Blog Archive

Friday, June 29, 2012

A More Perfect Union (or, I can do Utopia, Too.)

Since the Bush Darkness lent it’s Taint to Mainstream Conservatism, many of my Conservative friends have, sometimes unconsciously, attempted to distance themselves from that Taint.
It has become an unacknowledged Crisis on the Right…with many dabbling in Libertarian Political Theories, and in the Austrian Economics that goes with them.
Where these attempts seem to fail is in trying to hang on to some of the Mythos that entered the Conservative Mind, after Reagan….summed up with the saw,” All Government is Bad”.
This Philosophy has always had it’s inconsistencies, and contradictions…especially in Application.(I’m thinking, here, of the Small Government meddling in Drug Wars, and People’s Bedrooms…as well as the Belligerent Foreign Policy of Neoconservatives…and the Free Market Fundamentalism)

There has been much Theorising and Advocacy of certain Anarchic, and Voluntarianist, modes of Thought…again, relying on the saw:” All Government is Bad…Necessarily”. There are many Good Things, especially Good Sentiments, in these Modes of Thinking, but I believe they rely overmuch on Utopian, currently untenable, Assumptions.
I will here engage in a little Utopianism of my own…present my ideas of an Idealised Goal, that we can, perhaps, Aim Towards…which (I hope) encompasses all of these things, at least in Microcosm.

My answer to many of these Memes, regarding State Monopoly on Force, and an Out of Control Government…has been to retake Our Government, from them that stole it…namely Big business, and the Uberwealthy folks who hide behind them. What used to be called the Aristocracy.
I maintain that the System, that the Founders envisioned, is the Best Yet…for the first time in History, a Government built Of, By and For the People. Great Idea…I just think it needs an Update. We are still operating under 18th and 19th Century Mechanisms, in Government, and in Economics…and these Mechanisms have worked well…
However, it is now the 21st Century…We know a lot more about the World, and our Place in it…and our Systems are in Bad Need of Thoughtful Revision. But rather than Chuck the Whole Thing…we should take what is extant, and attempt to Make it Better.
I do not go there, Lightly.
….and, as all of my Thoughts on the matter are still taking shape, this will take the form of a Free Verse Brainstorm/Outline…

1. One, Glaring Problem: Our Government no longer Hears Us.
“My” US Congressman, “Represents” over 600,000 People….an Impossible Task. This, I believe Necessarily, leads to a pretty severe limitation on Which of his Constituents he can Listen To, on any given day.
Currently, largely due to the Current Media Paradigm, he must Listen to those with Money. I manage, on occasion, to get through the Paywall, and gain at least his Minion’s ears…perhaps due to my dramatic writing style,and pull-no-punches approach. My Policy is to Not Hold Back, when speaking to what I still consider My Employees.
I don’t think that this is conducive to Universalisation (Categorical Imperative), because he is, after all , One Man. It is unreasonable to expect him to Listen to 600,000 Folks, no matter his Intentions, or Integrity.
Thus, I have advocated a Smaller Polity…which means, I believe necessarily, More Representatives. Why must we stick to 435?
There are 3,033 Counties in the US. None are equal, population-wise…From Wiki,”County(US)”:”
The most populous county is Los Angeles County, California, with an estimated population of 9,880,000 (2009 Census estimate), greater than all but eight U.S. states. The least populous is Loving County, Texas, with 82 residents as of 2010.”

As we do(somewhat badly,lol) with States, now…we could do with Counties…Proportional Representation. Loving County, Texas would have One…LA, perhaps 30+…details are not what I’m after, here. Ya get the Idea. Keep States, of course…but Use them as “Super-Polities”…like a Sub-Congress.
It should be possible to come up with a construction where Representation is , at least ,Possible…unlike our Current System.
Such a Construction could be Scalable, Fractally…I’m calling this HyperFederalism…Scalable, from Local to Regional to Federal, and ultimately,to Global.
The Purpose of the Fedgov would be as originally conceived…as a Fence, and a Floor. A Fence around Government…a True Limit to the Powers Given to each Level…
and a Floor, underneath We, the People…a Minimum Level of Freedom, below which it is the Business of the Fedgov to Prevent our falling. Expanded Bill of Rights, etc.
(We’ll get to “Defense”, later)

Today, I respect my Garbage Man, more than I do my Congressman.
That is almost as it should be…but not quite.
Representatives perform a necessary Service….as do Garbage Men…the Respect afforded to each should be more alike. Get rid of the Marble…get rid of the expectation of Respect, currently operative, usually without having Earned it.
The various Legislative(or as I envision:Overseer) Bodies should meet in a Pole Barn…or Circus Tent(so as to move around, affording Everyone Access)…not a Marble Hall. The Emphasis should be on Service…not Accolades and Unearned Respect, and Perks of Office.
They can have Respect when they Earn it from their Constituency…by Serving them….not as a Free Perk of merely gaining a seat.

As for the Myriad Polities….the Original Idea of Federalism was that the Various States would be Laboratories…where many different ways of Living Together could be tried, and then assessed…all with the Fence and Floor, rigorously Applied.
Too many things we do are Top Down…Centralised…One-Size-Fits All.
Mason County has little in Common with New York City…why should the same Overwhelming Mass of Laws apply Equally?
I propose a Universalising of the way Maryland is set up…the Counties are the Government, Overseen (and kept to minimum standards) by the State Government.
(See: ( and ( and (

2.there should be No Darkness , at any level of Government. Kill the CIA, et alia. If it is the Public’s Business, then the Public has an Inalienable Right to Know. No Secrets…No “Classified”.
If it’s something that would require Secrecy, it Likely shouldn’t be done, in the first place.
This will cause a hue and cry…but the perceived “Need” for all this Secrecy is based on Fear…and on Not being able to Make the Case.
The History of the CIA makes it pretty clear…the Secret Operations that they have engaged in, from Iran to Chile to Vietnam, to Afghanistan…every one of them, they feared telling the People(their Collective Bosses)…because they couldn’t justify such actions in Broad Daylight. This is inimical to a Free Society, and has led, as water flowing downhill, to Giant Abuses of the Public Trust, as well as the Public Purse.
(Defense is forthcoming, I promise…and fits in with this No Secrecy Thing)
The Result, on the Ground, of almost 100 years of State Secrets, is that the American People don’t know what to believe, any more…we are ripe for any Conspiracy Theory that comes along…we are more Gullible…more Credulous…than we should be….because it is so difficult to establish Truth. There are , undoubtedly, many Skeletons in Government’s Closet…and many folks fear these Relevations…
This is no excuse to continue. It is a Cowardly Answer.
No matter what the Truth is, the People will get used to it.
There will likely be Shock and Horror, at many things that have been done,”In Our Name”, as it were…but this shock will pass…and Truth should be the default Policy of any Government that claims to be Representative …of, by and for the folks.
Open ALL of the Books. Punish where necessary…allow amnesty for many…and Move On.

3. Corporations are Not People. They have become Artificial, Immortal Lifeforms, in their own right.
This is entirely due to the actions of Dysfunctional Government….and, as such, can be changed.
(see; ( on Jefferson and Madison’s Eleventh Amendment)

Corporations, Monopolies…should be severely Limited in their scope, functions, powers and Lifespans. They should have nothing, whatever, to do with the making of Laws. They should have nothing, whatever, to do with Elections.
They have their Uses…but should be Limited to those Uses.
Why this is so hard to get across, I don’t
Public Charters, Enforceable Globally. Ie; if your Company is Incorporated in Delaware, and violates it’s Charter in Irian Jaya, it’s up to the Fedgov…it’s OUR Collective Responsibility…to Go After it…and to force reparations on the injured party, be they naked savages, or more civilized folks.
There should be No, Zero, ability to “Socialise” Pollution, or any of the negative results of Corporate Activity.
Currently, we treat Corps like People, with all of the Rights, of actual people, but None of the Responsibilities.

4. Defense.
A cursory glance at History, gives one an appreciation of our Faults and Shortcomings, as a Species. We are a Violently Passionate Bunch…with a penchant for Greed, and for self harm. We seem almost Suicidal, at times. The case is often made that this is “Human Nature”…however, are we really prisoners of Genetics?
That same glance at History, also reveals that much Progress has been made in Mitigating our more Violent Tendencies.
This Mitigation is largely the Product of the Enlightenment…and our recent regression into even more Warlike Behaviour, is due to our willing abandonment of the Enlightenment Project…willing, because we weren’t given all of the relevant Information. Certain sectors of Society Lied…plain and simple. The Avarice of those at the Top, and their unwillingness to Play Fair, led directly to the Lies and Obfuscations(see CIA, above) that have led us to all but abandon our upward Trend. The Fear is inherent in these Parasites. They Fear Competition…in the field of Ideas, as well as in the more Mundane Pursuits. Because of their Fear, which they are Loath to admit, they Lie, and convince the rest of us that the Lies are, instead Truth. This goes hand in hand with the Secrecy.
We should, instead, be Courageous in our dealings with the World, and with each other…and here, “Courageous” has nothing to do with the usual Chest Thumping Display(as anthropologists term it)…but with the Courage of our Convictions.
We are Not, any longer, the Shining Beacon on the Hill…but we could be , again.
I propose a Foreign Policy Stance of Reciprocity.

The Golden Rule, as Foreign Policy.
It takes more Courage than our current Fearful way.
…and I believe that it would make for a better world.
Keep the Dept of Defense…but gear it towards actual Defense, not our current Belligerence. Form a Department of Peace…why is that such a ridiculous idea?
Stop Meddling in other people’s business…often on the behalf of Corporate Greed. Our current Foreign Policy is built on, on the one hand, Fear that some bogyman is gonna come take all our Pie…and on the other(the bulk,imo), that Corporations “need” access to Raw Materials, and Markets, and Labour Forces…but they can’t seem to win these fairly, and based on their Merits…but, instead, must sneakily use OUR military, and CIA, to Force others to Comply.
This causes much Hatred of the US…which is used to Justify more Secrecy, more whittling away at our Rights, and More militaristic Adventurism. The Advocates of this mess Hide behind Patriotism, and Fear…and rely on the ignorance of the American People…an Ignorance that is essential to the continuation of this Morass…

Golden Rule, treat others as you wish to be treated. Don’t want to be invaded in the service of greed…don’t invade in the service of greed.
It’s really pretty simple. Those who holler loudest about this part…I challenge you to explain how I’m wrong. I submit that this very same Idea can be readily found in the words of our Founders.

5, Med and Ed

Medicine and Education should not be regarded as Commercial Activities, save in limited circumstances; one circumstance, in medicine, is vanity surgery. In education, I can’t think of anything that should be commodified…as an Educated Populace is essential to what I’m talking about.
The 2012 Texas Republican Platform says:”
Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority. “

I think this is Dangerous, Counterproductive and downright Stupid.
We need More Education…More Critical Thinking….More Thought and Reason. How anyone can argue against such things just blows my mind. More Ignorance and Stupidity is the last thing that we need.
We have , currently, a large portion of the population who believes a whole slate of things that are simply Untrue…and this is easily demonstrated….but our Habits of Mind have been so eroded, and poisoned…our sources of information so polluted… that we can’t tell, anymore, up from down.
I propose, if not as a Universal “Solution” at least as a Constituent Part of a Solution…a system of Guilds….Medical and Educational. Monastic, mostly Secular…but I see no problem with there being Religious Orders doing this, too(so long as they are not the Only Ones)…with an Emphasis, not on Profit, and on Getting Rich…but on Service…on Helping People. Wandering bands of Monks, engaged in the teaching of Chemistry, Agriculture, and whatnot…Other Wandering Bands of Monks, engaged in Health Care.
The Greed, and the Maintenance of that Greed, is what screws up Med and Ed, as we currently practice them.

Just a thought.

6. Relocalisation/Decentralisation/ Democratisation.

We must come to grips with the Reality of Too Many People on a Finite World. There is simply no room, any more, for the Rugged, Hyperindividualism of the Past. Resource Depletion is Real…it’s happening all around us…yet or Systems are all geared towards Infinite Growth.
I advocate “Responsible Enough-ness”…I eschew Conspicuous Consumption. Everywhere, we are encouraged(often unconsciously) to wear the Badges of Wealth on our sleeve….whether we possess wealth, or no. Zarathustra said, “Blessed be Moderate Poverty”….and I take it seriously.
One of the worst things that Reagan did was to make conspicuous consumption Honorable….and relegate a more responsible attitude regarding wealth to the fringes.The True American became a Teenager with a Big Car…We need to enter Adulthood, as a Species. There should be no perception that living within one’s means, however meager, is shameful. I do not “Need” a new car…I do not “need” a large house.I do not “Need” to keep up with the Joneses.
Wastefulness is not something we should be Proud of…Frugality and Responsibility are. These are all Human Creations…and, can thus be Changed. It ain’t set in stone, and we are not slaves to our DNA; Nor should we be slaves to the psychological Manipulations of Madison Avenue.

7. Taxation.

Government requires Taxation…Oliver Wendell Holmes summed it up, perfectly, for me:”I like paying taxes: they are the fee, whereby I purchase Civilisation”.

(paraphrasing, from memory)

That taxation should be Fair, Equitable and Transparent is Obvious, I think.

It, currently, is none of these things.
Today, the Rich get off all but scott-free…paying nothing for the maintenance of the Civilisation that they Enjoy. This leads to resentment…and hatred and class strife(just like Marx predicted).

Coupled with the aforementioned Secrecy, and the resulting Ignorance of Reality, many folks have joined in the calls for Zero Taxes…the Mythos that All Taxes are Bad…that goes hand in hand with All Government is Bad.
Education and Transparency can remedy much of this.
Getting the Parasitical Fed out of the Equation…be honest…it is run by, of and for the very Corporate Persons who have Stolen Our Country.(it ain’t “Federal”, or a “Reserve”). I won’t pretend to know what we should do about Money, Coinage, and the like…but fiat Paper and Debt Based Economics seem pretty dumb, when ya get down to it. A total reworking of our system of Values is in order.(a large task, indeed.)


I understand that much of this is Pie in the Sky-ism…that’s fine…and intentional.
We need such Thinking, to break out of our Mental Ruts…the assumption that This is How it Must Be.(TINA)
”Oh the Economy will Collapse!”….
As long as there are Humans, who have Needs and Wants, there will be an “Economy”.
I say, that there can be a Better one. That’s all…
That the way we do things, now, is wasteful, counterproductive, if not Unproductive…and has , as it’s Goal, the Maintenance of the Current Structures of Wealth and Power.
How many of you engage in so called “Busy Work”…Non productive paper pushing that does nothing but eat up time, that could be better spent, sitting in the Garden, Thinking?

There are many things that we foist off on virtual Slaves, in China and Bangladesh…that we could do ourselves…if we could, somehow , reorder our Perceptions and Thinking on what is “Good” and “Valuable’ and “Respected”.
I think, as a somewhat silly example, that Toilet Paper is a Good Thing.
And Food.

Why do we Export the provision of such “Goods” to slave economies?

Is it not Honorable to Feed Ourselves, and Provide Ourselves with quality Bunghole Fodder?

How many currently “Unemployed” People….what some have termed “Surplus Labour”…how many could have respectable, gainful work, if we brought such Activity home?

We take much of our Systems…and the Reasoning behind them…for Granted….as Unexamined Assumptions. The effect, is that we run on Autopilot…and leave ourselves wide open for Tyrannical, Avaricious Parasites….waiting ,at the edge of all Human Endeavor, for Us to look away.
These are just things that I have been mulling over for some time…
We need, more than anything else, to Think, and to Talk…and to Reason Together.
To do otherwise, is to hand Our Future over to the Parasites who would Rule Us.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Search for the Elusive Welfare Queen.

As many of you know, I’ve been after a new hip/ankle/knee, for some time. About 6 years.
I’ve had zero success, with Government Healthcare…whether Disability, Medicaid, Indigent Care…or with “Charity”(I can’t find any).
My illness has led to my attempting to get the dreaded “Food Stamps”, on several occasions, over the years…with very limited results:twice…and the last time is right now…although, I still have yet to see a Lone Star Card in the mailbox.
I have found dealing with the myriad Agencies and Departments Byzantine and Utterly Incomprehensible.
I have endeavored to get help with Senators and Representatives, State and Federal…with little success…and a lot more BS.
This is all related in many posts, throughout my little blog.
(search for “Health care”)
During this time, my many Conservative friends…and many Conservatives who are not, but were not shy…have repeated the Narrative of the “Welfare Queen”.
I have never, save for one time, known someone who fits that description…But, that’s just my personal experience.
What about actual evidence. The Narrative is everywhere, after all…go to the coffee shop, and ask a random old man about”Welfare”, and get an earful about all those lazy, good fer nuthin moochers…
I set out, this morning, in search of actual, verifiable Evidence, to back up this Narrative.

Nothing. I went to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Office of Inspector General(which was 3 pages in to a google search for ”welfare fraud Texas”, after much circular sourcing on Right Wing Websites)…so I looked around THHSC,OIG’s website…and finally ended up here:


Here’s the only thing in their report that I saw, that was in any way relevant to my Question:

Aside from the prevention functions listed here, the Office of Inspector General has undertaken other

initiatives designed to prevent fraud, waste and abuse. These include:


Recipient data matches, including data matches to prevent payment to incarcerated persons, persons

receiving benefits in other states, persons whose income is higher than they reported, and persons

who are deceased.”

That’s it…18 pages of, essentially, “What we do”…3 pages of “Glossary”(which was more than useless)…and one page of “Data”…In which Chart, I did find: “Cost Avoided-$4.6 Billion”, which is defined as all fraud, from the lowliest Peasant, to the biggest Corporation, and every medical equipment delivery service, doctor’s office and hospital, in between…Aggregate! All of them lumped in, together, without distinction.
So I called them.
Nice enough lady answered, I stated my purpose: Concerned Citizen Tax Payer, looking for information about Welfare Queens.
She had no idea what I was talking about!
I attempted to clarify…Welfare Fraud, by Individuals…have you never heard of this?
She said that No, she had never heard of this.
She then “transferred me to an answering machine. I left my information…I’ll report back, if they call me.
So then I called THHSC’s “Ombudsman’s” Office…nice guy, Mark…didn’t really know…transferred me to a “Resolution Specialist”….nice girl, watches Fox…and has never heard of the “Welfare Narrative”…how welfare recipients are a bunch of lazy, murderous crackheads, living large on taxpayer dollars.

She tried to help(“ so you want a list of EVERYONE?”)
Ended up doing a google search for me.
Resulting in this:


Out of which, I extracted this:
As a result of educating beneficiaries, the projects received over 60,000 inquiries in 2009 from or on behalf of beneficiaries and resolved over 99 percent of the inquiries during this period. In addition, as a result of educational efforts, SMP projects received 3,052 complex issues—i.e., beneficiary complaints requiring further research, assistance, case development and/or referral. While the SMP program staff was able to resolve 2,588 complex issues for beneficiaries during 2009, an additional 966 of these issues, with an estimated dollar value of $3.8 million, were referred to law enforcement, CMS integrity contractors, state Medicaid Fraud Control Units, or other entities for further action. During this period, HHS/OIG documented that almost $565,000 in healthcare expenditures were avoided and over $214,000 in Medicare, Medicaid and other savings resulted from actions taken by the SMP program.”

Which seems to be the closet thing to what I’m looking for.

Still doesn’t distinguish between institutional, corporate, doctor etc Fraud, and the Individual Fraud I’m looking for.

I am frikkin Amazed!

So I finally find a Public Relations number at the (Federal) HHS, OIG…she says,”we don’t do welfare fraud…that’s a state issue”.
!!!!!! “They have an OIG…”

Surely there is some factual information at the root of such a widely held belief…
Here’s some assertions representative of what I’m finding.


Here’s WIKI:(

FTA:” According to the Government Accountability Office, at a 2009 count, 4.36% of food stamps benefits were found to be overpaid, down from 9.86% in 1999.[17] A 2003 analysis found that two-thirds of all improper payments were the fault of the caseworker, not the participant.[17] There are also instances of fraud involving exchange of food stamp benefits for cash and/or for items not eligible for purchase with food stamps.[18] In 2011, the Michigan program was revised after it was discovered that about 26,000 full-time college students were receiving monthly food stamp benefits.[19])”

Here’s footnote 18, from that wiki page:(

Everything I’ve found, so far, regarding Fraud in “Welfare”…be it Food stamps, the various and sundry Healthcare programs…all of it has to do with “businesses”…colluding with “individuals”…but all we ever hear about is the Individuals…the Proverbial Welfare Queens, on Crack, driving a Taxpayer Provided Limousine, and pulling in $100,000 in filthy lucre….taking Hawaiian Vacations, at Taxpayer expense…
I don’t understand.
This narrative is widespread…I’m certain that I haven’t imagined it.

I’ve suspected, all along, that it was total BS…perhaps there were a few isolated cases, but nothing as widespread as the Narrative would indicate. Since Reagan first launched this Narrative, things have been put in place to reduce, drastically, whatever Individual Fraud existed.
Indeed, one of the things I routinely throw at my Republican Friends, is the fact that I…a Mad Genius, with an IQ of 180…cannot seem to Legitimately Benefit from the Welfare System, despite my obvious need for such things ( no one who knows me, no one who has seen me, no one in government that has talked to me, has ever, ever disputed my right to and eligibility for, such programs)

So, here I am, searching diligently, for any evidence that this widespread fraud, by Po Folks, is actually occurring.
Next up…a call to my State Rep, Harvey Hildebran®. (funny, that spell check translated an “r “ after his name and the symbol for ‘registered’ trademark,lol)

….but, it appears to be Lunchtime, at the Rep’s office. Wonder how long their Lunch Break is….?

12:21 Lima.

meanwhile: (

what there is of it, seems kinda small…and , again, no distinction is made between fraud by businesses, and individuals.

this is a long plea for fixing the, apparently, toothless and ineffectual sub agency in charge of the presumed rampant welfare fraud. No links to evidence of the actual existence of rampant welfare fraud by individuals.

Wow! Finally! Here’s 12 (Twelve) Texas Inmates, serving time for “Welfare Fraud,$750-20,000”…(

Sorry this is all so long and rambling(more than usual)…but I honestly expected the information I’m seeking to be easy to find.
Here’s USDA’s “quality control report 2010”…a quote…

“FY 2010 was another year of excellent

performance in payment accuracy in SNAP.

The payment error rate in SNAP for

FY 2010 is 3.81 percent. This is the lowest

National payment error rate in the history of


The SNAP negative error rate for fiscal year

FY 2010 is 8.43 percent. The FY 2009

negative error rate is 9.41 percent.”

This seems to only involve fuckups by the various government agencies…NOT intentional Fraud by all the crack smoking whores out there, sponging off the system(sic)….

I guess I’ll try Rep Hildebrand, again….13:27 Lima….surely an hour and a half is sufficient time for Lunch…
and, yes…the nice man at Rep Hildebran’s office at least knew what I was referring to. He hmmm-ed and haawwwed…said”well…..”

And finally provided me with a link to a “Think Tank”, that might be able to help me in my quest.
I knew already that ( was a Right Wing Group…I’ve read their “products”, before…many times.
There’s a lot of info…but so far, only policy recommendations are evident…things they’d like to see implemented to “handle the problem of welfare fraud”….without ever getting around to proving that there is rampant fraud, to begin with.
It’s an Assumption.
I’m calling them, right now.
( here’s their little report on the Texas Model of Healthcare…how all those lefties have it all wrong, and that everything would be great in Texas, if all those Illegals would leave(
This is representative of what ya find there…so I expect whomever answers the phone to expel a considerable amount of bullshit)


Sure enough….
The 28 year old staffer kinda knew what I was after…he sent me to another VoiceMail…at their Center for Fiscal Policy…someone named James Quintero(sp-2).
I explained that I have been searching, all day, for the elusive Welfare Queen…the Individual, not the many businesses who screw the government…the Individual…and cannot find any….aside from a very few, isolated cases.

In my experience, with Government, and Think Tanks, as well as Corporations, a Voice Mail Box is, generally, a Dead End.(unless you lie…which I won’t do)

I’ll report, if I hear back from any of these people…
In the meantime…
Result of my 6 hours , and an unknown expenditure on my phone bill(no-one had 800 numbers, save for my Rep):
The Welfare Queen, sponging off the taxpayer, smoking crack in Hawaii, , all on the taxpayer’s dime….is a MYTH!

Fraud, on an individual level, appears to be almost nonexistent!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finding My Religion

Militant Agnostic(I don’t know, and neither do you)
Secular Humanist(Good, without God; We must make our own Morality)
Mystic(“The World is a fine place, and worth fighting for”-Hemmingway. Or,”I believe in Spinoza’s God”-Einstein))
These three are where I’m at, as far as Religion.
Not really a Religion, at all. Perhaps, Worldview is a better word.
Socratic Perplexity is very important to me…I approach everything with Agnosticism. The Framework I settle on is Provisional…merely a useful scaffold on which to Hang my Observations.

I’m Secular…as I see this as possibly the only way to live in Peace with so many different Worldviews. Pluralism, again….believe what you will…but in order to live together, the Foundation of our Relationship(Government)..what is Common to All…must be Secular; and derived from Reason.

Mystic…because Our ever expanding Bubble of Understanding of the Universe rightly engenders Awe. From the Smallest(that we can see) to the Largest Scale Structures(as far as we’ve been able to see), the Universe continues to Surprise us.
I find that I am quite comfortable with the Unknown…that which is beyond our Current Bubble….it means that there is more to try to understand…which I find Exciting.
Seems that most folks find this disconcerting, at best….Terrifying, at worst.
When the time comes, and I can no longer put it off…I am interested in Death. Since I must, at some point, Die…I see no point in being Fearful of it. I seem to be alone, in this, as well.(I’ve come close, on several occasions…so I have some experience with this)
I see it as another bend in the River.
Since we cannot Know what comes after…and since we cannot Know, for sure, what the Ultimate Truth is…or even that there is such a thing,(despite the claims of the Myriad, Disparate Faiths)…then the only Rational thing to do, is to make this World a better place.
Or, at least, try to.

What we DO know, with as much Certainty as is possible, is that we are here, now…on this little planet…all together. …and that we have more things in common with each other, and with the rest of the Biosphere, than we have Differences.

No More "Church"

Sitting in the rapids.
Standing Wave Massage.
Looking at the Cliffs, 300 feet above me, that once were the Mud, at the bottom of an Ocean.
The Anxiety, possibly Bipolarism, that had built up, since the latest foray to Houston, finally sent me to the River.
Case of beer, air mattress, summer sausage.

Made the mistake of turning on the radio…unwanted Memory(Her)..Damaged my Calm.
It was no use…the Pain, too, crept through the Beer…doesn’t work, any more.
On my last legs, packed up camp…after a mere 5 hours in the Wilderness. Call it Anhedonia.
Pay for it for a week.

Incredible Pain.
When even a hot bath,or in this case, a Standing Wave Full Body Massage, makes ya feel Worse…hard to have a positive outlook.
Add in the Tape Deck in my Mind….
I’m Crazy.

Young Life comes to the Barrio(and Amfortas goes apoplexic)

Great Googly Moogly!
What used to be the Headstart building has been handed over, rent free for a year, to Young Life Incorporated.
In the past, at least since I moved to town, I’ve told the various missionaries that showed up in my yard that we were Catholic.
My wife is, of course…my boys, in my opinion, are too young to make a decision on the matter(even though my 10 yr old has been “Confirmed”, etc)…
I am, decidedly, NOT Christian.
More of a Secular Humanist, Militant Agnostic(I don’t know, and neither do you), Mystic.(more on this, in near future)

When the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons or whomever comes by, this feels like too much to get in to…and I fear becoming a Special Case for their “Witnessing”…better to just give them the Catholic Answer, and let them go away.

Now, an Evangelical Cult(see the Links) is moving in, an arrow shot away…(does that make any drug purchases made in the Barrio all that much more illegal? 1000 feet from a “Church’, and all>)

As I’ve tried to make absolutely Clear…I honestly don’t care what another person chooses to believe in (Goose Doctrine)….it’s the “Witnessing”…the “Proselytizing” ….and the potential connections to Dominionism and Christian Nationalism…the Targeting of my Kids(see links)…then, it becomes “My Business”…gets included in my Threat Matrix.

I know full well that if these types knew what I believe, what’s in my Library…well…lets just say that I am the quintessential anathema to these people, judging by their own statements.

The Evangelical, and worse, the Fundamentalist, strains in Xianity have little Tolerance for folks like me.

I have studied these belief systems for quite a while…and I find them creepy. Again, good for you, if you’re a Cult Member…I’m genuinely Happy that you’ve found Meaning, etc.
But, please…Leave Me, and my Kids, alone.


Leaving the Heathen alone is, apparently, unacceptable….



Mission Statement:” Our Mission
Introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith. We accomplish our mission by ...
Praying for young people.
Going where kids are.
Building personal relationships with them.
Winning the right to be heard.
Providing experiences that are fun, adventurous and life-changing.
Sharing our lives and the Good News of Jesus Christ with adolescents.
Inviting them to personally respond to this Good News.
Loving them regardless of their response.
Nurturing kids so they might grow in their love for Christ and the knowledge of God's Word and become people who can share their faith with others.
Helping young people develop the skills, assets and attitudes to reach their full God-given potential.
Encouraging kids to live connected to the Body of Christ by being an active member of a local congregation.
Working with a team of like-minded individuals -- volunteer leaders, committee members, donors and staff.”




I spent a lot of time wandering in the Cross-references, on the wiki page…Hardest thing about an Objective study of Xianity is the apparent readiness of Believers to faction off over minor differences in Dogma. This Factionalism has been operant from the very beginnings of Xianity.
Indeed, right here, in Mason…we counted 27 “churches”, at one time(2004)…half were the result of factionalism; a group at one church would have some minor doctrinal difference of opinion(often merely cloaked racism) and split off, sounding trumpets that they were the “Real” Church.(in a county of under 5000!)
This history of Fracturing and infighting, both historical and local, give me some comfort.(If they can’t keep it together, there is little threat of the worst among them being able to impose the worst-case-scenario)
During the Bush Darkness(They identified with each other, They became political, and thus, Fair Game.), I had concerns of a possible Theocracy in the making. I still have concerns, but not of an Overt Takeover…more of an Insidious, Stealthy Coup…where this loose group infiltrates all levels of Government, from the local school board, to the Federal Beaurocracy to the Brass, and Noncom levels of the US Military.
Keeping a keen eye on the news confirms that these concerns are warranted.
As I have no desire for well meaning folks to be out in front of my house, conducting “Spiritual Warfare” to rid me and mine of “Demons”…I am a little concerned with the appearance of mty new neighbors.
Similarly, since I am a Poster Child for what these groups believe is Wrong with the World,as well as their increasing Political Power, and Proliferation, I rightly worry about a near future appointment with the Stake.
A cynical aside: ( political wing of Xianity in America rails constantly against what they perceive as a Giant, Tentacled Secular Humanist Conspiracy to take over America(!). I wish they’d foreword the address, as I’m having difficulty finding said Monstrosity.(I’d like to sign on…lol)
A glance at such a list as the one above, and I think about words…like “Projection”.lol
Again, to be clear….what I have a problem with, when thinking about this whole mess….is the in yer face-ism….and the stealthily stealing into public schools…and the broader Movement behind all this…that want’s, in no uncertain terms, to Take Back America for Jesus.
I have a Big Problem with that.

Pluralism…that’s what I advocate.
This seems impossible with these folks. Theirs is an all-encompassing, militant Faith…there is no room in their World for the Other. The Other is, by definition, the Enemy of God.
It strikes me that one of the features of this, which it has in common with the whole Right Wing of American Politics, is the tendency towards what Orwell called “Doublethink”…also known as Cognitive Dissonance.
Indeed, I suspect that the Political version of this flows from the Religious version, which has, at it’s root, the Biblical Literalism so prevalent in Right Leaning Xianity.
If one actually reads the Bible, with an open, Objective Mind, one finds rampant Contradictions. Indeed, much Biblical Scholarship, of the last Century,(applying Linguistic techniques, and Critical Analysis), has led to the suspicion that there is more than One God, referenced in the “Good Book”…the God of Love,in parts of the New Testament…and the Psychopathic, Vindictive God, in the Old, as well as in the rest of the New.
To believe, without question, that this collection of texts is the Divine Word, Unerring, and Complete…well, it’s no wonder, at all, that the Literalists seem a little nuts to those of us on the Outside.
To hold in one’s Mind two completely opposing Extremes…2+2=4, and 2+2=5….at the same time…and to willfully ignore this contradiction, for fear of Hell…it explains a lot of our current Political Dysfunction.

On the Rick Ross pages, linked above, Young Lifers come on the Forum to defend their Organisation.
What jumps out, at me, is that the Moderator’s Arguments seem to go right over YL’s heads.
To wit, Mod:” parents must be notified that y’all are out to Convert these kids…to not tell the parents is wrong, neglectful and sneaky”
YL:” We are merely informing them of the Love of Jesus”.
Mod:”if a Mormon, or Muslim, approached YOUR kids, without yer knowledge, for the express purpose to Convert them…would you be ok with that?”
YL:”Of course not!”
The Contradiction is completely lost to these folks. To them, it is “Obvious”…they have the Truth…so of course it’s perfectly fine to Indoctrinate other people’s kids. Mormons, etc do not possess the Truth…so their Proselytizing is Wrong.
Expand this out to the broader Right Wing, Religious and Political…and here’s the reason that we keep veering into the Right Hand Ditch.
The Sky, you see, is All Blue…AND All Green, at the same time…and the True Believers possess the Only Truth…so, to contradict them, to question them, is Obviously the Work of the Devil(or the evil Liberal, Socialist Hordes…or those sneaky Imams….as the case may be)

In this world, per St Paul, to Think is Dangerous, and to be avoided.
Belief trumps an Objective assessment of the World.

I have very little hope that this can end well.
Eventually, folks like me will have to go underground, and wait.
How can Reason prevail….or even come to the table…with such an opponent?

A Ramble, Regarding STARR(the latest testing regime)







From the last link:” How can parents opt their children out of testing?

Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code gives parents the right to remove their child from any activity that the parent believes is immoral or against their religious beliefs.

At Texas Parents Opt Out, we believe that high-stakes testing is immoral. Ten years of No Child Left Behind legislation have generated mountains of research on the negative effects of high-stakes testing.

Studies show what parents already suspected, that standardized testing:

Produces anxiety and depression.

Kills curiosity and children's desire to learn.

Narrows the curriculum.

Wastes valuable educational time.

If you believe that standardized testing is harming your child or depriving him or her of a quality education, and if you believe that current Texas laws concerning the 15 percent rule might harm your child's future educational opportunities, please join us by opting out of the STAAR tests.

It's your right.

Chamness is the director of Texas Parents Opt Out;”

My precocious 10-year old is suffering from Anxiety. He’s inherited my High-Strung, but Powerful Mind…but this Anxiety has a specific Cause…over and above genetics.
These damned Tests. No child left behind(sic) has been an abject Failure. Ask a Teacher. Ask a Kid. Ask a Superintendent.
The Starr test is just the latest “Product” foisted on Texas Students, under NCLB…an “education initiative” promoted and sold by our least intelligent President, almost 10 years ago.

I spent some time this morning, perusing the TEA’s website regarding Staar. It appears that the site is designed to confuse…designed to obfuscate.
Coded Language, Esoteric Jargon. PDF’s everywhere(Pearson Ed’s Parent owns Adobe, as well).
Even Complex Ideas can be Boiled Down, to their simplest core.
I can give a five minute exegesis on Einstein’s Theory of Gravity, using a bed sheet. You will come away with an understanding of 4 dimensional Spacetime.
This could have been done with the explanations of Starr; the whys, hows and whats,….the Meat of it…what are we after?

I can find No Meat on the TEA’s website.
Pearson’s relevant Webpage appears to keep whatever Meat they possess safely behind a Paywall….what is readily available, both at Pearson and the TEA, is a forest of Jargon..thickets of Links and PDF’s…none of which appear to actually Say Anything.
Corporate Word Salad.
This is indictment, enough.
I , along with every other Parent, am all for Testing and Assessment.
However, I think it’s important to do so Rationally and Openly.
If there is Reason behind all this mess, that my kids spend 75% of their School Time on…if there’s Reason, I cannot find it.

My Wife is an ESL Teacher. As an interested and intelligent Husband, I have the opportunity to read all the Behind the Scenes Material…the myriad handouts and “Work Books”.
I understand that specific Professions, (or Disciplines, as they used to be called) have a need for somewhat Specialised Language…I get it. Archaeologists, Accountants, Lawyers…all have their Jargon.
What I have found, in my lifelong Journey to Understanding, is that almost none of these Specialised Languages are Incomprehensible.
A few days reading the relevant Texts can give one an at least cursory Understanding of a given Field.
This is NOT what I find in all the Education Science materials that cross my Wife’s desk.
There’s very little “There”, there.(the other Fields, of course,are Congressional Legalese….and Corpspeak…designed to actually impart as little information as possible, in as many words as possible)


6% of students is all that’s required to invalidate the tests, and send a big Middle Finger to our Legislative Whores.(refute, if ya think that’s too coarse!)

It appears to have already happened..the Corporate Takeover of PubEd…stealthily, while we were worried about Terrists, and Jobs.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Home of the Brave


In 1952, was the average American still squeamish…reluctant to talk about…Pearl Harbour?
I realize that WW2 was, and is, widely regarded as a Just and Necessary War…despite the costs, in lives and treasure…and despite the sacrifices, of Liberty and Comfort, at home. 60 years on, I largely agree with such sentiments…even after the growing academic acceptance of FDR’s shadier side, in provoking and all but encouraging that attack. The Historical Record, regarding the Nazis, and Imperial Japan, certainly goes a long way towards justifying such subterfuge.
Same question, 11 years after the Maine, in Havanna Harbour?
The record, here, of subterfuge, is much more damning…and lacks the “benefit” of a heartfelt Existential Threat…the Spanish “Empire”, at the time, was all but dead…certainly it was no real threat to the nascent American Empire.
There is little information, readily available, regarding Public Sentiment, 11 years after that version of “They Attacked Us! Man the Barricades!” Indeed, the whole Spanish-American War is mostly relegated to Footnote Status.
(an interesting feature of that story, from a 2012 perspective, is that Republicans, and Big Business, were Against(!) Imperial Expansion…)
The appearance of this new Spy Novel…which I’m certain I would have completely missed, had I not wandered into Dandelion Salad, this morning….bring up this mess of half-formed questions.
Never has National Unity of Opinion been so enforced, for so long…save maybe during the Red Scares, and McCarthyism…
Even then, there was vigorous and courageous resistance…that eventually won the day. Indeed, the sixties could be viewed, in part, as a backlash against the attempts at enforcing Unity of Opinion…and Smacking Down Dissent.
The Global War on Terror(sic) is different, somehow…now that Lil George and Darth are out of the day-to-day news cycle(where’s Rummy? Wolfowitz?lol)…the GWOT is all but forgotten, receding into the Background of the “New Normal”. All the apparatus are still in place(does anyone really believe that we’ve Left Iraq?Ha!) from Guantanimo, to Yemen to the horn of Africa, to the Persian Gulf …Black Sites and Drone Attacks, arguably against International Law…all are firmly in place. Yet, we don’t talk about the horrible event that started all of this…by Tuesday Afternoon, the Official Narrative was in place…and one was, and is, Unamerican to question it.
It didn’t take 10-20 years for the inconsistencies to present themselves…like in Pearl harbour…these were evident, as it was happening.
I won’t belabour…the information is readily available…and has been, since 9-12….ever expanding. (see:(( for compelling Counternarrative)

Hell, the History of the whole Bush2 “Administration is an all but Forbidden Topic. We willfully Forget all the Crazy…the fire at one of Cheney’s Offices, for instance. Nothing to see, here, folks….
It is not my Purpose, here, to assert the veracity of any Narrative…merely to Question the Wisdom of swallowing the Official Narrative Whole. In my Heart of Hearts, the “Lihop” Narrative looks more likely(“Let It Happen On Purpose”)…placed squarely on a plate of Peak Oil, growing Climate Instability, and the utter Failure of Corporate Capitalism(Financialisation Stage)…this makes much more sense, to me, than the Official Story, which is childish in it’s ignorance of recent history(Charlie Wilson,etc etc), and it’s reliance on Belief, at gunpoint, if necessary, over verifiable Facts.
Recently, I was in Clear Lake, Texas…on a boat not 300 feet from the Channel where they were bringing in a Space Shuttle Mockup(the tires had, reportedly, been in Space,lol). The radio on the boat had much Coast Guard chatter, as well as mentions of “Homeland Security”, FBI, and even Secret Service…as well as what I recognize (being a Scanner Nut) as being Scrambled Communications. The sky was alive with CG helicopters…hovering 100 feet above the crowds…and 50+ boats containing all manner of Law Enforcement. What appeared to be “Agents” were mingling with the crowds on shore(body language and ear-buds)…and all around the area, there were Cops, Cops, Cops…they even closed the Kemah Bridge while the Shuttle passed laboriously underneath. While it was Neat to see the Shuttle, Mockup or no…(I come from a family of Nasa-Geeks)…I couldn’t help but wonder at all the “Security”. What were they afraid of? Was there a “Credible Threat”?
Was there something that they knew, or feared, that justified such Expenditure, and curtailing of Freedom of Movement?
I kept my mouth shut, mostly…and quietly surveyed the scene through Dad’s Awesome Binoculars. It was obvious that no one on the boat entertained such thoughts(perhaps Dad)…and a political row with family was the last thing I wanted.
It is my Leaning, to think of this Show of Force…this Exposition of the Police/Surveillance State…as for the benefit of the Masses, there gathered….not because of any Threat, but in order to reinforce the New Normal.

The “Security Forces” were justifying their existence…and in this largely Tea Party area, no one questioned the Public Money it cost to put on this Show. Curious.

This is no longer America.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I had three Lives, in Huntsville,Texas.
The first Life was in between my time with P, and the leading Edge of my Wild Years. The last 2 were consecutive, after Wreck.

The first of these was after I had left Birdhouse(Blues Band)…I had been jamming with my Brother, formed Hotwired Dumptrucks….and moved in with him, at the Trailer, outside of H-Town…

The last was after that band had dissolved,after my pseudo Breakdown(running off to Greenbriar), and I had a windfall opportunity(from Dad) to have my own place. In Miami Apartments, not far from Sam Houston Campus. I lived alone, at first…

This was the only period that I was actually Serious about College.(I had always(Mostly,lol) done well at school…but during these two semesters, I really got into my “studies”…Fall, I was mostly alone…Come Spring, and warming, I could be found at the Pool, reading Aristotle, Ginsberg, Geology and RTF…I had my own Table, a Tan, and was, indeed, Found.

It began with Jeff the Maintenance Guy. Th was around, a lot, as well…she had broken off with Bro…and we were quite close, during this period. So I held Court, at my Table by the Pool…watching the Wildlife, aloof. Frat Boys, carousing…a whole Clan of Black Dudes, five doors down from my own…”White Bitches” in tow….my inner Sociologist was quite satisfied.
Soon Maintenance Jeff was introducing me to others in the Complex. The Summer Exodus had begun…town was thinning out…and it was only us few who stayed on. Weed was the True Social Lubricant. Sno was there, dealing Weed from his Mountain Bike…I met Eric, the Jock…and his woman, Arianna…and fell in love(I was in love a lot, in those days…Th, not the least. But how could I pursue my Bro’s recent Girlfriend?!). My apartment became a Magnet for Lost Souls, as it were…Jazz and obscure 70’s Rock on my cobbled together stereo…lotsa Drink, and Weed….it is all very Hazy. I first remember K, living on my couch…not unusual…there were many people I didn’t know crashing at my place. She moved into my room….I was rescuing her(there I go!) from the attentions of the other denizens of the Living Room…Other Jeff, and “Ze Little Black Boy”(ZLB)…and many others…I was the Chairman….watching all the Crazy unfold around me, with Clinical Detachment…
It was K who knew about the Shroom Fields…and thus began the Summer at Miami! We procured bags of them… all in one day…wandering in the large cow pastures, eating caps as we picked…not realising that we were Tripping Balls….it was so very Peaceful…

Realising, at length, our predicament, we endeavored to locate the car…Other Jeff was waiting there, at the end of a logging road…wondering what the hell had happened to us. By the time we got back to town,Paranoia had set in…Surely everyone Knew! (they didn’t, of course…this is merely an occasional feature of Psilocybin Intoxication). To the dark enclave of my Apartment..shades drawn…peeking out to see if we were followed…it dawned on us that we had inadvertently picked a great quantity of Shrooms…what could we do with them? I found the big,bulk-bag of Koolaid…and hit on an idea! Shroom-Sicles!!!

Blender, and koolaide and sugar, ice trays and toothpicks….in the freezer. While this was being implemented, the usual bunch was starting to show up(it was around noon, by now). K passed out cups full of Shroom-Aide…before long, the whole crowd of us were Blazing Bright.

The rest of the Summer were like this(we really had a LOT of Shrooms)….K was an Artist….she began Painting on the walls…soon, everyone was contributing to the “murals”…(deposit was forfeit!)
All the wandering gang, all the itinerant weirdos, who frequented my place, (T will remember!)…we Tripped for the rest of the Summer.

I was in an unusual position…I wanted Th…we were closer than ever, and I grokked that she would accept my hand, if I asked…but I worried about my Bro….then there was Arianna…same deal…
But K was living in my Bed….and was attached to me like a stray dog(in the best sense of the phrase)…
Fall Semester began…our run of the place was at an end….with more people around, the cops were hanging around more often. Our ancient and large console TV gave out during a football game…K, Other Jeff and ZLB were crazy mad…took the damned thing out to the dumpster, set it afire, and slew it with sticks and baseball bats…
By November, I felt encircled. Cops knew me…had seen the “writing(and art) on the walls”, as it were…and the Dean had called me in, effectively ending my College Experience….I felt a Great Need to Leave….

K,ZLB and I absconded, to Austin…New Crazy, New Adventures.(K and I ended up Married!)
That Summer, what I remember of it(lol) was one of the High Points(lol!) of my Life.

I had been the Central Figure of my own Scene…Artists, Musicians, Rednecks, Neohippies, Black Folks,”Serious Students”, and ne’er do wells, even the Palestinians who ran the Beer Store….Egalitarian Nuttiness…disparate souls,all…and all were welcome at My Miami.

“No Stairway”.

LOL.(for Tom)

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Secular Humanist Monastery of Amfortas the Hippie


…send me off, looking for alternatives…which leads me to this: (

At the very Root of the Political/Philosophical Crises we find in the USA, today…is Fundamentalism…overwhelmingly of the “Christian” Variety. The Certainty I go on and on about, that is the Enemy of Thought.

I ran into a Guy, wearing a shirt that said, “Christian Democrats:taking Jesus at His Word”.

I told him I supported such things, wholeheartedly…with certain, I believe(lol) Reasonable, Caveats. We got to talking…and when it came to the point where I held forth on my own Religious Outlook(Agnostic Mysticism/Pantheism…like Sagan meets Huxley), he began to get nervous…said we “had better leave this subject”…

My loyal and faithful Readers should be familiar with my Goose Doctrine.(I don’t care if you worship my Geese, so long as you don’t try to force me to…and don’t unduly annoy my Geese)

I have studied Religion for most of my life….I found J. Campbell’s volume 4 of the Masks of God on the table at home when I was in my early teens….Zarathustra, before that…(ave rara)

I can quote scripture and verse with the best of them…from several world religions…Campbell’s Canon, Weston’s “Ritual…” and Huxley’s “Perennial Philosophy” are what I count as my own “Holy” Books.

Ergo, “Mystic Agnostic”…with a sprinkling of “Pantheist”(”God” being Manifest in every drop of dew…see the Vedas.)

I reckon that what is outside of our Bubble of Understanding is what we label, “God”…that Bubble is ever expanding, and I have yet to see evidence, let alone Need, for a Personal God Figure to explain any of it.There is much that we do not know…and I find myself almost alone in being OK with that. The Wonder and Awe of the Universe, and of every little Niche in our own Biosphere, is sufficient, unto itself. I’m OK with having further Frontiers of Understanding to wander in.

I have met a Ghost…plug that into my Framework. I don’t require that it fits, perfectly…
I have taken Mushrooms, and had Visions and Epiphanies…and I don’t feel that they were in any way Lessened by being “Drug Induced”…or without them having a Context in Revealed Religion…I simply find “God”, as commonly thought of, Unnecessary.

I think that it is entirely Possible to be “Good, without God”…and that, in fact, despite my historically frequent drunken insanity, I have a better track record, on this card, than most of the God Squad that I have encountered.

I am a Secular Humanist….and find that Manifesto to be a wonderful document, and sentiment…and wholly consistent with my overall Philosophy, as well as my Mystic Tendencies.

Having studied Religion for 30 years, or so…I find the History of Religions to be Indictment enough…Especially the History of the Big 3 Monotheistic, Abrahamic Faiths. What Blood! What Rapine! What Murderous Fanaticism!

I am in Texas, so it is mostly the Christian Variety that confronts me…in the Real World…so that is where most of my Criticism is directed. The main thrust of this Criticism is the Failure of the Christian Milieu(especially the Fundamentalist Sort) to reciprocate my Tolerance of them. (Goose Doctrine).
I am also continually disappointed in the failure to adhere to the purported actual Words of Jesus(M,M,L&J)…instead, focusing on the most Misanthropic(and Misogynist!), hate-filled parts of the Old and New Testament. Saul of Tarsus, for instance.

Everyone is, of course, Free to choose…even which parts of their Holy Book to Cherry-Pick….

I reckon, however, that the Words of Jesus, as reported(presumably) by the Gospel Writers, to be a better recipe for Peace on Earth than many of the Other Parts.

The Fanatics have forced me to think about some way to Counter their onslaught…without losing my own Integrity.

It is only a matter of time, before the “Good News Club” finds it’s way to Mason ISD…

When that happens, I intend to be ready to Fight for a Secular Humanist Club…as is my Right.(by Law, the school cannot exclude such a Club)
I expect there to be “resistance”…

And my Wife(long suffering woman) will hate the very Idea of my Picking such a Fight.

But someone must stand up to these “Dominionists”…lest the Handmaid’s Tale become Future History.

I shall channel the spirit of Giordiano Bruno…and Thomas Jefferson.

Pax, Shantih, Shazbot! Nanoo-nanoo.

On the Farm Bill.2012.(a letter to the Senate Ag Comittee)

Howdy, Senators,

While I find that I have little patience for deciphering Legalese, these days, the “section by section” PDF of the Farm Bill was an interesting read. I found more things to like than I had expected. The item that really jumped out was the inclusion of CSA’s in SNAP(food stamps).

That said, I have some issues, and observations, regarding Agriculture, as currently practiced, based on my view from my back porch.

(I’ll list them, mostly for my own purposes:1.’bio-energy’,2. )..corporate capture of everything, including “organic”, 3“Local”(food-deserts4.some observations on sourcing,export/import silliness,5. regulatory relief for the truly Small)

1. Bioenergy.

One of my Pet Ideas, regarding Energy Production is the largely wasted resource of Methane(“Natural Gas”). I harp on this incessantly…to the chagrin of my friends and neighbors. Our little county, and town is fined…often…for the release of Methane from our Landfill. This source, along with the local Feedlots, and the municipal sewer system, are entirely wasted…just vented to the atmosphere. The City recently began seeking a Grant for a sewer plant upgrade..and my admonitions to at least look into capturing all this Methane were regarded with utter incredulity. Everything that Poops is a potential source of Energy…every septic tank, with minor modifications, is a “Gas Well”. I understand that the Propane and “Natural Gas” Industries really like their current situation, as Hydraulic Despots…sitting astride the supply lines in such things…but this is not a good reason to continue, in Policy, the perception that capturing Sewer Gas(and landfill and feedlot “emissions”) is some Hippy Dippy, Radical Fantasy. One hears an awful lot about “Energy Independence”. Please get together with the Energy Department, and Promote and Enable this kind of thing.

2.Corporate Domination…of Everything.

Just say No.

An LLC with 1000+ acres under “Management” is NOT a “Small Farm”. ADM is not a Small Farmer.
Everything is geared towards the very Large…and to provide for ourselves, especially after Peak Oil(2005), we will need to relocalise. Corps(e) ain’t gonna do that for us…and, in fact, they stand in the way of the necessary Relocalisation. I understand y’all’s need for campaign funding…but there comes a time, when the needs of the country dictate a little sacrifice on your part.This “bullet point” should be overlaid onto the rest of what I have to say…Giant “Agribusiness” has ruined the Small Farmer, rewritten the Rules and Regulations for it’s own benefit, and made our country Vulnerable. 3 Corps(e) Dominate the Meat…a “consumer” cannot determine if he is purchasing a GMO….I can’t sell an Egg, legally…etc etc…the information is out there. You all just have to look for it.

3.&4.“Local”….and some examples of Silly, in Current Policy.

We have a small corporate “Grocer”, here in Mason (Lowes). They used to be “Super-S”, but were sold. I worked in the Produce Dept. at Super S, and am almost certain that nothing substantial has changed with new owners. The Produce is Terrible! Despite my best efforts, I could not change this, from the inside…it has to do with Corporate Policy(buying “seconds”, perhaps “thirds”). In order to sell my own Local Produce to them, I was told that I would have to take it to Houston(350 miles), to their warehouse…to be put on a truck, to follow me home. In other words, “we don’t want no stinking local Produce”. This is unsustainable.
As a result of this Terrible Produce, I drive 40 miles to the nearest HEB, who maintain Quality Produce. It’s still near impossible to sell one’s Local Produce to them, due to insurance requirements and other clerical barriers to entry. As an aside, on my 40 mile drive, I pass Thousands of Sheep and Goats…when I get to the Meat Department, and locate prohibitively expensive Lambchops, they are from Australia (!!!). This is silly, counterproductive, and unsustainable. It is also NOT an isolated example of the Failure of Farm Policy…largely due to the influence of Large “Agribusiness”(Just Say No!).
The Rules regarding Meat Processing, Egg Production,Milk Production and Fruit and Vegetable Production are geared towards the Very Large….and often make it impossible to engage in Small Agriculture. I grow Geese, Ducks and Chickens…and do my best to have a Large Garden…but I cannot legally sell anything I produce, save “On Farm”, because of the Regulations written By and For Big Ag. Rule for Eggs, last I looked, removed any economic incentive…unless I planned on building a 10,000 bird “Egg Factory”. There is nowhere to go to get the Meat birds Processed….the Regs are too odious.(same goes for sheep, goats and the thousands of Cows that pass through Mason, every week.)
I can’t legally sell a Tomato to a local CafĂ©, because I am not an “Approved Source”….and am reluctant to endeavor to become “Approved”, due to my own experience with the Byzantine Regulatory Regime. It only makes Economic Sense, if I were to become a Large “Farm”. Even then, I have found that I cannot compete with Giant Ag.

5. Relief for the Small

All of this is subsumed under this last Point.In the face of the Reality of Peak Oil, as evidenced by the proliferation of “Fracking”, “Deep Water” and other indicators of Desperation, what is indicated is a cessation of the focus on the Large and Centralised.
Relocalisation of Everything is what is needed….especially Food and Energy. “Globalism”, and the concomitant “Free Trade” agreements, have been an unmitigated Disaster for the American People.

There is a small book, one of my very favorites, from 1935…”Five Acres and Independence”, by M.G. Kains(Dover Publications,inc.Ny,Ny). Every one of you, who sit on this Committee, should read it…and Think. Think about Jefferson’s Ideal of Yeoman Farmers as the Backbone of the Republic. I understand that it is dated…that’s the point. I have been watching this little Town die, from the inside…folks can’t make a living. There is no good reason for this lack…it is entirely constructed, from “Policy”, and the Domination of Artificial Persons(Just Say No!!!!!).

“The land! That is where our roots are. There is the basis of our physical life. The farther we get away from the land, the greater our insecurity.” -- Henry Ford

.....and I’ll go one more:” The best Fertilizer, is the Farmer’s Footsteps.”-???

Thanks for Listening,