Most Recent Posts

demon dogs rising

demon dogs rising

did I tell you that?
did I tell you how they slobber forward through curved snapping fangs?
Demon dogs on the rise and the small little Truth being squished down like tender curling petals in between pavers gray and smooth slanting the morning rain and cool beneath a gray sky.

did I tell you that?

Trump and a functioning democracy

Trump and a functioning democracy

“I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.”

This from White House Secretary Stephanie Grisham, following up Trump’s denial of former White House chief of staff John Kelly’s claim that he told Trump if he surrounded himself with yes-men he’d get himself impeached.

This from the politburo of the USSR. This from the state-run press of North Korea. This right before a well-choreographed flag-spinning ceremony dedicated to our fearless leader and mighty national savior, protector of all we survey and further than even our most majestic and quickest thoughts can reach. This from a place with no functioning democracy. This is not the type of talk that is accepted in non-tyrannies.

Trump’s PoliFact scorecard has 5% True, 10% Mostly True; 14% Half True; 21% Mostly False; 35% False; 15% Pants on Fire.

Compare that to Obama’s: 20% True; 27% Mostly True; 26% Half True; 12% Mostly False; 12% False; 1% Pants on Fire.

Adding up Mostly False through Pants on Fire, Trump = 71%; Obama = 25%

Politicians will spin the facts; that’s why we need fact checkers; but Trump blatantly lies all the time, and allowing that to go unchecked in the highest office of the land is not conducive to a functioning democracy.

This running tally by the ACLU of President Trump’s actions and statements against press freedoms also highlights his anger issues, extreme narcissism, and eagerness to subvert democratic norms in favor of the confusion and chaos-sowing approach favored by petty tyrants.

It all just goes much too far.

And then of course there’s the the Mueller report. David Frum in the Atlantic gives a nice synopsis of the findings:

“A foreign power interfered in the U.S. election to help the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign welcomed the help and repeatedly lied about it. The lying successfully obscured some questions the investigation sought to answer; in the end, it found insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. President Trump, in public and in private, worked to stop the investigation.”

And now a clear and verified attempt to leverage US foreign aid to coerce a foreign country into helping Trump dig up dirt on a political rival.

And of course, there’s his consistent praise of authoritarian leaders.

And while there may be no easy answers to the question of how to control immigration, cruelty at the border harms both our national interests and all our souls.

Is he crazy just like a fox? Does he just not understand what corruption is and why it is harmful? Does he just believe that the ends justify the means? (they don’t: that rabbit hole only takes one deeper and deeper into worse and worse means and more and more confused ends: reference the rise of Lenin and Stalin). Whatever is going on with Trump, accepting it is not something that happens in a functioning democracy.

“So we clearly don’t have a functioning democracy! Like I said all along!” That kind of talk helps the chaos win. And it isn’t fair. We as a nation have not completely caved in to Trump. We’ve pushed back on his rhetoric, his policies, and on his corruption. No human system is perfect. But we have had better moments and we are now duty-bound to move away from this mistake and towards a better government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

This is not a time for either crowing or cynicking. We humans are all bound up in each other and we are all to some degree responsible for everything and everyone. We are all in this together. Without rule of law, chaos reigns, and chaos is not kind. We must therefore work together to push towards a wiser and wiser rule of law. And this basic system of popular elections, balance of powers, anti-corruption safeguards, freedom of speech and press, capitalism tempered with judicious regulation and redistribution: this is workable: this can help us all move together towards more health, wealth, stability, awareness, honesty, clarity, accuracy, competency, kindness, and shared joy. We should work here with what we’ve still got.

The Democratic candidates have been incorporating the existential crisis of democracy at home and abroad in their campaigns. That’s cool. But maybe this election they should take that a step further and pledge that, if elected, they will put some of their more ambitious plans on the shelf for four years so they can focus on bringing us as a nation back into a stable, calmer, more politically coherent and manageable place.

A wealth tax is still probably sensible, since we are like $22 Trillion in debt, our infrastructure is aging, climate change is happening, and, as I pointed out earlier, if done correctly, a wealth tax can be a gentle, fair, and relatively painless correction against overconcentrations of capital and the concomitant power. And environment, education, health care, foreign policy, and gun control all need immediate attention.

But for this first term, why not keep the emphasis on nudging? For example, shore up Obamacare, allow states and municipalities sovereignty over their own gun laws, use a wealth tax and an expansion of the HaHaThat’sWhatYouGetForDying! Tax (that linguistic choice as a brechtian fourth-wall break: as a way to openly confront the sleight of hand when they started calling the “inheritance tax” the “death tax”) to fund green-leaning infrastructure projects and other clear public goods like education and healthcare.

And why not at least a gentle turn towards more fundamentally sensible healthcare? One that prioritized healthy eating and exercise over pills? I can’t even imagine the math for how much incredible much money we’d save if everyone got really into eating real food, instead of all this processed upchuck. But this by the way.

I’m saying to the democratic hopefuls that maybe you should make a curtailed contract with all of America for this first election. In the second one, you can reassess and perhaps chase a more ambitious agenda. But for now be the presidential candidate that we can all get on board with. Don’t promise everything in your first term. Promise a consistent effort to help us move away from the damage that Trump has done to democratic norms, and a gentle push towards a more sustainable and workable government, economy, and political reality. Gentle! Break your website down into “If I’m elected for four years” and “To be considered if, after four years, I think it wise to run again”. That wouldn’t be betraying your vision. It would be noting that part of what needs to happen here is for the political passions to cool while we as a nation get to work on our shared objectives.

Also, could we reach together for our shared spiritual center? Like we talk about in https://www.from-bartleby.com/a-simpler-shared-something-deeperism/ and Duties of a Republics Citizenry [See The Something Deeperism Institute for more on this general worldview that we humans can relate meaningfully to the Truth, just not 1:1/literal/definitive/exclusive.]

Author: Pigeon Wright, professor of wandering around talking to himself
editor: BW/AW
copyright: Andrew M Watson

It is time to start politics

It is time to start politics

It is time perhaps to be begin thinking about politics.
With the 2020 election looming and all.

The first thing that’s popped into my head is the wealth tax.
Yes: a 2% wealth tax on fortunes over $50 million and 3% for $1 billion is fine.
Probably good even.
However, it can’t be done in jumps because that will make people squirrelly, incentivizing both not quite amassing $50 million and pretending you haven’t.
The way to do the wealth tax is to start it at a penny over $10 million in assets per household; make the beginning tax rate very small; and then gradually increase it as the fortune goes up.

Make a number line from $10 million to $1 billion, and put a percentage line from 0% to 3% directly above it. Then you just look at where you are on the fortune number line and look up to the percentage number line to see what percentage you have to pay.
For example, if in a given year your assets stand at $20 million, you will pay 3% * (1/9) = 3%/9 = .33%, which is $20,000,000 * .0033 = $66,000; leaving you with $20,000,000 – $66,000 = $19,934,000
For another example, if in a given year your assets stand at $50 million, you will pay 3% * (4/9) = 4/3% = 1.33%, which comes to $50,000,000 * .0133 = $665,000; leaving you with $50,000,000 – $665,000 = $49,335,000
And finally, supposing you managed to hold onto one billion dollars at the end of a given tax year, you’d pay 3% * (9/9) = 3%, which would be $1,000,000,000 * .03 = $30,000,000; bringing you way down to $970,000,000
This is not going to deincentivize getting rich.
And it is a fairer way to redistribute wealth than raising the income tax because in some businesses and lives, you have the occasional bonanza and need to be able to use that money to stay afloat for the dry years.

A wealth tax of this nature would be a gentle and fair corrective against the overaccumulation of capital, which is dangerous because money is power.

And we’re $22 Trillion in debt with an aging infrastructure and a climate crisis that seems to be leaving the looming stage and is now before our eyes weaving a worrisome future.

What about reinventing the economic wheel?
Should we outlaw fracking?
Ban coal?
Make college free?
Put the nation under a single payer plan?

Hmmm, not right now, at any rate.
You presidential hopefuls should talk about where we are and where we can reasonably hope to get to without risking political chaos, which only makes things worse.
And think about the nature of economies: they are hard to steer; they should not be steered, because they cannot be steered reliably.
And though getting deeply into debt for college is onerous, it doesn’t follow that absolutely no financial sacrifice should ever be made by the student towards this expensive collective undertaking.

Rather than banning imperfections, we should nudge the markets with judicious use of regulations and redistributions.
We can incentivize cleaner fuels with a carbon tax, and perhaps a further tax could be placed on fracking. Environmental taxes keeps the free market in charge but help the free market account for the kinds of externalities (costs to our shared resources [note that a democracy is a shared resource]) that the free market often does not on its own adequately consider. And the taxes can be put directly towards righting the wrongs of the polluters (environmental clean-up, greener infrastructure, etc). Rather than banning, we can nudge. Renewables are already competitive. We don’t have to lurch about in the economy outlawing carbon; by preventing established energy industries from gaming the system and taxing externalities we can gently guide ourselves into an exciting green economy, which will be so fun and profitable that, in the absence of excessive corruption, it will succeed on its own merits. Research and infrastructure spending that encourage greener power grids, transportation, waste processing and etc would also help — and money will be spent on energy infrastructure in any case; we should lean green.

This election the Democrats should focus on the basics: fight against dishonesty and confusion-spreading, which undermines democracy; fight against lobbyist-attached campaign money, which undermines democracy; fight against corruption in government, which undermines democracy; fight for education environment and healthcare, which strengthen democracy and its citizens; and redistribute wealth gently so that the rich don’t run away or quit trying to build interesting new businesses, but they do have less ability to buy political campaigns and thinktanks and otherwise exert an oversized influence on our democracy, and we as a collective can find a way out of our current unwieldy $22 trillion debt while also fixing bridges, paying for education, getting all kids access to safe living environments and quality education, etc.

We also need to focus on judges with non-fundamentalist readings of the Constitution, particularly the First and Second Amendment. But that’s for another post.

This year the Democrats should focus on working to improve the health of our shared democracy. It is a worthwhile goal and a sound political platform in a time when the other side has taken to so blatantly ignoring democratic norms and the institutions and processes upon which a democratic nation depends for its structural integrity and the concomitant health and happiness of the whole and its parts.

There’s no need to get it all figured out. And we humans can’t figure it all out. There’s no need to change everything in this election. It is wiser to make this election about a step away from the abyss and towards a healthier, happier, more thoughtful future.

Last Minute Wealth Tax Revision:
Or maybe a 0 to 4% number line next to a $10 million to $2 billion fortune line.
Then at $20 million, you’re rate would be way down at 4% * (1/19) = .21%, and you’d pay $20,000,000 * .0021 = $42,000 and keep $19,958,000
I think that number line pairing is better than the 3% & $1 billion line. It shifts the focus higher. We don’t want to make making money painful; we just want to push back on dangerously uneven capital distribution.

Author: Pigeon Wright, professor of wandering around talking to himself
editor: BW/AW
copyright: Andrew M Watson

Supposing it were True

Supposing it were True

Supposing we chose to accept the general worldview that there is a Light shining through each conscious moment and we can and should organize our ideas and feelings meaningfully (though of course not perfectly) around It, allowing It to organize or ideas and feelings more and more meaningfully around Itself, so that It flows more and more directly through us out into the world.

Supposing that were the case.

What then?

There is a wounded child within, crumpled up upon himself.

There is a frailness all through, meek and afraid.

Loving Kindness practice is pushing out from within. It is standing up straight and tall within yourself and opening your chest, abdomen, sex, all of you. It asking the Light in at the shoulders, along the sternum, the belly button, the sex; asking the Light in all through. And pushing out from within, beaming the Light everywhere. It is seeing the inside and outside, the whole shape of other people, and willing the Light within them to explode through all the boundaries, as It does yours.

Loving Kindness practice is asking the God of your understanding to lift everyone up, to make us all well and allow us all to see ourselves and one another as we really are: thin clothes draped over the brightest most mirthfully giggling all-uplifting Light.

Now Bartleby Willard, mortally wounded in the Battle against Loneliness, trips down beneath the waves. He won’t die. He can shape shift at will. He’ll turn a great blue whale with a million tons of blood to slowly bleed and a rubbery blubbery six-feet-thick skin to slowly heal. He won’t die; daydreams can’t die, though sometimes they settle to the bottom of a wide soft sandy ocean floor, themselves turning powdery, themselves turning to sediment, themselves becoming a millimeter of dust spread out for a thousand miles in every direction thousands of feet down, with cold heavy waters pressing down upon, with the gods splash-bouncing up on the surface in the form of dragon-scaled porpoises. Ah well, ah well, ah well.

Author: BW
Editor and confidant: AW
Copyright holder and innocent bystander: AMW

On being told to butt out

On being told to butt out

OK, I will leave this up to you
Don’t forget that God helps those who help themselves
The Fates, while infinitely competent, are also infinitely indifferent. Sitting around counting on them is a bad bet. They will of course manage everything, but that’s not necessarily good news for any given mortal.

Amble Whistletown with Bartleby Willard

Copyright of course AMW

A Something Deeperist Reads a Creation Science Textbook

A Something Deeperist Reads a Creation Science Textbook

This book presents a solemn riddle to all us dogmatists.
How many times have I proven the superiority of Something Deeperism over all other general worldviews?
And yet, where there is a will to believe, there is a way to believe.
So how do I know that — The God Forbid! — that I myself am not … ah, but it can’t it just can’t

I won’t have skeptics and whatever!ers consider this a vindication.
Just because you don’t admit and/or consider your worldview does not mean you don’t deep down where it most counts desperate-dog clutch your worldview, whimpering to yourself how right and how deserving you are of pats on the head, chewy treats, and walks rich in rival odors.

Anyway, I’ve on numerous occasions conclusively demonstrated that everyone, no matter their (generally poor and ill-considered) self-understanding, is actually a Something Deeperist.

So, lesson learned.

AND WHAT, DEAR SOMETHING DEEPERIST, IS THE LESSON THAT YOU’VE LEARNED?

Yeah, well, and I love to fly airplanes made of balsa wood and powered by twisted rubber bands.

Author: BW
Editor: AW
Copyright: AMW

We built this city on rock n roll

We built this city on rock n roll

I was a little kid
Maybe seven
On my parent’s bed
listening to their wood-themed clock radio
This song comes on
Never heard it before
Can’t believe it!
Put the radio on the bed to be closer to it

We built a city on Rock n Roll?
How?
On what?
Music?
Rhythm?
Hope?
Fun?
Ideas?
Ideas about what?
Thought?
Moving thought?
Dancing around?
Being young and free?

Big hair and bright loose fitting clothes?
Positive synths?
Constrained, profitable, but not profit-centered rebellions?

Some kind of driving ideas
Some kind of an organization of thought and attitude
Out of this we’ve built a place to live
an economy
a way of being together

Looking for America?
What’s that supposed to be?
A place with enough for everyone and some left over?
An explosion of fun creative helpful activity?
A magical ever-expanding order?

But there’s a problem with America?
Involving money?

But everything will be OK
because we built this city
we built this city
on rock n roll

We built this city on everybody having a good time together
We built this city on everyone enjoying one another
That’s why it’s gonna work

Oh
please
please let us
reverse engineer this city
so that it be built of pure rock n roll
that it be built of pure, silly, let’s do this! friendship

Oh
please
please let this work
let us work
all of us
let us work together
and let us all together work as people
stripped of all our parades
and buttons
and the tinsel stuck in our hair
after the dance
where we were so pale and red cheeked in the winter night
where we were so alone and unready
where we were not yet our fullest selves
where we were just the clapping in the sky
the darkness of the walk home
from the dance
sweaty in our nice jeans
when that idiot flicked a match at the passing car
and big kids came out en angry (not really probably) masse
and we had to scatter with raised heart rates

I hid behind a pile of logs
I think that’s safe to now disclose
that danger seems to have passed

AW/BW

copyright 9/21/2019 by AM Watson

Info age sins

Info age sins

A full day of work
Working late so you can take a day off
All the pieces for a moment gathered up in your tired fingers — like maybe you’ve got a handle on things.
The guy shoving a clipboard into your face tells you you’re a loser when you subway walls glaring yellow. Shake your head no; you slip down the cement steps through the dripping-ceiling labyrinth while he yells, “look at yourself in the mirror! look at yourself in the mirror! look at yourself in the mirror!”

You think
you think you’ll text chat your internet provider and get a lower rate
you don’t
you are kind of rude not so funny as you jab
to some poor kid who’s only following the stupid orders that allow him a space to sleep and a few crumbs to chew.
So then you’re a jerk
but you don’t quite catch on until it is too late
and your heart rate’s gotten so high over nothing
and the sins of your life concentrate into this one sticky spot and congeal there like pig fat
and you don’t know how to deal

Tiffany in the mall
with some skinny guys in tank tops arms wide beetle-backed narrowed eyes and fish-mouths forward, holding back a merry tame crowd

Epicurus suggesting that the gods are too blessed and eternal to bother with us but we still of course want to pay them meet adoration,
And we’ll still not betray a friend because that would confound our whole being.
When you’re 20 you think that’s all kind of weak
When you’re 40 you think that you were at 20 not noticing yourself or anyone else.
When you’ve become 42 you think there’s only one hope: that God forgives and uplifts us all sooner rather than later.

AW/BW

copyright AM Watson September 21, 2019