Thursday, September 4, 2014

On ISIS/ISIL


Just a few random thoughts...
3 articles:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-wahhabism-saudi-arabia_b_5717157.html?utm_hp_ref=world
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-aim-saudi-arabia_b_5748744.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-engelhardt/how-america-made-isis_b_5751876.html

These horrible beheadings...and crucifixions!...are a dead shrimp on a treble-hook, dangled in front of the Western World...and especially the USA.
The media is all over it...the punditry is all over it...the politicians are all over it.
The rhetoric from on high sounds like a weak tea version of the rhetoric of 12 years ago. The rhetoric in the comments all over the place sounds like a Klan Rally.
Really? “Kill them All!”?
“Send in the Air Strikes”?
And if that doesn't work, send in the Troops?
Exterminate!Exterminate!
This has worked so well, in the past.
Perhaps this is exactly what the lunatics want(both theirs, and ours).
Another, very interesting, article:(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-vlahos/what-homers-iliad-tells-u_b_5759312.html)

This lower level rhetoric, in all the comments sections of the web, reminds me of Ferguson, and all of the hate that flooded out of the walls over that...and it reminds me of the Bush Darkness, and the stupid Hubris that led precisely to this very situation..and where a loose presidential lip let slip the word “Crusade”.
...and it reminds me of that Brzxznzski fellow(sorry, Zbig, I am not inclined to look it up, at the moment)...and the US' first foray into Afghanistan, wherein we inadvertently created both the Taliban and the proto Al Quaeda.
I am also reminded of the whole stupid waste of resources that was the “Cold War”...a war whose effects we are still very much feeling.
I think of the fall of the Ottoman Empire(think about this...an “Ottoman” is a footstool), at the end of WW1...Winston Churchill in a room full of maps and some colored markers...perhaps some darts...

And, of course, the thing that comes immediately to my mind when I hear the words “Kill them All”:


Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. ("Kill them. For the Lord knows those that are His own.")
--Arnaud Amalric , Abbot in charge of the Albigensian Crusade.

This was the shoe-horn application of 2 Timothy,”"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." “

We never fucking learn.
Chest thumping Fire Monkeys.
Tear the branch...swing it back and forth.
Then beat what you're afraid of with it.
-

Lil George and the Gang figgered they knew what they were doing...some had read Thucydides, but stopped before the disastrous attack on Syracuse.
Lil George had watched a bunch of Justice League re-runs, while failing to choke on pretzels.
Whatever.
They thought they could just wander into a complex foreign environment and blow some shit up, and all would be well.
What they did,instead, was to destabilise the entire Region.(which I still think was the actual Plan, all along..thereby sequestering all that oil for future use)
...which was already pretty destabilised, but still had several cork-fragments in the neck of the shook up bottle....one was a fella named Saddam.
A Vacuum was created, and Isil is what's filling it.(As Gomer Pyle would say,”Surprise, Surprise...”)
Now, there's very little that “We” can do to Undo our fucking Mess.
Maybe attach some big ass magnets to a few thousand drones, and send them dragging throughout the area, sucking up nails and guns and hub caps.
I don't know.
We'll all probably hafta pay for past mistakes, for a goodly time into the future...until the folks on the ground, there, get tired of the Caliphate's Bullshit, and the Mess wears itself out.
In the meantime, when thoughtful folks tell you that what you are contemplating is utterly foolish, and all but doomed to make things worse, maybe...just maybe...instead of ridiculing them...instead of calling them Traitors or “Terrist Lovers”...maybe you should listen...and revisit your numerous Assumptions.
Sheesh...

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{
Short-Medium Term...Where is Saudi Arabia? Have they no troops?
Where is the rest of the Sunni World?
Aside from breaking it in the first place, is there any good reason why the USA must deal with this, when doing so is 1. what Isil wants, and 2. guaranteed to make things worse?

Long Term...
I would start by beefing up the UN.
Educate all of these Rubes in the USA that the UN isn't gonna invade us, take ar gunz, or turn us all gaycommie.
Shuffle the security council to reflect the reality of a Multipolar World.
Send Kissinger to a nice home, with some robot puppies and no internet access....perhaps a Xanax Drip...
And Internationalise a few important places...starting with Jerusalem.
Take it away from Israel, and the Palestinians...make it a World City, belonging to Humanity.(this was the UN Plan, circa 1949)
Do the same with Baghdad.
New York. Houston, San Francisco.
The point is, Westphalian Nationalism is ever so passe...
The biggest economic entities are Supranational...which causes many problems: inability to tax and regulate, not the least among them.
Why can I not be a Citizen of Earth like Exxon?
Outside the Box, and Outside the Borders, thinking is what is required, here.



(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caedite_eos._Novit_enim_Dominus_qui_sunt_eius)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

45



I am grateful for the disembodied well wishes--received second hand from Mi Esposa,as I am no longer on FB.
I broached the 45 year line at 6:45 PM, CST, today.
However, about 8 years ago, several Doctors told me, solemnly, that my skeleton was 70 years old (then).
That would make my skeleton a ripe old 78, today.
Taking an average of 45 and 78, one arrives at 61.5 years old...which is more in line with how I feel, right now.
I worked all day in my Library, on the Mighty Tome.
Sitting, just to sit.
I did build a fire for the ribs, and place the full pan of chicken in the oven, but there were no extreme activities, today.
I felt fine.
Then, at 4 pm or so, a fast moving line of storms came racing from the south...unexpected ,even by the Weather Service.
When they had passed to the North, it was like flipping a switch.
Every joint.
Like my Mom's house had fallen on me.
I lay here, now, curled into a distorted “S”, in my nest of pillows, glad to have a wireless keyboard and a bigger monitor....and glad to have the leisure to try to decide if I think that Counselor Deanna Troi is hot...or not.
Film at 11.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Poke the Bear

In Re:
http://www.masoncountynews.com/news/117340/In Re:()
Which is in response to my own LTE:(http://www.masoncountynews.com/news/117232/)
….................................................

Wow.
It seems that I have gained somebody's attention, at least.
1. The $231/month upper cutoff for adult medicaid with a family of four that I cited was accurate, when I did the research, 2-3 years ago. I was led to a page on Texas HHS' site by someone at HHS. I stand by that, although it seems to have moved up to a whopping $298/month, today. Per your link:
http://www.medicaid.gov/AffordableCareAct/Medicaid-Moving-Forward-2014/Downloads/Medicaid-and-CHIP-Eligibility-Levels-Table_HHsize4.pdf

This still means that while your kids may be eligible for Chip or even Medicaid, if your household earns more than $298/month, the Mother and Father are not...they are deemed wealthy enough to take care of themselves.
If the adults are either Pregnant or Disabled, this, of course, changes.
Pregnancy is rather easy to prove to the state government. Disability is not, by design.
My point still stands , and was not addressed in your response.
Namely, there is a giant hole in health coverage, for a family of four, between $200-300/month....and the lowest level of eligibility for the Exchange...which is somewhere around $2400/month...last I looked.
That giant hole contains millions of your fellow Texans.
Do you have an answer?
What is the Republican Plan?
2.10th Amendment. The states are intended to be Laboratories, within the Fence that is the Constitution...a Fence around the Governments, State and Federal....and above the Floor provided by that Constitution, protecting our Rights...like the First Amendment Rights that I take advantage of again, today.
I can find no mention of either “Corporation”, “Insurance” or “Capitalism” in the Constitution, as Amended.
Massachusetts, under Gov. Romney, ran an Experiment...and it seemed to work...and was deemed superior to the terrible non-system extant before.
Why run an experiment, at all, if the results of said experiment are to be ignored?
Romneycare is a market based plan that came right out of the Heritage Foundation's answer to Hillerycare, circa 1992.
When President Obama determined that the Gop and it's Tea Party Wing would erupt into hysterics with even the mention of a Public Option(allowing the People to choose between private and public)...let alone Medicare for All...he and the Democratic Party decided to use the Republican Plan. Ergo, from near the beginning of the “debate”,Obamacare was a Compromise with the GOP. It's Your Plan!
( http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204369404577211161144786448)
Does the GOP have another Plan?
If so, what is it? Maybe the “Bring a Chicken to your Doctor Plan”?
3.Someone, in a nation of millions, falls through the relatively small cracks in the healthcare system there, and you use that as an indictment of the entire system. It is truly sad that your friend in New Zealand fell through those relatively small cracks.
However,I know many folks, right here in Texas, who have fallen through the very large cracks in the Nonsystem that came before...some fell to their deaths.
I fell through our large cracks for nigh on seven years, until I was caught by a tattered thread.
This state of affairs was met with complacency...”well, that's just the way things are.”....and with overwhelming Disbelief and a default Assumption of Fraud.
The all but unregulated health insurance “industry” ran roughshod over large parts of the American People.
Again, your letter didn't contain a remedy for this cruel and unusual situation.
“Tort reform”, so that it's more difficult than ever to seek redress for screwups in surgery? “Health Savings Accounts” for the vast majority of Americans who have little to no ability to save, given almost 40 years of wage stagnation, relative to Inflation? “Shopping” in other states for marginally different but still all but unregulated Insurance that still could not guarantee that it would be there when you needed it, even when you were fully paid up? It's Utopian...disconnected from the real world and the real economy...why not just mandate that no one get sick?
What's the Republican Plan?
4.President Obama modified the implementation, yes..as did G. Bush Jr. , before him in the rollout of the Medicare Drug Thing. That website had “issues”, too. I don't remember calls for Bush's deportation, Impeachment or Hanging for that problematic rollout. Dems did not, to my recollection, stymie every single effort to get the thing up and running...nor did they blanket the country with a thick coat of lies about that program.
It is routine for the Executive Branch to do this.
Changing Law is Messy, to say the least.
It would have been a lot less messy, if the GOP had supported their own Plan, instead of going crazy with the hysterical BS and misinformation...which is another one of my Points that you did not address. It was the Movement to which you belong that did all of that. It is disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

5. Ah... Sen. Everett McKinley Dirksen would be run out of the GOP, today. He was a Moderate in a party that still had even a Liberal Wing.(I possess an LP album of Sen. Dirksen speaking eloquently and at length about Freedom and it's defense) I should have been more clear, and said “Right Wingers opposed every single advancement for non-rich, non-corporate People, since at least the 30's. “.That's a historical Fact.
My bad.

MLK, while purposefully Non Partisan, was a Liberal, by definition.
The “Southern Democrats” included such luminaries as Strom Thurmond...and most switched parties with the “Southern Strategy”.
My issue is , and has always been, with the American Right, no matter what flag they stand near.
6.As far as my Tone, and my Anger, and whether or not I can refrain from preaching to any Tom ,Dick or Jane who wishes to Register to Vote...wow.
For one thing, there is absolutely NO prohibition on Political Speech by a Deputy Voter Registrar(http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/pamphlets/deputy.shtml)
Be that as it may, I resolved when I took the Oath that I would register anyone who approached me, within the rules provided me, and only engage in Political Speech if that Speech was initiated by the other person.

So, despite your insinuations to the contrary, I am holding myself to a Higher Standard than the relevant law requires.
My Tone is mild by comparison to what I, and others , have endured from your fellow “conservatives” over the last 4 decades. The Systematic smear campaign of all things Liberal, since at least 1980, is something that should need no exposition, here. The Violent and Eliminationist Rhetoric is widespread and all too common, and your new found love of “civility” would be charming if not for the reality of the situation, which belies it. Again, your response didn't address, let alone rebut, any of my Points.
I did not mention,however obliquely, Adolph Hitler...nor did I threaten anyone, at all. I presented the Facts, as I have apprehended them, and have been as Rigorously Objective as is Humanly Possible.
My sources in this endeavor included the WSJ, AEI,Heritage, Cato, and a hundred other Non-Liberal outfits. I scrutinized the utterances of everyone from Glenn Beck to our own Mike Conaway. I paid particular attention to the Congressional Research Service, and to Congressional Testimony spanning a century. What sources are currently acceptable to you?
I am well aware that I will likely never convince you three.
I never intended to.
I was speaking to all of the Non-Gop/Tea folks out there,who may need encouragement and even fervor to engage in the choosing of Our Employees, in Austin and D.C..


I stand by my words, whether you like or agree with them, or not.
I am Angry, yes...and I will remain Angry, until My Country behaves in a manner that comports with it's high minded Ideals.
I make no apologies for that Anger.

Ego sum,intrepidus,







Thursday, August 7, 2014

Frustrated



Frustrated Artist?
Never thought of myself thataway...
Coming along on my little Shop, now there's just running power to it, and mounting the big red fan, and repairing the old part of the roof.
So now I'm attempting to clean all of the tools, organise, and fix all of the damned power tools(bench sanders, and the like)...either clean out the mud daubers from the windings, or replace a switch or a motor.
Of course, I'll need supplies, at some point...nuts and bolts and things...sand paper.
That will all hafta wait till I can pay off the hardware store.
I still have yet to finish getting the old small forge in order...mounting the fan, and greasing the ancient geared blower.
There's two very old pieces of a tractor of some sort that I have had my eye on for something.
I reckon they would make fine Limbs for the first wind harps...Need to ask my wood guy to look out for hollow logs for me.
I also have no idea, at all, where one might procure a bunch of piano strings...new or used will do for now.
I'm quite anxious to get started, but the weather, and my responsibilities, not to even mention my body, won't let me. First thing in the morning, when it's cool, and I'm fresh, is the only way, in high summer...but my youngest saw fit to catch the first Pathogen of the school year, at the Lutheran's Vacation Bible School: Further evidence of the absolute necessity of Paid Family Leave.

Eventually, if there's ever any money, I'd like to get one of those little crackle box welders, and a proper oxy/acetylene rig.
New drill bits for the metal side would be cool as hell , too.
This winter, me and the boys will construct the large forge...gotta find an exhaust manifold from a tractor, first.
This will hopefully be for swords.
That's why I got into this, in the first place....and I needed something to do.
Paints and Stains, new saw blades,a pair of loose over-alls(yeehaw),
….........
Next morning:
Walked into the shop, and thought I saw a large crack forming in the big tree stump that the big red vise is mounted to....but nope...it's a damned rattlesnake...about a foot long, squirming his way on top of the stump and into the body of the vise, itself. The Magic Cripple flies back to the Library, and grabs the .22...loaded with rat-shot.
I get around into the old part of the Shop, and shoot...I see the middle of the snake turn all red and meaty...but just then..a hundred wasp-like creatures explode from the ceiling, six inches above my head.
Magic Cripple, again...and it's back to the Library to remember where I put the box of rat-shot...and back again, to very carefully look for dead snake.
But he's gone...could be anywhere...weeds, under the wall and into the metal pile...under the cabinets in the Old Part.
Shit.
I just scattered mothballs all over the place a few days ago.
The fact that Mr Snake was attempting to get himself lodged into such a tiny space means that every motor housing, and every coffee can of nails could contain a serpent.
My absence from this place for almost 5 years means that the snakes..and wasps and coons and scorpions and spiders and rats...have all gotten used to having the run of the place.
It will take time...and a Winter's worth of work...to undo that absence.
Meantime, I'll put in a Goose Pool, and begin the arduous task of convincing that crazy lot that it's Kosher to come over here from Mom's front yard. Geese abhor snakes, and do not suffer them to live...same with Guinea Fowl. But they'll stare at an open gate for a month, before venturing through it.

To, Leticia


To, Leticia Van de Putte ,
(I'm still a little unclear as to how to pronounce your last name.)

(in re:http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/15535/beer-and-economics-leticia-van-de-putte-announces-new-economic-policy-plan-at-st-arnolds-brewery)

Ma'am,

First , let me assure you that you and Ms. Davis already have my Vote.
I'll never vote Republican, even though most of our local elections are decided in the Republican Primary(which sticks in my craw.).

The local economy is something I think about, a lot.
I have some suggestions:
1. We should include Definitions of such words and phrases as “small business”, and “Entrepreneurial-ism”. Forty years of Right Wing Mindfuck* has perverted the Language...especially in regards to Economics, and Government and all things “We, the People”. When Raytheon is considered a “small business” and when AMD is considered a “small farmer”, something is askew in our definions.
In my on-line wrangling with the Right**, I long ago learned the hard lesson, that, especially when Econ. Is the topic, you must Define Everything....or Create New, Descriptive,Terminology, to replace the Poisoned Old.
Both of these avenues are quite tedious, and often overwhelming...but I've had much better luck when I employ them.

2. Local Local Local.
Decentralize, Democratize, People Size,”Small is Beautiful”.
Our current paradigm is a strange combination of “Capitalism”, , Manorialism, and Hydraulic Despotism, which is perfectly content in the fog of meaningless rhetoric and confusion.
Under the reign of “Free Market” Fundies, we have witnessed the decline of what freedom we had in the working side of life.
Barriers to Entry;
In the form of Tax Codes, Regulations and “Industry Standards”( and other euphemisms)....We have fenced ourselves out of making money.
Out here in Mason County, we have a lot of Poor People....even our “Rich Folks” are Poor, compared to Houston, etc.
And yet, we Import almost everything we need and want from outside the county.
I use the grito, “Toilet Paper as a Cottage Industry”.
There are a million things we could do, policy wise, to undo the eternal drive for Bigness.
Economies of Scale, Vertical Integration...all those sorts of thing...have, perhaps, gone beyond their usefulness. Monolithic Business Models had their uses, but at some point, the Cost Benefit Analysis of such Fictions starts leaning more heavily on the Cost-Side.
I think we've reached that point.
Sure, some things are probably easier to do, and more efficiently, by these means...but even those should be reined in,lest they get unmanageable and unaccountable.(we have the results of the 40 year experiment, all around us)
(I can go on for days on this subject. Call me anytime.)

3. We should probably figure out how to stress the fact that “Free Markets” only exist by virtue of Government, and that a free-for-all is anathema to Liberty, and to Civilisation itself. Similarly,I'm with Oliver Wendell Holmes,(paraphrasing):”Taxes are the Fee I pay for Civilisation”. That's a message that unambiguously counters the whole “Taxes=Theft” nonsense that the Thieves and Bandits have convinced us of.

4. We lose something like 40% of the electricity generated in Transmission.
It's just radiated into the air. This alone would indicate that the current model of Hydraulic Despotism should be scrutinized. A few giant powerplants,dams and such, run by giant Corps(e) and “Quasi-Governmental Entities”(LCRA), plugged into an aging and overworked Grid made of Wires, is hardly the most efficient or robust way to do things.
Again, Decentralize.
Since we'll hafta re-build the grid at some point, anyway...why not re-build it smarter? Build it like the Internet/Web...a million “Nodes”, a million little Powerplants. A falling tree or ice storm will never again take out whole regions.
When folks do talk about this, it's usually in regards to Solar. Wind should not be forgotten...and I mean the small to medium size windmills. Few people, out here at least,want one of those giant windmills in their neighborhood. They understand that any electricity generated thus, will likely benefit folks in the city. The necessary powerlines are ugly, too.
But I find a row of little windmills appealing. Make the rules for Grid-Tie-Ins lean towards the small. The very large will be fine, I assure you.
A concurrent investment in appliances and such that take 24-48 volts, rather than just 110/220, would be a job incubator, as well.
We shouldn't continue to neglect the potential of Methane...every living thing is a potential source of Energy. Landfills, Sewer Systems, Septic Tanks, Compost Piles, Feedlots...all emit Methane...which is just the non-fossilized version of “Natural Gas”. We all produce it, every day.
But, again, small is beautiful. Currently, it's rather easy to get a million dollar digester...given the funds...but all but impossible to purchase a small or medium size model. Wouldn't want Exxon to have to compete with an almost free and abundant resource.

5. Need I point out that the Rich and their Corps(e) and Hedgefunds and whatnot....and every other business in Texas... enjoy the protection of their own Unions?
There's one in every County...it's called the Chamber of Commerce.
There are many others, of like ilk...the numerous business roundtables, and Associations...all of these are Unions for the Owners.
The National Restaurant Association actually teaches it's members how to screw their employees, minimize taxation, bust what regular unions remain, and get around the various regs... they also lobby government.
And yet the Employees of those Member Cafes and Greasy Spoons are all but forbidden such collectivization.
To my knowledge, no-one else has taken this tack, that if businessmen can get together to work collectively for common ends, then so should their employees...or any other group.
It's only fair.
It ain't “socialism”, it's cooperation.
6. Drilling down on #2, as it pertains to Agriculture and the Food we eat...
Way out here, we can either drive 100 miles round trip to HEB, or settle for substandard, overpriced near-compost for our fruits and vegetables.
We can do the same for meat, driving past 10,000 sheep to purchase high dollar mutton from New Zealand.
But even at HEB, the produce and meat comes from far away...often overseas. There's more than a thousand cattle that comes through Mason's stock yards, every week...and I am free to purchase a steer..but then what?
The only butcher who is allowed to handle such a job is 40 miles away, and exorbitantly priced.
Federal and State Rules forbid small abattoirs and slaughter facilities.
“For safety”....but the big meat packers are hardly bastions of responsibility, when it comes to food safety...neither are the large growers and fruit and vegetable combines and wholesalers.***
And besides...with inevitably rising fuel costs, the 3000 mile tomato, or the lamb-chop from Australia should be in the process of being replaced.
Again...all these Poor People, nothing to do but work at Dairy Queen...so many surplus parts.
But I am forbidden from selling an Egg, anywhere but from my front door. If I wish to sell to the grocer, legally, I need millions of dollars in “liability insurance” and those good old economies of scale.
Otherwise, the local grocer will not purchase my eggs...or my fruit...or anything else....no matter that I produce a superior product.
The whole thing is designed to exclude the Small...and that should change.
7. Perry and the Gang have made a whole bunch of Taxpayer Money available, at low, low cost, to already rich men, and the Fictions they hide behind.
It would be swell to see similar efforts to provide Capital and Exemptions to the other end of the economic ladder, instead of the usual bitching and insults about “lazy poor people” and what passes for “welfare”. Here, again, there is abundant proof that, per Adam Smith, a more widespread distribution of the Means of Production is much better...for everyone...than Concentration of same into as few hands as possible. That radio preacher you're running against should not be let off the hook when he poo-poohs reality in service of his utopian fantasy.

And that, my friend, is what it all boils down to...Mythology vs. Objective Reality.
The latter is firmly on our side...they have nothing at all, save hot air and hollering, strangled 'facts' and charts held upside-down.




I'll stop there, but know you that I could go on and on. There's much to talk about, but we keep letting the greedheads and their vicious pets drive the conversation...and they always ask the wrong questions. It is their Goddess-given Right to believe that the Earth is Flat...but we are not obliged to let them teach Geography.
I understand that we are at a disadvantage, but I'm past tired of being all but unrepresented, and poor , and unable to do anything about it.
Keep kicking ass, please.

“I'm with you in Rockland”****,

Josef
Mason, Texas

amfortasthehippie.blogspot.com
amfortasthehippie@gmail.com










*I use this word after a lot of thinking on the matter. The Ontological Crisis we are currently mired in, didn't just happen, after all...
** I spent a number of years studying the American Right..reading all of their foundational texts, and lurking in their Fora.
Their Dark Magicians have done a masterful job of making great swaths of the American People believe in all manner of insane and dangerous things.
*** I have been in and around all aspects of food production and preparation...from soil to plate...for most of my life.
**** from Alan Ginsberg's 'Howl'.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Citizen Joe

It jess never ends...





From Citizen Joe

to whomever,
the current project you have ongoing on the north side of Mason, Texas, is...charitably...a clusterfuck.
The crew is, apparently, attempting to pave the entire stretch at once, both sides, and have effectively bisected our neighborhood. there's nowhere to go to avoid them.
A detour would have been nice. There's equipment scattered everywhere, blocking egress, and it just could have been done in a more professional and conscientious manner.
The paving, itself, looks nice enough...but I would rather have kept the old road, and been able to get to and from town on it, than to run the gauntlet, like this.
It's spelled,"D.E.T.O.U.R.".
Thanks.
Ramming Paving Headquarters
9020 N. Capital of TX HWY, Bldg II, Ste. 250
Austin, TX 78759

.................
The bossman...who couldn't have been more than 25...told me that he had,"Flaggers at the appropriate points"...lol.
I said I beg to differ.
"How about a Detour...so we know how to stay out of your way?"
Him:"Well...it's a moving operation..."
me:" on this road..."
"Yup".
"But that street over there, not so much?"
"Well...ummm."
Me:" Why not get some spraypaint and some cardboard, and make a sign or 3, and direct all of us'ns over there, and around you?....and maybe don't try and pave the whole damned highway in one day, all at once?"
Him:"We placed Flaggers at the appropriate points..."

Sigh.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sadism, as a Political Strategy

(a LTE)
(some people should hire a Dominatrix, already...and leave the rest of us alone)

When Obamacare was being debated, I went on one of my Research Frenzies.
I read everything.
Delved into Romneycare, the Healthcare Systems of Canada, Britain and France, Hillarycare, the Heritage Plan(circa:1989-91), whence both Romneycare and Obamacare spring...as well as the long and sordid history of Healthcare in America....
I went and read the actual Law...the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
What's interesting about all of this, is how ignorant we are, as a Nation, regarding this subject.
I quickly learned that probably 95% of the folks who attempted to argue with me about this subject, had NOT done any research, at all.
Further, every single Republican Politician, Pundit and Screamer seemed to share that lack of curiosity and intellectual laziness.
What I found, in my Research, was that while Obamacare was certainly not perfect, it was by far Superior to what came before. Market Based(it is, after all, a Republican Plan), almost Universal, and much more Fair and Inexpensive than the Cruel and Exorbitantly priced Non-System that it replaced.
There was literally no argument to be made, rationally, against it...save to argue for Single Payer/Medicare For All, like in more Civilised places.
I was not surprised to see the GOP/Tea gear up to oppose it.
Those people had opposed every single advancement for non-rich, non-corporate People, since at least the 30's.
But this round of opposition to a People Centered Government System soon went right over the top, into absurdity. Much of the rhetoric employed was copied and pasted from previous attempts to maintain the Status Quo: the fight over Social Security and other New Deal Era legislation, the wild eyed scaremongering over Medicare, Medicaid, and all the rest.
Some of the talking Points that fluttered down from the Mothership were almost verbatum to those of 40-100 years ago.
But now, they brought out the really big guns.
The John Birch Society, Committee on the Present Danger, even Joe McCarthy was dug up and reanimated...Commies! Death Panels! “The MOST DANGEROUS PIECE OF LEGISLATION EVER PUT FORWARD!!!!!!!!!”....Obama was a “Dictator,Muslim Communist Fascist from Kenya!!!!”....”Run Away!!!!”
Of course, if anyone hollering thus had bothered to actually READ the thing, all of this hysterical nonsense would have been seen to be just and only that....Hysterical Nonsense.
Much to my surprise, a large portion of My Fellow Americans swallowed this whole.
I guess it shouldn't have surprised me...folks are pretty busy...and the Message was everywhere:”ObamaCare is Destroying the Country!!!”
In Texas, even many Democrats were confused.
So much misinformation and outright LIES were spread so thickly, that many folks to this day, believe that “We don't have Obamacare in Texas,”..even State Congressional Staffers...who should know better.(Pat, I'm looking at you.)
But the Implementation of the Law moved forward.
By now, the whole thing is in place and functioning...mostly.
You see, in places like Texas, the State Government saw fit to leave undone a big chunk of the Law. Texas took the opportunity provided by the Supreme Court to Fail to Expand Medicaid.
This means that those whose incomes fall between the very low Medicaid Threshhold($231/month, for a Family of four), and the lowest level of income eligible for Subsidies on the Exchange(which Texas also failed to do, so it's Federally Run), are simply out of luck.
There's still No Healthcare in Texas, for these People.

All over the country, Millions of People are benefiting from the Law...Millions of folks in Texas are benefiting.
But because of the Cruelty and Malice of Texas Republicans, Millions more People are not...I say Cruelty and Malice, because there's no other explanation.
All...and I mean ALL ...of the dire warnings about this Law have turned out to be nothing at all.
The economy hasn't crashed, jobs haven't withered away, Millions of folks can go to the Doctor, often for the first time in their lives, without going Bankrupt(....seems I remember the GOP changing those rules, too...making it harder for People who got mown down by GOP Economic Fantasies to File for Bankruptcy...I think I see a pattern...)
In fact, the biggest problem with Obamacare is the GOP's Failure to Implement it, In places where they are in charge.
If you live in Texas, and still cannot get access to Affordable Healthcare...blame the GOPtea.
It's their doing.
Now, the GOPtea activists and rabble rousers, having failed to destroy the Law by other means, are out there seeking Activist Judges, in the height of Irony, who will rule their way in numerous Lawsuits. In one of these, the 2 Republican Judges on a 3 Judge panel, found one sentence in the 2ooo page Law that was insufficiently clear.
How much Taxpayer Money will be spent defending this Law from what amount to Frivolous Lawsuits?(another couple of ironies!)
Ted Cruz, Cornyn and our own Conaway are still singing the same song...fearmongering hysterics...cruel, malignant lies.
Perhaps they have nothing else to run on...perhaps their own ideas have been so battered by Reality these past 40 years that they are, themselves, Bankrupt.
I'm sure that if they had an Alternative, they would have trotted it out, by now.
All I can find in the way of such an Alternative, is a single page, put out by the GOP a couple of years ago...a single page of platitudes and nice sounding rhetoric.
They have nothing.
Nothing, that is, but hatred and cruelty, and a whole wall of Lies and Obfuscation, that is crumbling away, almost daily....as the Law actually takes hold.
What it boils down to, is that if you live in Texas, and don't yet have access to affordable Healthcare...the Texas GOP wants it to stay that way.
If you can't afford to go to the Doctor, they want you to wait until you're really sick, and go to the Emergency Room. ER's are forbidden from turning you away if you have no money.
They'll just sue you, later...and if you still can't pay, the Civil Court will try mightily to put a lien on you....and in the meantime, the Taxpayers of Texas, pick up the slack. That slack is much more than it need be...or would be, had the GOP just went ahead with their own Plan(Obamacare).
Turns out those Death Panels we heard so much about really exist...only they're not in Obamacare...they're in the Texas Legislature, and in Republican Offices, across the State.
The Texas GOP/tea wants you to remain without access to Healthcare.
They want you to continue to go broke, if you get really sick.
Bake Sales are the answer, they say!
And yet, we'll likely see a Greg Abbott and a Dan Patrick and a whole host of other cruel and malicious Liars keep their stranglehold on Texas' Government...and continue this travesty.
We'll see this, because too many of You will fail to get out and Vote.
Too many of You still think that Politics is Boring, and that it has nothing to do with you.
I hope that I have convinced you otherwise.
Your Vote does Matter.

Ab Irato,
Amfortas
Mason, Texas.
(I am, by the way, a Deputy Voter Registrar...I would be happy to help you get Registered to Vote)










Saturday, July 26, 2014

Patriots




During the Bush Darkness, after attempting unsuccessfully to disprove numerous horror stories regarding just what Lil George and the Gang were up to, foreign and domestic...I purchased and flew a “Navy Jack”...
The flag company was out of “Gadsden Flags”...perhaps not expecting any purchase orders for such paraphernalia during such a rabidly Right Wing administration.
The Navy Jack has red and white horizontal stripes, and a snake, and the words, “Don't Tread on Me”.
As time wore on, and more reports came in of true lawlessness by the most powerful men in the country, I flew the American Flag upside down, as well.
I painted on the tailgate of my Ugly Truck, “IMPEACH”.
Of course, no one engaged with me on these or any other statements or actions. I never threatened anyone.
And, of course, I never once even entertained the idea of...let alone actively prepared for...any kind of “revolution” or “uprising”. I never called for anyone's death and dismemberment.
What I did call for, openly, was the impeachment, and arrest and prosecution...in the International Court, if necessary...of everyone from Dick and George on down the line to those sadistic lunatics in Abu Graib.
Once, this stance...and my outspokenness...nearly got me strangled by a local Righty...a member of the American Legion...
I was called a “Traitor” and a “Terrorist Lover”...a “Communist” and a “Muslim”.
To be clear, as is my usual habit I tried mightily to prove all of the crazy things I was reading about the Fedgov wrong.
I tried to DISPROVE them, to myself.
I found that much of the scary stuff was simply unproveable, either way...too much Secrecy.
Much of it, however, was right there in the Federal Register...on Thomas.Gov...on the Whitehouse website...on CSPAN.
From appropriations for actual “Detention” Camps(!), to scary whispers regarding widespread spying....even infiltration of certain web-fora, and of the Quakers.
The spying and infiltration of lefty groups, and of doomer websites(with strong moderators and clear rules about violent talk) has been confirmed, repeatedly...not least by the revelations of Ed. Snowdon.
The Camp appropriations were in the Congressional Record.
I felt strongly that My Country was doing Great Evil in the world...and that it was my Responsibility to speak up....and to do nothing to support such Evil.
During this same period...starting in 2004...our neighbor(rest in hell), began stalking us...sneaking around our place at night...killing cats...cutting rope swings...actually bugging my house, using our own baby monitors...all manner of crazy, inexplicable things.
The local law did nothing...save tell us that we were crazy...and threaten to arrest me for firing my gun at midnight into the brush along the fencerow...out of utter frustration at not being able to catch that little shit.
This guerrilla terrorism went on for years...until the neighbor was locked up in a nuthouse for “early onset alzheimer's”. He died earlier this month.
When he was sent away,all of the crazy activity... still ongoing, but at a much lower level...stopped.
Like a valve had been closed on the crazy well.
Also during this same time, I engaged in a years long Field Study of the Right Wing...reading everything and lurking in their various web-fora(which, by the way, seemed to have no rules limiting violent threats against Liberals, or anyone else)
At the same time, I paid close attention to our local yokels...the rhetoric overheard in the greasy spoon and the feedstore...letters to the editor, often in hateful and threatening response to my own LTE's.
It was a scary time to be a Liberal Leaning Libertarian...a Hippie Peacenik...and a Weirdo.
I am all of these things...but I also love My Country....and truly desire it to be that proverbial “Shining City on a Hill”.
But it was “How dare you criticize Our President during a time of war?!!??”
“Love it or Leave It”.
And “My Country, right or wrong”.

How different things looked in 2008...when it became clear that a Black Man with a funny name would be the Democratic nominee, and likely the next President.
Fear of the Camps...fear of the Fedgov “coming to get our guns”...of them “Rounding Up” Tea People...of the Curtailing of Civil Liberties and Martial Law...all things that were at least threatened.....by the previous bunch...
Soon, Obama was hung in effigy...there were calls for his Impeachment and Hanging, even before he had taken office...
Rabid allegations of election fraud...with absolutely no proof...again, unlike the Previous Bunch.
These crazy ass people convinced themselves that suddenly the President was coming after them, lawless and brazen in his attempt to kill the Constitution...all the things that they had so vocally and violently SUPPORTED under Lil George.
Seems it's perfectly fine if the intended inmates of those Camps are “terrists”, or “Terrist Sympathizers”.
It should be noted that the same thing happened when Clinton came into Office...just to a much lesser degree. Back then, the most rabid and frothing anti-government nutters were still way out on the fringe of Republican politics.
They are not on the fringe, any more.
I just read the SPLC's newest report...linked below...on the newest iteration of this.
While Potok is sometimes somewhat breathless in his own rhetoric...I find that I cannot prove any of his (well documented) assertions wrong.
…............................
I watched the terrible display of hateful ignorance at the Bundy Ranch, with recognition.
I've been in Texas since I was 6 months old...mostly East Texas...and am too familiar with those types of folks.
Where I grew up, the Klan was everywhere, and all but invisible. There were anti-government nutters playing soldier in the woods. There were racist and anti-gov extremists, and even proud theocrats, in numerous elected offices, on police forces and in positions of economic power. Corruption, rampant... and Blatant Persecution of anyone who didn't fit their narrow definition of “Real American”.
In response, and as best as I was able, I grew a hard shell,and learned to find the courage...at least most of the time...to stand up for what I thought was right.
I learned about the Bill of Rights...about Due Process...about Habeus...and all the rest...the history of such ideas and Ideals...as well as their abrogation, over long years. This was before the internet.
But you can't fight the Cops...nor the entrenched Old Boy's Club...and win, without help.
I had no help...and had learned to drink in order to self medicate for what was likely PTSD.This is all documented elsewhere.
My reason for the brief rehashing is to point out that I am not newly fallen from the turnip truck...I have been watching and studying these folks, at least tacitly, for most of my life.
To be sure, I am still a Libertarian...I believe wholeheartedly that the Federal Government, as well as State and Local Government, for the most part, have overstepped their bounds.
Not just the spying and the drug war, but...as I've also said elsewhere, the legal and regulatory assault on the small and the different, and the coddling of wealthy and the crazy: so long as they were white, and so long as their crazy fit into the approved mold.
But never in a million years would I harbor a fantasy of overthrowing the government...any government... by force.
Not only do I deem such fantasy futile, in the extreme...I reckon that that's what Elections are for.
That's what Freedom of Speech is for.
That's what Speaking Truth to Power is for.
I want My Country to Be Better...to Resist Evil...to be of by and for the People.
I want it to continue the Enlightenment Project...and to put an end to the Classification of every damned thing...so that We, the People, can better keep an eye on our employees' doings.
...and for my trouble, I am called a “Traitor”.
Yet, the lunatics in Tricorns, carrying guns to DC to “Arrest the President”...calling, repeatedly and openly, for the violent overthrow of government...those with the bumperstickers that say things like “save America, shoot a liberal”...these are to be afforded every consideration...because they are the “Patriots”.
When Occupy Wall Street got going, and all of those thousands of young folks camped out in Zuccotti Park...preaching and Practicing Non-Violence...out came the fire hose, the taser and the tear gas....and the Right said that it was Good and Just...Occupy, in challenging the Aristocracy, was somehow “Unamerican”....and deserved what they got.
Where were the Federal Agents when the Tea People came to Washington with assault rifles, preaching and practicing violence?
Where were the Cops?
In my online wandering, I was often confronted with the all too common Eliminationist Rhetoric... imagery of the Noose, and the Gun...and the ignorant fearmongering.
I made it my business to confront these people...to call them out...and to demand an explanation.
In often Violent verbiage, I was told that ...no...it is the Left...the Liberal...who is the source of Violence. I asked for examples....the Weather Underground,”Union Thugs”, Pol Pot, the KKK(from back when Democrats in the South were Racist Assholes), Joe Stalin....and after Jonah Goldberg's little book, Adolf Hitler. After all, didn't the NAZI's have “Socialism” in their name?
I tried patiently to explain that Dictators, and Authoritarian Strongmen...Death Squads...that all of these things were inimical to Liberalism.
I provided quotes from the Founders, and from 200+ years of Liberal Thought.
I walked them through the Philosophy behind Liberalism.
And, when none of that worked, I pointed to the numerous incidents of Violence and Hate Speech perpetrated by the Right...and I didn't have to go back very far.
After being inundated with my wall of evidence and logic, my interlocutors invariably resorted to Threats...to me, and my family, and more nebulously, to all Libtards and Commies.
“Open Season.”

In each of these many exchanges, my opponents made attempts at the beginning to seem accepting of our difference of opinion. But as the evidence mounted, and they found themselves outmatched, these niceties fell away.
They were the only Real Americans...I, along with the President, were interlopers and imposters....usurping their Rights, “Imposing” our Will upon their Children.
Rushbo said so.
As hard as it has been, sometimes, I have always strove to defend the Rights of people like this to believe whatever nonsense they want to.
It is their Right....until their Exercise of their Rights interferes with anyone else's.
This would seem to put me, and other thoughtful Liberals, at a distinct disadvantage.
What I fear the most...above all other things...is a new Civil War...a war of All against All...which is exactly where I see the Intransigence of the Right heading.
They have said as much...repeatedly.
Their subconscious sees their loss of Majority, their loss of Privilege over others whom they deem “Unworthy”...they see a Changing World...where they are not on top, by virtue of their heritage, or the color of their skin, or their Religion...and this terrifies them.
I really do understand.
But if one runs the trendlines out to their end...if one follows the trail of “logic” of the various beliefs and assertions and proposals of these folks, ...If one runs a thought experiment, wherein they are given everything they say they want...what one ends up with is a Theocratic Fascism,full of violence and rapine.
This is well worth fighting against.

I fear that one day, Liberals...indeed, all Free Thinking People who don't fit the Narrow and ill-defined definition of “Real American”...I fear that we will wake up and find that the USA is no more...and that in it's place will be
Hell on Earth, created expressly in Jesus' Name.
At some point, to curtail that end, it would behove us to begin to learn to protect ourselves.
As much as I hate the very idea, I fear that we must begin to go about armed...and prepared to fight.
Because I don't see this threat diminishing.
Our Government...especially in Texas...has shown repeatedly that they are at least tacitly on the side of the Crazies...and are more than willing to bring arms to bear against anyone but the Right Wing.
That is not the world that I want...but the world that they will give us, if we continue to hide and to avoid confrontation, is much much worse.
Even if the Radical Right fails...or never even actually makes the attempt...they are handing the worst parts of Our Government all of the reason that they need to continue to fence us all in...to curtail the Rights of All of Us.
The foolishly named “Homeland Security”, while ostensibly established to “Protect Us from terrorists”, increasingly looks more like it is intended to protect the powerful from Us, the American People.
The Right has long supported the very agencies and arms of the various governments who most threaten Our Freedoms...and now, they are actively helping those agencies, by raising arms against the United Nations, and the Illuminatii...by being so terrified of someone taking their guns...of believing that Liberals and Commies and Terrists are under every bed, and out to get them...they hand all the justification that is needed over to the more authoritarian, and downright Ugly parts of Government.
Currently, many, many folks simply fail to vote...and that's bad enough.
Many who do vote fail to vote at every opportunity.
Many more, while they vote, fail to continue to engage in politics, after an election....they fail to speak out against egregious abuses of power, and of privilege, and against all of the nasty ugliness that comes out of the Right's media circus.
These failures do nothing but make the dire predictions I've reluctantly arrived at More Likely. These failures artificially push our legislatures further to the Right. They enable all of this Crazy.
Many vote for the GOP...and even TEA...because of Abortion...or the Gay...or because the Preacher said...or they heard that Liberals are Communists, out for blood and human sacrifice.
I've heard lots of excuses.
Will we look back, one day, and lament...through the razor wire...that it could have been prevented?
That our inaction in Civil Discourse, and in Civil Society in general, let the Darkness come?
And then that our inaction when the Right's guns were brought to bear, let an even deeper Darkness fall?
Like almost everybody else, I have long hoped that this...fever...in our opponents would pass...that they would sober up, as it were.
I still hope for that.
Folks should endeavor to get along, lest we slip into barbarity.
But there are some who look forward to barbarous times, in their secret hearts, if not openly. Some wish for hell quite openly and shamelessly.
The fever appears to be spreading, and the rest of us should be prepared for the worst... if the GOP loses the House...and especially if Hillary gains the Whitehouse.
















(http://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/downloads/publication/war_in_the_west_report.pdf)

Aliyah and Intifada


“it's a carousel...”.

One Sunday morning in July, the residents of the little towns and cities scattered throughout the Texas Hill Country awoke to the sound of tanks, and machine gun fire.
They were marched out of their homes, and then marched South...for miles and miles...until they crossed the Llano River. There, they were told, was the new border....and to not attempt to return.
The Indians were back, after near extermination and relocation to camps in Oklahoma, and elsewhere, a Century and more before.
The Comanches, the Lipan Apache, the Kiowa, Kikapoo, and the remnants of fifty other by now almost unknown and forgotten Tribes.
They had been armed, and supplied and funded and given the go-ahead, by the International Community...including the Governments of the USA and Mexico, (and Israel, of course). Such high minded documents and treaties as the “Balfive Declaration” and the “Psychs-Peecow Accord” were waved around in the kangaroo meetings that the Indians set up with their opponents.
Finally, these People...the Indians...would be allowed to take back their Homeland...which, incidentally, they maintained had been given them by the Great Spirit...as recorded on cliff walls and cave ceilings , throughout the region.
The Former Residents, all of them descendents of Anglo-American and German and Mexican Immigrants, protested this action...to the US, Texan and Mexican Governments. When they found nothing but deaf ears, they took their grievances to the International Community.
More Deaf Ears.
Didn't they know, they were told, that the Indians had every Right to their Historical Homeland, given to them by the Great Spirit?
That the now Former Residents were the descendents of Usurpers, Mass Murderers, and Did Not Belong in the land that they had been living in for better than a hundred years?
They were told to make the best of it. The areas immediately South of the Llano River reluctantly allowed the new refugees to set up camps for themselves...squalid and unsanitary, due to the meager resourcesthey had managed to bring with them in wheelbarrows and those sent in by the UN and the ad hoc groups that formed for the provision of such aid: mostly Church Groups and a few Ethnic Nationalist Groups, who shared the same heritage with the Refugees.
A few years later, some of these Groups managed to re-invade the Southern part of their former territory...and retook a few hundred acres of land, just North of the Llano.
They were almost universally condemned for this re-invasion....but as time wore on, the International Community convinced the Indians that these Refugees should be allowed their few hundred acres of scrubland.
The Indians built a wall around them...and routinely blockaded them...stopping the flow of food and medicine and toilet paper.
The North Bank, of the Llano...as the place came to be called...was a nightmare of poverty and disease. It became one of the most densely populated places on Earth.
But the International Community didn't seem to care.
The North Bankers, in their frustration, haphazardly lobbed mortar rounds into Indian Towns...killing many.
As many of the North Bankers had been seen as a source of cheap labor, a few of them had been allowed back in, to do construction, mow yards, and the like.
Of few of these, at times, would strap bombs to their chests, and blow up people and places in their former homes...and the International Community condemned them for their Barbarity. And the Indians sent in bombers and artillery rounds and bulldozers and cut off the flow of food and water, as punishment for the North Bankers' transgressions...for their hard-headed barbarism.
After long years of this, some in the US lobbied the various governments for a Peace Process...including a Cease Fire between the Indians and the North Bankers.
Surely some peaceful solution could be arrived at, if only the two sides would sit down and talk.
But the Indians were intransigent...a so called “Two State Solution” would undermine their security, and territorial integrity.
The North Bankers were not to be trusted...they had proven themselves to be evil...to not have any regard for Human Life.
At the same time, the Indians sent many of their youth into the territory of the North Bank, in order to re-settle it. They were backed up by the Tribal Army, and bulldozers...the latter mowed down the tar-paper shacks of the North Bankers, and herded them back South of the River.
These actions were seen as acts of war by the North Bankers, and many of their fellow Refugees, South of the River...in the Camps.
These same Resettlement activities were regarded as perfectly Justified...both by the Indians, themselves, and the great majority of people and governments on the outside.
So, it was to be All Out War. A Fight to the Death for this dry and dusty land that both groups, the Indians and the Refugees, claimed as their own.
….......................................

The song remains....



“We are amazed but not amused
By all the things you say that you'll do
Though much concerned but not involved
With decisions that are made by you

But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
'Cause if you really want to hear our views
"You haven't done nothing"! “
_S. Wonder.(2)

Paul Ryan is at it again.
A “New Plan” to tackle Poverty and Inequality in America is the subject of a recent document out of Ryan's House Budget Committee.(1)
There are a few good ideas...the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is about the ONLY thing that Milton Friedman ever advocated that I agree with, is one of the bright spots. Another is the call for “Sentencing Reform”, along with some not very clear language about how we should treat folks who used to be in Prison as if they were actually Human, again.
The rest is just the same old song that Ryan and his bunch have been singing for the last 40 or so years.
“Block Grants” to the States...so that Texas can decide how to deal with their numerous Po' Folks...leaving the bad ol' Fedgov nothing to do but write larger checks.
Having lived in Texas...and been Poor in Texas...I think that it should be objectively clear to everyone that the States can only rarely be Trusted to do the Right Thing, as regards Minorities, and Poor People, the Running of Elections, and the Funding and Execution of Education.
Sometimes, the Fedgov has no choice but to force some States to do the Right Thing.(Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, Brown v. Board, and on and on.)
I'll take another look at Ryan's ideas when Texas acts like it gives a damn about what ALL of it's People think about things.
Currently, Texas has no Initiative and Referendum mechanisms...no provision for Recall of Elected Officials who turn coat after they take office...and a State Government run by, for the most part, angry white men with lots of money.
There is no public provision of healthcare, of mental healthcare or of worker protections to speak of, save those minimum efforts that Texas is forced to do, by the Fedgov.
There's no Ethics Enforcement to speak of, either...merely a few organisations, in a few buildings in Austin, that say the word “Ethics” on the front door.
Texas has no Unions...at least not with any teeth.(Strikes are Illegal, for Teachers, at least.)
There are very few Protections for regular folks that have any history of being enforced, by Texas, on it's own initiative.
The Government of Texas, and it's Big Business Enablers, reckon that the “Market”(world without end), should figure out how much to pay employees...that Minimum Wage is anathema to the “Market”(Holy, Holy)....and that Employees should just shut up, and get back to work...for however many peanuts the Boss(Shall we Kneel?) is willing to turn loose of.
Until that set of rules and regs and the thinking that is behind them can be legitimately Challenged...in Public Debate, and at the Ballot Box...and using Evidence, instead of just louder and louder shouting...such tired old prescriptions as Ryan and the Gang keep trotting out are simply Non-Starters.
That these Class Warrior's continue to pontificate on what a bad idea a minimum wage is, is probably the part of this Document that angers me the most.
What is the alternative to enforcing even a crappy Minimum Wage?
The Big Companies would immediately drop the wages and salaries of their employees down to the least they could get away with.
Smaller Companies would have to follow suit.
No thought would be given to whether or not folks could actually live on these wages...let along if such wages allowed the possibility of movin' on up in the world.
The only consideration that would be entertained would be “how low can we go, before the workers either abandon our employ, or rise up and hang us?”;
Just like so many formerly American companies have done in places like China, Guam and Bangladesh.
Texas, and many other States with similar Operating Systems, would soon be Third World places.

What Ryan and his Ilk always fail to understand, is that Capitalism is NOT a system of Morals.
The Only Morality even contemplated in the numerous Foundational Texts that I have read on the subject, is Individualism...which usually means the Freedom and Individuality of those who can afford to protect it, themselves.
To his credit, Adam Smith did consider the other side of the equation...in a book that is hardly read or remembered....”A Theory of Moral Sentiments”.
It was like Part 2 of his better known, and much cherry-picked Bible of Capitalism, “...Wealth of Nations...”.


But it is a far cry from a Progressive call for the Rights of the not-so-wealthy...and it is in an entirely different universe from “Socialism”.
There is, I admit, a bunch of talk in these tomes regarding the responsibility of the state to “Protect Property”...this is given great weight.
But Employees are hardly talked about, at all...save as “Units”...especially in the 20th Century ruminations and dreamsongs about Capitalism.
If we would only “get government out of the way” and “let the Market Function...”, soon all would be better off, and rivers of milk and honey would spring forth, and there would be no Poverty.
The evidence, however, is in. We've tried this, twice, now. Once, pre FDR...and second, since Reagan...effectively undoing much of the things that FDR did.
The first time around, it took a Depression and a World War, and a whole lot of Civil Unrest to pry the Rich Old Men out of the ears of Public Officials.
This second go-'round, we haven't had the spine to do so.

Ryan talks a lot about, essentially, Boot Straps.
He does this in flowery, obfuscatory language that sounds nice, if one doesn't look too closely...or think too long. It's easier to swallow if one is already rich, and has never relied on Ramen Noodles for dinnertime fare.
This Document, like so many before it, is merely another exercise in Euphemism and Hypocrisy, using one sided references that back up Ryan's beliefs and preconceptions, and totally ignoring anything that disagrees(heresy).
I suggest that Ryan and his Friends go back to the drawing board, and bring the folks from the other side of the aisle out of the broom closet, and to that drawing board , right beside them.
Joining them in the room should be All of the so called “Stakeholders”...not just representatives of Business...but those who have no stakes to hold, having used them for kindling in order to boil their Bootstraps.
When studies and polls and investigations turn up evidence supporting the opposite of what Ryan and the Chamber of Commerce would prefer, they should not be simply defunded and ignored...but included in the discussion, along side the various catechisms of Free Market Orthodoxy.





(1)-
(http://budget.house.gov/uploadedfiles/embargoed_expanding_opportunity_in_america___7232014.pdf)

(2)-(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uQCJ6PzRdA)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Critters



We moved into this rattle-trap pile of sticks in the Barrio almost 6 years ago, due to a bunch of craziness(untreated PTSD, among other things) from my stepdad.
The years-long guerilla assault by our lunatic neighbor had taken it's toll, and my body was busy falling apart, at last, and stepdad's Vietnam buddy was whispering into his ear about how my mom was nuts, there was no prowler, and that I, the goddamn hippie, was indeed the root of all of stepdad's problems.
Having 2 little kids, and being tired of such abuse, we evacuated to this place.
Drunk Uncle would be happy with our old RV, and our rent would be to fix the place up, pay off the back taxes, and keep up with the new.
That winter, the continuing chaos out at mom's was added to by her mom, my grandma, falling ill.
Grandma was still in Magfuckingnolia...some 300 miles away...so my mom went there to help out.
She felt that stepdad couldn't be trusted with care and feeding of chickens...so they came here...and lived in the muddy pit of a room, that would eventually become my Library(the one with the serpent).
I also evacuated my Geese, and the three white ducks that we had inherited from a cousin.
We built a hum-dinger of a chicken house, and fenced the place with 8 foot chicken wire, and segmented into pastures, for rotating the birds.(and keeping them out of other peoples' yards)
I planted a bunch of mammoth sunflowers...for birdseed, as well as for their aleleopathic qualities(most things won't germinate beneath them...walnut and mesquite have the same quality.).
The Birds got to work on this place and the Wild Lot next door(another Uncle's), and away we went with gardening and bird ranching and egg production....giving most of the produce away.
Two summers later, we all went to Galveston...mom rented a house, and my brother and his bunch and us all fished and frolicked at the beach.
My mother in law looked after the birds.
At this time, we had about 50 chicks...happily ensconced with 3-4 broody banty hens, in 3 Hutches I had built for stepdad's abortive rabbit raising fiasco.
Some had been purchased, and the rest were homegrown.
When we returned a week later, I went straight to the back to check on the Birds...and the Hutch doors were open...the Chicks were gone, and there were feathers all over the place.
In the very back of the garden, I found a large Mutt...like a hound/greyhound cross, black and white mottled...with a dead hen in his mouth.
I called for my bow, but by the time I had an arrow nocked, he was gone.
Never did find out who owned that dog...but I saw him many times in the ensuing months...running down the street...crapping in people's yards...but he never came to our place. I kept an arrow nocked and the bow at the ready during this whole period.
Dog Catcher, at the time was one of the incompetent ones...somebody's cousin who needed a job.
A friend and I sat out at the little table by the road(the Cafe, we call it) and watched as that Dog Catcher drove slowly down the street...with no fewer than 4 loose dogs...literally running circles around the dog catcher's truck.
It was very surreal.
I lost all but 12 of those chicks...never found the bodies...and a dozen or so hens and roosters.
Two summers later, and the same damned thing happened. Carnage...3 dogs, caught red mouthed, as it were. But I am not quick enough on my feet to retrieve my bow in time.
Then, this past January...20 degrees...boys are both home from school sick...and 8 am one of my neighbors comes to the door...I thought he wanted eggs...but he said, “there's a pack of dogs in your back lot eating chickens.”
I grabbed the bow, nocked and arrow and proceeded to the back...and there they were.
I got an arrow into one of them...in the foreleg...and they all three took off in different directions.
By this time that neighbor was back in his truck...and he followed these three chicken killing dogs down to the end of the street...to D's house...who maintained a sort of unofficial kennel for unwanted canines...to the chagrin of his closest neighbors and to the kids who rode their bikes past his house.
It was well known that his dogs were always loose. At this time he had around 8.
So I was hot...I grabbed a big plastic flower pot, filled it with a bunch of dead chickens, threw that into the back of my truck and hauled ass to D's house.
He was busy putting the injured dog into his truck for a trip to the vet.
I seethed out of my truck, and put the bucket of dead birds in the back of his, and said”tie them around their necks”...and began to leave.
He screamed at me for shooting his dog(!), and for being a terrible dog-hating monster(!)...I left...and the new dog catcher showed up as I was leaving, as well as the idiot deputy.
A little while later, and she(dog catcher) shows up at my door to take my statement...I gave her the bucket of bird bodies...and she said that the idiot deputy was considering filing charges against me for “discharging a firearm in city limits”...and that D had wanted to file charges for animal cruelty and assault(on his dogs)...but that she had talked them both out of these ill considered actions.
D still has way too many dogs down there...and still has piss-poor fences...his numerous animals still get set loose every night to terrorize the neighborhood, and get into garbage and whatnot...and that one competent dog catcher apparently did her job too well...and was fired.

There's hundreds of cats around here...flea bitten and skinny...into the garbage...
There's a skunk that keeps us all company in winter..and we even had a litter of baby opossums that got into my Library, after I had shot their mother...took a week or more to catch them all and relocate them(they're really pretty cute when they're little)
Yesterday, I'm laying here, in agony due to this weird ass weather(the so called polar vortex in July)...and the scanner comes on.
A 3 year old girl, across town, has been mauled by a “pack of dogs”.
She ends up ok...and the dog catcher, cops, ems, and fire department spend the rest of the evening chasing the last dog...a white pitbull..all over town.
It was like listening to one of those radio serials from the 1930's...This bright white largeish dog eluded them for hours.
In the creek...under a house...through the woods...behind the feedstore...they would corner it, then it would rush them and get away.
At one point during the chase, the report came in that the dog had stopped for a rest and refreshment at D's house.
I laughed aloud.
Then he moved on, and was finally shot with a tranquilizer dart, somewhere in the creek...but had slipped away...an hour later, they found him a half mile from where he had been tranked, under someone's shed.
The poor new dog catcher girl had to crawl under there with the catch-pole and drag that groggy pitbull out.
I have taken all but a few roosters back out to moms...things have calmed way down out there.
There are three banty roosters that are mine, but who would be a problem for the hens at moms...so they stayed.
The other roosters and the 2 hens...I don't know where they came from...they all just wandered over here and moved in, at one time or another...before the January dog incident, my hens were always in an uproar, and about half of them moved into the trees and into my shop...crapping everywhere...and wouldn't return to their house. Too many roosters.
There's no grass here...but lots of trumpet vine, catalpa, chinaberry , mulberry and sunflower...

So Drunk Uncle...the landlord, effectively...is given a little white billy goat.
He's staying with my mother in law...who has no fences.
He sees all the riotous growth over here, and...while we were in Galveston again, last week...drops that little goat off in our back yard.
We get home and find him crapping on the back porch and eating the fig tree.
The unwanted vegetation will continue to go uneaten...which I could have told him, if he had bothered to ask.
(as I am cripple, and thus unable to remove it by hand, I broke down and began applying agent orange(2-4-D) and other weapons of mass destruction...to my shame,lol)

So...
what have I learned from all of this?
1.I still loath dogs...as I have since I was a pizza delivery guy.
2.Folks are pretty damned irresponsible when it come to keeping their canines in check...and just plain assholes when I defend my birds by shooting their dogs on my place.
3. dog catchers need to make more money...and nepotism, and other petty small town political bullshit should have nothing whatever to do with their hiring or firing.
4. the ordinances in this town are stupid...and the most draconian of them are focused on the wrong things. D...he of the numerous loose dogs...has had a thousand dollars or more in fines levied against him, that he refuses to pay...and the city can apparently do nothing at all...not even, it seems, take a few of those dogs away from him.
And 5. I hate living in town.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxRc_dwCctM


God Said



So, the hyperfundies who own Hobby Lobby assert that their imaginary friend told them to fight against the provision of contraception in their employee health plans.
And the Solemn Radicals and Activists sitting on the Scotus, swallowed it whole.
Nullification by way of Hearing Voices.

Fine.

The Goddess Kore came to me in a Vision...just the other day...and She told me that Smoking Marijuana was a Sacrament....and that it is Necessary in order to Know Her.
Go on....prove this assertion wrong.
...oh, and by the way...She also mentioned that when someone(a Heretic?) attempts to place a stone Decalogue on the Courthouse Lawn in Mason...that She would require me to build and place a Stone Copy of the Wiccan Rede...right next to it.
Again...prove it wrong.
Prove that this not a "sincerely held belief".
In an earlier conversation with this particular Goddess, She informed me that any laws, made by men, against going about Buck Nekkid...should be Flaunted and Ignored.
Just sayin'...

Kocks go to skool


(riffing on this:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/16/koch-brothers-education_n_5587577.html)

“Corporatism v. Free-market Capitalism
Deregulation is what caused recession in 80s, Economic problems of today
Rich get richer at the expense of the poor
FDR/New Deal brought us out of the depression
Government wealth transfer programs help the poor
Private industry incapable of doing functions that public sector has always done
Unions protect the employees
People with the same job title should be paid the same amount ...
Minimum wage, "living wage," laws are good for people/society
Capitalist societies provide an environment for greed and materialism to flourish
Socialist countries do just fine, people have great lives there (using this as proof that socialism works”


There's the list of “fallacies” that YE intends to “refute” in their classes. A creature of the Kock brothers,the “Young Entrepreneur” wooden horse is an “alternative curricula” that they intend to place in Public Schools.
Well and good, even though I could argue with each and every point...they sure have the right to try to “help”.
But where's the Zinn Curriculum?...
Or something!...
Who shall present one of the other sides of the tale?
That it's presented in the dichotomy: Corporatism vs. Free Market...is silly.I mean, I'm not “corporatist”, and it ain't ME that owns a giant Corporation”...Ha!

But what do we expect?
I'd warrant, that such belief systems don't belong in Public Schools...unless presented right along side all of the other belief systems.
This amounts to the same thing as imposing a Baptist or Lutheran, or any other Fundamentalist worldview.
I could spend all day picking their schema apart...but my criticism will never darken a Public School's door. I can't give them thousands of dollars...after helping to buy elected officials, in order to defund the Public part of Public Education...thus making these schools desperate for cash.
For most of my life I've heard myths that, variously, the Russians, the Chinese, the CPA, the “Libruls”, Gays, Feminists , Gangsta Rappers,Hair Bands and everybody else...was trying to Indoctrinate our Youth...to Poison the minds of Americans...and make them (communists,etc).
(Does anybody else recall this?)
Yet here are the most Anti_commie, Anti-Liberal,Anti-Democratic, and even Anti-republican(small 'r'), guys in all the land doing the very thing that they have warned about since at least the 1930's.
To be clear, I think it would be great if we could teach something like Entrepreneurial ism, and at least Basic Econ....I'd go further and require at least Intro. Philosophy, and a couple of classes...say 2nd 8th and 12th grades...on Logic and Logical Fallacies.
But all sides of any controversy would have to be included.
Similarly, I reckon that after all the hollering for all these years, we should at least mention in Biology Class, that there's a bunch of folks that have issues with many of the Foundations of Biology.
(Do the Fundies really want a bunch of Science Teachers “teaching” Creationism?lol.)
I think it's not too far fetched to at least acknowledge the “controversy”, regarding Natural Selection, etc.

In relation to the Kocks' Kurrikulae, go on...teach Hayek...but teach Marx, Habermas, and all of the rest, as well.
I'd be thrilled if some random person on the street knew what Georgism is.
But I would never suggest that we, the People, use our Public Schools to teach ONLY Georgism.
That's what's happening in Kansas, and spreading elsewhere, where the ground has been prepared by Fox, and Tea and all the rest.
Too, while all that Freedom sounds nice...how does such an outlook comport with Objective Reality. After all, Kock Industries is hardly a “Small Business”...it ain't the Mom and Pop Cafe, or Bodega....and it shouldn't be lumped in with those truly Small enterprises.
Funny how that distinction is always overlooked by Fundamentalist Free Marketeers.
Too, it seems to gloss over further distinctions, between the experiences of a Real small business and a super large megacorps(e)...like with “Deregulation”...in all such talk(and it seems, in this Kurrikulae), Raytheon, Cargill and Kock are all counted as Little Guys...just trying to make their way in a hard old world...just like Uncle Jimmy's Auto Body Shop...
...and that mean old gummint just keeps on picking on them.
This kind of false-equivalency is necessary for the Very Large, and the Very Rich that hide in them, to continue to undo the gains made in the last 100+ years, to rein in the Very Large...lest they, themselves, become a Threat to Freedom.
It's always only one side of the coin...and NOT the side that's been laying in shit all day.
In my taxonomy, at least, this phenomenon is right at the root of Right Wing thought.
TINA, again.
Only my one True Religion is to be taught and observed...and the people are too stupid to know any better, so they need me to force them to learn and observe my one True religion.
This particular effort hasn't risen to that level...yet.
And to be fair, neither has the push to “include” Creationism...or the less spooky sounding “Intelligent Design”...in Public School Biology(“teach the controversy”). But moving the goal posts is a tried and true feature of all things Righty.
(see: anti-abortion=>anti-contraceptives=>anti-pleasure, just in the last year or two)(as I am not a Puritan, why should I be subject to Puritan Law?)
I'll even allege that the Fox Effect has all but prepared the minds of a great many people for the idea that One Side is all that is needed, or wanted.
Counter-Enlightenment, at it's best.
I expect to hear about this Kock educational junta in the near to mid-term out here in the sticks.
It's right up Mason's alley.
We already jumped onto the whole “leader in me” jingo ride...luckily, there's been little effect aside from slogans and the over-use of posterboard...but at what cost to the community?
That's a big unknown.
That slick campaign was rejected by the tax payers...and was instead funded by “concerned members of the community”.
This Kock YE initiative is just as odious and just as one sided...but this actually promises to pay the school cold hard cash(if they have a sufficient number of poor kids, apparently) for pushing the Kock Ideology onto the kids...without any debate or rebuttal.
As usual with Fundies of all stripes and spots, they are afraid of Dissent...
...................
I think it's probably obvious to whomever reads me, that I despise Corporations.
I see them, increasingly, as a sort of Artificial Intelligence...like Skynet...or the Machine in the Matrix...Omnius.
Consider the current Scotus...(noticeably absent: all the hollering from the Right about “activist judges”)
The very thought that Exxon has Freedom of Speech...let alone Freedom of Religion...beggars credulity.
(I pick on Exxon, as a stand-in for Corps(e) in general)
Where does Mr. Exxon live?(or Ms.? Mrs.?)
I's like to find this “Person”, in order to slap him/her/it with my glove...
swords...at dawn...

According to these folks(and others):(https://opencorporates.com/)...Mr. Exxon lives almost everywhere...depending on the needs of the moment.
“Headquarters” are in the Woodlands, Texas...according to news reports....just up the road from where I grew up.
Does the “Person”, Mr. Exxon, live there?
This whole morass is one of my major peeves with the current mileue.
It is totally unacknowledged in the Kock Kurrikulum.
Similarly absent, aside from the predictable hatred and fear of “Unions”...is the reality that the Kocks and other Really Rich People, and numerous Corporate Persons, enjoy their own “Unions”.
There's a Pro-Business Union in just about every town in America.
It's known as the “Chamber of Commerce”.
What about the National Restaurant Association? Or the various Unions of convenience stores and retailers?
I'm told, solemnly, “Oh, that's about Freedom of Association...protected by the First Amendment...”
We are to leave aside criticism of such gross hypocrisy, it seems.
YE will pay for our “Public” Schools, and our collective Blind Eye/short term memory loss is the price we must pay.
(at what point are they no longer “Public” Schools?)
Another thing that we must ignore....the Kock prescription for “Liberty” has actually been implemented...since the late seventies, at least, our Nation has run that “Free Market” Experiment.
...and it's been awesome for the few who benefit from such policies...but it's been an unmitigated disaster for everyone else.
This is not merely my Opinion...there is ample Evidence for it.
Global Labor Arbitrage, Stagnation of Wages, relative to Inflation...the increasing share of economic activity enjoyed by the FIRE sector...CEO Pay, relative to everyone below them...Productivity Gains accruing at the top...the Pension Debacle...Tax Evasion...on and on and on...indeed, the results of this 30 year experiment indicate that:”Capitalist societies provide an environment for greed and materialism to flourish “,and “Deregulation is what caused recession in 80s, Economic problems of today “, and certainly that,”the
Rich get richer at the expense of the poor “.(from the top)
And yet the Cheerleaders for Corporate Feudalism can, with solemn visage, call themselves Free Market Capitalists...opposed to the “Corporatism of the Left”.






Thursday, July 17, 2014

Since February



Tax Return allowed me to purchase a bunch of plywood and hardyboard and a whole pile of other things that I normally wouldn't be able to afford...and in February, I set to work on remodeling the old broken down trailer in the Wilderness.
The 3 center rooms...now one big one...are the Library.
I put a wall around what used to be the front yard...now the “Cloister”...and put the Cowboy Pool out there(“Think Tank”,lol).

Above the rather large gate, it says, “Thus I give up the spear”, on one side...and “Non Serviam”, on the other.

The first, of course, are the last words of Ahab, as he's dragged beneath the waves by his Nemesis.
The full quote is:”To the last, I grapple with thee.
From Hell's heart, I stab at thee.
For Hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee...
Thus I give up the spear.”

By this I mean that my Retreat is really an Advance.
More on that, later.
The second is from Lucifer, from Paradise Lost...and should speak for itself.

That part of the wall is 12 feet high, and the boards are 'Irish Beauty Green”, with yellow,red, sky blue and purple, peeking out from between the slats...as if something is trying to get out....at least that was the effect that I was going for.
I'll attempt(Luddite,lol) to get a few pics up of all of this and more.
We've also almost finished the Shop, where the Blacksmith stuff is, and all of the rest of the tools and things.

I hope to learn to make swords...just because,lol...and I've carried around the idea of constructing Aeolian Harps for some time....and perhaps Crucifixes, for purely economic reasons.
This is the Monastery, and Environs...a Secular Humanist Monastery...perhaps the first in History, (Ha!)
An old bunk bed frame is now a “Roman Emperor's Couch”...in the cloister, where the giant pillow goes, and where I've been reading...a lot.

For a year or so, Karl Popper's “Open Society” has been the Truck Book.
Finally got through the first Volume...regarding Plato. I laughed a lot...as I found that I agreed with Popper on the two Plato theory.
I love Socrates, but distrust Plato.
I found myself wondering why, since I've been immersed in Philosophy since I was 8 years old, that I had never even heard of this person, Popper.

Now I'm into Vol.2, regarding Hegel and Marx...and here again, I agree...it's as if I've been channeling Karl Popper for all of these years.
I despised Hegel, when I read through, tortuously, his giant wall of verbiage, all those years ago....and I admired Marx...although I would never call myself a Marxist.
The Gist of the whole thing, is that what we call “conservatives” are attempting...whether they know it or not...to “Arrest History”...to Stop Time.
I'm reminded of Buckley:”...To stand athwart History, yelling, 'Stop!'...”.
The other books I'm into at the moment are Nietzsche's,”Twilight of the Idols”, and Machiavelli's,” Discourses on Livy”.
The former, I've read a few times, over the years...Uncle Friedrich was my introduction to Philosophy(Zarathustra), and has been my favorite, ever since.
Niccolo, I read the Prince a couple of times in the last 20+ years, and always meant to get around to “the rest of the story”...now, I finally have.
There's a lot of things like that...my reading list wraps all the way around the planet.
With the current Refugee Mess at the southern border, I've been thinking about John Rawls...who, it turns out, was a Giant in American Liberal Thought...and whom I had never heard of, till the Internet came along.
The “Veil of Ignorance” thought experiment has been a part of me forever...but I didn't have a name for it...or such an in depth treatment of it..till 2 years ago.
As research, I've re-read Thucydides, and Drury's Jeremiad against the Straussians/Neocons, as well as Cahill's “...Wine Dark Sea..” and “How the Irish Saved Civilisation”...and I came across Ovid's “Erotica”, at long last.
I feel fortunate to finally have a place to go and read and smoke pot and hang around nekkid...far from the hustle and bustle of Mason's Barrio(seriously!).
I've written a great deal in these 6+ months...but it's still difficult to get into a groove. For an unemployed Cripple, I sure stay busy...of course, much of my time is spent recovering from my various efforts.


This could be called a “God-Pole”, an Axis Mundi, a representation of the World Tree...or just a Pole with antlers on top....for pole dancing.(because you never know...)


...and...this will likely remain a construction site for years. Money and Body and Helpers(rather, lack thereof).



Seven months later, and I've run through all of the materials I bought in Feb.
Even the paint...much of which was leftovers from Mom's.
The rest of our former house is still in shambles...although I think I have it relatively snake-proof.
The only plumbing is a new line to the small bathroom...just a faucet over the toilet tank, and one over the sink.
What we used to call “The New Bathroom” is now a sort of kitchenette...dorm room fridge, toaster oven, an ancient Cold Spot for a pantry, and a coleman stove.
The 300 pound clawfoot tub is still in there...until I can hire someone to move it out into the yard.
I have some saltillo tile, left over from my brother's house...I intend to have an outdoor bath, with solar heated water.
Given a proper bed, I could probably live here, again...although there's no heat...but I wouldn't make my wife and kids camp out like this.
It's good enough to keep my books and our museum, but it ain't livable...by any stretch.
I've never seen so many scorpions!
The place is overrun with them.
...and Raccoons have gotten into my pseudokitchen...broken a bunch of plates and antique jars, opened the fridge and munched on salami...
they left the beer alone.
I've fixed that problem....located their egress, and blocked it.
We've had a Coon Problem out here, for years...seems there's a colony of hundreds, somewhere on the neighbor's place.
We're also on a Rattlesnake Highway.
In Spring, they can be seen heading South, through my place..in Fall, North...presumably, to their Winter Den...which I haven't been able to locate in almost 18 years of searching.
The Prowler...that lunatic neighbor who started lurking all around doing weird things at night in 2004...he's been in a nuthouse(where he belonged all along) for a couple of years.
Now, he has finally died and gone to Hell(one of only two people in my life that I have wished for the existence of Hell)...and I have resisted the urge to piss on his grave.
He played a large role in making our lives much, much harder than they needed to be.
Good Fucking Riddance.
It's telling that when he got locked up, all the prowling weirdness stopped.
Oh well.

There's still no internet out here...too expensive to do that.
The window unit is only turned on during the very hottest of afternoons...the Pool is usually for cooling off, instead.
What we call “the Mountain” is still there...and is my only companion, most days.
There's 2 stripey lizards that live in the Cloister...they're always startling me, but I dig having them around.
The Roadrunner is back, too...clacketty-clacketty.
And Hummingbirds, and Deer.
Compared to Town, it's an almost otherworldly Silence out here most of the time.
So, if you've wondered where the Naked Hippie has been..now you know.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Shape of the World

a tentative leap


(Raphèl maí amèche zabí almi )


I'm having difficulty.
The three parts of the Weighty Tome I'm working on...1. Historia(my story),2. The Shape of the World(the framework I've constructed on which to hang my apprehensions of Reality), and 3.what I've labeled “Alamo”...a monument to stubbornness...in other words, what I reckon we should do about it all....
I'm having a hard time with the first two.
Historia is hard, because my life before Mason was pretty painful...it's a real chore to wander around in that history without re-living the pain that went with it. Of course, this can probably be dealt with with the proverbial Time, Distance and Shielding...it's the latter that I'm still working on.
With Shape, it's even harder...but for much different reasons.
The Thing I'm describing is so huge and complex that it doesn't lend itself to descriptions, especially given that the usual, conventional words are almost useless, as descriptors. Too, given the maxim, that all knowledge is provisional...ie. Rigorous agnosticism...and that so much of what we take for granted regarding the shape of our world, our place in it, and the history of us, is simply inaccurate...if not purposefully clouded...I feel the need to start at the beginning....and to define terms as rigorously as possible.
The subject at hand is so large and interconnected that I often find myself lost in it.
I feel like a spider in her web...from me, all of these branching threads go out in every direction...a word stands for a whole host of things.
“Democracy” encompasses a million strands of thought, going back to tribal Neolithic social structures...there ain't a short and sweet.
One of the biggest problems facing our world, today...if not THE biggest...is the destruction of Language as an agreed upon set of definitional symbols.
Our words have been poisoned, often on purpose, and for nefarious and short term ends.
This leads directly to the Ontological Crisis I'm always harping on.
A Politician can say “Liberty”, and mean one thing....but given ten listeners, there are ten definitions of “Liberty”....this is true with so many of our important words, that I find I cannot talk to anyone, any more....without spending a considerable amount of time defining, and arguing about the definitions, of terms.
Assumptions, while necessary for the usefulness of any model, tend towards dogmatism.
Economics comes to mind...especially since the early 70's in the USA.
The myriad assumptions involved with something as grand as the Shape of the World,( socially, politically,economically, ecologically) have been evident to me for some time.
Arguing online with sundry folks, I was often confronted with the brick wall of a different world entirely...right next to the world I inhabit...
It was confusing, at first...these brick walls that I always seemed to run into with folks; especially when engaged in a political argument. I would attempt to tear down their strawmen, and would end up having to go to First Principals...ever so patiently.
It turned out that a great many of the words I was using...and even historical events I was referencing...meant something different,or were remembered by my interlocutors in a completely different way.
This is a cumbersome task, abandoning all of the big words, and historical references, unless one has time and inclination to set out a grand argument.
I had the time, and was so inclined.
An example/digression:
I hit on the idea of Peak Oil independently.
I was curious as to why Lil George and the Gang were so hell bent on Iraq...and why they were so obviously lying about their reasons and desires.
So I stuck an old NatGeo map of the world on the wall, and began sticking a bunch of colored stick-pins into it...blue for oil/gas/coal and it's apparatus, red for the presence of the US Military, white for drugs, and so on.
The way those pins clustered was a surprise.
I intuited that there was something to this...so I went online and rummaged around for weeks...and hit on something called “Die Off.org.”
The implications of Peak Oil (and peak natgas, peak copper, and on and on) were...dire...so, as is my usual habit, I attempted to prove it wrong...to falsify it.
After years of these attempts, I found that I couldn't...lacking some unknown secret and esoteric knowledge.
Peak Everything seems to be “True”.
For me, it is now an Examined Assumption, and as close as I'm willing to come towards anything resembling an Absolute.
But other people don't do this, it turns out.
The violence I was sometimes confronted with was astounding.
Once, during a rather heated argument with an oil-field worker...who believed in the cornucopian version... instead of providing numerous links to numerous sources, all but proving that PO was, indeed, reality...I linked to the Wiki page on PO.
Out came the flaming brands!
Didn't I know that ...”Wiki is a government/liberal/communist plot...and the furthest thing from the truth”?!
Of course, I had already looked into the workings of Wiki...and was satisfied that it was genuine, mostly. It appeared to be as accurate as the physical encyclopedia sets that I compulsively collect...except that it was continually updated, in a democratic fashion...and that if I took issue with some portion of it, I was perfectly free to join up and argue my case.
(as opposed to...say...Britannica...wherein a bunch of all but anonymous “experts” compile that multivolume compendium of “Truth”...with the necessary tacit assertion of trustworthiness.)

The Wiki Page in question had hundreds of links to THEIR sources...many of a scientific nature...it was a shortcut on my part.
But one would have thought that I had shat on the church floor.

The counter=argument consisted of a lot of foul language...regarding communists and hippies...and a link to Fox News, World Net Daily and Drudge.
(because those are so obviously trustworthy sources.(sigh))

Hence, the Ontological Crisis...everyone is in their little Reality Tunnels...their Information Silos...and are perfectly content with their numerous Unexamined Assumptions.
I get discouraged by the enormity of the problem.
I want a bigger and better Reality Tunnel....a better Conceptual Framework than that provided by the “Conventional Wisdom”...or any of the Subcultural crannies that abound, today.(2 kinds of “Biker Culture”, Skate Culture, hot-rods, the various professional and amateur sports,fishermen, the various drug cultures, on and on...all the myriad and overlapping ways we segregate ourselves.)

There have always been Rulers....and those rulers have always had at least some of the regular folks fooled into supporting their rule...
But with the advent of the Information Age...riding on the back of the Right Wing* Counter-Revolution(ongoing since circa 1970)...what I've called the Dark Magicians of the Right* have, essentially, won; they have succeeded in overthrowing Reason and Thought and the Enlightenment Project, itself.
Now that I have a Monastery/Library, where it's quiet enough to get to work on a book or three, I find that I don't want to, any more.
The Confusion and outright Bullshit is so deep, now, that I can discern no way forward.
Locally, it's orders of magnitude worse, of course...I do live in Rural Texas, after all...but this confusion is widespread.
Recent polls(which I always take with a healthy dose of kosher salt...but still...) suggest that around 43% of Americans believe in “Young Earth Creationism”.
Another, from '07 or so, indicates that a majority believes that the First Amendment goes too far...especially regarding Freedom of the Press.
The Non-Existent “Liberal Media” still gets considerable coverage, by everyone from former presidents to the demented old man at the corner cafe.
We are surrounded and penetrated by Myths...myths that are taken as Reality.
Are we a “Democracy”?
Well...I can vote...but what are the actual choices?
Can Mr Smith get to Washington? If so, can he/she really do anything about the gigantic structures that encircle us?

Our language serves to delimit our thought...erect a fence around it...just like in Orwell, but with much more subtlety...and while there are certainly smoky rooms with powerful men in them...and while those powerful men do indeed implement policies that do indeed effect us all...they, too, are cogs in the Machine.
The System has it's own Logic...and it rolls on, no matter who gets to Congress or the White House or the Boardroom.
No one is really in charge...but plenty of people think that they are...and they serve to make things worse, generally...because no one, in power or out, has a clue as to the actual Shape of the World.(!)


It's easy to get all pessimistic about the shape of things....and where the various trendlines lead.
Every time I go look at news, it becomes a little clearer that we are fucked.
My usual news-haunts are Huffpo, Alternet, Cryptogon, and the 3 “liberal” Texas outlets,the Tx Tribune, Tx Observer and Burnt Orange Report.
I wander a lot, range far and wide...but these are where I go to keep abreast.
I spend a lot of time wandering in Wiki.
Many will say, “well there's yer problem, right there...all those lefty propaganda sites...”
I have heard this so often, that I habitually check myself ...part of my ongoing habit of mind of rigorous agnosticism.
Of course, those same folks, more often than not, then present as “evidence” something from Worldnet Daily,lol...without a hint of irony.
This whole deal is a mere cobble in the road we're on...but it is near the heart of the Ontological Crisis.
We cannot distinguish the Real....information silos, and Reality Tunnels abound.
If one believes Fox, one cannot believe MSNBC...and vice versa.
I spent a great deal of time, these past 13 years, digging around in data and opinion and purported facts, attempting to assemble a more realistic framework of Reality on which I could then hang my observations, and the numerous data-points I accumulate in a given day.
The result is the conclusion(tentative, of course) that ,again,no one is in charge...although plenty of folks believe that they are, and many of them have definite and falsifiable effects on our collective Reality.(Federal Reserve, or whatever.)
But even they are fallible....a situation made exponentially more damaging, by the fact that they are the most likely to believe that they know what they're doing, and that they have a good hold on what is real.
Most of us little people, also, believe that we, too, have a good idea of what's going on, and that we have some agency to influence our little corners of the world.
It is near intolerable to hint otherwise.
It's bad enough when an ordinary person learns of the more spooky actions of government....all of the surveillance and such.... dystopian visions of Big Brother, Corporate and/or Government, depending on one's political leanings.
It is orders of magnitude worse, when that same person , after following the money and power, learns that those proverbial smoke filled rooms are populated by people who are just as befuddled and confused as they are; given, to different degrees and areas of interest.
The whole of Human Civilisation is on automatic pilot, with myriad humans and groups of humans, scrapping over myriad steering wheels...all of which are connected to the steering mechanism, in ways great and small.
The Big Brothers, all 30 million of them, are as drunk and stupid and borderline insane as the rest of us.
Their steering wheels are just a little better connected than ours.
...and their self image is more positive....they believe more strongly in their ability and agency than we do.
Of course, this has always been the case. Since there's been enough of us, in one place, to amount to a Tribe, Culture or Civilisation, individuals, to varying degrees, have always believed as much. There's always been a few who are more in the know, and who have that much more power than their fellows, out in the fields.
The difference, is that we now have constructed the first Global Civilisation. Unlike in former times....ostensibly, within my lifetime...when one could ,with sufficient effort, get out of a given civilisation...either to another one, or to some barely inhabited area....today, there ain't nowhere to escape to.
Every square inch of the surface of the planet is under the purview of one state or another, and many of those states are either beholden to, or a part of, some larger conglomeration of power...be it Pax Americana, or Exxon(often the same thing)

There are lines and borders and jurisdictions everywhere...all overlapping and interconnecting...from State to city to MUD to HOA, to private enclave.
It's confusing, to say the least.
Of course, some have figured a way to exist sort of outside most of these lines...but it costs a lot of money. Corporations are Supra-National, Very Wealthy Individuals are “Cosmopolitan”, at least in practice, the UN, and the Vatican employ numerous defacto “citizens of the world”...and the “Intelligence “ Agencies, with the US versions safely at the apex, have long ago forgotten about those pesky international borders.
A few very rich “Libertarians” have been threatening to build various structures in the oceans....outside of national waters...floating and fixed.
Pirate Bay, operating on an abandoned oil platform in the English Channel, is another attempt to get Outside.
Folks in America work their tails off, to varying degrees of success, in order to get a place in the country, and to escape...at least a little bit.
The Christiana neighborhood, in Denmark, is an example of the same drive, but (mostly, and tentatively) accomplished through more Social Anarchist means.
A decade or more ago, there was a movement called the Free State Project...wherein a bunch of better off Libertarians would move, en masse, into a county, in order to overwhelm the apathetic voters, already extant, and to thereby shape, up from the county level, “Government”.
I am unaware fo the success or failure of this particular project.
Presumebly, those folks are either 1. busy implementing their plan, serving on school boards and city councils....2.fighting acrimoniously amongst themselves about “purity”, and such...or 3. have been, long ago, destroyed, imprisoned, disillusioned or otherwise marginalised by the Machine and it's agents...(there are many avenues to this, ranging from the rather mundane to the tin-foil.).
It's likely that a combination of these three is the case.
…...........
a tea person on slate sez that nazis were lefties:”The only group that could legitimately claim that the Nazis were to the right of the spectrum would be Communists and Marxists, since they were further to the left of the spectrum.  The National Socialist party had heavy backing from the labor unions in Germany.  They favored communal work programs, high taxes, redistribution of wealth, and the expansion of welfare programs.  The National Socialists also favored tight regulation of personally owned firearms, and the pre-eminence of the state over personal liberties.  All of those things are antithetical to a far right viewpoint favoring limited government and emphasis on personal freedoms.  There is a neo-con element to the TP which does favor military expansionism and restrictions on personal freedoms, however those in the TP who wax Libertarian find onerous restrictions on their personal freedoms and military expansionism to be anathema to their political philosophy. “
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One, Jonah Goldberg's book(“Liberal Fascists”,) has been thoroughly sunk by everyone who ought to know about such things(I'm thinking of Paxton and Neiwert specifically)...but some folks just can't let go of an alligator.
Such nonsense is kept around to knock things over and contribute to the Confusion.
Two, after careful study, it appears to me that the freedom loving Libertarians are not the Teafaction that we should necessarily be worried about...though some of their ideas could be quite dangerous(“corporations=liberty”, somehow).
The Neocons are much more dangerous...their fantasies of Conquering and Laying Waste for “freedom” have already cost the US, and the rest of the world, far too much.
But it's the John Birch Society rejects...the neoMcCarthyists...the Brownshirts wrapped in the Flag and throwing Bibles at everyone who I worry about.
And this, my friend is indeed the “Far Right Fringe”.
The Nazis, and Mussolini before them, used some of the ideas of Socialism, yes...but Socialism is at least as complex a word as “Democracy” or “Republic”, “Capitalism” or “Liberty”.
Consider Social Security.... since it's inception, the Right Wing of American politics has been dancing on a tight wire...attempting to undo that wildly popular program, while appearing to do the opposite.
All politicians do this dance, on at least some issues, and to at least some degree.
The Nazis were no different in this regard.
The Democratic Party, similarly, largely voted for the Patriot Act...and Welfare “Reform”, and too many others for this space....

My point in this little aside, is that things are far too Complex for such Simplistic, often Ignorant, thinking.Left/Right, Conservative/Liberal, D/R...
….........................................
Hakim Bey talks, cryptically, about Temporary Autonimous Zones(TAZ), as in Rave Culture, where a group of folks essentially take over a space, and occupy it for a while...doing as they please...until someone or some thing comes along to run them off or incarcerate them.
Note that every piece of real estate in America, to some degree, is a TAZ....if you fail to pay your property taxes, someone will come and take it from you.
Alodial Title does not exist, for all practical purposes.
“Owning” property is conditional on paying “Rent” to the state.
….and forget about “Privacy” on your rented parcel...anyone with a FLIR or an aircraft(or a drone) can fly 400 feet above you, and look all they please.Cops can. Willy-nilly, wander over your 1000 acre ranch, given the “Open Fields Doctrine”...coming right up to your actual Yard(“Curtilege”)...with no warrant, or by-your-leave.
Your phone and email and web history and financial information are recorded and scrutinised by millions of people and machines.
Satellites in the heavens look down upon you, in numerous spectra.
Even I can access older versions of such technology...and older and cruder satellite imagery... to spy on my neighbor.
The tools of oppression are everywhere, and more powerful than ever....but they are not perfect.
The people who attempt to use those tools are just as fallible as we are, all things considered...they are marginally less befuddled...but only marginally.
I remember being freaked out by “Total Information Awareness”....the nascent agency trying to be born out of Poindexter's head...
Enormous uproar from everyone, from bloggers to sitting US Senators.
...and Poindexter relented...or at least appeared to.
The reality is that TIA indeed became reality, just as a myriad, instead of a monolith. We'll never know the true extent of these activities.
We don't have the “clearance”.
This is terrifying, of course....but underneath and behind it is the fallibility of Human Kind, and their Creations.
Trillions of conversations happen every day outside the field of vision of anyone but those engaged in the conversation.
The dreams of the Thinkers at the NSA, or wherever, can never be completely realised.
The world, and even the Human portion of it, are simply to complex and chaotic.
If a system could be built to have total awareness of the world, it would be all but useless. Too much information.
Here is our Out.


“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to enquire. We know that the wages of secrecy are corruption. We know that in secrecy error, undetected, will flourish and subvert. “- J. Robert Oppenheimer

..//////////////////////


Turns out that I'm still a Libertarian.
I had abandoned them after Lil' George went to Washington(Darth was the proverbial Man in the Yellow Hat)...the Libertarian Party had moved even further to the Right...”Free Market” was their god, and the “Perfect Expression of Freedom” was the supra-national Corporation, and the whole zoo of “Finance” that goes with it.
With Lil George and the Gang running the show, it seemed imperative to join up with whomever was in opposition to them...so I joined the Democratic Party.The Local Branch, in their Hillforts, sure liked my fiery letters to the editor of the local paper...but beyond that, had little use for me. Bill Clinton had given me a bad taste in my mouth, ever since NAFTA and Gramm-Rudman.
Taking kitchen shears to the ragged “Safety Net” and calling it “Reform” didn't endear him to me, either.
This is, apparently, in violation of some unwritten rule in (D)-Land.
The presence, near a Democratic President ,of someone like Larry Summers was enough to justify withholding my undying loyalty to Party.
The Bailouts...especially the one's we didn't find out about till years later...the Drone Strikes...the wishy-washiness on everything from Gay Rights to the War on Terra...it all combines to make me leery as hell of the so-called “MainStream”.
So I'm a “Left Libertarian”.
...with Democratic Socialist leanings.(definitions for all of these terms are readily accessible, online. Google is your friend)
I'm a Hyper-Federalist,and keen on Re-Regulating the Very Large, and De-Regulating the Truly Small...local, state and federal.
I'm for Distribution of the Means of Production as far and widely as possible....Democritise Everything...which Idea can be found spelled right out in both Adam Smith and Karl Marx...as anyone who has read both would already know.
Import/Export Controls, Capital Controls, Monetary Controls...all at the Tippy Top....a la FDR.
I'm for Vigorous Trust Busting....a la TDR.
But at the middle to the lowest levels, I'm for much more freedom to be left alone, barring injury to another.
I think that stringent limitations on Corporations, in all their iterations, is absolutely necessary. If I must maintain Liability for my truck, why should the owners of Exxon(indeed, Exxon himself!) be free from responsibility?
….........................
System selects for Psychopathy.

Cheaters and Liars win.
Corruption and Underhandedness are necessary for success.

As usual in Reagan's America, all of us little fish are blamed for the poisoned water we swim in. Worse, we are well trained to blame ourselves.
For all of the hollering about “Small Business” and the Entrepreneurial Spirit, we allow Giant Corps(e) to write the rules, and to trample on truly small business.
When, by some accounting trick, Walmart can be considered a “Small Business”, it should be clear to everyone that something is terribly wrong.
But we are stupid.

We rail against “Big Government”, yet continue to shop at Walmart....to the detriment of actual Small Business(our neighbors).
We bitch about the existence of Minimum Wage...a Floor for what folks make for working...and at the same time, bitch about the tattered Welfare System, that keeps those same working folks above Poverty levels.
I say, at this point, gooberment is all that's standing between giant monoliths and total control...a neo corporate feudalism...however corrupt and dysfunctional that gooberment is...we, after all, allowed our gooberment to be bought and stolen...we abdicated...and we ceased to Think.
We vote ...when we're not too busy eating chips, or something...for heartless assholes who obviously don't give a damn about the ordinary folks who work for a living, but pay half-hearted lip service to “the Values of Work”...These same soul-less assholes, then turn around, and fellate the super rich, and even hand over taxpayer money to the corps(e) and hedgefunds and trusts that these same very rich folks hide behind....being far too dishonest and sneaky to play their games out in the sunlight.(see: Gross, Mills,Domhoff, Chomsky,et alia)
“Welfare Queens” are pilloried...even though they cannot be objectively proven to exist, at all(driving through the Barrio does not count as “proof”, sorry)...but heaven forbid we should also direct our ire at the local rich folks who get “crop Subsidies”..often for running a few cows for “tax purposes”. That Government Handout is just fine, it seems.
The Minions of the Hidden Aristocracy...the one whose defining feature is its insistence that it does not exist...they keep us busy hating on each other, over details and relatively non-issues, in the grand scheme of things...fighting over the proverbial crumbs...an algal mat, floating on the surface of our pond, hogging the light and oxygen, yet blaming the minnows and copepods for the hypoxia and murk.
The Omnipresent and near Omniscient Machine:
A worldview...a Zeitgeist, even...adhered to by the uber-wealthy few, and their minions....then spread perniciously into the Mind of America.
Machine is everywhere.
I read Adam Smith, and then Marx'” Das Capital”(which, incidentally, I keep next to each other on the shelf...along with our true economic bible:Puzio's “Godfather”...)...Ricardo, and Malthus...Rothbard and Mises, Hayek and Friedman.
Many, many more.
All of this sounds pretty good, on paper...and after sufficient scotch...but it is nothing like the system we actually have.
“Free Market” is an all but meaningless phrase...yet another victim of the ongoing destruction of language.
As I've said,I am for Decentralisation...Democritisation...of Everything.
Toilet Paper as a Cottage Industry.
We need to Grow Our Own, instead of importing everything.
A lesson I learned from both Smith and Marx is the bedrock of entrepreneurialism....”Identify a Need, and fill it”.
How can one even try to do this , any more...with walmart just up the road...with economies of scale utterly dwarfing the small actor...with Barriers to Entry larded onto the tax code, the rules of business, and every other layer of government and corporate meddling in the economy??
There ain't nothing “Free” about the way we do things.

I'm reading, among other things, Theodore Roszak's “Where the wasteland ends”...
From Chapter 12:
“....And suppose the reality we live by should experience such a revolution...what sort of political program would follow from that?
Nothing less, I think, than that we should undertake to repeal Urban-Industrialism as the world's dominant style of life. We should do this, not in a spirit of grim sacrifice, but in the conviction that the reality we most want to reside in lies beyond the artificial environment. And so we should move freely and in delight toward the true post-industrialism: a world awakened from it's sick infatuation with power, growth, efficiency, progress as if from a nightmare.”

He then goes on to contrast the megalopolis with ancient Athens...and then into an interesting digression regarding “work”...ie,”jobs”...and the monetisation of everything.
Would you rather buy your next tomato, computer or bar of soap from a giant, global artificial lifeform, who treats it's workers, and the environment, as just so much trash?
Or from your neighbor?
There's no reason, any more, to continue our headlong rush into bigger and bigger institutions and structures and mechanisms.
When we, as “consumers”, choose the latter, in spite of the marginally greater cost, we'll all be better off.
As it stands, and taking Mason as my guinea pig...we export our dollars to, basically, wall street....in order to import the things we need and want.
That leaves fewer dollars in circulation around the truly local economy.
Which is depressive, medium to long term.
This means, necessarily, fewer jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the local economy...which means expanding poverty.
This, in turn, leads to greater usage of whatever passes for a safety net...be it food stamps or crop subsidies.
And this leads to a populace divided against each other...when they should find common cause in the business of living together...and be at least somewhat united against those distant repositories of power...both government and corporate...sucking up all of the means of life.
What if these, and other, costs were figured into the price of a banana, or a gallon of gas?
For one, it would likely be much cheaper to purchase the locally grown agarita berries, or the locally produced biofuel.
For another, the price would more truly reflect the actual costs involved in producing and moving things, as well as the costs incurred by damaging the people and the land and water.
This is how I attempt to make my purchase decisions....but it's getting ever harder to do.
We don't make anything that I need.
The local wine industry is exorbitantly priced, and has only one outlet, by law, access to which requires one to submit to the tourist-y “experience” in order to purchase an overpriced bottle of wine.
They are forbidden to sell their wares at any other store...or anywhere else.
The sole milk producer, similarly, is forbidden from selling her wares anywhere but on her farm.
She also is forced to sell at much higher prices than her large, corporate competitors....they have so written the rules, and even the laws, that their milk is highly subsidised by tax money....artificially lowering their prices.
Again, free market, my shiny white ass.
My point is, that we...way out here...could be producing a hell of a lot more of what we need and want.
But it would take effort, and conscience and a little creativity.
Local Currency,for example.
It would also require an educated public...one who, when presented with the cost benefit analysis that reflects the true costs and benefits, sans corpo-governmental obscurantism, would hopefully have enough care for their neighbors to choose them and their products and services, over those of the outside, and far away giants.
Maddow had a long segment last night on the various pseudo-uprisings of the far right, gun fondling militia types over the last 6 years, or so...connect those with the same sort of phenomena that occurred under Clinton, and a pattern emerges.
These outbursts of incoherent rage serve only to alienate the Tea People from ordinary Americans...but there's, as usual, a kernal of truth, somewhere in there.
I supported Tea, in the beginning...when it was a Ron Paul Joint.
But it was quickly gobbled up by the Kocks and other moneyed arms of the Machine, and turned into a Bircher Crazy Town....even though it has had a definite effect at the ballot box, and in state and federal legislatures, it is essentially a negative force...delusional...mindless...it's defining feature is it's Palingenisis...a longing for a national rebirth, in the form that was thought to exist in some mythical golden age, before things got so complex.
This is an understandable sentiment...but it ain't gonna fix anything.
Contrast with Occupy...which, rather than mindless, was headless....so that it couldn't be co-opted by big money and the machine so easily.
It's effect was to shine a bright light on the heart of the Machine...namely, Wall Street.
It jump-started a national conversation regarding the effects of giant corps and the FIRE Economy(finance,insurance, real estate), as well as “Banks” who seem to produce nothing at all but zeroes and ones in a computer somewhere...what effect these have on Our government, and Our civilisation...but it was so decidedly and purposefully disorganised, that it didn't translate into actual change.
Consider what would happen if these two movements found a common enemy,lol...
while I support that, too...it would have little effect...because the Machine has learned to absorb and co-opt it's opponents.
Roszak's program, on the other hand...is a non-program.
It is more akin to the Taoist concept of Wu Wei...action without action.
Water, falling like rain, gathering naturally into rivers...which move mountains.
It's also akin to Deleuze' Rhizomes....and Hakim Bey's Temporary Autonomous Zones...in other words, it is Anarchism.
Mason is almost perfectly situated, both geographically, and historically, to be a Lifeboat...an Ark....and an Example.
Consider the all but forgotten heritage of the German Freethinkers who first settled out here...
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Just thinking...outside the box...even outside the warehouse where the box is kept:

Taking as given the reality of Peak Resources, Peak Economics and Peak Climate....and taking, therefore, as given, that the Way We Do Things must necessarily change quite radically...
It is incumbent on us to begin to think about what form(s) a post-cornucopian society might take.
If Post Industrial,Post-Cornucopian life is entered into willy-nilly, without Thought, History indicates that some less than ideal forms will likely arise...I'm thinking here of Warlordism, and the sort of Corporate Feudalism that we see the beginnings of, even today.
In periods of Decline, Feudalism, or Manorialism, may be the best that can be hoped for...but these need not be the grinding, authoritarian edifices of the early Middle Ages.
During the European Dark Ages, what we call Feudalism grew out of the Roman Villa...which led to Monasticism...which , in it's turn, influenced what became Feudalism/Manorialism.
(see, among other things, Gibbon)
These were an Heirarchical, Authoritarian System...embedded in a larger System that was also Authoritarian and Heirachical.
The Serfs and Peasants, subservient to the Knights, who were subservient to the Lord of the Manor(Petty King/Strongman)...who was subservient to the High King...who, himself, was often subservient to the Pope...who was, at least theoretically, subservient to God.
The Roman Villa, that set the pattern for all of this, was similarly Authoritarian and Heirarchical.
In contrast, the early Christian Monasteries were essentially Communist, in everything but name....holding property in common, and having a communal and collective way of life.
Later on, most did, indeed, evolve(devolve?) into a more Authoritarian Model, with an Abbot or Prior in charge, even then, such leadership was often chosen democratically, and based on Merit....rather than by heredity, or any notion of Divine Right, Primogeniture, and the like.
The point here is that such arrangements need not, of necessity, be Authoritarian.
Monasteries...which is the model I wish to focus on,personally....were centers of learning, as well as local...or even regional Economic Engines.
(see: Cahill)
I think of the idea of Paruchia...the network of monasteries connected to each other, and to a central Abby...as a sort of Federalism...the same could be replicated, today.
Too, the democratic nature of many Monasteries(or Manors/Villas) from the early Desert Fathers, to especially Irish Monasticism..as well as Hindu and Buddhist Monasticism...could also be instructive.
Autarky...ie: self-sufficiency...was also a feature.
And here's where we get at the root of applicability, in our own time, as we slowly descend into a new dark age.(go on...argue with me on that!)
It occurred to me, while explaining the concept and veracity of climate change to a friend, that our current system of property would likely be unworkable, after the trucks stop.
These thousands of acres of mesquite, for instance, would be denuded in as little as 5 years, without management(coppicing, etc).
Mesquite is not only a renewable fuel source(with coppicing), but the beans are a source of protein and an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, as well as numerous vitamins.
Since they grow here without human intervention....like plowing and cultivation and irrigation...and are naturally resistant to pests and disease...they are an asset, par exellance, for a post-cornucopian environment.
But if left to management by Greed, this resource will soon be depleted.

The Fallacy of the “Tragedy of the Commons” must be dispelled...everyone takes it for granted that property/resources held in Common is necessarily abused and quickly depleted.
There is almost no empirical evidence for this...indeed, there is abundant sociological/economical empirical evidence to the contrary.
I understand that this single part of my Ramble is likely to be the most pitchfork worthy,lol...given the last 30-100 years of TINA(there is no alternative).
But the phenomenon of a sort of Neo-City State is busy being born right this minute...in Texas....indeed, it was the focus of an article in a recent Texas Monthly, as regards to Houston, Dallas, and the SA/Austin “Corridor”.In this, it would behoove Mason, and other rather isolated places to get out in front of that wave...lest they be sucked up into the periphery of one of the megalopolises.
The problem, as with almost everything having to do with decline, is how to transition....how to get from here to there.(overcoming the assumptions and mythos is a pretty big challenge, too)
It is unlikely that a top-down imposition would work, given the long-term focus on rugged individualism, and the concurrent taboo on anything “collective”.
So the way to do it, is by individuals, in groups, doing it themselves...and thereby setting an example.
As I've said, I would have done this, long ago...given the money, and the body and the People...as well as the people-skills,lol.
This endeavor need not be the so-called Hippy Dippy Socialistic Utopianism that is often alleged....indeed, the Current Model of Free Market, World Without End, Top-Down-ism appears to be much more Utopian, when rigorously scrutinised.
There's no reason why a given monastery/villa/city-state, and environs couldn't be capitalist, or authoritarian....or socialist,anarchist ,theocratic...or any other system for Living Together. The model lends itself to the originalist Federalism...a bunch of Laboratories, united by a common federation.(the fence and floor that I've mentioned so often)...even Hayek went on at length regarding this.
The goal, here, is Re-Localisation of the Means of Production....Regional and Local Self Sufficiency. Whether the coming darkness is attributed to Sin, or to impersonal market forces,or just to Limits to Growth on a Finite Planet... the result is the same: an end to the way we do things.
Sustainability needs Arks...a whole bunch of Lifeboats...and an end to the enforced Bigness that is inherent in all of our current endeavors.
Think of the way the Internet/Web is put together...a million Nodes...interconnected...and therefore Robust and Redundant...and thereby all but immune from a Nuclear Attack.
Similarly, from Ecology and Horticulture...the field of weeds is much more robust and resilient than the field of wheat.
Diversity=Strength.
Pluralism.
The Centralisation and practiced tendency to the Very Large...whether in business or government...is like the field of monocropped wheat. One virus, one pest, one minor change in rainfall...and the whole damned thing dies.
Such uniformity is inherently NOT resilient...NOT robust.
The giant power outage, several years ago, in the northeast, is a prime example of the concept. A tree branch fell on a powerline...and since the Grid is pyramid shaped, and since the tree fell near the apex of the pyramid, a whole gigantic region of the country went dark.
Consider what would have happened if, instead, the grid were constructed of networked decentralised nodes...instead of 5-10 central power plants...we had a million small neighborhood power plants...all networked together. One goes down, and the rest stay on.
This is what I mean by resilience.
Instead of Vertical Integration...Horizontal Integration.
(see, again, Deleuze' Rhizomes)

Similarly, in 2005, when Hurricane Rita plowed through the Greater Houston Area, she cut the supply lines for Mason, Texas, 350 miles away. Our Grocer, our Convenience Stores, our Gas Stations....all were without the multiple trucks that usually come every week...the Trucks simply Stopped for almost a whole week.
And what happened in Mason?
All that was left at SuperS was corn shucks and canned oysters..the big gas tanks around town went dry...beginning with the cheapest...until all that was left was a little bit of the most expensive “premium grade”...
All of this after only six frikking days of no supply trucks!
Extend that for a month, and there'd be no natgas for the power plants where we get our electricity...no propane to heat or cook with...
Extend the disruption to a year, and we'd be in Mad Max Mode...no new parts for whatever machinery still worked...and on and on.
Contemplate the supply line connected to everything within 10 feet of you, right at this moment...and, if one is honest, one comes away with an appreciation that Civilisation is the thinnest of patinas.
Read the fine print on that package of toilet paper.
Where does it come from?
How did it get to the store where you bought it?
And why are not our under-and un-employed furnished with the means to produce such a necessary commodity locally? Perhaps from recycled cardboard and newspaper.(Toilet Paper as Cottage Industry)

My big point in all of this, is not only that this state of affairs is coming...whether in 10 or a hundred years....but that it is to our short term economic advantage to at least attempt to do something about it.
Drive around Mason County...look at all of the wide spots in the road that used to be thriving villages:Fredonia, Grit, Katemptcy(sp-2), Hedwig's Hill, Art, Cherry Springs, Doss....why were those places there, in the first place?
The answer, is that there were people there...who needed a dentist in Fredonia...a General Store and Post Office in Art.
Those people were there for agriculture, mostly....but machines made them superfluous....un-needed.
Those machines...and the poisons sold during the concurrent “Green Revolution” in Agriculture...are the same things that led the Farmers into perpetual Debt....and all of those former working folks into penury and uselessness.
One can argue that the gigantic changes in mechanisation and automisation in manufacturing and in ag, have created a huge surplus population...and that things like the War on Drugs, and the Pipeline to Prison...as well as the “volunteer” military as career choice(leading to a tendency for foreign entanglements for justification, btw)....all of these type things were designed to soak up that surplus population.
Since the Machine couldn't kill them outright, and since the Rugged Individualism and Bootstrapping Ideology wouldn't allow some other system...and would only allow a half hearted attempt at a safety net...all of these millions of our fellow Americans were simply forgotten...and taught to blame themselves for their poverty.
I'm positing that perhaps there's another way...one that doesn't rely on “Handouts” and other racialised euphemisms...but on re-organising our local and regional economics...to provide opportunities for folks to provide the sorts of things that everyone needs.

Go you now, and look up “Agorism”, “Counter-Economics”, “Intentional Community”, and “Left-Libertarianism”.
Don't be afraid of Wikipedia...only cowardly creatures who are afraid of everything, especially Knowledge, consider an Encyclopedia somehow dangerous.
Look up, as well, “Hydraulic Empire”..or “Hydraulic Despotism”....there's the fundamental Model for our current Civilisation.
90-some percent of all the chicken eaten in America flows through two gigantic,supra-national, immortal fictions...whose only physical manifestation is a collection of papers in a metal box in the Caymans, and a whole lot of people who believe, implicitly, in their actual existence.
Garden seeds, similarly, flow through a tiny handful of immortal fictions. Gasoline...and electricity...and medicine...food...means of transportation...
All of this is embedded in a system in which a few giant organisational wonders sit astride the supply lines of life, itself...always with the implicit threat of cutting off or restricting the flow, if a sufficient number of us down-stream dwellers fail to pay homage.(now go read “Howl” by Alan Ginsberg...(“Moloch!”))
Don't let me even begin to holler about Money...the Holy Cracker of Moloch...
Or Banks....the Temples.
Look up, again, “Local Currency”, but forget the fever-dreams of the gold bugs.
How about Marijuana as the medium of exchange....(Phil Judah suggested this, over chess, some 2o years ago...)
…...........................................
In my Thought, I sometimes forget to make clear the distinctions that I habitually employ, between Small, Medium and Large in everything from Economics, to Politics to the safety net...On the Broad, Civilisational Scale, I vote Democrat...and lean towards the Green Party Wing of the Big Dem Party.
Given the concentration of wealth ,and of the means of production and distribution..., such things as the Safety Net,including “Obamacare”, are necessary, to take up the slack, as it were...the dysfunctions inherent in the Very Large Systems we find ourselves in.
People need healthcare, after all...and a Living Wage...which is something that our top heavy Systems have difficulty providing...so that lack of income, even when one works full time, is taken up by the various and sundry “welfare” systems.
Again, a necessary evil, till the systems themselves, can be re-worked.
(a fellow named Ron Paul, hardly a “Socialist”, has been saying this very thing for decades)
Locally, I'm all about taking care of our own, and providing, as much as possible for our own individual and collective needs and wants.
And That is what I'm on about.
So resist, please, the ingrained tendency to disregard everything I say, because I happen to vote (D), or mention the word “Collective” without the prerequisite condemnations.
It has become so difficult to even talk about Economics, and the like, because of all of these code words, which cause short circuits in Thought and in Discussion.
This confusion of tongues and it's resulting hatred and acrimony...and divisiveness...is no accident.
It's how the Machine keeps us divided and disorganised...entirely focused on our differences, while missing, completely, our commonalities.
Whether you like or abhor your neighbors, near and far, is irrelevant.
History is pretty clear, that when some folks get too much, while a great many have too little, it always...Always...ends in disaster of one sort or another.
Unexamined, yet oh so comfortable, Assumptions, will do nothing to fix the many dysfunctions evident today.
And given that we Hate what we Fear, and we Fear what we do not Understand, folks are understandably averse to Change....even mere talk of Change.
But Change is likely the only Constant.
Status Quo has long passed it's throw out date.
Please consider the Thoughts behind this ramble, and join me outside the warehouse where the Box is kept.


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“The Future is a different country...and people do things differently there.”-John Michael Greer, Archdruid Reperts.

“Study;Do;Harvest---NOT---Work;Paper;Buy”-George Ure
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I'll wax poetic about “foreign policy”, at the outset of my next Ramble, as well as the intersection of FP with Globalism and the whole snake pit of exactly the wrong sort of global “governance”
(WTO,et alia)
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-engelhardt/an-exceptional-decline-fo_b_5583939.html)