have freedom of speech rights. Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.
   So, how can you take the creationist story into public schools without violating their rights?
   The answer seems easy enough, to me. You ask the parents of each child if they want their children to be taught the creationist story. Then, you divide them. You take the children whose parents approve, and you teach them the creationist story, while the rest of the children are in a separate classroom learning extra about evolution.
   That brings up the question as to whether all children should be taught of evolution and the Big Bang. I think it should be a course taught to all those who don't opt out. Thinking there is value in learning about the Big Bang, I would rather hope no one opted out. Still, it is a religious right, and I suggest those who want to should be allowed to skip the class. Let them spend the time in the library while that class is being conducted.

 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

There's Always a Future for Those Who Will Change

   Age shouldn't limit us to what we've been; It should open windows to what we can become. Rather than living in a box created by age, created by where we've been and what we've done, we should continue to look for new ways to do things, learning from our experiences and our past, and from looking around and seeing what others are doing. Age doesn't need to be an ending point; it can be a launching point.
   Age only limits those who are stuck in their pasts. The person who will change, always has a future.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What if, Instead of Firing the Coach, We gave Him a Makeover?

  What if, instead of firing the coach, we gave him a makeover? What if instead of looking down a list of applicants, the A.D. looked down a list of traits he wanted, and asked his current coach to adopt them?
  I've never heard of such an approach, never heard of it happening. So, this would be a novel thing. But, I ask, why not, in some cases, try it.
   So, reinvent yourself, coach, and here's what we want the new, improved you to be like. Here's how we want you to act when you are down by 20. Here's how we want you to think. Here's what we observed about Coach K in this situation; Can you do this? Etc.
   Some would say that those things have to come naturally, that you can't just fake them, but I believe some coaches could, indeed, reinvent themselves. When a coach is new in the business, he considers how he should coach, and what methods are best. Why is it he can only do this early in his career, and only once? What is to prevent the coach from doing it again, 10 or 20 years in?
   So, let the coach look at his assignment through the eyes of someone fresh in the business. Here's some changes I can make in myself. Here's some things I'm not doing that I might. What kind of game-day intensity should I have? What demeanor should I have? How does does my game-day atmosphere compare to that of Coach K's, and can I emulate his?
   People change; Why can't coaches? What if, instead of firing our coaches, we retrained them? What if we coached our coaches instead of replacing them?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Wiser the Person Who Listens to an Enemy

   If you would be wise, then make wide the spectrum of voices reaching your ear.
   I considered the old adage from Bible in new light today. "In the multitude of counselors, there is safety," we are taught in Proverbs 11:14. I have always thought that meant no more than having counsel in order to be wise.
   But, that word "multitude" hit me today. Does it suggest diversity? Does it imply that you listen to not just one line of thinking, but many?
   If you would be wise, then listen to wisdom. You may not find it in your own thoughts, nor in the thoughts of people who think like you. If you too quickly reject those who do not think like you, you run the risk of rejecting wisdom. Wiser the person who listens to an enemy than the one who will only hear a friend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Truth is Less Likely When You Pay Equally for Things Which are Untrue

   Perhaps, indeed, the intelligence dossier on Donald Trump printed just more than a week ago was newsworthy. CNN did the right thing by printing a summary, and BuzzFeed did the right thing by printing the whole of it.
   But, tonight, I have some thoughts that do go the opposite direction.  A group opposed to Donald Trump hired investigators to dig up dirt on the Donald. This was not just someone hearing something bad about Trump and deciding to find out if it was true. No, if I understand correctly, the investigators first were given the charge to find something evil. Now, if the definition of a witch hunt is to search out evil on someone you don't like, this amounts to no more than that -- a witch hunt.
   That does not mean truthful accusations cannot come out of a witch hunt. But it does lessen the odds. If you aren't looking for both sides of whether something is true, you are most likely just to find the negative. If you are getting paid to find the negative, that is where your incentive lies. That's not a healthy model for finding the truth.
   This, I would guess, is a true principle: If you dislike a person, you will surely find untrue rumors about them. Things can always be made up that aren't true about someone, and if you are looking for the negative, these untruths will fall into your bag.
   Truth is less likely to be found when you pay equally for things that are untrue.


Often, Truth is not Something You Have; It is Something You Earn

   Often, truth is not something you have: it is something you find. A search is involved. For all the times you can look at a matter and readily see the answer, other times you must go back and look at another angle. You must reconsider before you find the truth.
   For those times, truth is not something innate; rather it is something you earn.
   I consider this as I wonder if I my thoughts were complete a week ago on the dossier printed on Donald Trump.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Was Tampering with the Actual Vote the One thing they didn't do?

   Yes, it is in bold letters in the declassified report: "DHS assesses that the type of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying."
   And, the nation sits back, sighs in relief, and everyone assures each other the voting, itself, went untouched.
   I'll tell you why I'm skeptical. Thumb down, if you will, to page 13 of the report. Read how it say that since early 2014, the Russians studied our election equipment, our election processes, and our election technology. Oh, yes, I am not blind. I do see how it then reiterates that no messing with the vote tallying was observed.
   What? They study how to sabotage our polls, but we shouldn't worry that they actually did so? If we know their efforts were multifaceted, why should we suppose tampering with the actual vote was the one thing they didn't touch?

Monday, January 16, 2017

As Long as We have Crime, We have Witness that there is Agency

Laws do not take away agency; they give it birth. If there is no law, there is no choice between right and wrong. Choice comes out of having laws. This is not to say government cannot take away agency by taking away such freedoms as the right to say what you want, the right to worship as you will, the right to go where you choose, and so forth. And, if governments were able to prevent you from your choice of keeping or breaking the law, laws would also prevent agency. But, as long as there is crime, there is witness that there is agency. You can prohibit alcohol, but some will still choose to bootleg. You can ban marijuana, but many will still choose to smoke pot. You can say, Thou shalt not kill, but there will be killers, anyway. The question becomes, then, not whether we should get rid of laws to increase our agency, but which laws are beneficial to society.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Consider MormonLeaks in Light of Four Points from the Constitution

   I would find no great harm if my church were to decide to publish the amounts of income it gives to its general authorities. But, I also find no harm if it chooses not to publish them.
   This topic certainly has generated interest this week as a group called MormonLeaks published some of the information. The Deseret News has twice since came out against the MormonLeaks release, and printed a piece from MormonLeaks defending the leaks.
   I think this is an instance we should look to our Constitution for a little guidance. No less than three of the amendments in our Bill of Rights might have some pertinence.
   From the First Amendment:
   Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
    This would suggest leaving religion alone.
    Also from the First Amendment:
   Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.
   Freedom of speech includes the freedom not to speak. If the church chooses not to say what it gives to its general authorities, that is its freedom of speech.
   From the Fourth Amendment:
   The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. shall not be violated.
   Certainly, if you are to be free from the government violating you in such a way, you should be free from others searching into your records this manner.
   From the Fifth Amendment:
   No person shall . . . be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

C-SPAN Episode as if Straight out of a Movie

   This is as if straight out of a movie. Congresswoman Maxine Waters is speaking on the House floor Thursday when she is suddenly cut off the air. The feed on C-SPAN is replaced with one from Russia Today.  As Waters continues, she speaks of Trump and the Russians, but the C-SPAN listeners get none of that. Instead, they hear music from Russia Today. What is Russia Today? Well, the declassified intelligence report last week had it involved in Russian attempts to steal the election.
  What caused the C-SPAN interruption? C-SPAN officials suggest nothing nefarious was going on. It was just a technical glitch, they say. Maybe they're right. All I know is, what a coincidence!! When the day comes that someone does makes a movie out of the Trump election -- and we have to guess that will someday happen  -- this will surely be in it.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/c-span-online-feed-briefly-interrupted-russian-tv-n706421

Are the Russians any Worse than We, Ourselves?

   Perhaps Russia did no great wrong in influencing America's election? I suppose we still have not heard exactly everything the Russians did do. Yes, they hacked the DNC and RNC, we are told. But, what else did they do?
  They spread disinformation and propaganda? I assume that translates into falsehoods about Hillary. But, what if everything they spread about Hillary was true? And, which accusations against Hillary did the Russians spread?
  If the Russians took truth and simply scattered that? That would be fair. If they took falsehoods and spread them, though, does that make them any more evil than a good portion of our own political powers? We get lies and false spins from our own politicians. Why is it suddenly a thing to rise up in outrage about just because it is the Russians doing it?
   Well, if it was falsehoods that were spread -- and if they are calling it disinformation, that would be falsehoods -- I remain convinced it was a wrong. I still suggest it is something we should be upset about. That a foreign power influenced our election with untruths should be a serious concern to us.
   And, yes, it would be good if we also were displeased with falsehoods spread by those right here in the U.S. Rather, though, we only get upset if the falsehood is about our party. If it is about the other side, we are inclined to take it as truth.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Was Printing the Dossier the Right Thing to do?

   I pause in horror as I read how Christopher Steele, fearing for his life and the lives of his family, has gone into hiding. I feel for him. I am concerned about him. As I sit to write about the dossier Steele wrote, somehow just rushing on and discussing it without having concern for Steele seems wrong, cold and unfeeling. So, I begin this blog with that thought.
   I blogged last night saying it is standard journalism practice to cover accusations against high government officials, that to do differently this time would constitute a change in the way journalism is practiced. Well, now I read that the Steele dossier was circulating through the media for weeks or longer, with no one picking it up and writing about it, other than Mother Jones referring to the dossier in an October column by David Corn.
   No one covered the story, not the New York Times, not the Washington Post, not the Guardian, and not others. Although they had the story, they chose not to write it, thinking it unsubstantiated.
   I have not changed my belief. If you have accusations against high government officials, and if these accusations are coming from a source that is worthy, you print them. You get both sides of the story, if you can. You ask the person being accused (Trump, in this case) for his response, but you print them. (BuzzFeed did seek response from Trump.)
   An article in the Columbia Journalism Review seems to suggest BuzzFeed did the right thing by printing the dossier. "The media’s full-throated condemnation of BuzzFeed is both self-righteous and self-serving," the CJR article says.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/kenbensinger/these-reports-allege-trump-has-deep-ties-to-russia?utm_term=.lxYb6eDd2#.oozPo0Yrv

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/12/world/europe/christopher-steele-trump-russia-dossier.html?_r=0

http://www.cjr.org/criticism/buzzfeed_trump_russia_memos.php

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

We'd have to Muzzle Donald if We Muzzled things like this

   You would ask, wouldn't you?, whether it is ethical of new organizations to print the damaging but unsubstantiated accusations against Donald Trump. Should BuzzFeed have printed the whole document of accusations? Should CNN have carried the synopsis? Should the rest of the media be printing, announcing and disclosing the information?
   I read one authoritative person saying you don't print what you don't know to be fact.
   This is not the first time the appropriateness of covering something has been questioned. Often, those who would suppress things are accused of "sanitizing" the news.
   No, this is not a new situation we find ourselves in. Are we suggesting the rules should be changed? Because up till now, when accusations have been made against high government officials, they surely do constitute news. They certainly are covered. But, rather that just printing the accusations, the good practice is to get both sides of the story. You ask the person being attacked -- in this case, Donald Trump -- to respond to the accusations, answering each of them.
   You don't suppress the news; you cover both sides.
   Yes, it is wrong for anyone to make false accusations. Yes, false accusations amount to fake news. Yes, rumors and false information can be very damaging. Ask Hillary, for while I would suggest a portion of what has been said against her has been true, other things have been very damaging falsehoods.
   But, once an accusation is made by a source that has authority -- and a British intelligence person so qualifies -- you deal with it by being fair and seeking both sides of the story. You attempt to get to the bottom of the accusation rather than not printing it.
   You do your best to determine if the accusation is true or not, rather than sitting on the story. If only completely verified information could be printed and spoken, well, we'd have to put a muzzle on a lot of things that this very same Donald Trump comes up with.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

This Disinformation, does it Mean some things about Hillary were Lies?

  I have waited for the other shoe to drop, and it hasn't, and now looks like it won't.
  Didn't James Clapper, head of national security, suggest Russia's attempt to hijack the election came out of propaganda, disinformation, and fake stories?
  The natural question should have been, What propaganda were we fed, what disinformation, what fake stories?
   It doesn't take a genius to see that if the propaganda was directed at helping Trump, it was aimed at hurting Hillary. So, are we saying some of the bad things said about Hillary were no more than propaganda and disinformation?
  I see a dearth of discussion on this. I haven't run across a single news story discussing it. Perhaps it is being discussed, and I'm just missing it? I wonder why the topic should not be all the rage, instead of missing altogether. Could it be that if the media fell for the stories, they aren't going to be running to point them out? Or, is it that the media figures all the propaganda was limited to the hacks on the DNC and RNC? That was the sum total of any disinformation and propaganda.
  Or, it is that public and media, both, just don't stop to think? They just have not considered what it means to say that the Russians planted propaganda and disinformation in front of us.
  If Clapper and the Intelligence Community's report didn't spell out which news stories amounted to disinformation, we ought to be asking them. And, we ought to be looking back at all the things that were said about Hillary, and wondering which stories might have duped us. A good portion of our electorate will not be open to doing that. Suggest to them that some of the bad things said about Hillary might have been false, and you'll hit a brick wall. They won't accept one hair or penny of it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

If Health Care Reform is to be Complete, We Must Address this

  If we are to reform our medical system, let us not overlook the unnecessary deaths. Let us find a way to save those who are not being diagnosed when they should be.
  A Facebook friend of mine, dying of cancer, posts of how it was unnecessary, of how he told the doctor the symptoms, and the doctor failed to diagnose him, a diagnoses that should have been simple and obvious. I see around me other times a simple diagnoses was not made and perceive it is a significant problem.
   Let us do three or four things. Three I will mention tonight, and I might deal with a fourth later.
   One, Lessen the doctor's workload. The good doc is overbooked. When a patient comes, he should have all the time in the world, all the time he needs. No more should the doctor be hurrying to finish one patient in order to get to the next. Busy doctors don't make for good ones.
   Two, Give the doctor check lists right and left. They already employ some. The doctor goes down the list of symptoms, checking them off to see how the patient stacks up. Let's add some lists. He needs to ask about all the symptoms of cancer, whether that is what the patient is there for, or not. He needs to ask about the symptoms of other major diseases, regardless whether the patient is there for them. And, then, all the symptoms from everything need to be poured into a computer, to let the computer spit out what illnesses or diseases the patient might have. If our doctors are overlooking diseases -- and they are -- let the computer help.
   Three, Make second opinions standard practice. You never go to see just one doctor. You always see a second. See two at the same practice, if you like, but see two. And, the two partners must not share their diagnoses until after they each have arrived at them independently.
   As I write, it occurs to me all three of these suggestions would be impacted if we used computers more, letting them make diagnoses. We could type in all our symptoms, and the computer would tell us what was wrong.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Charity City is what it was Called; Crazy City is what it was

   It was a town where no mouth went unfed, and no one laid down at night without a bed. You could search the night's street corners in vain for a homeless person, and not find one, for they were all tucked safely away in beds.
   Oh, was this town ever unusual. Most towns have bigger aspirations. They want to have an NFL football team, or to attract Boeing or Facebook or some other notable company. Seeking to be refined in every way, they want to boast of  their entertainment, their education, and their economy. (I guess we could call that the three E's.)
   Ah, but this city? It aspired to no more than housing all the homeless people. Oh, it might have wanted that MLB franchise, and that Microsoft headquarters, but, most of all, it wanted to help the homeless. It wanted to be that place where all other cities sent their homeless.
   They read some scripture about a place where all nations would flow to in the last days, and must have mistakenly thought having all nations flow into you should mean bringing homeless people in from around the world.
   They saw that sign Emma Lazarus posted in the New York Harbor -- the one that says something about taking in the starving and staggering, the cold and unkempt -- and they took it a little too literally.
      "Give me your tired, your poor.
   "Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
      "The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
    "Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
      "I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
   Yeah, that poem was pretty much gospel to them.
   Talk about a good way to tear into your economy, and attract crime. Were these guys (was this city) crazy?
   Still, they did it, and did it with aplomb. They not only took in all the homeless people, they bettered them. They placed them in jobs, when they could. They got them off drugs, when they could. But, for those who wouldn't or couldn't work or wouldn't or couldn't quit drinking, they helped them, just the same.
    Christian City, USA. Christian City, international. I've never seen anything like it.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Why no Survey? Where's the Survey when You Need it?

  "If the Russians influenced 1% of the population to vote for Trump, that was far more than enough." So says a person identifying himself as GaryO from Virginia Beach, Virginia, in the comments under a news story in the Deseret News.
  As I read it, I find myself wondering if (and doubting that) there have been any surveys asking voters if they were influenced. Yes, they might not admit to it, and they might not know enough about the fake stories, etc., to know if they were influenced. Still, you could present the survey as best you could and make an effort to determine if the Russians did, in fact, poison the pond -- did successfully change the election.
One approach to the survey would be to query those just those who were undecided and those who changed their minds at the end, asking them if they remember what factors persuaded them to vote the way they did.
   It would be a late survey, but a late one is better than none at all. And, it would be better to do it now than a year from now.  The questions about this election are going to be hanging in the air and haunting us for decades to come, so the more we can determine this close to the event, the better.

No Evidence the Election was Stolen at the Ballot Box?

   The vote counting was not tampered with? That is one of the findings of the Intelligence Community's report on Russia's influence on our election. Most every direction I looked yesterday, someone was saying no one questions the vote totals. I do, though. I wonder. To me, if you were trying to influence the election, it would be natural enough to try to sabotage a few computers. You probably wouldn't catch too many, for you would need install the malware physically. To be able to gain that type of access in too many places is understandably to be questioned. On the flip side, you might be able to do it without leaving much evidence behind. The malware erases itself when the polls close. Recounting the votes? Paper printouts would reflect the votes tallied (supposing the malware changed the vote before the printout). So, a recount would show nothing. Now, if there is no or little way of uncovering the vote-tampering, the Intelligence Community might shy from even making the accusation. Intel officials might be reflecting on how they once suggested there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, only for it to end up there was no evidence. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

This Election Result Confirmation Meeting was a Little more Testy

   I caught a good portion on C-SPAN of the joint session of Congress confirming the Electoral College results. As I watched, I wondered if it didn't have as much drama as any election confirmation session in our history. I thought it would be just a reading and recording of the votes, but a few speakers - House members -- repeatedly tried to contest results from some of the states. Joe Biden wouldn't let them speak, stopping them each time they tried, saying such requests had to be in writing and signed by a representative and a senator. They would respond that they signed as the representative, and were seeking a senator's signature. At any rate, Biden cut them off each time they tried to speak and their microphones were muted. So, I never got to understand what their complaints were. One did refer to 87 malfunctioning voting machines in North Carolina before she was cut off.
  Later tonight, I did find a story, noting one speaker was upset with voter suppression brought about by purging voter rolls and by strict voter I.D. laws.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-electoral-college-vote-certified-by-congress/

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Put the Doctors Back in Charge

   With Obamacare about to be replaced, I play around with one idea of what to replace it with. Let's put the doctors back in charge. Let's hinge our whole system on the family doctor.
   Keep the system tied to the community, as much as possible -- community-oriented medicine.
   When you buy insurance, you buy it through your doctor, from a list of providers he has. Yes, your employer can still contribute, but the choice of providers comes through your doctor, not through the employer.
   And, rather than going across state lines more, I wonder about localizing insurance, maybe even having the doctor, or set of doctors, provide their own insurance pools and plans. The advantage of community-based insurance and community-based care is that you become aware of the medical expenses and have an interest in holding them down. But, being concerned about  neighbors, you also are concerned about them getting the best medical attention possible. So, you have the whole community working both to keep prices down, and to provide the best care possible.
   When it comes time for a specialist, or a surgeon, you select who you want, but the appointment is made through the community doctor, thus placing him in position to advise. And, you could have lists with recommendations from others in the community. (Maybe, I might first want to think more on that idea.)
   FDA approvals, for medicines? Run the system through the family doctors. Let the doctors provide patients for the tests. And, let a panel of doctors be the FDA, as far as being the authority that grants or denies the approvals.
   Pass laws against any kickbacks. It becomes illegal for a drug company to pay a doctor in any way for considering or voting to approve any new drug. The companies can provide free medicine, but that is a consideration that goes directly to the patient, not to the family doctor.
  And, when there are referrals the doctor makes to specialists, the specialists are outlawed from paying the family doctor in any manner.
   If you keep the whole system local, you might create a greater sense team, and a greater sense of finding the best medical care for everyone in your community. And, if you put the doctor at the helm, you have the right point person, since he or she is the best expert in the community. So, there is my model. I see it has parts that would need to be fleshed out, but overall, I believe it just might be a wonderful system.

 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Chop Some of the U.S. Intelligence Community into Firewood

   With 17 intelligence agencies, maybe we ought to chop some firewood. Maybe that is a little much, a little overkill, a little more than what a debtor nation can afford.
   Seventeen intelligence agencies, did you say? I read how we might have 100,000 spies. I read how the budget was $44 billion -- and that was back in 2006. With billions being spent, there might be billions to be saved.
   I would not to cut a dime on intelligence that is needed, but somehow I wonder if there is duplication, and unnecessary bureaucracy. I understand most of the agencies are not intelligence-gathering agencies, but rather they deal in intelligence. Sometimes, they just take information the big five agencies gather, and deal with it for their own parent agency's purposes. I wonder whether it would be more cost effective to just have the intelligence agency that is gathering the information report directly to the agency needing the information, rather than having a sub-agency there just to disseminate and follow the intelligence. And, I understand the FBI often partners with local law enforcement, creating a situation where sometimes one does the work, and the other doesn't do much but to follow along, keeping abreast with the case while not really contributing.
   Duplication can be waste.
   We are a nation with a $19 trillion debt. We ought to be looking for places to cut and save. I would not cut a dime from our U.S. Intelligence Committee's budget if that dime is money well spent. But, I cannot help but thinking there exists chunk of change to be save if we were to audit our U.S. Intelligence Community and chop some of it into firewood.
 

A Town Where no Mouth Went Unfed

It was a town where no mouth went unfed
  Where every body had a bed.
   Built it, and they will come, it has been said
  
So, they built it, beginning 2017
   Of towns with poor, this city: the most lean
   For a poor person was almost never seen
  
I sometimes wonder why this can't be
  A town that is so homeless-free
  A town to which they all could flee

Just give them shelter, every one
  Just feed them all -- leave out none
  Do this, and the homeless battle's won


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Malfunction or Hacking

   So, we are told the election machines occasionally machines "malfunctioned," spitting out someone else as the person voted for instead of the person actually voted for. Nothing here. It happens every election. Move along, please.
   I only know that if electronic voter machines were hacked, changing the votes from one candidate to another, this would be a possible scenario. And, I also take note that the paper printout would not reveal the fraud, it would merely mirror the false vote. Or, so I suppose. But, perhaps it depends on what the malware was programmed to do, and when it intercepted and changed the vote.
   No, I do not dismiss this my fear of "malfunctions" being hackings when I learn this has happened in past elections. Just because a hacker has been hacking longer than you thought, doesn't mean he isn't hacking.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2016/11/08/voting_machines_malfunction_every_election.html

http://www.usatoday.com/media/cinematic/video/1686131/voting-machines-changing-votes/

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=election+malfunctions&view=detail&mid=2AFFD6665DFFFAA705662AFFD6665DFFFAA70566&FORM=VIRE

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/8/voter-intimidation-and-machine-malfunctions-report/

http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/11/04/va-gop-voting-machines-malfunctioning-in-several-precincts/

Monday, January 2, 2017

What if the Ice Caps Melted of a Sudden?

   Climate change? Global warming. When I read of the temperatures at the Arctic Circle going above the freezing mark about a week ago, I wondered what if it got to, say, 60 degrees, and stayed there.
   And, all the ice melted, not gradually, but of a sudden.
   Or the Antarctica, what if it melted, quickly? I word search and read how Greenland and the Antarctica contain 75 percent of the earth's fresh water. If they melted, oceans would rise by at least 275 feet. You melt them in a hurry, and do you cause tidal waves throughout the world? I'm told, they could not melt fast enough to cause tidal waves.
   How far inland do the waves rise?
   I don't study long enough, but imagine there must be some reason this isn't expected to happen. Despite all the fear of global warming, I don't hear many people suggesting either of our two caps are in any danger of melting just pop, all of a sudden.
   But, is there a rule against it? Is it possible? Because if it is, we might just have Noah's flood all over again. And, if it is, are we living in danger every day, of this sudden calamnity? If there is nothing that says the temperatures can't suddenly flip to 60 degrees, and stay there for a time, don't we live in this danger daily?
   I say it won't happen, and I guess I do so in part because in the Bible story of the Great Flood, we are told, "(N)either shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth." (Genesis 8:11)
   As I reflect on it, I suppose I do not know whether it is suggested the global warming will eventually totally melt one or both ice caps, though across time, not of a sudden. I obviously know we are worried about the reduction of the ice caps, but are we fearful they could completely melt?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Could We Help Bind Satan?

   I wonder what our entertainment would be like if we measured it against the standard of goodness. If we would not read a book that didn't teach a moral, nor view a movie that didn't have a good hero, what wonderful entertainment would be left on the shelves.
  And, our selection of goodness would lead to our own goodness. We would be influenced for better.
  I sometimes wonder about the saying that Satan will be bound for a thousand years. I wonder if such principles as this might lead to his being bound. If we, as a society, start practicing the things that bind Satan -- doing it not because we are compelled, but because we want to -- could we help usher in the millennium?

It's National End-of-Slave-Importation Day Today

   It's National End-of-Slave Importation Day today. Emancipation Day it might not quite be, but this day certainly does not get its due when we discuss the end of slavery. Quite significant it should be that on this day in history, the importation of slaves became illegal.
   And, this was in 1808 -- decades and decades ahead of the Civil War. It would not be until the Civil War that slavery really ended, as slave trade within the U.S. continued for all those many years after this day when it was made illegal to import slaves from other countries. Still, this day remains very significant.
   We already celebrate Jan. 1 as New Year's Day, so crowding it on the calendar as a day for celebrating freedom from slavery probably isn't going to catch much traction. I suppose we could mark March 3 as the day, for it was on that day in 1807 that the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves was enacted. That means, we have the 210th anniversary just around the corner on March 3, 2017.
  But, the law didn't go into effect until Jan. 1, 1808, which is the earliest date allowed by the U.S. Constitution. "The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight," it says in Article I, Section 9.
   It is meaningful that the Founding Fathers placed in the Constitution a mechanism for ending slavery. One can wonder if they thought to end all slavery Jan. 1, 1808, but failed to word the Constitution so that it covered slaves already here. Or, perhaps this was the best the forefathers could do, as many proponents of slavery were among them.
  And, it is meaningful that the leaders of the nation took the first date possible to end the importation of slaves.
   So, with all else you are doing today, you might pause to observe this as a day when the U.S. became one of the first nations in semi-modern history to outlaw the importation of slaves. The practice continued in other nations, but the U.S. set forth a standard.