Confluences

I have been struggling with MYSTERY this month. I am at the end of my financial rope, and will be unable to pay my bills in January. I had a plan for contracting work, but the field was buffeted by lawsuits in 2019, and the job posting have disappeared.. So I must admit to being in panic mode.

My intimates fail to recognize the complexity and durability of the forces that constrain me, instead treating me like I am a stubborn child who is afraid of women. Conversely, I look at them and say “You know, everything you have – down to your very lives – you have only because of my alignment with the spirit that called them into being. If you force me off the face of the planet, BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN.”

Having run up credit card debt, I am out nearly $5000 per annum in interest payments, which I cannot cover. Once the credit cards are frozen, I am out of luck.

This is leading me to sidestep MYSTERY. There are other pathways to lunar energy, and I have decided to tap into them before disaster befalls me in January.

There is a tree named Luna in Humboldt County that I got involved with in 1985 or so. The history is a little disjointed, but Pacific Northwest Lumber, practitioner of sustainable logging, was devoured by a Texan resource stripper name Maxxam. Maxxam set out to clear-cut PNLs holdings in twenty years. The response by the eco-warriors was a campaign of tree-sitting and spiking to slow down the harvesting.

Luna was the 1000-year-old matriarch of a stand that was targeted for clear-cutting. In 1997, Julia Butterfly Hill spent two years on the tree, until PNL agreed to leave Luna standing. A year later, a poacher attacked Luna overnight, cutting a three-foot-deep scar half-way around her circumference. Tree doctors and PNL rallied to her aid, installed a steel collar.

In considering a trip to Humboldt, I had a dream that Luna was dying, and I resolved to visit her to do what I could to strengthen her spirit. Today, as I was out walking and trying to figure out how to keep myself going until the pandemic ends, I realized that she was a living expression of yin/yang balance.

I will be heading up overnight on the 20th. The solstice, of course, is the 21st. The waxing half-moon – another metaphor for yin/yang balance will – be in the sky.

All through the month of January, Jupiter and Saturn will be close enough in the sky to be seen simultaneously through most telescopes. This brings back another memory: ten or so years ago, sitting on the couch in my empty apartment, I had the sense of a man entering my mind. He hunted around until he found Jupiter (head of the Greco/Roman pantheon) and then Saturn (head of the preceding pantheon of Titans). Seeking to subdue them, he pushed them together until they joined, and then began laughing maniacally. One of many such “WTF” moments over the last twenty years.

As well as visiting Luna, I hope to find a broad stump to dance on for a couple of hours. I will run some Christmas music on my sport phones and let it rip.

My WordPress subscription for the site will renew sometime over the next month. I guess that the site will roll over to a free format if I fail the payment. I have done the best I can.

Today I spent ninety minutes with Rob Bell, one of his “So I Have Something to Say” coaching sessions. I won’t go in to details. He told me that when COVID is over, people will be ready to hear what I have to say.

You know, that is the only meaningful encouragement I have received in twenty years.

Maybe I should figure out how to hang on until then.

Beaten from the Inside Out

In Revelation 11, Christ hands John the little scroll, humanity’s portion of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, with the words “It will be sweet in your mouth, but make your stomach bitter.”

This is how sin defeats us. It adorns itself in pleasant expectations, then eats us from the inside out.

Having surrendered myself in the service of love, I expect nothing. But every now and then Sin sends an emissary in human form. I extend my compassion, and it gains a toehold.

When the blasted waste of my father’s brilliance was evident in the collapse of the company founded by my brother, the investor that consumed it sought to turn me to the realization of his dreams. The setting was an insurance information systems conference in Reno. He invited me out to dinner, sharing that his years in the open-cry pit of the NYSE had oriented him to an experience of personal energy that he wanted to share with people through online gambling. Confident in my capacity to create value, I redirected the conversation. As we walked back to the elevators, he offered to stake me at the blackjack tables, saying that he wanted me to know the feeling that comes with winning.

I demurred, and headed back up to my room. That night, I had terrible cramping in my gut, and voided everything that I had eaten. Headaches followed, and I tossed in my bed, unable to sleep. As is my habit, I asked “Where is this coming from?” Absorbing the casino with my mind, I perceived a blue field of energy that was trying to consume me. Returning to the bathroom, a woman’s voice advised, “Let your body do its work.” Squeezing the last contents out of my stomach, the demon was purged.

Recognizing the power of the thoughts carried in my prefrontal cortex, the resistance attacks me through my sinuses. When I become dispirited, I do not maintain my schedule of sinus rinses. My upper sinuses become blocked and the bacteria turn septic.

This was my condition on Thanksgiving. I woke with a headache early in the morning and began the unpleasant drainage, starting with an essential oil rinse. The septic fluid upsets my gut, and violent purges are expected.

But this occasion was worse. A deep part of me was committed to full expulsion. The vomiting continued until only a few tablespoon of yellow paste were produced. Below the appendix, powerful spasms in the colon and abdomen forced everything toward the rectum.

And the images, in this case? Entering through virtuous intentions of our forefathers, having occupied the institutions we inherited: Mnuchin, the profiteer of suffering; Trump, the catalyst of chaos; and Miller, the tormentor of the weak.

You are beaten, boys. Time for you to go.

No End in Sight

If you are holding out hope for a permanent COVID-19 vaccine, please read this. We already know that the body does not develop permanent resistance to coronavirus. This means that we will need to get a vaccination every nine months or so. Unless something innovative happens in vaccine development, “herd immunity” will never develop, and our social adaptations may last for years.

Therapeutics also require some major advancements. Remdesivir, the highly touted antiviral, has not been shown effective in reducing mortality – it only reduces hospital stays for those that will recover. Some effective therapeutics require a drip feed – they cannot be administered by injection.

Box Score: Money 2, Value 1

Coming of age in the Reagan era, I failed to understand what I was witnessing. America abandoned manufacturing for services and ended up in a time warp.

As a corporate-level software consultant, my father Karl saw elements of this up close. Invited as a fellow traveler by the president of Wiley & Sons (the journal publisher), Karl sat in on the annual shareholder meeting. A careful investment plan charted growth in assets and employment. During the discussion, the CFO queried, “And what is the annualized rate of return on your plan?” With the follow-on to the response, “I can take that same money and make three times as much in the stock market.”

In that era, the stock market still reflected an investment in other people’s ingenuity. This year, as we approached the election, one Trumpie threatened, “Well, if Biden wins, you can be sure the stock market is going to tank!” The inescapable corollary is that the stock market is no longer an economic bell-weather but an instrument of political influence.

That influence is maintained through the ties between the Federal Reserve and the large banks. We are in the mind-numbing reality that the people that take care of our money no longer profit from making it grow, they profit by making it move. That may seem impossible, but the volume of real estate, trade, and government debt is so enormous that simply the placement fees run into the tens of billions of dollars annually.

The bind for the public is that the money center banks hold no interest in seeing the debt reduced. In fact, the Dow weathered recent financial crises because the Federal Reserve issued borrowing authority that the banks loaned to corporations to buy back stock. The value of stock is now linked to corporate debt.

And in the chaos only the financial system has a guaranteed benefit.

Was this intentional? Hardly, but it was inevitable. This is trumpeted by the liberal economists, but they misdiagnose the problem. I hope with this post to steer them in the right direction.

The liberal economists blame “capitalism.” Capitalism, coined by Adam Smith, is a recent innovation, seeing an effective implementation only in the industrialization of the Western world in the late 1800’s. Capitalism was actually a liberalizing social contract. It held that money and labor could collaborate to improve productivity. Higher productivity meant more money for investors and lower costs for labor. It was a win-win scenario.

Capitalism disproved the precepts of Malthus, who held that population growth would always overwhelm the benefits of productivity gains. In part, however, Malthus was proven right because political power was held by the moneyed noble class. Market control was awarded by royal writ, and once secured ensured resistance to innovation that might lead to diversification of supply. Stability of prices was also important to the nobility and their retinues, often sustained by stipends.

The crack in this hermetic system was warfare, and it was to finance their conflicts that the nobility turned to the banking system, leading to the coupling of political and financial interests that suppressed the development of liberal societies.

So the “Box Score” reads as it is because capitalism is now revealed as a brief interlude in the narrow marriage of politics and finance. It was an interlude during which finance married itself to the production of value and the growth of liberal societies.

Regardless of the outcome, the 2020 election proves at least one thing: that Donald Trump is a symptom, rather than a cause. The disease that created him is a return to the festering myopia of political and financial calculations freed from a concern for value or sustainability. Trump is used as a tool by that system to distract attention from the wizards behind the curtain. He is a live facsimile of the special effects in the Wizard of Oz.

How does this manifest in practical terms? Consider real estate. I was told recently that I had to get in the market, because prices would only go up. Looking over the finance package, I noted with surprise that is allocated 50% of my income to real estate costs, rather than the 30% typical of my youth. So the reason that real estate prices are going up is because the Federal Reserve, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is issuing loans that allocate more of our income to the payment of interest. The increase in home prices has nothing to do with value – it follows from a systematic manipulation of political and financial levers to ensure that we are indebted.

But the fault is not with capitalism. Capitalism was a God-send. The fault is with something I would call “monetarism” – the pursuit of wealth in the absence of any concern for value.

The economic historian should recognize this plague. What should give pause to the rest of us is the proof, in the results of the 2020 election, that the disease is worse that an out-of-control pandemic that has the potential to kill millions of Americans.

I hope that our democracy survives while our liberalizing politicians adapt to that lesson.

Demagoguery and Socialism

PAINFUL conversation outside the coffee shop today.

“Socialism” as a political philosophy holds governments should be judged not by ideology but according to how their policies affect the people they are responsible for serving.

While you can argue that Democratic candidates, in focusing on COVID, are “socialist” in their analysis of the Trump Administration, they have not addressed the core issue. The universal criteria for political rhetoric is “who is the speaker trying to love?” Any rhetoric that starts with “I” is immediately discounted, for the candidate can not love every voter. All a candidate can do is promise that government will be held accountable to the people. That requires measuring what is happening, and sharing that information with the public. This requirement transcends COVID and encompasses every aspect of Executive Branch operation. Absolute and full transparency is the minimum, and a standard that the current Administration has failed at every turn.

The seduction of the conservative agenda is based upon a false interpretation of the American Golden Age that followed WWII. The narrative is false because the singular factor that propelled American wealth was the destruction of every other industrialized economy during WWII. That circumstance cannot and will not ever recur. Policies must be evaluated, therefore, according to their effects today.

We need to stop divorcing ourselves from reality. While that might seem to begin with investigation of the lived experience of the America people, we have a further precondition: respect for those that serve the public welfare. It is evil to attack those that stand in the path of danger to save lives.

On ProCreation

I could get theological regarding the tyranny of the “pro-life” movement. Read Genesis: “God breathed His Spirit into Adam, and made him a living creature.” Thus “Thou shalt not murder” does not translate to “every sperm is sacred,” it means “do not destroy any creature that has been inhabited by My Spirit.”

How do we know whether a little blob of cells has been inhabited by God’s spirit? Well, if you’re taking a strictly legalistic perspective, I’m certain that you don’t. You are actually part of a self-defeating, law-of-natural-consequences demonstration set up by God after the Flood. In effect, “As you won’t listen to me, try making your own laws, hmmm?”

John tells us God is Love. We are the instrument by which God redeems the world. The Savior was explicit: “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven: what you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” If we do not cast our blessing upon something, it is not inhabited by love.

What I do know is using the penalty of law to force a woman to carry an unwanted child is not loving her. If conceived of rape, such a law is in fact an act of hate speech. And any child born outside of a stable union will be denied love, and live in a world of reduced opportunities. The spirit that God sent into the world might actually prefer to wait until those opportunities are accessible.

God gave us a mind so that we could express creativity – and we should recognize that the only thing that separates creativity from destruction is a loving intention. Children should be brought into the world as an act of loving intention. The law has no influence over that process, and should simply keep its nose out of it. That would be the quickest way to render Roe v. Wade irrelevant.

Donald Trump, Really

Working overtime on Wednesday as a Census enumerator, I caught only a glimpse of the debate. Picking through the analysis the next day, I shook my head.

They still don’t get it.

The best thing about that debate was that the Trump-loving GOP finally confronted the daily reality experienced by those working in the White House. For the last eight years, the MAGA faithful have seen only what Fox News and heard only what Rush Limbaugh wants them to know about Trump. The man at the center of the MAGA cult is a media fabrication.

But the White House staff knows that to get anything done Trump has to be kept away. He doesn’t golf only because the Secret Service costs fund his country clubs, Trump golfs because they won’t give him anything meaningful to do.

Trump’s career was built upon his willingness to project himself into the public sphere. Until his father’s death, he was the public face of the Trump real-estate empire, and government and investors gave Donald access to get access to Fred. They heard Donald out.

But behind the blather was a team of people that prepped Donald with talking points and figured out which of the promises could be made true. Donald was happy to take credit for what worked, and quickly exorcised his failures.

This tendency was amplified on the set of The Apprentice, where he would explode arbitrarily during the meetings, and the producers would write and film a back-story to justify his performance. This is the true Trump: a man who expects that the world will conform itself to his will. The end result of coddling him, however, is a total divorce from reality.

I look at his signature, and feel only pity. He has no internal life, and overwrites himself in every moment while annihilating his past.

To understand Trump, read “The Autumn of the Patriarch.” Unless you are in Putin’s circle, because they recognized Trump’s malleability a long, long time ago.

RBG and Roberts’ Rule

The Founders carefully allocated responsibilities among the branches to protect citizens from governmental over-reach. The Executive Branch has flouted those boundaries throughout the Trump Presidency, with Cabinet officers finally acting not as protectors of the Constitution, but as lackeys in service to the whims of the POTUS. In Congress, McConnell has used obstruction to undermine legislative deliberation, and focused on packing of the Federal Courts with partisans – using the filibuster when not in power, and then eliminating it for most positions during the Trump era.

The Roberts Supreme Court was the last holdout in the corruption of the Founders’ intentions. That has been uneven. Roberts hypocritically criticized the House Impeachment Managers for questioning the motives of the Republican Senate in failing to call witnesses, demanding respect for the “world’s greatest deliberative body” that McConnell has corrupted. But at least in the last Court session, Roberts insisted that precedent be honored, siding with the liberal members of the bench when his conservative peers attempted to over-ride prior judgments from his court.

With the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, that respect for precedent and the character of the Court is at risk. If Trump and McConnell succeed in seating a conservative ideologue, Roberts will find himself on the losing side in attempting to prevent arbitrary flouting of precedent.

The only method for restoring proper balance on the Court is for a Democratic-controlled Senate to mercilessly impeach Justices for judicial over-reach. The popular expedient – expanding the number of Justices – would be a mistake. Proper functioning of the Court requires thorough probing of the constitutional issues during oral arguments. As more Justices are added, that process will become unwieldly.

No, the proper approach is to erase McConnell’s legacy, just as he and Trump have worked to erase the legacy of our most popular politician (President Obama). Set up the impeachment express, and flush all the Conservative hacks out of the judiciary.