Shooting for Self-Defense

Wow. So if I brought a long rifle into your neighborhood and start aiming it at people on the street and you tried to disarm me, I can shoot you dead and call it self-defense? And if your friend hits me in the head with a skateboard and I kill him too, that is self-defense? And after I shoot you, if your neighbor draws a hand-gun on me, I can shoot him too and call it self-defense?

Who is the initiator here? Did anybody shoot at me before I began the killing?

Leave it to the police, who wear obvious and recognized insignia of authority. Otherwise, you’re just a loose cannon rolling around on the streets.

Taxing, or Just Plain Tedious?

Do you know how Elon Musk made SpaceX fly? By leveraging design concepts developed under government funding. How about Jeff Bezos and his billions? All resting on the foundation of an illegitimate patent on “One Click Shopping,” granted and enforced by the US government.

The infrastructure of our economy was paid for by the middle class. We paid and continue to pay our taxes. Come down to Earth, grow up, and pay yours.

Big Tech, Big Paranoia

As Congress considers regulation of Big Tech, they fail to appreciate the competitive environment that drives the behavior of these companies. I step outside of the box and offer a suggestion.

This is in response to an article about Facebook on CNN.


What is missed here is the degree of paranoia in big tech. All of these companies understand how fragile their control is. All (Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.) are trying to acquire and monetize personal data. This means that they must aggressively pursue every opportunity before them, and attempt to capture attention by their users.

Consider, then, Facebook’s position: Apple and Google collect information through their mobile devices. Facebook has no such platform, which is why Zuckerberg is so aggressively promoting the “Metaverse” concept.

The only way to cool this kind of competition is with regulation. One way to do this is to separate data collection and analytics from the platforms. This is what eventually led to AT&T’s surrender of its monopoly: they established a universal billing system that allowed everyone to connect to everyone else, and then handed the development of the physical infrastructure over to others.


We should also understand, however, that it is not just the social media platforms that we should regulate. Credit rating agencies have similar practices as regards monetization of personal data.

I would recommend that Congress establish regulations regarding data exchange, interoperability, and privacy, then step out of the way and force the corporations to establish the necessary infrastructure. The right enforcement mechanism is to allow consumers to pursue class-action lawsuits when their data is misused.

Notice, however, that a universal data store provides opportunities for new services. You may not want outsiders to analyze your personal history, but that information can be invaluable to counselors that are trusted to act in our interest.

Garbage Collection is Punishment Enough

How many times a year do you stop to admire your garbage collector? It’s a thankless job, with little or no respect. But if they weren’t there to haul away out excess, how long would it before before the garbage crowded into the photos of our remodeled bathrooms and manicured lawns?

This is the functional equivalent of the GoPs political strategy, copied from the Slavic iron-men who inherited the rump of the Iron Curtain. Create a mess, then build disdainful messaging about those that dare to try to clean it up. The most egregious case was in Ukraine, were a crusading president was blackballed and eventually jailed for associating with those who had promised to turn state’s evidence in corruption cases.

This was the playbook in the Obama presidency, where many blue-collar workers turned to the Tea Party wing of the GoP when Obama didn’t jail Wall Street executives after the 2008 meltdown created by the Bush Administration. It was furthered by Trump’s “Birtherism” crusade. It is occurring now with the investigations of Donald Trump.

Look: the GoP grandees know that Trump was crazy corrupt. It’s just that if they lose the MAGA base, they will never be able to obtain a majority in any chamber of government in the country – gerrymandering or no gerrymandering. So that are sucking it up and refusing to deny Trump’s lies, waiting for the Biden administration to bring charges and usher POTUS 45 off to a federal lockup. They will then spin outrage and myths around the corrupt handling of the case, cementing their control on the MAGA base.

For this reason, I was happy to hear that the Southern District of New York is investigation Oleg Deripaska, the Russian aluminum magnate who promised to build a smelting plant in Kentucky. The only way to take down the stinking trash heap which is the Republican Party leadership is to take out Mitch McConnell. The Senate leader of the GoP caucus uses his control of party money to maintain iron control over his peers, which has turned the “Worlds Greatest Deliberative Body” into a legislative traffic jam. A sizeable portion of that money was funneled into the 2016 election cycle (up to $50 million, by some accounts) from Vladimir Putin’s inner circle through the National Rifle Association. If that can be traced and detailed, we might have enough to put McConnell career in a noose.

Walking in Revelation

So after working through all the philosophical issue here at everdeepening.com and the theological issues at love-returns.org, I have gotten to a place where I am ready to meet people where they are regarding the Book of Revelation. The forum is a Zoom meeting on Wednesday night that is accessible through my “The Soul Comes First” Facebook page. To any of those that have followed my journey here, this is the start of a new stage. I’d be happy to see you there.

SCOTUS Reform

The Supreme Court is producing a large number of unsigned decisions on its “shadow docket” – largely on partisan lines. The Roberts court has chosen to focus public hearings on cases with a clear basis in law that produce unanimous decisions, while the conservatives decide controversial cases in forums that do not require them to produce a judicial opinion.

This is frustrating to those of us that believe the court should safeguard the rights of individual citizens, rather than represent the interests of moneyed elites. However, it also provides a clear rationale for restructuring the court.

The frequency of resort to the shadow docket is evidence that the SCOTUS is overburdened. It should be divided into two nine-justice panels: one court for decisions concerned with commerce and another concerned with personal liberty. The existing slate of justices can choose their bench, and new justices elevated with an 18-year term (with the initial terms staggered according to seniority). Cases that cross over the jurisdictional boundary will be heard in a special joint session.

The Manchin Candidate

West Virginia is a state unlike any other. Largely beholden to the coal, tobacco, and chemicals industries, when DuPont was discovered fouling public waters with PFAs (an “immortal” mutagen), the State environmental agency responded by increasing exposure limits. The current governor (Jim Justice) is a “chip off the old Trump” whose billion-dollar wealth is defrayed by $700 million in personally-guaranteed loans and hundreds of millions in estimated coal-field restoration costs.

For years, I have watched with frustration as pundits look at conservative politics and descry the major policy threads of ethno-nationalism, abortion, and trickle-down economics. These are all smoke screens. The animating issue of conservative politics is the proposition that the free market is the only valid forum for negotiating the distribution of power. Democracy is a mechanism that blunts the exercise of their profit motives, and global corporations, organizing through the world-wide-web, have run an organized campaign to undermine democratic processes.

In countries such as Russia and China, that was simplified because democracy was never firmly established. These states operate as kleptocracies, changing rules to allow those closest to the head of state to seize economic sectors as state-sanctioned monopolies. Facing the pressure of monopolistic competition, the response among Western corporations has been to finance movements that narrowly align governmental and corporation objectives.

So don’t fool yourself that Joe Manchin, the senior Democratic senator from West Virginia, really believes that the filibuster is a tool for ensuring bipartisan compromise. That is a smoke screen. Representing a state so deeply corrupted by corporate interests, he is almost certainly constrained by other considerations. Not least being protecting the wealth of men, such as Jim Justice, who (as did Donald Trump) seek office principally to exercise the powers of government to shield their wealth from taxation and contractual obligations.

The only effective response to global corporatism is the same one that eventually reined in inter-state corporatism: creating regulations that span the domain of their activism. This was accomplished through federal regulation in the first half of the twentieth century, but the corresponding global framework has been propagandized against since before Ronald Reagan (the old “UN Black Helicopters” and “One World Government” canards). It is time for liberal pundits to open their eyes and recognize that this problem cannot be solved one state at a time. The EU has led the way in building multi-national business frameworks, and protecting their market from exploitation by kleptocratic powers. The US should take a serious look at participating.

Terminal Dream

Asking for prayers and positive intentions from my network of friends. COVID has caught me in a financial vise. I went full-time as a hypnotherapist in 2019, investing heavily in marketing that did not generate revenues. I made a push in the retirement communities, and then COVID hit, sending my business development into a tail-spin.

I have been unable to get the IRS to accept my 2019 return, held up on technicalities. This means that I have been frozen out of COVID relief, as my 2018 income was nearly $130,000. Conversely, because my income actual was low in 2019, I am also unable to claim PPP relief.

I made it through the end of 2020 doing Census enumeration work. I have considered COVID contact tracing, but in Southern California that requires Spanish.

Fortunately, I continue to have beautiful dreams. Last night, I was homeless on the beach or in a forest, and shifted from fear into visualizations of all the gifts I have received in this life, projecting those that have shared them with me into the eternal realm of love. An ancient will called me forward to walk in the wilderness. I came upon a great tree that continued to stretch heavenward as I tried to see the limits of its branches, until finally they touched the sun.

This is a vision that I shared with some starting a decade ago, that the biosphere heals when we teach the simpler forms of life to be conscious of the loving embrace of the source of all life, and intelligent in focusing it for good.

Blessings to you all.

RobinHood to the Rescue?

The Game Stop trading scam has brought public attention to the destabilizing relationship between hedge funds and the underlying stocks. Briefly, a hedge trade is a pair of transactions with a specified closing date. The investor can either buy or sell at the current price, and benefits respectively if the price is up or down (respectively) at the future date.

In theory, this is intended to allow corporations to mitigate against price rises in commodities such as grain or steel. They promise to buy the commodity at a price higher than the current market value, but are protected if the price rises beyond that point. That risk is borne by traders who get a guaranteed profit if the price remains stable. In this scenario, hedge funds are a kind of insurance.

The extension of hedge funds to stocks has no inherent economic utility. Such traders are akin to gamblers on sporting events. The possibility for manipulation arises when market-makers are also hedge traders. When a market maker announces a forecast, they reorganize their portfolios to match, in effect making the forecast come true. When hedge traders get involved, the effect of the forecast is amplified. It is exactly this process that caused the 2008 mortgage melt-down.

The solution is already known to us. This was the same phenomenon that almost destroyed the Euro market. Short-sellers were betting against the Italian, Spanish, and Greek currencies. Because the Euro zone required each government to keep its currency in a trading band, they were forced to shore it up, borrowing money that caused the currency to continue to soften. The manipulation stopped when the German government stepped in tactically to shore up the Greek currency, reversing the short-sellers’ positions and wiping them out.

In American investment markets, this was the role meant to be played by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – which bought up one of the more sophisticated electronic trading companies during the Obama Administration. Lacking that governance, the RobinHood investors are playing that role. Unfortunately, many of those who piled on are not sophisticated enough to monitor the contracts placed by short-sellers. They will get stuck holding the bag when the price softens.

Trump’s Grand Slam

With Biden safely ensconced in the Oval Office, the most vocal concern of the political classes is redirect the passions of the dispossessed electorate that Trump seized from the GoP in 2016. This is not principally a political concern, as factors have aligned to undermine the Republican strategy of minority rule. Trump did not certify the census, and with control of the both houses of Congress and the White House, Democrats can act rapidly to impose standards on election and apportionment procedures in the States. Power will tip to the Democratic Party, and the Republicans will confront the necessity of re-inventing themselves.

What are the forces that will define that re-branding? Politically, we focus on the ethno-nationalist minority of the party. As forgotten citizens, they – like seniors – have both motivation and time to organize politically, which brings them disproportionate power in the primary process. But they do not share the motivations that seal the loyalty of most Republican voters. For most Republican voters, the principal drivers are financial entitlement and resistance to reproductive self-determination. The latter is going to be resistant to reform, but the former is far more dangerous. They have money.

While most retrospectives on Trump’s presidency focus on his abusive manipulation of his adoring codependents, I think that we need to remember why Trump sought power in the first place. Trump’s twisted amplification of ethno-nationalism was almost a parody, but he was born into financial entitlement. That concerns provides a fairly coherent explanation for his policies while in office.

Remember that Trump did not enter the race intending to win. He wanted to build his brand. What was the nature of that brand? Trump leases his name to real estate developers around the world. Unfortunately, the brand was not compelling. Investigations of his business dealings in the Arab world showed that they were largely money laundering operations for organizations such as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. This was also true of many of the investments made by Russians in the US property market.

But it was the only game he had. Remember his nominating convention, with “TRUMP” in 90,000 point font over the stage. This was not vanity. It was a branding.

Trump’s Administration was full of people like him. Mnuchin, Tillerson, Zinke, DeVos, and Ross were all of this mold. Others, such as Ben Carson, played the sport of presidential politics largely for the speaker’s fees. Among them were those who had come under scrutiny by the Obama Administration for consumer fraud or violation of foreign trade restrictions (Tillerson in Russia).

Trump and Tillerson were unique, however, in the global scope of their entanglements. The State Department hosted investigators sent out to scrutinize their activities, and attracted nationals seeking to curry favor by reporting on a man who had made himself Obama’s enemy. At home, the Department of Justice was the principal danger, with numerous investigations in Federal Districts underway. Treasury, auditing Trump’s tax returns, was another threat. All of these institutions were eviscerated or suborned for corruption.

And finally, there was the rest of corporate America, who considered Trump a buffoon. What we saw in Trump’s Administration was lifted directly from Vladimir Putin’s playbook in the aftermath of Boris Yeltsin’s abdication. Yeltsin was abused by the post-Soviet oligarchs, but Putin used his control over the levers of justice to slowly strangle them, eventually becoming de facto owner of Russia. This was Trump’s aim as well.

He almost succeeded. The financial markets soared, and the Wall Street Journal joined FOX News in giving Trump credit. What the market manipulators didn’t count on, though, was the method seized upon by Putin. There is no honor among thieves, and behind every wealthy man are ten underlings that would be happy to take his place. Trump cultivated them, and was perfectly satisfied that the Senate refused to take action on his appointees to vacant Cabinet positions. As for those beyond his reach: Trump’s attack on Jeff Bezos was a fascinating set-piece of global character assassination, and I assume that his Saudi Arabian allies participated with the aim of securing the arms they needed for their war in Yemen.

I am working on a craft project that will eventually manifest as a “Memorial to the Abuse of Privilege.” The foundation evokes the 400,000 COVID deaths in the last year of Trump’s term. The narrowness of the Biden victory should give us pause. It was not superior campaigning or a compelling vision of the future that propelled Biden to victory. Trump’s botched COVID response carried heavy financial consequences. The Lincoln Project sprang up to lead the opposition to his second term. I believe that without COVID, Trump would still be president, and American democracy would have died.

But talk to a Trump voter and QAnon conspiracist and you might be shocked. They want to go back to work because if we don’t, small business will die in America. They are not classically ethno-nationalist; they believe that the aggrieved ethnic and racial minorities have forgotten indentured servitude and corporate towns and the labor abuses of industrialization and violent suppression of unions and fighting in foreign wars and the deflationary gold standard and corporate welfare and globalization and think “Well, if you deserve restitution and opportunities, what about us?”

In other words, they recognize that the enemy are those that abuse privilege. They bet on Obama, and felt betrayed by his lax treatment of Wall Street raiders in 2009. If the Democrats choose to expose and fight global corruption, they’d win them back, and the Republican Party would have to drag its libertarian corporate pay masters back into a sustainable social contract.