Election Reflection

The pain is not so much from the horrible mess that Trump could produce, but the recognition that so much of this country is so fearful, greedy, and hateful… But some observations and some reflection on the terrors that await are in order, so here are my thoughts, disordered by events as they may be.

You can blame the DNC all you want, but the fact is that even without the superdelegates, Bernie did not win the primary, and in states where they voted (as opposed to caucused) he rarely polled as well, so while we may have some problems with “elites”, we have bigger problems with couch potatoes.

While the number of votes cast for GOP Presidential candidates has remained relatively stable over the last 3 cycles, the number of people casting ballots for Dem candidates has plummeted. This suggests that Trump was not elected by the people voting for him so much as he was elected by the people who refused to vote.

HRC’s electoral “failure” was razor slim and she won the popular vote. This suggests that it is the “hopeandchangey” crowd whose nonfeasance resulted in a Trump election, and we have to ask, “What did this crowd actually want?” Would Bernie magic have brought those voters to the polls, and if so, why didn’t it bring them to the polls during the primaries.

While, as Frank argues, more could have been done by the Obama Administration, we have to face the fact that people do not come out and vote for redistribution… We are in the grip of a virulent strain of possessive narcissism where everyone seems to think they simply don’t have enough. Scaif and Kochs have been buying up our academic and political institutions for half a century now, and it shows.

While I can’t disagree that the DNC was Democrats’ worst enemy, with respect to Dem voters I think you need to recognize that Dem success has often been based on smoke and mirrors. There is no way Obama could have possibly done what the surge of hopeandchangey voters expected of him, and the rancor, fed by 8 years of Rovian vitriol, was a player in this election that no one wants to acknowledge. Frankly, I am tired to death of hearing people making $150,000 whining about how they are suffering, so my question remains the same…. What specific policies could a Democrat in good conscience represent were achievable such that s/he would garner 70,000,000 votes?

As much as I pushed for Bernie, his campaign did not garner the majority of Dems. I think this is in no small part because the Dems who do vote are largely DLC neo-libs, whether they want to admit it or not. Even if Obama had tried harder, the incremental policy results would not have satisfied the hopeandchange crowd. Obama had a 58% turnout in 2008. He garnered almost 70,000,000 votes and won by a 7% margin! Turnout dropped 3.5% in 2012 as did the margin. And this election I believe turnout dropped another 3.5% and that same bit of Dem margin slipped away. While the RSLC has been successful in gerrymandering most of the country (which is in itself evidence of Democrats asleep at the wheel)  just look at the Congress! For crying out loud, look at Alaska’s federal Senators and Representative! Can you spell “obstruction?”

I have to argue that this election has shown we have issues with delayed gratification more than the narrative of Trumpers that the media has been blaring. In a polarized country nothing is going to happen overnight, and I see the rather inane behavior of Dem Berniecrats over Stock as symptomatic of the problems endemic to our political system… change requires political work, and I think it is difficult to get consensus about a progressive agenda, and difficult to keep people committed to working towards such an agenda. I am not trying to mimimize the horror that 60,000,000 proud morons presents – I am just trying to note that it is within the power of the electorate to put those people back in their box, and we apparently want them running amok for a bit.

I don’t follow the narrative being peddled about the Dems not connecting with the country. The rank and file are delusional. They have been fed a hateful gruel for almost a decade in preparation for this moment, and have been roused by someone I can only call Il Gialo, ilducea jaundiced ape of Mussolini. This election was NOT about more Republicans coming out to vote for Il Gialo; it was about millions of Democrats who felt they would not be bothered to vote. This is not about Trumpers, it’s about shallow, useless, patina ‘liberals’ whose commitment to the republic is epidermal. It was about people who wanted to be molly-coddled and promised, and snuggled. And now they are going to howl for years because the big bad hairy Cheetoh got elected by the moronic brutes… It was the Dems who did not vote that elected Trump (Dems had half the showing they had 8 years ago) and while I am deeply offended by the crass ignorance and cruelty of the Trumpers, the narrative has been that Derms “know better”, and we expect those that know better to do better, it is “liberal” mantra, and Dems took a pass and the maroons screamed, “OLE!”

I think one of then points Frank makes is that while the sector driving politics may have changed, the fact that industry is driving politics has not changed in almost 100 years. What I think Kochs found most troubling about Trump is the caprice and the willingness to use the Administration to punish “enemies”.  Our legal system has opposed the arbitrary and capricious as a central tenet, but now we have the legally unwashed, the folk who would as soon as follow the Dick the Butcher’s suggestion and hang all the lawyers, putting Il Gialo in charge. Caprice will reign, and all those chanting “federal over reach” will be sobbing in their nasty corporate ersatz beer.

And I don’t mean this as a part of some blame game, but as a tool for looking at candidates for 2020. The point is that a vibrant candidate who moves the left will win, despite all the nasty trash that the right can muster. I had hoped for a seasoned executive, such as Jerry Brown, but we have to look at a Senate leader like Elizabeth Warren, who has the chops, the gumption, and the cred. But,  the double entendre of our times is still, to my mind, “What is left?” Sorry, but I don’t see progressivism as part and parcel of neonicotinoid hysteria, GMO mania, or circuses on the Cannonball…  Bernie tried to define left, and there are many who will continue to argue that the wave of optimism he generated in so doing was (or would have been) the equivalent of the hopeandchange army.  We will never know because the neolibs (no, I am not talking about DWS, but about the millions, so comfortable in their homes, that allowed the DLC to become the DNC) took the wind out of his sails. What we do know, is faced with horrific prospects, almost 8% of our registered voters decided it was better that they stay home then vote against Trump.

Yes, I suppose the shambles that are left may well produce another surge against the right in 2020. But such a surge will require both ideals AND discipline, and I honestly think we are hopelessly short there, though I will continue to paddle upstream…

Wikipedia has some nicely done data on voting:



Paul Jenkins and the Brave New World

Paul Jenkins has now come forth and apparently unfurled the fact that he suffers from BobLynnefaction, an edema of the forebrain that inhibits rational thought. In his most recent malefactory diatribe he argues against Ballot Measure 1 (though he is apparently so ill he could not manage to offer a name or a pointer to the text of the proposition ).

Horrors of horrors, he argues, voter registration is a ploy of the Godless Left to undermine the Republic! For shame, he cries, that Alaskans won;t get off their lazy asses and register themselves!

Of course, Jenkins, despite his illness (this brings to mind the millions of monkeys typing out Shakespeare eventually) is correct (at least in part, and frankly we can’t expect much more than that from poor Paul, I mean look who he is named after…. the nuttiest fruitcake in the last two millennia). No, not that Alaska should seek to intentionally disenfranchise ANY voter, but that Alaska voters SHOULD BE expected to rise to their civic obligations.

Jenkins demurs on the ideal of civic obligation, arguing, like all well-behaved anti-statists (whatever those are) against their beloved Saint Locke (only second to Saint Reagan) that no one should be obliged to perform any civic duty. In doing so he essentially eviscerates the entire classical liberal scheme underlying his pseudo-philosophy, but that is a painful topic for another day. What is pertinent today is that as Locke suggests, one’s decision to become a member of a polity must trigger a set of reciprocal obligations among those so electing. In other words, under classical liberalism, if you chose to me a member of the polity, who are expected to pull your weight as far as civil obligations, including military service, providing subsistence for the poor, etc.

Bob Lynn the unethical legislative ideologue who has repeatedly sponsored Alaska Voter ID bills (HB 57 being the most recent version), and after whom Jenkins’ malady is named, was so badly taken with the condition that he suffered some blindness and paralysis.  Your charming correspondent pointed out to Rep. Lynn that he has a really really good idea that should in fact be taken up by the federal government (more on that below), because, after all, we don;t want any second class citizens in Alaska and we DO want all Alaskans to be able to easily obtain a picture ID. The onty thing missing in Bob’s plan was the establishment in every village in Alaska a full time DMV office fully capable of issuing picture IDs.  This was important because the likes of Rep. Lynn, in their wisdom, had to date made it lawful to drive without a license in rural Alaska because they were too cheap to provide access to essential State services.

Aha!  But no more.  Now, with one brilliant stroke Alaska could not only make sure there was a continuing dearth of Alaska voter fraud (yes, of course Jenkins supports Alaska VoterID proposals though there is no evidence of voter fraud in Alaska) but screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-10-47-44-amcould do away with the second class citizen status to which those in the bush have been relegated. And we could actually get a handle of how many people we had in the state. WOW!  Of course Lynn, asked if he had just overlooked this, did not respond. After a number of attempts to elicit a reply he was asked if he had intentionally meant to deny rural people access to essential State services, and at that point he “unfriended” me.  Imagine that, to get unfriended on FACEBOOK by a legislator because you are trying to clearly understand just what the fellow is trying to accomplish with his proposed legislation?!

Of course, there is more to this conversation, such as the fact that Lynn et al ganged up to pass a legislative prohibition on the State of Alaska spending any money whatsoever on ensuring that a new Alaska ID would comply with the Federal REAL ID standards (which would allow Alaskans to use their State ID to get on military bases (a significant activity in Anchorage for example, as JBER – Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson – covers much of what is Anchorage) and get into airline terminals! Governor Walker (the Unity Governor) seeks to resolve this impasse by passing a bill that allows the State to issue TWO different photo IDs, which would in fact cost more than just doing RealID compliance, but here is the kicker: the AKGOP argues that RealID compliance would infringe on the individuals right not to be identified because the RealID Act requires that the ID data be built such as it could be accessed to enable law enforcement usage. Yes folk, the law and order, anti-terrorist, PictureID crowd wants to ensure that we have people in this State who are unidentified.  Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, eh?

What ties this all up for me is that ancillary observation that all these VoterID supporters also tend to be persons who want to be able to read  and interpret the U. S. Constitution as a seven year old. Well, OK!

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three. Article I, Section 2, U.S. Constitution.

We can, therefore, resolve ALL our census issues by enabling a State by State program that requires all individuals in that State to be counted by way of identification. screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-11-15-49-amState ID cum VoterID cum federal entrance document cum key to social security number look-up, etc. etc. It would be like being able to get a driver’s endorsement on a passport that would be more convenient to carry, while ensuring that the census was accurate, that we knew where all aliens were living, and our gerrymandering at least accurate.  Let’s all say it together, boys and girls, “LIONS, AND TIGERS, AND BEEAAARRRRRSSSSS!!!!”


No, I am not going to talk about the brutish BigOil oligarchs today. Today I want to talk about the other bullies, the protesters.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I would rather not have streets covered in Petrochemical detritus, a State beholden to BigOil, or pipelines threatening the health and safety of one and all. But I don’t rule the world.  Neither does my pet delusion, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, nor his prophet, The Great Noodle (pbuh), make or enforce the rules in the United States. That means, believe it or not, that based on our demographic, we are ruled by the stupid. Huzzah!

Of course, there all types and varieties of stupid.  You have your garden variety ignorant, and then you have your rampant dumb and proud, and all manner of clueless, right and left, betwixt and between. A regular megaplex of morons. But that is, as it were, the nature of the beast, and surely Hobbes saw as clearly as anyone what Homo sapiens’ natural state portends. On occasion the Historian observes that the stupid rise, bellow like unmilked cows, and then usually return to shitting on each other. My argument today, is that the Great Chest Beating of 2016 is one such event, as I shall try to demonstrate below.

What we saw is that a company interested in moving sweet crude across country (you know, the stuff you have to have in order to drive that Dodge Tough Truck around the block)  spent millions of dollars (almost $4B to build it) on a permitting process that involved each State that the proposed pipeline was to pass through, and several agencies of the federal government. In North Dakota, the permit process was completed almost nine months ago, and the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to issue permits for the pipeline to pass underneath the Missouri River near Cannonball North Dakota in August 2016, over a month ago.

The path of the pipeline on its approach to the Missouri “crossing” was on private land through licensing by the private land owners in question.  This land had never been owned by any local tribe. The land had never been the subject in fact of any inquiry by any tribe, nor the subject of any filings before the  ND Public Service Commission by any tribe.

The surface water in and around the Missouri is unfit for consumption because of its coliform load. All other water in the region is subject to appropriation (i. e. is “property” in a sense) as is the case on the local Reservation (which has never had its water regulations approved, but they have been recognized as being in effect in no small part because they are consistent with water regulation and control throughout the Southwest).

In late August, members of the Standing Rock Reservation began trespassing on private property for the purpose of (illegally) obstructing the construction of the pipeline. This eventually became a media circus with hundreds of screaming individuals crossing fences and interfering with heavy machinery. The pipeline company’s security personnel became embroiled in altercations with the protesters, of course, and a lawsuit was filed seeking injunctive relief.

In the aftermath of this media drama, there has been a great deal of chest beating about how the Indian Nation stood up to protect Earth and their sacred sites. Unfortunately the facts, as is so often the case, tell a bit of a different story.

The records of James MacKay indicate that in the late 1700s the land in question was still occupied by Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara. The Dakota were woodland people of the Great Lakes who left the Great Lakes because of pressure from the Ojibwa and Cree, who had been armed by the French.  So, the Dakota arrived along the Missouri in what is now North Dakota after the white devil was already there, and went about “displacing” the existing Native occupants (as in, killing them off). This was hurried along by the 1837 Small Pox epidemic. The US tried to promote inter-tribal peace in the region through the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 , but the process was problematic and the results spotty and unsuccessful (the Lakota, for instance, were reported to have violated the treaty no sooner had it been agreed upon).

The Native Interlopers, as it were, the Lakota, eventually also entered in to a treaty, the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.  This treaty did not cover any lands in North Dakota.  In fact, the portion of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota (across which the pipeline does not run) was added by executive order in 1875 after the treaty in order to further protect the residents of the reservation by making the agency more functional (there was a deep water landing at the mouth of the Cannonball).

There have been numerous surveys of the area, and in a 58 page decision (link below) the US District Court made it clear that the Army Corps had done everything it was required to do.  The federal Administration, however, while deferring to the Court’s opinion, decided to temporarily hold off on the permits issued pending further study. screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-12-56-16-pm

The result is that people with no property interest in the subject land, who don’t consume surface water, who had never, during the State pipeline process, ever filed any documents evidencing any concern until after the final permit was issued, who were afforded every legal protection during the Corps permitting process,who arguably were themselves murdering interlopers who first appeared in the area of Cannonball circa 1875 and whose presence outside the reservation at the time would have been “problematic”, suddenly see the area North of the reservation as sacred though no evidence of use has been found by anyone but the tribal archeologist in the last couple of weeks, and then trespass en masse in order to secure the “purity” of water too foul to drink and the sanctity of sites that arguably don’t exist. Yup, I want to jump on that bandwagon right now! The fact that these people have decided to heat their homes by burning wood, instead of using propane,  well that’s just icing on the cake.

Yes, that was all a bit harsh.  But I wanted to demonstrate how darkly this could be seen, and that an accurate appreciation for what is going on is likely somewhere short of the rhetoric issued by the Council’s counsel.

Order denying Standing Rock Council the relief requested

Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851

Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

Almost Blind Justice

One of the interesting divides across the Canadian-US border is the concept prevalent south of the border that laws making certain behavior criminal a) are only for criminals, and since the putative offender is certainly NOT a criminal, the law could not possibly apply, and b) are in any event merely advisory.blind-justice-peeking
So, in the US we have people bringing their infants along to break the law, and then getting all teary eyed because the crime scene doesn’t have daycare. After all, there is no crime if I am righteous, is there, and I am the ultimate arbiter of whether I am being righteous! Huzzah!
Usually we have cause to evoke the image of blind justice because it reminds us that justice should be equal, but in this case we are specifically seeking “unequal” justice”. We still want the person who is trespassing on our property to be prosecuted, but we don;t want to be prosecuted if we are trespassing on someone else’s property because we feel that our neighbor is doing something that is legal, but, well, unpalatable to us.
And yes, this issue with our vision seems to effect us no matter our political persuasions. I think it even more infuriating when seen on the left; don’t we assume that those on the left are more intelligent and self-aware? Of course, some argue that this is only a matter of the increase in self-involvement in that we are so consumed with looking for ourselves, we fail to see almost anything clearly.  Is it Narcissus who holds up the scales now instead of Themis?
The popular media of late seems consumed with stories of swollen (or shrunken) body parts, but I don’t see that as being in the least helpful.  We seemed to have celebrated the death of the great chest beater, the gorilla (who was not doing any chest beating and presented no real threat), while we look the other way when we are confronted with the banal braggadocio of our own species. And while we may all equate that last bit with Trumpism, is that really so far a throw from invading someone else’s land to unlawfully block their legal behavior and then congratulating ourselves on our coup?
We talk a good deal about walking in another’s shoes, but do not seem to have the same appreciation for seeing with another’s eyes.  Must be a foot fetish….

When is Racism Not Racism?

Recently I read where a friend argued that “voluntary racism” was not problematic:

It’s the Hegelian dialectic. Thesis (Forced Association); Antithesis (Free Association); Synthesis (Elective Affinities). What people voluntarily do as a matter of choice is infinitely preferable to compliant submission to authoritarian order. The first produces ontological dynamism; the second, ontological stasis. Adaptation requires a dynamic selection process and is essential to survival. Voluntary segregation is only superficially analogous to forced segregation. Therefore, while you assert a circular deconstruction of civil rights because of voluntary segregation, your assertion is invalid for the reasons outlined above.

This was sparked by the news that “California State University Los Angeles recently rolled out segregated housing for black students.”

But I have to ask whether your “voluntary segregation” isn’t tantamount to forcing segregation on me, because when all of you decide to be segregated, it means there are none of you with whom I may exist, which is forced segregation on me.

In essence it would appear that you deny the existence of de facto segregation, arguing a binary of involuntary versus voluntary segregation, the involuntary segregation being sole a matter of de jure segregation which is unrelated to the whims of the population. Of course, the reality of the situation is that de jure segregation is simply a reflection of de facto (voluntary) segregation, i. e. practices established by a group “voluntarily” segregating themselves such that others know where they cannot be 😉

To put it another way, if “whites”, whatever that is, decide to voluntarily segregate, then you are suggesting that they may in fact bar “others” from participating. Otherwise, how does one argue for the “voluntary segregation” of one group, and against the “voluntary segregation” of another?

It seems to me that this boils down to what in common parlance is known as the “have your cake and eat it too” fallacy, named after the famed statement that Marie Antoinette never made…. But perhaps more important it begs the definition of racism and segregation. Both terms focus on discriminating among people based on their race, race being a rather loose and bizarre term that, when all is said and done, is often argued to really mean “different than us”.  In other words, segregation is ALWAYS going to run up against the concept of “voluntary association”, and practically speaking if government represents the will of the people there is little practical difference between voluntary segregation and governmental segregation.

Of course, we should not single out universities looking to safeguard student psyches. screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-3-11-27-pmHere in Alaska we have an entire medical industry that is limited to serving only one race (Senator Stevens wanted to provide insurance for Natives instead of racially discrete services, but was shot down over his views by Natives).  In fact, signs at the entrance to the Native Hospital state that they are only for Native Elders (apparently non-Native Elders aren’t allowed to park there.) And don’t the same concerns arise with respect to voluntary segregation as to sex, creed, and national origin?

No, this is not going to end in an attack on Affirmative Action. Nor is it an attempt to delegitimize the perspectives of Cornell West’s Race Matters or the Black Panthers’ Manifesto. But I am concerned that in our desperation to be different, we are actually promoting racism, and that we can do without.

In 1954 Justice Warren stated in Brown vs Board of Education,

We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This disposition makes unnecessary any discussion whether such segregation also violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Segregation, the Court found  “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” And someday, some day soon, a white child is going to ask, “Why can’t I go to that school?”

A Conversation on Male Privilege

So I asked…

Me: Am I a sexist for not agreeing that women are entitled to be afraid to be out at night because they are weak objects of ravening male lust?
Her: Well the issue is that you can’t tell people how to feel, especially since you don’t have the same situation. Do you walk around with you housekeys threaded through your fingers? I do that on the regular. And for many women, they may be trying to ward off a second sexual assault, since colleges are hotbeds of rape. That is my personal point of view, so I’d say try to see it from that perspective before making judgements on people’s legitimate fears. I wouldn’t call that sexist though. Maybe willfully ignorant of certain realities.
I had a date once tell me this “hillllarious” story about his buddy leaning out of a car and slapping all the asses of a bunch of women on one of those party bicycle brewery tours. I didn’t think it was hilarious. He didn’t understand why not. Until women can walk around without men whispering to them on the street, “Mmmmm, You’re so hot… Be careful” then that’s the point of view I have to have to keep myself safe from further trauma. And you can say things are safe, but maybe no one wants to rape you.
Me: I suspect that’s the case, but the rate per 100,000 of rape of a Caucasian woman by a stranger is .5 so it is 16 times more likely that the nice white ladies chewing my ass are going to die behind the wheel of their cars then get raped… so, the arguably non-sexist question to ask would be why they don’t stop driving….
Her: A car accident is much MUCH less traumatic than sexual violation. I didn’t have to go to a shrink after my car accident.
Me:  I am not trying to argue that people should not be aware of their surroundings…. but simply that telling people they should be fearful is not good for the public sense of security.
Her: If you’re standing next to a bear, you know it’s a bear. If you’re standing next to a rapist, he looks like everyone else. Not all men are rapists of course, but one rapist can cause irreparable damage to many many women. We’d kill the bear. We tell the rapist he’s fine unless the victim’s story and evidence are solid as fuck
It’s pretty rampant, you can’t deny that. Not as rampant as car accidents, but I run out of fingers counting the people I personally know have been allegedly sexually assaulted. And until you’ve gone through that trauma, you won’t know the fear. And because of that reality, the fear is legitimized. Stop the rapes and women will stop being afraid. We could start with increased sentencing and removal of statute of limitations
And on the point of strangers – if you’ve been raped by a friend or acquaintance then it does tend to paint strangers with a black brush. And that’s a victim’s struggle and right. Just because stats say that strangers usually aren’t rapists, it doesn’t mean that victim doesn’t fear men to some extent. Plus strange men like to creep on women A LOT.  Not rape, but certainly ruins a section of your waking day. Some guy whispers to me on the street on a Saturday night that I’m hot and to be careful? Doesn’t make me want to go dancing anymore, or not watch my drinks like a hawk around strange dudes It ruins things. A lot of men ruin things for women.
You can call that sexist, but the feeling is soooo gross and dark and upsetting. And every time that happens it brings some of the trauma back up – makes it real hard to trust strangers or give them the benefit of the doubt I should say
So when does “being aware of your surroundings” become “Don’t turn your back on your drink for A SECOND” and how are you supposed to be happy and joyful in that situation? Constant diligence is a necessity. Being aware of surroundings isn’t enough anymore. Well actually it was never enough, but we’ve come a long way from it being ok for a husband to rape his wife. Now rape is marginally frowned upon. Still not enough.
I don’t think you’re a sexist.  But you do have to acknowledge there is male privilege in telling women not to be afraid.

An intriguing exploration of some issues (thank you, Ms. Solfadoresido, for bringing this to my attention). http://www.robot-hugs.com/risky-date/ screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-02-48-am

Rosay, Andrés. “Forcible Rapes and Sexual Assaults in Anchorage.” Alaska Justice Forum 20, no. 4 (Winter 2004). Accessed September 2, 2016. http://justice.uaa.alaska.edu/forum/20/4winter2004/a_rapes.html.

If There Are Elk There Must Be Elves

A friend wrote that he was now convinced there was an elk on Whidbey Island. I smiled.  I had stopped and visited with a young bull moose on the way to the university this morning… Got me to thinking that there are quite a number of people to my mind who conflate “fear” and “respect”. I was not afraid of the moose in the least, but I certainly respected him for what he was.  I had no reason to change my path of travel, and no cause to have to travel in a pack.

Now, in Anchorage, our local constabulary has advised the citizenry that they should beware isolated areas like parks, bike trails or unoccupied streets, and if one plan to be out ‘late at night’, to travel with a group, because we have had 25 homicides so far this year (certainly no record for Anchorage, most of them, believe it or not, taking place
Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 5.10.46 PMwhere police are rarely seen —  I will leave you to put two and two together on that one).
And to put that in perspective, the homicide rate in Anchorage is the same as the car crash mortality rate for Alaska and the maternal mortality rate in North Western Europe. The US, of course has a maternal mortality rate three times Western Europe’s. The rates per 100,000 for syphilis and gonorrhea are both about the same as the homicide rate here.
This all seemed to come together during a discussion of whether Trump was winding up the hate and fear across the political spectrum. I pointed out that any perceived decrease in personal or community security (as was being projected by our police) was going to raise fears, and rising fears produced irrational aggression and/or flight, and what we all really needed to do was take back our public spaces (real, as well as virtual):
Unfortunately, at the same time the Trumpus is winding folk up, we have the APD telling everyone to bar the door because it is unsafe to be out in Anchorage. The “answer” is not to hide, but to take back both the streets AND the tone of conversation.
And of, of course, there were exceptions taken. After all, as I pointed out, there is a perfectly sane reason for all white people to avoid Haarlem, Five Points, hhalf of Detroit and most of Baltimore isn’t there 😉  Apparently, while I am a man, and I can change, if I have to, I guess,  it can’t be soon enough for some…..

“‘Elk on Whidbey?’, you said?”  I think a sense of proportion comes of mixing with wild creatures on a regular basis. Much as I don’t reach for a gun when I see a black bear, I don’t reach for a gun when I see a black kid in a hoody. And when I talk about community policing I am not talking about squad cars assigned to districts, I am talking about officers spending time on foot in neighborhoods getting to know what happens there, and giving the people there an opportunity to get to know their local police. Public safety is a two way street if you want to talk about security, and not reactivity (the latter being mostly what we engage in today).  You may want to wreak vengeance on the dastardly perp, but I would rather keep the crime from taking place.

I live with bears, moose, geese, and the occasional criminal. Get outside 🙂 Tell your elected officials you’d like to be able to stroll the neighborhood with a police officer on a regular basis. Tell the Angry Birds to stay out from behind the wheels of their automobiles.


Protect This…

Recently I have been hearing another radical refrain, that being that the U. S. Constitution (as opposed to a scramble of Marines) protect my rights. Apparently small minds are working overtime…

Frankly, the Constitution has never protected anyone’s “rights”. The Constitution embodies a rather terrible bargain that was supposed to give voice to the conscience of a new people. As it was flawed, so were the consciences of its people. Waxing more and more selfish, as possessive narcissists are want to do, they pushed harder and harder until the fabric of consensus was simply too brittle to serve, to calcified to persevere.

The U. S. Constitution is essentially a side of mutton (that being the nature of parchment); it lays around like a dead sheep and doesn’t do much at all. Tough to do much when you are housed in a bullet proof glass case, after all.

Courts have very little enforcement power, and rely almost entirely on the executive branch, while legislatures, well, they legislate….. they have no muscle (and perhaps collectively show little to recommend them much of the time. The Supreme Court simply ignores the Constitution when it serves their purpose, as do the Congress and the Administration. So who or what does protect our rights?

Setting aside for another time the substantial question of whether we have any “rights”, the real answer to that question is to be found above, where we started.  It is found in the willingness of the polity NOT to push things to the braking point.

I teach my students that the crux of the U. S. Constitution is, “Give a little to get a little” (as much an understatement I suppose, as Hillel’s description of Torah) and while that brings smiles to their faces, I am very serious.  Literalists, in a sense, can’t be taken serious because there has never been a word written which was read the same way twice.  The essence of man is fractiousness, and the genius, if any, of western jurisprudence is the vagary of the “law” not its specificity. As with matter, it is the space between that is remarkable, and forbearance is as much the space between as mystical volume between nucleus and electron…

When we abuse the social fabric (the delicate consensus that allows us to live together in some remote semblance of peace) the disturbance ripples through our reality. Ignorance begets ignorance, hate begets hate, violence begets violence. Social behavior is not managed by a sharp, “NO!”, hurled by a two year old. It is managed by “moral suasion” (and Winthrop advises that moral suasion may be as ineffectual as legislation when it comes to wives).

What secures our rights is no more, nor any less, than Hillel’s prescription: “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor; this is the whole law. All the rest is a commentary, go and study it.”


Winthrop, John, and James Kendall Hosmer. Winthrop’s Journal : “History of New England”, 1630-1649. Volume 1. New York : Scribner, 1908. Accessed June 16, 2016. https://archive.org/stream/winthropsjournal00wint#page/278/mode/2up .


Bloody Hell

Unfortunately, much of what could be discussed with respect to events such as just took place in Orlando is obscured by the use of unstated definitions and confused labels. This event, despite the thousands and thousands of times the media have repeated the line,  is NOT the largest mass killing of humans in the history of the country – not even close.

What is true, and frightening (let’s avoid the “t” word altogether, as this was not about terrorism), is the fact that one person can easily obtain the armament necessary to kill so many people so quickly. Let’s go on to note (as some have already over the past decade) that agnostics don’t seem to be interested in mass homicide.

Let’s face it. Murdering people who we don’t like is an American “sport”.  It receives tremendous press coverage, results in a huge transfer of value, not only is a focus of daily conversation, but also of secondary and tertiary entertainment progScreen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.54.28 AMramming. Homicide is what Americans do, and arguably perhaps what we do best; what makes us “exceptional”.

Doubt me? Look no further than the political pinnacle presented via the accepted wisdom: two hawks, competing to be the war lords of the deadliest gang in the ‘hood.  Where ever we have gone over the last two centuries we have sown corpses (and reaped tremendous profits, don’t forget).  Death R Us, don’t you know.  We are not talking here of Oppenheimer’s confusion over Krishna’s lesson to Arjuna, unless we are celebrating a recognition that we are corruption incarnate. This is just juicing.

Is “Multipurpose” Just Another Word for Poorly Done?

I was a bit distressed, considering the state our trails are in, to read about the proposed ordinance to make electric bikes legal on our trails.  Let us reflect for just a moment…

  • Is there a general speed limit on our trails?
  • Are there specific speed limits that address trail circumstances and conditions (turn radius and the number of turns, width of trail, slope, lateral visibility, other traffic, etc.)?
  • Is there any enforcement on our trails?

I think by and large the answer to these questions is a resounding, “NO!”, and yet suddenly, without regard to the multitude of issues we do face on our multpurpose trails (yes, horses are allowed on our trails…) here we have an ordinance about an electric bike.

Are we first going to do something about the presumably illegal Segues and powered wheelchairs on our trails? How about the loose dogs fouling our greenbelts? Or should we think about the thousands of kids illegal biking on the trails without helmets?

The simple fact of the matter is that we have a number of criteria for the funding of “trails”, yet we seem incapable of effectively managing use of those trails once they are built.

A two hundred pound individual moving at 25 mph down an MOA bike path on a bicycle colliding with an unmanaged two year old suddenly dashing across the trail is a recipe for disaster – yet we seem unconcerned. Missoula and other locations try to address some of these issues by creating BERMED bike lanes that allow high speed bicycles to use city streets without fear of automobiles, while other cities provide what amount to bicycle only highways (keeping the three parents with the 3 double wide strollers stopping to chat from shutting down the trail). We put some paint on the road and look the other way…

Cologne Bike Highways

And wait!  There’s more!  Despite Danny Sullivan’s protestations (and the Mayor’s decision to keep Mr. Rodda in place), we have a huge burden of deferred maintenance, an ongoing crisis in grossly inadequate construction practice in laying trail, and unmet continuity issues. Do we continue to argue that maintenance of trails only be managed through State Cap Budget items? Why use local bonding to deploy apparently inappropriate or inadequate infrastructure (wooden bridges, anyone)? Is it time to put a stop to “partners” running our parks?  How do we balance ENFORCEMENT of trail usage mandates as against planning, design, construction, and maintenance of those resources?

I think it only fair to say that Mr. Traini has the cart before the horse.