Walking the Plank for a New Pirate Platform

 

For the second time the California Pirate Party has crashed and burned. This is in spite of (maybe because of) many high level techies at the helm. There never seemed to be a commitment to reach out to the average person’s main concerns. Concise and compelling outreach materials would have been a good place to start. Other obsessive structural minutia just soaks up the energy of would be grass roots activists with nothing to show for it.  Which brings me to the surviving National Pirate Party’s planned platform.

After a decade in existence, the national pirate is beginning to revisit forming a political platform. Not that I’m complaining about the delay. Full blown platforms are internal documents that don’t interest your typical voter. Eventually something should be cobbled together since writers occasionally drift over to check out  political happenings on the fringe. Unfortunately, writers don’t write the platforms. These electoral shopping lists tend to be the bastard offspring of tedious committees. But they don’t have to be.

I would like to offer a criteria for writing a pirate platform that would be compelling enough to distribute for outreach. This populist broadside should navigate through waters that are foggy even to the founders. But even when the destination is clear there could be options. Why not consider alternate possibilities in the platform, as long as each has a strong following among pirates? Be advised that some non techies possess knowledge and experience that could be effectively incorporated into this goal.

Criteria one:

The pirate party needs a tag line in the platform and other documents. The “pirate party” name is a good hook (Arrr) but there needs to be a tag afterwards to keep people from blowing by.

Our title with tag should read thus: “United States Pirate Party – Freedom of Information.” Instantly a reader knows we’re not about themed birthday parties.

Criteria two:

The mission statement, below the tag line (the major goals in one sentence): “The voyage of the Pirate Party is to achieve government transparency, open records, copyright reform, and a free internet.”

Criteria three:

Use existing sources for compatible platform planks first. The original direction for the platform committee is Rick Falkvinge’s, the Pirates’ international founder’s, “wheel” of related concepts. Its not a wheel. Its a convoluted schematic mess. Here’s what I think can be saved from the wheel. “Transparency, ticks (exchange of tools and ideas), resilience (decentralization and sustainability), swarm economics.” Everything else here, ignore and don’t show to anyone. Please.

The other official source to mine is the “values” in “blog.pirate-party.us”. This is more useful than the wheel but it too is a source to be extracted and condensed from. Personally, I found eight values that could be developed in articles that would be linked within the platform itself. This linking may be a new idea in itself that would attract attention and comment.

Criteria four:

Other sources for platform ideas: Books and articles by Rick Falkvinge and Cory Doctorow. This is problematic since few people on a committee will have the same knowledge base when it comes to books. Strangely, a bigger obstacle will be developing the expertise for the clickable “Resilience” on the wheel and the “egalitarian” and “active practice” values from the pirate blog. These refer to skills and practices developed in intentional communities – a long and difficult process. The lessons learned here are frustrating, emotional, gritty, and grimy. “Communities” magazine at “ic.org” is a good first stop to catch up.

Criteria five:

I saved the toughest rule for last. No matter how much study, discussing, and writing we do, limit the number of platform planks to five and only five. This is the limit of most people’s attention span. Also the more positions you take, the easier it is to incur contradictions and confusion in a single document. There will be a tendency to turn planks into sub lists of positions and sentiments. To resist this, planks should be limited to 200 words each, preferable less, an average “Letter-to-the Editor” length. Make every line pop. Include in the plank, names of current specific movements and legislation which can be changed or pulled when events have moved on.

Here is the challenge: A platform of less than 1,000 words, not counting the mission statement, that will change the world, assuming it will change us first. Let’s see what I can do in a first draft. Recently, I bought the domain, “northbaypirates.org”, which doesn’t seem to step on the toes of official party stuff or the Bay Area Facebook page. The “North” part gives me a little push into Wine Country and I never get into Silicon Valley anyway. This new site is hooked into my online domains. Here goes.

1. Copyright and Open Records Reform: 

Copyrights should be a reward for hard work. They should not be a barrier to the creativity of others or the expansion of knowledge in society. Copyrights have been extended for greater lengths of time for no reason other than monopoly privilege. We advocate reducing the shelf life of valid copyrights and formulating clear rules to better define what is fair use of copyrights for education, research, and public comment purposes. Using copyright status for legal bullying in the fair use domain should be grounds for the suspension or revocation of a copyright. Likewise, government records,, outside narrowly defined categories, belong to the people. An informed citizenry requires full disclosure in order to evaluate their employees. Only judges not affiliated with the records holder, should be allowed to make exceptions. The effective veto of “national security” must be proven.

  2. Corporation Reform:

Corporations are created by public entities therefore they should serve a public purpose. A series of Court decisions between 1886 and Citizens United have transformed this business tool into legal people with rights even flesh and blood people do not have. We support Move to Amend’s 28th Amendment’s declaration that corporations are not people and money is not speech. This will start a process to increase corporate responsibility in the environment, in their exporting of factory jobs overseas, and in buying our democratic elections through front groups. We oppose other corporate structural monopolies from the Federal Reserve’s control of the money system to the corporate attack on net neutrality.

3. Electoral Reform:

All citizens should have an equal vote. This vote should not be filtered by the Electoral College which was created by our Constitution to do just that. Even at the congressional level, our winner-take-all-system of representation districts, favoring two parties not even mentioned in the Constitution, guarantees their dominance and the marginalization of all other views. Those two self anointed parties take turns gerrymandering districts to increase the importance of money by diluting the vote. After citizens overcome these electoral traps they still have to run a gauntlet of voter suppression qualifications. While there is weak popular representation in the House of Representatives this is erased in the Senate whose membership is not based on population or coherent physical boundaries. We believe only a series of Constitutional Amendments or writing a new Constitution will remedy this injustice by creating proportional representation, multi member districts, online voting, and an upper House based on rational bio regions that would result in new solutions from silenced voices.

4. Constitutional Reform:

There are structural and process problems in the Country and many States that cannot be solved by legislation. Only a different form of government can solve these problems.Power has been centralized and national agendas are almost entirely determined by those closely connected to that power. Citizens not in that elite group who demand other agendas be pursued are considered whiners and trouble makers. That’s me. That’s you. Rather than build strong communities with healthy prosperous people our government has promoted Wall Street casinos and military adventures. Instead of creating a level playing field where all players can succeed, our institutions have rewarded monopolies and squandered our natural resources for short term gain. We believe we should be governed by a different model. This model would be bottom up not left right. This likely means that new franchised citizens will choose a greater role for government in critical areas, such as health care and natural resources, where monopoly privilege has failed to deliver. A bottom up, direct participation Constitution would also mean the end of expanding surveillance, executive orders, secret agreements, whistleblower prosecution, and reversing the contempt for civil liberties in favor of the police state.

5. Land Reform:

Land is not capital or a commodity. No real estate developer or speculator created land and no one is making any more. Developers can take credit for most building and some infrastructure value only. These groups, as well as local and State governments, existing property owners, and our culture in general primarily values land for its individual “property value”, ignoring the contribution of the surrounding community. The result is the abstract metes and bounds definition of own-able land units and dimensionless boundaries. Only zoning, special districts, most building codes, and some exclusive covenants prevent the ground under our feet from being a context free absurdity. But even these ham handed patches come at a high cost. That cost is weak community bonds, exaggerated individualism, and a reduced commitment to localism and sustainability.

Treating residential or business lots as make believe micro fiefdoms are a barrier to future sustainable initiatives. We believe land should be transferred as larger coherent entities that contract with co owners for exclusive uses. Examples are co ops and condos with well defined covenants. All separate properties should either have a natural boundary (creek or ridge) or public alleys and road right of ways.

Well that’s version 1.0. Notice there are no links. Total word count with the mission statement is about 850 words – one piece of paper. There will be in the next version after I get some feedback. I think calling these “the Five Planks” ties in well with the pirate theme in print but when speakers are trying to seize the high ground before groups I would stick with “Five Reforms.”

Route 12, 4pm

On September 6th the Lake Transit Board finalized substantial cuts in bus service to Lake County residents. Some cuts were on runs that few people use. However, at least two routes that were cut either jeopardize public safety or eliminate service to Social Services for the entire afternoon for most County residents.

Were all of these cuts necessary in hard times? My answer based on some experience and a lot of number crunching is “no”. Specifically, I redesigned three routes in my own report so the necessary savings could be made while compromising the fewest number of people. This report was sent to all elected representatives on the Board but was not mentioned in the analysis of public comment.

During the September meeting the Lake Transit General Manager, Mark Wall, glossed over a couple problems by combining them with issues that were resolved. This confusion was around cutting the 4pm Route 12 to Social Services. Although it was not brought up by the General Manager, the last appointment at social services is at 4:30pm. After conferring with disabled riders and IHSS workers I confirmed there is almost no allowance for being late. You would have to make another appointment.

My report mentioned that late appointments could “leave” by Route 10 if Social Services did not mind people waiting outside for an extra half hour after all the employees left. I assume this is what Wall was referring to when he said Social Services did not see a problem. He did not elaborate. The problem of arriving will remain.

In spite of scheduled connection glitches cited in my report, Wall deferred to Wanda Gray, the Operations Manager, who said people could take Route 10 to Social Services in the afternoon. This only works for Clearlake residents. Route 10 cannot connect with late regionals. My report showed clearly that it is impossible for riders in Middletown, Cobb, and Kelseyville to get to Social Services for an afternoon appointment. Northshore and Lakeport will have to take the Route 1 that leaves one hour earlier and spend more time waiting at  Social Services.

Here is how the drill works. All you (or a Board member) need to check this scenario is a bus schedule. Currently, late afternoon Social Services appointments is served by the 2:10pm Lakeport Route 4 and the 2:30 Sutter Hospital Route 1. The 2:10 will arrive at Walmart at 3:10 after the 3pm Route 10 has left. Wait for the next bus? The 4pm Route 10 will get you to Social Services at 4:38, too late for the last appointment of the day. The 2:30 Route 1 also gets you to Social Services, via Route 10, at 4:38. But at least there is an earlier 1:30 Route 1 where someone can connect with the  last planned Route 12 at 3pm. This is barely doable for functional people.

People in Kelseyville, Middletown, or Cobb do not even have this option since there is no possible way to leave in the afternoon and make an afternoon appointment. Kelseyville would have to take the 11am Route 4. Middletown would have to take the 10:21am Route 3. And Cobb would have to take the 10:53am Route 2 to transfer to the Route 4, leaving Kelseyville at 11:27.

Many people want to dismiss the issue by just saying people can ask for a morning appointment instead of the first available time. Yes they can….and wait longer for an appointment. Though several cuts are unnecessary, cutting the 4pm Route 12 almost seems intended to cause the maximum amount of suffering for the most people while saving the least amount of money.

Lake Transit Route Cuts from Hell

The recently proposed transit route cuts are substantially different than what was proposed at the June Transit Authority meeting. Possibly the amount of cuts are the same but a low use route was restored at the expense of additional cuts on North Shore, the City of Clearlake, Lakeport, and Middletown. Middletown may have broke even on the route exchange.

Originally, a little used Saturday route and an early run was cut in Clearlake. North Shore was to give up two mid day runs each way. But the biggest planned cut was the complete elimination of Route 2 which connects Kits Korner to Cobb and on to Twin Pines Casino. The reason for Route 2 taking the big hit was because ridership never returned after the fire. Even before the fire, when I got on the bus at Anderson Springs there was never anyone else on the bus until Cobb.

Due to permanently losing a funding source, the Transit Authority had to cut about a hundred total route hours. I indicated to the authority’s general manager, Mark Wall, that although his original proposal based on ridership was rational, cuts could be reduced by making changes in the routes themselves. Specifically, cutting the unused parts of Routes 2 and 4A while rerouting Route 4 thru its original journey. But when I saw the official list of bus runs to be cut, as part of notice for Public Hearing on August 9th, I was shocked.

Additional cuts to those proposed were demanded from Route 1 and all three Clearlake local runs. Note that a majority of the bus trips are within Clearlake. These reductions were offset by restoring 7 of the planned 8 run cuts on Route 2 that would be made if the Route 2 were axed.  This sudden change from a rational to an irrational plan would only make sense if considerable pressure were brought to bare from a County supervisor. I assume that the North Shore and Clearlake sups didn’t call up Wall to demand more transit cuts in their District.

Beyond simply giving low ridership areas a break at the expense of higher use runs, while consequently increasing the cost per passenger trip in the system, there are public safety and financing liabilities that are created by this negative reversal. Most of this collateral damage is for Clearlake’s residents while one cut threatens the eligibility for a grant that could end service for the whole county to Napa.

The flagship of bad ideas has to be cutting the Westbound 7pm Route 1 from Clearlake. This particular run is designed to connect to the last Route 3 coming in from Calistoga. These four trips a day to Napa County and back are made possible by a 350,000 dollar grant. This grant has two strings attached. The first one is there cannot be any reduction in the 4 runs to and from Napa using this grant or we lose the whole grant. The second condition is the Route 3 runs using this money have to connect with a specific Lake County route. The 6pm bus from Napa County has to connect with that 7pm Route 1. Suddenly we plan to cut it to appease someone. What’s wrong with this picture?

Public safety suggests we should not be forcing the disabled, women, and the elderly to make hazardous trips on foot if its not absolutely necessary. But three of the last minute deletions do exactly that. The new 8pm Route 11 cut in the Highlands will force passengers coming in on the 6:30 Route 4 to make their way home at night on foot across a long distance of hills, no sidewalks, and dirt roads while being menaced by psyco tweekers and packs of feral dogs. I know this about the Highlands from being a taxi driver in Clearlake.

The most vulnerable won’t even have Dail-a-Ride to fall back on. Cutting the last two local runs across the city allows Lake Transit to legally whack off two hours a night of Dial-a-Ride service, even though Route 1 and Route 4 regionals are still coming in. Cost savings: Ten hours per week. Some grumpy people will say, “ What a bunch of whiners. Take an earlier bus.” For many people this is the earlier bus. When we lost our night time reverse commute grant people who used to take the 8:30 Route 4 from Lakeport now have to take the 6:30 Route 4 or brave the howling wilderness. This new 8pm Route 11 cut means that both night inter county Route 4 runs are now decapitated. Could this  be population control by transit?

Unbelievably, it gets even stranger. After the original planned reduction of Route 12’s lightly used Saturday and 6:27am runs, the new plan calls for adding the 4, 5, and 6pm Route 12’s to the chopping block. Cutting the weekday 4pm and 5pm Route 12’s to Lower Lake means what? Think! Think! It means that moms pushing baby carriages and non dial-a-ride disabled will be struggling down Highway 53 to make their 4:30 appointments at Social Services, in the hot sun and pouring rain. Did the Republican Central Committee suggest this cut?

Do I have a solution? As a matter of fact I do. Given the fact that we have to come up with a hundred hours of cuts, I have crunched out a plan that is not only better than this train wreck but is an improvement over Mark Walls original “cuts only” proposal. Adding back the new run cuts that are egregious monstrosities and doing a once over on 7 of the County’s routes gives us about 70 hours of cuts with roughly 30 to go. These remaining cuts will have to come from cuts and “changes” to Routes 2, 4, and 4A. My cuts are from segments of Routes 2 and 4A that riders don’t use while preserving segments where people are getting on and off a bus.

Adding up the net bare bones net cuts from these three routes I come up with another 34 hours and 40 minutes, for a total of over 104 route hours of cuts. Since this is over the required 100 route hours of needed cuts I’ve come up with four hours of options.

Summarizing these changes:  4A as a stand alone route would be eliminated with pieces of the route added to the Route 4 and Route 2. Route 2 would shift, running between Cobb and Clearlake Riviera. Route 4 would detour to service Konocti Vista and Finley for non Ukiah “Express” runs. Routes 2 and 4 might want to exchange bus number routes between Clearlake and Kits Korner for the non express Route 4 runs. As a bonus, since we have a little slop, we could continue the Route 4 non expresses on Saturday to Konocti Vista and Finley for an additional 40 minutes of route hours and bump out to Cal Packing and up East Finley six days for an extra three route hours per week. Both options would reduce total route cuts to 101 hours.

The bump out of the Route 4 would not be an option for the one run each way for the Hance School detour. The 2:10 Eastbound would now be the 2pm and the Eastbound Route 4 would not turn into Route 7 until 3pm straight up. I also suggest leaving off the Mendocino College detour in Ukiah off the Saturday schedule. Most drivers skip it anyway or go off route.

As for servicing Konocti Vista and Finley, there are 3 current, non cut runs, Monday thru Friday to and from this 4A segment. There are 3 non cut Route 4’s running each way that aren’t Ukiah expresses. Some combination of Running round trip Route 4’s from Walmart to Kits Korner and Running a Route 4 to Kits, doing the shorty Route 2, and continuing on as the Route 4 to Lakeport can be worked out for the non Ukiah expresses.

So that’s the informed opinion of a member of the public. I’m requesting that the Lake Transit Board reject the hastily assembled political proposal that is clearly against the public interest. Furthermore, I suggest the Board direct Mark Wall to inform the intruding supervisor that he may represent his district but a supervisor works for the County – the whole County.

What Has Five Bodies But No Head?

The last election was not the first time many people felt they did not have a real choice. Of course, “not having a choice”, or rather only having highly filtered choices, is what our system is all about. Occasionally, a minor rebellion to create some serious alternative is beaten back with the programmed responses:  “You’ll be wasting your vote.” “Voting for the lesser of two evils is the responsible thing to do.”  “We have a better chance to change one of the parties from within.” The result of this strategy is to discourage the entrance of new players in the game to begin with.

Obviously there are structural barriers in our system that prevent break outs from below. New parties end up wasting all their “none of the above” political capital on transient candidates who will be moving on long before the first barricade has been breached. Motivated more by rage, righteousness, and indignation than substance, the upstart party then slides into oblivion.

What if a new mindset, disguised as a political party, promoted the heretical idea that this established process needed to be changed first before any challenge on issues can succeed. Agenda Item #1. They would not claim ownership of this goal since it is a premise that all excluded political entities could embrace. It would be a cooperative venture, for if it prevailed, they would all win by having the artificial barriers abolished.

The first filter is access to the voting ballot. The one and only voting ballot, where precious time and money has to be spent for voters to see you. For electoral purposes, you are not even considered a political party until you clear this hurdle. If you file papers indicating you are currently trying to achieve the exalted status of a “ballot qualified political party” you are awarded the provisional title of a “political body.”

In California there are five political bodies attempting to gain ballot status for the June 2018 election. The former Unified Progressive Party dropped out and has decided to work as a caucus within the Democratic Party, where they have had some early success. For the record, the functioning political bodies are California Pirate Party, American Solidarity Party, California National Party, Constitution Party, and the People for Justice.

Some of these bodies have one or more issues in common. So you could say they are in competition with each other. But there are good reasons why they should be working together or at least becoming knowledgeable about what each other is about. The strongest bond they have in common is being effectively shut out of normal political discourse and participation. They are all burdened by restrictions imposed by the two-party monopoly, even though new ideas tend to originate from outsiders. All political bodies should be presenting a common front to roll back this affront to democracy.

The first objection we hear from the average citizen is “we have to have some standards or the ballot will become too cluttered or confusing. This will not encourage democratic participation.” Before the backlash against “foreign ideologies” in the early 20th Century there was no problem. This was because what made a ballot official was not who printed it but the fact that one person turned in one ballot on a specific day with at least one person listed who filed for an office. Why do all ballots have to have a preselected subset of people running? Groups printed and circulated their own ballots which was less ballot restrictive. With the introduction of machines in counting votes, standardization was cited as the reason we have limited ballots.

The irony today is, machines, that is computers and computer programs, have made the restricted ballot obsolete. Secure ID technology has arrived, making voting online practical and inclusive. For people who have limited access, there will be voting stations where they can use official computers, the way we go to testing centers now to take standardized tests on computers. The disabled will still get assistance to vote the way they do now.

The only technology problems with online voting are the same tech problems we have with the present system. Those problems revolve around proprietary software and hardware owned by corporate contractors. Many of these contractors have a vested interest in the outcome of elections. Many anomalies have been noticed in proprietary voting equipment with the most “backdoors.” With state of the art encryption there are no compelling arguments against open source voting software. The popular fraud solution of “paper voting trails” is grossly inadequate.

On the core issue of information security, accessibility, and proliferation the Pirate Party will simply have to take the lead. They are the geeks of the political body front. For other issues they may have to step back and support other political bodies. So how will the disenfranchised political bodies support each other in the competitive world of limited independent voters and even more limited attention spans? They will cooperate in punching through the second filter. This is the filter of entertainment. If it is not entertaining today’s voter will tune you out. The power elite have more money, which is the third filter. They can buy more professional productions, media whores, and ditto time on TV. Knowledge presented in a compelling way will reduce this advantage.

To be brutally honest, none of the five functioning political bodies in California are making a compelling presentation to convince dubious voters to reregister. When approaching people who know little or nothing about you, to not just sign a petition but fill out a personal official document, you are going to have to sell sell sell. That means a schtick, a repertoire of answers, and an environment of entertainment. Most people have to be bought, entertained, or at least intrigued to gain their attention. Since no billionaires or celebrities have appeared, the political bodies are going to have to cooperate with each other to create an energetic scene.

Its hard to imagine anything else working. Just as the insiders stage phony debates, the outsiders are going to have to stage their own outsider debates, produce multi political body videos around common issues, and sponsor spectacles as a gift to the public.The concept of supporting a political body must become mainstream and fun. Mailing lists and social media are still relevant but no excluded wannabe will attract established media attention by themselves. That requires a coalition of wannabes, creating events that have the feel of “fairs.” Any registration defector from the electoral con game is a victory, even if your body doesn’t get all of them.

Well Prepared for the Trump Era

When I moved to Lake County in 2002 little did I know that I was going to undergo a rigorous conditioning to living under a fascist regime. While the 2016 Election left millions of people dazed and bewildered, I looked at the horror unfolding and could only see that the Nation had caught up with Lake County reality. There are several elements to this reality. If I thought deep down most of the Trump vote was anything more than fear and ignorant rage I would not bother writing this.

I happen to like details, check facts, and I follow thru. This made me immediately suspect to the self serving paranoids that ruled the backwater of Lake County. The first thing I learned is that “the public” does not include me. A full description for “the public” in this former frontier of Napa County is “the old landed families”, the real estate industry, right wing fundamentalists, retired police, corrupt civil servants, opportunists pitching Lake County’s low development requirements to out of County interests, and small town, small minded, mean spirited Republican business men who would never survive in a dynamic market environment.

People who find themselves stuck here, but are not members of the club, are only valued if they have brought money with them that can be siphoned off by the tight knit cabal of reactionaries to keep the black heart of the past beating on. The poorer sorts who retreated here from more expensive areas are alternately vilified as the reason progress has bypassed Lake County and exploited as State and Federal grant bait. This grant money is either used to hire more do nothing cronies and unemployable relatives or used for programs that attack people in a class war that the money was supposed to help.

Those who meet in the usual gatherings for “the right kind of people” to hatch schemes for excluding or crushing “the wrong kind of people” are found even in decent localities. Only in Lake County it is all out in the open, for all to see, with neither shame or denial – just like Donald Trump. There are no cover stories, rationalizations, or excuses. The law is not important except when it benefits the right kind of people or some fancy lawyer gets involved to muck things up. Coalitions of diverse interests and future thinking are strategies for losers.

Remember, Lake County was the scene of the Dinius trial that caused a National sensation, resulting in the ouster of both the District Attorney and the Sheriff. Fast boats, corruption, and death on the water. Its only a matter of time before Clear Lake gets their big Hollywood movie. The Chamber won’t like it.

Myself, I’ve experienced numerous instances of freedom of speech and search warrant violations. But so have many other residents. Even in the 21st Century reefer madness still justifies the most absurd and egregious assaults on our civil liberties in the land of Clear Lake. In the rare instance where someone can get a lawyer, and of course win the case, the attitude is “So what. The taxpayers will pay for it.”  No actual presence of devil weed is seen as necessary. They are on a mission from God who over rides the Supreme Court.

My first experience as the subject of civic minded mob action was when I decided to produce a video parody of local politics for the public access station. I was not considered part of “the public.” The City Manager of Clearlake was outraged. When it leaked out what I was planning the former Chamber head and a right wing minister organized a howling mob of their buddies, retired policemen running for local office, businessmen, even one of the founders of Clearlake to storm the  PEG meeting to intimidate me. The Chamber guy kept saying he wanted to punch me out. I challenged him to a chess game. He declined.

After years of attacks on the station everyone was finally driven off, leaving TV8 nothing more than a government channel with some internet filler. But all three governments still use its public forum status to extort money from cable users as a fee for public access. No shame. No shame whatsoever. And why should there be? After all, they are the right kind of people taking from the wrong kind of people, like me and you. When people like Trump aren’t born rich they are called bullies or thugs. To me, Trump is just one of these Lake County goons in a better suit with bigger guns.

As someone who has made a habit of showing up to places I’m not supposed to be at and reading documents I’m not supposed to read, I understood the Trump mindset right from the beginning. I see millions wringing their hands in disbelief that the short sighted, unapologetic arrogance I experience on a local level is now on display in the Presidency for the World to see. I had hoped that after another generation of goobers had died off Lake County would finally join the civilized world. Instead I find that the Nation has decided to become Lake County. It won’t be pretty but I’ve seen it all before.

Booshies, Yeoman, and Sturdy Peasants

The recent election of Trump to the Presidency sparked riots and protests across the Country. Just one question: What were they protesting? It certainly would have been understandable to protest his comments when he was running for office and civil disobedience will be on point when he decides to implement his more unctuous promises. But why take to the streets after his election? Are people protesting massive voter fraud? Are they complaining about his status as a political insider that shut out more mainstream competition? Neither is the case. So what is this about? Anybody?

All I can think of is that people who have not been following events or issues are now enraged that their ignorance and apathy finally caught up to them and the Country in a very nasty way. The smart money is betting that none of this rage is directed against the Democratic National Committee that pulled the rug out from under the Bernie Sanders campaign to fast tract their favorite daughter. If they had played fair then Bernie likely would have carried the rust belt, Pennsylvania, and the election. Therefore, the DNC is responsible for Trump’s new job in the Oval Office. Strangely, there have been no massive demonstrations with signs saying “Never Again” outside the DNC offices.

How did this happen? Because other than the long ignored issues themselves there are the class identities that shape a bigger view of how people see themselves and the interests they see aligned against them. Facts are not terribly important to two identified classes: one barely educated but hard working  and a middle class that believes that once they have arrived they deserve to stay there, along with their material symbols of rank. These two classes overlap in their pretensions. It has gradually dawned on both groups that the Democratic Party that was once inclusive has now cut a very different set of deals that don’t include them. Republicans are the undeserved beneficiaries.

Is there an alternative to jumping out of the Democratic frying pan and into the Republican fire? A different way of weighting facts and choosing allies may be called for. Rather than a sturdy peasantry who thinks a life of toil without complicating abstractions should be enough or a merit based bourgeois class of minor nobles, maybe the most solid aspects of both could work along with something bigger. Maybe work outside a bureaucracy or chartered corporation should be esteemed. Maybe the only status should be that conveyed by being part of a community of interests, preferably more cooperative than individualistic. This goal suggests several mental sea changes.

The first transformation must be within what’s left of our middle classes. We created a booshie wonderland that peaked in the 50’s that was based on the best of conditions that obviously weren’t going to last. When the bill for a war that was not paid for came due and corporations were given the green light to ship American jobs overseas the house of cards came tumbling down. Now it is time for the booshies to shed their phony hyper individualist identity and join the rest of humanity. Looking for scapegoats among people who never had the power to create a sharp division between haves and never-will-haves is not going to bring back an ever expanding consumer utopia.

One real identity was the workers’ quest for a fair share of the corporate booty and shorter hours to enjoy it. As their success pushed them into middle class income levels they started detaching from less successful workers and taking on booshie sensibilities and insecurities. In addition to a fair share from their work they also started assuming that their security descended from on high and not from common interest cooperation or tighter, less anonymous neighborhoods. When the corporate exodus dropped the worker backbone of America into low wage, no benefit contracting, an anger developed. Workers also looked for the culprits who stole their rosy future in unlikely places.

Angry people don’t think very well and they certainly weren’t thinking at all in the last election. But it is true that big, bold things need to be done and soon. Consider my bottom up list, “a people’s agenda” with specific plans attached. A bottom up, first things first agenda is neither reactionary or progressive nor is it moderate. First item on the agenda: take inventory of what is left to work with. How many small property owners are left without second mortgages? How many good jobs are left? How many bad jobs are left? How many people aren’t two paychecks from being tossed out on the street? Finally, what kind of usable skill base is there that can be put to use within a community?

Other agenda categories imply an economies of scale to pursue them outside the existing political and economic structure that likes things just the way they are, thank you very much. This does not mean a researched and shared knowledge base should not be used to confront indifferent politicians about what is minimally acceptable for them to be taken seriously as agents for positive change. Laws need to be changed. Voluntary legal structures need to be created for defense and lifestyle stability. Corporate intrusions into our education and health need to be rejected and replaced. Visualize  fewer cars, lawns, and hours being spent mindlessly entertained.

So what is the focus for this new or maybe very old mindset?  Its about having a place you control. Its about being able to do work for real people. Its about having some greater purpose of your own beyond acquiring, consuming, or controlling. When we were a farming country this was the “yeoman” ideal. But we are beyond that never realized state – more complications and opportunities. Often our new tools get in the way of our lofty goals. It doesn’t have to be that way. The intentional connections between people, structures, natural resources,  and within our bodies and environment are called context. A chosen context also provides a filter and focus for relevant information streams.

A yeoman today would probably not be a farmer but they would work locally to serve the local economy. A yeoman is more focused on “us” rather than “them.” There is an effort to maintain a community of action that you are not paid for and is not always fun. Mutual ownerships and memberships make dropping out or walking away inconvenient. The sturdy peasant does not see the point of effort that is not paid or fun. The booshie tends to see a world of other atomistic booshies imbedded in a envious or hostile world out to get them and theirs. The only real purpose of government is to add the security that valued chattels and paper wealth fail to provide.

Over time, the lack of social context of the peasant worker and middle class booshie created the anger and terror of everything outside their world, real or imagined. It was only time before all issues beyond their control or understanding would shrink to fear and resentment. Blaming them for honest if irrational reactions won’t change anything. Promoting the citizen yeoman option in all things will give people a positive alternative to a world out of their control. The biggest job will be taking functions away from distant power centers. Those who have benefited from centralizing wealth to pit strangers against each other will not go quietly into the night.

Brought to You by the DNC

With only Michigan still hanging in the balance, the Presidential Election is Done. Trump was an unlikely nominee and an unlikely victor, at least according to polls. But polls don’t count a lot of things. They don’t count a dislike of polls and how they are used. They don’t count the distrust of a corporate media which has their own agenda. They certainly have no way of registering the intensity of betrayal, unfocused rage, humiliation, and a singleminded determination to make someone, anyone pay for what is essentially the end of hope, patience, and confidence in conventional wisdom.

The media of course pointed out the corrosive, self centeredness of Trump when he was still a contender for the Republican nomination. The other candidates pulled away from him because of his bluntness but most of them had been carefully cultivating the soil of resentment for some time. After all the Republicans’ opportunistic promises, the faithful were demanding that the insider Senators and Governors lusting for the brass ring to spell out exactly where the harvest was, dammit. The more the polite candidates isolated him the more he stood out. The more the media attacked him for his divisiveness the better he looked to his core supporters. Trump’s numbers went up after every smug expose’.

It didn’t hurt Trump that the other primary pretenders were putting all their chips on one losing number or another. “I’m the Jesus candidate.” “I’m the Black candidate.” “I’m the woman candidate.” “I’m the hereditary dynasty candidate.” I’m the…..you get the idea. The Republicans started a high stakes game that an outsider was now better at playing. Trump only bet on one number too but it was a comparative winner – “I’m not an elected politician and I have enough money to make the Republican negative program happen without donors who have strings attached.” Bingo – a winner – so to speak. In the kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is king.

Although the Trump strategy was a winner to get the nomination it should have guaranteed a 1964 Goldwater type train wreck in the general election. Fortunately for him the Democratic Party National Committee came to his rescue. The Country just went through eight years of shell shock after the 2008 crash with only some short term stimulus, no recovery for those taking the big hits, and no jail time for those responsible. Now someone who had been drawing big administration checks all that time thinks she should be President. Virtually all the grass roots, progressive, and blue collar families who went from 60 to 0 in 5 seconds said, “I don’t think so.” An old independent Senator who registered Democrat to fill the void stepped forward.

In America it’s tacitly accepted that you can lie, cheat, and steal to get something in politics as long as you stay within bounds. One of those bounds is that competition among fellow travelers should not descend into fatally backstabbing each other. This would weaken the commitment of the faithful in the General Election. The Republican Party understands this point. The Democratic Party decided to do something different.

A micro cabal of self important dictators, called the Democratic National Committee, decided that anyone who challenged “their” anointed choice for President should be subjected to every trick in the book. They also saw nothing wrong with funneling all money for the Democratic Party to the DNC’s chosen one. What do we care about what a bunch of stupid peasants say in silly primaries?

In spite of overwhelming support of the rank and file, big money prevailed. Incredibly, the DNC thought that the millions who threw their heart and soul behind a game changer would forgive and forget to close ranks against some mythical common enemy. Most Bernie supporters did not have “stupid” tattooed on their foreheads.

Much to the surprise of the professional pundits, the howls of pain and anguish of Trump supporters prevailed over the arrogance of the Democratic establishment. The rust belt that went for Obama in 2008, defected to Trump. Pennsylvania one of the five biggest states: Obama in 2008, Trump in 2016. Obama got North Carolina, a Southern state, in 2008. Lost to Trump in 2016. Trump’s victory was in spite of thinking conservatives defecting to the Libertarian Gary Johnson campaign. It took both major parties together to fantastically screw up to get Donald Trump elected. Maybe we need to dump this anomaly called the two-party system. It breeds an opportunism the future cannot afford.

People who do not share Trump’s simple scapegoat values were angry after the election. They were so angry they decided to join Trump supporters and stop thinking, looking for their own scapegoats. They didn’t have to look far. Trump was the reason Trump was elected and they would riot and hold self righteous demonstrations to protest this reality.

None of these sore losers have the attention span to move on the causes of successive Wall Street crashes, an eight year do nothing administration, a DNC Hell bent on destroying any sign of intelligent life in the Democratic Party, and a 20 year campaign of voter disenfranchisement by the Republican Party. Trump was the beneficiary not the cause of this malfeasance.

In the next two years America needs to take off its dunce hat and put on its thinking hat. Defensively, we need to fund legal action to protect what’s left of our civil rights. But real change will require crafting a researched, long term agenda outside both major political parties. Fact finding across disciplines is not fun and sometimes reveals hard truths. American media will not help and sneer at you. Aggressive bottom up organizing for purposes of supplanting not serving the political and media elite is long, hard work. It is far easier to blame some egotistical, loutish, oaf, who never tried to disguise it, for the desperate choice of the people than it is to take direct responsibility for solving problems going back decades.