Tag Archives: human folly

Finding Patagonia’s Better Nature

Patagonia 6

You Can Get Anything You Want

I arrived in Patagonia, Arizona for the very first time in 1993. The bitty place along the southern border met spring that year with a spectacular bloom. The tallest cottonwoods in North America make their home along Sonoita Creek. That they are that much larger, in a town that is just that much smaller, exaggerates the terms of being smitten with this treasured place.

By all accounts what work a hearty new arrival might find Patagonia is less than none. Santa Cruz County has been drying up for decades. Patagonia for all its rural majesty requires that you come prepared to bet on yourself. I’d met a biologist that had wagered his life. He was sent by the Smithsonian to study the rarest and tiniest of birds… the elf owl. He had found a grand total 37 individuals scattered over thousands of square miles both near and far along the southern Sonoran Desert. Elf owl hunting is convenient to nothing. It came up in our whittled  conversation that once his research was completed he’d likely remain here instead of moving on. That’s how the town grows.

Patagonia 4

Former Residents Doing Eternity

No two people are alike. Patagonia tends to attract the oddest lot. The binding that glues souls together here is quirkiness. One thing everyone should understand is that big bugs become a part of your daily awareness. Then there are the venomous creatures you’ll share Patagonia with. Then, there are the many different types of hummingbirds that make their home here. You’ve got drug smugglers and Border Patrol Agents playing cat and mouse. All this in a town you can walk end to end in less than ten minutes if it’s not too hot and your not too addled by drink.

There is nothing really you can do in Patagonia. Not on your own. If you stick it out your life fills up with time spent sharing mutual circumstances with neighbors. You’ll borrow sugar, have a cup of coffee, barbecue steak on mesquite wood and knock tequila down then chase it with as ordinary a can of beer as the least amount of money will buy.

Patagonia 2

Last Century Fixer-Upper Just Came on the Market

Weather is a good topic to talk to death. Maybe a friend has four wheeled off the mountain, where they homestead, to come argue at the Wagon Wheel over the political Armageddon the legislature is the fault of in Phoenix. The dang urban refugees that have made home here have brought their permissive and decidedly progressive ideas with them. Patagonia’s problems do not require ideology. You can toss that there narrow mindedness into the septic tank.

A random cross section of humanity has been littered throughout the town. The spiritually awakened are cheek to jowl with the atheists. What remains of the ranchers holding on here bellies right up with the radical environmental activists. Everyone aims to improve Patagonia so long as it does not involve pavement. There is little use for improvement. Dirt and dust are preferred. If that seems a bit contrary that’s the whole point of the thing. You will find that a dirt road self selects a new arrival. If they can see the beauty in dirt that is a sure sign that they will be best suited to fitting in here.

Patagonia 5

Four wheel driving nowhere to spend time doing nothing

 About now, in spring, is glory in Patagonia, Arizona. It’s the time to come. As soon as you are ready. Many of the migratory birds are moving through. The mesquite is blooming and Sonoita Creek is running. Get off the pavement, park that rig, take a hike. Think about things. Be available for nothing. If you are lucky enough you might just find the biggest prize of all, the chance to be in intimate rural contact with yourself.

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San Rafael Valley Southeast of Patagonia with the Huachuca’s Yonder…

Fair/Free Trade Con Artistry

Pouilly Fuisse

YOU ARE LOOKING AT A FAIR TRADER

I’m going after James Kitfield today. He is a storied reporter, beltway veteran, and quintessential centrist. He holds all sorts of views I have no quarrel with, but on trade he’s off by a Moon shot, perhaps a crash landing on Mars.

Look, the new world order, the one we helped build from the ruins of what was left of the world after World War II? That deal included our helping to get Germany and Japan back up on their feet.

We also have spent most of the last seven decades building up a global trading system. That isn’t a black and white proposition, it isn’t all good or all bad, it is a mixed bag.

I feel like a one armed poker player in a a two sided argument. I feel like the house is dealing from the bottom of the deck. They’ve won every hand and there are way too many journalists (Kitfield to Cokie Roberts) who are participating in an underhanded card counting game of intentional duplicity.

Our globalized trade system is a mashup of all manner of treaties, bilateral agreements, and codified understandings. You and me? We don’t need to be bogged down in the details. They’d like us to be. It would be useful to the free trade advocates. We’d be on their turf.

All you need to know is this. Whatever agreements the United States makes either to amend previous agreements or in making new agreements must include representatives from the many  many labor representatives, environmental representatives and progressive (non-market likely educational institutional) economists.

What is missing is balance. We can make superb trade agreements that will be good for the world trade system, but we’ll need to bring the right members of our country to the table. The Big Banks, Wall Street, multinational corporations and their many many sycophant’s need to be excused from the table for the next half century why we clean their’ tilting the playing field in their favor’ mess up.

I repeat… we are in favor of fair trade not the con job free trade agreements that have been foisted on our country. Those agreements have been a disaster. James Kitfield misdirected his listeners today. The French wine industry knows how the game is played. Paris listens. It is time Washington get with the people and do our country right.

Centrist trade apologists are toxic right now. Fair trade… repeat it is fairer trade we want to negotiate… not the end of trade… unless free mindless trade is what you mean by that Frank Luntz tested phrase?

 

 

Surrender Your Bowling Shoes

Windmill

Fashioning a New Path

DeLong, Krugman and Stiglitz my touchstones all have been posting on free trade. Labors circumstances have been damaged. The economists penciled out positive economic growth, but none penciled in trade negotiators ripping labor a new one.

I got people in my life,  avid both-sides types, infinitely reminding me that Labor Unions were filthy, slimy, scum sucking gangster riddled enterprises, they were nothing but graft and mayhem makers. They skimmed off the top from the hard working people they faked representing. So why don’t you tell me how you really feel?

So, the circumstances, this leadership that lacked a certain aspect of integrity (Union bosses would break your windshield if you even looked like you’d cross a picket line) but in fact besides being Neo-Paleolithic were decent hard drinking, cigar smoking big hearted thugs.

The weasels of Wall Street, the negotiators for a more globalized world paid their hitmen to do a job on the ‘blue collar Bruce Springsteen listening factory workers.’ Keep  taxes low, rape the EPA, deregulate every single industry you can think of, keep saying the tax breaks are for the job creators while shaming Democrats as being anti-free trade or worse still they were vote seeking protectionists.

For decades we have been put through this ringer. Dem’s kowtowing to the name calling shame and slime crew. R’s dismantling every factory they can find while eagerly shipping the carcass of capitalism to China. Both sides getting their pockets filled while the citizens got their pockets picked.

And now the f’ing pile of excrement has hit the fan. For the longest time we remained frozen in front of our television sets and watched, and plenty still do, while they keep playing with democracies fragile matches. Fox, Limbaugh and the Wall Street Journal have taken the rhetorical hammer and literally beat the living snot out of moderates and liberals to the point progressive political operative acts like battered housewives. (And I do not diminish male violence against women…) I mean why have we stayed in this relationship?

Part of one fragment of one reason is that the economissts we depended upon to help us frame policy stuck it to us. Yes, open markets are good, but they are not absolutely good, and the extra money, the growth that can come from trading with our trade partners if managed correctly can be a benefit to our entire society. At least in theory, but you have to set that policy and you have to supervise that policy, and you have to sustain that focus on that policy. They didn’t and we failed.

So, now here we are. The workout will be quite difficult, bottom line? We start writing fair trade deals. Stop with the free trade nonsense. We get the sane and sensible to help set new policy, and we get the gutter balls to turn in their bowling shoes back in and call it a lifetime.

Primary section break HSH

 

 

Strumming the Heartstrings

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           Here is Where the Tractors are Fixed at Schnepf Farm

I have been coming out to Schnepf Farm’s Pumpkin and Chili Party since 2000. It is located in the town of Queen Creek, Arizona. You are on the southeastern edge of the Valley of the Sun by the time you arrive here.

The Valley of the Sun (Valley of the Well Done…) spans 70 miles east to west. This is a big expanse. Much of it is now been consumed by the sprawl of suburb. There are pieces of it that are extra dense and urban. One sure thing is that there is a jumbo sized scale to this place.

I’ve done about 800 shows more or less here at the farm. I gained the trust of Mark and Carrie and with some patience adapted my street style juggling act to this audience. I’ve likely a debt of gratitude to extend to the nearby Arizona Renaissance Festival that I’m sure helped train the audience to the game variety acts play on an audience.

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                    Beholding What is and What Once Was

It is a hot and dusty place. It takes a lot of sunscreen, bug spray and water to make it through a day. You ought to wear a hat here. I’m in the pavilion this year and hard to attract audiences out to this woebegotten corner of the farm, but I can’t complain. You see, I have shade. Shade here is like being happily married. Things just go much better with shade much like it is with a good spouse.

One month per year I have been here. After I retired Lacey and a decade long run we took a break from this gig. It has been 5 years since my last run. Notching up 11 months of my life here I’m knocking on a year’s door. That is one whole year of my life spent at Schnepf Farm in Queen Creek, Arizona.

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         The Care and Feeding of Body and Soul

One of the investments I’ve made aside from time is the care and feeding of my audiences soul. There are fancier shows here. Bigger stunt shows, frisbee dog exhibitions, pig races and even full sized bands play nearby the tables where audiences gather to eat the chili and pumpkin pie.

Grayson Schnepf is a son to Mark and Carrie. A decade back he was a 10 year old. He used to practice tricks with me. Sometimes he’d come and do a trick or two in the middle of the show. It is hard not to love a ten year old trying hard as all get out to do something for you. Grayson’s childhood remains safely stored in my heart’s favorite memories.

Then, last night gray haired elders arrived with their 17 year old granddaughter. She was first a volunteer in my show when she was 3 years old. That takes us back to 2001. They came to the farm each October to see me again. I had become something of a touchstone, a ritual. They’ve been back every year hoping against hope I’d be back for shows.

Turns out my volunteer 3 year old was stage struck by her helping me. They shared pictures of all the plays she’s been in since middle school years. Then, there were all the costumes she made. And then there was this young lady crediting my choosing her to help in my show for being the trigger that illuminated her path in life.

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                      In the Hearts of the Players

And that’s it really. That’s the simple fact of things. I don’t get up in the morning imagining that I am going to inspire someone. I don’t see people having their path in life bent by what I do. But, there it is. It has happened a few times that I know of. It isn’t so rare. Might be you changed someone.

A fair example of my show is generally a cheerful thing. I have some good lines. I do some good tricks. When it goes my way, when I can get an audience to focus, when I’m firing on all 8, when it is going as good as I can do a show it can seem to open the door to an audience’s sense of something extra special.

I am fortunate to have picked a job that can make a difference. And when I’ve opened a souls eyes to their purpose I feel I haven’t just done a good days work I feel as if I’ve done my lifes work.

Good to be back here…

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Trailhead to the Superstition Mountains

The Great Tony Benn Hits it Out of the Park

 

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Click Right Here and Enter into the Truth of the Matter

Tony Benn gives a stem winder from over on the other side of the pond. Now 83 in ten minutes time he crushes it. The British lilt in the voice and the humanity of his cause ooze from this talk.

Our work is never done. Every generation the implacable foe escapes from the cage we put them in to regroup and once more launch their attack. It arrives as fear of other, of the fraud and abuse in social welfare programs, in the accusation that there are fat, lazy bastards driving luxury automobiles, and promiscuous Trollip’s licking the ears of the underserved unemployed horndogs.

The elite send bankers to the political hearings. They bemoan regulation and thunder on in mock earnestness about how unprofitable their circumstances are. They pocket bonuses of multiple millions and gripe bitterly about a school teacher’s pension. Unions are broken and wages are suppressed. And they do this by simply making the uneducated and uninformed jealous.

Tony Benn is about the business of the common man or woman who struggles to make a decent wage and something of a happy life for their children. It is about good schools, health care, public transportation, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods and a government dedicated to protecting the rights of all its citizens.

The extreme wealth concentrated in the hands of those few hundred individuals? It turns out that they can be a hazard to democracy. Those gigantic entities and enterprises known as multinational corporations need to be leashed and the supervision and regulatory apparatus of our government ought to apply a firm jerk on their chain to bring them to heel.

As it was for generations before us it is the same now. We allowed the elite to rewrite the rules to their advantage and they have taken it. Citizens United, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, raising taxes on labor while reducing taxes on capital… all of this has been done by the well paid lobbyists and politicians. It has been nothing less than a self inflicted error.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy Tony Benn’s pointed speech. He is clear. He is honest. He stands up for all of humanity.  He is in his late years living a purposeful life. We have climate change, inequality and a worldwide family planning project to implement.

 

Workers are in sum the majority. It has come time for us to once again act like one.

 

 

 

The Empty Vessel

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Let me see what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars…

Democracy is an empty vessel. The blanks must be filled in. Want to slow or stop immigration? Do you want low taxes, less regulation and globalize manufacturing and trade? Perhaps more home schooling and charter schools and scrap universities altogether and simply ramp up vocational career schooling.

The stock markets of the world are a huge casino. Headlines are once again frightening the public. Some say buy, some say sell, others say hold. Nobody can explain exactly why the market moves one way or another. Technical analysts give their explanations, brokers offer their services and all the while the stench of something reeks. What are we doing to ourselves?

Technology has ramped up the speed of something while the details of this something it has speeded up remain beyond comprehension to all of us. You want to talk about morality? How about voting rights? Let’s debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Does anyone know anything about this secret trade deal that the President strenuously defends as not secret?

I don’t like my oppositional party in politics as being described as an automobile filled with clowns. I don’t like billionaires polluting the electoral process with their ill-gotten gains. But, am I right to hold this view? The Supreme Court has found my opinion to run counter to the rights enshrined in the constitution. We are not in a free for all we are in a free fall.

We have precious little time to act on matters important to every single human being on this planet. We need to get focused. We need banks to get boring. We need government to fix roads, build bridges and enable communities the means to access to clean air and water. We need capitalism to submit to surgery whereby we cut out its mindless greed and install a heart that helps manufacture a simpler more cautious use of our finite resources.

If democracy is an empty vessel, a void waiting to be filled, then capitalism if allowed to dominate it will arrange matters to its own advantage. This arranging thing that it does is not some sort of invisible hand of the marketplace. It is a heavy hand.

Our access to information has drowned the informed voter in a sea of counterfactuals that boggle the mind and shudder our spine. We’ve harvested a collective chaos of misguided gumption. We briefly get it together and send a man to the moon and now we tear ourselves apart debating whether to deploy high speed trains. Nothing is more pathetic than to watch people who have put their faith in science to include everything but vaccinations.

A majority of citizens polled want to disregard the consensus of nuclear experts who virtually unanimously agree that we ought to take the deal we just cooked up with Iran. The rest of the world agrees but we won’t. I can assure you that the vast majority of the people objecting to this deal haven’t taken the time to read it. They didn’t pick up their smartphone and call their local nuclear scientist for a discussion on the merits. Who has time for that crap? In our current democracy opinion is manufactured. Who is making this crap up because it has to stop. Our sewers are there for a reason.

So, let’s get out of this rut now. We defang Wall Street for starters. A transaction tax would be a good place to begin. Break up the big banks and make finance boring again. We go to Washington and kick the criminal racket known as the Washington lobbyists out. We get some ordinary plain normal human beings in congress to focus on climate change and fix this wretched income inequality problem.

Once we get ourselves heading in the right direction we can get together and do some good old family planning and by that I mean we need to figure out how we can live on this planet in balance and harmony within the constraints of her natural bounty.

And that my friends is how to fill this empty vessel known as democracy up with ideas worthy of our free will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Canary Starts Sizzling…

Six Boats

Setting Sail for a Better Future

Let’s head out from here where sanity prevails. First, we have a global manmade climate crisis. Got that? Let’s get our priorities right. Wake up!

Next up is worldwide population levels continuing to expand while we wreak havoc upon the support system all these new lives will need if they are to survive.

Our politics and our economics are complex. This is a two headed monstrosity. One defends the other, while the other goes about plundering the world and taking a modest sum of their profits to keep propping up their enablers.

Like an addict business just can’t help itself. The business of business turns out to be all too often quite rapacious of resources and let’s just say not particularly talented at focusing upon sustainability to say nothing of mankind’s survival.

And then there is Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a Democrat running for office and she can’t take a position on the Keystone Pipeline? That’s not going to get the job done. Does she support the Transpacific Partnership; a trade agreement that affects 40% of the world’s global trade? No, she can’t say one way or another. We are being asked to vote for a riddle inside of a mystery.

There is all of this plus we have Republican Senators plotting in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act which would result in stripping 17 million citizens of their health insurance. This isn’t humanity’s best moment.

Plus, with the world bursting at the seams with people this same grand deliberative body is rushing as fast as their fake bile can be spewed to defund an organization that tries to help all of humanity in general and women in particular to determine if and when they will have a child.

Some low life named Drudge calls the Pope the Antichrist. Some Cuban out of Florida running for higher office claims Obama is covertly funding the same terrorists that the Pentagon is trying to kill. Please…

Here is the situation. We have to deal with climate change. That means doing something about it here. We’ll need to work with every other country in the world because this isn’t just our problem it is the world’s problem too.

Next up is getting control of the world’s most voracious inhabitants… human beings. Where to start? Well, obviously we’ll need to figure out where all these people are coming from and why there are so many individuals, religions and governments blocking efforts to help humanity manage their reproductive systems. What the hell is wrong with you people?

This isn’t a mystery. If we deploy women’s health care programs across the world we will enable billions of earth’s citizens to have the chance to choose the right moment to start a family.

If you object to offering others the chance to choose how they wish to arrange their lives then you might well be confused about what the difference is between freedom and tyranny.

Finally the stupendous wealth that has accumulated in the hands of so few has in turn been used to frustrate efforts to put in place policies that will go a long way toward solving humanity’s problems. It turns out great wealth is in and of itself a great big problem.

Billionaires are not a feature of capitalism they are a flaw and to drain the swamp of excess wealth is to make our world a safer more egalitarian place where we might well survive if only we can clear our minds of the haze and get focused on the challenges we face.

Does this sound radical? Cleaning our air? To help men and women determine when to start a family? To tax our wealthiest citizens more and our poorest citizens less?

Some political party is going to have to clear their throat and speak out and then pass the necessary legislation. Trump and Sanders are merely canaries in the coal mine. They are harbingers sounding the alarm.

Our political, religious and economic systems are in desperate circumstances. They are all in need of change and yet each has exquisitely organized itself to resist change. One way or another, this is going to come to an end. I’d prefer a soft landing or if not perhaps it is time we start manufacturing helmets… and fast.

Five Boat

Let’s Set Humanity’s Course for Survival