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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Sexual Harassment, Assault, and Rape in New Hampshire

The First Lady is campaigning in New Hampshire today and has turned her rally speech into an impassioned discussion of sexual harassment, assault, and rape.

Updated to Add:

I had put this as a comment in BettyC’s thread, but given the nature of the First Lady’s speech, decided I’d append it to this post. This is excerpted from a 2014 report I wrote on sexual assault, harassment, and rape for the US Army when my Commanding General was asked to look at the problem from the strategic and cultural levels:

American Cultural Concerns: Women’s Status in America and Attitudes Towards Women
As Gen. Welsh, as well as Zenko and Wolf observed in May 2013, no one enters the US military as a blank slate. Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine brings with them at least two decades of socialization and acculturation to overall American norms and values, as well as to their numerous regional variations, those of their families, ethnic communities, and/or religious denominations. While America made great strides through the 20th Century towards greater inclusivity towards women, as part of the larger trend towards more inclusive civil rights and liberties for all American citizens, these gains are not uniform throughout society. Americans from more rural areas, from specific ethnic groups, and adherents to more traditional forms of religion often tend to hold more traditional views of sexuality, the interaction between men and women, and the appropriate roles for men and women in both the public and private realms of life(11). Often these bleed over into the popular consciousness, such as when women’s employment opportunities are limited due to things such as physical appearance.(12)

There is, however, an even more troubling socio-cultural downside to this. Sometimes it is referred to or reported as rape culture: the attitudes, norms, and values that allow men to view women as not being fully autonomous humans, but rather as objects to whom things can be done without their consent. It is this concept that is at the heart of the discussions and debates of incidents like the Stuebenville rape case, a similar incident in KS that actually drove the family from town, as well as a seeming rash of law enforcement officers sexually assaulting women under cover of law or officials directing law or rules against victims.(13)

While all of these incidents, and the ones that go under or unreported, begin to paint a disturbing pattern regarding a set of persistent negative norms and values towards women in America. What is even more disturbing are the hundreds of incidents where women were determined by law enforcement, courts, and medical personnel to be less than fully autonomous human beings, and therefore subject to having their rights and liberties curtailed for either being pregnant or because they might be pregnant.(14) Paltrow and Flavin document over 500 cases of pregnant women having their civil rights and liberties involuntarily curtailed, usually for trivial reasons such as a patrol officer’s concerns that the seat belt strap might harm the pregnant woman’s developing fetus, simply because they were or were suspected to be pregnant. While it would be an understatement to say that America has unresolved political and social issues regarding issues of women’s health, conception, and contraception, Paltrow and Flavin document a disturbing trend: if a woman in America is or could be pregnant, she is at risk of being reduced to second class citizen status due to others – law enforcement, medical professionals, and jurists – attitudes regarding women, their place, and their role in American society.

This abrogation of American women’s rights is both a disturbing socio-cultural trend, but it also points to a larger culturally bounded normative issue: in 2014 women’s legal and social status as fully and completely equal human beings and citizens is still not set and fixed. This is also reflected in other areas of American life, such as the still unclosed pay disparity between men and women, as well as the continued underrepresentation of women in corporate boardrooms, at the heads of major corporations, and in the state and federal legislatures. While the US military has often taken the lead on integration matters for women, ethnic minorities, and now on LGBT issues, the opening of the traditional male domain of combat arms is another place that the military is ahead of significant portions of the American citizenry. It is possible that the popular pushback in some segments of American society will contribute to the problem that Gen. Welsh, as well as Zenko and Wolf identified. Everyone that comes to the US military comes from an America that has conflicting norms and values regarding women, their roles, status, and rights. This may contribute to sexual violence in both America overall and within the US military.

11 Sally Daniels, Bradford Fay, and Nicholas Tortorello, “American’s Changing Attitudes Towards Women and Minorities”, The Public Perspective, DEC/JAN 1998,http://www.ropercenter.uconn.e…../91047.pdf.
12 “Iowa Dental Assistant Faces Challenges Raising Young Family After Her Dentist Boss Fired her for Being “too Attractive” and a ‘Threat’ to his Marriage”, Daily Mail, 2 AUG 2013,… moving-court-ruling.html and “Elementary School Aide, 23, Suspended After Racy Modeling Photos were Sent to Staff”, Daily Mail, 23 JAN 2014, 2544560/Elementary-school-classroom-aide-23-suspended-racy-modeling-photos-sent-staff.html.
13 David Edwards, “Texas Student Reports Rape and gets Suspended for ‘Public Lewdness’”, Raw Story, 23 DEC 2013,…..orts-rape- and-gets-suspended-for-public-lewdness/, David Edwards, “Texas Cop Arrested for Handcuffing and Raping 19 Year Old at Traffic Stop,” Raw Story, 24 NOV 2013,…..ffic-stop/, Eric W. Dolan, “Texas Deputy Accused of Raping Mother in Front of her Children Resigns”, Raw Story, 15 AUG 2013,…..-front-of- her-children-resigns/.
14 Lynn M. Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin, “Arrests of Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973- 2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health”, Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, 15 JAN 2013.

The Maskirovka Slips


(Maskirovka Principles)

Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald has just broken a story pertaining to Russian Intelligence’s hacking, forging, and/or altering documents to influence the US election in collusion with Wikileaks.

Of course, this might be seen as just an opportunity to laugh at the incompetence of the Russian hackers and government press—once they realized their error, Sputniktook the article down. But this is not funny at all. The Russians have been obtaining American emails and now are presenting complete misrepresentations of them—falsifying them—in hopes of setting off a cascade of events that might change the outcome of the presidential election. The big question, of course, is why are the Russians working so hard to damage Clinton and, in the process, aid Donald Trump. That is a topic for another time.

For now, though, Americans should be outraged. This totalitarian regime, engaged in what are arguably war crimes in Syria to protect their government puppet, is working to upend a democracy to the benefit of an American candidate who uttered positive comments just Sunday about the Kremlin’s campaign on behalf of Bashar al-Assad. Trump’s arguments were an incomprehensible explication of the complex Syrian situation, which put him right on the side of the Iranians and Syrians who are fighting to preserve the government that is the primary conduit of weapons used against Israel.

So no, Mr. Putin, I’m not Sidney Blumenthal. And now that you have been exposed once again, get the hell out of our election.

As I wrote back in July, we are in a cyber war, which is part of the new cold war that we find ourselves in.

I’ll have more on some of the current US-Russia impasse (hopefully) in regard to Aleppo tomorrow.

The Herrenvolk Component

As I’ve watched and read the coverage on the tape of Trump’s 2005 Access Hollywood appearance that came out yesterday, his campaigns initial response, his taped apology, and the responses to all of it I’ve seen and read several variations of the question: “why is this the incident that finally seems to have done him in?” or “why does this matter when the dozens of previous problematic statements haven’t?”. Joy Ann Reid (a National treasure in terms of American journalism) asked it this morning on her show AM Joy. Paul Campos asked it at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. I think there are actually three competing dynamics going on right now that are important to note, but before I get to them I want to make clear that I don’t think this has, necessarily, done him in as the GOP nominee. Though I do think it is unlikely he’s going to recover from this in terms of completing a successful campaign and getting elected.

I think there are three competing dynamics going on right now. The first is from the professional Republicans. This includes the elected officials such as the Senators and Congresspeople that have denounced, but not unendorsed (the majority) and that have denounced and unendorsed (the minority – for now). Josh Marshall has written a bit about this dynamic already this evening; highlighting the damage that has begun to be inflicted on Speaker Ryan and Congressman Heck. And this as new information is starting to come out as drips become streams. This includes audio (at the link) of Trump telling Howard Stern that it was okay to refer to a then 22 year old Ivanka as a “piece of ass”. And that during a 2012 legal case, Trump offered to show his “manhood” to Gloria Allred, who was representing the trans woman suing Trump, and stating that he believed Allred “would be very impressed with me, I really do”. The professional Republicans, elected officials and the professional campaign, communication, and management Republicans involved with the Republican National Committee, that work for Republican members of the House and the Senate, that work on their campaigns and for the various PACs all seem to be reacting by denouncing, with some also unendorsing and some not doing so (for now). This is one response, but it is the response of the party elites and notables.

The other two dynamics are among actual registered Republicans and conservatives that vote Republican regardless of party affiliation. These two dynamics are what is important for Trump remaining in the race, as well as for what damage he does to the professional Republicans. The first dynamic is among religious Conservatives, especially the broadly defined Evangelical Christians (Evangelicals, Charismatics, and/or Fundamentalists). Several commentators have asked how the Access Hollywood tape would play tomorrow morning when these folks are at church. I think a better analysis is this 19 tweet essay by Sarah Posner. Posner thinks that this is going to play very, very badly with Evangelical women as they’ve either experienced, or know someone who has experienced, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and/or rape by powerful men within their own communities. Men who were able to get away with it or justify it because of their power. Posner thinks the “they let you get away with it if you’re a star” portion of Trump’s remarks may be very damaging among this block of Christian women. Conservative Christian men, however, are likely to be a different story


And this is where the final dynamic comes in: Herrenvolk democracy. Herrenvolk democracy is a democracy that is defined in regard to a specific in group: the people. Its tribal. And in the US Herrenvolk democracy was and is a democracy for white, Christians. And here’s where I think the second and third dynamics are going to potentially collide. As I wrote back in April after Trump’s address on foreign policy, the closest thing that Trump seems to have to a foreign policy concept is: I will ensure that America will be treated well or else! Specifically, the Trump Doctrine as I called it, is:

… really the animating force or theme of the entire Trump campaign. The other candidates had better treat Donald Trump fairly, the Republican National Committee better treat Donald Trump fairly, the Republican establishment better treat Donald Trump fairly, the media better treat Donald Trump fairly, the state level parties that handle the primaries and all the delegates chosen better treat Donald Trump fairly. And Donald Trump will make them treat him fairly! And the only candidate, nay the only person in America who can ensure that you are treated fairly is Donald Trump. And if he isn’t treated fairly or the US isn’t treated fairly, then he will get even!

Trump’s appeal has always been this core of the Trump Doctrine “only I (Trump) can ensure that you and America will be treated fairly, or else!” This is important within the context of American herrenvolkism. We have significant amounts of survey data that tells us that white, Christian Americans believe that they and their version/understanding of Christianity’s influence is waning in the US. This includes the belief that they are themselves the most discriminated against group in the US – not African Americans or Hispanic Americans or LGBTQ Americans or Muslim Americans or those mistaken for Muslim Americans. To these Americans, the vast majority of whom are among Trump’s most fervent supporters, the Trump Doctrine and its herrenvolkish nature appeal directly to them and their fears – no matter how unfounded those fears may be in objective terms. They are scared and Trump has promised to not just fix the people, places, and things that scare them, but that he will do it quickly and without mercy. These are the people that are booing Speaker Ryan and Congressman Heck. And they are the people that Senators McCain and Ayotte, (and about a 1/2 dozen others) are scared of even as they have unendorsed Trump.

The question is going to be just how far their support for Trump will go. I’m reasonably confident it will go far enough to keep him as the candidate. His surrogates began to pivot to this message in today’s coverage, that Trump is the anti-establishment candidate and he represents all of those that have been left out and left behind. The Trump Doctrine’s promise of only “I, Trump, can ensure you and America will be treated fairly or else!” is to what the surrogates are referring. What remains to be seen is whether Trump’s herrenvolkish supporters will also punish the professional Republicans, specifically the members of the House and Senate up for reelection that pull their support from Trump, by withholding their support for them in their election and reelection bids. It is this calculus that has led dozens and dozens of professional Republicans to tie themselves into knots over the past 30 hours or so. And while that remains to be seen, the Presidential Town Hall in St. Louis approaches…

Finally, the question of why this/why now remains. I think that this dovetails with the herrenvolkish appeal of the Trump campaign. The attack on Mexican immigrants – undocumented or documented, on Syrian refugees and Muslim immigrants (and tourists for that matter), on Judge Curiel and the Khans, on Alicia Machado, and on the Central Park Five all appeal to the herrenvolkish concerns of Trump’s supporters. All of these groups or specific people are not part of the volk, the people. They are outsiders that, at best, may be tolerated. This is why Trump’s, his sons’, and sometimes his campaign’s flirtation with white supremacists/white nationalists and the alt-right was tolerated. Members of these groups are part of the volk, the people. But what did we actually have happen in that Access Hollywood video? We had Trump admitting that he aggressively pursued a married, white woman who was also, if not an elite, certainly a notable because of her celebrity. For professional Republicans and conservatives, men and women who have been incorporating and promoting the nebulous (and often not honored even in the breach) concept of family values for going on forty years, that place marriage for women and motherhood as the only acceptable sexuality for women (regardless of their own – male or female – personal behavior), and that think that one of the few actual roles for government is to regulate female sexuality and reproduction via statute and regulation – at both the Federal and state levels – Trump’s attempt at cuckoldry was too much. Here too the herrenvolkish concept comes into play. As long as Trump was being sexually crude and vulgar about non-white women, as long as his affairs and lechery seemed to be in his past, it could at least be ignored, if not tolerated by the professional Republicans and conservatives. But the Trump on the Access Hollywood video goes beyond that. Trump, on that video, is making a direct attack on marriage by admitting to trying to pursue a notable, celebrity married woman. And that was the bridge too far. Now we wait to see who wins this fight. The professional Republicans and conservatives or the members of the Republican Party that support Trump.

Breaking: The RNC is Meeting to Discuss Strategy

I don’t mean to step on AL’s post, but Yamiche Alcindor from The New York Times has just reported out the following news:

I’m honestly not sure that anyone at the RNC actually understands strategy from what I’ve observed over the past several years. They were in favor of the Citizen’s United case, which resulted in every billionaire conservative being allowed to basically fund their own equivalents to the RNC. In terms of funding candidates, up and down the ballot, the RNC is superfluous. But it goes beyond that. In the last two presidential election cycles the RNC has been unable to exercise any control over the primary process, which is why in both 2012 and now in 2016 they have had over a dozen candidates contest for the nomination. Trump’s genius was recognizing this, and recognizing the importance of TV news coverage and how similar it all seemed to reality TV. And, as a result, he was able to walk right through the scrum to daylight and take the nomination with minimum effort. And since its very unclear if anyone at the RNC can develop strategy, it is also unclear if they can also do crisis action planning. It is clear, based on the repeated attempts by elected Republican officials seeking reelection this year to straddle the issues that Trump has created, that they do not have a strategy for dealing with him either aside from condemning what he says and does, immediately providing a pro forma reiteration of support for him, and then trying to get away from the reporter asking the questions. This inability to develop strategy or develop contingency plans in case of a crisis, that, regardless of what does or does not happen with Trump over the next several days, does not bode well for the future. Wounded political movements, just like wounded animals, are dangerous.

The Trials of Snack Team 6: Is it Ammon Bundy or Ammon Buddha?


Ammon Bundy has now completed his three days on the stand in his own defense. What have we learned? We’ve learned that Ammon Bundy thinks he’s the Buddha.

“Is it your testimony today you were not the leader?” Knight continued.

Bundy told Knight he wanted to clarify “what you’re wanting me to say.”

“I teach correct principles and let them govern themselves,” Bundy said.

Oy vey…

Bundy also testified that:

Knight said guns were brought to “keep the federal government away,” right?

“No,” Bundy responded.

Yet Knight reminded him of his testimony that if the occupiers hadn’t brought firearms to the refuge, they likely would have been hauled off in zip ties and handcuffs in a paddy wagon.

“So the presence of guns prolonged your presence?” Knight asked.

“It protected us from being detained,” Bundy said. “I would say they allowed us to express our First Amendment rights.”

And LaVoy Finicum’s widow also testified!

She said her husband got a call on New Year’s Day, asking him to support the Jan. 2 rally in Burns in support of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, ordered to return to prison for arson on federal lands.

She said her husband drove all night to Burns with co-defendant Ryan Bundy. She thought he’d stay a day or two, and when he told her he was at the refuge and planned to be there, she urged him to return to Utah.

“The first part of the week I repeatedly asked my husband to come home,” she said, breaking down in tears.

By the end of that first week, she said her husband was committed to staying because local ranchers had urged him to do so. She visited the refuge the weekend of Jan. 22, and had planned to meet up with her husband again in Idaho on the following weekend.

The judge didn’t allow anyone to question Finicum’s widow about her husband’s shooting, or a wrongful death lawsuit that she intends to bring against the government.

“She should not be asked about his death, period,” U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown instructed.

We have additional coverage from earlier in the week from Balloon Juice Bunker embedded commentator Soylent Green who offers the following disclaimer: “Note that I am very much not a lawyer and don’t understand the rules, so won’t go into much detail. I just want to capture the trial’s overall character.”

A Day at the Bundy Trial (October 3)

I got to the courthouse early. After guests of the lawyers and defendants were allowed into the courtroom, there was space available for eight members of the public. I was number nine in line. So I had to watch the trial on closed-circuit from the overflow room. In the jury seating of courtroom 13A I was surrounded by a gaggle of Bundy fans – cheerful middle-aged women with flag accessories, bedazzled jeans and purses, cowboy boots, big western belt buckles.

Testifying on Monday were Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, then four Bundy supporters. Three were Burns, Oregon, locals, and the fourth was one of the occupiers, who like many of the occupiers was never charged.

The prosecution has worked very hard to prevent this from becoming a circus trial, which is the intent of Ammon and his team. They keep trying hard to push their narrative, the one in which the federal government is an evil, tyrannical monster countered by a brave band of true patriots who held a peaceful protest to convey how the U.S. constitution proves that the federal government has no authority over public lands. The Bundy gang earnestly believes this narrative will sway the jury to their cause because God is on their side. However, Judge Anna Brown is having none of it, shutting down most of their endless attempts to speechify or extract phrasing from witnesses in ways that are irrelevant, argumentative, hearsay, nonsense, or otherwise a waste of the jury’s time. The prosecution made what should be a slam-dunk case for a guilty verdict, but Ammon’s strategy may work if he can sway or mislead the jury.

Throughout the trial, Ammon Bundy has been dressed in his blue jail scrubs. The judge forbade him from wearing his cowboy costume, so this is his way of sending a message that he is a political prisoner in a kangaroo court. Meanwhile, Ryan Bundy has been wearing a dark suit and tie, but with a leather vest under the jacket to maintain his cowboy cred.

Next to Ryan is Shawna Cox and behind her is David Fry, slouched with his knees up, feet on Shawna’s chair and with a fixed sullen expression.

Ryan and Shawna are representing themselves, thus are conducting their own direct and cross examinations of the witnesses, with comical results.

Ammon’s lawyer Marcus Mumford (aka “Mumbles”) is a piece of work. He is not an impassive professional but a fellow Sovereign Citizen (SovCit) true believer. The man has a serious stuttering problem. And his speech in general is halting and unfocused. And he gets excited and frustrated and whiny. This is not how lawyers on TV lawyer shows talk.

(This is verbatim). Mumford greeting a witness: “uh, uh, guh, guh, guh, good, uh, guh, good morning, Mr. Rose.” Mumford asks a question: “You understand that Ammon Bundy was, uh, uh, was, was, was, asking that, and, and, uh, uh…” (loses train of thought). Or he chokes on the first word of a sentence, can’t get it out, then there’s a long pause before he starts over. This has been going on the entire trial and is driving everyone crazy.

Worse it that Mumbles has been ill-prepared for each day’s proceedings. He has not cleared his witness or exhibits with the prosecution. He has not prepared his exhibits for trial use, and keeps trying to get the jury to watch hour-long unedited videos instead of excerpting them. He has not given the judge what she needs to review in advance. Then (this went on all day, and I’m told has been going on every day since the trial started on Sept. 7) Judge Brown must admonish him to get his act together. Repeatedly, with waning patience. You can hear the exasperation in her voice. He tries to introduce exhibits (videos, letters, all kind of stuff that the poots have been spreading on social media all year) that have no bearing on the case. (Aside: “poots” is the new term for Bundy supporters of any stripe, short for “pootriots,” from the occupiers’ use of a government backhoe to dig latrines at the refuge.) He wants to show hours of videos from the Bunkerville standoff of patriots cheering as they heroically hold off the jackbooted government thugs. Then the judge must spend an hour or more each day winnowing down all this junk. The defense is not really defending against the charges because Ammon’s gang believes that their cause transcends federal law.

All day long we hear “Counselor, I have told you over and over, please stop wasting the jury’s time.” Or after Mumford calls witnesses to the stand, he strays into unrelated areas. So I kept hearing the judge say “Please move on” … “Get to the point” … “Irrelevant. Ask another question” … “Move to another subject please.”

This may be intentional. Mumford may be trying to bore the jury to death so that they stop listening to the testimony. Or to confuse the jurors enough to get a hung jury.

The tenor of this trial can be captured in two words. “Objection.” “Sustained.” In this single day I heard something like 150 instances from the prosecutors of “objection, irrelevant” or “objection, argumentative” or “objection, hearsay” with almost all of them sustained. The judge keeps trying to keep the trial focused and the Bundy gang keeps trying to pitch their stirring narrative (patriotic Americans standing against the evil gubmint).

In the morning they called Sheriff Ward to the stand and tried to get him to confirm their story. In their version, they asked him very nicely (meeting with him repeatedly in the months before the occupation) to do his duty and protect his citizens (the Hammonds) from the feds. In a letter, Ammon asked him to “turn your weapons” on federal marshals coming to return the Hammonds to jail to complete their sentence. Mumford presented this letter as though it somehow exonerated his client.

Ward is in a tough spot. He must go home to Burns fearing retribution by some yahoo. He kept his cool and answered questions very tersely. I don’t know why the defense called him as a witness because he did them no favors. I think they wanted to show that he had failed to do his duty thus was to blame for their next move. In their minds, all sheriffs are constitutional sheriffs, but most don’t know it yet and must be edjumicated.

While Judge Brown was speaking, Ammon interrupted her, more than once. “Sir, sir, keep quiet please.”

When Ryan Bundy is speaking, he uses big words incorrectly. He is trying to sound like a lawyer. There is a cockiness in his voice.

The afternoon witnesses: all four have been well-coached by the defense team to drop Bundy narrative talking points.

First up is Kim Rollins, longtime Burns resident. An older man with a glorious white beard that would put Santa Claus to shame. “Did you see any guns on display at the refuge?” “No, never.” (Not remotely true as there are many images of cosplay commandos with assault rifles.) Did he see any damage to the facility? No, it was very well cared for.

Next up is Pat Harlicher of Burns. Mumford: “Uh uh did, how, how, how, how did you be, become informed about the refuge?” Harlicher said he visited the occupation six times, with many friends along. It was a happy family camping scene. No guns on display. “I learned that what the constitution says about our public lands and the need to return them to their rightful owners.” Judge Brown instructs the jury to disregard this statement. But they’ve heard and processed it, which must be the defense’s intention. Harlicher is asked about what is going on in Burns during the occupation and he remarks about the big police presence around the county courthouse (where Harney County Judge Grasty had received death threats) and Harlicher says, “It was like a scene out of Red Dawn.”

Third witness, Brand Nu Thornton of Las Vegas (yep, that’s his name). Thornton is one of the occupiers and was present before it started, planning it with Ammon, and stayed until the day before Ammon was arrested. But he skated with no charges, go figure. Thornton is the shofar (rams horn) guy. Says he has a “shofar ministry.” On the stand, he is wearing a Mexican serape. A smug bastard, smiles and laughs a lot. Waves to David Fry. Shawna Cox winks at him. He drops his talking points. “After the ambush where LaVoy was murdered by the FBI…” Judge Brown: “Jurors, disregard that remark.”

Thornton’s biggest whopper of the day: Were federal workers impeded from doing their jobs? No, we would have given them a warm welcome and let them work. Had the refuge fisheries biologist come in, the occupiers would have given her back her chair. (This after they had rifled through all her work and personal files). Of course they ignore the fact that the first duty of the Fish and Wildlife Service staff would be to clear the public from all the non-public space, which is every inch of the facility except the bird museum at the front.

On Tuesday morning, Thornton was in the street blowing his shofar. I heard him from my desk.

I’ll stop here as there are better reporters of these proceedings. See their tweets on Fogbow.

I’m not absolutely sure the government will win this case. The jury members were chosen because they had not (or said they hadn’t) heard anything about this case, which was big national news, and bigger news in Oregon. Several are from deep-red eastern Oregon, where anti-federal-land-manager sentiment runs strong. Some might be swayed by the Bundy narrative, no matter how much the judge swats it down. I doubt it but it’s possible.

UPDATE: A lot has happened in the last two days, with Ammon on the witness stand, where he gave a tearful, godbothering account of his quixotic cause. God compelled him to pursue it. If federal laws were broken, justice demands that they be disregarded. Some observers are saying that the trial is off the rails and the judge has lost control, because the defense witnesses have been given more latitude to sell their fairy tale. (Michelle Fiore got in another “Lavoy was murdered.” Judge: Jurors, disregard that remark.)

Other commenters say the judge is playing eleventy dimensional chess by allowing the defense to do the prosecution’s work and proudly, willfully incriminate themselves in both cases, Oregon and Nevada.

America is on a slippery slope. Belief, biases, and bullshit are trying to push aside rationalism and the rule of law. Trumpism is the leading edge, of which the Bundy/militia/SovCit movement is a subset.

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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Houseboats and Hurricanes Don’t Mix (Open Thread)

Well, I’m involuntarily ashore, having cut short my houseboat vacation due to Hurricane Matthew. Part of our intended route is now in the Cone of Doom, so relinquishing the boat early seemed like the responsible thing to do. But it was fun while it lasted. Here’s a view from behind the wheel:


Here’s a gorgeous spring we swam in a couple of days ago:


The spring water is icy cold, and it blows out of the opening in the limestone at such a rate that it’s difficult to swim down toward the bottom. The water in the spring and run from the spring to the river are clear, as you can see. But we saw gators on the banks of the river just outside the spring, so we had to look sharp to make sure they didn’t decide to join us.

We’ve got a rain check for the houseboat and will definitely be back, maybe in early spring when the weather is good and hurricanes are unlikely. It’s a fine idea for a vacation — the boats are not at all fancy but are roomy and well-appointed with all the mod-cons.

But when the winds picked up just a bit yesterday, I could immediately see how unpleasant it would be out on the water in a large, cube-shaped vessel. Even in a fairly minor squall. I hope everyone in Matthew’s path is in a safer place.

Missed all the political hullabaloo for the last several days, but I did catch a bit of the veep debate on radio. Pence lied about pretty much everything, but I guess that doesn’t matter. Can’t wait for this election to be over.

Open thread!