Blog Archive

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Poverty and Myth

I was shocked this week to be confronted with someone who insisted that some giant majority of welfare recipients are deliberately having babies in order to “get a bigger check”.
She could provide no evidence for this assertion, other than unverifiable anecdotal “friend of a friend told me so”.
Another pervasive Myth has also reared it's head this week, that “poor=lazy”.
And yet another, that Poverty is the result of low morals and single-parenthood.
None of the people making these assertions could provide hard evidence to support them....nor could they prove the Causal Relationships contained in such assertions.
And none of them made any mention of the 35 year experiment in Wage Stagnation, other than to deny it's relevance and even it's existence.
Race is sublimated into these discussions, frequently...often unconsciously.
A job is a job is a job...and the Myth persists that if one would merely get off the porch, get a job(any job) and work hard, everything would be fine.
As I've been hammering away at for years, the water we swim in is never considered.
The Fish are to be blamed for their poor health....water quality be damned.
It doesn't seem to matter when giant piles of data are brought to bear against this system of Myth.
One hears about the “Dignifying Power of Work” if working, itself is it's own reward, no matter that you're working for peanuts, in a job with a horrible boss who thinks that a 10 cent raise is cause for rejoice.
One also hears that the various Welfare Programs are , somehow, a “Disincentive” to get out there and get a job.
This last is particularly relies on the Assumption that Welfare is, somehow, living High on the Hog....that relying on Foodstamps to supplement one's meager wages in order to be able to “put food on your family” means lobster and caviar.
In my life, to throw anecdotes of my own, I have indeed met a vanishingly small minority of folks who “Game the System”....but it never lasts for long. There are checks that are quite effective in weeding those people out.
And at any rate, such perfidy is very hard to do.
The System is so concerned that someone may get something that they do not deserve, that it errs on the side of dysfunction. A great number of folks who are perfectly entitled and deserving of such help, do not get it...because of the time consuming and byzantine gauntlet one must run in order to qualify.
Many are left out because of the pervasive stigma, itself....that Mythology that paints a big red L on anyone who uses an EBT card.(L is for “Lazy”, but there are other words that are flung at Poor Folks who deign to seek a helping hand)
A little anecdotal digression: all but one of the folks I have known who willfully attempt to “Game the System” were White and Hard Core Republican.
And all but two of them ended up either in jail, or on probation.

Another variety of dissent and denial that there is a problem, are those Free Market Fundamentalists who see a Living Wage as a travesty.
Who think that Minimum Wage actually causes Poverty, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.
“The Market will take care of it, if we would just kill government and let the Market work.”
I have even less patience for these folks,lol.
Where do you even begin, when the very Foundations of their argument are so very flawed?
Having been low wage(food service) for my adult life, I know perfectly well that if any of my bosses had been allowed to pay their cooks less, they would have been quick to do so.
The Free Marketers then say, “well...go look for another job”...forgetting the relative scarcity of jobs out there, as well as the problem that all those other hypothetical jobs pay just as little, and are operating under the same assumptions...and overlooking the hard fact that when jobs are scarce, the prospective employee has no bargaining power.
There is a Food Bank on the corner. It's run by a collection of local churches, with a little shaky support from various government programs...that often come with some rather crazy strings attached, again...rooted in the Unexamined Assumptions.
I support this Food Bank, when I can. We give them our surplus eggs(which is illegal, it turns out...just more systemic roadblocks, based on assumptions, that prevent us from actually tackling the problems)
But I take issue with some of the methods employed there.
Desperately poor people, who often work like the dickens, but still cannot adequately feed themselves, are given a sermon before they are given access to the donated food.
It is an opportunity to evangelise. One must run a sort of gauntlet of well meaning lay preachers who will tell you that if you would only accept Jesus into your heart, everything would be fine.
If you, dear reader, are an Evangelical Christian, you likely do not see the problem, there....which is, in itself, a large part of the overall Problem:
failure to put yourself into the shoes of those you are trying to help.
This is probably the biggest problem of all, in getting to the Roots of Poverty.
The Free Marketer, the Unconscious Racist, the well meaning Christian...all of them share a reliance on Unexamined Assumptions about the Causes of,and Remedies for, Poverty...and they all reliably fail to even attempt to put themselves into the shoes of the Poor.
It is so much easier to say ”lack of morals”,”Lazy”,and all the rest, than to dig into the roots...because then you might have to change your opinion, not only about Poverty, but about economics, politics, and all the social and cultural things that we often take for granted, when we, ourselves, are not Poor.
It's easy for the well off to say,”get a job” and wash their hands of the issue.
Their Assumptions....and the world view that is based on them...are made safe that way.
It is hard to look at those Assumptions, and then abandon those that do not comport with Objective Reality....let alone Reality as Perceived by someone standing in a very different life-space from you.

This is a good way to spend an hour and a half, if you're really interested in finding solutions to the problem of Poverty in the USA.(which, of course, is predicated on acknowledging that there IS a problem)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sweden, etc...the Free Market View

from wiki:
Note #4 "The surprising ingredients of Swedish success - free markets and social cohesion" (PDF). Institute of Economic Affairs. June 25, 2013. (this appears to be from a Free Market Think Tank, as it uses their phrasing(ie:”Big Government”) I have included it for balance)

Myopic. Cherry-Picking data and criteria in order to suit one's preconceived “results”...
Framing and Phrasing and numerous Unexamined Assumptions.

Repeatedly, in this...”Growth is always Good”...and “More Profit is always Good”....and Taxes are Bad...Government is not even a Necessary's just Evil.
I have little patience for such an extreme Orthodoxy.
Never do the Free Market Fundies acknowledge a Finite Planet.
Or Pollution...including all the plastic crap we buy, then throw away.
Similarly, never do they consider the concept of “Enough”.
That that 1 million dollars I made last year is plenty to live a good life with.
That I do not need, nor do I necessarily want, an additional million(s) in the bank.
These assumptions are derivative of the Value System based on Greed that is foundational to “capitalism” as we do it in the USA.
Such a statement by a CEO or Hedge Fund owner...that “nope...I got plenty”...would be almost unthinkable here. Indeed, there was one such CEO in the last week or so who did just that, and the Right threw up in their mouths a little.
The Nordic economies have reduced waste and pollution, and have settled on a societal Norm of “Enough”.
This Norm is acknowledged, obliquely, in this paper...all that stuff about Trust and Personal Responsibility and Community.(IEA wants to put responsibility for these things on Protestantism, in some of the least religious countries in history)
Those three things require a little consideration of the other folks one shares a country with, as well as the Commons...air, water and soil health...the health of one's neighbor...and so on.
It's not all about Me, over there.
There was a time in my lifetime...that unmitigated Greed, and infinite selfishness, was looked down upon.
Gordon Gecko has somehow become our patron saint.
That is not the case in Northern Europe, by all measures that I've seen.

Similarly, while lamenting the advent of socialism(small s) in the 30's...and the concurrent decline in “entrepreneurialism”...the author neglects to mention the poverty and want that came before....during the period that he treats as the golden age.
Everything I've seen would indicate the contrary....that vast swaths of folks were hurting, and that this hurt was the reason they agitated and revolted and took over the economy.
It was democratic, from the get-go.
After the rise of the Nordic Model, folks maybe didn't go into business because they didn't want to...and now they didn't have to.
This idea is an anathema to the hypercapitalists...not wanting to work is seen as lazy and impure.
But what did so many of those folks do instead?
They became artists and social workers, they volunteered at the day care..they went fishing a lot...just like Dick Cheney is able to do(no one ever says that he's lazy because he hunts and fishes so much...a curious omission)
There is also the common fallacies of “Bigger = Better”...and “bigger Market Cap” = “better company”.
This is a value judgment, and not conducive to what we're trying to get at.
Measure these companies(and countries) by their own value system...not that of Wall Street or the Chicago School.
In other words, we are seeing a confusion of tongues.
Over here, we don't measure “wellbeing” or “happiness”.
There's a reason for fact, “Business”(sic) have lobbied hard against the introduction of such measurements...over here.
There, they do measure Wellbeing and Happiness, as well as a host of other hard to measure “Quality of Life” criteria.
We measure things like “happiness” indirectly, at best.
Nominal GDP Growth “implies” happiness.
When it suits the Paradigm Defense Forces, we measure “Job Growth” one way....when that way doesn't suit them, we measure it in another. in the recent “Texas Miracle”...”a job is a job is a job”.
In Scandinavia...and Europe in general...they measure such things in a more rounded, comprehensive way that Neoliberals cannot abide.
“well, their largest companies are all over 70 years old” is hardly comparing apples to apples.(Bigger is not always Better)
If we take the criteria that is habitually...even religiously...used over here, and apply it to looks like a hellhole over there.

How is it then that the people are so happy?

Conversely, when we take their criteria, and apply it to us...we look like a backwards feudalistic nightmare country.
It matters who does the measuring...and what criteria are used, and how those criteria are formulated and applied.
All of this entails Foundational Assumptions.
From where I'm standing, their criteria are superior and much more comprehensive; they include measurements of what it is like to be a Human Being, there. Our Economists and their cheer-leading analogs in media, may think that is unimportant...or superfluous...

I do not.
This has been my fundamental critique of the Neoliberal, Chicago School-Style Economics that are almost religiously advocated in the USA.
When one points to Europe, and says...”hey...look at how satisfied they appear to be...” is often met with adolescent sneers and snickers.

“Hippy Dippy Utopians...”

But as I've said so many times, Who are the Utopians in this debate?

The Neoliberal Theology would have every Human Being regarded as an “Economic Unit”...a “Rational Agent”, performing Cost-Benefit Analysis not only to every Economic Decision, but to all Human Interaction.
Homo Oeconomicus( with a very blind eye turned away from the “Real Citizenry” over here, the Paper Kind)

It seems that a Prima Facie case can be made rather simply that this is not all that we are...that Being Human entails much more than simply Marginal Utility and Net Worth.
So before we can have a real discussion about the validity, the veracity and...yes...the utility of the Nordic Model, we must first look at what is being measured.
To that's a bunch of links that I've just muscled through, regarding the measurement of satisfaction, happiness and quality of life.
(Remember, Wiki is a decent place to start, in my view...and usually has many links to source material.)

This last is, unsurprisingly, a rather mild example of the snickering one often finds from Free Marketeers when such measurements are undertaken.

Interestingly, to me, at least...there appears to be a correlation between religious belief(especially Evangelical/Fundamentalist(in the US)) and perceived Happiness and Well Being.
This is a can of worms, of course....but interesting, nonetheless.

Here are the two big Think Tanks in Texas that deal with Economics.

The former is currently the dominant intellectual group in the state, enjoying massive funding, and preferential status with the Texas GOP/Tea Party, which means that they are the preferred Think Tank of the Government of the State of Texas.
They never talk about Happiness, or any other subjective measures of Economic Performance. They therefore are a case in point of the Myopia I mentioned.
The latter, on the other hand, looks at economics from the standpoint of the Middle, and especially the Lower, Classes.

Things look rather less rosy from down here.

To be open and honest, I sometimes correspond with the CPPP, while the TPPF rarely(once) answers my emails or phone calls.
I made many calls to each during my hunt for evidence of the actual existence of the proverbial Welfare Queen driving a Cadillac...CPPP sent me much data indicating the mythological Quality of such widespread Fraud and Abuse; TPPF sent me on a circular phone journey, to numerous answering machines. I finally got a call back some weeks later from a guy(I forget his name or his claim to expertise...he sounded pretty young) who pretended to never have heard of the Welfare Queen Myth, peddled at least weekly by the folks who sign his checks.(this was the non-answer I received from every GOPtea Congressional staffer I called, as well)
I include these two groups as illustrative examples of the degrees of Myopia in Economics, today....and to show how what results you get, depends on what you measure, as well as what you do not.
I also include them, because the Paper in question, from the IEA, moves into Morality, next.

Talk about Work Ethic, and Personal Responsibility may sound a little familiar to Americans. “Dependence” is mentioned in the same coded way it is used over here. They refrain from using the phrase “Welfare Queen”, but one can almost hear that phrase in the background.
Sweden, as the Paper notes after sufficient usage of such code-words, has recently installed “Gate Keepers” for access to things like Sick Pay, and Disability.
I don't reckon anyone would deny that this is necessary, so long as it's Fair.(Curiously, Fairness is another word that rarely enters into the Free Marketeers' lexicon)
So it's a polite version of our usual,”oh, look at what the welfare state does: makes people lazy and hang from the government teat...”
It's difficult for me to keep my cool with this stuff...I admit.
I've heard such things for most of my life...Bootstraps!! Incentive to Work!!!
It is tiresome, since the purveyors of such things rarely want to visit those aspects of “work” that are actually Deterrents to being all balls to the wall.
Like the strange feature(that most Texans know about intuitively, even though they don't readily admit it, or vote accordingly) of working hard all the time, and not being able to go to the doctor, let alone have any leisure time.
Next, they go on to talk obliquely about Immigration and “Assimilation” and “Integration”.
We've heard all of this, before, too.
This perceived failure is another example of the difficulty of measurement of subjective, non-economic well as an assumption that Assimilation is the Preferred Goal of Immigration.
The Muslim Immigrants are the ones being talked about...
They are very different culturally, ethically and spiritually from the relatively Homogenous natives of Scandinavia. There is racism involved , here,as well.
I believe that this is a separate issue from the main's related, of course, but as the last 2 weeks in America has shown, Race is hardly a settled thing....the argument is filled with Attribution Errors and Assumptions regarding “Those People”, and is therefore unhelpful.
Widespread Islamic Immigration is also a relatively new thing in Scandinavia.
I want more data, ere we get into the effects of Immigration on the Nordic Model.
Next, we move into the issue of “Hidden Taxes”...hidden by that rascally government(in one of the most transparent system of government yet devised, no less), in order to shore up Employment Numbers.
This will need further, Objective, study.
I mean, we could talk about the same thing in US economic policy....Inflation, and the ten million taxing authorities and the related Opacity of Government in the US, but we've had those discussions, least I have, no real point.
Folks tend to believe what they want to believe.
Here's where measures of Satisfaction...which include perceived Corruption in Government....could be helpful.
Those measurements in Scandinavia consistently show a higher Satisfaction with Government, less Alienation, and far less Perceived Corruption.
Civic Participation is higher there, as well.
Folks pay attention to what their Government is doing...there are actual National Debates on these things...perhaps as a result of more leisure time, and less balls-to-the-wall, work yerself to death-ism.
The graphs are interesting, regarding hidden versus visible taxation.
I don't have internet out here, but a graph like that for the USA, and for Texas, would likely make for a fun comparison.

(I'm making a note to check, when I'm connected again...and will attempt to include such a graph, without comment, in this space when I get home)
{couldn't find a similar graph for USA, but there is this idea:( )}

As expected, they mention the Laffer Curve in response to those graphs.
We can talk about that, if you like....I have found it to be one of the most dishonest planks in the whole Neoliberal Revolution of the past 35 years.
Next we get to the inevitable citation of the Heritage Foundation.
The phrase “Economic Freedom” is used.
The USA is regarded as scoring relatively higher than Scandinavia in this metric, but I live in Texas, and cannot legally sell an egg to my local grocer(no matter what the customer wants or prefers) we can talk about that, too...if you like.
Assumptions that are required to stay Unexamined are not conducive to honest debate.
They also seem to like the Fraser Institute, whom I have never heard of.(I'll maybe get back to you to see if my as yet unexamined assumptions regarding that group are
It is probably pretty obvious by now that I remain unconvinced by this Paper.
I've heard all of these arguments and assertions and lamentations for most of my life, so I will take them, here, with a lot of salt.

The Economist has a more balanced view of all of the above.



It still relies overmuch on Free Market Mythology for my taste, but it is far less sneering and snickering.
Again, I think it's useful to compare things like Trust in Government, Satisfaction with Government, and overall Trust in Other People...with those same metrics here, in the USA.
By those measures, we are a backwards and hostile country, filled with selfish ignoramuses and sneaky politicians.

From that last Economist article:
The main lesson to learn from the Nordics is not ideological but practical. The state is popular not because it is big but because it works. A Swede pays tax more willingly than a Californian because he gets decent schools and free health care. The Nordics have pushed far-reaching reforms past unions and business lobbies. The proof is there. You can inject market mechanisms into the welfare state to sharpen its performance. You can put entitlement programmes on sound foundations to avoid beggaring future generations. But you need to be willing to root out corruption and vested interests. And you must be ready to abandon tired orthodoxies of the left and right and forage for good ideas across the political spectrum. The world will be studying the Nordic model for years to come.

One would think that the Free Marketeers, with their high minded pontifications on Competition would be willing to apply that Ideal to the field of Ideas, as well.
That remains to be seen, of course...but what I've observed since Bernie Sanders announced last week doesn't exactly inspire hope for a reasoned, dispassionate debate on the merits and failures of the Nordic Model.
This is a shame.
Reckon we might learn something.
(and...just for clarity,...these are the folks who produced the Paper I've been firing missiles at:

for the third installment of this little series, I'll dive into what the Nordic Countries say about themselves.
The Research Frenzy continues, apace.

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Nap. Exhaustion due to insomnia.
I awake in a cold sweat with a start...Everlast and Sinead playing in my head simultaneously.
The profound disappointment of discovering, circa 1993, that the MTV “Revolution” wasn't “out there...somewhere...” after all.
I had doubted, of course...but by now I had found proof.
That doubt had been a defense mechanism...MTV was everywhere once I moved to Walters, Texas...snippets of Gil Scott Heron...just part of some nefarious marketing scheme.
I had secretly hoped that it was real...Live Aid...Bono...
all the rest...and that I was missing out due to the place I was stuck in.
Surely everywhere wasn't already submerged...
Surely the Wasteland had an edge...that one could get over...into some other realm where my generation's revolution...contribution....would have corporeal form....
But I went East.
East for thousands of circuitous miles...and all I found was the same bland despair...the same banal suburban “success”, interspersed with many pockets of deep poverty full of those who had already given up on all of that.
That Faulknerian Darkness I'm always referring to, like a patina of hypocrisy, coating us all the further east one went.
It was during this period that My Revolution became a Revolution of One.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Research Frenzy: Nordic Model and Social Democracy

Now that Bernie Sanders has thrown his hat into the ring for President, perhaps it would be prudent to explore where he's coming from, regarding Economics/Social Policy....rather than scream “Socialism!!!” and throw things.
To that end, I've decided to take a sabbatical from Facebook and other Social Media, in order to study and think.
Regarding the current unrest in places like Baltimore and Ferguson, I find that I am too emotionally drained to continue that discussion. I'll leave that for others, at this time(Ben, Kevin,Pam), but will leave the term “Intersectionality” laying on the table as a somewhat decent word for where I'm at on all of that.(Solidansk!)
I'm also attempting to build our Funky Cabin in the Woods, and figure that between these two endeavors, engagement is just an added stressor that I can do without, at the moment.
With that in mind, I'm leaving a list of my (initial) sources.

For the adventurous, this book gives a detailed history of “Neoliberalism”, and where and how it diverged fro “Ordoliberalism” and the Nordic Model.
It is technical, but in a philosophical way, not a math way.

This Neoliberalism is where we, in America, are it or not...

next is the long list of articles and wiki pages and all manner of stuff I have collected that looks like may give a good overview of Social Democracy.
If you would like to engage cogently, sans hyperbole, on this subject, please take a look.
While I'm not particularly interested in what ...say...the Heritage Foundation has to say about Social Democracy, the Paul Harvey-esque “rest of the story” is important. Thus, the Economist is included(not generally regarded as a Pinko publication).

a couple of PDF's from the first of the list, which I do not know how to link to:

Note # 15 Torben M. Andersen, Bengt Holmström, Seppo Honkapohja, Sixten Korkman, Hans Tson Söderström, Juhana Vartiainen. The Nordic Model - Embracing globalization and sharing risks

Note #4 "The surprising ingredients of Swedish success - free markets and social cohesion" (PDF). Institute of Economic Affairs. June 25, 2013. (this appears to be from a Free Market Think Tank, as it uses their phrasing(ie:”Big Government”) I have included it for balance)

All of that is where I'm making a start.
I expect that over the next year and a half we'll be hearing a lot about this, due to Bernie and Liz Warren having a bully pulpit.
I also expect a large incoherent roar from the various camps of Free Market Fundamentalism, which will largely be Fact Free...but, we have plenty of Recent Experiments in Randian Dog Eat Dog Piss on my Head “capitalism” to look at...Kansas comes to mind, of course...but now we can add Michigan, Wisconsin(which can be compared to Minnesota, which is helpfully right next door).
We also have Texas, of course, and now we can add Louisiana under Jindal, and Florida under that skeletor penis-head guy...
The point is, we've run the experiments in Piss on My Head, “Corporations are People, my friend” Economics.
If that Model is to be used to counter the above list in any future discussion/debate, we must be willing to look at the Frelling Results of all that experimentation....honestly...and sans hyperbole and hysteria.
We have had, in the USA, a Cartoon of Capitalism, set against a Cartoon of (variously) Socialism/Communism/Marxism.
Things are more complex that all of that, and it is high time that We, the People, eschew the Cartoon Mythology and attempt to get at the roots of all of this, with facts and objectivity. The Right in this country tend to throw a bunch of mud, innuendo and ad hominem at this debate....because they (I allege) cannot compete on the field of ideas, without such subterfuge.
I am weary of giving in to their nonsensical ideas and bullying approach to “debate”.
So I guess I'm throwing a glove at everybody I know on-line,lol.
I'm off to build my cabin, and immerse myself in research.
I'll not limit myself to only those listed sources...they are a starting point...but I'll attempt to link/list whatever else emerges.
So if you want to talk about this rather large topic, get thee to a quiet spot....marshal your sources, and gird for battle(of wits).
I'll be back in a month....maybe two..., armed with Knowledge, and dangerous with Insight.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Shrimp don't Cause Oil Spills

....and Fish do not poison ponds.

ask yourself why protests have deteriorated into riot?
Is it a “riot” when roughly 500 out of 10,000 actually perpetrate the sorts of actions that constitute a “riot”?
why did that happen?
could it be that their grievances are not taken seriously, as a rule?
And could it be that this failure to take grievances seriously is, itself, a part of the overall grievance?
.is there currently a Problem in this country of Black People being killed and maimed by police for no good reason?
In historical context, does this fit some kind of long term pattern of behaviour by cops, in general?
from where you're standing, does systemic racism exist?
Or is it a made up thing?
some kind of excuse?
What would you do, if you and yours had been subject to the same long term, systemic treatment?

can you run the thought experiment I've been proposing to seemingly deaf white people, to put yourself in the Black Community's shoes?
To see things from their perspective?
Can you step out of your own perspective and into theirs?
There is a context to all of this.
that context can be apprehended.
once it is apprehended, then we can seriously attempt to get at the roots of things, and maybe fix some stuff.
Otherwise, we can just keep pointing at the burning storefront, without context...blaming angry black folks without evidence or context...and eventually go back to sleep,
until the “Fire next time.”

I was shocked to learn that no one is counting how many People are killed or maimed by police.
Not in any kind of systematic, nationwide, way.
The DOJ keeps track, sort of...but with scant and incomplete data.
Local police are not required to keep track of who they kill and maim, and why...nor are they required to submit such data to the DOJ.
“Criminal justice experts note that, while the federal government and national research groups keep scads of data and statistics— on topics ranging from how many people were victims of unprovoked shark attacks (53 in 2013) to the number of hogs and pigs living on farms in the U.S. (upwards of 64,000,000 according to 2010 numbers) — there is no reliable national data on how many people are shot by police officers each year. “
see also:(

Careful records are, however, kept and submitted of how many cops are injured and killed and by whom and under what circumstances.
This makes it very difficult to get a clear picture of just how widespread the problem is.
Or , as some want to believe, to prove that there's a problem, at all.
With the advent of ubiquitous video recording devices, there is growing video evidence which confirms the widespread anecdotal evidence of a far-ranging problem.
The usual Tsk Tsk-ing of the usual apologists for Law and Order and for the “Just World Hypothesis”, are now confronted with Youtube videos of ad hoc firing squads on American streets, of terrible beatings, of cries for help, of blood and broken bodies...a disproportionate number of whom appear to be Black and Brown.
In every internet discussion I have seen, there are always those who defend the cops, no matter what the video du jour shows.
“Well, he must have done something”...”If he wouldn't have talked back”....
As if it can be justified, these Extrajudicial, Summary Punishments, even Summary Executions, of Human Beings on the America.
Mental gymnastics and striking rhetorical contortions are brought to bear in order to paper over a phenomenon that is new to White America...but pretty Old Hat to Black and Brown America.
In the last 30-40 years, the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror, have been used to whittle away at all of our Constitutional Rights and Protections.
This has been Justified and sold to White America, as necessary, due to Fear...of scary black drug dealers, and scary brown and black terrorists.
And, remarkably, at the same time, Police across the country have been busy shoring up their own Rights and Protections, ironically using their Unions to do so.
Cops in many places now have a “Police Bill of Rights”.
From the Washington Post:

“A complaint is filed against an officer by a member of the public or a fellow officer. Police department leadership reviews the complaint and decides whether to investigate. If the department decides to pursue the complaint, it must inform the officer and his union. That’s where the special treatment begins, but it doesn’t end there.
Unlike a member of the public, the officer gets a “cooling off” period before he has to respond to any questions. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is privy to the names of his complainants and their testimony against him before he is ever interrogated. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is to be interrogated “at a reasonable hour,” with a union member present. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can only be questioned by one person during his interrogation. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can be interrogated only “for reasonable periods,” which “shall be timed to allow for such personal necessities and rest periods as are reasonably necessary.” Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation cannot be “threatened with disciplinary action” at any point during his interrogation. If he is threatened with punishment, whatever he says following the threat cannot be used against him.
What happens after the interrogation again varies from state to state. But under nearly every law enforcement bill of rights, the following additional privileges are granted to officers: Their departments cannot publicly acknowledge that the officer is under investigation; if the officer is cleared of wrongdoing or the charges are dropped, the department may not publicly acknowledge that the investigation ever took place, or reveal the nature of the complaint. The officer cannot be questioned or investigated by “non-government agents,” which means no civilian review boards. If the officer is suspended as a result of the investigation, he must continue to receive full pay and benefits until his case is resolved. In most states, the charging department must subsidize the accused officer’s legal defense.
A violation of any of the above rights can result in dismissal—not of the officer, but of the charges against him.”


Even I, a fierce defender of the Bill of Rights(the one that's been whittled away, and that was supposed to Protect Us from Government, including Cops), didn't know about this, until yesterday. Couple this remarkable occurrence with the already well ensconced “Blue Wall” of Perfidy and Coverup, where even Good Cops are coerced into protecting their Bad Brothers in Arms against having to take Responsibility for their Crimes.
It has become a feature of the aftermath of many of these Maimings and Murders by Police, that the perpetrators,...that is, the Cops....seem to get off relatively easy.
“Paid Leave”...”Administrative Leave”....even, in one recent case, a “Paid Vacation in the Bahamas”. Every benefit of the Doubt is to be afforded to them, and to hell with the Bleeding Heart concerns for the Folks arrested and incarcerated and surveilled and beaten.
Then, after the Police investigate themselves, behind closed doors, if anything comes of it, it goes to the Secret Grand by the local Secret.(Jury rigging is rampant, as well)
More often than not, no Indictment is handed down, and the Cop in question is either back on the job, or soon in another job, in another department.
The black marks do not follow cops to their new posts.
No one keeps track of that information, either.
How many scandals and instances of Police Corruption must we endure, before we are allowed to look at the Roots?
Of course, none of this is new to Black and Brown People.
It is also not New to many White Folks who are, somehow, they Gay, or Tattooed, or “Scruffy Looking”, or outside the ill-defined Norm in some other way.
In Baltimore, this state of affairs has been ongoing for some time:

And yet nothing substantial is done.
So here's another Black Person killed by cops...severed spine and crushed larynx, while in police custody.
And the Black Community rises up in anger and desperation, as is their supposed Right, under the US Constitution...and once again, they are met with Violence by cops...and by, apparently, drunken white sports fans, shouting “Nigganigganigga”...
And once again, White America turns a blind eye to the obvious validity of the complaints. The comments range from “They should get over it” to “look at the Nigs, burning down their own neighborhood” to “drop the daisy cutter and cut off their welfare checks”.
And at the same time as all that Racist Rhetoric is the insistence that “we're not Racist”....indeed, that it is the People who point out the Systemic Racism who are “Playing the Race Card”.
Is it any wonder, at all, that Black and Brown America continues to feel ignored and under the gun?
Is it any wonder that so many take to the streets when yet another Black Person is killed by Police?
At roughly the same time as the growing flood of videos of People of Color being harassed and otherwise violated by Police....who are , let us remember,the part of Government that is closest to the People....
At the same time, there is a substantial portion of White America who seems hell bent on Revolution...who wants to go about armed, in order to protect themselves from Government coming to “take their guns”....and even “put them into camps”.
The Irony, here, is shocking, to me.
Is this the fruit of the “Powers that Be” applying the age old tactic of Divide and Conquer?
Is the Tea People's hatred of Black and Brown America, based on easily dispelled Myth and Innuendo, so great that they cannot see the common theme?
How convenient for the growing Corporate State that the People are so divided.
How did we get to this point?
When did Cops become the ones whom the Bill of Rights(or even their own Bill of Rights) was meant to protect?
It looks like the opposite of what Jefferson intended...and Madison and all the rest. So, what happened?

Three things, I believe, are at the root of this.
1. the War on Drugs(which is itself an extension of the War Against Commies, and has been followed by the War on Terror).
2.Systemic Racism (which, too is related and intertwined with the parenthetical statements above)
3. Control. The first two can be subsumed under this heading, which is thoroughly contradictory to our greatest traditions of Liberty and Freedom of thought and Conscience. The folks who run this country have never wanted “too much freedom” for the people further down the ladder.
Any opposition to the Status Quo is to be crushed in it's infancy....or later, if necessary.
There can be only One Definition....One Idea of what Freedom means.
...and it is to be Theirs.
I usually use Maggie Thatcher's handy shorthand for this, “TINA” (“there is no alternative”).
So, around the turn of the last century, there was growing unrest in the factories and on the farms, and some of those workers read the works of Marx, Gramsci, and others.
The Word came from on high that “Socialism” and “Communism” were great evils that must be “stamped out”...”Defeated!”.
But those rascally Commies were insidious...they could be anywhere.
Palmer Raids and the arrival into a position of power of one J. Edgar Hoover, further set the stage for our troubles, today.
That stage had already been set, ironically, by otherwise Liberal folks(Progressive Movement), who with the best of intentions ran a decades long campaign to eradicate Alcohol.
Around the same time as the Palmer Raids, there was the Volstead Act, which criminalised alcohol. Prohibition, as is well known, led directly to the rise of Organised Crime, which, in it's turn led to the rise of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI.
Similarly, the idea of Dangerous(other) Drugs was made up from whole cloth...Marihuana, which most Americans had never heard of, was one of these.
At that time, Pot was a drug associated with Mexican farm workers(who sometimes joined unions) and Black Jazz Musicians....who were Black, and thus suspect.
Harry Ainslinger was the point man in eradicating, first Heroin, and then the Evil Weed...Marihuana...but only as they were used by “Undesirables”.
See Reefer Madness, for context, and a good laugh.

It was never about Weed, itself, but who was using it.
(William Randolph Hearst supported Marihuana Prohibition due to his large forest holdings, and thus equated Hemp with Pot...and Dupont supported all of this, due to their recent Patent on Nylon)
But it was Racism and Control of the Narrative that were the driving forces behind this.
This slacked off a little during the Second World War...after all the Communist Russians were our Allies....but ramped right back up once the Cold War began.
Still, during this time, Drug Laws were used mostly against People of Color.
It wasn't until the late Sixties, that things escalated.
Richard Nixon looked out the Whitehouse window, and saw there on the lawn, a whole bunch of folks who were not only against the war in Viet Nam, and refused to fight...but who were against Corporate Capitalism, and what was then known as the Establishment.
Many of them were even Commies...or at least Socialist( which were again conflated and equated, at this time).
Here was the weapon to use against all those “Unamerican” Americans.
There was still a large Racist aspect to this, due to the “Uppity Negroes” wanting to be Americans, too.
When Tricky Dick launched the “War on Drugs”, it was understood to be a War on Liberalism, and all that that connoted.
Ever since, the WOD has been a Weapon against Liberals and Black Folks and Brown Folks and anybody else that got on the Official Shit List.
Consider...that very same year, 1972-3, is when what would become the Reagan Revolution began in a hotel lobby in St Louis.
The two go hand in hand.
That's also when Roe v Wade came down.
Soon it was Morning in America, and to hell with efficient cars and thrifty energy usage, and regulation of the large, and of course, to hell with anything resembling Liberalism.
This was conflated, once again, with Godless Communism, and considered the Antithesis of Freedom.
Meanwhile, the WOD was used to put Black Folks back into their box...the Black Panthers and the Watts Riots and a million other things, most with a substantial Mythological content, was all scary to white America, and was painted in such a way to reinforce that innate Fear
All during this entire 50+ year period, various scholarly organisations and the research arm of the Government, itself, did studies on Drugs.
Every one of these studies on Marijuana indicated to one degree or another that it was NOT equal to Heroin or Horse Tranquiliser.
That it was relatively harmless, and even (sometimes) that it had therapeutic qualities that deserved further study.
But science doesn't matter, as anyone near TV news in the past 40 years can surely attest.
The Systemic Racism was largely ignored for many years...even after the Civil Rights Era. The Official Story was that Racism was Over...and all them Black Folks should, yup, “Get Over It”.
To point out Racism became, itself, Racist. The more overt and ugly forms had been driven into the shadows to fester and percolate...and were a large part of the Southern Strategy of Nixon, and Reagan.
To agitate for reform became a quaint exercise of a remnant liberalism, already defeated(along with, eventually, the Evil Empire of Communism).
Myth and Obfuscation and Innuendo.
During this entire period...but especially after 1973...Our Rights were whittled away.
Numerous Exceptions to almost every one of the Amendments contained in the Bill of Rights were formulated, and implemented...often without substantial debate, either in Public or in Congress.
We had learned the lessons of the Cold War Anticommunist Hysteria not Question.
Do not be “Soft on Drugs”, “Soft on Crime”...Morality was brought to bear...and wild tales of Welfare Queens, eating out our substance and hooked on dope.As the economic system had repeated hiccups and infarctions, we were encouraged to blame the Poor...who were all Lazy and “On Drugs”...for the resulting economic malaise and disruption. Black Folks were Poor, as well, and thus also to blame. "Poor" became Code for "Scary Lazy Dangerous Black Person."
All of this must be taken into account in any discussion of crime, of drugs or of race.
It is all of a piece.
One can even argue that the Systemic focus on Black People by the Drug Warriors and Prison Profiteers, had the effect of shoring up the Employment removing “Surplus Labor”.
Judges and Congressmen and Prosecutors and Mayors and large Outfits like the NAACP were averse to being labeled as ProDope...let alone the bad behaviour by government continued.
Cops developed half baked Theories to justify their assholeish behaviour...especially against Black Folks.
“Broken Windows Theory” is now the fundamental Theory of Law Enforcement. Go after Jay Walking and Loosies and the guy with a joint or a hash pipe, the guy sitting on his stoop with a beer...all the little, easy shit.
Layers of laws against everything from sitting down in public to spitting on the sidewalk were formulated and put into place in cities and counties across the nation.
And all of this combined with that age old underlying Racism and Classism(anticommie/antisocialist) to create the Police State we live in today(well...a lot of us, at least)
My Dad can go into his front yard and drink beer, and the cops just wave.
Let a Black Fellow do the same, and it's an Offense, or at least “Suspicious”.
We can deny this reality all we want...insist that this narrative is overblown and hysterical..overly dramatic.
But all that will do is continue the carnage and the injustice.
Reform is what is needed so desperately...but for that to even begin, the folks who have born the brunt of all this must be listened to...and the cherished Unexamined Assumptions must be weighed against Observable Reality.
Bad Ideas...Faulty Thinking...must be rejected.
Marijuana is not a “Gateway Drug” any more than Milk is.
Black People are not “Animals” who are out to get us...and, yes, calling them “Animals” or “Cockroaches”means that you are, indeed, a Racist.
Let us end the Injustices.
Let us be the Shining City on the fucking Hill, at long last.
Let's quit screwing around with Dogmatic Inertia when what we've been doing not only doesn't work...but is itself a Travesty.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

“Cultural Marxism” and the Frankfurt School

(Riffing off of this, because it's convenient, and because it appears generally accurate as to the history of all this. I have done the primary research into the Frankfurt School, but it is as yet not in print. This article, and the relevant Wiki Pages, will serve as a stand in)

Horkheimer, himself, helpfully defined Critical Theory:

“The Frankfurt School's work cannot be fully comprehended without equally understanding the aims and objectives of critical theory. Initially outlined by Max Horkheimer in his Traditional and Critical Theory (1937), critical theory may be defined as a self-conscious social critique that is aimed at change and emancipation through enlightenment, and does not cling dogmatically to its own doctrinal assumptions.[14][15] The original aim of critical theory was to analyze the true significance of "the ruling understandings" generated in bourgeois society, in order to show how they misrepresented actual human interaction in the real world, and in so doing functioned to justify or legitimize the domination of people by capitalism. A certain sort of story (a narrative) was provided to explain what was happening in society, but the story concealed as much as it revealed. The Frankfurt theorists generally assumed that their own task was mainly to interpret all the other areas of society which Marx had not dealt with, especially in the superstructure of society.[16] “

Sounds rather intiguing, to me...”hey, lets set aside dogma, and other forms of unconsciousness...throw out out Unexamined Assumptions...and really sit down and Think and Talk about all of this!”
It is exactly what I have been doing, more or less, for my entire life.
I just didn't have a “school” to belong to.

I didn't discover all these folks and their Thought, until I was well into my massive study of the American Right, about 15 years I heard about them, in the same way that Religious Scholars heard about the Gnostics and Marionites...through the filter of their enemies.
Remember that I grew up in Ronald Reagan's wasn't as if Das Kapital was just laying around...nor the works of Erich Fromm, by whom I was introduced to the Frankfurt School.
There is much confusion in some circles(lol, like our entire culture...)
about what Marx actually said, and about the Nature and Meaning of Marxism, and , by extension, and through the machinations of the Violent Parasitical Elite and their Machine(my terms), about terms such as Liberal, Socialism, Communism, and even Capitalism.
Unions are vilified without thought, these days, and the rest of our Language of Dissent from the Authoritarian, Heirarchical Machine is Delimited and Circumscribed.
Orwell and Huxley have been brought to bear in ways those Thinkers never intended, and in fact would loudly declaim, were they alive , today.
Confusion has been sown, as policy, for at least a century, but especially after the riotous Sixties had shot their wad, and sank back into oblivion.
The Counterrevolution took shape, beginning with the Powell Memo and the gatherings in hotel lobbies of such curmudgeonly future Right Wing Rock Stars(sic) as Paul Weyrich and Richard Mellon Sciaffe, Joseph Coors, and the rest of what constitutes American Aristocracy.

(Go thou, to the Googlemachine, and type thou:”Origins of the Overclass Huppi)

From the Wiki, again:”Horkheimer opposed it to "traditional theory", which refers to theory in the positivistic, scientistic, or purely observational mode – that is, which derives generalizations or "laws" about different aspects of the world. Drawing upon Max Weber, Horkheimer argued that the social sciences are different from the natural sciences, inasmuch as generalizations cannot be easily made from so-called experiences, because the understanding of a "social" experience itself is always fashioned by ideas that are in the researchers themselves. What the researcher does not realize is that he is caught in a historical context in which ideologies shape the thinking; thus theory would be conforming to the ideas in the mind of the researcher rather than the experience itself:

The facts which our senses present to us are socially performed in two ways: through the historical character of the object perceived and through the historical character of the perceiving organ. Both are not simply natural; they are shaped by human activity, and yet the individual perceives himself as receptive and passive in the act of perception."

So lack of Objectivity is a usual claim against the Humanities, in general...unless it's of the Preferred Variety of Humanities, like those taught at Liberty “University”(sic), for instance.
Any port, in a storm, and all...
To take this bunch of German Idealistic Philosophers and spin them up into some kind of Monolithic Conspiracy, eating away at the roots of Christiandom is laughable.
I think that their Thought needs to be revisited, of course...such Dissent could be very helpful with the challenges we face as a Global Civilisation...and we've been denied such True Dissent for almost a hundred years...but especially in my lifetime.
We've instead been Homogenous in our Approved Thought.
One must Toe the Party Line(GOP) and never Question the Mythology of Capitalism and Conservatism.
One must never point out their flaws and rampant inconsistencies, and never...ever...suggest that the whole Righty Experiment has been a Failure.
Wherever it's been tried, to date.

The Frankfurt School set out to offer a Critique...of just about everything.
They ended up directing their Critique at Western Civilisation, itself.
This is their True Crime, it turns out.
Maggie Thatcher's “TINA”...”There is no alternative”...which I have consistently used as a shorthand for the Dogmatic, 'End of History' Hegelianism...where there can be no Critique, because History is at an end, and there's nothing left to talk about, so....”Get to Work,Prole!”
The Violent Parasitical Elite can brook no very uncapitalist of them!
The Frankfurt School is ignored, for the most part, by the Media, and the rest of our intellectual culture.
It has only been since the collapse of the Great Enemy, the “Communism” of the USSR, that this school of thought has been trotted out...usually in whispers, in the more esoteric corners of the conspiracy minded Righty Web.
Now that “International Terrorism” has lost it's applicability as a stand-in for the Great Enemy, suddenly, we see the resurrected Communism in the form of “Critical Theory”.
It was even given pride of place in the Texas Gop's the plank about Education, which led to howls of derision, due to lack of context.(it appeared to be against Critical Thinking Skills, in general).
Being familiar with the words and phrases of the Frankfurt School, I see oblique references all over the place.
The Right...rather their hidden Elite...are scared to death that such Critique might get loose, and get the Masses Thinking.
This is, of course, that Dialectic that has been operant in Western Civilisation from the beginnings of the Enlightenment:
On the one hand, folks began to Think...and that Thought led to the breaking of various Taboos regarding Thought, which led to more Thought, and to Action. We see this in the general Movement towards a free-er and more Open Society.
On the other hand, there is the Counter-Movement against this trend...the Powers that Be/Were, attempting to put it all back in the box, and then...failing Absorb those changes while still maintaining their hold on Power.
It's been a tug of war for 500 years.
The Powers are ascendant at the moment, after the 40 year Mindfuck, but there are numerous Cracks appearing in their Wall of Confusion and Division.
It is high time for those on the side of Freedom to take up the cause, again...and that will necessarily entail picking up the long forbidden books and Thought.
For nearly 100 years , we've been distracted and confused...Marx was forbidden, and by extension, all that flowed from him...enough.

There is no such thing as “Cultural Marxism”.
But there should be.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Activist Corpersons and their Supporters

That's the best I could do to “embed” the Melissa Harris-Perry segment I'll be referring to...Comcast has been having some issues with the whole “Freedom of the Press”-thing...

But anyhoo...
These folks are going on and on about how the Corporate World essentially saved the day in Indiana, and put a stop to the “I hate gays” discrimination bill.
What no one seems to be paying any attention to, is how this fits in with the idea of “Corporate Personhood” and Corporate “Citizenship”.
From the Santa Fe Railroad Case, circa 1898, wherein an enthusiastic court reporter scribbled down a minor aside by a Justice(“of course corporations are persons...”)...all the way up to Citizens United, and Hobby Lobby...Fictional Entities, Immortal Collections of Fancy Paper in a Mailbox in Delaware, are increasingly regarded as equal to, and even greater than, actual Human Beings, under the Law.
Such entities are busy writing and hashing out, in Secret!, the Trans-Pacific Partnership “Free Trade” deal.
In the Indiana Fiasco, these Immortal Fictions sided with the Rights of Actual their credit.
But they remain essentially unaccountable.
This Activism merely proves their Power over Our Government(s), and We the People can in no way be complacent that they will continue to be “on Our side”.
They remain, in many cases, Supranational Citizens of Earth, no matter where they happen to lay their paper heads.
….and on the Flip Side of that:

...which is an article, with lots of links to documentation in support of the argument they are making, which is, that the Corps and the various levels of Government work in collusion to oppress and repress The People...or, at least that subset thereof who would meddle with the Status Quo.
The Right can go literally on the War Path, agitate and wave guns and throw bricks and beat people up, and it's cool.
But let a bunch of Hippies start camping (CAMPING!!!) across the street from the Gaping Maw of Moloch, and...well...that's just a Bridge Too Far.
Out come the Stormtroopers and the APC's and the Gas and the Rubber Bullets and the Attack Dogs(Peta, where art thou?).
It seems that it is NOT Cool to oppose, out loud and in public, the Corporate State.
Added to all of that coordinated State Violence at the behest of Giant Piles of Paper, is the Faux Newtz fomented eruption of churlish behaviour.
“Damned dirty hippies need to take a shower...git a job...”
...all the rest.
I recall that the first little inflorescence of Modern Tea was a sort of Ron Paul Joint, formed and invigorated and disgusted by Wall Street and all of it's behaviour.
Now, here was a broad and deep swath of everyone from Far Left(so I hear,lol...mythical creatures...) to the Middle-Right, all in the streets hollering about the same thing, and from the same perspective(from below).
But the Great Wurlitzer of Hate and Confusion geared up and whirled and whirled and spewed out fresh Talking Points and suddenly, it was Only the Left, and therefore to be ridiculed...or, at least, that was the Mantra. The Populist Right totally Disowned their Common Cause with the rest of the country.
Plug this terrifying phenomenon into the others, up top.
Here is Orwell and Huxley and Attwood all rolled up into one, and used as a How To Manual on how to go about dismantling a Free Society.
It's been very effective, these last few years...and all because a small minority(I've seen estimates ranging from 10-35%) of the population is so well Conditioned and Trained that they abandon whatever they are mad about, and go be mad about something else at the mere suggestion of those who run the Wurlitzer.
“Oh look, a Communist!”
[scuttle scuttle scuttle...Growl!]
What can we do about this horrible state of affairs?
We cannot Reason with these trained seals...they are Immune to any information that falls outside of their conditioning.
We cannot, it seems, change the Media Universe... Corpse have that locked down...
We certainly can't simply Ignore them...they are far too dangerous.

Is this what Germany in the 1930's was like for Liberals and Social Democrats and Communists and Gay Folks and, of course, the Jews?
I know...I know...we're not supposed to violate Godwin's Law...but when is it OK to do so?
The Right does it all the time, even though they apparently do not know what it means...”Fascism” is just an ugly thing to throw at people one doesn't like.
But what about when it IS Fascism?
What about when one's political Opponents behave and speak in the actions and language of Fascism? Behave like Brownshirts?
Is it OK to call them Out?
Or must we wait for more visible manifestations?
I fear that by then it will be too late.

Monday, April 6, 2015


(That's Ben, a week or so ago)

So I worked on the Funky Cabin this morning for all of 3 hours.
Finished the framing for the floor, and lugged two more sheets of ¾ cdx over and nailed them into place.
Then, having destroyed myself for the day, I packed up and went home.
Did a pile of laundry, and while I wasn't watching Wallander(the Swedish version), I was digging into Jung's Red Book.
The Cabin is coming least the Kitchen/Living Room is.
It's relatively square, and relatively level.
Not bad for a crippled hippie, all by himself(mostly), with zero formal training and little use for tiresome, if well meaning, advice.
It's all the same principal as my first treehouse.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Humanity is like a Rainforest

Watching this, on this rainy Easter afternoon:

I've always been fascinated with India.
I first read the Gita in Senior English, back of the class, bored, dreaming of wanderings. Saw the film version of E.M Forster's A Passage to India, and the monumental Gandhi, and Kamasutra, and Siddartha(based on Hermann Hesse' novel.).
I've since read a lot, but not nearly all, of the Hindu Canon...much of it left me breathless(in mind) and chaotically was Pluralism, writ large.
All of this was very interesting, but I never got around to wandering that far.
I'd like to go to India(Bharat ), and speak to those Sadhi.
Overall, the impression is one of a wholly alien culture to ours in the west.
How remarkable, that the same Human Species could have diversified to such an extent!
The film linked above is available on Netflix, and worth a look, if only to break one out of one's habitual thought-patterns of what it means to be Human.
Copious use of Ganja is indicated.

Yelling Stop!

“Orthodoxy is Unconsciousness”-George Orwell

...and Homogeneity is Boring!
Diversity...of opinion, of tradition, of culture, of religion, of philosophy... of Love...Diversity is what makes Humankind interesting.
Pluralism is the American Way.
Whether a salad bowl, or a melting pot, or some combination thereof...that is how We move forward, together.
Diversity entails ambiguity...all is always in flux...the most salient feature of Universe is Change. This ambiguity is often confusing, and sometimes hard to understand, and this confusion often engenders Fear.
That Fear is why there are so many who wish to Arrest, as William Buckley said, “Stand athwart history, yelling 'Stop!'”...indeed, this is the easiest definition of “conservatism”, to slow down the roiling, churning ocean of Humanity, so as to have a chance to understand, and (it is hoped by some) to modify, or even reverse, that Change.
That this arrest and/or reversal is Impossible, without bloodshed and oppression, is often forgotten by those who so fear the future that they would do anything to stave off it's inevitable arrival.
So we go through the ,motions...the automatic, knee-jerk, motions...accommodating the fearful among us—allowing them a de facto Veto.
It is instructive that such a Veto, temporary as it usually is, so often involves violence and political oppression...there is simply no dam that can be built by Human hands that can undo, that can arrest, the Progression of History.
That some people build their careers, whether in politics or in the pulpit, or in some media, old and new, on this Oppression and Violence, in service of these attempts to arrest change is itself a part of the process. Change is always accompanied by Fear of that Change, and the correlated violence and attempts at Repression, and of retrograde movement.
Swirling in an eddy, just off the main current, around and around...believing that the small line of stones that they have piled up against the current can...somehow...change the course of the broader river.
But the river finds it's own course...and we will one day look back at these sad,confused people, with their inundated attempts at a dam, and think: ”well...was all of that hatred and violence and attempted oppression really necessary?”
“what purpose did it serve?”

Oxylos Wilt

I aspire to Taliesin.
To Mrddyyn Wilt.
Once was I known as the Wild Man of Karen Switch.
Now am the Wild Man of Dry Prong.
A Creature of woods, and fields.
Of starry nights and
Blazing days.
Tom Bombadil,
Singing the World awake
From its dew-bound
A Friend of Trees.
Companion of Squirrels,
and Rabbits.
Birds Sing at my whistle.
Wildflowers are nice, but
it's the Grasses make Paradise.
My Good Friend Oak,
some half a Millennia old,
Waves like a Holy Fool.

Wisteria and Grapes,
Achillea Millifolium.
Coreopsis and Galliarda/
Thymus Vulgarum

I lurk in the Beebrush,
Haunt the Mesquite Tangle,
and the Earth feels my bare feet right back.
She Breathes the same Air as I,
The same Wind.
Moonrise, well before Sunset.
The Moon is my lover,
But I am involved with the Sun, as well.
The Others spy on both affairs,
Sometimes hidden behind their Blue-White Vastyness,
Other times shining in their Ink-Blue Firmament—
the Stars are always there.
Especially when we cannot see them,
save from the bottom of a Well.
I limp through the Poppies,
Stagger through the Grass.
Tumble into the brambles,
Fall on my ass.
I speak to the Trees, and the occasional Fox.
Freak Prosody giving
Hell to the Possum,
Under the Porch.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Mike Pence has stepped in it.
He went along with the craziest, most backwards politicians in his state in pandering to the craziest, most backwards people in that state, and signed a law legalising discrimination against gays....and anyone else that a business owner, or(presumably) anyone at all, deems “lesser than”.
...or worthy of discrimination...or something.
It's all rather muddled by the back-flips and hmmms and haws and euphemism.
What is not muddled, is that there has been an immediate backlash.
Business groups and businesses and ceo's and various trade groups have risen up to excoriate Indiana's leaders, and to pull out a bunch of business activity in the state.
This outcome is great, of course.
Such assholery as that of Mr Pence and his idiot windbags should rightly be vilified...and there should rightly be consequences.
But there's another angle, here.
Before Pence signed this odious legislation, there was already an The People.
….and nobody least nobody in a position to stop this mess from being born in the first place.
It took the Business Lobby to have an effect...namely, making Pence and the gang reconsider...even scramble around to try to undo the damage.

A similar phenomenon is happening in the Texas Capitol, right now:


The Texas Business Lobby has now weighed in on the Radio Preacher's plans to implement a Teabilly Budget, wherein Texas can continue down the path towards dysfunction and theocracy.
Big Business says “No”.
Now watch them scramble around.
I have long insisted that the true constituency of our Governments, state, local and federal, are Corporations, Hedge Funds and Big Banks—that we live in an Oligarchy, not a Democratic Republic any more...
Here is one more plank in my porch.
We, the People, can holler and scream...write letters to “our” supposed employees, and to editors...we can sign petitions, and even light ourselves on fire...and it doesn't matter, because We, the People don't matter.
“Corporations are People, my friend...”(Mittens)
I expect Texas to attempt to enact a similar Hate on Gays Law, and I expect a similar backlash.
From Business....because it's bad for business to be discriminatory, not because it represents a backwards and harmful, anti-enlightenment worldview that is best left in the past.
I expect Tea People in Texas to continue to attempt to cut taxes to the bone, and further destroy the public school system.
I expect continued aversion to reasonable accommodation to Obamacare(close the gap).
I expect all of the hurtful and hateful nonsense that we have become accustomed to from “them people”.
The new thing, is that Big Business seems ever more likely to balk at pull their money out from from under Teabilly Politicians and would-be Politicians.
Big Business, the true constituency, is done with the Tea Party....and maybe even with the “Religious Right”.
They're bad for business, you see.
And Business are People, my friend.
This time, Corporate Persons are on the side of Regular People(Homo Sapiens Sapiens(sic)).
They will not always be so.
That is what worries me.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I got yer small government, listening to the people, right here...

(Wherein Amfortas quotes Ted Cruz...)

“You and I both know that the ‘Big Government crowd’ isn’t just the Left, it also includes some on the Right. An excess of power and government is always, always, always, a fundamental threat to liberty.” 
- Ted Cruz, Messiah.


It was entirely predictable.
As soon as the Voters in a few cities began passing referendums outlawing Fracking in Their towns, it was a good bet that this day would come.
As soon as other cities passed other referendums that raised the minimum wage in those places, it became inevitable that this day would come.
Now, a couple of Tea Party Politicians...who ran campaigns touting their love of the Constitution, of the Republic and of the People...these guys have decided that the People cannot be trusted, after all.

This is a direct quote from Mr Paxton's campaign site:
”“In recent years, the US Constitution has been under assault from liberals that seek to centralize power, expand government, and disregard the rights and privileges that the Constitution seeks to protect; this document empowers citizens and limits the government's power and authority.”
--and here's a quote from Phil King's page(
”Local control and limited government must be the first resort and not the last.”

...and yet here they are, in power, attempting to subvert the Will of the People.
Can't trust the People of those cities, let alone of this state, to make “the right decisions”, I guess.
Texas Referendum and Initiative Laws are already weak, limited to Home Rule Cities...It's difficult to get past the hurdles. Texas has no Statewide R&I Law, the Masters in Austin having saw fit to keep that power from the People, at least twice, save for Amendments to the Texas Constitution.

Let me take a minute to head off the usual suspects:
Them:”But we're not a Democracy, we're a Republic”.
Me:” We are both...we democratically elect our representatives in the various levels of government(except Michigan, who have fallen into a sort of Imperial Consulate System in recent years...also under Republican Hegemony.),...we also have a long, long history of more Direct Democracy, from the New England Town Hall, beginning circa 1630, to the Post-Civil War Progressive Movement, uniting against the abusive Crop/Lien System, and a Two Party stranglehold on Power, enabled(then, as now) by Big Business.

Rep. Phil King(R. Weatherford) and Mr Paxton are attempting to subvert that history, and those Rights and Privileges. They are not alone. The newly minted Governor also seems to have sudden issues with Local Control, which used to be a Third Rail of the Right. Joining them in the Capitol were the Real Constituency: the Texas Oil & Gas Association(now run by Todd Staples,lol), Texas Association of Builders, the Texas Restaurant Association and the Texas Association of Business.
I can guarantee that they will be listened to...which is exactly why Texas needs I & R...not just in big cities, but statewide....because Our Employees are deep in the pockets of wealth and power.

(Please see:( for Rep. King's particular record of pocket warming)

“We need an Attorney General who will stand up for the US Constitution and the individual liberties it protects, and that is why I'm running for Attorney General.”
From (

Friday, March 13, 2015

Amygdala, On Fire.

Another facet of what I have learned about the American Right:

I am continually amused, and yet at the same time horrified, by what the most extreme variety of Righty thinks about “Libruls”.
Perusing this, from a couple of years ago:

Came across Ginni Thomas' recommendation to her fellow lunatics to watch this “documentary”:


The Lizard Brain, lobotomized.
If you are interested in the Fevered Id of the Right, here is an important insight: what they believe We are up to...have been up to..and what they believe that We want?
No less than total destruction of Amurca!
As is my habit, I dug around in the comments...there's no shortage of folks(our neighbors) who swallow this terrifying doom whole.
One tidbit that leaps at me is that it is regarded as unconscionable when Commies(sic) want to overthrow the US Government(in my opinion, it is)...but it's Patriotic when the Rabid Right wants the same damned thing(Cliven?).
Another is the idea that there is a many-headed hydra...tentacles and all..of liberalism/socialism/communism busy “undermining” and “subverting” America.
I've been searching for the Vast Liberal Conspiracy for my whole frelling life!
I have yet to find it.
I look at stuff like this as Projection.
If you read what Groundswell says it wants to do, is it not what this “documentary” says that the nonexistent Pinko Conspiracy wants to do?
“they wanted to infiltrate the institutions of America to influence us in the direction they want us to go”
Please Google “Seven Mountains”,lol.
The craziest thing is that so many “leading lights” in Movement Conservatism believe this stuff...that should be a concern.
Here's a couple of handy Beckian charts, lifted from the Red State review of the “documentary”:
Again, Projection.
These could be charts of the Right Wing Revolution, circa 1971- present, Think Tanks, Mailing Lists and Townhall Meetings.
That may sound like “I know you are but what am I”...but there is actual documentation of this, From Buckley and the Powell Memo, all the way up to the Tea Party.
Assertions of Christianity on the run, and “Liberal Media” Hegemony, and Lefty Indoctrination in Public Schools and the “Gay Agenda”...stand back and view the state of the world, and it is almost the exact opposite of what this film presents.
I personally know many folks who believe this sort of thing.
They are quite dangerous, when cornered.

From an adherent:
”Most importantly, Russia and China are not enemies. They may hate each other on racial lines, but they jointly despise the United States even more. In terms of ideology, economics and military strategy, Russia and China are firm allies. China doesn’t want Siberia – who in their right mind would? China wants to move large chunks of its population to the American heartland – by war if necessary. If that involves losing 30 or 40 million of its surplus young male population – so much the better. One less problem to worry about.
If it comes to war, one joint Russia/China plan is for Russia to nuke the hell out of the continental United States. After Obama has finished decimating what is left of the US nuclear arsenal of course. The Russians will then invade Alaska and parts of Canada, but not the lower ’48. China will then invade across the Pacific. They will lose millions of troublesome young men, but they eventually get a foothold. Then their allies in Latin America will invade across the Mexican border… and the Red Dawn will break.
The collapse of the USSR was a nefarious hoax?
The American political Center has moved to the Left?
Hitler was a Lefty?
Great Googly Moogly!
I spent many years lurking in Righty Fora (virtual field study). This sort of hysterical nonsense is more widespread that we'd care to believe.
Witness the attempt to rehabilitate Joe McCarthy in the Texas curriculum, for instance.
Or the hysteria surrounding Common Core, Obamacare and so many other bits and pieces of the Democratic Platform. Sure, it's ludicrous...but it's alive and well on the Right.
A google search shows almost nothing about this bunch, but that doesn't really mean anything. Secrecy is important to Paranoids.
Reading the emails and such that David Korn published, my first impression is that this is merely an asylum of disgruntled nutters, lamenting the End of America at the hands of the Evil Librul Onslaught.
The problem with that first impression is that these particular nutters have real, verifiable influence on the political landscape...As odious and insane as I find folks like Gaffney, Boykin, Schafly and others, they are listened to.
I encounter their ideas and talking points all over the place, from comments sections throughout the web, to the feedstore.
Our nation really is in peril, not from some reanimated golem of Comintern, but from those who wrap themselves in flags and throw Bibles at everything they fear, all the while supporting the Corporate Hegemony that is actually implementing the very things they are so terrified of.
It's sad, really.
But there it is.

a letter to my Texas Representative

To Texas Representative Murr.

Some thoughts:
I note that you're on the Transportation Committee.
While I understand that Public transportation is not all that popular in Texas, these days, I'd be remiss if I didn't flog it, any way.
When a place like Croatia has a better Public Rail system than us, I reckon we should be ashamed.
I'd like the Freedom to take the train.
Rail takes less energy, for moving both goods and people.
There is also the growing issue of many vehicles with one or two folks in them, making it increasingly harrowing to get from point a to point b.
Even way out here.
I recognise the challenges in the way of any comprehensive Rail plan, but I think it's worth looking in to.

I also note that you're on the Subcommittee on Long Term Infrastructure.
There are two things I think about, in that regard.
1. The Grid. It is my understanding that we lose around 40% of the electricity generated in just “evaporates” into the air.
This is one of the major drawbacks of having an overcentralised Power Generation...all those wires!
With current technology, we could build a better Grid...distributed generation, along the lines of how the internet is constructed.
The way we do it, now looks like Hydraulic Despotism, to me.
I understand that there are very powerful folks who like it just the way it is, but their vested interest should not curtail at least looking at alternatives.
Instead of a few giant power plants and nuclear facilities and gigantic wind farms...we could have 10 million small, individual, or even neighborhood-level
power sources, all inter-tied. This would be more robust and sensible than the current paradigm...a tree limb in one place would be less likely to cause outages in another. Democratise Electricity.
2. I have long been an evangelist for Sewer Gas,lol.
Every living thing is a potential source of energy.
Methane=”natural gas”.
From landfills to municipal sewer systems to septic tanks to feedlots, we allow how many btu's of energy to just float up into the atmosphere?
I'm planning on building my own methane digester, as proof of concept...and because I'm rather hard-headed.
Instead of relying only on Fossil Methane, we should look into the Fresh Kind.
This, too, will have many powerful interests rallying against it...Big Oil and Gas will crow that it's nasty and unworkable.
But the Fossil Variety will not last forever: the Fresh Kind will last as long as there are creatures with stomachs.

Just a few thoughts from a Liberal Constituent.

Ego sum, Intrepidus,

credit, where due.

To Texas Representative Sarah Davis.


I just wanted to say thank you for your courage for standing up to the whole “Foetii Uber Alles!”-crowd regarding Womyns' Health. As a Skunk Throwing Liberal, it's refreshing to learn that not everyone in your party has abandoned Reason.
Appearing on Maddow took guts, as well.
Healthcare in general in Texas is a travesty; and for Womyn, even more so.
Thanks for stepping up.

Ego sum, Intrepidus,

Thursday, March 12, 2015


On the Cotton Letter.

If Democrats had done something similar to this in the run up to the Illegal and Immoral Invasion of Iraq, they would have been (rightly) Pilloried.
Foreign Policy is the purview of the Executive Branch, per the Vesting Clause in Article 2 of the US Constitution.
The role of Congress in such matters is limited. In some cases, such as ratifying Treaties, Congress has the responsibility to “Advise and Consent”. In hammering out the details of such Treaties, Congress sits in the back seat...they can bitch and moan, but they have no Constitutional Authority.

“...The (vesting-ED)clause also accords the President those foreign-affairs authorities not otherwise granted to Congress or shared with the Senate. Thus, the President can control the formation and communication of foreign policy and can direct America's diplomatic corps. Because the Constitution nowhere assigns or shares these foreign-affairs powers, they remain part of the executive power granted to the President by the Executive Vesting Clause.”- (!/articles/2/essays/76/executive-vesting-clause)
Seems pretty clear, to me.
The Supreme Court decided, definitively, that this was so in 1936:
“It is important to bear in mind that we are here dealing not alone with an authority vested in the President by an exertion of legislative power, but with such an authority plus the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the President as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations–a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress, but which, of course, like every other governmental power, must be exercised in subordination to the applicable provisions of the Constitution.”-Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland, writing for the Majority in United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., 1936 (from the Wiki)
Of course, in Goptea-land, it depends on who sits in the Oval Office:
“"In the aftermath of Vietnam and Watergate," Cheney recently told the Wall Street Journal, "there was a concerted effort to place limits and restrictions on presidential authority." There were "a series of decisions," he explained, "that were aimed at the time at trying to avoid a repeat of things like Vietnam or ... Watergate."

"I thought they were misguided then," he continued, and "given the world that we live in [today] that the president needs to have unimpaired executive authority." Cheney said the only restraint on the president should be "the Constitution." He did not say, however, as he has on other occasions, that it is the president who says what the Constitution means, as far as his own duties and responsibilities.”-the Dark Lord, Cheney.(

Put aside our almost total Ignorance of History, especially regarding our History with Iran/Persia, from World War 1, to the present.
Put aside the blatant Hypocrisy of such shenanigans as this letter, and the recent Netanyahoo(sp-2) speech to Congress.
Congress simply does not have the Authority to form and negotiate Foreign Policy.
For all of the love of the Constitution that the Right purports to have...for all of their admonitions that Liberals “read the Constitution”...
for all of the insinuation that this President is, somehow, “Lawless”, and a “dictator” turns out that, like everything else, it depends...
When Lil' George was trampling on the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, it was fine and dandy. How dare a Hippie in the Hills criticize our dear leader.
When St. Ronnie was doing secret deals with Iran, from before he was Inaugurated, it was fine and dandy.
How dare the Liberals take umbrage.
But let a Center Left, Democratic President with a funny name exercise his Constitutional Authority over the Foreign Policy of the USA, and the Right explodes into apoplexy.
Both “my” Senators saw fit to sign on to this idiotic and ill conceived letter, as they both also supported the recent meddling of Bibi in our governance and policy: The shameless corporate whore, Cornyn ,(,
and the shameless Messiah in Waiting Cruz, ( have pandered to their rabid and terrified and ahistorical “Base”...lying through their teeth about this President's “lawlessness” and “overreach”...
Now that the letter, and the Bibi hate-speech, have been pilloried and pooh-poohed by all and that such banal and ridiculous posturing have been so roundly the signers of that letter are saying it was “just a joke”.
Such irresponsible behaviour is likely funny in Cut-n-Shoot, Texas, and other such holes of superstition, ignorance and is to be condemned in more civilised places.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wandering through Current Events

Surreality ascendant

I know I tend to go on and on about Surreality replacing Reality of a more objective kind.
I believe that it is one of the most important and even Profound threats that We, as a still sort of Free Civilisation, face....and it still goes all but unrecognised and un-acknowledged. Lakoff, Berlett, Alterman and a few others also hammer away at this particular nail, but they remain, apparently, quite esoteric in regards to what passes as mainstream Liberal Discourse...and it is totally ignored on the Right.
Have we no Liberal-ish billionaires?
How are we then to compete?
Or to be heard, at all?
We should have never allowed so called “Democrats” to get away with enabling the Telecommunications Act during Clinton's time, like Origen castrating himself on the temple steps.
We handed Big Money our own megaphone, and ensured that we would never be able to stop them from invading the Mind of America.
The Results?
What Rachel says, up there, is yet further proof that Facts do not matter to a rather large portion of America...that Ideology and mythology matter much more...and that, finally, the Mindfuck is complete.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Thus: “Shut down the ACA, cut off nutrition programs, eliminate social welfare programs, and INCREASE our massively bloated military budget. Is there ANYTHING the GOP wants that won't result in death and suffering? The GOP is a death cult.” by Captain Frogbert on Kos( Indeed. A Brand New World ™ is busy being birthed, Right there, all around us, within and without us. We are surrounded, enveloped, as well as penetrated, by this Fog-- This dark mist of sewer gas and brimstone... “The Dark Side clouds Everything!”, said Master Yoda-- Make no mistake, this is 90% the doings of the GOP(tea), and the Sith in the shadows behind them...and the remainder is the fault of whatever percentage of Dems that have pawned their spines;such sad creatures enabled this situation: The Appearance, at least, of Government by Shenanigan. The Puppet Show is ever more shabby and sordid, frayed cotton brains, and faded tinsel...but it doesn't matter. The Cryptocracy crawls on. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
“Wars are being sold as effectively the same as game consoles and cell phones.  I'll go even farther and add the the marketing is even more nefarious because it's presented by what masquerades as news media.  We have accumulated defenses with regards to advertisements and subtle product placements, but apparently are unwilling to recognize marketing via a combination of media spin and fear.
by JohnnySacks on Daily Kos:(

Occupy Madison Avenue, along with Wall and K.
...and whatever Universities and Fellowships produce Mass Psychologists and Social Engineers.
And the frelling Media.
Occupy Every damned thing.

I fear that it's too late...that the damage is done...that the Mind of my country is overthrown.
I fear that we must now go through the burning darkness, rather than around.

(Republicans cause earthquakes.)
(Yer damned Fracking right, they do...)
Light still gets in through the cracks....
I was approached at a wedding reception by someone my Wife identified as a “hard core Republican”.
He sidled up to me, shook my hand, and said, “ I enjoy your articles in the paper...very thought-provoking...thank you.”
This was in reference to my last letter to the editor(the majority of folks who approach me thus call these “articles”, which I find very interesting and endearing):(
I thanked him...said,”well, somebody's gotta stir the pot...”

I have no idea what variety or vintage of GOP this fellow is....Reaganite?
A Goldwater Republican?
That he appeared Thoughtful sort of leans away from the usual Teasterical Neo-Birchean Back-To-The-Cave crowd.
There is a thin reed of Hope, there-- that thoughtful and circumspect Republicans still exist...
That there are folks on the Right who worry about the hysterical, often violent turn that their politics has taken...
That they are not entirely monolithic in their craziness and will to destruction.
This is on the ground evidence of the splits we see in national media that hint at fault lines and fractures within the American Right. Perhaps the more rational parts of that lot can put the “Rough Beast” of Paroxyst Anti-Enlightenment Crusaders, and the Randian, “Libertarian” Anarcho-Capitalists, back into the box.
(Hope...the Greeks reckoned it the most dangerous of worldly ills)

Meanwhile, Hillary is the apparent nominee...the litany sez that we can skip the whole messy democracy stuff, and just get behind the Queen.
While I have always found Her Highness very interesting...I'd like to drink beer around a campfire with her...I have serious misgivings about her.
Too friendly with Wall Street and with Third Way Triangulators.
Primaries are for forcing such issues into the light.
I'm for a Bernie/Liz Ticket...with Grayson as Secretary of the Treasury...and Willie Nelson as Drug Czar.
Hillary certainly has a Spine...and Big Brass Balls...and all that has been sorely lacking on the Left...but she needs some social democratic leavening, Moyers and Hightower and the like, to gain my support.