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April 16, 2014

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Obamacare is doing ok.

Is the Republican campaign plan to have another "clarifying election 2012" and bet all the chips on anti -Obamacare another huge political miscalculation served up from the right -wing echo chamber where Republicans remain isolated from a changing society?

It looks like Republicans are running out of issues. They have the money and own the US Supreme Court so they will continue to cause serious damage to the US and the world.

I just watched the "rich asshole ad" and I'm ready to immigrate. I don't care how rich you are. If you drive a Cadillac, live in a McMansion, have a bookshelf filled with titles from Regnery Publishing, you're Dumb White Trash.

Seriously, has there ever been a better argument for raising the top marginal tax rate back to 91%?

N'est-ce pas my ass.

I don't hate the rich but I do hate pigs. You don't have to be rich to be a pig. You can simply be stupid and greedy, which pretty much explains the GOP base. Half this country thinks it's going to win the Powerball jackpot, and what's their worst fear? That this one-in-three-trillion chance might be spoiled by confiscatory taxes. That's how stupid we've become as a nation. If you think a million dollars is going to make you happy, you might as well be Miley Cyrus's less-attractive sibling plotting revenge.

The history of the west is epic and heartbreaking. Many who set out in wagon trains died en route from cholera, dysentery, snake bites, and hunger. But harsh memories are not license to steal and plunder. You got there first? Well, that's wonderful, but the country belongs to all of us, not just the pirates who happened to find the treasure. The Kochs are no more entitled to the fruits of democratic government than some homeless person living on the sidewalk in a conversational multi-verse. Real political discourse persuades not with advertising but with actual conversation about trade-offs and mutual interests. Today, that conversation has devolved to tics and twitches coming from the Pavlovian labs of political manipulators.

There is no point to a life lived in excessive luxury. There is a point, however, to caring for a nation, its institutions, physical assets, and social capital. The idolators of the free market disguise their sociopathy as the engine of social well-being. It's a well-used con to portray their greed as virtuous. It's emotional blackmail pretending to be some greater good. It's not patriotic, it's not American, and it's not deserved. It's as old as time, and as evil now as when Herod ruled.


What part of "illegal" don't they understand?

Not sure which I enjoy reading more.....Jon's blog posts or Soleri's comments. Bravo to both.

Excellent piece Jon, great research.
And of course the singing poet Soleri.
"you got there first" is an over used phrase by a bunch of thieving illegal immigrant europeans. The South, Central and North American Natives didnt establish Ellis Island and hand out passports.
And a good one,"Pavlovian Labs of Political manipulators".
And "Herod" one of my favorite early DEA Agents. Had Herod known he would have decapitated those three wise guys on the way to give a kid illegal substances.
Soleri, I recommend Uruguay.

I'm reading that Bundy is the only rancher left on that land...that BLM has forced the others out?... I'm told, or read, there USED to be 53... Now just one...who's family has rancher there since 1877.
Now...let's talk about one of the biggest Crooks in DC...Sen. Harry "full of cow dung" REID... It's one of his former senior staffers now in charge of the BLM, that "suddenly" wants that range land and under the guise of protecting the desert turtle?...of course, REID didn't care about that Turtle with the first LARGE solar power farm outside of Laughlin....or his son, the head of ENN Energy wouldn't want any of that "Public land" to try to entice the Chinese back into a solar power deal? YA THINK?... No...not REID or his son...Reid is totally honest and above board...He fights the mean GOP and the KOCH Brothers...(mentioned them about 134 times on the Senate floor, I read)...but...he wasn't against taking Campaign funds from them in the early- mid 60's, was he.... Or Biden and a host of other Reps/Senators even now... Or Reid trying to entice the Chinese (along with his son) to purchase a huge desert tract of land for just under 6 million dollars (of course ENN Energy would be in on the deal)...oh...and that land was appraised at 38 million!!... I think Bundy' s problems start with GREEDY REID, who has far outlived his trust and ethics in DC...(and what about the $31,000+ "gift" to his daughter from his campaign fund??) just like the other leading Democratic crook, RANGEL, nothing will happen to REID.

"conversational multi-verse"

The voices in my head liked that!

Skip, I have always thought LDS Reid had a huge number of self enriching projects while talking for the poor. In this Bundy deal like others Reid has conflicts as does the Nevada Governor and the County Sheriff. Since they are all members of the Lost Tribe of Israel we should work out a deal for them to go back to Jerusalem and let them see how the Mossad handles these kind of situations.
God "driven" people are insane, Eric Parker included.(I dont think Bundy or Reid are god driven, its just a way to hold the power). If you are GOD Driven and I offended you. I intended too.

And I repeat, can a democracy live with theocratic's, such as Muslims and Mormons. They seem to have the impression that democracies are not favored by their gods.

Skip, here's info about Reid and the Chinese project:
http://www.snopes.com/politics/conspiracy/nevada.asp

Solar farm? I thought it was fracking!

I love that you brought a larger historical picture to the issue, Rogue.

Everybody’s posts are excellent!

Morris and O"Brien thanks for the web sites.
I like the comment by Coyote that concludes that "Ghost Cliven Bundy" does not appear according to Nevada Property records to own anything. But he does have 14 children. That should earn him a trip to his heaven.

The open range had to be closed off by the Taylor Act, both for the survival of the land and the long-term sustainability of cattle ranching in the West. It has worked well since.

NEWS FLASH The "Open Range" laws are still in exist-ence in many states. If you don't want cattle in, you have to fence your land to keep them out. :) This is Nevada's Open Range Laws...in Clark County, where this is occurring there is one BLM Allotment for one ranching family and no open range laws.http://www.unce.unr.edu/publications/files/ag/2010/fs1069.pdf

LIFE BEYOND PARODY IN OBAMA’S AMERICA (CONT’D): Income Inequality Institute Will Pay Paul Krugman $25,000 Per Month. For unclear, but “modest,” efforts.

http://gawker.com/income-inequality-institute-will-pay-paul-krugman-25-0-1563245534

This is from the site: http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/

I do not of an actual Tea Party Web Site. As I said before it’s more of an affinity group than a party. But I think Instapundit comes pretty close to voicing the Tea Party’s take on things. You might check it out of occasion; if for no other reason it’s always good to “know thine enemy”.

Haven’t had much of any interest in the Nevada ranch thing – but you need to keep an eye on the BLM. There may be more to this than meets the eye. Glad to a Waco style showdown was avoided; at least for the time being.

Re Soleri and his “Mc Mansion” comments: I’ve always found them to be ridiculous too. Not because I find them to be necessarily immoral, but just stupid. But then I’ve been in these nifty downtown loft conversions; and they’re cool with their brick walls, exposed beams, etc. But then you go into the kitchen in there must be $30,000 worth of appliances alone. Here in the South we have the usual urban slums, but we also have a giant rural poverty problem – and this is just as much of a white thing as a black thing – probably more. You’ll come across these old rusted out trailers, or falling down wooden cottages; but low and behold, attached is the satellite dish. With the big screen, flat panel and TIVO inside no doubt. My last peeve is with what I’ll call the Portlandia slacker (note: I’ve never seen the show). Over-educated and won’t take a “McJob”. In my younger days I held many McJobs and never found any of them to be degrading on below my dignity. Sorry to get off on this rant. My point is: any system bases on people being naturally virtuous is doomed. The best you can do is set up checks and balances to avoid really bad problems. The concentration of wealth at the very top is very disturbing. Haven’t thought too much about what to do about it – but will give it some thought.


Excellent article! Arizona is my home state and I was always amazed that in a state where the federal government provided access to massive tracts of public land for recreation, hunting, fishing, livestock grazing, highway routes, and precious WATERSHED that so many people would consider the federal government THE ENEMY. A rancher that wants to use my theoretical share of the public lands without paying the legal grazing fees, for his own financial gain, is a thief.

To turn around a favorite phrase of the mean-spirited you often hear in AZ -- "What part of 'illegal' don't you understand?" This guy's been breaking the law for years and wrapping it up in "range war" cowboy romanticism is total manipulative nonsense. The guy's a shoplifter of grass. He needs to pay his million-dollar fine and perhaps do some time in the county hoosegow.

Thanks for posting this, and I'll join the chorus of appreciation for soleri's input.

From what I've been rather feverishly researching (I hate being schizophrenic,) cal's right to point out that there is some ugliness emanating from Senator Harry that would certainly turn up the umbrage from the larcenous Bundys and the reactionary right.

Again, thanks to all.

I'll open here with a belated welcome to 'Bammer wkg - glad you've dipped in. Sorry to come at you with a slight rebuke here, but that's the nature of good dialogue, eh?

...My last peeve is with what I’ll call the Portlandia slacker (note: I’ve never seen the show). Over-educated and won’t take a “McJob”. In my younger days I held many McJobs and never found any of them to be degrading on below my dignity...

Just so you know - much of slacker culture is not about "beneath dignity." It's about we should all be on strike because wage laboring is sucking our lives from us. And entrepreneurin' is just a bid to become one of the devils.

To shake loose the capitalist dreams, to get outside of it? It's not an easy thing to contemplate, practically speaking, and it's even more inexplicable to those who have no such impulse.

Zoellner, your book Train looks awesome.

@Petro :” It's about we should all be on strike because wage laboring is sucking our lives from us. And entrepreneurin' is just a bid to become one of the devils.” You kind of have to pick one or the other. What’s the alternative?

It is to shake loose, to get outside of it. And to repeat, "it's even more inexplicable to those who have no such impulse."

And no, you don't have to pick one or the other. There are economic arrangements other than capitalism (and I'm not speaking of its doppelganger Marxism.) And we will see these experiments, as the long descent continues.

@Perto: “And no, you don't have to pick one or the other. There are economic arrangements other than capitalism (and I'm not speaking of its doppelganger Marxism.) And we will see these experiments, as the long descent continues.” I’ve always liked the employee owned businesses. We have stupendous example in my area: Publix Supermarkets. Then there are the “family enterprises” where some work for others and some for the family. But in the end there need to be an evaluation: here’s the worth of what you’re doing to help things.

Initial thoughts on dealing with the concentration of wealth:
• Passing wealth on from generation to generation is just not right.
• As long as you’re alive, spend it any way you want
• Helping your kids in any way you can think of should be encouraged.
• Ceding wealth to the Federal or State government little better. Federal government already has too much power.
• Ceding wealth to a “foundation” not all that much better. NGO’s have become a power in themselves.
• Say set a limit: can leave $100,000/year of each year of heirs expected life span.
• Heirs limited to first “linkage” i.e. sons or daughters. Or nieces and nephews if don’t have direct heirs.
• What to do about excess? How about a lottery? But one that is free for any citizen of the US. One entry per person. “Winners” gets a $100,000. A nice sum but nothing to alter one’s lifestyle.

Portland is supposedly the city where young people go to retire, but if that's the case, they don't appear to be layabouts. The Portlandia types - say, girls with green hair and guys with ear lobes perforated and stretched out by rings - are seen everywhere in the retail sector. I think about their hipster uniforms and dress codes as less a blow for freedom than another club to join. I may be projecting a bit but it seems to me that the really creative ones actually aren't afraid to look different from their friends and tribe.

I don't know if it's possible to reinvent the economy so it doesn't suck the humanity out from its wage slaves. Portland appears kinder in this way than most cities but it's still American and that means few unions and low pay although better than many other cities (Oregon's minimum wage is #2 in the nation, just behind Washington state).

Bohemians aren't afraid to be poor, and their ability to live on a shoestring is in itself admirable. Some are also quite adept at handicrafts, gardening, various homemaking arts, etc. I don't know this first-hand, but I suspect bartering and mutual aid systems are strong.

What haunts me about Portland is that these people are gradually being pushed out by people like me. I'm financially comfortable so I don't have to make a virtue of necessity (or a virtue of anything, for that matter). There's a social and, dare I say, a spiritual cost here. When we only know one another through ordinary currency exchange, financial complexity reduces actual human richness.

I'm not sure which systems Petro is referring to in the coming age of descent from industrial civilizations, but here's one thinker who addressed social corrections to economic life as a philosophical imperative: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Illich

I think wkg will find him very interesting, too.

A post for no reason at all. I was up at Starbuck’s the other day. I like ‘cause they have free wifi and my data plan pretty much sucks. I run outside every now and then to grab a smoke and look at cars and just stuff in the neighborhood. Anyway, a Vestavia Hills (that’s where I live) cop pulls up. He driving a big black imposing SUV, like maybe a Ford Explorer. Anyway, he goes inside to get a cup. So I’m just standing there. This is Vestavia, no one locks up their cars or even puts up their windows for that matter. So I wander over and take a look inside. It looks like the bridge Star Treks’s Enterprise with all the computer screens, etc. There a couple of bucket seats. In between is a gun rack with a shot gun and an automatic rifle. I’m thinking: “what’s this all about?” I was standing there in just amazement when the cop comes back out. I say to him “Man you guys are really packing”. He and I got to talking. Neither of us could remember a violent crime in recent times. There is something very disturbing about all of this.

@Soleri: I'll check out Ivan

@Soleri: “Bohemians aren't afraid to be poor, and their ability to live on a shoestring is in itself admirable. Some are also quite adept at handicrafts, gardening, various homemaking arts, etc. I don't know this first-hand, but I suspect bartering and mutual aid systems are strong.” It’s kind of what I mean. A hybrid-employment. Some for direct self benifit-some for “pay” – even if its stuff/services in kind/off the books money. I think the “grey economy” is much more prominent than most think.

Gave Ivan a quick read and will read more seriously tomorrow. Seems to be a brillent guy.

http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/14/sf-housing/

Again OT: San Francisco's housing crisis explained in amazing detail. No easy answers given, needless to say. There are only so many great places in the world and SF is clearly one of them. Who gets to live there is partly economic but also political.

a good rancher. google Daily Kos for "an Idahoan shows
Bundy what a real rancher is."


a

@Soleri: got a little more time to look into Illich. Very interesting guy. Caught my eye for the get go with the De-schooling Society item. I have been a big advocate of home schooling for at least ten years. Took a time or two through the article to finally catch onto his point that “the ineffectual nature of institutionalized education” was not due to the fact that they were ineffectual, but that they were institutional; and they could never be fixed. Without going into this in any (preliminary) detail, I agree.

The idea that “Illich posited self-directed education” is troublesome. When does education begin? I’d say the minute the little critter pops out of the womb. I think education needs to be very directed early on with gradual loosening with age.

Then there was this “The main notion of Ivan Illich is the concept of counterproductivity:” Is the entire popularization of the word “counterproductive” his or just aspects of it? To have invented the word counterproductive is worth a
Noble Prize in itself.

Don’t know if I’ll have enough interest to dig into this any deeper. But sometimes things get to nagging at the back of your mind to where you can’t let it go.

Apologies to all for the site being down for much of the afternoon. It was a Typepad problem that affected all the sites they host. It was not an attack from the Real Estate Industrial Complex or the "Goldwater" Institute.

if the BLM VS Bundy stratgey was
"The Stragety of Self Injury"
they failed to inflict a believable injury
and if U think the BLM has problems
U should listen to the presidents assistant to HLS

Jon, thanks for sharing the link on Twitter again today. I hadn't been back since I was caught up on the comments and had missed all the great updates.

The affluent suburbs in AZ are teeming with Asshole Cadillac Guys and their equally repugnant wives. This is why I'm rather a broken record with my insistence that, no, Arizona will not be rescued by Sensible Business Leaders™. Many, if not most, successful business people here are right wingers. I base that on both my own observation of them and on exit polls showing how they vote.

The head of the AZ Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is often touted as a moderating force is Glenn Hamer. Hamer was the executive director of the AZ GOP in the early to mid 2000s, which was when the party took the hard turn into immigrant-bashing and religion. And Glenn Hamer, the president of the AZ Chamber, is still very much a kook, albeit one who occasionally allows the monetary considerations of his members prevail over right wing dogma.

People gotta get off their fixation with "moderate Republicans". There aren't any. An Asshole Cadillac guy or lady who's a bit more congenial about it is not a moderate. They're still an asshole.

To carry Donna's thinking in a slightly different direction, I've long been flummoxed by the ways we excuse non-racist Republicans. I hear this all the time how so and so may be GOP but it's okay because he or she is very nice, etc. But I wonder how nice it is to simply ignore the cesspool of racism that is modern conservatism. If you're making excuses for or simply ignoring the racists in your party, how "nice" is that? Racism is a toxin that's destroying our capacity for reasoned discourse. When the Republican Party reflexively engages in dog whistles and wink-and-nod condoning of overt racism, it reveals its true soul. This isn't occasional. It's pretty much constant.

BTW, I do know really nice Republicans (nicer than me, for sure). But I have a difficult time respecting them because of this behavior. Right-wing extremism has been mainstreamed in this country. We cower before loud and obnoxious assholes like Rush Limbaugh who traffic in racist drivel. Then we're told that it's okay because.....er.....Al Sharpton!

I know it's probably useless to complain about the hall monitors of our public discourse. Some of them like David Gregory, Richard Cohen and David Brooks are simply empty souls. They cluck and chortle and smile and charm. Wink, wink, nod, nod! And failing all else, there's the ever popular "look over there! A squirrel!"

A comment for no reason at all. I remember reading this article about a guy who traveled to Costa Rica (Or may some other Central American country) to do an article about the loss of rain forest or jungle. He had several days to kill time before his appointment with the “minister of the Interior” or some such happened. Traveling around in the interim he couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be an awful lot of “jungle” around. Questioning the minister when the interview finally happened he asked about the seeming contradiction. He was told that what he was seeing was not “real jungle” but regrowth. They may look the same to the untrained eye.

What I’m trying to get at is that a tropical jungle can swallow up things in an amazing fast pace. Whole Myan cities are still being discovered in Central America.

Soleri, once upon a time I was expounding on the reasons not to take another humans life. My companion in life at the time, a female American Indian and a cop, said to me, there are some people that need to be killed. I thought about calling her re the thing in Nevada but i didnt as i thought i knew what her answer would be. She seemed to have all knowing eyes that saw the human condition in a much clearer focus than i.
and
i am amazed that the parents of children have not taken a contract on Warren Jeffs.

Pat,
Good article, and while Mormons are plenty guilty, I think this kind of "entitlement" thinking is inherent in the 'manifest destiny' movement.

Cal, I'm sure there are many, many people who could be disappeared and the world would be happier for it. Still, I don't know their names. I started to think of those whose deaths might cheer me up. The Koch brothers? Wayne La Pierre? Newt Gingrich? The more I thought about it, the less I was able to see any point to it. No one is completely good and no one is completely evil with the possible exception of Ted Nugent. My lack of imagination doesn't mean one thing or another except I think there are such deep benches of malevolence that offing some evil dude probably wouldn't change anything. Warren Jeffs, by the way, is an asshole to be sure, but at least he's incarcerated.

I was a bit despondent today. I was thinking that when I was born in 1948 there were only two billion people alive. Now it's seven. Most of that gain we can attribute to cheap oil, and now that oil is getting more expensive, we're all rather tetchy. Some of us think that raising living standards among the poorest billions will only worsen the damage to our biosphere. We've seen in our lifetimes a great arc of prosperity that now hovers in our broken sleep like a bad conscience. Forget a future of flying cars and robotic servants. Merely to have a stable climate would be deliverance, which would forgive our greed and obliviousness.

Who are we say one life is worse than another? We're all complicit in this catastrophe although the wealthy owners of our political system and economy bear much more responsibility. Would guillotines help? I don't think so although I'd love to have the conversation anyway. It might be a good happy hour discussion - would assassinating the global plutocracy save the planet? Talk amongst yourselves.

Soleri I was in a wireless phone store yesterday helping a friend purchaser a new phone. The sales person was a young tall slim well groomed black male, that was wearing a very simple wedding band. From the start he tried to push an I-phone. He had to be asked twice about a Samsung and then he said it was not a good choice.
As the purchase moved along we got into immigration which he somewhat had confused with migrations. He then said well we have to have more children as in
2050 there will not be enough young people for the jobs that will be available. He went on to inform me that the population was going to peak at 9 billion and then sprial downward. He then asked if I knew that? I said yes I had read what he was talking about but I was of a different opinion. I tried to suggest a couple of readings but he was convinced he was right and before I could stop him he said "we could put the worlds population in Texas and there wold be plenty of water and resources to provide for them. I walked away so my friend could by a phone.

Cal, I recommend the link on The Front Page by Garry Wills on Obamacare (in case you haven't read it). It's a good description how people lock into beliefs that are based often not on factual evidence per se but on wishful thinking. We've all had this experience talking to people who are utterly immune to entertaining the idea that a cherished belief might be wrong. Now, I see this consistently on the right, but it has to be true on the left as well. So, I'm doing a quick memory scan now to provide a few examples. Okay, I'm blanking out but I'm sure there are examples.

A few years ago, you leant me a book, What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly. The books was wonderful but it was written from the perspective of a techno-utopian who pretty much ignored all the environmental costs from overpopulation. Indeed, he quoted Julian Simon, a cornucopian/millenialist, more than a few times.

Population growth is a major economic driver. Indeed, some economists insist that one reason why we're in this protracted slump right now has less to do with the overhang of debt from the financial crisis than the fact we're still in the shallows of a generational baby bust, which by 2019 should begin to self-correct.

I'm deeply pessimistic, however, about our capacity as a species to govern our appetites in such a way that we don't permanently damage the biosphere. My brother, who is a scientist, is the opposite. He loves technology and thinks we already have the skill set to avoid the worst outcomes of planetary over-utilization. I don't need to be right about this and I actually hope I'm not since it's clear we're not going to do anything to interrupt the ongoing orgy of greenhouse gas emissions.

I've heard that chestnut about fitting Earth's population comfortably in Texas. It's a seductive argument since it's obviously unproveable. My cyber-namesake Paolo Soleri wanted to house people in hyper-dense "arcologies" and set about to prove it at Arcosanti, which 40 some years later is obviously never going to happen. Soleri had keen environmental concerns but his inveterate theorizing caused him to overestimate his pie-in-the-sky solution.

At some point, human life might begin to resemble science fiction, but I suspect it wont look like Star Trek. We are still very much rampaging primates in a finite world. We can and probably will do some amazing things in conservation and environmental engineering before the clock runs finally runs out on us. Again, I hope I'm wrong in my pessimism.


Cal, I moved the Garry Wills article that Soleri mentioned to the Best of the Front Page.

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