“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Operation "Choke Point"

I don't like commenting on politics or government all the time, I really don't - but the bastards keep doing stuff that pretty much makes me... which brings me to this in our latest bit.

Many of you may have seen bits and pieces in the news over the last year (particularly the last few weeks) about businesses having their accounts inexplicably closed by banks - with no valid reasons given, or with statements that their "type" of business wasn't appropriate. At first this was generally attributed to overzealous political leanings of one sort or another in a corporate leadership, but now it looks to be something more.

Enter the Federal government - under Operation "Choke Point" the Department of Justice and FDIC has taken it upon themselves to drive certain industries under by making it impossible for them to do financial business in the country. In other words, instead of letting legislation and the legal system accomplish what they want, your "betters" in Washington are once again ruling by decree. The government's assertion being that such businesses are "high risk" for criminal activity or other nefarious purposes, or are engaged in fraudulent behavior, and that by putting pressure upon banks and financial institutions to not do business with them it will indirectly shut down such horrible practices. One of the major "Bad Guys" in this has been Chase Bank, which has apparently acted with glee to enforce such dictats from above. What sort of businesses are covered by this approach? Let's see:

  • Ammunition Sales
  • Cable Box De-scramblers
  • Coin Dealers
  • Credit Card Schemes
  • Credit Repair Services
  • Dating Services
  • Debt Consolidation Scams
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Escort Services
  • Firearms Sales
  • Fireworks Sales
  • Get Rich Products
  • Government Grants
  • Home-Based Charities
  • Life-Time Guarantees
  • Life-Time Memberships
  • Lottery Sales
  • Mailing Lists/Personal Info
  • Money Transfer Networks
  • On-line Gambling
  • PayDay Loans
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Ponzi Schemes
  • Pornography
  • Pyramid-Type Sales
  • Racist Materials
  • Surveillance Equipment
  • Telemarketing
  • Tobacco Sales
  • Travel Clubs

On the surface one might see elements of this that certainly are distasteful, if not repellant. On the other hand, for the conspiracy minded, there certainly are a fair number of "prepper" favorites on this list. But, with few exceptions, the vast majority of these industries have a key element in common no matter the political spectrum - THEY ARE LEGAL. They involve acts, behaviors, interactions, or purchases that the citizens, the legislature, and the courts have all deemed are publicly acceptable (even though some have restrictions and regulations upon the participants). Yet, by way of regulatory fiat, the determination has been made that if such things can't be eliminated by political means they will be done so administratively. 

So who is this hurting? It's hurting small and large businesses of many types - from gun manufacturers and distributors, to soft-core models, to "unapproved" small charities and the like. It's hurting companies and groups that indirectly might do business with some of these elements, particularly when they lose the ability to process transactions online or through a bank card (which is the vast majority of all financial traffic these days). And it's hurting the banking industry, both in lost revenue and in the burdens of dealing with the federal issues. A couple of articles are here and here. I fully encourage you to Google more and look at this - because pretty much every side of the political and social spectrum is affected. You may have your own opinions on these varied industries, which is certainly your prerogative and privilege. But it has reached the point now of getting some Congressional attention asking what is going on.

But if it can be done to these industries, it can by extension be done to others. After all, we've seen similar "regulatory" efforts used in attempts to address home businesses, home schools, small farms and seed providers, publishers and ad nauseum. And what happens when it's something you do support? 

Because this is a reflection of a government problem for the past fifty years - the growth of the bureaucrat and rule by administration. The political class as well as special interest groups have learned that if you can't get the public support to push something through Congress, all you have to do is lobby the right agency and bury it in the Federal code somewhere. It demonstrates once again the belief amongst far too many in government, whether elected or appointed, that they "know better" than the common people, and thus must make decisions for our own good. That yet again another nameless, faceless cog in the machine is going to rubber-stamp form T93-A and tell you what is right and wrong. And this is the very antithesis of what we as a nation are supposed to be. 

And Chase? Quislings. Because apparently they have no problem at all taking the "right" kinds of dirty money - be it illegally foreclosing on military families, doing business with prohibited nations, or mortgage fraud on an epic scale -  but apparently all that is piddling compared to doing the bidding of the suits. So, they certainly won't see any of my money again - nor will I support those who do business with them. I'm sure there are other banks complicit in this whole mess as well, and they will make my list as it comes to light. 

Like I said, I certainly don't want this to become a political blog. Yet if we don't as a nation start holding the government accountable for such deeds, then the only alternative will be the government holding us accountable to a dictated standard. And that will not do. 

Like the man said, I aim to misbehave. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Things I Have to Deal With

In the latest episode of "How idiots make my job harder:"

Had some citizens receive what they felt was a suspect item in the mail yesterday - happens enough, usually nothing to it but still have to treat things seriously. Well, they decided to bring it to police headquarters to get looked at. Not the smartest idea, but that's not our winner.

Nope, the genius was the desk person on duty. Who had them bring it inside and sit with it in the lobby. Of. the. Occupied. Building. while waiting for me to show up and clear things.

As I've said before, the bad part is that these kind of people will actually breed...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I think I broke her.

Yes, it's been a prolonged absence - life does that. But school is done now, and perhaps, just perhaps, I can write for myself again.


So, as part of the whole "getting better" thing I did some group therapy work. There's good and bad to it, and I won't bore you or go into my judgments - it is what it is. But there are certainly moments.

During one session we had a certain female psych sitting in with the other two "regular" docs. Of note, one of the regulars is a good psych, lots of experience in the field - the other is a prior military shrink in a combat zone, and knows some people I know, so we have related well in out of session discussions. Just one of those things. Anyway, Little Miss Bubbly sat in on a few sessions before this - nothing "bad" about her, but she is definitely all positive outlook, look at the butterflies, let's just talk everything out sort of person.

Well the session that day had gotten into some dark spots for a few guys that I could read, though it was obvious she was missing it. The other two were letting her run as long as things didn't get ugly, but I was getting kind of annoyed at the fact she didn't grasp some fundamental differences in what she was dealing with. Then this moment took place...

We somehow got into discussing tools in terms of mental/emotional/physical responses - what the individual is capable of in terms of dealing with a particular stimulus/event/incident. And, I'll preface this with noting she had fallen into the mistake that it seems a lot of people do of equating certain backgrounds with ignorance or a lack of intelligence - even though she was bubbly she definitely talked down to people. Which didn't help my mood. So I told her about tools.

The point I made was this. I asked her what she might do if one of us made her mad - mad her so angry she couldn't see straight, hit at the core of her being, just straight out pissed her off beyond words? Then I explained oh yes, she might yell, she might throw something, she might even hit someone if she got pissed off enough. That she could throw a great little tantrum at the injustice of it all and truly vent.

Well, I'd sunk the bait, but then I set the hook.

In a very calm voice I explained to her that every person in that room had moved past that. We didn't "hold in our emotions because we were afraid of what we might do." We held them in because we knew what we could do. Big difference. Because everyone in that group knew how to take a life. I don't mean some theoretically concept, I mean we knew the sights and the sounds and the smells involved in a person's final moments. We knew that, if pushed to the wrong point, we could do what was needed. I told her I had a tool in my toolbox that I hoped she never, ever would - that I could kill a person. That my toolbox extended beyond anger, beyond even seeing the person as themselves, and moved into targets and options and reactions. And, that unless you are completely broken, once you've used that tool for good or bad you are forever changed. It doesn't mean you're broken, or evil, or wrong, or any of that other bullshit. But once you realize how easy it is to deal with mortality, you never look at life the same. And that's why so many combat veterans have that distance - because it's not that we're afraid we might snap, or somehow lose it - it's just that we know what happens on that edge, and we know to avoid it unless need be.

It was a strange thing saying it. Because it was almost like I could see my words hitting her like punches - I don't think she'd ever thought of it that way. Again, I'm not saying she's a bad person, and I know she means well - but to her death and killing are an amorphous concept. The actors get up after the directors call cut, and brush off the dust. The video game hits a save point and you end it. You close the book and move to another. She has never, ever conceptualized the fact that there are men and women in this world who have lived this as a part of their day to day existence, and then have to deal with the ways it changes you for good and bad in the aftermath. I could see and sense the reactions of the other vets in the room, and knew without asking that they agreed.

And parts of it reminded me of comments from my wife and others over the years. How it's not just my lack of extreme emotions, but that when I get angry, really upset it's not that I yell or rage or anything - it's that I go to a very cold, distant place where "I" am no longer there. Because I recognize this as the place I work from in these situations, where everything is based with dealing with the threats of the moment as opposed to the emotions of the "normal" world.

Well, that was the end of that session, and beyond sharing it with my wife I didn't think much more about it. But I did laugh this week - I was on an unrelated visit to the VA and dropped in to chat with the prior service psych about some other stuff. We were bs'ing and laughing and he mentioned it as well, because he said that he also noticed the way it affected her - that it was stunningly obvious she had never ever considered life in those terms, and wasn't sure how to deal with it. We shared a laugh or two about it for a moment and moved on to other thoughts.

But it also made me think about a fundamental problem we have in helping combat veterans adjust back to "normal" life in this country - the fact that the vast majority of the people attempting to do so have no common basis of experience with which to communicate. I suppose the closest I could relate would be in thinking about rape victims, and how someone who has never been through that will never have the common ground - not equating combat with rape by any means, but just as a level of internal change. That maybe instead of throwing a room full of PhD's at the problem, we'd be better served as a society with sitting them down with other people who've seen the elephant and can possibly relate on that level. Because in the modern world we have fewer of the warrior caste than ever, and perhaps we need to do a better job of sitting around the campfire and sharing our stories.

Maybe that will help us all in ways they never will.