Thursday, November 26, 2009

Maguindanao Massacre - Theory Frame Up

If you have been following the story you will note people are generating many bits over the story.

Watching some of my Filipino contacts on Twitter I am noticing various theories put forward to explain the massacre. The first is put forth by The Bangsa Moro Blog:
The Mangudadatus, it must be noted, were very close to the Ampatuans and were therefore part of the power clique in Maguindanao.
Source: Bangsa Moro Blog — The MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE
The theory being this was a frame up to make the MILF look bad (NO MILF in this case has nothing to do with hot mothers).

Another story out there being pushed by Ruffy Biazon:
About three months ago, August 28, 2009 to be exact...n his statement to the Committee, Vice Governor Piñol revealed that he had warned Malacañang about the potential for the outbreak of hostilities between the MAngudadatus and the Ampatuans in relation to the 2010 elections. It was a warning which was explicit and clear. But in spite of that, it was ignored.
The Way It Is (Congressman Ruffy Biazon) — Malacañang Was Warned About the Maguindanao Massacre Three Months Ago
When and where have we heard of such accusations before? However, I will admit in this case things are more actionable at least the Filipino central government could have looked into things a bit more and most likely could have done so without having to be clandestine about it.

Bangsa Moro claims the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus were allies or at least cooperating with each other, whereas Ruffy Biazon says he has reliable claims they were at odds with each other. Ruffy provides a person and documented testimony that nastiness is imminent.

What really destorys Bangsa Moro's case is a cell phone call blows the operation up. That is all it took? The PNP &/or AFP had a backhoe ready, a large contingent of gunmen and did not order the local cell tower operators to shut down? It is not like cell phones are rare in the Philippines (they are in fact NOT rare). Plus, frameups require lots of people keeping their stories straight. It is easy enough to imagine motives — it is not easy to imagine it really succeeding. What is hard to imagine is there is only one cell phone call reported instead of many and text messages.


Hide The Decline

Check this one out:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey all -- here is wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Maguindanao Massacre

Some of you may have heard of the recent massacre in the Philippines. It took place in the province of Maguindanao.

To sum up, an entourage of reporters, low level politicians, women, and children were taking a gubernatorial candidate's candidacy papers to the concerned office to declare himself a candidate for governor of the province. The entourage was stopped and massacred — the suspect and speculation center on the current governor. The reason the candidate sent others to file his papers is because he figured a busload of reporters, women, and children would be immune to such attack. How horrible to be wrong in such a calculation.

As of this writing 57 are reported dead, however my recollection is that near 100 people accompanied the convoy and it seems rather realistic to believe all are dead.

Now, some of you will undoubtedly know or come to know that Maguindanao is in Mindanao and the more knowledgable of you may also be aware that Maguindanao is in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. However, and I can not stress this enough — the massacre is not due to jihadism. The massacre is due to warlordism.

Here is a good discussion the event with at least one person who has in depth experience in the region.

I have read about the massacre in a number of different forums and saw a discussion about it between Chistiane Amanpour and Maria Ressa. The early part of the discussion is the most informative. Maria makes it clear she believes this event is nothing more than political violence. That is exactly what it is..

While occurrences of political violence in my corner of the world are typically "candidate e candidate" there is a closer analogy. Street gangs. The scale of gang-related killings here is not on the scale of the Maguindanao attack, but the most vicious of street (motorcycle clubs, prison gangs, etc) gangs are similarly unconcerned about the murder of those they view as being in their way or a challenge to them. Innocents? Well, that is just too bad for them. If you challenged the likes of El Rukn on their streets and you and those in your presence would be similarly dealt with.

Another angle I have seen talked about is that of rido. While there is much about this event that does not fit that model, can anyone doubt the dynamics of rido will be present? The whole situation is likely to lead to a large number of reprisals which will be returned in kind. Of course, a bigger boss could prevent such reprisals, and this report indicates a bigger boss is definitely going to be stepping in.

Even so, will it amount to more than a few low level operatives being thrown under the bus? being blamed for the entire operation? [editorial note: I had forgotten for a moment how much I detest the stricken cliche!] What would be a just outcome and how likely is it to materialize?

[Update] 2009-12-09:
The sentence reading ...can anyone doubt the dynamics of rido will be present? used to read ...can anyone doubt the dynamics of rido will be absent?. The former sentence conveys the meaning I intended and NOT the later sentence. I apologize for the error.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

A New Writing Gig!

Some months ago The Badger Blog Alliance shut its doors. Since then, I've essentially had only this outlet for writing. As far as venues go it is not that significant.

However, today I was invited and I accepted to contribute to Philippine Commentary owned by Dean Jorge Bocobo. Dean is obviously a Filipino but has resided in Pewaukee in the past. Dean's blog and perspective in the Philippines is an august one.

I am honored by his invite!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Insurance and Risk - Post I

I have blogged on the generalities of insurance and risk in the past but a quick search turns up my last comments on pre-existing conditions and how Obama's ideas "do away" with them. However, I want to write a series on risk and how insurance works. It is obvious a lot of people do not get insurance.

The Greenville Lions host an event entitled The Greenville Catfish Races. It is standard outdoor Northeast Wisconsin picinic bands, beers, and food, and yes catfish dinners are on the menu.

I do not know how they made it interesting other than having children participate by standing next to a tank. They had seven long tanks set up, they'ld put a glass plate on one end about 10" from the end and drop a catfish into the 10" portion of the tank, and when the start was sounded adults at each end of the tank would raise the glass plate. The first catfish to cross the line on the other end of the tank would be deemed the winner. Nothing remarkable in any of that.

However, let us say I was keeping book at this event. Furthermore let us say I charged $1.00 per play and offered a $10 prize if your pick won the race. I ask you would you play? Why or why not?

Analogies -- Seth Godin's Comments

Seth Godin takes a quick look at of analogies

Analogy is a very useful tool. When I was in taking physics in college one of my professors noted that success in English was a better predictor of success in college level physics than success HS math and physics. The reason he stated is that one of the things English courses make you do is to analogize. I do not know if Dr. Lind was exactly right about that notion, but I one thing I did notice was that certain mathematical themes kept recurring and while the actual physical components did not match up, the math did rather well.

For example, if you understand the math behind bouncing a weight attached to a spring you are well equipped to understand how microwave ovens heat your food and drinks. Still, if you are not quick to pick up on the mathematical analogy you would be learning essentially the same math all over again -- essentially having to start the race all over again.

When looking at a new experience try to recall what you have learned. Take a look at similar situations you have encountered in life and attempt draw analogies. They do not have to be perfect just approximate.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Election 2009 Commentary

The one thing clear from last night's results is President Obama can get people to come out and vote for him but if he is not on the ballot forget it. That is a bad omen for the Democrats next year.

Obama spent a fair amount of time in New Jersey and while he was less conspicuous in Virginia it is not like he was completely absent.

Now, the left is focusing on NY 23 in fact I just saw David Axelrod try to claim NY 23 was a microcosm of the national debate and how it favored the Democrats and the other two were strictly local races and did not reflect on the national debates.

Now, here is why David Axelrod is wrong about NY 23. Hoffman lost the race 49%-45% with Dede Scazzofava taking about 5.5% of the vote. In my earlier post on this I pass on a report by Jim Geraghty that Hoffman was absolutely clueless on issues of direct concern to the NY 23. That is, it is much more arguable that NY 23 was decided on local issues rather than national ones.

Now, last night on FNC on Hannity's show they had a focus group run by Frank Luntz. One man in the room stoutly declared his vote on the Virginia governor's race was only that. However, the rest of the discussion in that "focus group" was IMO unfocused and allowed Luntz and Hannity to say whatever they wanted.

One last thing. A lot of people were indignant about Scazzofava endorsing Owens after she left the race. Why does anyone expect her to do otherwise? The Republican Party cut her off at the insistence of the base activists -- loyalty is a two way street.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Red Storm Rising?

Or at least, I think it is safe to say the blue tide is now ebbing.

The two important items from last night are:
  • What impact does this have on President Obama
  • What impact does the results of NY23 have on the GOP?

Well, to answer item number one, I would respond this has a huge impact. Do you think President Obama was trying to get things passed too quickly before? You have seen nothing, there will be a lot more pressure now that there is a real signaling that President Obama's popularity is due to personal matters rather than policy matters. Does anyone believe if Corzine and Deeds (either or both) won their races the Democrats wouldn't be talking of vindication?

On item 2 and this one is the more contentious of the two questions I raise. Democrats are holding on to this one like a Titanic passenger holding onto a piece of flotsam. Was it a defeat for conservatism and does this mean the blue tide continues to rise? It was not a win there is no doubt about it but I think partisans from both sides are reading too much into Owen's victory there.

Dede Scozzafava is what most people consider very liberal, but she is a resident and presumably knowledgeable of the issues in the district. Hoffman, (according to reports I have seen) is from out of the NY23 district and Jim Geraghty has an interesting post on Hoffman's weaknesses as a candidate. Hoffman was not knowledgeable of the issues of direct concern to the NY23rd district and for what other reason do we elect representatives to congress for? Yeah, I want them to hold right views on taxes, medical care, national defense and so on, but they also need to understand about the things that directly affect their constituent's lives.

I have this notion that NY23 is like my district the WI-08. Most of the district is dominated by the local Republican Parties. If you want to win a local election in WI-08 counties you had better be a member of that county's Republican party. This means, if you hold leftist political views but want to become sheriff you need to join the Republican Party. It works this way in Democratic controlled counties too.

In addition, we see the country club effect too -- someone wants access to the business connections membership in the local dominant party confers. So you even though you may be a doctrinaire Democrat you end up being a power-player in the local Republican party. This sounds a lot like how Dede Scozzafava was tapped to be the candidate in the NY23.

While I would have preferred Hoffman to win, Owens is an improvement over Scozzafava.

Bud Light Collateral Advertising

How many of you have seen the advertisements for the goofy Bud-Light collateral? You know, the grooler -- the combination cooler & grill?

Last night, at a farewell party one of the people explained to us what all that goofy gear really is about. It seems like goofy stuff is being pitched but of course by now (if not before or earlier) you know the real product being pitched is the beer.

However, you do notice those advertisements do not mention beer, right? Well, the NCAA has a policy of not accepting advertisements for alcohol products or at least more and more colleges have this policy. The Bud Light collateral advertisements are just taking an advantage of a loophole and the brand awareness. The product being pitched is not beer so therefore colleges can take the money.

I have yet to see any of that gear on the streets but I am sure sooner or later it will start to show up here and there and in the thrift shops and at rummage sales.