Same ol’

Mariner brushed away the pile of mail, a few hand tools, newspapers, a magazine or two, and sure enough, the old laptop was still there. Needless to say, mariner hasn’t been at the keyboard since June 1. Today, June 11, he slowly works his way back into his daily routines after a ten-day bout with Influenza A.

He will not make his readers listen to a long lamentation of the experience. Suffice it to say, mariner really wasn’t around for a while.  His wife did an angelic job of bringing him through the experience.

Mariner turned to the outside world today to catch up on things; seems like the same deck, just another dealing of the cards. His candidate did not win the primary but made a fine showing especially in the Southeast portion of the state. Mariner continues to worry as every indicator in the election is aimed at nationalizing the people’s vote.

Mariner may be a bit of a dreamer and philosopher but he knows one thing for sure: democracy is a one-person-one vote philosophy. Yet the pressure brought by organizers is to make one citizen’s Presidential vote a collaboration of many votes cast as one. This is too deep; mariner is going to rest for a while.

Ancient Mariner

Of cowboys and indians

The new solution for defeating the gun lobby is floating around newsrooms: children do not go back to school until new gun legislation is passed. It is a bad idea because the growth of an entire generation of young Americans already has been distorted by the pandemic lockout; adding yet another year of disrupted schooling can further burden the growth of these children. It is a good idea because it is a positive gesture ‘by the people’ who should have been managing their representatives more closely all along.

In case the reader feels there is not enough news to think about, American Native Indians are up against White Man’s courts. Politico reports:

“The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is slated to come under the court’s microscope this fall via Brackeen v. Haaland, and the stakes are sky high. If ICWA is overturned, a slew of laws that rest on a centuries-long precedent of tribal sovereignty could be in jeopardy, say the law’s supporters. These policies relate to everything from housing and health care to education and employment.”

The core legislative impact is that the ICWA was passed by Congress in 1979 to bring an end to the old agreement, Indian Adoption Project, a federal drive to assimilate American Indians into white culture. As many as 35 percent of Native children were removed from their families. Eighty-five percent of those children were placed in non-Indian homes. It was also under the Indian Adoption Project that thousands of Indian children were rounded up by the Federal government and put in highly prejudiced boarding schools where many children were abused and died.

If the court overturns ICWA, the Native American has no tailored protection and will lose Indian sovereignty.

Judges need term limits as much as legislators do.

As the Iowa primary approaches, mariner has abided by his own rules for voting. His Senate candidate is under 55, not an ideologue, not a favorite of national PACs, speaks generically for the wellbeing of Iowans, has state and local experience in office, has a positive personality and is a woman. If she wins the primary, she will oppose Chuck Grassley who is 88 years old, a defender of the status quo, who represents a national government driven by party first instead of citizens first and is incapable of understanding the issues that confront Millennials and Zees.

Ancient Mariner

Ready, Aim . . .

An article from The New Statesman, a British publication, has a different slant on the US obsessive gun dependency:

“US gun violence is not just a domestic political issue. The failure to take action is a gift to Chinese and Russian propagandists. Shortly after Joe Biden took office in January 2021, he delivered a major foreign policy speech setting out his vision for the United States’ place in the world. He vowed to rebuild the country’s alliances and restore its moral leadership after the tumult of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“America is back,” he declared, and he promised that the United States would “again lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example”.

“Yet the power of that example has been repeatedly undermined by the failure of US political leaders to tackle the country’s domestic problems, including racial injustice and worsening gun violence. This plays into the hands of American adversaries like China, whose propaganda highlights the deaths of young children in American school shootings and the police killings of Black Americans to advance the Communist Party’s agenda and what it claims are the comparative advantages of its own political system.”

Mariner surmises that guns are to this disheveled nation as opiates are to a drug addict. How does one detoxify a gun addiction? As with all other virtuous ideals that have disappeared, it seems having a gun is more important than continuing to be the world’s moral leader and key advocate of democracy.

It isn’t just guns that tarnish our national image. A dysfunctional Congress and the attacks by red states on open elections also have been noted – especially by European sources.

If the United States loses its moral leadership advantage, it will lose the economic battle for economic supremacy in an emerging global economic system.

Mariner’s solution: When it comes time to vote and the candidate is running for reelection, give serious thought whether the candidate deserves another term; if the candidate is over 55, do not vote for that candidate; further, give precedence to women, nonwhites, and candidates not supported by a national PAC.

Detox is not a pleasant experience.

Ancient Mariner

About the orange

Sorry for the pessimism. For many decades mariner has been sensitive to an imbalance between humans and the biosphere. In all of Earth’s history, life has been dependent on a global balance between the provisions of nature and the needs of the species – whether microbe or elephant. Today, mariner is extremely aware of the blatant disregard humans have for this balance.

Even ants have war between colonies and there are predators galore for every species but these confrontations are part of the balancing act. Nature didn’t expect a nuclear bomb; nature didn’t expect overpopulation because a species eliminated the balancing act between age, disease and deprivation; nature didn’t expect the disrespect for hundreds of thousands of species going extinct because of human intentional and excessive abuses; nature didn’t expect the violation of basic atmospheric rules or poisoning the land. In short, humans have trashed the biosphere for nothing more than convenience and disrespect for nature’s rules.

Mariner is accused of being a Luddite. Perhaps but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Two popular personalities were Luddites as well, condemning the disrespect that humans possess – Mark Twain and Will Rogers.

Evolution didn’t expect nuclear families; in the name of convenience and under the terms “We do it because we can”, transportation has created new meaning for the word ‘migration’. Two-footed, 4-wheeled humans travel farther and more often than the Humpback whale.  The security found in extended families is now replaced by expensive life, health and property insurance policies. There’s a human trope, “Anything can be fixed [or ruined] with money”.

Mariner can go on and on about doing injury to the biosphere. But this attitude is part of a bigger problem that spans the developed world – and the wealthier the nation, the bigger the problem.

For focus, mariner will address only the United States.

American Society has no soul. It has no beliefs. It has no identity. There is not one truth that every American will abide. There is not one social grace that represents the United States to the planet and its biosphere or to the billions of individuals living in that biosphere.

Ever wonder why we can’t discern the future? It’s because we don’t believe the present; what can we build future faith on? The nation believes nothing works, nothing is worth commitment, nothing is meaningful.

So the country runs on two things: money and ego – there is nothing else. The American Society today has no seeds to grow the future. Hence the seedless orange.

Ancient Mariner

Let’s trade

It is the habit of the electorate, and with good cause, to blame politicians when things go wrong. The United States, along with other nations, has suffered severe shortages of food, medicine, numerous grocery stock items and industrial components. In large part, the shortages were caused by pandemic interference with the shipping and processing companies that ship products to retail outlets. The politicians could do little more than watch.

In a PBS broadcast of NOVA last night, a viewer becomes aware that the supply chain itself is vulnerable to mishaps that can cause worldwide shortages. Container-carrying ships of massive size (as long as four football fields) carry unbelievable volumes of goods; for just one of these ships to fail in delivery, many smaller businesses can fail because their shelves are empty.

The NOVA episode analyzed the impact of one of these container ships blocking the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal is located in Egypt and is a key link between Asian shipping and Mediterranean shipping. Unfortunately, it is only one lane wide. If something blocks the Canal, hundreds of ships are held up at both ends – hence shortages on retail shelves. In the NOVA piece, one ship runs aground and stops all shipping, perhaps a thousand of these large container ships.

The reason this caught the interest of mariner is because ‘shipping’, aka ‘supply chain’ is the verb in the future of global economics. In the last century the concept for international trade was based more on trade agreements, e.g., “I’ll swap you two sheep for ten chickens and if you give me any trouble, I’ll slap a tariff on you.”

Needless to say, communication technology in this century has made the delay and overhead of trade agreements too expensive and too subject to circumstantial politics. What has become possible, however (if ships don’t run aground in canals), is an international arrangement where each nation can collaborate at the production level – thereby speeding productivity and increasing volume such that world markets may be available instead of piecemeal nation-to-nation deals.

A comical metaphor but perhaps it can clarify the new advantage: Nation 1, a large, rich nation that acts as an anchor to the supply chain, says to nation 2, the chicken producing nation, “You can grow chicken feet faster than I can but I can grow chicken heads faster than you can. We can save 25 percent of the time it takes to grow chickens if you send me your chicken feet. Then you’ll have room to grow even more chicken feet.” The anchor nation plays the additional role of an insurance company by covering market shifts, weather, etc.

Understanding this model, a move toward global economic domination, explains why China, the US, India, the European Union, South America (resource rich) and the Pacific Rim nations (Australia, South Korea, Japan et al) are jockeying hard to monopolize supply chains.

Except for Putin. He doesn’t understand the principle of sharing. It is important to know that Trump and his cronies don’t either.

Lest we forget, there is only one issue that will dominate world economics even more than global supply chains – global warming.

Ancient Mariner

 

Priorities

In a recent post mariner wrote about the idea that democracy requires a start with the individual and an individual’s sense of what is real. Yet, our society, indeed every society today, is controlled top down – the individual is told what is real. Profit is more important than individual wellbeing; skin color and sexual behavior are more important than individual wellbeing; political allegiance is more important than individual wellbeing.

Mariner is reminded of a sermon he gave many decades ago. As was frequently the case, mariner drew his premise from the Synoptic Gospels, frequently referencing the Sermon on the Mount and appropriate explanations provided by Jesus in his travels. To reduce a 20-minute sermonesque monologue to a few sentences, he offers a truncated interpretation:

The one premise Jesus advocated – the ONLY PREMISE he advocated – was that the holiest thing in existence, and the number one interest of God, is a single individual’s soul. Jesus says as much in the beatitudes: The poorest, ignorant, lost person is the focus of God’s interest. One person at a time; every individual is supreme in their own existence as a child of God.

God rejects individuals who put their own interests first, even if they are sympathetic. Placing divine value in earthly values is a no-no. Reality is a one-person experience.

In short, a healthy, thriving society will always act for the betterment of every individual, every individual’s existential reality, and every individual’s need. God did not invent nor advocate groups, corporations, class discrimination or totalitarian interpretations of an individual’s sense of reality. It is the job of each individual to execute God’s will at a person-to-person level. Amen.

The leap into human tribal tendencies must always abide by a primary interest in every individual’s need. In politics, an individual’s perception of need comes before any organized presumption.

The need to vote begins at home for home’s sake.

Ancient Mariner

Know your Representative – for now

Mariner has read three sources that cover gerrymandering. The cycle goes like this:

Party 1 draws new district lines.

Party 2 sues.

The courts throw out the new gerrymandering district, leaving the old gerrymandered district in place.

Everyone goes home.

In short, gerrymandering is de rigeuer. So what?

In 80 percent of the cases, Party 1 controls the legislature. Unfortunately, it will take a majority of the legislature and the blessing of the Governor to create a non-partisan commission, supposedly politically neutral, that will draw district boundaries.

To be absolutely, theoretically pure about it, the only measurable virtue is that each district should have the same number of voters. It is a trial and error process to look at maps then lay in a grid that approximates equal numbers of voters in each district. The rub comes when these innocent grid lines ignorantly cross right through a neighborhood that reflects race, may or may not have decent income, may be liberal or conservative, dense or rural. Mariner speculates that this pure, innocent arrangement will never occur.

Imagine that the reader’s neighborhood is generally white, conservative and financially comfortable. However, a grid line cuts your neighborhood in half – in fact, between you and your next door neighbor. Seems innocent until the conservative neighborhood turns out to be the minority in two districts that are black and labor class. Mariner speculates that this pure, innocent arrangement will never occur. Even independent commissions know better.

What commissions will be required to do, given moral turpitude, is pursue solutions that, where practical, favor equalizing the influence of both parties; not so much with an eye toward political value but in an effort to respect the independent nature of grid lines. One can imagine the turmoil – something akin to conflict over Roe v Wade.

The prize at the end of this process is the number of Congressional representatives who will represent each party’s opinions. In many cases regionally, all the gerrymandering in the world will not diminish party priority but as the reader knows, Congressional representation is so close to a tie today that just a few districts realigned can turn over dominance in Congress.

Now let’s examine state, county and local redistricting. Perhaps not.

Ancient Mariner

Fading Democracy

Mariner appreciates that his readers tolerate his rambling across myriad subjects, his flaunting of philosophical irritations, and generally being the Luddite that he is. But this is a serious observation that must be dealt with within the first half of this century or democracy, by its literal definition, will no longer exist.

Succinctly, it is about money running our democracy. More abstractly, totalitarianism already has eroded the concept of one person, one vote. Authoritarianism (Trump stuff) has the headlines today but totalitarianism does not grab headlines because totalitarianism is accepted as de rigeuer. Simply said, “so what?”

To refresh the terms authoritarian versus totalitarianism, authoritarian means some form of self-aggrandizing dictatorship. Totalitarianism means that a central authority, usually a controlled set of institutions, determines what the people will believe and will be accountable for. A variation that may apply to the United States in particular is ‘plutocracy’, governed by the wealthy.

Let’s start with what detectives would call fingerprints. Every day, including weekends, mariner receives at least a dozen emails from political campaign committees and Political Action Committees. They are comedic on the surface, claiming ‘Trump cried when he saw this” or “Rachael was horrified when this happened” or ‘We need your opinion in this poll”. In truth, in every case the real purpose is to ask for money. The campaigners have the audacity to ask mariner for money to support someone who isn’t running in his federal, state or local district. Who is mariner to tell a voter in Arizona who to vote for? Remember for this post that money talks – in fact, a vote more likely is made of money than voter ballots.

Now consider that the detectives are after ‘The Mob’. The mob is the wholesale political money source provided by elite billionaires like the Koch Brothers who, by the will of dollars alone, can shape the political culture of an entire region of the United States. Foreign billionaires participate as well.

Finally, but not as simple as it sounds, there are the corporate sharks. They, too, push money into the election process for their own reasons. All this money does several things:

֎ Deep pocket PACs can flood local advertising markets, underwrite excessive junk election mail and pay for local on-the-ground campaign staff. This activity is overwhelming to a locally based candidate who has neither the funding nor the staff to competitively underwrite local district campaigning against a candidate backed by national PACs. To make the issue clear, having a national PAC tell local voters who they should vote for locally is very, very totalitarianistic. (is that a word?)

֎ Deep pocket PACs also underwrite far right or far left organizations not bound by local reality. Their messages range from scary, anti-American ‘truths’ (Tucker Carlson) to deliberate misrepresentation of operations (Zuckerberg) to political events (Sean Hannity and Joy Behar) to leftist battle talk by Bill Maher – not to mention Proud Boys and QAnon. Very little of this financed information has factual backup and in terms of local culture and issues, is irrelevant.

֎ Beyond elections, big money easily influences votes by legislators. A few favors to a politician or two can stop a vote that may not be desired by the contributor. One need think only as far as fossil fuel (think Manchin), redistricting, citizen privacy and obviously, taxing the very billionaires disrupting the democratic process.

֎ Corporate sharks can interfere even with neighborhood politics. One example is the building of major public roads only through poor neighborhoods promoted by collusion between homeowner associations and construction corporations – enough to tilt any local legislator. As suggested earlier, “so what?” Totalitarianism is de rigeuer. Where one lives defines voting power; one person, one vote does not exist.

In the past Presidential election, mariner heard the same attitude in greatly different situations: A young female Trumper, when told of Trump’s gross misbehavior, said “I don’t care”. On the other hand, a young black woman was asked if she was going to vote. “Why?” She said. “What difference does it make?” Totalitarianism lives. Who needs one person, one vote?

A skeptic may scoff, “So what? This is hardball politics. Grow some calluses!”

With a tear in his eye, mariner turns away. Democracy is based on the primary, mandatory, not to be compromised idea that for every one person, that person has a say in government. One person, one vote is the first, ultimate, one unmodifiable principle that makes democracy work. Democratic power begins with the vote, not with muscled intrusions.

Or mariner can adjust his principles: A hog must live in the sty it’s in – regardless of conditions. The implication here is that democracy may be going the way of other political theories that no longer can handle the size of government, economics and a nonexistent horizon, a perpetual existentialism not rooted in the five senses, truth no longer is hands on. Farewell, Roman Church; farewell plains Indian socialism; farewell, Queen Elizabeth; farewell Neolithic tribes; farewell Anabaptist communism; farewell democracy.

Ancient Mariner

Happy Compassion Day aka Mothers Day

This from Scott Simon at NPR:

A video for you: Derek Rodriguez, a 9-year-old Yankees fan, went to a game in Toronto’s Rogers Centre (yes, that’s how they spell it), where his hero Aaron Judge stroked a homer into the left-centre seats. It was caught by Blue Jay’s fan Mike Lanzillotta — who gave the ball to the visiting little boy. Canadian grace exemplified. See Derek’s thanks.

https://www.thestar.com/sports/bluejays/2022/05/03/watch-young-yankees-fan-in-tears-after-blue-jays-fan-gifts-him-aaron-judge-home-run-ball.html?utm_source=npr_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20220508&utm_term=6675026&utm_campaign=best-of-npr&utm_id=39748169&orgid=445&utm_att1=

And each Mother’s Day, I am reminded of the wise advice that my own late mother passed on by example: Write “thank you” notes. Tip well. Sing. Drink responsibly. Remember that good manners cost nothing, and open doors. Reach out to someone who is lonely. Make them laugh. Help people smile.

If everyone, rich, poor, young, old, politician, citizen, conservative, and liberal could bring themselves to just follow this simple advice as an ongoing habit, as Louis Armstrong would say, what a wonderful world.

– – – –

Thank goodness for mothers. It is a great advantage for every mammalian species. Mothers civilize; Mothers have empathy and compassion; Mothers sustain everyone through the travails of life. It has been a speculation through the ages that if ever humanity loses its bisexuality, it is the mother who will survive.

Happy Mothers Day.

Ancient Mariner

Vladimir

Mariner often has made the argument that older politicians cannot properly interpret the broad picture of a world in which they did not grow up. It occurs to mariner that Vladimir Putin is a classic example.  Putin is seventy years old.  He grew up in the cold war years, was an intelligence officer and was stationed in an office in sight of the Berlin Wall when it fell.

He briefly served as director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and secretary of the Security Council, before being appointed as prime minister in August 1999. After the resignation of Yeltsin, Putin became acting president and, less than four months later, was elected outright to his first term as president.

It is Putin who spearheaded the war against Georgia and the takeover of Crimea. Putin obviously understands the power of old fashioned war as a political force. It is Putin who developed his understanding of Russian myth during its expansionist years after World War II when Russia acquired much of Eastern Europe.

Putin perceives Russia as a dominant force in today’s European reality when, in fact, because of the nation’s tsarist history, has never been a politically dominant nation except as a player in the Paris Peace Conference that ended the war.

In today’s world, large nations understand the cost of an old fashioned bullet war and have moved on to sophisticated economic machinations including the power of computer-driven conflict. Major influences in whether there is a bullet war are organizations like the G7, G20 and the World Monetary Fund – economic organizations with powerful economic influence in international monetary affairs. In short, bullet wars are too destructive, too expensive and do not serve as resolution to a competitive situation.

But Putin grew up in the era of bullet wars; his judgment is warped by his intrinsic values. Even if he intellectually understood the supply chain battles going on between China and the United States, he would feel no satisfaction in such a conflict.

In the US today, mariner carries anxiety that too many important politicians are even older than Putin. While bullet wars aren’t the primary concern, it is an interpretation of last-century capitalism that has too much sway in a century where there are not enough resources for gunslinger capitalism.

Land is disappearing. Water is disappearing. 300 million people may not leave room for ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ for everyone. Tax policy does not speak to modern technical opportunities or a growing imbalance between rich and poor.

The leaders in the US government who still espouse unbridled capitalism are, for the most part, older than Vladimir Putin.

Ancient Mariner