Preamble Lost

A few comments about HRes 109, the Green New Deal 1

The Western Caucus’ response to the Resolution 2  sounds just like the folk who pushed to end the “war on coal” and enable dumping of spoil in waterways.3

After a parade of horribles (declarations by the paid Congressional shills owned by the energy extraction industries), the caucus makes the bald faced claims that

The Green New Deal would:

  • Intertwine the federal government in every aspect of our daily lives,
  • Overhaul American energy, manufacturing, and transportation sectors,
  • Jeopardize jobs and take-home income of hundreds of thousands of Americans,
  • Expand the power of federal bureaucrats far beyond what our Founding Fathers ever intended,
  • Impede the energy efficiency and carbon capture research and development industry has invested in, moving America further away from our emission goals,
  • Destabilize our electric grid and energy dominance and independence compromising our national security, and
  • Undermine federalist principles our nation was built upon.

Whoa!!!!! As one can easily see, there is no evidence tat the Resolution would do ANY of this. I am waiting to see documentation by the Western Caucus evidencing, well, anything.

I strongly suggest that EVERYONE actually read HRes 109 and if you are seeking to convince others how horrific it is, I would argue that the onus is on you to provide a sectional analysis (that’s what rational folk do). I for one would like to know what is problematic with pledging

(D) to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come—
(i) clean air and water;
(ii) climate and community resiliency;
(iii) healthy food;
(iv) access to nature; and
(v) a sustainable environment;

Sounds very much like what the US Constitution requires of our federal government. The preamble states

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

If you want to frighten yourself, go see a Manoj Nelliyattu “M. Night” Shyamalan movie. In the meantime, unplug from Fox News, try to be critical when you read or hear rants from people trying to suck your life blood and render your community a toxic desert, and do try to behave in a manner that suggests that you are a rational person entitled to enfranchisement.

 

 

 

 

 

Right to the Gut

The modern approach to property is to see property as a “bundle of sticks”, abandoning the 17th Century notions (the ones that today are touted as the basis for libertarianism) as largely foolishness. This jurisprudential analysis bore fruit in the discussion by Hohfeld of jural correlatives over a century ago.1 2 Philosophically, this echos the development of the social sciences, and the recognition that Homo sapiens is closer to termites3 than one might expect, lol. In other words, we are tribal and symbiotic, and may very well be largely a function of what our group and our gut mandate.

Practically speaking, we are intersections of complex matrices (a high tech verbalization of “bundle of sticks”). There is no such thing as ownership; there is on;y these complex relationships. To say that Locke’s idea that we own ourselves is not to say that someone else owns us, but to say the very notion of ownership is something on;y a child might entertain.

Even with this realization, as Justice Johnson notes 4, the forces that drive our jurisprudence still try to focus on only one side of the balance, as it were, and the judicial appointments of culture warriors hearten such ideological forays. As Johnson puts it, “Professor Hohfeld brought legal jurisprudence a long way by giving courts the analytical tools to understand property as a set of interdependent relations that involved both rights and obligations. That work evolved into the bundle of rights, but there has been much more emphasis on the rights, and less on the obligations. Any new theory of property rights has to emphasize broader obligations, as well as rights, if we are to confront the fairness question.”

When we hear people like Mia Love preach possessive Narcissism, when we see mobs rallying to “I built it”, we are seeing the ignorant response to the demagogues call to shed the mantle of responsibilities that all members of any society wear. Indeed, in one of many inconsistent moments Locke actually makes it clear that while individuals should have the right to elect membership in a polity, once the election has been made, the individual is caught and held fast by the tyranny of the majority (and taxes are not theft, rofl).

In sum, we are perhaps better defined by our obligations than by our “rights”. As potlatch societies recognize, status is maintained by what is given, not by what is taken. One’s position in any society is dependent on the myriad relations one manages with all the other persons and things one lives among. Hubris, at its core, is the belief that the individual is wholly responsible for their own destiny, and has been the subject of scorn for millennia. It is our great challenge that we face its resurgence today.

From Soup to Nuts

I was a bit taken aback by a Facebook comment shared recently by John Fulton 1, a person I know to be intelligent, compassionate, giving, sensitive, and a devout Catholic.

It breaks my heart and shatters my soul to see the depravity that our society has perpetuated today.

New York not only legalized abortion to the day of the child’s birth, but they also removed protections in the event the child survives, they can still murder the child with impunity. They removed the requirement of abortions to be performed by doctors. The slap in the face was the signing of the bill by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a purported Catholic.

As a faithful Catholic Christian and Knight of Columbus, it sickens me. The fight for the sanctity of life has always been one of the most important moral issues that exists. I pray the rosary daily, contribute what I can to organizations that forward that cause, and participate in what events I can to hopefully end this culture of death and disregard for God’s greatest gift whether it is at conception or towards the natural end of life.

Curiously enough, John ends his tribulation with a  borrowed piece entitled, Intercessions for Those Involved in Abortion 2 the last stanza of which is borrowed from Jeremiah. 3

How did the Roman Catholic Church come to see abortion as depraved?

As an Irishman recently was want to say, “It is interesting to wonder though, by which revelation was it made known to the Roman Catholic Church that heaven does not approve of abortion?” 4 Somehow, Western society has gone from entertaining the notion of creation from a cosmic soup to unfettered procreation, and it’s of import to more than just the Irish how we got here (and what can be done about it)!

Certainly, Jewish law at the time and since has been that a fetus is not a person until most of it has emerged from the mother. Nor is there any credible argument that the New Testament holds otherwise. That did not serve to stop Christian theologians from trying to rule women’s bodies, as even the shortest review on the topic suggests. 5 It is difficult to take the depth of Catholic feeling all that serious though, when so many historians have demonstrated the rather dubious adoption of such policy by the Church (I am reminded of Catholics who taunt Muslims about Ramadan, but are actually wholly ignorant that their obligations during Lent are strikingly similar, lol).

My bottom line is that when one looks at the overall policy of the Church, it would appear to be in many respects focused on unbridled breeding, and the inevitable death and misery that entails. Yes, I have to argue that anyone who subscribes to such nonsense, not as an historical artifact that should be remembered but set aside now that we know better, but as present guidance for survival on Earth, is INSANE.

and I have to ask you, what do YOU want to do with all these insane persons?

 

Far From Indivisible, Alaska

I recently received the mailer below from the Wright campaign. I tried to post that mailer, together with my “call to action” 1 to the Indivisible Alaska Facebook group 2, which touts as its purpose:

We are pursuing the Indivisible Team’s strategy (please read indivisibleguide.com). We resist Trump’s racist, authoritarian, and corrupt agenda by focusing on local, defensive congressional advocacy. We demand that our own local Members of Congress serve as our voice in Washington, DC. We model inclusion, respect, and fairness in all of our actions.

This is an action-oriented group with Call to Actions. We understand the frustrations and anxiety in these times. However, if you wish to express your concerns and anxieties, there are other groups on facebook such as Alaskans Stronger Together and Indivisible in Alaska and Indivisible Rapid Response Team, that are forums for general disappointment.

This group is action-oriented as described by indivisibleguide.com. For that reason, the posts are moderated so we do not dilute our Call to Actions.

Before inviting other friends to this action-oriented group, please inform them that they will need to answer these question before they are approved for membership.

Our most recent Call to Action will be pinned at the top of the discussion. Please help us with our Calls to Action (phone calls, visits to local Congressional offices, etc.), at least once a week.

My “call to action”?
Please call Stanley (9077430459) and ask him for specifics!

Ask him what he specifically was opposed to in SB 91 (here’s the engrossed bill http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/29?Hsid=SB0091Z and an ADN piece on misconceptions https://www.adn.com/…/how-sb-91-has-changed-alaskas-crimin…/ so you can score his responses) Ask him what he thinks of SB 54 (http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/30?Hsid=SB0054Z), why he thinks that SB 54 did not “fix” SB91. Ask him what he specifically thinks the incumbent should have but didn’t do with respect to SB54. Ask him where his proposed legislation can be found for your review.

Please ask Stanley on what occasions the incumbent voted to cut the PFD, and why the incumbent voted on each occasion to cut the PFD, as well as what he specifically would have done to avoid cutting the PFD (“cut the budget” is NOT an answer.)

And ask Stanley why he thinks the incumbent, who has been a vociferous advocate for educational funding, should be replaced by someone who will hopefully either be in the House minority, or will be forced to vote to cut educational spending (the mantra of the state GOP).

It is time to make Republican candidates realize that running on truthiness will no longer be tolerated.

Direct, issue grounded, respectful, and to the point. My submission was not approved.

I was a bit miffed because not only was my submission clearly within the pale of posts previously approved for the group, but because the Group allowed two threads to burgeon that spewed inaccurate vitriol attacking Judges Corey and Wolverton, who are presently the targets of another mob campaign by those who, clueless about how our system works, simply want to just hang the most convenient person.

When I asked one of the admins, Kathleen Smith Goodman, why my post was not approved, but the admins allowed the mob rants about the Judges, I received this message:

Your post needs to be toned down. Make it more direct with a quick ask and it will be reviewed again and more likely looked at by more people in the group. We are not a discussion group or a place to air your frustrations. You may look to these other sites for that, such as Alaskans Stronger Together and Indivisible in Alaska and Indivisible Rapid Response Team, that are forums for general disappointment and further discussion. I have had no requests from other members to remove comments on judges.

So much for “indivisible” Alaska.

Once again, an hysterical self-appointed purity patrol has rolled out the guillotine to lop off the head of anyone who is not as manic as they are. I invite all rational Alaskans to join this group (if you are not a member already) and post your disgust with such witch hunting.


Fuck That Shit

To my expropriating friend,

You have opined about the unkempt nature of your recent communications, announcing that you will start using the word feck.  

“In an effort to clean up my act, I am expropriating the Irish word “Feckin” as my official expletive.”
Fuck that shit. Fuck1 has an ancient and honorable tradition that was sullied only by the minions of Queen Victoria.

Now, if you wanted to talk about you being feckful (I think we reserve feckless2 for those promoting “solutions” which are, in ‘effect’ [you liked that bit of word play, didn’t you?] little more than opportunities to co-op energies that might otherwise actually produce change… ) we could talk about how full of feck you were (though I don’t know how we actually measure feck – perhaps a fecking meter – would we find one of those in Old Eire?).

But feck, as a minced oath (you will want to read this 3 amounts to what the ultrablue might argue is cultural appropriation (as you no doubt understand based on your intent to expropriate), and that would be potentially damning in a political melee where the critical play is choosing sides!

All I can recommend is what is suggested to be the lesson of the friars of Cambridgeshire:

Flen, flyys, and freris populum domini male caedunt,
Thystlis and breris crescentia gramina laedunt;
Christe, nolens guerras, sed cuncta pace tueris;
Destrue per terras breris, flen, flyȝes, and freris.
Flen, flyȝes, and freris, foul falle hem thys fyften ȝeris,
For non that her ys lovit flen, flyȝes, ne freris.

Fratres Carmeli navigant in a bothe apud Eli,
Non sunt in cœli quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk.[1]
Omnes drencherunt, quia sterisman non habuerunt,
Fratres cum knyvys goth about and txxkxzv nfookt xxzxkt,[2]

Ex Eli veniens praesenti sede locatur,
Nec rex nec sapiens, Salomon tamen ille vocatur.

Pediculus cum sex pedibus me mordet ubique,
Si possum capere, tokl tobl[3] debet ipse habere.

Si tibi strok detur, wyth a round strok evacuetur;
Et si revertetur, loke tu quod retribuetur.

Est mea mens mota pro te, speciosa Magota.

Verum dixit anus, quod piscis olet triduanus;
Ejus de more simili foetet hospes odore.

Est in quadrupede pes quintus, in aequore pulvis,
In cirpo nodus, in muliere fides.

Cum premo, re retrahit, stringit con, inque sigillat,
Sub silet, ob spoliat, sed de gravat, ex manifestat.

Thus, pix, cum sepo, sagmen, cum virgine cera,
Ex hiis attractus bonus est ad vulnera factus.

Vento quid levius? fulgur. Quid fulgure? flamma.
Flamma quid? mulier. Quid muliere? nichil.
Auro quid melius? jaspis. Quid jaspide? sensus.
Sensu quid? ratio. Quid ratione? nichil.

Frigore Frix frixit, quia Tros trux tubera traxit,
Trosque truces Traces secuit necuitque minaces.

Taurus in herba ludit, et optat tangere limpham.
Rumbo murena extat Thamesia plena.4

 


 

“One can’t appreciate philosophy until one understands that one IS the relish…”

I often enjoy the conversational approach of the early Greek philosophers, though it is clear that the dialog is being manipulated.  But in the open back and forth of unfettered discourse, one might well pick up a thing or two. Here is one such discussion (published without anyone’s permission):

Elstun W Lauesen — Here I a brief restatement of what I wrote in the middle of the night.

I am a Leftist. I am not a Conservative. I will, therefore confine my remarks to the Left.
The fuel of the Left is hope because the Left is devoted to change (reform).

This is a problem in 2018. To work toward reform, we have to believe that change is possible.

And just because Barack Obama appropriated those words for his political campaign does not make the presence of hope in our hearts any less imperative as an instrument of change.

I say this because my own self-examination reveals an awful truth. I have an affliction. It is cynicism.

There is no more damaging and cancer-like condition that can afflict a person devoted to reform than cynicism.

I have concluded the following about myself:
If I think I know too much about “the system” to believe that change is ever possible; if I feel too bitter by disappointment and dashed hope and the grossness of human nature to ever believe that a New World is possible; and if my advanced skills are devoted to sitting in the back of the room and picking the scabs of old wounds rather than taking a few more hits for the cause…
…then I am irrelevant to everything I believe in and to which I am devoted.

Cynicism is an intellectual and spiritual cancer.

See it. Call it out. Cut it out. Kill it.

Merwyn Ambrose Thanks for the death sentence brother 😉

But you view of the cynic is postprandial as is the more disturbing view of pedant and elite, the mob having dined on what those terms meant, and thereupon produced the target of your abuse.

Perhaps your problem is that you continue to hitch your hope to the wagons of the snake oil salespersons? It is one thing to have glorious visions, it is another to putter along trying to make small changes; I think both may be valuable as one inspires, and the other perhaps produces results.

Yes, it is difficult to keep digging away, but it is foolish to think that the project you are working on is going to miraculously materialize, lol, and you must toil away with the full knowledge that what you are doing will likely NOT succeed. But like Camus’s Sisyphus, dig we must…

But here you castigate those that know that these efforts have little chance of success but nevertheless toil on, apparently in favor of the flag wavers – and there is your real culprit… The smiling distributors of Blue Litmus Tests, the arbiters of the “illiberal left”, the exiters and the never enoughers 😉

Merwyn Ambrose You want to see where the cancer is, Elstun? Ask Harriet why the few sentences that would have protected Alaska workers from being denied medical services were excised from HB79 with the consent of the House Majority Caucus, and then come dance by the fire 🙂

Merwyn Ambrose Cynicism is the rejection of the accoutrements of power, and the recognition that Hobbes understood full well human nature (including Macpherson’s possessive Narcissism). The Maroons who have been selling their confused version of Locke’s tepid philosophy might be excused their ignorance (though perhaps not their hubris) but Locke, in his confusion, did draw a line in the sand. It comes down to Aristotle or Plato ever again – we either forge our own way, or search for magical tablets, and if the former, then we need to fully understand the beast we are dealing with, no???

Merwyn Ambrose Man of Constant Sorrow – Soggy Bottom Boys – O…

Allen Blume MA, this is assuredly some of your best and most forthright writing! Well done, sir!

Merwyn Ambrose Thank you, AB. “One can’t appreciate philosophy until one understands that one IS the relish…” Now THAT was good

Merwyn Ambrose I appreciate the criticism of Coyne and others that the arguments as to the “illiberal left” are simply artifacts of alt-right trolling, lol, and I have often pointed out how the likes of Jonah Goldberg miss the boat, but you will note, Allen, as you peruse the thread, that there are flecks of foam on the mouths of Elstun’s intended audience 😉

“Progressives” demand forthright candidates willing to charge into the breach, but faced with persons of honesty and integrity, they regularly turn on them for lack of ideological purity.

As an educational progressive I went so far as to stand for election, lol. Check out the old web site: Let’s get it on! | Grober for School Board. I don’t recall any army of progressives flocking to me banner 🙂 In fact, just the OPPOSITE! Why is that, I wonder. Yes, I know, I am an alt-right troll….

Elstun W Lauesen Merwyn Ambrose my view of things has gotten simpler and more mystical. In math we have the Fibonacci seq in which every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding ones. Now the natural path of progress might adhere to this spiraling matrix, building, as it were, upon preceding values. But we know that it’s more like Hegel and less like Fibonacci, n, n+1, n-0.5, n+.75…

In the net of human experience we continue to limp along, sometimes dramatically like n+2.5 (as with electrification) and step back dramatically as we may see if Trumpism seizes arts and science (a National Science Foundation research grant on the weight of the human soul, perhaps, by NSF Head Franklin Graham, DD)

But my belief is that history in the age of the Jupiter Brain (look it up) becomes a series of fractal instances building a crystalline Stairway to Heaven (cue Led Zepplin)

Merwyn Ambrose Bradbury’s flaw, Elstun, was his failure to understand that scale is meaningless if the answer is 42…

Your comments indeed smack of Hegelian presupposition, and I worry that so many erstwhile progressive friends hide a belief in human “destiny”, lol. One of the most curious experiences I have had of late was reading Jonah Goldberg’s incredibly “progressive” introduction to “Suicide of the West”, in which he refutes the typical conservative litany on human “evolution”.

Not to push the physics analogy too far (as that is where so many ‘wu li dancers’ have gone so wrong), but light, as we know it, it based on what is arguably the imperceptible photon. It is the volume of these particles that we celebrate, and at core, the birth of these particles is on the subatomic level… hence, my argument that while one should not ignore gas giants (like Graham, pere et fils) the attempt to escape the “night that covers me” must address the minute, the granular, the local where those elements meet the organisms of tomorrow’s challenges. And that translates, dear friend to School Boards.

Rant of wrack and ruin, and hurl your epithets, but remember, the child is the father to the man.

Merwyn Ambrose He has a great riposte, Allen, but I honestly think I have 2 out of three falls here, rofl…..

The truth, gentlemen, is that this discussion should have its own thread, especially now that Elstun has admitted he is veering to the Pythagorean, lol. Music of the spheres?
Gustav Holst- The Planets, Full Suite

Allen Blume Elstun, my first instinct was to applaud your anti-cynicism polemic but then came Mr. Ambrose’ most articulate response. While there is truth in not succumbing to bleak cynicism and despair, if we fail to recognize the crisis today and the harsh cruelties to come, then we are setting ourselves up for catastrophic failure, and then, as Mr. Dewar has noted, get ready for a second FUBAR45 term in 2020.

As is already apparent, our own Democratic Party have become Quisling facilitators of the corporatist (read Fascist) agenda, willing to sacrifice the “proles” to some oligarch’s bottom line; and willingly so by the the Schumers, Pelosis, Feinsteins, et al who have become the virtually official spokespersons for Wall Street. In the face of such sycophantic surrender there is little any of us “down here” can do to reverse their abdication.

I’ve remarked elsewhere that I’m not particuarly sanguine about the coming “Blue Wave” in November because of the nature of the candidates that have emerged – mostly well-off, many former military, Chamber of Commerce neoliberals – and the fact that of all of the primary candidates only a very small percentage appear to have any substantive legislative experience/knowledge.

For those who are part of the former group, their co-option by Establishment Iron Triangles is virtually assured, while those in the latter group will be rudderless/leaderless/clueless until such time as they’re adopted by one or another of the special interest caucuses, because assuredly there is no “Poor Peoples Caucus” in the US Congress!

And while our national leaders curry favor with the Masters of the Universe our state and local parties drift ever closer to authoritarian “suck up, kick down” electoral management. Their agendas are virtually indistinguishable from their corporatist sponsors and the ALEC agenda.

And then there’s the putative leader of the so-called “Free World.” Even our seemingly “best” leaders (Obama and Clinton) were manipulated tools of Dark Money authoritarians (the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, the Mellon-Scaife robber barons) and where they may have had some political capital they could spend it was quickly consumed by the gaping maw of corporatism, phony capitalism, and rampant consumerism. When their coins were spent or devalued they had little choice but to bend over in accommodation to their political captors.

Each of us has struggled with affecting political change in the “polis'” interest, ably backstopped and supported by one another. We’ve taken our lumps, crawled off to knit ourselves back together, and returned to the fray – but increasingly there hasn’t been enough liniment, bandages, splints, or aspirin to make the hurts go away, and that has taken a severe toll, even among the strongest true-believers.

I see and recognize that you’re not offering Polly-Anna saccharin in your charge to all of us, but I fear you’re diminishing our ability to see the harsh realities that loom over us and that demand that we think differently – prudently – about the crisis at hand.

We’re seeing the bloody specter of Nazism already shambling across our political desert but our responses are tepid and inconsequential; and liberals that we are, we will sit in conference introducing ever more evidence of the horrors loosed and not push away from that conference table to take our outrage into the streets where it should be made manifest.

Do I sound cynical? I damned well hope so! If we do not make for a militant common cause to oppose this usurpation of our freedoms then we had best circle our wagons, hunker down, and hope we can ride out the coming years of oppression and hate. I don’t like this second alternative but it’s increasingly looking like it may be our only means of survival!

Husbandry vs Hubris

We had seen her regularly in RJSP for a month or more. This past weekend she was down in the spring, and Tuesday she was up in the meadows below the moraine. But there was as yet no sign of any calf. This morning as we walked the proposed bike trail, Bernie suddenly went on point, and I scanned the copse of trees 40 yards ahead. Sure enough, there was mama with not one calf, but two, brightly minted new moose. Any tweener on that trail on a mountain bike (and I have raised a few myself) would have plowed into Mama Moose at about 8 mph, and the Mrs. would not have been pleased.

What we are seeing in the MOA’s brash attempt to push through single track trails in Russian Jack Springs Park is a past MOA Park official now running a private grant shop abusing Municipal systems intended to protect natural resources (and the public’s interests) to promote a recreational user group, entangling ADF&G habitat biologists in what is really a web of deceit. The proposed trail ran through wetlands in an area identified as critical natural habitat and the response, put crudely, from ADF&G biologist Cunya, was that a game path is much the same as a highway so it’s of no concern to anyone at ADF&G… Did I overstate the biologist’s position? Perhaps, but that was the impact of what he had to say on the grant process, because Ms. Nordland (not Anna Shaw, who spoke to the biologists) certified that there were no resident fish in RJSP (false), no anadromous fish in RJSP (very possibly false), no migratory fowl in RJSP (false), no raptors in RJSP (false), and no concerns regarding interactions between large land mammals and humans (really?).  And virtually none of that is really defensible.

Is my disappointment primarily with ADF&G? No. Frankly, the MOA (and the buck here sits in Chris Schutte’s lap) has bobbed and weaved in an effort to duck every checkpoint that Planning has placed in the system, including, apparently, ignoring Title 21’s requirement for a UDC Trail review, ensuring that the WNRC could not review the project, and refusing to comply with the 2006 Municipal Plan or the 2009 directive from PRC requiring the development of a natural resource plan before any further development in the park. But as habitat biologists, ADF&G staff could have set flags, in no small part because they are very well aware that the MOA has no habitat staff.

Last year my neighbor and I put out garbage cans in the park (and regularly cleaned them) because P&R had decided that the danger of Black bear in RJSP was so great that all non-bear proof cans had to be removed. They took ours, as well the cans at the ball fields! We have seen one Black bear in the area (on the east side of Cheney Lake) in 20 years. We see half a dozen moose in RJSP almost year around, with 2-4 calves each spring, and the position of P&R is that if someone gets hurt by a moose “that’s up to the lawyers to work out, ha ha ha”. Perhaps we need to change the name of Parks and Rec. to the Municipal Hubris Department?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pages 50-51 of the Anchorage Bowl Park, Natural Resource,and Recreation Facility Plan, adopted by Adopted by Ordinance AO 2005-122, April 18, 2006. Click on the images to obtain the pdf files.

Scofflaw Heaven?

Wickersham’s Conscience pulls out Ferguson as his whipping boy in a diatribe about Beauregard bringing back debtors’ prisons. The specifics on how the legal system “took advantage of” poor people have been beat to death, but were resurrected January 2017 by WC to paint Mr. Sessions as a Dickensian fiend. Well, I am no fan of Sessions, but there are very good reasons for his actions here, whether those actions are the result of racist ideology, or “Trumpist philosophy” (what an oxymoron that is).

To deal with the last bit first, Session pared away “guidance” by which the executive branch appeared to pre-empt local discretion under the law.  Nothing unlawful or reprehensible about that, on its face, is there? I may find that frustrating, because I endorse the policies behind the “guidance”, but in essence Sessions is correct in finding that such accretions are problematic.

Now, let’s put aside for a moment the outrage and excesses seen in Ferguson and what you arguably have (as in, what you can argue you could arrive at legitimately) is a “system” that is trying to impose order on a community of scofflaws. Let’s compare what we learned about Ferguson with what happened in Anchorage with respect to automated speed enforcement, so that our analysis isn’t contaminated by extrinsic outrage. Anchorage has an horrendous problem with people violating traffic laws. The apparent solution (photo radar) resulted in a huge hue and cry, however. Why? Because everyone was speeding, everyone was getting hefty fines, and no one wanted to pay said fines. Well, the good folk who wanted the speed limits enforced argued, “If you don’t want to pay the fine, don’t do the crime”.  But the Anchorage scofflaws were not about to be undone by technology. They beat photo radar in criminal court on a resolvable technicality, and the outrage over the program precluded politically it being implemented as a even a civil measure. We have lots more people dead from speeding vehicles. If you REALLY want to control behavior, what are you to do?

Clearly, if you want to put an end to Behavior X (whether that is speeding, running red lights or beating up on your wife) there has to be a clear ban on the behavior, and a set of actually enforced consequences. The liberal tripwire here is the concern that the consequence is intentionally being contrived such that the “perp” can never escape the the circle of ever rising debt or imprisonment. Yes, yes, yes! We can all agree that this is problematic, and yet day fines are still not widely implemented in the US. Day fines gob smacked many Americans for the first time when The Atlantic carried a story about a monstrous Finnish fine. Day fines impose fines that are proportionate to ones ability to pay (see, for example, How To Use Structured Fines (Day Fines) as an Intermediate Sanction . The question for the outraged, as far as I am concerned, is whether a system of days fines in a place like Ferguson would remediate the issues decried.

“Nay, nay, nay,” I say. Lets face it, the folk in Ferguson would not have paid the fines under any circumstances. Sorry, but if you make the day fine just a copper, you will have those who appear with a hapenny. Why? For the same reason you can impose a 45 mph speed limit and someone caught doing 60 will complain. While the Ferguson situation is clearly “over the top”, go to any court system in the country and visit the “wants and warrants section” and you will see the same thing. Review the collection of fines, and you will recognize that our judicial system is largely ignored until you hear that loud clack as the electronic door lock on the jail sets, or you are made to empty your pockets on the witness stand. I know. I have had to do debtor hearings where the debtor, claiming poverty, is wearing $30K in jewelry. Yah, tools of their trade….. 

“WHOA!”, you say, “I never never knew you to be such a retro asshole!” Sorry, but as we promote an “open” society, we are also promoting a society where there are few norms outside of the law; i. e. the law exists to set the norm. While you may have cleaned up after your dog, and controlled him while out walking in the past out of a sense of personal and communal responsibility, once such a shared sense is lost, the only thing that keeps you from letting your dog shit on my porch is enforcement of the law. Enter civil fines. You violate the norm you get assessed a fine. You fail to pay the fine, your action gets criminalized, and the monkey chases the weasel.

The fly in that ointment is a constabulary that won’t enforce the law (which in many cases is what we have in Anchorage). If you don’t want to simply punish offenders (punishment is really not conducive to alleviating criminal behavior) then we could try to tax them, and the ultimate taxing of an individual who simply refuses to comport themselves with society is to put them to work paying off their debt, lol. And that is a debtor’s prison. With or without day fines.

Perhaps instead of being outraged by the concept, we should explore ways to make it viable. Or we could just say, “You can break the law all you want, because we don’t care.” Your choice….

Can We Nooksack the Inupiaq?

While celebrating Columbus (https://www.thenation.com/article/the-invention-of-christopher-columbus-american-hero/) is as ludicrous as basing jurisprudence on Story’s Commentaries (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/inventing-a-christian-america-9780190230975), jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire is perhaps just as silly. Pushing tribal politics until we all look like Nooksackis (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/magazine/who-decides-who-counts-as-native-american.html) is perhaps a quantum too far.

One has to ask, who exactly are Alaska’s second peoples? There is some discussion as to whether Inupiaq (and their cousins to the East) are Alaska’s second or third peoples coming as they did rather later – some 20000 years after the first descendants of the Altaians made it from Asia (see for a general discussion http://www.pnas.org./content/113/23/6380.full), and of course, as there was no Alaska at the time, a broadening of the target brings to mind that there is evidence that Europeans made it to North America at least by 1500 ya – why not before the Inupiaq? And, of course, the purported lack of archeological evidence of humans in the Americas prior to 30000 ya is NOT evidence that there were NOT peoples here at the time. Lions and tigers and bears – don’t tell me we may have to drop someone’s cap N!?!?!?!?!

Every attempt at argument over who was there first ends up in finger-pointing and blood-letting and is, at its core, a version of “me, mine, and more”. We came down out of the trees just several hundred thousand years ago, and have been torturing each other since. We appear to have all come from what we now call Africa. The time that has passed since then is just the blink of an eye.

A Very American Tradition

Perhaps the oldest and most time-honored American political tradition is the laying on of propaganda, a very catholic (spreading truth, as it were) endeavor (Harper) for a democratic republic with a “wall”. The term “propaganda”  was not employed to describe the practices of 18th century America, which saw the broad use (or more appropriately, abuse) of the  pamphlet and the newspaper (Parkinson), which between them likely moved more manure than any hundred colonial farmers.

While it is seen as “good fun” on the “Left” to ridicule the “Right”‘s delusional love affair with a past that never existed (from Washington’s fledgling theocratic state to the libertarian utopia captured by Norman Rockwell), those doing the fiercest poking seem also to hearken back to an halcyon era of gentle discourse, where rational discussion charted the future of a free people. But, such daydreams are as fatuous as the revisionist histories of America’s culture warriors.

Our very own “Declaration” of independence is little more than a propagandistic screed (Hansen; Armitage; Jefferson) while the great art of “Common Sense” (Paine) is the rhetoric that so skillfully manipulates the reader.  The truth is that nothing was too low for the political strategists of our past. At the turn of the 18th century dueling over reputation was still to be seen (though largely illegal) while, based on the perceived reception of English common law, truth was no defense in suit for libel or slander (Kluft). Tar the man and kill the policy was the order of the day. Weinberg, in reviewing Burns’ “Infamous Scribblers”, gives us pause to ponder the fact that modern media warfare is not far removed from the rough and tumble of our brutal beginnings.

The U.S. has always been the very embodiment of the Hobbesian dilemma: affluence and stability come with moderation of individual freedoms. Yet our media has been telling us we can have our cake and eat it too for so long that the very idea has percolated into our poor excuse for beer: “Tastes great, less filling” (Miller). The predominant science of the 20th century is not physics, medicine, chemistry, or economics; it’s social psychology, the key to effective “advertising”, advertising being the methods by which attitudes of any population can be manipulated.

Our most staid organic political repartee, the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, were composed anonymously. But this was not your kid’s Anonymous. By employing the allusion that was inherent in the use of a pseudonym (taken, itself, from an almost universal educational canon) the propounding pops  placed the discourse about our second attempt at sovereignty in a larger context (Richard 39), offering a sense of gravitas, or not (Klarman).

It may have been this sense of erudition that eventually gave rise to the extension of the Jeffersonian educational ideal to the unwashed (Notes on the State of Virginia 268-275); train the hoi polloi in “the canon”, and they too could be responsible participants in the republic! Et voilá, the great divide between those capable of ruling and those in need of rule is closed.

Many, like myself, are still enamored of the prospects of “education”. Even the kid with his finger in the dyke made some contribution, after all. But it is a losing battle where, the lower the socio-economic class the greater the spawning, and teachers (nominally, let alone good teachers) can’t compete with family and media when it comes to drama, comedy, time allotted, impact, etc. Indeed, we have moved rather aggressively to the point where the academy has been purchased by ideologues (Mayer 172).

The other two great divides are: a) the epistemological application of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (there is either truth or process), and, b) the Gordian Knot of Sophism (Rhetoric and Dialectic deconstructed). The first, shorthand for the grand battle of the absolute versus the relative, Plato versus Aristotle, is what plays out all over our country between the religious right and everyone else (once the “truth” is grasped, very little persuasion is necessary). The latter is the essence of the interactions between the “inner chimp” and the Homo sapiens forebrain and likely should have been the real focus of this essay.

It belongs to Rhetoric to discover the real and apparent means of persuasion, just as it belongs to Dialectic to discover the real and apparent syllogism. For what makes the sophist is not the faculty but the moral purpose. But there is a difference: in Rhetoric, one who acts in accordance with sound argument, and one who acts in accordance with moral purpose, are both called rhetoricians; but in Dialectic it is the moral purpose that makes the sophist, the dialectician being one whose arguments rest, not on moral purpose but on the faculty (Aristotle). Your English teacher would have started off this essay with Aristotle’s remarks, but then, you didn’t listen to your English teacher back then either, did you?

Of course, any time one begins considering social upheaval (as in an attempted change in social structure via the rise of a lower caste or class) historically it is cotemporal with mob violence. Whether you wish to talk about Spartacus or Luther, the attack on authority results in general conflagration. We have moved, in an era of truthiness (Colbert) and alternative facts (Todd), to a place where all authority is “equal”, so all versions of “reality” are legitimate.  We no longer have a common frame of reference, nor a common sense of what is authoritative.

We are, in a  real sense, faced with the thr”E” alternatives to the Existing Quandary Underlying Angst Tortured Existentialists: Education (Where do you want to go today), Exclusion (Just Us), or Exhortation (MadAve).  We have seen that Education is not up to the challenge…   Exclusion (the tribal primal directive) works just fine until all the oligarchs become bombastic bullies (it’s what happens when the elite defining “philosopher kings” are disparu, as can be seen in the current Administration).  What we are left with, and what many on “the left” are now arguing, is the adoption of the sound bite magical libertarian mystery show; time to sell the “progressive” brand using the same kind of MadAve tools that the Scaifs and Kochs successfully used in the past, and were employed most recently to make the Maroon Tide believe that Donald Trump is Their Savior.

To put that in blunter terms, the question is put, “Shall we murder to stem the flow of murderers?” Perhaps the first and maybe least fortunate response to such a poser would be that in as much as 997 of any 1000 people likely would not be worth saving one way or the other,  if you are not going to put them down at birth, don’t waste the money to feed them. But let’s delicately back away from that moment of honesty and search for an historical example of a successful upstart taking on hegemony without becoming same. Stickier and stickier…

Nor is, “They will seize what’s yours”, a real barn-burner because the truth is, nothing I have is really mine. Yeah, we do a great deal of pretending about PROPERTY in this country, but is there really anyone who does not realize that it is largely a delusion (well, THEY are included in that 997). Thank you, for thinking of US, but no thanks. Yes, let the Maroon Tide dissolve my bones on the wretched strand, but playing the Devil’s fiddle, as Faust well knew, comes at a price I am not interested in paying.

No, without a common frame of reference, the task is to simply make noise, as no real communication will take place…  The message, as it were, is the rumble… and rumble we must for a better world, because until the fundie right decamps their separate universe, or education turns a corner it has yet to even espy, the best we can do is let people know we are alive and well.


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Burns, Eric. Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism. PublicAffairs, 2007.

Colbert, Stephen. The Word – Truthiness. 2005. www.cc.com, http://www.cc.com/video-clips/63ite2/the-colbert-report-the-word—truthiness.

Hansen, Ali. “The Declaration as Propaganda.” Digication, 12 Mar. 2017, https://bu.digication.com/ahansen/The_Declaration_as_Propaganda.

Harper, Douglas. “Propaganda.” Online Etymology Dictionary, http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=propaganda. Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.

Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. University of Virginia Library, Virgo, 710304, http://search.lib.virginia.edu/catalog/uva-lib:710304. Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.

—. The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America. 1776.

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Mayer, Jane. Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2017.

Miller, Carl. “Beer and Television: Perfectly Tuned In.” Beer History, 2002, http://www.beerhistory.com/library/holdings/beer_commercials.shtml.

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Paine, Thomas. “Common Sense.” Project Gutenberg, 14 Feb. 1776, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/147/147-h/147-h.htm.

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Richard, Carl J. The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment. Harvard University Press, 1995.

Todd, Chuck. “Conway: Press Secretary Gave ‘Alternative Facts.’” Meet The Press, NBC News, 22 Jan. 2017, http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/video/conway-press-secretary-gave-alternative-facts-860142147643.

Weinberg, Steve. “Infamous Scribblers by Eric Burns.” Houston Chronicle, 19 Mar. 2006, http://www.chron.com/entertainment/books/article/Infamous-Scribblers-by-Eric-Burns-1870445.php.