Category Archives: General

In the Eye of the Eagle: From Strict Catholic School to Adventures in Rainforests

A slow, tacking flight: float then flap. Then a pirouette and it has swung on to a different tack, following another seam through the moor as if it is tracking a scent. It is like a disembodied spirit searching for its host…” — description of the strongest of all harriers, the goshawk, by James Macdonald Lockhart in his book, Raptor: A Journey Through Birds

We’re watching a female red-tail hawk rejecting the smaller male’s romantic overtures barely 50 yards overhead.

There it is. Ahh, the male has full extension. So does his girlfriend. I see this every day from here. This courting ritual . . . testing each other’s loyalty. Watching them in a talon lock, spiraling down, now that’s an amazing sight.

I’m with Chris Hatten on his 10 acres overlooking the Siletz estuary along a gravel road. Saying he lives for that typical red-tail hawk behavior would be an understatement. His passion for raptors has taken him to many parts of the globe, and those trips involved exhilaration, danger, risks to his life, and the trials and tribulations of living primitively in tropical zones which Westerners sometimes deridingly call undeveloped countries or third world nations.

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 Wild Harpy eagle being recaptured and treated after being shot in leg, northern Guatemala.

We are traipsing around his property where Chris is ninety percent finished with a two-story 1,400 square foot home, a modern efficient house he’s been building for two years from a kit out of Lynnwood, Washington.

He told me he’ll never do that again – building a full-sized house.

The 42-year-old Hatten got a hold of my name when he found out I write about Oregon coastal people with compellingly interesting lives. He is in the midst of witnessing adjoining land (more than a hundred acres) to his property about to be clear-cut – forested hillside owned by Hancock Timber Resource Group, part of John Hancock Insurance (now owned by a Canadian group, Manulife Financial).

When he first bought the land eight years ago, representatives of Hancock told him that the company had so much timberland it would take years, maybe a decade, to get to this piece of property.

We discuss how Lincoln City and Lincoln County might prevent a clear cut from the side of the hill all the way down to Highway 101. “It’s amazing to witness in this coastal area — that depends on tourism — all this land clear-cut as far as the eye can see.”

The red-tail hawk pair circles above us again, while a Merlin flits about alighting on a big Doug fir.

When he first saw the property — an old homestead which was once a producing dairy farm — Chris said two eagles cawed above where he was standing, which for a bird-man is a positive omen and spiritual sign of good health. He calls his place “The Double-Eagle.”

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Hands on bio blitz Northern Brazil.

Non-Traditional Student Backpacks into Jungles

He’s not living in the house, per se, but rather he has a tent he calls home. “I feel suffocated inside four walls. I want to hear animals, hear the wind, be on the ground.” He’s hoping to rent out the house.

His current kip is set up near a black bear den, where mother bruin and her two cubs share an area he is willing to stay away from. “The mother bear and I have an understanding. We don’t bother each other.”

He’s part Doctor Dolittle, part Jim Fowler (from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom), and part John Muir. My own intersections with blokes and women around the world like him have put me eye-to-eye with pygmy elephants in Vietnam, great hammerheads off Baja, king cobras in Thailand, schools of barracudas off Honduras, and a pack of 20 javelina chasing me along the Arizona-Mexico border.

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Jaguar rescue northern Belize.

Hatten’s wildlife adventures indeed take it up a few notches.

“When I finished high school, I wanted to follow my dreams.” That was at Saint Mary’s in Salem, a school that was so constricting to Chris he had already been saving up dollars for a one-way ticket out of the country.

He had started working young – aged 8 – picking zucchini and broccoli in fields near where his family of six lived. “You feel invincible when you are young. You’re also more adaptable and more resilient.”

He ended up in Malaysia which then turned into trekking throughout Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, East Timor, and even down south to Darwin, Australia.

Those two years, from age 17 to 19, are enough to fill two thick memoirs. Upon returning to Salem, he applied to the National Park service and bought a one-way ticket to Alaska, working the trails in small groups who lived in tents and cleared trails with 19-Century equipment – saws, shovels, picks, pry bars.

With his cash stake growing, he headed back south, by mountain bike, along the Prudhoe-Dalton Highway. He hit Prince George, Vancouver Island, and stopped in the Olympics.

He then worked summers and attended Chemeketa College in Salem.

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Finding small spot fire Colombia River Gorge, Oregon, working for U.S.F.S.

Homeless-but-inspired at Evergreen State College

He wanted to study temperature rainforests, so he showed up unannounced hoping for an audience with a well-known scientist and faculty member — Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, who is an expert in temperate forests and sap maples. Chris had read the book she co-authored, Forest Canopies.

Before showing up to Evergreen, Chris had developed a sling-shot contraption to propel ropes into forest canopy. He barged into Nadkarni’s office with his invention. She was surprised Chris wasn’t already student, but she quickly made sure he enrolled in the environmental studies program.

Spending his last dollar on tuition, Chris resorted to sleeping in a tent and inside his 1988 Honda Civic while using campus rec department showers. He told me he received free produce on Tuesdays when the farmer’s market would pass out vegetables and fruit after a day’s sales.

Another faculty member, Dr. Steve Herman, motivated Chris to really delve into ornithology. Chris recalls coastal dune ecology trips, from Olympia in motor pool vans, all the way into the southern reaches of Baja. “We looked at every dune system from Baja all the way back north to Florence.”

The ornithologist Herman was also a tango aficionado, and Chris recalled the professor announcing to his students many times, in the middle of dunes in Mexico, it was time for some tango lessons. “He told us there was more to life than just science.”

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Educational Harpy eagle to take into classrooms Panama city, Panama, has one blind eye, could not be released into wild.

Adventures and Misadventures of a Bird Fanatic

My life’s work has been to produce scientists who will seek to protect wildness. But I also just really enjoy teaching people about birds. I’ve been lucky to get to do that for a very long time.

— Steve Herman, Evergreen State College faculty emeritus Steve Herman, 2017

Chris laments the lack of real stretches of wilderness in Oregon, most notably along our coast. These are postage stamp areas, he emphasizes, around Drift Creek, Rock Creek, Cape Perpetua, but “it’s abysmal.”

We have the Cascades in Washington and the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, and lots of wilderness in Alaska. But really, nothing along the Pacific in Oregon.

After camping in the forest around Evergreen College, Chris still had the travel bug bad. On one foray, he went to Thailand, studying the mangrove forests there. He traveled with Thai army anti-poaching teams who went after poachers. He came across poachers’ camps, witnessed firefights and saw a few poachers laid out dead. “The captain gave me a pistol and one bullet. He said the torture would be so bad if I got captured by tiger poachers that I’d beg for a bullet.”

He’s worked on the island of Hawaii with the USGS focusing on a biocomplexity project looking at how mosquitoes are moving higher and higher because of global warming. The consequences are pretty connected to other invasives – pigs introduced to the islands several centuries ago – disturbing the entire natural ecosystem.

Pigs chew down the ferns, and places that have never seen pooled water before are now wet troughs where mosquitoes can now breed.

Those insects carry avian malaria, and alas, endangered honey creepers can’t adjust to the mosquitoes like their cousins elsewhere who have evolved over millennia to just rub off the insects. The honey creeper is being decimated by this minor but monumental change.

Peregrine Fund

Right after matriculating from Evergreen with a bachelor’s of science, Chris ended up in Panama, working throughout Central America rehabilitating, breeding and introducing Harpy Eagles – the biggest forest eagle in the world with a wingspan of six and a half feet – into their native jungle habitat.

These are massive birds. They dwarf our American bald eagle, for sure. My job was to follow them when the fledglings were grown and released.

He acted like an adult Harpy who catches prey and puts it in the trees for the youngster to eat and learn some hunting skills. Frozen rats, GPS backpack transmitter fashioned on the birds, and orienteering throughout Belize and Southern Mexico were his tools.

It sort of blew me away that here I was living the dream of studying birds in a rainforest.

Territorial ranges for these birds spread into Honduras and south to Colombia. Wild Harpies eat sloth, aunt eaters, howler monkeys, even giant Military Macaws.

He ended up in the Petén, Tikal (originally dating back 2000 years), one of Central America’s premier Mayan archeological and tourist sites.

His role was to study the orange-breasted falcon, a tropical raptor which is both endangered and stealth. “We got to live on top of pyramids off limits to anyone else,” he says, since the bird was using the pyramids as nesting and breeding grounds.

He recalled tiring of the tourists down below repeating the fact that one of the Star Wars movies was filmed here – “I got tired of hearing, ‘Wow, is this really where Yavin 4,  A New Hope, was filmed? We’re really here.’”

Imagine respecting this ancient Mayan capital, and studying amazing raptors as the antithesis of goofy tourista comments.

No 9 to 5 Working Stiff

He tells me that his idols are people like Jane Goodall and David Attenborough. While he went to school in a conservative Catholic setting where his peers were mostly farm kids —  and some were already pregnant and married (before graduation), his family was not of the same stripe.

“We were like the people in the movie ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’’’ he says with a laugh. His parents took the brood to the Oregon Coast a lot, and that 1976 yellow VW van’s starter was always going out. “I remember we had my sister and mom blocking the intersections in places like Lincoln City while we pushed the van to get it started.”

He’s got a brother, Steve, an RN in Portland, and another Portland-based brother, Mark, owner of a micro-car shop. His older sister, Amy, is a newspaper journalist in Grand Junction, Colorado – a real lifer, with the written word coursing through her blood. She’s encouraged Chris to write down his story.

Their mother went to UC-Berkley, and has been a public education teacher for over 25 years. Their father (divorced when he was 12) got into real estate but is now living in New Zealand.

That one-way ticket to Singapore that got him into Southeast Asia, ended with him running out of money after a year, but he was able to get to Darwin, Australia, by paying a fishing boat in East Timor to get him down under illegally. He spent time picking Aussie Chardonnay grapes to stake himself in order to see that continent.

He was blown away by the kangaroo migration, a scene that involved a few million ‘roos kicking up great clouds of red dust. He ended up going through Alice Springs to see the sacred Uluru (formally known as Ayers Rock). He met undocumented immigrants from El Salvador and Greece while making money picking oranges.

We talk about some frightening times in our travels, and per usual, the worst incidents involved criminals or bad hombres, not with wildlife. For Chris, his close call with death occurred in Guatemala where he, his female supervisor (a Panamanian) and another raptor specialist were confronted by men on horses, brandishing machetes and leading tracker dogs.

“’We’ll let you live if you give us the woman.’ That’s what they gave us as our option.” The bird team went back into the jungle, the two male researchers buried their female companion with leaves, and then Chris and the other guy took off running all night long.

The banditos chased them through the jungle. He laughed saying they ran virtually blind in places where eyelash vipers (one bite, and three steps and you’re dead), coral snakes and tropical rattlesnakes lived in abundance.

“It’s a very creepy feeling being hunted by men with dogs.” Luckily, the female team member headed out the opposite direction, with a radio. All in a day’s work for environmentalists.

That’s saying, “all in a day’s work,” is ominous since we both talk about how most indigenous and local environmental leaders in so many countries have been murdered by loggers, miners, oil men, ranchers, and coca processors (many times executed by paid-for military soldiers).

Never Return or There Will Be Tears

Two telling quotes from world-renown traveler and writer, Paul Theroux, strike me as apropos for a story about Chris Hatten:

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.

You go away for a long time and return a different person – you never come all the way back.

We talk about a crackling campfire being the original TV, and how being out in wilderness with 5 or 10 people for an extended period gets one really connected to working with people and counting on them to be friends and support.

“It’s tough going back to places I’ve been,” he says with great lamentation. In Borneo, a return trip years later discombobulated him. “The rainforest is being plowed over daily. I couldn’t tell where I was walking miles and miles through palm oil plantations. It was as if the jungle had been swallowed up.”

What once was a vibrant, multilayered super rich and diverse place of amazing flora and fauna has been turned into a virtual desert of a monocrop.

This reality is some of the once most abundant and ecologically distinct places on earth are no longer that. “This is the problem with any wildlife reintroduction program. You can breed captive animals like, for instance, the orangutan but there’s nowhere to release them. Everywhere is stripped of jungle, healthy habitat.”

The concept of rewilding any place is becoming more and more theoretical.

We climb the hill where the clear-cut will occur. Chris and I talk about a serious outdoor education center – a place where Lincoln County students could show up for one, two or three days of outdoor learning. We’re serious about reframing the role of schools and what youth need to have in order to be engaged and desirous of learning.

That theoretical school could be right here, with Chris as the lead outdoor/ecological instructor.

All those trees, terrestrial animals, avian creatures, smack dab on an estuary leading to a bay which leads to the Pacific is highly unique – and a perfect place from which to really get hands on learning as the core curriculum.

We imagine young people learning the history, geology, biology, and ecology of where they live. Elders in the woods teaching them how to smoke salmon, how to build a lean-to, how to see outside the frame of consumption/purchasing/screen-time.

Interestingly, while Chris has no desire to have children, he has taught tropical biology/ecology to an international student body at the Richmond Vale Academy on the island of Saint Vincent (part of the Grenadines).

Koreans, Russians, Venezuelans, Peruvians and Vincennes learned organic farming, bio-fuel production, solar power design, how to grow passion and star fruit. There is even a little horse program in the school, founded by two Danes.

Chris said that the local population is taught about medicinal plants, recycling and responsible waste disposal. “Everything used to be wrapped in banana leaves in their grandparents’ time. Now there is all this single-use plastic waste littering the island.

Like the dynamic rainforest that once carpeted the Central Coast – with herds of elk, wolves, grizzlies and myriad other species – much of the world is being bulldozed over, dammed and mined. Wildlife leave, stop breeding, never repopulate fractured areas where human activities are the norm.

But given that, when I asked Chris where he might like to go now, he mentioned Croatia, his mother’s side of the family roots. He may have swum with 60-foot-long whale sharks and kayaked over orcas, but Chris is still jazzed up about raptors – maybe he’d end up on the Croatian island of Cres which is a refuge for the spectacular griffon vulture.

“Nature has a purpose beyond anything an extraction-based society puts its monetary value on trees. We have to show young people there is value to natural ecosystems beyond extracting everything for a profit.”

One-Minute Q and A

Paul Haeder: What is your life philosophy?

Chris Hatten: Make the best use of your time. Time is short.

PH: How do we fix this extractive “resources” system that is so rapacious?

CH: We need to value forests for the many multitude of services they provide, not just quick rotations. Forests are not the same as fields of crops.

PH: Give any young person currently in high school, say, in Lincoln County, advice on what they might get out of life if they took your advice? What’s that advice?

CH: Get off your phone, lift up your head, see the world for yourself as it really is, then make necessary changes to it and yourself.

PH: What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve experienced — what, where, when, why, how?

CH: I have had very poor people offer to give me all they had in several different countries. Strangers have come to my aid with no thought of reward.

PH: In a nutshell, define the Timber Unity movement to say someone new to Oregon.

CH: They are people who mostly work in rural Oregon in resource extraction industries and believe they are forgotten.

PH: If you were to have a tombstone, what would be on it once you kick the bucket?

CH: “Lived.”

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Running in step, at sunset on the beach with horse St. Vincent and Grenadines

More than 765 Charter Schools Closed in Three Years

Currently, about 3.2 million students are enrolled in roughly 7,000 privately-operated charter schools across the country. This represents less than 7% of all students and 7% of all schools in the country.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 765 charter schools closed between 2014-15 and 2016-2017,1 leaving thousands of families stressed, abandoned, dislocated, and angry. This figure represents more than one out of ten charter schools in the country by today’s numbers. The real closure figure is likely higher. To be sure, more than 3,000 charter schools have closed in under three decades.

The top three reasons privately-operated charter schools close are financial malfeasance, poor academic performance, and low enrollment.

With regard to academic performance, for example, the Washington Post (November 1, 2019) reminds us that:

When you take all charters and all public schools into consideration, students at charters do worse than those at public schools. According to the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, public school students in fourth, eighth and 12th grades outperform charter school students in math, reading and science.

It is also worth recalling that the vast majority of high-performing nations do not have charter schools.

Today, nearly 60% of charter schools are in urban settings where schools tend to be under-funded, over-tested, constantly-shamed, and attended mostly by poor and low-income minority students. Charter school advocates prefer to target urban schools because this is where they can make the most profit given economies of scale and other factors.

While “choice” has worked out well for major owners of capital, what good is “choice” when it cannot deliver stable, reliable, high-quality education free of corruption, segregation, and overpaid administrators? How does funneling billions of dollars annually from public schools to unstable privately-operated charter schools that frequently perform poorly help the economy, education, or society? Do pay-the-rich schemes like charter schools advance the national interest?

There is no justification for the existence of privately-operated non-profit and for-profit charter schools. They do not provide a net public benefit. Endless news reports show that charter schools are always mired in scandal and controversy. It is time to stop bashing public education, reject the hype surrounding charter schools, fully fund all public schools, and vest real decision-making power in the hands of the public. The rich must be deprived of their ability to privatize public education with impunity. The content, purpose, and direction of education must not be in the hands of privatizers, neoliberals, and corporate school reformers.

  1. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), “Public Elementary/Secondary School Universe Survey,” 1995-96 through 2016-17. (This table was prepared April 2019.).

Take Your Thiamine and Eat Your Cake Too?

So the presumption was that you really just need your basic macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc., and the mitochondria will take care of everything. What is ignored is that to get from those macronutrients to ATP you actually need functional enzymes and you need micronutrients – vitamins and minerals at each step and there’s 22 of them you need. Thiamine happens to be the most important because of its geographic position, if you will, and because of its great limiting step along the various pathways.

No matter what other deficiency you may or may not have, if you do not address thiamine you will never heal. It’s not the only vitamin you need, but it’s the one you absolutely must address before you deal with everything else. I think that’s the most difficult thing for people to realize and why folks will go on these things with folate and B12 and this, that and the other thing, forgetting entirely that that’s so much further down the pathway than thiamine. So they wonder why they don’t heal and they seem to think, “Well it must not be the nutrients. It’s not the vitamins. I’ve done the vitamin thing and it’s not working.” But they haven’t done the right ones yet.

— Chandler Marrs, PhD. and editor of Hormones Matter April 2019 interview

In so many deceptive and not so deceptive ways, Western Medicine has failed a great many hundreds of millions of people. Anything tagged “Western” under this penury and punitive parasitic-reactionary-zombie-shock-to-the-system capitalism is more than just suspect when one looks at the project of finance and command and control the financiers of the world have unleashed for several hundred years.

Western Agriculture (the so-called greening of farming with former Nazi chemists retrofitting war tools into farmers’ nerve agents, hormone disrupters, brain scrambling toxins into the war against nature; i.e., the so-called green revolution) we can ask, how is that working out for humankind? It doesn’t take a Michael Pollan to understand that just the Western diet and the loads of preservatives, emulsifiers, anti-caking tricks, nanoparticles and fake, cheap, trickster ingredients —  thanks to Western Life Goes Better with Chemicals paradigm – are killing Americans and others tied to these crack cocaine delivery systems supplying the West with “nutritional” and “farming” beasts of a nation.

We can’t mix apples and oranges, can we, as we are told by Western Mass Media, et al, when we couple the war on human food with the war on ecology and nature, which is what agriculture has unleashed and continues to supercharge this highly industrialized, mono-culture focused, scaled-up version of a Brave New Farm New Order consumer pipeline. Water polluted, aquifers drained, rivers clogged, dams the old-new normal, most wild systems destroyed, fractured and quickly endangered, and, well you have a system that is sick under any person’s definition of the word or concept of “illness.”

However, hand in hand goes the medical and pharma communities lavishly gaining trillions in profits from this pipeline of cancer-causing, heart-disease tripping, stroke-inducing, diabetes-setting high fat-salt-sugar-meat-dairy diet. In part, the medical community has facilitated reinforcing that death pipeline through co-option of the “normalcy” of capital and profits ruling the market — ruling citizens by flipping us into consumers, perennial patients, targets, marks, victims, Guinea pigs, and then chucking any sense of the precautionary principle in lieu of our so called better angels (actual devils of GMOs, HFCS, hyphenated carcinogens).

Every doctor making a cool five million bucks a year on gastric by-passes, heart surgeries, diabetes maintenance programs and cancer-treatments is part of the problem.

Doctors invest in Pizza Hut, Coca Cola, Merck, Monsanto, and whatever bulks up their investment portfolios. Their well-being and their families’ well-being and their rich status in our New Gilded Age society are dependent/interdependent on disease treatment, disease maintenance, disease-embracing medicine, and disease as the new normal.

What goes into Johnny’s gullet-lungs-brain comes back to the rich and Western elite in literal gold reserves and hedge fund derivatives.

So, Western Industrialization – in agriculture, in medicine, in food, in education, in production lines – greased vis-à-vis those economy of scales that aid and abet putting out of business any sane (AKA alternative) treatment modality (naturopathic, holistic, Eastern “medicine” steeped in health care preventative models), or holistic food system (agroecological, organic, scaled to human size farming), or education program (the whole person, intergenerational, creative, hands on, sans core curriculum and standardized test model kind) –is not just the bane of humanity, big or small communities, but also the bane of civilization as we know it.

Any veterinarian looking at an over-sized, arthritis-prone, pre-diabetic, sluggish, tired, itchy skin, anxious, stinky mouthed youngish Labrador Retriever will prescribe more veggies, no commercial dog food (of the rendered roadkill variety) lean chicken, rice, carrots, corn, squash, err, a vegetarian diet.

The human patient doctors really are glad the advertisement says, “Things deep-fried, refined, greasy, meat-centric do go better with Coca Cola.” Money, money, money, guaranteed job security, great gobs of power in our society as sickness and disease come to younger and younger cohorts with each passing year.

Johnny, Juanita, Quyen, Ahmed are Dining on Death

It goes without saying that anyone following my polemics and non-polemical writing know that I am solidly anti-corporation, anti-top down government, and for peace colleges, for an entirely new and different educational system, and that’s not just for PK12, but lifelong education. I am for scaling down, localizing, and working bio-regionally and globally on these systems of pain, oppression, subjugation, and disease.

We are only going to get out of this plundering, and end these enslaved systems of oppression, pollution, and lobotomy through ecosocialism and a true people’s contract through a people’s direct democracy, and strong collective engagement and education.

The revolution will not happen here in the USA, as we know, and when I say revolution, I am speaking about all of those systems of penury and oppression tied to the Military-Prison-Chemical-Pharmacological-Fossil Fuel-Finance-Banking-Insurance-Medical-IT-Real Estate-Education-Legal-AI Complex going down down gone!

While I parachute into jobs tied to the social services, homeless citizen services, PK12 education, environmental activism, localized community rights building, art, literature, politics, media, journalism, anti-poverty programs, I get more than a bird’s eye view of the systems of oppression in this white supremacist patriarchal society.

Just three days ago, I was the teacher of record (substitute) with seven para-educators (women who not only assist that special ed classroom, but who are also teachers, aides, psychologists, so to speak) as I worked an elementary school’s special education self-contained classroom.

First, the parents of these children are amazing, but they are hobbled not only by poverty, by their working class struggle, and by the vagaries of paying so much to live in poverty, but also by these special needs children.

These children are mostly honored and loved.

Then those seven hours, five days a week, in a school, these youth are then shepherded by caring people working under systems of oppression and penury and disappearing funding, until alas, these educational frameworks become failures.

And to what end? Young kids I taught Monday were 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old. Where will they be when they hit 18 or 21? The society is not planning for their adulthood, for their needs, for their pathway to some sense of independence. Think living on the streets or staying at home until parents die.

This is the problem, now, is it not? Youth who need one-on-one, sometimes two staff-to-one child attention. The funding isn’t there, and when localities face budget constraints, they go after the “lower rung,” to include firing/laying off para-educators. No teacher in her right mind would have a classroom of a dozen or more youth with behavioral, developmental, intellectual disabilities under her wing WITHOUT the support of paraeducators.

A million people have a million “ideas” and “opinions” about what is wrong and needs fixing with education, but in the end, the American hating, trolling, everyone’s  opinion is sacrosanct citizen is more than out to lunch when it comes to almost every armchair prognostication made.

We put young and old immigrants in cages, or these wire boxes where most anyone in this society would not dare put their pet dogs in, and yet we let children die, force children away from family, and, well, a society that accepts that (and by it happening, we all accept that sort of Gestapo Nazi style of punishment), will easily accept the broken and breaking systems of education we have come to see in thousands of communities across the land.

Is it any wonder that the food we feed these special education students is one hot mess of triple fat, triple salt, triple carbs, triple sugar?

Children – either deemed special ed or behaviorally challenged, or gifted and talented – are being fed the most perverse diets on earth. Flooded with empty calories and dead-end oils that are toxic and inflammatory, but also chemicals that make up the ingredient list on a box of crackers that hardly any college educated person can pronounce, let alone understand the origins and consequences on the human physiology, the food (sic) served is deadly. Daily deadly dose of cafeteria (they don’t cook in school cafeterias anymore, but microwave prepacked junk) slop.

Pollution Starts with the Polluting of the Mind

Polluting people with propaganda, with bad food, bad air, bad soil, bad water, bad culture, and, alas, these children in special education are dealing with a multitude of issues they will never fully or even partially get out from under.

Chronic disease, chronic fatigue, chronic brain fog, chronic pain, chronic anxiety, chronic addiction, chronic confusion, chronic anger, chronic discombobulation, all of it have their origins right smack in the center of the gooey nougat of death-inducing capitalism.

I’m interested in people thinking outside of the box, and pushing against the paradigms of oppression, in any arena, whether it’s industry, big oil, big finance, or, in this article’s case, medicine.

How many times does a guy who is pugnacious and pugilistic get to interview a doctor whose pedigree goes way back – he’s alive and well, age 95, living in England?

Old school – mandatory (national service) in the RAF (7 years) in England, and working for the national health service in the UK (10 years).

I have been tracking the work of people like Derrick Lonsdale around naturopathy, the foods-vitamins-lifestyles-vaccinations connection for decades. I have looked at the value of Vitamin and Herbal Supplemental enrichment in our lives for years —  lifestyles broken by the chemical exposures, the pesticides exposures, the drug exposures, the pollution exposures, the GMO exposures, the electrical magnetic frequency (WiFi, cellular phone, etc) exposures, the heavy metal exposures.

Add to that the magical thinking, the lobotomizing education systems, the consumer-droning mass media mush, and we have some really hard times in Western Society that is so hobbled by fear, falling in line (in a goosestep sometimes) with the corporate-government narrative, etc.

Autoimmune Disease Goes to the Mitochondria 

There are so many maladies tied to autoimmune diseases, bowel conditions, blood issues, and complete endocrine and hormone discombobulation.

In many cases, women especially are deemed hysterical, psychologically-motivated, insane when they come to Western Medicine with such issues listed above:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Guillian-Barre
  • Psoriasis
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Vasculitis

I’ve been lucky to have written for Hormones Matter – tied to my mistreatment by social services non-profits and Planned Parenthood for a simple sex ed training class in Seattle where I dared to ask the facilitators with PP that the Gardasil debate was not yet settled.

Here I was as a foster youth social worker, and you can imagine the foster parents that have children in their charge – many are tied to homeschooling and are skeptical of vaccinations. You just need to go to Hormones Matter or just do the Google (if Google hasn’t scrubbed all the evidence against Gardasil) and put in “ Merck and Gardasil and criticism and lawsuits.” What have you.

Derrick, along with Hormones Matter editor, Chandler Marrs, have written an amazing book, Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High Calorie Malnutrition.

Go to Hormonesmatter (dot) com and check out the depth of the articles, depth of the outside the Western Medicine Paradigm the articles address. Writers who are PhD’s, MDs, or experts through their own trials and tribulations suffering under myriad of diseases.

Here’s my interview:

Paul Haeder: So you are 95 years old, and have seen many changes in Western Society and innovative arenas of thought and knowledge around disease and human health. What are some of the biggest impacts you believe from your learning have greatly changed the way you see health?  What are some of the most troubling aspects of medicine and health you can discuss after, what, more than 50 years in medicine?

Derrick Lonsdale: I started my medical career, after National Service as a medical officer in the RAF, in family practice for 7 years under the NHS. Not liking the bureaucracy I immigrated to Canada with a short service commission in the RCAF. I did residency in pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic and in 1962 I was invited to join the staff.

I was on the pediatric staff at the Cleveland Clinic from 1962 to 1982. I headed a section on biochemical genetics. A six year old boy who had repeated episodes of brain disease had every conventional test normal. He proved to be the first case of vitamin B1 dependency, a mutation in the gene that enabled glucose to fuel energy metabolism. It changed my professional life. With the extensive library research required, I learned the details of energy metabolism and began to be aware that it was the core issue of disease. I began to realize that the present medical model, dependent on the Flexner report of 1910, is inadequate. I found that so many of the children referred to the Clinic were emotionally sick from diet rather than from poor parenting. I published a suggested new medical model, based on a combination of genetics/environmental stress/and energy, represented as three interlocking circles. The body is an electrochemical “machine” and if the genetic code is perfect (it never is) all it requires is energy.

Genetic mutations seldom act by themselves. Another factor comes into play, giving rise to the gene expression. Diabetes sometimes makes its first appearance after a cold or an injury, strongly indicating that energy deficiency affects the gene(s) at root. The troublesome aspects of modern medicine are far reaching. The profession has been taken over by the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. Drugs only treat symptoms and do not address cause. Surgery to remove a sick organ is tacitly an admission of medical failure.

PH:  Great scientists like Robert Sapolsky have looked at the diseases of Homo sapiens as they are tied to stress, as in his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.

DL:  Hans Selye was the great interpreter of the physiologic and pathophysiogic effects of stress. He was able to show that the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) in experimental animals required energy for the animal to adapt to the many forms of stress that he used in his experiments. Lab data obtained from stressed animals imitated the lab data from sick humans and he formulated the idea that human diseases were “the diseases of adaptation”. One of his students was able to produce the GAS by making the animal thiamine deficient, thus showing the importance of energy metabolism. The only way that we can help the body in synthesizing the required energy is by providing the right fuel and the catalysts that enable oxidation to occur efficiently. Pharmaceuticals only address symptoms but do nothing for their underlying cause.

PH:  Discuss your work and knowledge around just the real and perceived stress of our Western Culture (not tied to our Western diets — that’s for a later question) and how that plays havoc on the human biological system?

DL:  Well, I guess that comes under the heading of stress. Just like Selye’s animals, we require energy to adapt b . . . meaning that our brain/body complex defense mechanisms go into action. We live in a world that takes little notice of our biology. The further we get away from it the greater the risk. There are thousands of toxic chemicals that increase the stress load. The relatively new science of epigenetics has yet to emerge in clinical medicine. This, as you know, is the science of how nutrition and lifestyle influence our genes. Epigenetics is even emerging in the complex field of cancer.

PH: On Hormones Matter, you have many articles tied to thiamine deficiency, but also other areas:

October 14, 2019, Sleep Requires Energy

September 30, 2019, A New Medical Model to Prevent Physician Burnout

September 17, 2019, SIDS and Vaccination

September 12, 2019, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Unusual Treatment

August 22, 2019, When Glaucoma Is More Than an Eye Disease

July 1, 2019, Energy Loss as a Cause of Disease

DL:  Yes, but they are all tied to our capacity to synthesize energy. I did sabbatical in Australia after David Read published thiamine deficiency as a cause of SIDS. My colleagues and I published abnormal auditory brain-stem evoked potentials in threatened SIDS and showed that megadose thiamine stopped the apnea alarms from ringing. We also published our work.  Thiamine deficiency disease gives us the prototype for dysautonomia. Interestingly, many case reports of dysautonomia have been published in association with an assortment of diseases, without recognizing the importance of the association. I have suggested that it hallmarks the association as evidence that each disease is caused by oxidative inefficiency. The dysautonomia is really very much part of the disease expression.

PH:  So, Dr. Lonsdale, there seems a sense of urgency in these pieces, and the thread to each of them goes to deficiency in nutrition. Why is it in 2019, we have Western medicine treated disease rather than preventing disease?

DL:  A good question. The medical profession as a whole has rejected the deficiency of non caloric nutrients as a common cause of disease. They claim that vitamin enrichment has abolished them and that these diseases are only of historical interest. Hence they are not familiar with the symptoms that would have been recognized 70-80 years ago. Many of these patients are diagnosed as “psychosomatic” and there are probably millions of Americans affected. Any physician who claims that a patient’s symptoms are due to (e.g.) beriberi is considered to be “off his head” and is exactly what happened to me at Cleveland Clinic. I actually saw beriberi in CCH patients and nobody would believe me. I have outlined their cases in our book that needs to be read by every physician, since laboratory proof is used.

PH:  We have in the USA more than 150 million people with at least chronic illness, many with co-occurring. We have an obesity epidemic. We have a society that is fed the propaganda of Madison Avenue. How do you see this logjam getting broken when so much of Western Medicine “depends” on the food industries of high salt, fat, sugar?

DL:  Chandler [Marrs] and I are more than convinced that thiamine deficiency is widespread because this deficiency is easily induced by inordinate ingestion of sugar in many different forms. The last statistics that I saw for the U.S. was 150 pounds of sugar per capitum per annum. We have suggested that the early symptoms, if recognized at onset, are easily treated. We believe that if there is failure to recognize them, chronic disease follows later, giving rise to an assortment of neurodegenerative diseases. Each is named by the first individual to recognize the repeated appearance of a constellation of symptoms and signs (Parkinson, Alzheimer etc). Not acknowledging the overlap of these symptoms in patients with a diagnosis of one disease versus another, each is thought to have a separate cause that must be specifically identified as a “cure”. We regard that as trying to shut the stable door after the horse has gone.

In 1936 Sir Rudolph Peters opened the studies of oxidative metabolism by the discovery of the catatorulin effect. He showed that there was no difference in the respiration of thiamine deficient pigeon brain cells compared with cells from a thiamine replete pigeon until glucose was added to the preparation. The thiamine sufficient cells immediately began to respire, whereas the TD cells did not. I have seen hundreds of patients whose extremely variable symptoms were due to mild to moderate thiamine deficiency and proved it via lab testing.

PH: Where do you see the work you and Chandler have accomplished going? Most people I see and work with as a teacher and social worker just can’t understand the axiom – You are what you eat. I could take that further, of course, by saying “you are what you read, do, say, believe, hold dear, don’t believe, hope for, dream of, observe, watch, hear, listen to.”

DL:  We believe that we must try to address both physicians and patients, hence our reports on Hormones Matter. It has led to a great deal of correspondence between patients and us. What appalls us is the many years of suffering expressed by many of them and their rejection by their physicians as “problem patients”. One young woman discovered from reading our book that her Flagyl toxicity symptoms were due to TD. Not only did her physician insist that her symptoms were “psychological”, she was rejected from that multi-doctor clinic “ because she would not accept the psychology  diagnosis”. Her physician denied Flagyl toxicity even though the symptoms are published.

PH:  Is it a matter of hormones in most cases you have experienced in both medicine and in communicating with individuals with major physical health concerns?

DL: Hormones enter the picture because they are under the control of the limbic brain with the autonomic system. Energy deficiency in the brain affects their synthesis and their distribution.

PH:  What could med schools be doing to really help the health of a community, the country?

DL:  Med schools have produced research to show that a lot of disease in America is biochemical in origin. Even if these common symptoms are correctly found to be biochemical in origin, they then assume that a drug must be found to correct them. The whole climate of medicine is based on pharmaceutical “genius”.

PH: Talk about the violence-hormone-vitamin deficiency connection in more depth, if you will?

DL: Our emotional sensations arise from the lower brain and are tied to the perceived event. They can be modified by the cortex but it implies brain communication. TD is equivalent to a mild degree of hypoxia and is thought of as causing pseudohypoxia. Because this is dangerous to the organism, either of them will excite the tendency to initiate the fight-or-flight reflex behavior. Hence, I see a boy who has had a mild redress in school, nursing it with a sense of human injustice, bursting into nonsensical violence. Nobody has ever questioned a perpetrator as to the quality of his diet. Nobody has reported a physical exam that might show the imprint of dysautonomia. Some years ago a probation officer in Cuyahoga Falls managed to get a judge to bind over juvenile criminals to her for dietary supervision. The recidivity rate fell to virtually zero.

PH: What do you attribute your longevity to?

DL: I don‘t know. I do take a lot of supplements.

PH: What role does epigenetics play in your research around energy and Vitamin B?

DL: I think that my use of megadoses of thiamine is epigenetic.

PH: Diseases of adaptation v. diseases of maladaptation is what you allude to when speaking of Seyle. Give a connotation and denotation of what this is saying for the average reader to understand.

DL: Stress is defined as a mental or physical environmental  force acting on an organism, including humans. Like Selye’s experimental animals such a person first must perceive the form of the stress and adapt to it. Infection excites a defensive response that is organized automatically by the brain. A deadline, a business problem, a divorce etc requires a thought process conducted by the brain. Both physical and mental stress require energy expenditure. It explains why a divorce  might result in sickness in one person and not in  another, depending  on the energy status.  In other words, the ability to meet life stresses depends on the combination of adequate nutrition and genetics.

PH: Industrial agriculture and industrial food and industrial everything have come from the industrial revolution, from then to now. What can we do to reverse this turbo charged world of turbo charged living, eating, consuming and surviving? Your message is clear, smart and elegant, but in Capitalism, we always want to blame the victim, the patient, the person. It’s our fault if we are in constant fatigue, or if we are fat and can’t lose weight, or if we have difficulty dealing with the everyday “norms” of modern society.

DL: I don’t think that we can do anything about altering the cause. All we can do is to repeat and repeat what IS  the cause, pointing out HOW it affects us. If a person will not change diet, he/she may well accept supplements because they are trained to taking pills for health correction. Perhaps, artificial as that may be, clinical improvement will enhance the perceived importance of nutrition and lifestyle, acting as a learning process.

PH: Where is the new frontier in medicine, in your estimation?

DL: I think that it is in the hands of ACAM [ACAM is the pioneer integrative organization and advocate of education for dedicated professionals who set out to make a difference in the standards of healthcare. Our membership includes MD, DO, ND, ARNP, NP, DC, DDS, scientists, medical students/residents, dietitians, nutritionists, researchers, and more.] and ICIM [The International College of Integrative Medicine is a community of dedicated physicians who advance innovative therapies in integrative medicine by conducting educational conferences, supporting research, and cooperating with other scientific organizations, while always promoting the highest standards of practice.]

PH: I have friends and others researching the chemical-human disease connection, to include Dr. Rosemary Mason, looking at the unbelievable amounts of chemicals – poisons – in our ecosystems, food systems, and bodies.

 Campaigner and environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has written an open letter to the Chief Medical Officer of England, Sally Davies. In it, Mason states that none of the more than 400 pesticides that have been authorised in the UK have been tested for long-term actions on the brain: in the foetus, in children or in adults.

The UK Department of Health (DoH) has previously stated that pesticides are not its concern. But, according to Mason, they should be. She says that Theo Colborn’s crucial research in the early 1990s showed that endocrine disrupters (EDCs) were changing humans and the environment, but this research was ignored by officials. Glyphosate, the most widespread herbicide in the world, is an EDC and a nervous system disrupting chemical.

Speak to these concerns, too, Dr. Lonsdale.

DL:  I totally agree but this kind of common sense usually falls on deaf ears. I have entered my posts on the metronidazole toxicity group and sent a letter to the FDA in regard to the nature of its toxicity. It hasn’t changed a thing but a lot of people have been helped. A paper I wrote in 1980 reporting 20 adolescents who had proved thiamine deficiency disease caused my phone to light up but it has long been forgotten. We can only just keep plugging on!!!

When Time Stands Still

The intimate human experience of time standing still is universal, although rare.  When we undergo it, we are stunned.  Silence seems to enclose us. It is the correlative to the more common experience of time passing at different speeds, sometimes slowly, sometimes fast, despite clocks.  These universal experiences do not accord with the teleology that underlies the modern world with its scientific principle that leads to entropic death triumphant. They are therefore, as John Berger, the English writer and art critic, writes, “dismissed as subjective, because time, according to the nineteenth-century view, is objective, incontestable and indifferent; to its indifference there are no limits.”

As a result of living within this scientific and technical presupposition that the background ticking of the clock is the only truth and time is a one-way street, we are now living inside a hopeless mind-frame of a scientific theocracy that says all will end in entropy.  This is nihilism; for at the end of this clock time is nothingness, the infinite void.  This is the unstated “future,” but a future that is also now, a noxious injection that surreptitiously poisons people at the well of their lives where cracks in the consensual reality open and other truths fly in, or as Emily Dickinson said, “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune without the words/And never stops – at all”

The one-dimensional finality of the view of time as death triumphant is the nihilistic future Nietzsche said was coming, and it is here.  And being here, it tries to reduce any experience that transports us beyond time to personal lunacy and worthy only of dismissal. It reduces human subjectivity and transcendent joy and despondent suffering to the ravings of a madman. Facts are facts says this unstated premise, and if you don’t get that, you are a joker and will be rendered invisible.

In the new movie “Joker,” the suffering Arthur Fleck, the eponymous Joker, is abandoned by a cruel American society whose capitalist order cares not a whit for its regular people, and in a penultimate scene when Arthur is appearing on a late night television show where the snide and condescending host mocks him and his attempt at comedy, Joker says to the host:

Comedy is subjective, Murray. Isn’t that what they say? All of you, the system that knows so much, you decide what’s right or wrong. The same way that you decide what’s funny or not.

In that quote lies our current fate, the dark night that has descended on our world since Nietzsche issued his warning. The system that knows and controls so much decides human truth and what is good and evil, always of course, deciding in its own favor, even to suggest that all is woe and all hope is gone while heading to the bank with its ill-begotten lucre.

No wonder all the media, mainstream and alternative, are today filled with headlines and titles screaming about our impending extinction, doomsday, and the apocalypse. The end days are near.  Just as our fictitious “telling of time” with advanced technology has sped up since the simplest clock and speed has devoured space, so too have all the admonitions to prepare for the end of the world, as if you could.  Just pack your suitcase and you’re off.  These warning are often accompanied by assertions that humans, having contaminated the planet, don’t deserve to survive; that humans are vermin; and that, anyway, it’s too little too late, we don’t have time.  Extinction will be arriving shortly, even if we protest its arrival.  It’s hopeless, so don’t have children, or, if you have them already, teach them that “life is a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing.”  A one-way trip to dusty death where the trains run on time and the last stop is Nowhere.

Such political commentary, while often based on obvious problems caused by systemic structures of capitalist exploitation and technological hubris, implicitly rejects millennia of human experience and the testimony of the world’s great art and spiritual experience.  It rests upon a metaphysical assumption disguised as science that brackets out any word to the contrary.  It is the triumph of technical reason over the revelation of hope that is rooted in love, sexuality, and the human body, not abstractions.

“Our totalitarianism begins with our teleology,” writes Berger in his brilliant essay, “That Which Is Held.”

He adds:

What is ahistorical is the need to hope.  And the act of hoping is inseparable from the energy of love, from that which ‘holds,’ from that which is art’s constant example.

Such as the painting of a plaid suitcase by a little-known artist that hangs in my mental museum.  My father once went on vacation, and when he arrived at his destination and opened this suitcase, he found that it is was empty.  He had forgotten to pack and was overcome with joy at the realization.  He wanted for nothing.  This was his masterpiece, created when he wasn’t looking.

Just yesterday, I was being thought by these thoughts as I took an early morning walk by the neighboring lake.  A group of geese, like battleships on the sea, greeted me with their honking, and as I dawdled along, they dove to show me their white asses, as if they were college boys out on a drunken lark, mooning anyone who passed.  It seemed as if I were being mocked for allowing these thoughts to drift into my mind, guests that I did not summon but came uninvited.  Many days I feel as though I am visited by words and images that transport me into reveries of time lost and time found and time beyond time.  Rilke captures a bit of this with these words:

O longing for places that were not
Cherished enough in that fleeting hour
How I long to make good from far
The forgotten gesture, the additional act.
Who, among us, has not heard such words whispering into our silences?

Then I stopped by a swampy area at the end of the lake and took a look through the gently swaying bushes. A blue heron stood stock still on the far side, as if it were a statue or a silhouetted profile on an ancient Greek vase.  I froze and watched intently, lost in the sight of the bird’s eerie stillness.  For an instant I was that blue heron.  Its immobility and my stop-time staring seemed to fuse us in the way one is transported into a cataleptic state when watching dust motes in a flash of sunlight or unexpectedly seeing the full moon hanging on the world’s edge when stepping outdoors with night coming on.  It seems at these moments that a crack opens in the conventional reality machine that runs the world and one shivers with an erotic happiness that transcends description. Berger calls these “enclaves of the beyond.”

When I finally shook myself loose from being the heron, I walked on by myself but with many voices whispering in my ears.  Kris Kristofferson, whom I had recently seen in a documentary on country music, was singing “Me and Bobby McGee,” which took me back to a night years ago when a woman I knew played the song over and over for me as she drank wine in her low-cut dress, coming on to me, even as my then wife sat with us.

There is an infinite sadness in this memory, the loneliness of her yearning, not just for sex but for love, for a relationship, for tenderness, for “that which is held,” and while I remember the night vividly, I sadly can’t remember her name and she slips into the penumbra of the dreamy past.  But vividly alive, present.  She walks with me as I head down the road, where the sign reads: Rough Road Ahead.  The words live:

Then somewhere near Salinas, Lord, I let her slip away/She was lookin’ for the love I hope she’ll find.

Just a moment of time out of mind.  A moment the time-keepers can’t imagine.

We know it.  We live it. We use and are used by our memories and forgetteries in equal measure, thinking we control the flow of life, which we don’t.

There is an experience that lovers, writers, singers, and athletes have. Everyone has it at least once in a lifetime, or so I hope. It is called by some “being in the zone,” by others “being unconscious,” by others “ecstasy” and “inspiration”; in all cases it transcends clocks and the underlying bias of our age.  It is hope incarnate. It is time out of mind. By discounting it, we embrace hopelessness, nihilism.

Living in the age of abstractions, we tend to abandon the body, the earth, and the chance that we might redeem this sordid era.  By remembering that hope lies in the shadows, in the unexpected places and faces that flash through our times even when we are induced to believe we are only dreaming, we have a chance. But only if we reject the belief that entropy is time’s arrow.  Therein lies the real danger that will result in our forgetting of how instantly time can stand still in the ultimate sense, as it did for the Japanese victims of America’s murderous rage on August 6, 1945.  Galway Kinnell, in his poem “The Fundamental Project of Technology” reminds us to remember:

The children go away. By nature they do. And by memory,
in scorched uniforms, holding tiny crushed lunch tins.
All the ecstasy-groans of each night call them back, satori
their ghostliness back into the ashes, in the momentary shrines,
the thankfulness of arms, from which they will go
again and again, until the day flashes and no one lives
to look back and say, a flash, a white flash sparkled.

Where was the lightning before it flashed?  To us it wasn’t.  Its flashing was it.  It was its act. But the nuclear weapons that we once used and are now preparing to use already exist and if they flash again all time will be extinguished and we will be gone with it.

The road ahead is rough indeed.  A despairing teleology will not save us.  We need to see it for the trap that it is.

Rhythm, melody, and movement: from these life is born and sustained.  They are also integral to art – music, writing, painting, sculpture, dance, etc. – even when they are apparently absent, as with my distorted perception of the seemingly immobile heron. They lie at the heart of spiritual experience, as breath is the inspiration that carries us along.

As I walk up the hill past the lake and my respiration increases, I see Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture, “Tall Walking Figure” in my mind’s eye. Its immobility implies movement, just as the ticking of the turning clock down through the ages has implied the earth’s solid resistance to time’s final victory, as the seasons turn and renew themselves timelessly.  Movement and stasis, time and the timeless. Such paradoxical inclusiveness pertains to still-life painting as well.  While seemingly immobile, and defined by some as dead life encompassed by the presence of the absence of movement and change, the essence of all living things, such paintings come to life in the encounter with the living.  Relationship is all. To grasp the paradoxical nature of art – and life – one must approach them as an artist and see the wholeness in broken pieces.  “Everything is broken,” Bob Dylan sings, “take a deep breath, feel like you’re choking.”

It seems that way.  But I am enjoying my walking reveries and so will let John Berger have the final word:

There is no question of looking away from the modern world and its practices.  There is no question of a Pre-Raphaelite flight back to the Middle Ages.  It is rather that Dante advances toward us.  And in the specific purgatory of the modern world, created and maintained by corporate capitalism, every injustice is grounded in that unilinear view of time, for which the only relation conceivable is that between cause and effect.  In contrast to this, in defiance of this, the ‘single synchronic act’ is that of loving.

Crisis after Crisis and Still the Citizen in Capitalism Follows the Paymaster as God

I’ve been running into a lot of soft democrats and confused environmentalists lately who are all up in arms about things that really don’t mean diddly-squat in the scheme of things. You know, the presidential election (sic), all the perversity of not only Trump, but Holly-dirt, Mainlining Media, and the billionaire class, and this rotten society that still after 400 years of slavery and after a thousand treaties with indigenous peoples broken is as racist as ever.

Southern California Communist Party of USA:

slavery

More so racist in a time of supposedly more information and revised histories of this raping class of people who brought their sad, swathed-in-money-and-subjugation religion to these teeming shores. And other shores, too.

We’ve got people taking a hard position on …  we have to ban plastic straws and we have to ban grocery bags and we have to do something with all that plastic out there … when the positions should be centered around global justice, global poverty, the military industrial complex that is the purview of dozens of countries now, many of which are dealing with abject poverty — Pakistan, India, err, USA!

We never ever talk about the military, because that’s taboo, off limits, sacred cow of the Empire, even folks wearing Birkenstocks and bamboo underwear. Or mining operations by UK, French, USA, Australia, and Oh Canada.

Canadian Mining Companies Are Destroying Latin America1

Canada Mining Companies in Latin America Have Blood on Hands. An injured protester flees as riot police use tear gas and batons to disperse a protest

Canadian mining activity in Latin America has skyrocketed over the past decade. Acting on 1994’s North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada signed agreements with several Latin American countries to facilitate easy access for resource extraction. Those countries include Peru (2009), Colombia (2011), Panama (2013), and Honduras (2014). As such, five of the top ten locations for Canada’s international mining assets in 2014 were Latin American countries.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the value of Canadian mining assets abroad reached $148.7 billion in 2012, accounting for 66 percent of all Canadian mining assets.

Canadian activities in Mexico are especially pronounced. With nearly 200 companies in operation, Mexico is the top destination for Canadian mining investment outside of Canada. In Guerrero, terror, violence, and intimidation are a daily occurrence and the gold is said to be cheap and easy to mine. Indeed, Canadian companies such as Goldcorp, Newstrike Capital, Alamos Gold, and Torex Gold Resources all have a strong presence there.

So many of my friends want to move to Canada, cuz that paradise is so humane and loving! I try to talk sense in them, so they change the subject:

So, they spend countless hours thinking of ways to collect the plastic and incentivize schemes to have the stuff shredded and put into road asphalt. Ways to get that “precious plastic” into those 3-D printing machines.

Twisted up like pretzels, they go on and on about the ways we the people shall be/should be putting our effort/money in cleaning up our mess, err, created by corporations, and the plastics industries, which is just another front for the chemical industry, which is tied at the umbilical cord to the oil industry, since everything we do now is cooked and polymerized from that fossil goo we have so become not only addicted to but galvanized into.

Our human shit is bound up with plastics, and our food and air and soil are flogged with chemical after chemical, until all the residues and off-gassing and concomitant synergistic coalescing of physiological side effects have so altered Homo Sapiens before we are born that this is a massive, uncontrolled Doctor Frankenstein and Doctor Moreau  experiment  with outcomes we already see and feel:

  • lower sperm count in young boys and men
  • more than half of USA population cut with chronic illnesses
  • mental disturbances in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • allergies in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • more and more physical and intellectual anomalies in more and more kindergartners and 1-12 students
  • more collective passivity in the culture collectively — i.e. Stockholm Syndrome for the masses as their/our leaders-bosses-criminal politicians perpetrate the largest theft of human, monetary and ecological resources the planet or any country has ever seen
  • more and more dis-connectivity of certain melanin-starved racists to begin both mass suicides and mass shootings, as they see more and more people they are against while they continually self-medicate and calorically/chemically-abuse their own selves and zygotes
  • more mass delusion of the massive popular (insipid, droll, infantile) culture that takes more and more time and money away from individuals and families until they are indebted to the millionaire and billionaire class — the same class they now bow to, look up to, regal, valorize

Think about it for a second — Capitalism means we the people take it a million times a day, and we then believe we are the problem, we are the destroyers of the planet (we the 80 percent). We believe collectively that the corporations are mostly benevolent, that Stockholders R’ Us and that companies are people too!

I have had zero choice in all the plastics in 99 percent of the shit I have to have to be a writer, social services worker, contractor, naturalist, etc. Plastic in my car, around my car, even though it’s 2000 Chevy Metro, three-banger five speed with 220,000 original miles?

The externalities and economies of scale WE the PEOPLE pay for. It’s gotta stop —

Even though plastic is destroying our oceans, big corporations are being given money to produce cheap plastic. Taxpayers pay more than 90% of the cost of recycling, while huge subsidies are placed on fossil fuels, the major building block for plastic. This is unfair: we need to take bold action now.

Corporations should pay for the damage they cause. Only then will they be forced to create environmentally friendly alternatives. Fossil fuel companies received subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.7tn) worldwide in 2015, China alone provided subsidies of $2.3tn. As plastic is made out of fossil fuels, these are effectively colossal plastic subsidies.

Rather than being paid to pollute our waters, the polluters should pay for their plastic waste to be recycled. Currently that cost is covered by the taxpayer, but instead the cost of recycling should be part of the cost of the plastic itself – with the additional money being transferred to local governments to pay for recycling. The government should reward retailers who develop new sustainable ideas, and raise charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle. This would reduce the demand for deadly plastics among producers and retailers.

I could go on and on, but for brevity’s sake, I will shift this essay into the arena of just what is important to people in a time of mass surveillance, mass extinction, mass shootings, mass criminality of the FIRE brand class (sic)  — Finance Insurance Real Estate. What really is important to people who scoured Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and the infinite sound byte website and endless drivel of Youtube, TED-X and those top 10 “news” sites where all the news is unfit to send over the Internet.

If one were to have a one-on-one talk with supposedly enlightened ones, who care about the environment, know what the politics are and are on board for some massive change, they still get it so wrong, so dangerously wrong. Commie is not a good thing to them, and more and more greenies are telling me how they worry about China/Asia coming over the Pacific to take away the great resources from Canada and USA, since our (sic) North America is blessed with resources, blessed with money, blesses with less impacts from global heating.

It’s so sad, so sad, that the collective DNA of America still defaults to many of the myths and lies of both sides of the manure pile — anti Chinese, anti-Russians, anti-North Koreans, anti-Syrians, et al.

Then we drift into the prostitute line up on mainstream TV, prognosticating on who would be the best to replace Trump. Haha. It is a viscous carnival circle jerk, with all sorts of caveats on who is better than whom, and in the end, it’s always Biden would be the best, since the polls say that — oh the polls!

“We believe to put our time and money and brain-power into understanding the issues and priorities is where we can most have an impact,” Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport told Politico. Let other operations focus on predicting voter behavior, the implication went, we’re going to dig deeper into what the public thinks about current events.

Still, Gallup’s move, which followed an embarrassingly inaccurate performance by the company in the 2012 elections, reinforces the perception that something has gone badly wrong in polling and that even the most experienced players are at a loss about how to fix it. Heading into the 2016 primary season, news consumers are facing an onslaught of polls paired with a nagging suspicion that their findings can’t be trusted. Over the last four years, pollsters’ ability to make good predictions about Election Day has seemingly deteriorated before our eyes.

Out of all those “candidates,” I still hear from liberals here on the coast of Oregon say, Mayor Pete. “Oh, we want Mayor Pete!” This is that other disease that should have been listed above in the bullet points — some guy, who is a declared homosexual, who went to Iraq on his own in the US military, and he’s proud of it. These people don’t even bend knee for Bernie or Tulsi, because, alas, that Mad comics book guy might be the feminized or neutralized face of their own boys. Go Pete, right!

Here, some fun:

Bizarrely, at least for someone who needs to win Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina to be elected president, Mayor Pete began the evening with a long description of his Rhodes scholarship at Oxford (England, not Old Miss), where he took “a first in PPE” (philosophy, politics, and economics) at Pembroke College. (William Pitt the Younger and Monty Python’s Eric Idle are among its famous graduates.)

Acting like a kindly thesis adviser during orals, Capehart carefully went through each line of Mayor Pete’s curriculum vitae, just so the audience would not miss the fact that after the years at Harvard and Oxford, Pete also got his ticket punched as a 29-year-old mayor in South Bend and as an ensign in the U.S. naval reserve, in which he was deployed as an intelligence officer to NATO command in Kabul.

Oh, and by the way, he also worked as a consultant for McKinsey and, more recently, found time to write his memoirs, Shortest Way Home.It’s painting/writing by the numbers, so any aspiring candidate can sound like the father-dreaming Barack Obama (“A river is made drop by drop”).

In the end Mayor Pete will fall victim to what so far has delivered him to the presidential jamboree—the paper chase of credentialism.

Without Harvard, Oxford, McKinsey, and Afghanistan on his resumé, Mayor Pete would look more like an overly bright Jeopardy! contestant than a presidential candidate. (Alex Trebek: “He’s the mayor of a midwestern city and in his spare time he wants to be president. Let’s give a big welcome for Pete Buttigieg….”)

But with so many golden tickets in his background, after a while, when voters ask about what it will take to cut the $1 trillion blown on Homeland security or the best way to lower carbon emissions, they will want to hear more than Pete’s self-directed love songs. Whitman said, “I and this mystery, here we stand,” but he wasn’t running for president.

Thus, as Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
by Matthew Stevenson points out, this guy, Mayor Pete, is the guy your old mother might like.

The heart of it is many women of the democratic party species think of some soft guy, some dude who goes on and on about his marriage vows, who is trapped in his own small world of faux intellectual pursuits — Rhodes Scholar, Oxford, and with a complete disconnect from the problems in his South Bend — as the leader of the world? Because of their perverted Trump, this fourth grade thinker, the art of the bad deal, the man who admits to all of the gross things and ideologies — they want, what, an opposite of the un-man Trump with another guy who is certainly not capable of real political work?

Democrats have no idea why Trump is in (voter suppression, and such illegalities) and why a good chunk of Americans are supporting his perversion. They don’t get that their own beds are messed up with that perversion — God, Country, Tis of Thee. Really, liberals have not fought hard enough in their own circles and families.

Just today, at Depoe Bay, working the naturalist volunteer gig, where I wander around the tourists gawking at the gray whales blowing real close by, I was talking with some guys from The Bay (Oakland-San Fran). They looked like partners, and the funny thing, they had this old guy in the car, one of the dude’s father.

These two thanked me for my naturalist talents, and fortunately, I also chime in while talking whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals and sea lions the connection to ecology and the lack of ecological health with the politics of deception.

Yeah, they hate Trump, make fun of Trump, and both men are articulate, probably in the Silicon Valley bubble of good times and big bucks. But, alas, they found out quickly I was more than just a cetacean naturalist under the auspices of a national organization that demands no politics in our spiels . . . when they know I am more than anti-Trump and that I have done my despicable stint in US military, worked in prisons, worked in immigration refugee outfits, and that I teach they want me to “have a talk with my dad back there — he’s so fucking pro-Trump.”

Out here watching these leviathans, as long as a school bus, 80,000 pounds, eating mysids the size of one rice grain to the tune of a ton a day, they wanted me to have a chat with the old guy, a chat that would end up in maybe the old man’s heart attack or stroke.

This is it, though, the end of discourse, the fear of having real conversations with embedded souls who have been sold down the river of stupidity and demigods and felons like Trump.

I also drive an old Honda Shadow, 1100cc, black, and most bikers or old men and women on $30k Harley’s, they too are MAGA. So, when I drive into a pub or bar with a bunch of weekend bikers, I don’t fear those conversations.

Hell, my Canadian mother always told me to hold steady and say it like it is. No fear, isn’t that some meme to sell some wasteful product!

Ahh, then I talked with an Italian family, and the father/husband, Justine, talked with me, wondered about Oregon, about the state’s politics (seems progressive, until you leave Portland). He said that in Italy, there is no environmental movement, that the news hardly covers climate change and food insecurity, and that in reality he is afraid for his 14-year-old daughter who was in the car with her mother. The mother thanked me for the whale tips, and she smiled when she saw her old man getting a primer on America, albeit, on the world according to an ecosocialist.

An Italian wanting to know why his own country’s media (controlled by a few Mafioso) haven’t done their job? More of the same in EU, in the colonized countries, those former-empires, now just little men and little women of old. The Media control the message!

I’ve had a few talks over the weeks with citizens from France, Germany, Portugal, Brazil, UK, etc. Hands down, they all have told me they have never had conversations in their vacations here about the things I broach. You see, it’s not anti-Trump that does it. It’s anti-Corporation, anti-Military, anti-Media, anti-Capitalism alongside pro-Green, pro-Socialista, pro-Ecosocialism, pro-retrenchment, pro-Global Collective Strategy, pro-Lock-Them-Up (we know who the “we” are, don’t you know). Most Americans, when talking with foreigners, do not get into the facts about this flagging empire. Maybe most don’t know the facts herein.

Just grounding people today who lean toward “play nice green,” who lean toward Tulsi or Beto or Pete, well, the jig is up.

Back to acceptable male characters:

The feminization of men and this homosexual bias (in favor of) that many in the democratic party parlay into what they believe are serious credentials to tackle climate change, to go after the banks, after the trillionaires with our loot, to draw down US military spending, to draw down the empire, to retrench during a time of hate and loathing inside climate change, well, this speaks volumes why Americans by and large are afraid of themselves, and have no stomach for hard work and the at least gutsy project of ecosocialism, even the work of one Howie Hawkins.

They would give Buttigieg the entire ranch, in this daft belief that a soft man, a cerebral (whatever that means) man of youth, is somehow capable of tackling these blood-sucker Republicans, their brawny lobbyists, and their perfectly criminal billionaire masters.

Forget Bernie, and they won’t touch Elizabeth Warren. Crazy liberals, man, with this Mayor Pete thing.

At least this millionaire Yang has some guts on the reality of global warming:

Here, on National Propaganda Radio, Andrew Yang:

Yang’s answer to his doom and gloom descriptions of the economy and many other problems is a universal basic income proposal he’s calling the “freedom dividend” — $1,000 a month to every U.S. citizen 18 years and older.

“Donald Trump is our president today, in large part, because he got some of the problems right, but his solutions are the opposite of what we need. His solutions were we’re going to build a wall, we’re going to turn the clock back, we’re going to bring the old jobs back,” Yang said. “We have to do the opposite of all that. We have to turn the clock forward. We have to accelerate our economy and society as fast as possible. We have to evolve in the way we see work and value.”

Most politicians will say, “We can do it; we can beat it.” I just told the truth [at the second Democratic debate], which is that we’re only 15% of the world’s emissions. Even if we were to go zero carbon, the Earth would continue to warm in all likelihood because of the energy composition of other countries. Now, I take climate change very, very seriously. It’s an existential threat to our way of life. Apparently, I might take it more seriously than even some other people who believe it’s serious because I think it’s worse than anyone thinks.

So I think we should move toward renewable energy sources as fast as possible but also proactively try and mitigate the worst effects and even try and restore our habitat in various ways by reforesting tracts of land and reseeding the ocean with kelp, marine permaculture arrays and things that can help rehabilitate what we’ve done — because right now, the Atlantic Ocean is losing 4 to 8% of its biomass every year. Then you can do the math on that — it’s a catastrophe in the making.

It is worse than these shills and candidates and their corporate backers are saying. Way worse, and for Yang to state that, well, he gets my applause in a field of ameliorators and idiots who want to go all hopey-dopey and pull some shit that we still have time.

We need just to pull down some of the carbon, 1.2 trillion trees planted.

Fox Maple Woods in Wisconsin.

There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, and abandoned land to plant 1.2 trillion additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new analysis by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university.

This is a powerful talking point for any candidate — fucking trees, man, it’s not rocket science —  and think of the world class diplomacy and goodwill this multi-country project would engender. Instead, we have criminals like Trump and his crony in Brazil, Bolsonaro, throwing their bizarro words out into the ether making a Hitler seem so-so cultured and hip to a more effective propaganda:

Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro says non-governmental organisations may be setting fires in the Amazon to embarrass the Brazilian government after it cut their funding, despite offering no evidence to support the claim.

record number of fires — 72,843 — were recorded in the Amazon this year, according to The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).

But conservationists have blamed Mr Bolsonaro for the Amazon’s plight, saying he has encouraged loggers and farmers to clear the land.

“This is a sick statement, a pitiful statement,” said Marcio Astrini, Greenpeace Brazil’s public policy coordinator. “Increased deforestation and burning are the result of his anti-environmental policy.” Bolsonaro, a longtime sceptic of environmental concerns, wants to open the Amazon to more agriculture and mining, and has told other countries worried about rising deforestation since he took office to mind their own business.

In this context, it seems easy for democrats to hail Mayor Pete or Ms. Harris or Tulsi Gabbard has real home-run hitters in the game of life.

End ICE and CBP? That is one step, certainly easier than planting trees, or about the same?

The greens just can’t go far enough — and reference the above point that greenies out here in Portland’s haunts, the Oregon Coast, believe “they” will be coming to and flooding into the USA to get “our stuff.”

Last month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Kamala Harris released their Climate Equity Act – the first draft of a critical component of a Green New Deal. The act aims to protect marginalized communities as Congress attempts to “address” climate change by creating a system that gives environmental legislation an equity score based on its impact on “frontline communities.”

By their definition, frontline communities include people of color, indigenous and low-income people, as well as groups vulnerable to energy transitions – like rural, deindustrialized, elder, unhoused and disabled communities. The proposed bill would also create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability, which would “work with” key federal departments – including the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS – which houses FEMA as well as predatory immigration agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

As the intensity of the climate crisis grows, migration will also increase. A 2018 report from the International Organization for Migration estimates 405 million people will be forced to emigrate by 2050. As lawmakers consider how to equitably respond to climate catastrophe, it’s critical that they do so with a clear vision in mind. Any definition of frontline communities must also include current and future undocumented immigrants. And a plan for climate justice cannot leave room for “working with” agencies like ICE and CBP, which should instead be abolished.

DHS has already laid out its response to climate change: a path that requires increased border security and deportations – all to preserve a status quo that harms people of color. A 2012 report from the department clearly elaborates how they imagine climate change will impact their role. “Over time,” the report states, “the Department will expand its planning to include potential climate change implications to securing and managing our borders, enforcing and administering our immigration laws, and other homeland security missions.”

The job of some of us is to rat out the lies, and lately while listening to Democracy Now (not the best, but for now, the only M-F single hour on the Internet, dealing with issues close to my heart, albeit, still pushed through the meat grinder that is a Soros World) I have been messing with LinkedIn people. The amount of trash from Barrons, Bloomberg, Forbes, NYT, WaPo on LinkedIn tells us who the paymasters are of this Microsoft thing which I end up linking into while listening/watching an hour’s worth of new here on the Oregon Coast. I have somehow connected (sic) to more than a thousand, and I am sure to play a little bit of havoc in many of the colonized’s minds.

For instance, I will get from some “sustainability officer” that Lightsource BP is doing great great things. This outfit is British Petroleum, and in fact, it’s more than greenwashing. It’s green pornography — selling a company as sustainable when it is involved in crimes against humanity and tax fraud and accounting fraud and the biggest single oil spill in the world in the Gulf of Mexico.

But in America, and Canada, this kind of crap leads the way in the minds of Americans — so happy millionaires and billionaires are taking control of the future!

BP (formerly known as “British Petroleum”) is a global oil, gas and chemical company headquartered in Britain and responsible for the largest environmental disaster ever in the United States, the April 20, 2010, blowout of its Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico (discussed in more detail below). The company owns numerous refineries and chemical manufacturing plants around the world.  BP is the United Kingdom’s largest corporation. Its global headquarters are in London, and its U.S. headquarters are in Houston, Texas. Its major brands include BP, AmPm, ARCO, and Castrol. The company reported in 2012 that natural gas makes up more than half of BP’s energy production, making us the largest producer and supplier in the U.S.

Access the BP’s corporate rap sheet compiled and written by Good Jobs First here.

Other BP spills and disasters

But when you engage with these people who vaunt the Exxon’s and US Forest Service and the BP’s of the world, they accuse one (me) of nay-saying, of being radicalized, of being outside the normal box. And, in one case, “Nuff said . . . you’re from Portland . . . can’t wait for the big one so I can have some beachfront property in Arizona.” This from people on LinkedIn who tout themselves as business leaders, members of their business round-tables in their respective locales.

Oh Americans . . . Oh Canadians . . . what a terrible lot we have become!

Except, when getting a cogent and smart response to one of my tame DV pieces: One Woman’s Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions, Seaweed, Wave Energy — The doors that science strives to unlock

Excellent article. I really enjoyed it as I have your others over the years at Dissident Voice. Interesting writing style that morphs with the subject.

I live at the other side of North America in Nova Scotia, whose capital is at the 45th parallel, about the same as Oregon. Part of our Canadian province has a shoreline with the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tides in the world for all practical purposes for a decent sized body of water, about 43 feet rise and fall almost twice per day. Capturing some of that energy has been the holy grail for decades. One of my Physics profs was gung-ho about it all back in 1964. It is caused by a resonance phenomenon not unlike the kids swilling the bath water back and forth until it slops over the ends, so detuning that is a big consideration to take into account. Fiddling too much with the physical size and shape of the bay could either cause even higher tides – or lesser ones. God knows what will happen with sea level rise.

We have had a functioning 25MW tidal generator for some decades at the end of the river that flows into an inlet of the bay, said inlet being twenty miles long and five wide itself. But that is small beans compared to what the main bay could provide.

Several multi-million dollar projects in recent years have had equipment ruined by the tides and particularly currents during trials and these were only proof of concept underwater machines of no huge size. So things have ground to a halt for the time being with the last company, Irish of all things, going bankrupt and leaving a broken machine in the waters. I’d be a bit worried about fish kill with that underwater propeller gizmo you illustrate – recent machines here look nothing like that.

We are served by a Federal Government’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography performing similar investigations I would presume to those you describe in the article but over the North Atlantic and up into Frobisher Bay, and locally have invasive species such as green crab ourselves.There are, however, marine “national park” areas along our Atlantic coast and up into the Gulf of the Saint Lawrence.

On land we are subject to similar depredations of forest clear-cutting you so clearly describe about Oregon but that is provincial rather than Federal jurisdiction and land owners run the local politicians as was ever the case, but on the whole I’d say our population is somewhat more green aware than seems to be the case in the US. And we are rural, the total population being under a million with great dependency on the ocean and little industry. Overall it ain’t a bad spot but likely to be coastally submerged by rising ocean waters soon, unfortunately. The rest of Canada tends to think of our Atlantic Region area as Hicksville and gives us a paternal pat on the head now and then, and frankly we like it that way. Being left alone, that is.

The Oregon connection I have is an old acquaintance from the US East Coast who lived in Nova Scotia for a time 50 years ago, and then went west. I recently recommended your blog to her.

Keep it up. You are an evocative writer.

Best, Bruce Armstrong

Now, that’s the ticket, really, getting pugnacious and pertinent commentary from afar. Indeed, and what Bruce says I didn’t say because part of my writing is about working for a rag that highlights coastal things to do, coming, staying, buying and doing. I pitched a column, Deep Dive, to allow for a longer form of people feature. Luckily, it’s been a green light, but I itch, oh do I itch, to go on the stream of consciousness and maybe off the rails for some polemics, but I understand audience awareness, the rhetorical tricks of Cicero. Ethos, Pathos, Logos!

As an ecosocialist and communist of the ultimate kind — democracy, freedom, collective consciousness and action, food, air, water, education, health, transportation for all — I understand that the science I described in the piece is tied to more of the same: making money from taxpayer coffers, utilizing land grant schools and their faculty and professional staff for free consultations and studies, and putting R & D into all the wrong baskets — that’s what blue energy is. Waves? Tides? Rivers? Whew, the conversation is always plumbed close to technology as savior, AI as implementation, robotics as freedom.

We are in many dire crises, and when we have a single look at some wave energy, as the article briefly covered, all stops are put back into the dialogue. The feature around the marine biologist did hook more into invasive species and the benthos — what’s happening at the bottom of the sea. That is the love of my life — the sea, ocean, marine systems. Thanks, Bruce, for the pugnacity in your timely and parallel observations in your comment to me.

Of course Howie Hawkins’s work and undying struggle to be heard as a Green Party Presidential candidate is worthy of DV, and thanks to DV, here it is: On Day One, the Next President Should Declare A Climate Emergency

I have a tough time getting people to read Howie’s statements and platform without the rejoinder — “Yeah, that stuff is really going to get through Congress, the Senate, ALEC and the Corporate powers!”

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another.

—Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment? (1784)

  1. https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/7b7ned/canadian-mining-companies-are-destroying-latin-america-924

The Obscured Horror Show

Karl Marx used a metaphor about a camera obscura to describe the contortions in the interpretations of ideology, and it’s also an interesting metaphor to think about how information is delivered to us from power. A camera obscura receives an image from a tiny hole where the image is then projected in a state that is inverted and reversed, such is the perspective given to us by the powers that be where we are fed a myopic view and what is shown to the people is the opposite of what is really going on. The pictures taken from the camera obscura of the ruling class are then captioned for the people by the corporate media and government PR providing obscured narration around the already obscured images which are carefully curated so that nothing is ever perceived by the people other than what is intended by the propagandist photographers.

The actions taken by elites must be obscured because if they were done right in front of you sans the gaslighting it would strike anyone in a mindset outside of an indoctrinated culture to be horrified. And when the events that occur every day in our society are thought of on a small scale without the socially applied labels, it’s clear to see the type of people we are truly dealing with, and why ousting their system from power is likely the only option if the story of humanity is to have a next chapter. Because these are not people acting in good faith; rather these are people who rule over us and are addicted to power and will do or say anything to get another hit to satisfy their addiction, which includes obliterating the natural environment that every living thing on the planet depends on and is only done so that a few people can have greater ego status and some meaningless luxuries.

Continuing to trust the US government to not start another war based on false pretenses or trusting politicians and the corporate state to stop the environmental destruction is akin to trusting Freddy Krueger to babysit your kids and expect it’s going to end up in something other than a horror show…

Well, Mr Krueger, let’s take a quick look at your babysitter qualifications before the wife and I head out for the evening. I see here you have no references and have some rather gruesome scars, how did that happen? Oh, some parents burned you alive after you diddled and murdered their kids? I see. Still, I’m not going to jump to any conclusions and disqualify you on that alone, I do believe in second chances. Sooo what are those knives on your hand for? You say they’re just decorative? Ok, but they look awfully sharp. And that’s a rather creepy maniacal laugh you have there, that doesn’t seem quite right, but still, I think it’s going to be fine. We’ll be back at 10, call us if you need anything and there’s money to order a pizza on the kitchen counter.

The American people are equally as naive, trusting their government, banks, and corporations who are just as crazy as a horror movie slasher and the evidence is directly in front of us. Acting as if we need a military this large which is ostensibly for defending the US is like Freddy telling you his glove with knives is only for easy access to kitchen utensils. They are both obviously for murdering people.

These corporatists and politicians are well dressed raging narcissists who speak with a specific nomenclature and a twisted tongue directly for the purpose of deceiving the masses. People like those in power now have been running these power games for a very long time and they have no intent of ever changing. They lure the masses in with carefully crafted words every election season and the people gab and gossip over which one of these lying psychopaths is better than the other. Sure Michael Myers has an excellent foreign policy, but Leatherface seems to have good domestic fiscal policy, but then again, I really like what Jason Voorhees has been grunting about immigration.

Right now the people still remain unconvinced a Freddy Krueger-ish ruling elite are bad guys, and perhaps it’s not as obvious when they lack a maniacal guffaw, don’t openly look hideous, or wear blood stained knives on their hands. But let’s think about what is being done by those in power through a clear lens and hopefully reach a point of socioeconomic enlightenment. To illustrate the point of their insanities it’s best to think of their actions on a smaller scale and ask yourself if these people and their social construct are something we can ever trust given their history and present state. And will this system somehow turn things around and become the altruistic thing they pretend to be in photographs crafted by the camera obscura.

So it is pertinent to ask what kind of people are these that would make others homeless out of nothing but greed. Let’s hypothetically ask an ethical question here. If there were only two people in the world and five homes available, would it not be the height of selfishness to claim all the homes for yourself and keep the other person out of the available homes by threat of violence while the existing structures sat and rotted away unused? Yet banks, corporations, and government policy allow this kind of behavior to happen ubiquitously in every area afflicted with capitalism, and they call it freedom for moneyed elites to be allowed to do so in the vaunted “free” market system. They say it’s not greed you see, it’s freedom for the powerful to do as they please. It’s like saying Ted Bundy has a god given right to murder women and proclaiming it liberty for the serial killer.

Here’s another. If people were starving and you had a warehouse full of groceries in your backyard and you threw out the fruits and veggies with a spot or two and refused to even let the starving people use the garbage you threw out what kind of person would you be? Yet this is exactly what capitalist grocers routinely do and worse, as it’s a special kind of awful to have buildings full of food and that sits unused while others go without proper nourishment. And again to excuse this behavior of hoarding because people in power tell you that you’re not working hard enough for them, and even after a lifetime of work it’s still not enough to qualify you to have a right to food if you don’t have enough of their money which they can, and do, create out of thin air in computers and handout in large amounts to cover the imbalances in their financial and banking systems. To those in charge, it’s more just that a person starve than a banking system go unbalanced, or god forbid, take a financial loss.

Or consider this.  If you were to throw a party and you caught someone smoking a joint in your house would a rational reaction to this be to strip search them, lock them in your closet, and then force them to pay you a fine for smoking? Then after keeping them as punishment in your closet from several months to a couple years you proceed to track them and make them report back to you that they found a job you approve of, while also demanding they come by and piss in a cup so that you can be sure they haven’t decided to smoke pot again, and if they don’t abide by your rules you threaten to throw them back into the closet. And you do all this while telling them it’s for their own good and the good of the greater society. Is this sane behavior? Yet again, we accept a nation state that does this and worse on a massive scale.

Or what if a group of your neighbors, who happen to have the most weapons, stopped by one evening to tell you that you can no longer grow vegetables on open unused land and can no longer fish out of a local lake, and that all these resources would now be managed by them. They will give you an allowance if you do their work in a manner fitting to them so you can now buy food only from their approved sources. And if you work hard enough and pay tribute to them with the allowance they have given you then they may even let you stay in your home. Remember, if you don’t obey what they say and refuse to live by their laws, they will be forced to kidnap you and incarcerate you, and if you run from them when they try and kidnap you then they will get their guns and shoot at you simply because you ran. Sounds nuts, right? Yet, here we are with a very similar way of being only applied to billions.

Or what if your neighbor next-door started investing heavily in tanks and missiles and they shoot at your kids whenever they come close to the property line. And when questioned why they are doing such things they claim it’s for their own protection when almost no one else in the neighborhood has a single gun. Then one day your crazy neighbor knocks on your door and tells you the guy down the street is a danger to everyone, this supposed threat down the street also happens to have a large RV camper you’ve seen your neighbor eyeing repeatedly, and now they want your kids to take some of their guns over there and murder them even though you have no idea what those people down the street actually did or if the situation could be resolved through a dialectical conversation instead of resorting to violence. Regardless, they refuse to have a conversation and inform you that if your child doesn’t want to murder someone for them they’ll lock them in their basement for punishment. It doesn’t seem rational, does it? But it seems rational for the US to do these things and continue to have a military many times the size of any other nation while they make claims they are the ones being threatened.

And it’s worth pointing out again, these psychopathic behaviors are everywhere and people will still treat this system and its election theater with utmost seriousness. Many of the problems we face are solvable, yet they persist, and it never seems to cross the mind of the common voter that these injustices persist precisely because those in power are doing something awful, the people simply cannot fathom that those they elect to rule would act with such disregard for the well being for others. The people buy into a society that has the worst kind of morals built into it and continue to pretend like there is something here worth saving. To the blind masses it still seems rational to cast votes for people to rule over us while these psychos ramp up their discipline, surveil, and punishment tactics and spread endless warfare and pain across the planet.

All these first world nation-states are eager to tell you how free you are. Essentially free to pay their taxes, work their jobs, and contribute to their capitalist growth in some manner. But if you’re so free then try to get a group of people and attempt to escape their system. Try to secede from their rule at any size and you’ll be met with instant opposition. Leaving their system isn’t an option. You can perhaps live in another nation-state they recognize, but you cannot start your own, and even the ones they recognize who don’t behave in an economic manner that pays proper tribute to the ruling classes will be put under threat. The planet is owned by a cartel of mafiosos with important sounding titles, where sovereignty is granted not by the will of a people to be free, but from the existing powers that be.

Everything nation-states, capitalists, or any social structure in a hierarchical form does is horrific and iniquitous while being normalized by way of semantics. Only when their actions are reframed under an objective lens without the titles, badges, and uniforms does the picture become clear and sanity returns. We are collectively captured by mavens in the art of cruelty, and not only do the collective people openly fight against their rule, but we can’t accept or even be brought to discuss the true intent of their actions.

Public Notices/Private Questions/Musical Dreams

Throughout our days we all notice many things that elicit questions that quickly pass through us as in a dream. Here are some that a man caught on the fly, asked to respond, and found they all responded in songs, songs that didn’t exactly answer his questions but set him to dreaming. This is an invitation to dream along.

*****

Two women out walking do not stop talking. An elderly man and woman out dining do not start talking.
Who says the most?

Hello in There“, John Prine

Every morning at sunrise, a simple, mild, and gentle man, seemingly somehow disabled, a camera hanging around his neck, stands stock still and half-hidden by reeds and bushes at the edge of a lake. For hours he waits to take photos of wildlife – deer, coyotes, bear, herons – emerging from the woods and lake’s edges.

What is it about wildness that he seeks to capture with his camera?

Like A Bird on a Wire“, Leonard Cohen

In a small New England town known as a haven for tourists and wealthy second-house owners from the city, the local Saturday morning farmers’ market features a parade of dogs being shown off by their visiting owners.
Who is on the leash?

Hound Dog“, Elvis Presley

A new 6th grade teacher reports to her department head that she is disturbed by the large number of her students who want to be addressed as “they.” She recounts how she just returned from taking her daughter to college at a prominent state university where all the professors who gave talks to parents and new students introduced themselves by saying how they wished to be addressed: he, she, they, etc.

Is this what it’s all about in today’s schools of show and tell?

What Did You Learn in School Today?“, Tom Paxton

A liberal New England regional newspaper refuses to publish an op ed article by a well-known local writer about how the chief U.S. propagandist has recently been named the new CEO of National Public Radio. When the writer asked the paper’s editor if he would consider it newsworthy if the newspaper named the chief propagandist it’s CEO, he received no reply.

Why might that be?

I Ain’t Marching Anymore“, Phil Ochs

On an old town road in the hills of western Massachusetts, passers-by comment on a certain small stretch where the smell of wild thyme overwhelms the senses when they go by. No thyme can be found.

Are these people imagining that the time has passed away, or they?

Who Knows Where the Time Goes“, Judy Collins

A violent thunderstorm with massive lightning bolts brings down scores of trees and power lines in the early fall evening. Roads are flooded and rivers and streams overflow their banks.

Where, asks an eight-year-old boy to vacant faces, was the lightning before it flashed?

Chimes of Freedom“, Bob Dylan

In Afghanistan, the U.S. military kills 32 sleeping pine nut farmers and 40 other civilians at a wedding, including children, between September 19-23, 2019 as part of the American “war on terror.”

Whom does this keep awake at night and who sleeps soundly thinking they are safe?

A Love Song to Americans“, Edward Curtin and David Neal

An old woman named Martha is overheard saying to her son, who is sitting beside her: “Martha is dying.” The son asks: “Why are you referring to yourself in the third person?” The mother answers: “It’s more comforting that way.”

Is this truth or denial?

Changes“, Phil Ochs

Another old woman is heard to say to her daughter: “Sometimes you don’t know where you are until you’ve left.”

And when we’ve left, where do we want to be?

Where’ve You Been“, Kathy Mattea

Graffiti spray painted on a wall near the railroad tracks: “You come early of late, but you used to be behind before, but now you’re first at last.”

And you?

It’s Too Late”, Carole King

The orange and black sign by the winding lake road up the hill from the twisting river announces “Rough Road.” It sits there in the fall air like a glowing jack-o-lantern announcing some enigmatic truth. The town authorities wish to repave the road and remove the sign. A poor man protests to the Select Board, a group of successful residents. They are flabbergasted by his reasoning. He says they are trying to smooth over the truth of life.

Which side of the road are you on, or do you usually walk the line?

Walk the Line”, Johnny Cash

Julian Assange’s father, after visiting his son in prison, where he is ill and held in solitary confinement 22 hours a day, is asked by an interviewer what are his concerns if his son is extradited to the U.S. under the Espionage Act. “They will murder Julian one way or another,” says John Shipton.

Why do so few Americans and Aussies care that their countries are run by mass murderers?

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”, Liam Clancy

Radio announcer: “I’ll talk about the weather with you in a few minutes.”

Is this the intimacy we crave?

The Dangling Conversation”, Simon and Garfunkel

A big sign on the wall inside a General Dynamics military defense plant announces: “Nothing important ever shows up in the newspaper. Reality is top secret.”

What is this reality that we are not supposed to know?

Follow”, Richie Havens

The local community college announced in the fall of 2018 a new certificate program: Training to become an Addiction Recovery Assistant to work in the substance abuse field. In the fall of 2019, as the college’s enrollment continued to fall and pot stores were springing up all around the area, the same college offered a new certificate program: A Cannabis Certificate Program that offers students training in cannabis cultivation, processing, preparation, retail, and outreach.

Guess what’s next?

Sunday Morning Coming Down“, Kris Kristofferson

On March 28, 2019, the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, David Trachtenberg, testifies in front of a Congressional committee that the American policy of first use of nuclear weapons is necessary for American security. In August 2019 the world is given notice that the U.S. has officially withdrawn from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. In September 2019, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Kahn, warns the world that the conflict with India over Kashmir is making the chance of nuclear war far likelier. As the U.S. continues to surround Russia with military forces, Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to warn of the growing threat of nuclear war.

It looks like the world is heating up, doesn’t it?

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, Bob Dylan

A Week in the Northeast

“Are you going to write something about this?  If you do, I’ll share it.”

This wasn’t exactly a writing assignment, from one of the co-founders of the venerable anarchist newspaper from Detroit, Fifth Estate, but close enough to prompt a travelogue that I’d likely have written anyway…

Peter Werbe and I were walking away from the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, after spending most of the afternoon visiting our mutual friend, Marius Mason — prisoner number 04672-061.

I don’t tour in my own country much anymore for financial reasons that my regular readers and listeners have already heard too much about, but occasionally a short regional tour works itself out, and this was the case last week in the northeastern US.

Months ago, Peter had told me he was planning to visit Marius in prison in September, and so I poked around to see if there might be a gig out there that would cover my airfare so I could join him in that endeavor.  Sure enough, there was — my sister Bonnie decided to throw her formidable energies into helping to organize a movement to end the ban on rent control in the state of Massachusetts, with last weekend being a sort of kickoff for the campaign.  As my accidentally good timing would have it, there were also other events for me to participate in during the week I was around there in my old stomping grounds.

Peter and I both flew into Boston and headed up in our rental car towards Waterville, Maine.  The first sort of gig on the little tour would be the opening for an exhibit of Marius’s artwork, art made in prison over the years, that he mailed to different people.  Various people were involved with organizing the exhibit, including someone I hadn’t seen in decades, back when he lived in the Boston area.  Now far from Boston, Peter and I spent our one night in Maine deep in the woods north of Waterville, in a very impressive homestead full of organic vegetables, a maple sugar shack, big solar panels, and all sorts of sculptures and such embedded in the landscape.  If a political prisoner has gotten a letter postmarked in Maine in the past 25 years, there’s a good chance it came from here.  Posters with the faces of Herman Bell and other current and former political prisoners adorned various walls.

It was, coincidentally, the day of lots of climate-related protests around the world, including outside the UN in Manhattan with Greta Thunberg, and in thousands of other towns and cities, including Waterville, Maine.  Peter and I got into town early enough to explore it a bit, and to participate in a small protest, after spending the night at the homestead.  As with so many other protest vigil type things in the US, the focus was on a major intersection in town.  People with signs faced the traffic.  I understand why this is done, but I always find it disheartening that we have to be so oriented towards people in their cars, in order for anyone to know we’re there.  It also means we’re not paying attention to each other, but only to getting the attention of people who are in their cars.  There were two people with acoustic guitars, but you couldn’t hear them over the traffic noise.  Being a fair-weather sign-holder myself, I didn’t stay long.

Another old friend of Marius’s, former spokesperson of the Earth Liberation Front who is part of a book store collective in Buffalo, New York these days, Leslie James Pickering, gave a talk, along with Peter, where the exhibit was happening, in the lobby of an art cinema in Waterville, and I sang.  One of the movies being shown was Official Secrets, so whether people had come for the art opening or for a movie, it was a good crowd.

The art we were looking at included pieces that the artist himself had not been able to look at in years.  They were made, and mailed off, never to be seen again.  There are ways, but as with most things involving prisoners, there are, at least, extra steps involved.  Forget about mailing packages or exchanging emails.  Only a handful of people are allowed to email with Marius, and then it’s on a special platform run by the prison, that doesn’t allow for things like pictures, or music.

Peter and I headed back to Boston after the opening, getting in late.  The next day was filled with events around the rent control campaign, my favorite of which was the dinner event attended by many veteran organizers from around the Boston area, some of whom I first encountered myself when I lived in Boston in the 90’s, like former city councilor, Chuck Turner.

Visiting hours at the prison are from 11 am to 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, more or less the same as at the federal prison in Ft Worth, Texas, where Peter and I had made several prior trips to visit Marius.  The events in Boston were on Saturday, so early Sunday morning we left for Danbury, Connecticut.

I was born in New York City, and raised in Wilton, Connecticut, which is a bit south of Danbury on Route 7.  In the summers, my family rented half of a dilapidated farmhouse north of Danbury, in Cornwall Bridge, a sparsely-populated part of northwestern Connecticut in the foothills of the Berkshires, a bit more than a stone’s throw from the borders of both New York and Massachusetts.  As a young man, my father moved to Danbury, and I have long had friends in the little city as well.  So basically I had driven past the federal prison there on the road between the center of Danbury and the town of New Fairfield, probably a thousand times or more.  Last weekend was the first time I ever actually turned in down the road that leads to the prison, and the first time I ever went over that hill and got a good look at all the barbed wire.

I was glad to hear that Marius had been transferred from Texas to Connecticut.  I live on the west coast these days, but I still manage to get back to Connecticut more often than I have reason to go to Texas.  Also, my assumption was that being imprisoned in Connecticut would be better than being imprisoned in Texas.  After visiting Marius there, I’m not at all sure that’s an accurate assumption.

The climate is nicer, for sure.  And you can see mountains with trees on them, which is better than being on the outskirts of the sprawling city of Ft Worth, adjacent to a huge military base.  There is no gate you have to go through to get into the prison complex, so it seems slightly less unwelcoming for visitors, at first.

Inside it’s the same.  The same barbed wire, the same manicured little lawns outside the same impossibly thick, automatic steel doors.  Three plastic chairs and a plastic table were set out for us to sit around in the visiting room.  In past visits in Texas, we visited Marius in a room that was only for certain very scary prisoners like him, where we were alone with Marius and a guard.  Later, we’d visit him in a bigger room, with other prisoners and their visitors, which was the situation in Danbury.  But in Texas, we could go outside and hang out in one of the little manicured lawn areas.  Here, we couldn’t.  I also learned that Marius has even less access to guitars and materials for writing and art in Danbury, compared with Texas.

The vending machines in the visiting room were full of the same dire, nutritionless crap as the vending machines in Texas.  For a vegan like Marius there’s nothing edible.  We had almost three hours together, but it went so quickly, as always.  It’s much longer than the fifteen minutes we’re allowed to talk on our rare phone conversations, so you’d think three hours would seem luxurious, but it doesn’t.  There’s far too much to say, much too much to catch up on — personal lives, logistics of various kinds, political analyses.  There are no clocks on the walls and no watches, given that visitors aren’t allowed to bring their phones with them, and no one wears watches anymore.  So when it was 3 o’clock, Peter and I were both caught unawares.

Though once the guard announced the time, I realized that other people around us knew the time was coming.  This, I realized, was why there were two different small children having meltdowns in the room.  Their time with their mother would be ending, and they had to leave the prison with their father, who had taken them to visit their mother.  Seeing the children processing their environment the whole time we were in there was constantly heartbreaking.  The children’s father was kind and loving, and if he hadn’t been like that, it’s hard to imagine how much more heartbreaking it might have been to witness them walking away from their mother once again, clearly not wanting to leave without her, clearly resigned to the profound injustice of their lives, knowing the procedure, what was coming next, and how no tantrum would be enough to cause anything to change at all.

Driving from Danbury to New York City the next day, I wondered how another long-term ELF prisoner, Daniel McGowan, is doing.  Last I saw him, he was under house arrest in Manhattan.  Then he spent many years in prison, and now he’s out again.  We exchanged a letter once.  Too many things slip through the cracks.

The event I was singing at in Manhattan was radically altered in terms of the speakers who’d be speaking, due to the fact that two of the people who were supposed to be the main speakers, diplomats from Cuba and Venezuela I believe, were suddenly not allowed to leave the United Nations.  Traditionally, diplomats from the many countries that had bad relations with the US could travel freely within a 25-mile radius of the UN, but the Trump administration had just informed certain diplomats that they were now only allowed to travel from the airport to their residence, and to the UN — nowhere else.

My last gig on the trip was back in Danbury, where the organizer, an academic named John Coleman who is starting up a little school of some kind, wanted me to focus my set on the end of the First World War, a period I’ve written about fairly extensively.  1919, like 2019, was a period of great uncertainty about the future, and conflict within this and many other societies.  It was a crossroads, a period where the future was being determined, largely by those advocating some form of socialism, or those advocating some form of fascism.

Flying home, catching up on rapidly-evolving news developments, with the Democrats announcing their latest impeachment plans, it is once again abundantly obvious why people like me and John keep on coming back to these historical parallels between the present time and the interwar period that began a little over a century ago.

As I have pointed out on various occasions in song and prose, the rise of fascism in Germany was born out of the failure of democracy, basically.  The democratically-elected government, led by social democrats who supposedly were interested in the welfare of the working class, failed to harness the immense wealth of the country — ravaged, of course, in so many ways by World War 1 as it was — in such a way that would have allowed the German people to eat.

Fascism became more and more popular while the left remained both fractured and inept.  And now I learn about the extent of the corruption of the Biden family dynasty, which is perhaps going to be attempting to represent some kind of more progressive alternative to Trumpism in the 2020 US elections.  This man whose son made $50,000 a month lobbying for a Ukrainian gas company, after his father helped orchestrate a coup against the former government there, is to be the guy who is ostensibly going to bring together the working class and all kinds of other folks to defeat Trump, who is also the current patriarch of a family of corrupt lobbyists and business people.

To be clear:  barring Trump’s imminent impeachment, assuming the 2020 election goes forward, we are being given choices between one politician who is accused of being compromised by Russian money, and another who appears to be compromised by Ukrainian money.  And both of them are in bed with the arms industry.  Welcome to the auction.

On the bright side, it would seem entirely possible that Marius will be joined in the federal prison there sometime soon by someone with either the last name of Trump or the last name of Biden – maybe both!

Laws that Punish for Hypothetical Harm Must be Abolished

Given the state of laws in Canada, it has become necessary to state the obvious:

An individual legitimately can be punished solely for proven actual harm that is also proven to have been caused by the individual.

In a free and democratic society, laws that punish an individual for harm that is hypothesized to have occurred, or hypothesized to have been caused by the individual, or hypothesized to have both occurred and been caused by the individual, are pathological in that such laws attack democracy itself in its foundation, as explained below.

Canada and institutions and corporations sanctioned by the State enforce many laws and rules that punish individuals for hypothesized harm, in which the State or State-sanctioned actor does not have to prove actual harm or actual cause.  With these laws, proving actual harm is not relevant in the prosecution, and is considered inadmissible and unacceptably wasteful of court and tribunal resources.

Instead, the prosecutor merely needs to argue that there is “likelihood” that unspecified harm has occurred to unspecified “victims”, which is caused via an unspecified mechanism by the accused. Here, the prosecutor can rely entirely on the “judgement” of the court or tribunal, or can bring an “expert” witness to give opinion evidence about the said “likelihood” of harm.

No victim will testify or be cross-examined. No evidence of actual harm, physical or psychological, will be entered. No victim will even be named or identified to the court. There is a total absence of evidence of actual harm caused by the accused person.

The proceedings are separate and distinct from any criminal proceedings of responsibility for actual physical or psychological harm against an actual and identified victim.

What are these laws, you ask? These are the so-called “hate speech” laws, the codes of conduct, and also the common law of defamation.1,2.3  These laws include:

  • “hate speech” provisions of the Criminal Code
  • censorship codes, rules or “guidelines” enforced by social-media corporations
  • censorship rules and practices of employers regarding the personal actions of employees
  • professional-ethics codes or rules regarding personal expression on public media
  • codes of conduct on campuses
  • common law of defamation

In all of these laws — in a total absence of proven actual harm, from mere expression of comment, opinion, thought or belief, excluding criminal harassment, intimidation or threat against any actual and specific person, often made through the filter of a public social-media platform rather than any face-to-face interaction — the punishments range from fines, to unlimited “damage” awards, to workplace or professional-association discipline, to loss of access to education, to loss of employment, to loss of professional certification, to lengthy jail terms or house arrests, and include gag orders or compelled speech enforced by imprisonment.

Such is the status of Canadian law, despite the fact that Canada has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which expressly prohibits all such written or unwritten censorship laws.1,2.

As a result, Canada has spawned a legal landscape not unlike that of past eras having blasphemy laws to prevent the alleged deleterious effects of the most offensive and subversive utterances of the day. This legal landscape vitiates the fundamental right of freedom of expression and incapacitates democracy itself.

The fundamental right of freedom of expression is the right that allows the individual free expression, and the personal agency that derives from free expression, even though the individual is confined by society’s changing and democratically agreed-upon rules.  Free expression is the right to express.  It is essential for personal development and emancipation.  It does not, in itself, confine others, and it is up to the individual to seek and secure receptive listeners. This is the essence of both personal growth and society.

Beyond person growth within the fabric of society, freedom of expression plays a second role that is equally important. Democracy is susceptible to capture by a self-interested elite, and politics must not be solely a contest between dominant-elite special interests. The balancing force against runaway capture, in a democracy, is freedom of expression, together with freedom of association, which permit effective democratic participation, and are the true sources of the often touted “transparency” (whistle blowing) and “accountability” (popular opinion making).

Censorship, including censorship actuated with the pretext of preventing hypothetical harm, does not protect the individual.  It is a lockdown designed to frustrate the essential democratic process of expression, discussion, debate and argument, in an increasingly illegitimate and intolerant system. Its use by politicians in exploiting the oppression Olympiad in their partisan manipulations is unconscionable, as is its use in special-interest propaganda by litigation.

For these reasons, the State must not provide laws that enable an influential elite in-effect to neuter vehement individual expression that has transformative potential. The State must not be allowed to thus erode and suppress individual agency. Instead, it is the duty of the State to protect individual freedom of expression. If democracy cannot be trusted, then there is no democracy.

Relation to recent work

In her 2018 book,3 Nadine Strossen brilliantly reviews the research showing that “hate speech” laws are harmful to society. While this scholarship brings current empirical support for abolishing “hate speech” laws, I don’t find it to be satisfying. We should not be reduced to making policy arguments regarding harm reduction in order to justify preventing the State from suppressing fundamental human freedom, or preventing the State from enabling elite interests and corporations from suppressing the said freedom. If history itself and the study of sociology4 cannot inform us about the necessity to safeguard the fundamental human right of freedom of expression, then we are lost.5

Opposing “hate speech” law is not “free-speech absolutism”

Unfortunately, in the present climate of clamouring to ask the State to limit fundamental personal freedoms “for our own safety”, the arguments become polarized, and many have used the sophistry that the position of opposing the aberrant inherent features of “hate speech” law is equivalent to advocating for “free-speech absolutism.” This is a false equivalency.

If the State were to strike down all “hate speech” laws, limit the codes of conduct to exclude “hate speech”, and strike down the common law of defamation (which presumes falsity, damages and malice), then there would still independently exist: the civil tort of malicious falsehood, the Criminal Code provisions against threats, coercion, intimidation, harassment, and so on; and all the laws against discrimination. The individual would not lose any of these common law, statutory and constitutional protections.

Limiting the State’s power to prosecute victimless speech crimes (presuming harm at large, and presuming causation) does not limit the State’s power to enforce crimes that have proven victims and cause, irrespective of the role of expression in these offences, and does not limit the individual’s means to obtain redress.

  1. Canadian defamation law is noncompliant with international law”, by Denis Rancourt, Ontario Civil Liberties Association report, 1 February 2016.
  2. Towards a Rational Legal Philosophy of Individual Rights”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, 15 November 2016.
  3. HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship”, by Nadine Strossen, Oxford University Press, 2018, ISBN 978-0-19-085912-1.
  4. Self-organization and time-stability of social hierarchies”, by Joseph Hickey and Jörn Davidsen, 29 January 2019, PLoS ONE 14(1): e0211403.
  5. Cause of USA Meltdown and Collapse of Civil Rights”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, 7 September 2017.

Makwirituni erakuni: “I’d like to introduce you to my family”

Juan Garcia helps the family’s youngest, Jacob, 9 months, as he fusses during a recent mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Central Oregon, Madras, where the ecosystem looks like parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua.

He introduces me and my colleague, Susy S. — both of us from Family Independence Initiative, a national non-profit now working in both Lincoln County and Jefferson County to engage families in a large social capital project – to his family and parishioners.

For Juan, who is a former Michoacán resident, family is everything to him. He tells me recently at the Madras Latino Festival that he and his wife Jaquilina are done growing their family.

He smiles proudly when rattling off his brood’s names and ages – Jose, 21, Julianna, 16, Jesse, 15, Juan Junior, 11, Javier, 9, Josefina, 5 and the infant, Jacobo.

Juan is proud that all of them are still at home, part of his philosophy of bearing the fruits of decent living and the proverbial golden rule.

“What I believe we have on earth is this ability to pass on good lessons and instruction to our children who have a chance to make this a better world,” he states as he preps the ground for the second annual Madras Latino Festival before the onslaught of people coming to Sahalee Park.

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Also deeply ingrained in this former undocumented immigrant is his religion, Catholicism, and his tolerance of other peoples. It’s fitting the Latino Festival – the second annual event Juan has had some hand in helping get off the ground with the Latino Community Association – is held at a park whose Chinook name translates to “high heavenly ground.”

Life before El Norte

We talk about his father’s roots in Michoacán – a tall, dark-skinned man who is part of the Purépecha people. The Nahuatl name for the Purépecha was “Michhuàquê” (“those who have fish”), for which the Mexican state of Michoacán was named.  His father was a metallurgy specialist working for a door frame and security bar factory near Zamora.

My father can trace his family tree back to Asia,” Juan, who is 41, states proudly. He is six foot two and very dark skinned, unlike Juan, who picked up many traits from his mother, a woman who traces her family line back to Portugal, Spain and Germany. I am what you call a Mestizo, a mix from my dad’s pure Indian line and my mother’s European side.

That tribe — Purépecha – only numbers in the tens of thousands, but more than 600 years from the present, it was considered a tribe of exceptional warriors,

Out of the hundreds of tribes in Mexico, most think of the Mayans, Aztecs and Toltecs. Well, the Purépecha was in the middle, one of the few non-conquered tribes during that era.

See the source image

For the young Juan and his two sisters, it was rough growing up in that community – the tribe didn’t accept his family because Juan’s mother was white, and the white community didn’t accept them because of the father’s tribal background.

His grandparents on his mother’s side were ranchers and agriculturalists with land and productive fields. For that, this story of a young Juan gets highly dramatic and dangerous.

“My dad ran into a lot of bad people because he was heading up safety and environmental plans,” Juan tells me. His father attempted to keep illegal loggers off tribal land, and for that, he was attacked and insulted by many poachers.

At seven years of age, the young Juan was kidnapped. The people who took him had other children, part of a human trafficking ring.

These criminals believed the Garcia clan was rich because of grandparents who had some land and farming interests three hours away.

Juan recalls many dismembered bodies being found around his community.

As I grew up in that community, I learned there is no difference between the races. We are all the same, all creatures of God.

His father inculcated the reverence for wildlife and nature, always going into the forest protecting the tribal land and cultural trust.

Juan said he escaped his captors with other children in tow.

Leaving Home, Searching for a Sister

I have been lucky to have lived in the Southwest of the USA and the northern parts of Mexico we call La Frontera. I have had many deep relationships with people who have roots in Mexico and Central America, who made the treacherous journey north as undocumented humans. A few of those people were my professors at UT-El Paso when I was a graduate student.

Juan’s journey at age 17 was one of desperation to help his family at home – mom, dad, sister, brothers – who were struggling financially. Another sister had married a man who ended up moving them both to the US. He wanted to find her.

It took more than two weeks to journey from his home state to Tecate in the state of Baja. Because his father left the family on many occasions to seek work far away, there were months on end when the family didn’t know if he was alive or deceased.

It was tough. In my own country I was discriminated against all different ways. So many people think they are superior, Juan recalls. Honestly, when I crossed the border, I didn’t know it was illegal to do so. I was not hurting anyone. I wasn’t trying to harm people or this country.

He recounts being harassed by Mexican federal police and coyotes. In the end, when he crossed the border, he found himself working as a “slave” in Los Angeles for the people that took his money to cross into the United States but exacted punishment for Juan’s lack of funds.

For two months, I was a slave. I worked 16 hours a day just to get a meal. I was in a house and the farthest I was allowed to go was from the building where I was making crafts to the trash can.

All Juan knew was he had a sister in Oregon, but with the help of a fellow traveler he met on the underground trail to the USA, they located his sister in Salem. She basically paid off his ransom, and soon the 17-year-old Juan ended up north, in Portland.

Other stories during that trip north:

• in Sinaloa and Sonora police and federales were going to kill him
• six men surrounded him and were ready to murder him
• Juan defended himself with words
• “You are supposed to be defending and supporting the people . . . you should be ashamed of yourselves.”
• “Throughout Mexico, people are just focused on greed . . . all about money and they don’t think about people.”

From that day forward, his ethos and principles have been galvanized to a simple belief:

What I do I do because I believe I can help change the world. Anyone is in the position to change the world, and we have to pass it on to our neighbors, friends and family.

Making Bucks and Hitting the Books Hard

So, he tells me how important school – education – is to him. The young Juan ended up in Woodburn, Oregon, and he had no idea how to enroll in high school. In Mexico, school costs money, and there are no free lunches, no free supplies.

When I tried to enroll, they asked for so many things. I reached out to a counselor, and told her, ‘All I want to do is go to school so why are you asking me so many questions. I didn’t come here to harm anyone.’

He survived rejection after rejection, but as a minor he ended up with a guardian, the principal, Mrs. Dallas, who Juan is still friends with to this day.

You know, when they asked me at the border if I was an American, of course, I said I was. In our schools in Mexico, they treat the entire continent — north, south, central and Mexico — as one America.

Luckily, he also had an uncle who left the tribe and ended up in Oregon, so Juan was set with two guardian angels, so to speak. He told me he ended up crying with tears of joy when he was told school and lunches were publicly-supported with no cost to students.

Mrs. Dallas challenged Juan to not let her down. “I told her that I didn’t think that was in my dictionary, letting people down.”
Juan has worked since age four or five in Mexico, and this journey was not without risks – he held down three jobs to help pay for the health care costs for one of his medically-compromised-and-fragile sisters in Mexico.

Everything went well, until three months later when I was told my parents did not have the money to pay the medical bills. I left school. I told Mrs. Dallas, ‘I’m sorry, but this is not about me anymore . . . my younger sister needs me.’

He ended up working in a pizzeria, for a nursery and a commercial tree grower. His brother-in-law had lost his job, and Juan’s married sister in Woodburn was also having surgeries for her medical issues.

The hard reality of exploitation hit the young Juan after he dropped out his junior year to support his family. The tree planter hired seasonal workers, mostly Latino migrants. Juan recalls how the boss restricted the amount of water the hard-working laborers could get.

“I told the boss that this is not humane. That he was treating us like criminals. We ended up drinking water from puddles.”

Enter the University of Oregon Ducks

Juan went back to his “guardian teacher” at Woodburn High School, and proposed to re-enroll with only a few weeks left of the school year. It just so happened that a teacher passing by heard the conversation and offered Juan a chance to enroll in an accelerated GED program that was being piloted at U of O.

What seems to be a truism in Juan Garcia’s life is, “good things come to people who wait, or good things come to good people.”

He was on a year waiting list, which Juan was okay with, but soon after applying, an opening popped up. He passed every single test necessary to get in.

Three months later after attending the intense Eugene-based program, he passed the test with a 99.9 percent grade. He also met his future wife there, Jackie, who was also in the program.

Juan loved attending other classes at the university, and he ended up staying after matriculating to assist and tutor those others who were struggling, fellow students from all over, including Idaho, Seattle, Teas, Washington, Oregon and other parts of the US.

He said he came to Madras the first time to ask her hand in marriage from her father. They were married in November 1999, and went back to Woodburn. He ended up interviewing with the Holiday Inn. “I interviewed for a supervisor position, but the general manager laughed, saying I was going to be sweeping and mopping floors. If that’s a reason, that I am Latino, then, well, I told him I was there to work.”

He worked hard to assist co-workers, and soon this Wilsonville Holiday Inn was being managed by Juan, and he was training workers, hiring others, and was offered to move up, out to other states, but he opted to be in Oregon, with his family.

Seven years later, he got an apology from the GM, telling Juan he was wrong to doubt his abilities based on racist perceptions about Latinos.

The problem I had there was I treated co-workers as family. I met their wives and kids. I was hiring people from different cultures – African Americans, Russians, Arabs, Asians.

Mind you, this was not his sole job – he was still working for the pizzeria and for Nike and a taco stand. When the Wilsonville Holiday Inn sold out to another company, Juan was asked to cut 50 employees.

I saw the numbers, the budget. I told the new manager that every single one of the workers is busy the entire shift. Every single one was giving 100 percent. I told them I wasn’t going to fire them.

Nike, Just Do It (unless you are a Latino)

He and Jackie at that point had two children. Juan went into an interview with Nike to get more income for the growing family. He was told that since he was a Latino, he couldn’t be trusted. So they put him in a department nobody liked. Juan thought cleaning restrooms was the bottom rung, but the interviewer laughed and told him the very worse department was receiving.

Juan recalls it was total chaos, and hard heavy lifting work. “I wanted to quit three hours in. But a fellow Latino employee advised him not to: “Juan, people don’t believe in us. You would be giving them an excuse if you quit.”

Even though Juan has worked his entire life, he felt this this place was treating them like animals.

He recalls praying, and remembers all the yelling he did to himself in the receiving department. “I was going crazy, I thought. But I got my own answer: ‘Fix it.’”

He realized that nobody was watching or cared about this department – seven of them: two African Americans, five Latinos, and one Chinese-American.

He asked the team if they could give him a few weeks to try and improve working conditions and turn things around.

That department went from the bottom of the heap to the best at Nike in six months. He was called to different departments to help those respective workplaces fix their inefficiencies and poor workplace productivity and conditions.

He quit Nike, because he wanted to go into the Army, and was still working three other jobs. He told me that he felt he was providing okay, and that his wife reaffirmed that he was a loving father of two children and caring husband. His wife told him, “But Juan, we hardly ever see you.”

Enter Madras, Oregon

The idea was to get closer to his wife’s family and to center in a small rural community from which to grow. The third child, Jesse, was on the way, born March 2006 in Madras.

His bosses understood his drive to be centered around family and wished him good luck after three years at Nike.

Currently, Juan works as systems maintenance technician for TDS Communications, a company out of Madison, Wisconsin that provides communication services like cellular, TV and phone service. This job for Juan Garcia is going on 14 years, and while Juan has a better work-life balance than his earlier years in Oregon, he still has a large service area, sometimes driving 300 to 500 miles in his vehicle in a day servicing customers in three counties.

He was just hired on as a part-time site director for Family Independence Initiative. The Madras Pioneer ran my article on the FII initiative September 11; however, in a nutshell this non-profit is partnered with the state of Oregon to get hundreds of households in both Lincoln and Jefferson counties to enroll in a social capital project.

Juan’s presence in Madras and Metolius is deep, and his commitment to coaching youth and helping youth have options rather than spiraling into drugs and delinquency is huge.

Juan’s job with FII is to recruit families, get them enrolled and assist them with their commitment of 12 months journaling (once a month updates) about their families’ progress and circumstances.

For the exchange of data FII collects, the family will receive a total of $800 for both the time and commitment.

Language is More than Meaning – It’s Culture, History

We talk about how many people over the last few months and years have sort of reacted negatively when seeing the Garcia family of nine out in public. Not ironically, what gives Juan hope is how the “world needs to have hope through the family, through children.”

His biggest fear is losing his family.

We talk about language extinction, and his own tribe’s language, which is called Tarascan or Tarasca.

“Every once in a while, I force my dad to talk to me in our language. But unfortunately, my kids aren’t learning it, and thus on my side, it will die out.”

We get to the basics – love is satichu in the native tongue. I ask him what community is in the language, and like many indigenous languages, the concept of community is expanded: “What brings you here” – natchiwantuterasini abeushaqi.

This proud man ran for mayor of Metolius and lost by one vote. He said it is a dream of his to become governor of Oregon. He is also enrolling at OSU-Bend to carry forth with his college education.

If he was mayor of Madras, Juan said he’d get an activities center building with a climbing wall, indoor soccer, a jumping house and other amenities to give families a place to recreate and bond.

This journey started in 1978, when he was born, and his life pathway, with seven children, in-laws, dozens of friends and neighbors, continues to find new and exciting trials and tribulations.

In 2005, he made the permanent move to Madras with his family, and he also became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

And yet, he easily recalls times when he was a child, high in the mountains in Michoacán, where the kids went out into the forest and gathered natural spoons from the palm trees so they could eat grandmother’s pozole: mashed hominy, with meat (typically pork), and seasoned and garnished with shredded lettuce or cabbage, manzana peppers, onion, garlic, and limes.

Note: for information about joining the Jefferson County FII project, contact Juan Garcia, FII, at, 541-630-2607; gro.iifnull@ofni