A LAST-MINUTE EFFORT, A GOOD HEAD START, AND A COLLISION OF CULTURES

12 07 2020

The national uprising over police violence, and the consequent calls to “defund the police,” aka shifting the money spent on police into programs that don’t require a heavily armed person with a heavily armed vehicle to carry them out, programs that address difficult situations and individuals in a community before those situations and individuals get to the point where it seems as if a heavily armed person, in a heavily armed vehicle, is the best way to deal with whatever, or whoever, is the source of the disrupted civic peace.

I think this is a much more reasonable approach to public safety than the armed alternative. As Abraham Maslow said,  “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” If  your primary, tool is a firearm, then you end up, um, “nailing” people a lot more often that is really necessary. After all, the anti-police uprising was about the fact that the vast majority of African-Americans killed by police officers were unarmed, and otherwise posed no serious threat to the officer who murdered them.

I think an urban legend of yore will serve us well here. When I was a kid, there was a kind of meme around about calling the fire department to get your cat out of a tree. You don’t really need the fire department for that, especially if they sometimes take out their high-pressure hoses and blow the cat out of the tree so he falls to his death, and then use the stream from the hoses to break out a few neighborhood windows  and soak down the inside of some people’s houses just for good measure, instead of just climbing up a ladder to rescue the cat.

Unfortunately for defunding advocates here in Nashville, defunding became a national issue just as Nashville’s new budget, a year in the making, was coming up for final approval, a point at which it’s kind of late for radical changes in it. Despite heroic efforts by organizers and several council members, The Nashville People’s Budget Coalition‘s demands were not met, not in the slightest. The police will be adding 38 officers to the, as they say, “force,” as well as getting two new helicopters and some kind of armored vehicle. Thirty-eight entry-level police salaries of $46K/ year comes to about $1.75M.  Those new officers will probably need a nearly equivalent number of new police cars, at about $100K each–that’s $1.2 M a dozen. Nashville will be spending $12M on new police helicopters, which cost $400/hr or more to fly, and an “armored vehicle”? $200K or more, depending on how fancy you want to get.

The mayor’s budget passed.

The Nashville People’s Budget Coalition points out that

The two new MNPD helicopters approved in the Capital Spending Plan will ultimately cost the city $12 million, which taxpayers will help pay over time through debt service expenditures. With only $10 million, the Barnes Affordable Housing Trust Fund could leverage funds to provide affordable housing for more than 750 Nashvillians. Access to affordable housing is a foundation of healthy and safe communities. Helicopters are not.

Meanwhile, Gideon’s Army, which is already running a highly successful violence reduction program here in Nashville with volunteers and private money, failed to get one penny of the $2.6M that Council member Ginny Welsch (who, in full disclosure, is the manager of WRFN, but does not know I am writing this) proposed The Nashville Peoples’ Budget movement‘s budget as an amendment that would have cut $111M from the police and court budget and redirected it to a wide variety of underfunded public services. Here’s the list: Read the rest of this entry »





POLICE AND THIEVES

14 06 2020

A couple of months ago, I was talking about “black swans” coming in for a landing here in America, and, since then, lo and behold, one I didn’t mention has come in for a very splashy landing, as the police murder of George Floyd, an unarmed, co-operative, African-American suspect in a misdemeanor case proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and unleashed a flood of anti-police, anti-racism protests around the country and around the world, protests that frequently turned violent, resulting in major damage to several US cities.

floydmurder

Is this the way to treat somebody over $20? That’s the police in the street, but George Floyd was not a thief.

The violence, as it turns out, was mostly initiated by police and police-supplied provocateurs, as well as by right-wing armed resistance groups who decided that the police riots at demonstrations against police oppression of African-Americans was a good cover under which to step in and institute their own brand of anti-state violence, in hopes of sparking a widespread armed uprising. An article on Bellingcat noted:

On the Facebook page, Big Igloo Bois, which at the time of writing had 30,637 followers (when I checked, it was up to 32,000+), an administrator wrote of the protests, “If there was ever a time for bois to stand in solidarity with ALL free men and women in this country, it is now”.

They added, “This is not a race issue. For far too long we have allowed them to murder us in our homes, and in the streets. We need to stand with the people of Minneapolis. We need to support them in this protest against a system that allows police brutality to go unchecked.”

One commenter added, “I’m looking for fellow Minneapolis residents to join me in forming a private, Constitutionally-authorized militia to protect people from the MPD, which has killed too many people within the last two years.”

These exchanges offer a window into an extremely online update of the militia movement, which is gearing up for the northern summer. The “Boogaloo Bois” expect, even hope, that the warmer weather will bring armed confrontations with law enforcement, and will build momentum towards a new civil war in the United States.

I think that “the Boogaloo Bois” are missing an important point. The main thrust of the demonstrations  is not about fighting the police, it’s about the much more radical demand that American cities end policing as we know it, so there’s nobody to fight. More on that a little later.

Screenshot_2020-06-13 Convulsing in protest, US cities brace for more unrest following George Floyd death

Police defending their right to murder as they see fit. Note heavily armed protestor. Another thoroughly appropriate response from our law enforcement officers. Police in the streets, alright, but the young man with the flowers is not one of the thieves, who appear in our next illustration, but rarely in the streets…

As the protests grew and spread, things reached such a pitch that Our Dear Leader threatened to declare martial law, although everybody was careful not to call it that. In yet another surprising development, so many of our country’s top military officers publicly disagreed with that call so that the Trumpster had to walk it back. A near-coup?

One result of such widespread police violence against people who were peacefully protesting police violence is that the United States no longer has any moral authority whatsoever to criticize other countries over their handling of anti-government protests.

Read the rest of this entry »





“PLANET OF THE HUMANS” –IMPERFECT, BUT VITALLY IMPORTANT

13 05 2020

Depending on who you’re reading and your own viewpoint, “Planet of the Humans,” the new movie from Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs, is either a bomb or a bombshell.  Numerous prominent, well-respected climate activists have characterized the film as “BS” and called for it to be removed from circulation, saying  the film contains

“various distortions, half-truths and lies” and that the filmmakers “have done a grave disservice to us and the planet by promoting climate change inactivist tropes and talking points.”

Others, such as Richard Heinberg, offer a more nuanced view of the film, writing that it doesn’t always do justice to its subject, a critique of our response to the climate change we have provoked, but that, while

Planet of the Humans is not the last word on our human predicament. Still, it starts a conversation we need to have, and it’s a film that deserves to be seen.

So far, over seven and a half million people have seen it since it debuted on YouTube on the day before Earth Day, and it is, indeed, starting some conversations. I had an overall positive response to it, and have been surprised at how many, and who, among my friends have not shared my appreciation. This post/broadcast will be devoted to why I think it is a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion about how, or perhaps whether, we are going to keep the planet’s climate within bounds that will allow human beings to be part of its ecosystem, along with my criticisms of it, and my response to others’ criticisms of it. Read the rest of this entry »





WHEN THE BLACK SWANS COME HOME TO ROOST

12 04 2020

Here in Nashville, our county-wide governance body has district representatives, whose main job is to be the intermediary between the citizens of their district and the city, and “At-Large” council members, whose serve more of an oversight function, kind of like deputy mayors. In 2015, I ran for  that office, largely on a platform that the city was acting like the good times were just going to keep on rolling, but that was not really the case, and we had better do everything we could to prepare for the collapse that was coming. Two of my suggestions were  that we ought to foster local food production and create co-operatively run local industries that would produce a great many of the essentials of life that now come from far away, like shoes, clothing, and tools. I’ll talk about the relevance of those planks of my platform a little later.

I confess that I didn’t campaign very hard. I showed up at the candidate forums, figuring that I was unlikely to win, but it was important for the winning candidates to hear what I had to say, and figured I would get my message out to the general public in an interview with The Nashville Scene. The Scene, unfortunately, chose to belittle my candidacy and mostly dwelt on what a peculiar guy I am, rather than on what I had to say.

I chose not to run in the most recent Metro Council election. I had thought about this a good deal in the years since the previous election, and realized that, given the genuine technical legal complexities of writing legislation, if I were going to run again, part of my platform ought to be that I would spend much of my salary to hire a lawyer to assist me in framing my proposals appropriately. But I don’t know any such lawyer, and, even if I did, it seemed to make more sense to cut out the middle man–me–and just help the lawyer run for office. So, I contented myself with expressing my concerns to all the candidates, and got fairly sympathetic responses back from several of them, as I detailed at the time. I figured it was preferable to have council members in office who are at least aware of our long-term possibilities, and was gratified that most of those who won the multi-seat election were candidates who had responded somewhat sympathetically to my concerns.

Let’s fast-forward to our current situation. Although I have mostly been staying home (which is what I usually do anyway), last Monday afternoon at around five o’clock I found myself driving on some of Nashville’s major commuting routes, which are usually jam-packed with cars at that time of day. There was hardly anybody on the road. I stopped by “The Produce Place,” a locally-owned store that specializes in selling local produce. It was closed, because the store has cut the hours it’s open due to the pandemic. I picked up a very skinny copy of “The Nashville Scene,” no longer fat from entertainment and restaurant ads, and read that the free paper is on the ropes financially and was hoping its readers would form a financial support group so it could stay in business. The Scene, which once prided itself on tweaking the sensibilities of “the bizpigs,” as the editors called the city’s elite, is now owned by one of the wealthiest people in town, and caters to “the bizpigs,” a phrase that has not appeared in The Scene since long before they dissed my Metro Council run. I’m not sure whether I should be sympathetic to their plight or not.

But, I digress….From our home, we can often hear the roar of rush hour traffic on another major thoroughfare. Not lately. We live a couple of miles from the private-plane airport in Davidson County, and are used to having frequent low-flying small planes in our soundscape. They have grown rare. Of course, another factor there is that a tornado blew through the airport a few weeks ago and did millions of dollars worth of damage, destroying hangars and the airplanes parked in them. The upshot is, private air travel, like automobile travel, is way down. I’m glad. I’ve often wondered why it’s OK for one person in a private airplane to destroy the peace and quiet of the thousands of people who have no choice but to hear the noise.

I certainly didn’t foresee that the economic shutdown of Nashville would be due to a pandemic, but here we are, right where I ‘ve been saying we’re going. Such an unforeseeable, catastrophic event, is called “a black swan.” One definition of “black swan” that I read says that “they are obvious in hindsight.” It’s true that worldwide flu epidemics have become an accepted part of modern life, although they have never been this severe before, so yes, we should have seen this coming. In fact, disaster planners in our government did see it coming, but were ignored for the same reason the concerns I raised in my Metro Council candidacy were brushed aside:  anybody who suggests that there’s anything dangerous in our future, whether it’s a pandemic, an economic collapse (which might be set off by a pandemic),nuclear war, or climate disaster, gets short shrift from those who run our society, who are engrossed with making money and exercising power nowWe are a species that is wired to deal with immediate threats and gratification, not the long-term results of our short-sighted actions. We are going to have to change that to survive as a species. In the interest of raising human consciousness, this post is going to examine the effects of this particular “black swan,” and also note a couple more that seem to be circling and getting ready to come home to roost. Read the rest of this entry »





“I, THE LORD THY GOD, AM A JEALOUS GOD.”

8 12 2019

 

Let’s start with a disclaimer. What I am about to say is not based on any position debated, adopted, or endorsed by The Green Party, which takes no position on the existence, let alone the disposition, of Jaweh or any other deity. The only statement the Green Party has made about religion, as far as I know, is in the Ten Key Values, under the heading of “diversity,” where you can find this sentence:

We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across the human spectrum.

It is my view that having “a respectful relationship” involves knowing not only how any given belief system, and its believers, view themselves, but also having an understanding of the context of that belief system. This essay/talk is part of my attempt to understand the full context of the three “Western” religions–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

I call my blog “Deep Green Perspective” because I do my best to take the long view on the events of the moment. My intention has always been to focus on the deep roots of those events, rather than getting caught up in the push and pull of the short term. I don’t think it gets much deeper than looking at a culture’s conception of the divine. Even if you don’t think there is any such thing as “the divine,” it’s like Russiagate. Enough people believe in it so that our overall culture’s concept of Russiagate, or God, is a “real” thing.

jealousgod

Yaweh, jealous

The phrase “I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God” occurs six times in The Old Testament, a book I read repeatedly as a child. I was not being “Bible-banged.” I was genuinely interested in knowing what that book had to say. The “jealous god” phrase has been floating around in my mind ever since. Yaweh’s warning has been a central meme in our culture for the nearly two thousand years since the Judeo-Christian/Muslim world view attained dominance over the earlier, more tolerant, pantheistic cultures of Greece, Rome, and  the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »





A PECULIAR SILENCE FROM THE #METOO MOVEMENT

11 10 2019

trumpclintonpredatorshowconvenient

My first story this month is one that has vanished from corporate media. I want to not only examine it, but also examine why it got flushed down the memory hole.

As typically happens, the crew at Fourchan got something half right. They thought the Democrats were running a child porn/prostitution ring out of a pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. Sorry, guys, the Dems have more class than that. The Democrats (and their friends in the so-called intelligence community, and their, um,  “strange bedfellows” in the GOP), ran a teenage sex ring (and much, much more) out of a high-class penthouse in New York City, a ranch in New Mexico, and on an island in the Caribbean, with a special airliner, “The Lolita Express,” to ferry their victims, and their victims’ victimizers, from place to place. When Jeffrey Epstein, the man at the center of this operation, was arrested this summer, it seemed as if a great many of the wealthy, sociopathic men–and women–who call the shots in our culture were about to be caught with their pants down–literally.

What we found out was that Epstein not only provided underage girls to his wealthy clients, he made videos of what ensued. His clients were rumored to include a British Prince, current and former Presidents of Israel and the United States, and a great many other public figures. As Kevin Gostzola wrote in Mint Press: Read the rest of this entry »





INITIATION

5 05 2019

This is the final chapter of “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible,” by charles Eisenstein. The book is available on line here. Please consider supporting Charles’ visionary, transformative work by purchasing this book, or another of his works.

A man sets out to draw the world. As the years go by, he peoples a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and individuals. A short time before he dies, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the lineaments of his own face.

―Jorge Luis Borges

But will we make it? If, as in so many other questions, evidence and reason alone are insufficient to determine a belief, then how will we answer that question—especially when the answer implicates everything else, even our basic stories of self and world. I offered an answer earlier: to choose the story you will stand in.

How to choose? What will you believe, given how easily reason, logic, and evidence are conscripted to the service of a story? Here is an alternative: Choose the story that best embodies who you really are, who you wish to be, and who you are in fact becoming.

Behind the fog of helplessness of the question “Will we make it?” is a gateway to our power to choose and to create. Because written on its threshold is another question, the real question: “Who am I?”…….

initiation

music: REM “You Are The Everything

Eliza Gilkyson “Lifelines”

Rumors of the Big Wave “The Only Green World





STARTING THE REVOLUTION WITH….GOURMET HOT CHICKEN?

12 08 2018

My attention was attracted by a headline in a recent Nashville Scene:

H*t Chicken Sh**t Addresses Gentrification in North Nashville

The event, which I’m not sure how to pronounce—“Hot Chicken Shoot”? “Hit Chicken Shi..”….well, never mind–was an effort by Nigerian-American gourmet chef Tunde Wey to call together some movers and shakers to not merely discuss gentrification over a “gentrification priced” $55 dinner, but to actually start funding a community land trust that will “allow residents to buy affordable homes while the land is owned by a non-profit in the community.”

I think this is really good news. I’ve been one of those beating the drum for community land trusts as a way to address gentrification  and was happy to see it featured so prominently at the Co-op Nashville conference a few years back. Recently I’ve been wondering what happened to all the positive energy that was generated at that gathering, so it was very sweet to get an answer without even having to go look.

I wish Tunde Wey and his friends every success in this venture. I hope to send some money  their way, and I hope you will, too. But, being a “deep green perspective” kind of guy, I also have some further thoughts about this project, and that’s what I want to share with you.

This story kind of reminds me of the peace activist slogan “”It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.” Here in Nashville, we just went through a massive campaign to pass additional taxes for a public transit system that was widely, and correctly, perceived as a tool for further gentrification of the city. “I’ve already got developers calling me about property (along the proposed light rail route)” one advocate of the plan said, on camera.  (Oops!) This plan was defeated, largely by those who realized it was going to gentrify them right out of town. Something that does seem to be going through, on the other hand, is a “major-league soccer stadium” that will undoubtedly raise property values in its neighborhood, which happens to be one of the remaining pockets of affordable housing. The good news is that the soccer stadium plan is structured to listen and respond to input from the surrounding community. The relevant part of this story, however, is that Metro Nashville is issuing $275M in bonds to pay for the project, with the expectation that the stadium will do well enough financially to pay that back.

Read the rest of this entry »





DISRUPTION

8 07 2018

prettyswiftThis is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s 2013 book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.” Due to this chapter’s length, I am only reading part of it this month. The beginning of the chapter, and the end of this month’s reading, are reproduced below. You can find the whole chapter here.

It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

—Jonathan Swift

The world as we know it is built on a story. To be a change agent is, first, to disrupt the existing Story of the World, and second, to tell a new Story of the World so that those entering the space between stories have a place to go. Often, these two functions merge into one, since the actions we take that are part of the telling of a new story are also disruptive to the old.

This is how I see my work, the work of activists, and even on some level the work of artists and healers. Many of the stories I have told in this book exemplify the disruption of the old story: Pancho’s interaction with the policeman, for instance. I will share some more examples soon, but let’s start by considering a class of people that is the source of the greatest despair for many people I know. It is the class of “people who just don’t get it.”……

…..I believe the conversation must go deeper still. What that Nestlé VP did to justify her company, others can do to justify our whole civilization, as long as we grant them certain premises about the nature of life, self, and reality. For example, if we grant the premise that primitive life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” then any doubts about the overall beneficence of technology run into a brick wall. Similarly, if we grant the premise that nature bears no inherent tendency toward organization and that life is just a random collocation of lifeless, generic building blocks bumped around by purposeless forces, then clearly we need have no scruples about seeking to conquer nature and turn it toward human ends. And finally, if we grant the premise that each of us is a discrete, separate self seeking to maximize genetic self-interest, then ultimately there is no arguing over the broad legal and economic parameters of our society, which seek to overcome that wanton nature and channel it toward pro-social ends.

The Nestlé VP’s views are more or less sound within the framework I have described above, the framework of “making life better through technology,” of the progressive conquest of inner and outer nature. Her views will not change until that framework crumbles. They are completely at home within the Story of Ascent.

I have to note that I take issue with what I regard as Eisenstein’s overly generous characterization of climate change deniers, since we now know, much more clearly now than when this book was written, that the big oil companies became aware of the profoundly dangerous consequences of their business back in the 70’s, and chose to hide what they knew and dispute the revelations of others in the interests of short-term profits. Back then, it would have been much easier to change course than it is now, both because so much polluting infrastructure has been built and because we are now running out of time before the changes wrought by our use of oil and coal send the planet’s climate too far out of control for anything but a crash landing.

I suspect that many corporate executives like the one Eisenstein writes about in this chapter may likewise be well aware that the one percent is quite consciously sucking the rest of us, and the planet, dry. Be that as it may, however, they are human beings like us, and if we are going to create, as I said earlier in this show, “a culture that is equitable, ecological, responsible, visionary, and tolerant,” it is going to have to find a way to include these people. That is exactly the issue Eisenstein is addressing here, so tune in next month for the next exciting instalment–or read the book yourself, if you can’t stand to wait.

music: “Pulled Up,” Talking Heads

Am,” Umar Bin Hassan

On the August “Green Hour,” I began reading with this, and concluded with the end of the chapter:

I heard another smart guy one morning on The Diane Rehm Show, an energy industry consultant. One of the topics was the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, intended to transport Albertan tar sands oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The consultant made the following point, which I will paraphrase: “Look, if we don’t build the pipeline, the refineries on the Gulf Coast are just going to refine heavy crude from somewhere else, and the tar sands will send their oil to Asia instead of the United States. Stopping the pipeline won’t have any impact on climate change or ecosystem destruction. That oil is going to be extracted and refined anyway, so it might as well be done in a way that brings jobs to the United States.”

Philosophers of ethics would have fun demolishing these arguments, which would apply just as well to selling body parts from the Nazi concentration camps. Whether I sell them or not, the camps are still operating, so I might as well put those body parts to good use, right? The point here, though, isn’t to expose the logical flaws in the justifications for the Keystone XL pipeline or plastic bottles, but to show how the things we take for granted determine our moral choices. In the reality bubble they inhabit, their arguments make perfect sense. If it is indeed an unalterable fact of the universe that the tar sands will be extracted, then it would be vain and counterproductive to disdainfully refuse to engage that fact. If our current petroleum-based civilization is unalterable, then we might commend Nestlé for putting its waste to good use. If we take the growing busyness of people’s lives for granted, then we must welcome the conveniences that make modern life tolerable. Within their operating paradigms, both these smart people are doing good……..

…..

Years later, he says, he still gets emails from those participants, telling him that their lives have never been the same since. “Tell me when you give another seminar,” they say. “I don’t care what the topic is.”

The power of that act of generosity was far beyond the mere economic impact on the working-class janitors. Its power lay in its violation of the laws of reality as the janitors, their supervisor, and the seminar participants had known them. The impossible happened, that day. Experiences like that tell us, “The world doesn’t work the way you thought it did. The realm of the possible is greater than you believed it was.”

Music: “Money” — Pink Floyd

Waiting for a Miracle” –Jerry Garcia Band





A SECOND AMENDMENT FOR THE STONE AGE

13 05 2018

the original founders of a certain modern arms manufacturing company…..

When you get right down to it, a firearm is, indeed, an extension of the human arm. With the aid of a very small fire–the explosion of the gunpowder in the bullet–it enables a person to throw a very small rock, aka a bullet, much faster and farther than would be possible manually. The result is that a rock so small that it would be unlikely to do any damage if thrown by hand can seriously wound or kill a person, or any other animal that it hits.

The great-great……great granddaddy of the AR-15

I thought it would be interesting to translate current concerns about firearms into equivalent statements about stones. Here’s what I came up with, followed by some commentary.

Remember—The Constitution supports your right to keep, carry, and throw stones!

The best way to stop a bad guy from throwing stones is for good guys to carry stones and be ready to throw them.

School teachers should have a drawer full of stones and know how to throw them, in case some kid starts throwing stones.

Whether you are considered a mass murderer or a war hero depends entirely on the circumstances under which you throw stones.

Don’t let the stone control crowd cut your rocks off!

Remember, your Constitutional right to keep and bear stones is protected by the NRA (Neolithic Rock Association).

The first three statements are similar enough that I’m going to comment on them all together. What would it say about society if some percentage of the people in it only felt safe if they were carrying around a bag of rocks, out of fear that somebody else who was carrying a bag of rocks would just randomly start throwing rocks at them? Read the rest of this entry »








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