January 17, 2017
2016 elections, politics, Trump
2016 elections, politics, society, Trump
The President elect communicates in 140 characters. His childish feuds and 3 am tweets capture the headlines. Daily. Russian hacking. Conflicts of interest in his world wide business brand driven empire. Recently admitted during his victory lap tour that “Drain the Swamp” was a good phrase. One he didn’t like until he saw the rection. Then he threw his slick carny sideshow barker soul into it. Keep poking the media to have them react the way he wants. All giving cover to the serious business of confirmation hearings for the people who will push fake science, anti regulation or ideologically driven attacks on their long hated targets.
One commentary before the election talked about brand of Trump’s candidacy. He stated that Trump is a shallow thinker ruled by emotions who trust family over outsiders. Unless he could use them to help sell the Brand or achieve his narcissistic goals. Those supporting him are deep thinkers. Of a narrow extremist bent. Their America. Not yours or mine. Not the one of the people who voted for him live in. Then there’s Mike Pence. A Conservative’s Conservative. The True Believer. Question. Who was leader of Germany when Hitler came to power? Not Hitler. He controlled the largest block of elected representatives in the Bundestag. Appeasement of a radical group for support of a weak leader in crisis.
The illusion of a free and liberal Germany helped elect the very ones bent on its destruction. A National Socialist is a non starter in the US. Cold War propaganda ensured that. Being a newish small “s” socialist in a extremely Capitalist society, I have argued that the color red is a hindrance. Forget the history. It closes the mind to any reasonable thing we could point out. So Mike Pence is waiting on deck. Calm. Sure of himself. Out of the eye of the storm. The favorite guy in the the clubhouse. While the multimillionaire star is an arrogant ass no one willing to have a beer with.
So the question is, who will spring the trap? The ones set by the Democrats are clearly marked to keep the innocent kids away. Safety first. Measures pushed by certain vocal factions. Here’s your signs, police tape and noise makers. Shut Up. We’re hunting here. How’s that gonna turn out? Who’s waiting in the tall grass with the elephant guns? The more extreme portions of the party in power. Those that fell for the biggest lies told by their savior from anything Obama.
I like puzzles. Not the detective story type. More the Sherlock Holmes kind. Clues hidden in plain sight by criminals operating from their basest instincts. The criminal Mastermind is always the ones closest to the mark. Theirs is a high level con. Simply look at the ones surrounding Trump has advisers. Reminds me of South American strongmen and dictators rather than the European model of democracy. Trevor Noah of the Daily Show found the best comparison. South Africa. The country he was born and raised in. One he knows intimately. The pieces are all there on the table. Edges done in Red State 2010. Just that little bit in the center to go.
The table everyone has studied. Talked about in quiet conversations. A one time chance. Don’t screw this up. Then there that one guy. Listening. Watching. Looking at the human pieces. 3D chess Master. Just my thoughts based on all the speculative fiction I’ve read since my teen years. It clicked with the way my brain works. I truly hope I’m wrong.
January 2, 2017
Buddha, Life lessons, mental illness, Philosophy, technology, The Middle Way
home, Insanity, Lessons learned, lifestyle, politics, relationships, technology, writing
Standing on the plateau after the long climb of 2016 gives me a chance to reflect. The dense fog that dogged my existence the past three years was a one way mirror. From here it’s so very clear. The decades long descent into chaos laid out. While another fog shrouds future lies ahead. This is the first flat spot in my journey. One my new reality allowed me to found. Funny what you can see when you’re not focused only on the next step.
Three and half years ago the rowboat I took out into the swells sank. No amount of bailing could keep out the waves. Finding the bottom was easy. Wait for the pain of rolling across the rocks seen in the troughs between towering seas. Some helping hands guided me over to the sand. My undying gratitude goes out to the nameless faces in the past that fought against the people wanting to cut away of the government support system for those of us suddenly drowning in the unknown. I survived in large part for where I live. While it was an act of escape to something in reaction, it is Home now. Being poor in a poor state is easier than one of rising effluence.
There were two saving graces. The first was I fell from a from a place of stability. Being raised in an upper middle class home left me unprepared for the moment but gave me the tools to think the way through. The second? My status has a Homeless Vet during a time when the nation and politicians actually cared about us. The sad fact is the political will only exist during that short period when the true cost of war intersects with the public’s exhaustion and horror of the headlong rush into it. The 24/7 news has brought the sanitized scenes into the home. Smart phones streams the unedited to sway the emotions towards a particular narrative. A new tool in the asymmetric warfare of tech savvy Vets against the coming political indifference.
In order to understand for the non military reader, some facts. The VA funding is considered discretionary. A source of funds that are victim to the whims of Congress. The current state of VA services has been building for decades. Underfunded by both parties in yearly budgets. Just enough taken away to keep up the appearance of caring for the Veterans to hide the backroom reelection deals hurting them. Likehe aging Baby Boomers populations are causing budget problems in social programs, many are aging vets. Add to that Korea, Vietnam and all the far flung little armed actions that the VA is responsible for, any cut hurts. One figure is it will cost on average $1 million from the day he or she separates from active duty. That’s also the cost of treatment for each combat critically wounded soldier from battlefield to evacuation for top flight first world hospital.(Iraq) Here’s the numbers of FY2016 of the US budget.
||February 2, 2015
||$3.999 trillion (requested) $3.854 trillion (estimate)
||$474 billion (requested) $587 billion (estimate)
||$18.819 trillion (projected)
||Office of Management and Budget
Here’s the entire list of Discretionary Spending. The Political football used to fund the budget deficits created by tax cuts and corporate welfare.
|Dept of Defense
|All Other Agencies
How does VA spending stack up in the overall percentage? Since 9/11 it’s increased every year. Why? Social Media. The important part for me is “since 9/11”. I’m a peacetime Vet. My GI Bill disappeared after 5 years. Guess being part of Reagan’s 600 ship navy to break the USSR did mean that much in Washington. Luckily I became Homeless. Think about that sentence.
Housing. SNAP. Preference in agencies. Low or no cost medication to control my Bipolar craziness. The water isn’t up to my nose anymore. More at knee level. The shore is a vague glimmer than a visible fact. There are still deep hidden holes in my path. One Aha moment let me find a compass. One of those deeply subconscious operating systems strengthened by the perception it creates. The deepest of the magical thinking children use to fill in the gaps to an incomplete understanding to the world we sought to navigate. The machine binary code on which all computer programs need to run. There’s a maxim fundamentally understood by every programmer. Garbage in. Garbage out.
I have written about the results. The endless dominoes hitting the next for last 40 years. Small nudges will shift the next 40. At this point my old reaction would have been Run Away. Run Away. Followed by the deep depression for the lost opportunity. Lock the door. Cover the windows. That parallel path is very close. The Middle Way is my response.
This past election cycle was a distraction in following that path. It also help to strip away the muck. That layer of randomly collected ideas that bury core values by sheer volume. The Downsizing of my physical world was the first step in changing how I navigated through the interior one. For the first time the wind on my face isn’t the gust front of a coming storm. The calm isn’t the eye of the hurricane. All the dips and detours of the coming climb won’t be seen has a descent into darkness. More a period where the absence of light is a temporary condition to be passed through. That’s my hope. Experience has taught me backtracking will happen.
Which is where my binary programming can be changed the most. That change will take a long time. One day all these blogs will be collected into a book. If by throwing my thoughts and words out into the digital ether brings help to someone, my purpose has been fulfilled. Maybe for more than one. Right this minute is a good place. One to be appreciated. Never to be repeated. It’s unique. So that’s where I’ll leave it.
December 21, 2016
2016 elections, Philosophy, politics, popular culture, technology
Culture, politics, science, society, space, status, technology
Trump’s choice for his cabinet are all Millionaires and Billionaires. A Rogues Gallery of merge and acquisition specialist whose slash and burn tactics please wealthy shareholders. The President elect bragged about not paying taxes. Warren Buffett paid less in taxes than his Assistant. He thought that was wrong. What I think a dollar is worth is vastly different from the Wealthy Class. You and I manage a budget. The wealthy manage debt. We get loans. They Leverage debt through cash flow of projected revenues. Paid back to themselves. or written off has losses to lower taxes. Modern day Warlords carving out a power base. Their arms covered in red ink to the elbows has they wield a gold pen.
Feudalism grew out of centralization of power. Warlords became Kings.Those that supported them grew into Nobles of the Realm. The defeated lost not only their lives but their land. Conflicting oaths of obligation and marriage was the name of the game. The pieces were the daughters or widows. By controlling key chunks of the land and rivers, status followed the wealth. The King’s tax was paid with a little money but mostly in goods. Absolute control of production from the masses tied to the land. By law and custom. The growth of trade and independent chartered City-States threw a wrench in the whole system.
The how and why of the economics happening during this time was a mystery. Our current understanding of the mechanisms involved. Enter the New Nobles of the 21st century Gilded Age. Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand was the basis of the Industrial Age laissez faire free market policy. Until the Great Depression. World trade spread the virus in ways unheard of before. Enter Keynesian economics. Government involvement smooths out the business cycle. The masses agreed. FDR and the New Deal. Republicans hated it. With the blind visceral hated of a Crusader. Worked with tweaks until Nixon. Reagan’s Neoliberalism repackaged Laissez Faire. Free Market on the rise.
Technology and trade are understood by multinationals corporations. Rule of Law? Forget About It. The Niger Delta has had a BP type of oil spill 10 times a year. No one reports on it. Corporate Media and Big Oil own each others stock. Cheap labor broke the unions. Today robots displace more workers than immigrants. Public education is under attack not because of concern for the students. That the smoke screen that hides a Trillion dollar program of federal money ripe for the taking. Devos money has backed the EAA, their company, in taking over public schools in Michigan. Funny how they’re always in the poorest socioeconomic areas where the hollowing out of manufacturing centers are targeted. Union strongholds.
The Devos Family are the king makers in Michigan Republican politics. The Koch brothers own Kansas. A Libertarian experiment gone wrong. The Republican super majority was backed by one man in North Carolina. Enter Trump. Social media personality star. Granting audience in his gold plated three 5th avenue Trump Tower penthouse. Rules are for Peasants. Style and flash. He broke all the taboos about who can be accepted has a Presidential candidate. Bankruptcy. Two divorces. Three Marriages where he traded for a younger model. Literally. Lied like a cheap rug. And shamelessly admitted it all after winning. All Hail the New King.
A weak leader that the strong Elite Noble class mobilized the party they bought to finish the Crusade. What’s next? The new Secretary of State, Former Exxon CEO, had a deal with Russia stopped by Sanctions over Ukraine. Now he decides who and how the sanctions are applied? Corporate interest instead of moral leadership in the area of Human Rights. France has been accused of not only dancing with dictators but bending over without the reach around. America Real-politics has done questionable things. Iran. South America destabilization. Supporting Warlords in Africa. To Keep the Oil flowing. Out sourcing to Mexico.
In the book Rivethead by Ben Hamper were stories from the assembly line. One passage stood out. Soon the jobs will require a passport. That was if you still had a job. Carrier comes to mind today. The Flint Truck and Bus of the 1980s. Funny thing is every time GM moves an assembly line away to a newer plant, They bring it back. The quality and hard core work attitude did follow. Call it culture. Or Desperation. Flint water disaster is the logical outcome of decades of the hollowing out of opportunities Unions provided and protected. Robots are taking the place of humans on assembly lines. The bottom line profit in a global environment is more important than any local community.
Shared a long flight next to a Canadian electrician returning from Mexico. He did the work to remove automated million dollar machines. Then reinstall them in the compound GM built. The local sewer pipes can’t handle toilet paper. The workers have grown up throwing used paper in the trash. One challenge for the managers was to convince them the larger 3 inch pipes could handle it. The bathrooms stunk. Four workers to find one who actually did the work. Every Friday the managers went to the pawn shop outside the gates to buy back all the tools taken by the workers. Every Friday. None of this happens in Canada or the US.
Infrastructure investment fueled the Post War boom. Taxes paid for it all. Brag about being a success by not paying taxes while the major bridges, roads and water pipes fail is criminal. Little Rock built a new water treatment plant in order to get a Frito lay plant while a neighborhood didn’t have sewer or reliable water supply. Priorities? This trend will get worse with robots undermining the basic concept of tax breaks for corporations will keep and create local wages that can be taxed.
The Great Recession of 2008 forced every company to streamline or fail. Technology replaced tens of thousands of office positions. People who never imagined they would need welfare or food assistance. While corporations still made huge profits. Laws tying the peasants to the land have changed. Enter mortgages, student debt and aging parents. All eroding the disposable income and resources necessary to change the future. Age will contribute to this growing underclass. An underclass desperate for hope. Something the snake oil salesman of all stripes can take advantage of. Smoke and mirrors. All funded by politicians dependent on corporate money to get reelected.
I served overseas in the Navy. On a supply ship that kept moving. The corruption wasn’t hidden. It was part of the economy. An cash only economy that took money out of the tax base. Puerto Rico. The lack of general infrastructure was a niche filled by Criminal gangs paying for government contracts. We still have a naive concept that our laws prevent this. Who writes or enforces those laws? Corporate Feudalism is out in the open. The knights used to put down the revolts still use wooden weapons and body armor so the peasants are hurt not killed. You don’t kill the Golden Goose. The solution is simple. Give them their say before streaming the latest celebrity news to their phones. Tweak the algorithms to filter the feeds.
Here’s my prediction. Corporations will fund the push for inhabitable space stations. A completely controllable Capitalist wet dream. William the Conqueror’s view of England. They will become the Grand Tour for the rich and power scions of every nation. Luxury hotels with views of the Earth below. And the workers providing the profits for such expensive excursions. The Edwardian world of Downton Abbey recreated in near earth orbit.