There is always an applicable XKCD

I’m still trying to put together thoughts that don’t evolve into seventeen hundred words of profanity.

Open thread



The Republican Party is tearing itself apart. It’s about damn time.

The following is from a Tweetstorm I composed yesterday in the hours before that shitshow of a “debate.” There are probably some spelling and grammar errors, because for the most part, I just copied and pasted from my Twitter account, @soonergrunt.

Someone asked me recently why I’m a dick to Conservatives who engage me on Twitter. I’m not to everyone. @RadioFreeTom is a notable example. There are others. But I’ll tell you the answer now. I came to political conscience in the age of Ronald Reagan. I liked him as a person, but I didn’t agree with him on much. But I respected him. He was my President, for one thing, but also my parents taught me that the other side were decent people who wanted what they saw as best for the country. They just happened to usually be wrong. And sometimes they were right. That kind of consideration is something I’ve rarely received in return. Rare enough that I remember a lot of those respectful interactions.  They stick out due to their rarity.

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A Note About Hurricane Katrina

Back in early 2010 I wrote the Concept of Operations (CONOP) for the US Army’s first cultural program, the Human Terrain System, about applying what, at the time, I was referring to as socio-cultural research, analysis, and mapping to emergency response and disaster management. This was done specifically for the founding Program Manager so that he had something to work with if US Southern Command asked for assistance from the program as part of the response to the earthquake in Haiti. I was tapped to write this for several reasons, but not least of which because I had been working (among others) for him on building out the conceptual basis for what we were actually tasked with doing for the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and thinking ahead to other types of operations where having on site, real time socio-cultural support might be helpful. Another reason I was tasked with working on this was the conceptual/scholarly work I had done prior to going to work for the Human Terrain System, which included work on emergency response and disaster management.

In late 2009 I represented the program as an invited panelist at the St. Thomas University (Miami Lakes, FL) conference on disaster management and emergency response to terrorism, other man made disasters, and natural disasters (and yes, I was on the same panel with Max Mayfield). Some of the work I had done for that presentation made its way into the CONOP, including an analysis of where, what I would now in 2016 call, cultural operations and Engagement, would have been beneficial in the response to Hurricane Katrina. Ultimately this was written up in 2011-2012 into a longer treatment for the Army’s second cultural program – the Army Culture and Foreign Language Directorate – looking at how to apply cultural operations to facilitate humanitarian assistance, emergency management, and disaster response – regardless of the nature of the emergency or disaster  – including several case examples such as the response to Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake of 2010.

Below you’ll find an excerpt from that 2011-2012 report. In Hillary R’s first post on Hurricane Matthew she referenced Amanda Ripley’s book on surviving disasters. And while Ms. Ripley wrote an excellent book and her observations about who did and did not survive are correct, what was outside of its scope, and the scope of Hillary R’s post, is that ultimately the lack of survivability of Hurricane Katrina was really about total systemic failure at all levels of the emergency management and disaster response process. And I think that’s important to understand and its equally important to remember that the loss of life in Hurricane Katrina was preventable, but failures at the municipal, state, and Federal levels ensured they would occur. I’m adjusting the language a bit – replacing socio-cultural research, analysis, and mapping with Cultural Operations and Engagement.

Disaster Management and Emergency Response: Three Phases

In the case of responding to disasters, whether natural or man-made, disaster management specialists have identified three stages of the response: emergency, rehabilitation, and restoration(9). Conducting Cultural Operations and Engagement across all three dimensions of context, dynamic, and location would be of great use in assisting and facilitating with these disaster management responses. With greater situational awareness available from the beginning of the response and management effort, it would be possible to engage in more focused and effective response leading to better outcomes for the affected populations.

In the emergency response phase the focus is on getting to the affected area, initially assess what needs to be done, and get to the work of the assistance and response as quickly as possible. It also includes a focus on life saving missions and the delivery of emergency supplies, including medical assistance. Phase two, rehabilitation, focuses on building off of the initial response and moving towards stabilization in order to facilitate long term restorations of essential services and a return to normal routine. The focus in this phase is on restoring the host nation country (or in the case of a domestic disaster the local and state authorities) to the levels of functionality that existed prior to the disaster. This is intended to get the required infrastructure back into place and running so that the host nation can begin to provide for the health and welfare needs of the population. The third stage, restoration, is concerned with capitalizing on successes from the first two stages, consolidating them, and then expanding on them by assisting the host nation and its population with building out its infrastructure, services, and facilitating disaster proofing through hardening of vulnerable sites.
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Open thread

Forgot to post this yesterday.

Not a labor-related question, but I noticed that the “why is the campaign so long” columns are already beginning. Got me thinking: what is the single most annoying topic for pundit columns? Getting rid of the penny? Stuff a taxi driver told me? The Stanford marshmallow experiment? Anything by or having to do with Chris Hitchens? Feel free to suggest your own.



I’m not outraged about Colin Kaepernik

I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff on Twitter and Facebook about how Colin Kaepernik insulted Veterans with his refusal to stand for the National Anthem.

I personally am not offended by Kaepernik’s actions. I wish he’d chosen a different method, but only because the substance of his protest, the glaring racial iniquities of policing and the legal system, have been ignored while the outrage machine over his refusal to stand for the anthem has burned up all the oxygen. I honestly had no idea who the guy was before this week. Those glaring racial iniquities of policing and the legal system? That’s the real outrage here, or it should be if you buy into the idea that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Speaking for myself, I for one am real Goddamned tired of people appointing themselves to be outraged on my my behalf.

I joined the army for a lot of reasons, patriotism being one of them, but patriotism had little if anything to do with my decisions to re-enlist over and over again. Every place I ever fought, I fought FOR my brothers, the guys to my left and right. If politics entered into it at all, it was because we fought against people who would string up the Colin Kaeperniks of the world for being a racial minority, or for not toeing some religious or political line. So there was always some knowledge and understanding that on some level there was a difference between us, or what we still aspire to but haven’t yet become, and them.

But mostly it was for my brothers. And a paycheck.



A thousand and one posts

Wow, that last post was my 1,000th post here at Balloon Juice. I was not expecting that when I first got started here.

I’ve been a Balloon Juice reader and primarily a lurker since before the Cole Conversion time. Over the summer of 2013, I saw a lot of good questions about the ACA and how it would effect our community. I got in touch with a front-pager I know in real life and asked if I could write a couple of posts to answer a couple of questions. He e-mailed John and John gave me the keys to this place. I figured that I would twenty to thirty thousand words in forty or fifty posts and then I would be done.

Over the past three years, I have eight hundred or more health insurance posts with about half a million words written.

That was a slight miscalculation.

I’ve rediscovered how much I like to write about a subject that I like. Every day I get to answer a question, explore something that I heard something about but now need to explain, or advocate for a slightly better world with tweaks to the current policy universe. I’ve been able to point people in the right direction when they are getting screwed over. We’ve been able to go through complicated choice structures to get community members taken care of when they know they need to do something but do not know what they have to do.

At the same time, my education has deepened as the community here and a second community of wonks, advocates and researchers. If I need to know about anti-trust law, I have a couple of world class experts who share their time with me. If I need to know more about Medicare, I can talk to people who are on it, I can talk with CMS techno-wonks, and national level advocates. If I need to learn more accounting, there are plenty of people who will share their knowledge and expertise with me.

I never thought I would have written here for more than a couple of months. But between all of you, the community and John’s amazing ability to let things flow, I am more energized than I ever thought I would be a thousand posts ago.



Out of the past

One of my all-time favorite Balloon Juice threads was this one, especially this comment. The picture of the kid it’s about is gone but I found it again on the internet. DennisLennox

There are many who say that this is not the most important issue in the world, but what’s up with wing nut “media” types wearing multiple shirts? Here’s new Trump campaign manager Stephen Bannon.download