Monday, December 31, 2012

NRA Lies Exposed

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The NRA wants you to believe that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives them an unqualified, blank check right to 'keep and bear' arms as they choose. That's not so! The Second Amendment --from which the right to 'own and bear' arms is derived --is a single sentence':

 A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
U. S. v Miller is the only U.S. Supreme Court decision that directly "interprets" the Second Amendment. U.S. v Miller clearly states that the right to keep and bear arms occurs ONLY within the context of a "...well-regulated militia."
All other Federal decisions and state decisions having anything to do with the Second Amendment reference U.S. v Miller to the extent that they address that issue specifically. It is, at last, the only opinion regarding an interpretation of the Second Amendment that is, in fact, law.

The GPO report is an exhaustive source of original, official sources having to do with the Second Amendment. ONE of the original sources is U.S. v Miller (1939), the decision that is considered by scholars to be the most important. U. S. v Miller is the only U.S. Supreme Court decision that directly "interprets" the Second Amendment.

U.S. v Miller states clearly states that the right to keep and bear arms occurs only within the context of a "...well-regulated militia." All other Federal decisions and state decisions having anything to do with the Second Amendment reference U.S. v Miller to the extent that they address that issue specifically.

Before getting to the sources themselves, consider the following quote from R. William Ide III, former President of the American Bar Association, who stated bluntly in 1994:
"There is NO Second Amendment guarantee. There is NO confusion on this issue."

R. W. Ide [emphases mine, LH].
Further --the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association on firearms Violence stated that the Second Amendment "...relates to a well-regulated militia and that there are NO federal constitutional decisions which preclude the regulation of firearms in private hands." To sum it up, Erwin Griswold, the late Solicitor General put it this way:
Never in history has a federal court invalidated a law regulating the private ownership of firearms on Second Amendment grounds. That the Second Amendment poses no barrier to strong gun laws is perhaps the most well-settled proposition in American Constitutional law.

– Erwin Griswold, Solicitor General
In 1934, Congress reacted to gangster related violence by enacting the National Firearms Act which prohibited the interstate transportation of silencers, automatic weapons, and sawed-off shotguns. Jack Miller appealed his conviction under that law. He claimed that Congress had violated his Second Amendment rights. The court gave consideration to "...the dependent clause" of the Second Amendment --the first part which establishes the context of the Amendment as a whole: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state..." The following is an excerpt from the court's opinion:
In the absence of any evidence tending to show that the possession or use of a "shot gun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length" at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such instrument Certainly it is not within Judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense.

–United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) (USSC+)
The Supreme Court decisions continued, saying that the obvious purpose of the Second Amendment was "...to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of the state militia". The court concluded that the Second Amendment must be interpreted and applied with that end in view." The views are to be found in United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939) (USSC+)
Our most recent treatment of the Second Amendment occurred in United States v. Miller, in which we reversed the District Court's invalidation of the National Firearms Act, enacted in 1934. In Miller, we determined that the Second Amendment did not guarantee a citizen's right to possess a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had not been shown to be "ordinary military equipment" that could "contribute to the common defense."

--Printz v. United States, 117 S.Ct. 2365, 2385-86 (1997) (Thomas, J., concurring)
The conclusions drawn by the court address the possession and use of guns within the context of a "militia". By the definition given in any dictionary, the U.S. Army is a militia. However the courts define "militia", the Second Amendment clearly addresses "well-regulated militias". Common-sense, law, English common law, and tradition would dictate that only a sovereign government of duly elected and ordained elected representatives of the people may regulate militias. If not, then who? Unregulated bands operating outside the law is unacceptable in any civilized society. The self-appointed "militia" groups clearly do NOT meet the requirement established in the Second Amendment and in U.S. v Miller which recounts the legitimate purposes that a "well-regulated militia" may pursue under law.

To sum up: U. S. v Miller is the only U.S. Supreme Court decision that directly "interprets" the Second Amendment. U.S. v Miller clearly states that the right to keep and bear arms occurs only within the context of a "...well-regulated militia."

All other Federal decisions and state decisions having anything to do with the Second Amendment reference U.S. v Miller to the extent that they address that issue specifically. It is, at last, the only opinion regarding an interpretation of the Second Amendment that is in fact, law --your experts and mine notwithstanding.

A thousand experts are either right or wrong on merit; the number of experts on either side is irrelevant. There are such things as "honest" disagreements. However, the official positions of the NRA re: the Second Amendment are NOT of this class. They are, rather, a pack of malicious lies, propaganda, distortions, and half truths.

Almost ten years ago, my article with the same title was published on 'The Opinion', a pioneering 'opinion' site presaging the onset of 'blogs'. To be expected, I was attacked by a legion of brainwashed NRA ditto-heads who called me names, called me 'stupid', and presumed to 'instruct me' with respect to the opinions of the 'founders'. Naturally, I refuted every NRA attacker not with my own logic or perspectives but with the writings of the 'founders' themselves, U.S. v Miller and every other decision that SCOTUS and Federal courts have handed down, as well as the writings of founders that gun nuts had said would have opposed me. They didn't! In fact, my argument is that of the founders themselves.

As a result of that experience, I concluded that the NRA is an organization of liars, dumbshits, ignoramouses, intolerant ideologues, obnoxious would-be thugs and a legion of Wayne LaPierre wannabes. In other words: fucking liars! Their lies and propaganda are not welcome on this site. The NRA has enough money to buy time on the corporate media! The NRA can fuck off!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How Keynes Got it Right and the 'Right' Got it Wrong!

by Len Hart, the Existentialist Cowboy

Many have proposed a 'flat' tax. It sounds good but isn't! Flat taxes are not really 'flat'. Ten percent of the income of a poor or middle person is a much, much greater burden than is the same percentage against the income of a millionaire. The difference is that merely keeping a roof over the family's head and food on the table is a MUCH bigger percentage of income/wealth for a poor or middle class family.

The very, very wealthy, in fact, find it difficult to spend all their wealth. What is left over after the cost of maintaining a villa in Spain or a swanky lodge in the Alps is invested in enterprises that earn even more wealth. Moreover, even Libertarians --if pressed --may admit that 10%, 20%, 30% percent, indeed, any percentage of a poor person's income is a much greater burden than almost any rate on the income of a millionaire! Among the many reasons this is so is that mere necessities --food, water and to varying degrees, shelter --are not only fixed, they will always amount to a much higher PERCENTAGE of a poor or middle class budget than that of the budget of a multi-millionaire or richer.

Libertarians, however, will maintain that income tax is immoral because tax policy may have the effect of re-distributing wealth and income. My reply is that when just one percent of a nation's population owns more than the rest of the population combined, it is time to raise taxes on the very rich.
The whole system is pure criminal as from the installation of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 by Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Not only the American people suffers, the whole world has been sandwiched by the private banks behind the central banking system.

--G. Edward Griffin, Legalized Plunder of the American People
The best argument against a flat tax, ironically, has come from a so-called 'libertarian' who wrote:
That 10 percent is a greater burden on the poor than is 10 percent on the very rich is the very reason that income tax is immoral --as it is currently imposed upon us.
Alas! The Libertarian does not go far enough. A flat tax of any sort will penalize the poor while enriching the rich.

During the 'Great Depression', the American comedian Bob Hope was asked to comment on it. He quipped (and I paraphrase)
"..I looked up the word depression. A 'depression' is a hole. I looked up 'hole'. A hole is 'nothing'. So --if you think I am going to waste my time talking about nothing, you have another think coming!"
There is nothing mysterious about depressions. They are defined by 'negative GDP growth' from which follows negative job creation rates --not to be confused with mere slowdowns or periods of slow growth. Thus depressions are disastrous for the poor. The very, very rich can actually benefit from them by buying bargains that are beyond the reach of the poorer or middle classes. The 'ruling elites' are capable of rigging markets with cleverly timed 'sell-offs'. They have the luxury of buying back in at bargain prices.

A 'depression' is a period of 'contraction'. In the U.S. every recession/depression at least since World War II has occurred during a Republican administration. That is but one reason I am not now nor have I ever been a Republican.

If FDR had been either a Republican or what is commonly called a 'libertarian' (in the Ron Paul sense of the word) the U.S. would have eventually collapsed. Even so, it may have required the U.S. entry into WWII following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to get the U.S. into the war. As a stimulus, 'war' created millions of new jobs and put women to work where --earlier --their presence had been unknown. The image of 'Rosie the Riveter' is still symbolic of the period. The good effect is that women would never again consent willingly to 'second class' citizen status.

As for Keynes, he would not have been surprised by the American experience. He was, after all, famous for his proposal that in times of increased joblessness, the government may do well to bury 'pound notes' in a landfill and let 'private enterprise' dig them up.

If it's all about jobs, why wait for a war to create jobs? A 'liberal' administration has a responsibility to society overall --not just to the 'ruling elites' who finance his campaigns. Rather, a liberal and/or progressive regime will support a more egalitarian society, in fact, a more efficient society as a result.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Why We Are Not Free

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

While it may be true that all societies indulge a process called 'criminalization', it seems that in the U.S. the process has been to an even greater extent institutionalized. Both crime rates and the profits of the so-called "Prison Industrial Complex" (P.I.C.) depend upon the criminalization of various behaviors, most notably, the cultivation and/or use of marijuana, a so-called 'drug' which many believe and support is not only hamless and non-addictive, its many uses could be of tremendous benefit to society.

'Criminalization' is often 'race-based', perhaps intended to justify endemic prejudice or bigotry. There is no reasonable doubt that persons of color are more often targeted by law enforcement. A study conducted in 1996 focused on Interstate 95 in Maryland; it found that almost 75 percent of motorists stopped for alleged traffic violations were 'black' though 'black' motorists constituted less than 18 percent of all motorists on Interstate 95.

Minorities are, likewise, more often to be surveilled! Such surveillance includes 'electronic monitoring' --video, audio, mail, etc. These tactics are often employed as devices of intimidation. That is most often the case with 'political dissidents'.

The answer to the question --'who gets watched' --defines the sweep and depth of surveillance as a means by which the 'state' may monitor and restrain citizens of any color or political persuasion. As a result, the mere present of police becomes an omnipresent means by which 'social control' is maintained. The presence of 'police' is a constant reminder that 'big brother' is watching. The message is clear: the police may routinely resort to violence to maintain a status quo beneficial to but a mere segment of the total population.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Short List of Bush's Lies About 911

by Len Hart, the Existentialist Cowboy

It was Conan Doyle who said:
When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains however implausible must be the truth!"
Let's put Doyle's dictum to a real world test. Let's see if the Bush conspiracy theory of 911 passes muster. It doesn't! In fact, Bush's every lie shoots down his so-called 'official conspiracy theory' of 911, i.e, a conspiracy of some 19 Arab Hijackers. In the case of 911, there are but two possibilities and one of them --the 'official' conspiracy theory is, simply, a bald-faced lie.

Following is a short list of holes in the Bush conspiracy theory. Any one of them exposes the Bush administration to be --at the very least --complicit liars after the fact. Worse --Bush's overt lies have obstructed justice and facilitated the felony destruction of evidence relative to 911. Only those guilty of a crime are motivated to lie about it! Bush, indeed his administration, lied about 911!

Bush lied!

If Bush lied about 911, his sole motivation for lying is called GUILT! Let's consider in turn a short list of Bush's lies about 911!
  1. None of the alleged terrorists can be proven to have boarded any flight let alone those that were said to have been hijacked. CHECK the official BTS records ---NONE of the flights can be verified. I found official and admissible records from AA to the effect that Flight 77 (for one) did not fly on 911. So ---if it did not fly, then how did it manage to crash into the Pentagon?
  2. No Pentagon wreckage was ever traced to any airliner, let alone Flt 77. At the Pentagon, NO airliner wreckage of any kind was ever recovered or traced to any airliner of any sort! How was it able to crash into the Pentagon without leaving behind a SCRAP of wreckage? The ONLY traceable scrap was a SINGLE engine rotor (airliners have 2 engines, thus, 2 rotors)!
  3. The only obvious wreckage was a single engine rotor but it is about 1/3 the size of TWO much larger rotors that would have been left behind had Flt 77 struck the Pentagon. This wreckage was NOT found at the Pentagon simply because 77 never struck the Pentagon.
  4. The ONLY engine rotor that was found at the Pentagon would most certainly have been traced to a U.S. GLOBAL HAWK, a payload carrying missile that can be flown completely by remote control. Google it!
  5. The official autopsy of Pentagon victims was released via an FOIA request to Dr. Olmstead. There were no Arab names on the list.
  6. Hani Hanjour is said by Bushco to have piloted Fl 77! But, according to the Washington Post, Hani Hanjour did not have a ticket! How did he get on board? He didn't! And that is consistent with the fact that there are NO Arab names on the official autopsy report released via an FOIA request.
  7. Flight 77 Cockpit Door Never Opened During 9/11 “Hijack”. Was Hanjour so skinny that he was able to slide under the door and into the cockpit? Had he hoped to take David Copperfield's place?
  8. Pilots for 911 Truth filed an FOIA request and received data that the NTSB claimed was that of Flight 77! The data indicated that Flt 77 was some 200 feet ABOVE the Pentagon at the time it is said to have crashed into the Pentagon. Certainly, even Flight 77 cannot be in two places at the same time.
  9. American Airlines is the source for information that AA Flights 11 (North Tower) and 77 (Pentagon) did not fly on 911.
  10. No wreckage traceable to any airliner was ever recovered in New York.
  11. With respect to New York --airliner fuselages are made of aluminum; both the dense inner core and the outer cladding of the towers was hard steel. As a result, NONE of the alleged airliners could have penetrated either the dense outer cladding or the equally dense inner core.
  12. Neither the core nor the cladding would have melted or weakened by a puny kerosene fire. (Jet fuel is just kerosene) I daresay you would be hard pressed to melt a tin can with a kerosene fire. Try it!
  13. A smoking gun is the confirmed presence of thermite without which the tower would not have collapsed. And --no --the source of the thermite was not the airliners which were 'said' to have crashed into the towers. The towers were, in fact, prepped in advance as is evidenced by the verifiable 'free fall' perfectly matching that of known controlled demolitions.
  14. The fall of the towers look like controlled demolitions because that is what they were in fact!
  15. WTC 7 is one of several smoking guns! It fell at 'free fall'; speed though it had never been struck by any airliner. It must have been prepped in advance. There is simply no other credible explanation.
In law --those who assert MUST PROVE! Bush asserted but PROVED NOTHING! Having no arguments or evidence in his support, Bush THREATENED US. He 'warned' us not to subscribe to outrageous 'conspiracy theories' with one breath and with the very next breath he proposed his own conspiracy theory. It was, in fact, the most outrageous, the stupidest conspiracy theory of them all.

On the topic of 911, Americans will persist in indulging a blind spot, a blind spot that defies intelligence, logic and sanity. Clue: the dictum in both law and debate is this: THOSE WHO ASSERT MUST PROVE! Bush asserted, put forward a 'conspiracy theory' while denouncing conspiracy theories. Bush threatened but offered neither proof nor evidence to support his pack of treasonous lies! And even worse, he literally blackmailed the nation into believing his load of treasonous lies, bunkum and bullshit.

THOSE WHO ASSERT MUST PROVE!

Bush exploited the failure of American education. For example, some 'message boards" have comments like this: "...uh...dude, then who flew the planes into the towars?" The quick response: where's the proof that airliners were flown into skyscrapers? Explaining that is Bush's problem --not mine! It's his cover story, it's his lie, it's his bullshit.

FACT: NO AIRLINER is capable of penetrating the hard steel outer cladding of towers 1 and 2.

Ergo --BUSH HAS TO COME UP WITH A BETTER COVER STORY ---not me! I am merely pointing out HOLES in his THEORY that are so large, you can run a locomotive through them.

Monday, December 10, 2012

When Native Americans Created Utopia

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

St. Thomas More's 'Utopia' was, interestingly, set in the New World. What More may not have known, however, is that many Native American tribes may have created a real utopia.

The Arawaks, for example. The Arawaks --wiped out entirely in an act of genocide perpetrated by Christopher Columbus --were notable for their crime free society, the equality accorded women, the utter lack of 'private property'. 'Private property' was a concept unknown to them.
Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:
    They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned... . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... . They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.

These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.

--Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States, Chapter 1: Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress

Other tribes, likewise, approached utopia, notably the Iroquois Confederation which heavily influenced the writing of the U.S. Constitution.
The Council of the Mohawk shall be divided into three parties as follows: Tekarihoken, Ayonhwhathah and Shadekariwade are the first party; Sharenhowaneh, Deyoenhegwenh and Oghrenghrehgowah are the second party, and Dehennakrineh, Aghstawenserenthah and Shoskoharowaneh are the third party. The third party is to listen only to the discussion of the first and second parties and if an error is made or the proceeding is irregular they are to call attention to it, and when the case is right and properly decided by the two parties they shall confirm the decision of the two parties and refer the case to the Seneca Lords for their decision. When the Seneca Lords have decided in accord with the Mohawk Lords, the case or question shall be referred to the Cayuga and Oneida Lords on the opposite side of the house.

6. I, Dekanawidah, appoint the Mohawk Lords the heads and the leaders of the Five Nations Confederacy. The Mohawk Lords are the foundation of the Great Peace and it shall, therefore, be against the Great Binding Law to pass measures in the Confederate Council after the Mohawk Lords have protested against them.

No council of the Confederate Lords shall be legal unless all the Mohawk Lords are present.

--Iroquois Constitution, Rights of the People of the Five Nations
Other tribes were equally advanced --the Choctaw, Cherokee, and farther north --the Mandan. Tragically, all the tribes were the victims of acts of genocide. I am of Choctaw/Cherokee descent but know very little of my ancestry but what had been handed down to my mother. In the case of the Mandan, less than 100 pure blood Mandan survive.

But --they had proven: Utopia IS possible.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why GOP Administrations are Economic Failures that Prove Marx Correct

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

When Bush Sr fought against, perhaps vanquished 'supply-side economics', it was hoped that the horrible Reagan years could be, would be consigned to the 'dust bin of history'! But no! It was left to 'Shrub', George W. Bush, to unleash unholy forces in order to breathe life into "trickle down theory" otherwise called 'supply side economics!

As it was taken off life support, it was surely Dick 'cyborg' Cheney who may well have yelled: It's ALIVE!

Cheney, of course, professed the Reagan doctrine: "Deficits don't matter". This is a bona fide case of terminal denial and accounts for supply-sider control of the Republican party. But what about Obama? He inherited a run-away train in search of its wreck. As Obama prepared to occupy the White House, the debt grew. Meanwhile, the caped villain (Cheney) and his budding monster(Bush) were still at work licking their chops and dreaming of fight night!

It's ALIVE! It's ALIVE!

Debt had accelerated during Bush's last two budget years. Although Obama had not been directly responsible for that acceleration, the train wreck had been left to him.

As the GOP are wont to do, Bush set records, in fact, the all-time record by increasing the debt by $1.1 trillion in a mere 100 days between July 30 and Nov 9, 2008.

Then there was the not-so-small matter of recession. To be expected, recessions cut tax revenues significantly and this fact may account for the GOP's sorry record of running up the highest debts and deficits! This has been the case since prior to the Great Depression. It is the pattern that is repeated in every GOP administration since H. Hoover's "Great Depression".

In this case, however, GOP mismanagement accounts for almost half of the deficit. We can be sure that the GOP were prepared to blame Obama for the deficit though his only crime was that timing. Machiavelli might have advised him to sit it out, let the GOP take the rap! Let the GOP face the music and dance quickly out to the door to oblivion. Blaming Obama for the full deficit was said to have been akin to "blaming him for not raising the tax rate to keep tax revenues up".
In times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift or joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands.

Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a genuinely revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product. The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay, more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history.

If, by chance, they are revolutionary, they are only so in view of their impending transfer into the proletariat; they thus defend not their present, but their future interests; they desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat. The "dangerous class", the social scum, that passively rotting mass thrown off by the lowest layers of the old society, may, here and there, be swept into the movement by a proletarian revolution; its conditions of life, however, prepare it far more for the part of a bribed tool of reactionary intrigue. In the condition of the proletariat, those of old society at large are already virtually swamped.

The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations; modern industry labor, modern subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character. Law, morality, religion, are to him so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests.

All the preceding classes that got the upper hand sought to fortify their already acquired status by subjecting society at large to their conditions of appropriation. The proletarians cannot become masters of the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation. They have nothing of their own to secure and to fortify; their mission is to destroy all previous securities for, and insurances of, individual property.

-- Karl Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party
In the U.S. it is the GOP which consistently advocates, perhaps fronts, the interests of its primary sponsor: the ruling elite of just 1 percent of the total population. In effect, every real person but those among the top 1 percent are without representation in what is said to be the world's largest "Democracy". Is it really a 'democracy'? It is ironic that while Marx is most demonized by this unholy alliance, it is the existence of the unholy alliance itself which proves Marx to have been correct about almost everything.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why The GOP Occupied Texas

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

It only takes one crook/moron to ruin the reputation of an entire state. Yes --I am referring to George W. Bush though he is but one crook among many GOP crooks who 'stole' Texas back in the early 80s. The GOP plans ahead.

I tire of the 'fashionable' but baseless attacks on an entire state when for some 100 years, Texas had been liberal, often progressive. Now --there are some 'conservatives' among Democrats even today. But Texas Democrats were often liberal, progressive, activist and out-spoken.  A Texas liberal/progressive --J. Frank Dobie --was invited to lecture at Cambridge where he was a big hit.

Some facts: Over a period of more than 100 years (1846 to 1979) EVERY Texas governor had been Democratic. Most were liberal and/or progressive. The term 'progressive' is especially applicable to the Furgusons --'Pa' Furguson and later 'Ma' (Miriam) Furguson who served two terms. 'Ma' Furguson was fondly recalled by the older persons I met and talked with while growing up. She was among the state's best governors.

It was not until January 16, 1979 that Bill Clements --a Republican --occupied the Governor's office. His tenure is recalled for a GOP revolution primarily TOM DELAY'S GERRYMANDER of the state. The GOP were motivated to gerrymander Texas. Its growing population had earned the state some 38 electoral votes (the map pre-dates that, showing only 34)

I won't write any more than this as this topic is worthy of a book advocating the abolition of the electoral college. Under the Constitution, the office of President represents all of the people! Then ---why is the President NOT elected by the people? Why are their votes watered-down? What right have the states to insert themselves in the election of the People's President (not the states' president)?

It is tragic that the GOP has succeeded in convincing the rest of the world that Texas is a conservative backwater. Great schools with great academic credentials (Rice Univ, U of T, Univ of Houston, et al, et al ) suffer when the state is unfairly maligned as a result of misdeeds by George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Tom DeLay (who gerrymandered the state) Bill Clements and other right wing extremists whose ruthless ambition has victimized Texas in particular and the nation overall.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Romney Shirked

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

It was a dark and stormy night. Having strapped the dog atop the car, the Romney family embarked upon the long road to oblivion and mormons. The trip itself was uneventful, disturbed only by the flapping of dog ears in the lonely wind! It was, of course, fate. Fate! Fate to which Mitt would never submit or acknowledge. Mitt had to make this trip by car. As a matter of principle, he would never allow his dog or family aboard a craft that did not have roll down windows!

Ms Mitt sat by the window, her head thrown back defiantly in defeat. One of her two legs stretched across floorboard. If she expected Mitt to be aroused, she was sorely disappointed.

The window frame trembled with the speed of motion despite the fact that the speed limit was posted --20 MPH. The window pane hung over empty darkness, and dots of light slashed across the glass as luminous streaks, once in a while, not often, and even then not worth mentioning. She was disappointed to learn that they were only fireflies.

Mitt --for just about one second and a half --considered surrender, completely, utterly! That did not last long. Even as he tried to forget everything, he suddenly remembered it all. 'Darn it', he said aloud! 'Frap! Why can't I just permit myself to feel? Let go—drop the controls—this is it.'

Then --as if awakening from hypnosis --he remembered the dog! The dog! But just as suddenly, he forgot the dog. He remembered the suffocating airplane trip, nearly choking, banging on the un-openable, the window, the CLOSED window, the window he could never open.

Then he remembered being humiliated in public debates. He remembered being laughed at when his pants fell down. In his nightmares, he fled the scene in 'official' Mormon Doodiepants and photographed by vermin: photographers and reporters! Reporters! Reporters! Then he broke out in a sweat! He was never certain that the empty chair did not talk back to Clint.

Somewhere on the edge of his mind, under the sounds of Lawrence Welch and his All Mormon Orchestra, he heard the sound of train wheels. They knocked in an even rhythm, like a good mormon orchestra --boring! Bored --he could relax now. He heard the wheels and was, therefore, reasonably sure that the car was still moving forward. But 'why?', he wondered. Why? Surely, he thought, the warranty had run out on the tires.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Expatriates Quest: Recovering a Lost America

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Europe is a life changing experience for many Americans, an important part of the 'American Experience'. The most obvious examples are famous writers from Thomas Wolfe to Ernest Hemingway'. They enriched American literature with their often personal experiences of Europe. Artists like James Whistler and John Singer Sargent were at once fresh eyes in Europe and glimpses of rich European culture for Americans. America's greatest cultural achievements may have been born of or inspired by the need to escape America.
You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing's sake, back home to aestheticism, to one's youthful idea of 'the artist' and the all-sufficiency of 'art' and 'beauty' and 'love,' back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time--back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

--Thomas Wolfe, The Story of a Novel quoted in The Creative Process
I recall reading the 'Story of a Novel' by Thomas Wolfe at about age 15. I was deeply impressed by the 'homesickness' for America that Wolfe felt as he sat near the Champs-Elysees. Something about it --I think it was smell of mowed grass --reminded him of watermelons on the Fourth of July. An iron railing flashed him back to the board walk in Atlantic City. At the end of this journey of self-discovery in Europe, Wolfe had written 'Of Time and the River'.

It is an American tradition to leave America. In the 1995 remake of Sabrina with Harrison Ford and with Julia Ormand as Sabrina, there is a scene in which Sabrina's letter to home is heard in an off screen voice. Of Paris, she said: "...I found myself in Paris." Appropriately, La Vie en Rose was playing in the background. Fiction, perhaps! Nevertheless many Americans have found and continue to find "themselves" abroad. This is a Jungian journey of self-discovery as is life itself.
The only way to truly know your own country is to travel to some other country. The only way to understand or find yourself is to abandon your "self" and realize that the "self" is an invention and an illusion.

--Robert Dente - 10:14pm Jun 15, 2002 EDT (#15047 of 38607)
It is often described as a feeling of having recovered something lost. But that is what Americans have always done in Europe. The French relate to America in that respect. This 'American' story or archetype is an existentialist journey and thus the very core of French philosophy. It has been so since Descartes wrote: "I think, therefore, I am". From this 'cogito', Sartre would extrapolate: "A man is nothing more than what he makes of himself". British philosophy, by contrast, is objective.
I had been to Europe five times now; each time I had come with delight, with maddening eagerness to return, and each time how, where, and in what way I did not know, I had felt the bitter ache of homelessness, a desperate longing for America, an overwhelming desire to return.

During this summer in Paris, I think I felt this great homesickness more than ever before, and I really believe that from this emotion, this constant and almost intolerable effort of memory and desire, the material and the structure of the books I now began to write were derived.

--Thomas Wolfe, The Story of a Novel quoted in The Creative Process
I am not alone but among many influenced by 'The Creative Process' , an anthology of original thinkers of many nationalities.
I'm very touched to find this book again as I browsed through the net, 25 years after I first bought it in a flee market in New York. The essay by Henry Miller, literally blew my young artist mind back then. It inspired me to follow on his crazy steps. I quit my civil service job(without official leave) and went to Paris ,where I lived for ten years. I read and re-read that essay on creativity and it just kept giving me the courage to step further into the unknown, thus changing my life completely.

--Reader Review, The Creative Process, Amazon.com
The great American exodus may have begun with the "expulsion" of Tories during the Revolutionary war. Most went to the Canadian provinces, but between seven thousand and eight thousand went to England --notably Thomas Danforth who had practiced law in the colonies.

Later, Judah P. Benjamin, the Confederate Secretary of War and Secretary of State, fled to England and became a successful lawyer. Other "confederates" fled to Canada, Japan, Australia, Egypt, Mexico, and Central and South America.

The most famous expatriates were the "lost generation": Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Julian Green, William Seabrook, E. E. Cummings, Harry Crosby, Sidney Howard, Louis Bromfield, Robert Hillyer, and Dashiell Hammett. They shared with the Dadaists and the Surrealists an almost universal disillusionment following the "Great War".
Most of the expatriates congregated in Paris, France where they lived for several weeks, months, years, or even for the rest of their lives. During the 1920s, Paris was a bustling cosmopolitan hub where a rich history converged with a blossoming artistic community.

It was considered to be the cultural capital of the early twentieth century. Attracted by this atmosphere, the expatriates settled in Paris hoping to establish their literary identities and find a market for their work. Nevertheless, each author found a varying degree of success while living and writing in Paris. F. Scott Fitzgerald, as compared to his friend and fellow author Ernest Hemingway, was much less productive in the mid-1920s

--American Expatriates in Europe: The Lost Generation
John Singer Sargent was of another type, born of American parents in Florence. He grew up speaking several languages, most certainly English, French and Italian.

His 1884 portrait of New Orleans born Virginie Avegno Gautreau --better known as Madame X --became his most famous portrait. It's hard to imagine how one succeeds in scandalizing a society in which men were expected to have mistresses. Nevertheless, a single strap off the bare shoulder was too much for polite society. The hubbub persuaded the artist to quit Paris for London. He would not see America until 1887.

Many expatriates returned to US but --in the early 1920s --many returned to Europe. Their complaints about postwar American culture --standardized and vulgar --reverberate today in contemporary criticisms of FOX, football, and Limbaugh. For them --as well as contemporary American critics --Europe represented ancient wisdom, a sense of history lost amid post-modern Americana and suburban sprawl, mass media, Walmarts, and super-sized fries.

Though not an expatriate, William Wordsworth wrote of London:
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
--Composed upon Westminster Bridge, William Wordsworth
My first such impressions of London were not from Westminster Bridge looking east but Blackfriars looking west in the damp gray cold --London weather at its worst. That the Thames looked like gray slate did not deter the intrepid racers rowing quickly upstream.

Later, of course, I would find Wordsworth's "London" from Westminster, just below the statue of Boudicca, a symbol of every people's revolt against tyranny and empire.

Indeed, what American, longing to find what had been lost in him/herself, could pass the piazzas of Florence, the cafés of Paris, the coffeehouses of Vienna, the cabarets of Berlin, the pubs of London and not be inspired to rediscover those parts not nurtured back home in Indiana or perhaps deliberately scorned in Texas? The tradition is not passive flight; it is the active embrace of life itself.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How the GOP Became Victims of the GOP!

by Jay Diamond, Guest Author

Whatever happens in this election, it is finally the end of the psychotic and vicious American rightist movement as a political force.

This is the real reason the sulfurous "movement conservatives" have been going nuts.

Think about it....they would easily have controlled the senate after 2010 if their criminally insane movement....The low-brow, brownshirt talk radio party....had not insisted on lunatics like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell as their senate candidates in lieu of a little less fanatically rightist snakes.

And they would have padded that senate majority much further this year had not once again low-brow, brownshirt talk radio insisted on displacing one of the most respected men in the senate, Richard Lugar, with an out and out psycho Christianist Kook like Richard Mourdock, and a similarly preserved in amber asshole such as Todd Akin!

There are 3 or 4 other Dominionist brownshirt psychotics also especially selected by the low brow, brownshirt talk radio rulers of the GOP, thereby insuring a robust democratic senate majority for years to come, as the total talk radio control of all GOP primaries will guarantee.

The also know that if Obama wins in a week or so, that Hilary is a lock on the presidency for 2016 AND 2020 which means the Democratic Party will control the Oval Office till at least 2024!

Believe me, our brownshirt enemies are well aware of the truth of what I have written above.

And EVEN if Obama is defeated and provided that Rmoney’s John Bolton and Dan Senor do not kill us all before 2016, they also know that should Rmoney cause a complete collapse of the USA, including 40% effective unemployment as he gleefully repeals even the anemic post financial collapse re-regulation of Wall Street, that the American right wing movement will be dead as nails for at least the next 60 years! Like the Great Depression of 1930’s, the memory of what the economic royalists will have wrought will last for 3 generations of Americans. As in 1990, the very last people alive in the 1990’s who were adults in 1929, will finally be gone, leaving the right-wing propaganda machine once again able to bulldoze American Morons into killing themselves yet again.

They know this!

But they dare not, and can not even fathom how they might remove low brow rightwing Dominionist brownshirt talk radio as the owner of all GOP primaries!

They are a terminally ill and wretchedly pathological movement on the edge of extinction, which will make them temporarily more dangerous than ever.

But they will all go away, unless they dread the prospect of their imminent political destruction so much that they would rather we all die in a nuclear armageddon than relinquish control for all time.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The GOP's 'Blame Game' Exposed

"There is a collective responsibility in an authoritarian regime."

--Albert Speer, testinony at Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
I am fed up with the right wing blame game! And you should be as well. The U.S. right wing has more scapegoats than A. Hitler's wet dreams! Jean-Paul Sartre said:
"A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself!"
And it was Bertolt Brecht who summed up right wing crookery:
"A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot but a man who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a CROOK!"
The GOP has made of themselves CROOKS and MORONS and MORON CROOKS. Conan Doyle provided some bullet-proof logic:
"When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however implausible, MUST be the truth!"

--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Doyle has never been more relevant. The GOP is defined by the utter BS that they espouse. That would be bad enough but, in fact, they expect you to buy into their ideology, propaganda, nonsense. The GOP is often threatening but that's typical of their psychopathic ilk. Don't buy it.

The only option is that people must think for themselves and demand proof of the lies and mythology that makes up the GOP's 'alternate reality'. The best and most obvious examples are the many ways in which the party favors the ruling elite and helps to enrich them even further. The most egregious example is 'supply-side' economics, often called 'trickle down theory'. It's all ---or worse! Wealth has never, ever 'trickled down' (at any speed or manner) as a result of GOP tax cuts which are designed to enrich those already filthy rich, those already amogn the RULING ONE PERCENT. This tiny (and shrinking) segment of the population owns more than the rest of us combined. GOP 'economics' creates a very, very steep curve.

Think for yourself. GOP ideology with respect to the economy is most easilly debunked with OFFICIAL STATS from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U. S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Commerce Dept -B.E.A. among many university and various 'think tank' studies. The GOP is dead wrong about almost EVERYTHING. Secondly, don't buy GOP platitudes that simply cannot be proven one way or the other. That's a Nazi tactic that was exposed by Hitler's confidant: Herr Albert Speer.

Food for though; wealth has never, ever trickled down nor has GOP policiy ever enriched or benefited any person who is NOT among the very wealthiest people in America if not the world. If you are not a billionaire, you are nuts to vote GOP.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Orwell's '1984' Revisited


by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Margaret Atwood called George W. Bush, the greatest threat to world peace to date! What Atwood did not mention was that Bushco derived its power from the deliberate and well-planned attack on truth by way of language. George Orwell predicted it; his works remain the textbook example of how governments may manipulate people by first manipulating the language.

If all else fails, a totalitarian regime may make the telling of truth a crime. Traditionally, the names given those truths are treason or sedition. A young United States experimented with the Alien and Sedition Acts giving near dictatorial powers to President John Adams, specifically, the power to imprison or deport aliens upon the mere suspicion that activities posed a threat to the new national government.

To his credit, Adams made no use of them but neither did he rebuke the Congress for passing them. George W. Bush proved a greater threat. Bush arrogated unto himself the power to 'define' the very word "terrorist"! Bush could create a 'terrorist' at will by merely re-defining a target. Indeed --Bush assumed and asserted the power and authority to make you a 'terrorist' by merely 'deeming' you to be one!

Orwell's classic cautionary tale, 1984, describes a fascist, totalitarian government spying on its own citizens, denying reality and creating an alternate state that exploits a fictional enemy in order to wage a perpetual war. Orwell's Big Brother tried to re-write history and succeeded.
In "It Can't Happen Here" Sinclair Lewis describes the dictatorship of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip who might have been inspired by George W. Bush had 'he' not preceded him. In both '1984' and in Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here", a fascist state justifies an omni-present dictatorship by maintaining states of perpetual war and perpetual terror.

The lesson of 1984 is less about the state itself than about the individual. When states are absolutely powerful, the individual ceases to exist. Philosophically, individuals robbed of free will are denied person-hood even as mere 'legal abstractions' (corporations) are made 'persons' by decree. In the U.S. 'corporations' are decreed to be persons by way of a bogus and dishonest decision by our Supreme Court, It remains the very worst decision since Dredd-Scott legitimized the keeping of slaves.
"In order to acknowledge the collapse of Soviet Communism and the failure of fascism to reemerge as a potent political force, I ditched Orwell's oppressive totalitarian state in favor of an entertainment-fueled nihilism in which dimwitted citizens frittered away their lives watching web TV and working at slightly overpaid jobs to buy worthless junk ... on web TV, natch. Where Orwell envisioned endless rows of soldiers marching in perfect unison to the strains of the Two-Minute Hate, I saw a world where nations had been replaced by trading blocs and the objects of hatred were the immigrants in our midst."
--Ted Rall, Addicted To Perpetual War
The images from 1984 are seared into our memories --big brother, the telescreen, the grotty bedroom, the cubicle, the memory hole, the drab gray existence, the rat cage. But 1984 is as much about language. It is more than mere sub-text. Language, in 1984, is the means by which Big Brother creates an alternate reality. It is only in the 'alternate reality' that Big Brother has power.
Big Brother is the Wizard of Oz, an illusion, an image on smoke if not mirrors. If millions suddenly deny the illusion, the lies, the bullshit, Big Bro is finished. The bad news is that, like the cowardly lion, we dare not challenge the great and powerful Oz

The most glaring use of Newspeak is the invention of what I have chosen to call "focus group phrases"; so called because they are invented, full cloth, by consultants who most certainly know their way around a focus group. "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is just such a phrase. "911 Denier" is another. "Al Qaeda iln Iraq" is designed to make a lazy populace forget that the war was begun upon blackhearted lies about WMD.

"911 Denier" is 'Orwell-speak' or 'Newspeak' designed to shift the burden of proof when it is, in fact,  Bush who must prove his theory of 911 --a theory for which there is not a shred of evidence --let alone proof. Anyone believing it is either a part of the plot or stupid! The Bush administration used up several ex post facto rationales for war. None of them were true! "Al Qaeda in Iraq", for example, implies the existence of a shadowy enemy that was never defined! That was by design! A real enemy is defined and can be targeted! Shadows may be summoned up whenever they are needed! 'Al Qaeda in Iraq', we can be sure, tested well.

A lazy news establishment liked it because it saved them the trouble of trouble of describing reality! Orwell understood as few have the power of language and in, 1984 the "tool of power" is language. Language empowers the all-powerful party which dictates the nature and use of language. The institutions of state maintain their power by exploiting the power of language to shape the nature of thought itself. That is, in fact, the job of the protagonist, Winston Smith. Examples may be found in any study of the recent Bush administration.

The George W. Bush regime very nearly gave the game away with the use of the phrase Total Information Awareness. In response to criticism, the regime stopped using the phrase to denote their program of widespread domestic and illegal surveillance.

Orwell is, of course, most famous for 1984 but his great essay on politics and language should also be required reading. See: Orwell: Politics and the English Language. Orwell explores how politicians exploit language to accrue absolute power. Modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.
The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier -- even quicker, once you have the habit -- to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious.
--George Orwell
All who have read Orwell's essay on how easily politicians debase the language for nefarious purposes have recognized in the Bush administration the very techniques that Orwell warned us about.
The White House saw September 11 as a golden opportunity. The first catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil sparked an unprecedented case of leadership projection: desperate for protection and answers (why do they hate us? can we kill them before they kill us?), Americans wishfully compared Bush to FDR and Churchill. Approval ratings hit 92 percent. But Bush's political advisors knew that peaking early wouldn't guarantee reelection in 2004. Bush's father had been turned out of office just 20 months after the Gulf War ratcheted his score up to 911.
...
The Bushies have lifted their reelection strategy straight out of "1984," and not just by creating ominous-sounding agencies like the Office of Homeland Security, the supposedly-closed Office of Strategic Information, and a "Shadow Government". As in "1984," the Bush regime tolerates zero dissent --a two-party system in name only has been distilled to one in which only Republicans express acceptable opinions. And an absence of follow-up attacks has been met by endless alerts, advisors and empty hysterics in the name of security, most recently culminating with Tom Ridge's much-mocked color-code warning system. 
--Ted Rall, Why Bush Is Addicted To Perpetual War
To be fair, it is not only politicians but bullshit artists who make us vulnerable to tyranny. This has been done by dumbing down the language and, thus, our ability to think critically. Until Bush, even Republican "Presidents" paid lip service to the Constitution.
"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
—Sinclair Lewis, author of "It Can't Happen here"!
In It Can't Happen Here Sinclair Lewis showed us how it might happen here and in ways not unlike those predicted by both Lewis and Orwell. The characteristics of the fascist state so vividly described by both authors were found in abundance in Bush's fascist regime. Millions are still in denial, evidence that truth is tragically denied. A quote from Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here":
"Senator Windrip has got an excellent chance to be elected President, next November, and if he is, probably his gang of buzzards will get us into some war, just to grease their insane vanity and show the world that we’re the huskiest nation going."
--It Can't Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis, page 20
Orwell and Lewis not only warned us, they predicted precisely how it would be done. As Shakespeare said: "All is true!" So --why didn't we listen? We did not listen because this nation has a fierce anti-intellectual streak which at its best makes us independent and at its worst makes us stupid!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Texas

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

A movie about and set in Texas starred mega-stars Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. It was a huge box office draw in the early 1960s! The state itself may have dictated the wide screen and mega stars --Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.

The movie was GIANT, inspired by The Edna Ferber novel of the same name! Giant, indeed!
The photo (left) is of the famous Monahans Sandhills west of Odessa, Texas, a city with an interesting history as a destination of gunslingers and seekers after the many treasures that were said to have been buried in West Texas by various outlaws, the Spanish, and Mexican Revolutionaries.
Texas is the second most populous, the second most extensive of the 50 states. It can boast (and often does) that it is the largest of the 48 contiguous United States with an area of over 268,000 square miles and a growing population of some 25.7 million residents.

The word 'Texas' is from the Caddo --Tejas which means 'friend' or 'ally'. It was the Spanish which appropriated the Caddo word and applied it to Texas.

Texas shares a long, winding international border with Mexico, specifically the states of Chihuhua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas as well as borders with the US states of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States. San Antonio --home of the famous Alamo --is the second largest city in the state, seventh largest in the U.S. Depicted in the montage are portions of downtown Houston and, below, an interior view of Houston's 'Galleria' --a famous mall just outside loop 610 at Westheimer Rd. The Galleria is famous for its ice skating rink and a 'collection' of designer shops that probably exceed the famous 'Rodeo Drive' in Los Angeles.
In the 70's, a New York columnist (as I recall) dubbed Houston the "Golden Buckle of the Sunbelt". The monicker may have stuck:
Houston, Texas is the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country, with a diverse population of nearly six million and thousands of dynamic, growing businesses. Much of that growth is powered by the energy sector: Houston's nearly 4,000 energy-related companies are responsible for almost half of the city's economic output.
New ideas in energy, however, aren't always received with a warm welcome. "Energy companies can be very risk-averse," says Sarah Groen, a business consultant and investor. "That makes the market very tough for new businesses to break into."
Groen and her business partner, Kirk Brand Coburn, are working to change the status quo with the launch of SURGE Accelerator, an incubation and mentorship program for startups in the energy software space. Companies accepted into the program can focus on anything from digital oil field data to consumer energy efficiency--"as long as it's focused around energy, we're interested," says Groen.
In the program, which launched a year and a half ago, SURGE provides each company with $30,000 in seed funding, free office space, and access to dozens of mentors in Houston's vibrant energy sector in exchange for a six percent common equity stake. Over the course of the three-month program, the entrepreneurs focus their business models and learn from their mentors and one another; the program culminates with the opportunity to pitch to investors on SURGE Day.

"Most entrepreneurs are coming not for the money," says Groen. "It's for mentorship and the program, and access to investors they'd have trouble meeting otherwise."

--SURGE Accelerator Sets Out to Revolutionize the Energy Industry in Houston
It's now official: with a population of six million, greater Houston is now the nation's fourth largest city! Only New York, Chicago, Los Angeles are larger. The metropolitan areas of Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Other major cities include El Paso, the western most city in Texas and Austin --the state capital. Depicted (below, left) are downtown Houston (at sunset) and, below it, Houston's famous Galleria Mall. Inspired by the 'Galleria' in Milan, it was appropriately a pioneering work by developer Gerald Hines. Indoor malls with several levels of shopping integrated with both residence and office towers were groundbreaking at the time.

Because it was once an independent republic, Texas is sometimes called the Lone Star State. It is also a reminder of the state's struggle for independence from Mexico which most Americans associate with the siege at the Alamo. The "Lone Star" can be found on the Texas state flag and on the Texas state seal today. Another reminder of the Texas struggle for independence may be found just east of Houston where the 'Battle of San Jacinto' was fought and won by Gen Sam Houston for whom the present city is named. The following videos are a showcase of some of the most beautiful photography of Texas that can be found. Enjoy the tour.

Of late, Texas has acquired a bad name, a process begun, I believe, with the arrival of the Bush crime family, the assassination of JFK, the FBI atrocities against the Branch Davidians and, of course, the utterly failed and criminal regime of one George W. Bush!

By the way, George W. Bush is NOT a 'Native Texan'; he was born in New Haven, Connecticut. Sadly, thanks to GWB, it will require a small miracle to undo the harms done to education, the prison system and the 'state' of justice in the once and future great state of Texas!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On Liberty: More Relevant Than Ever

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

In his classic essay "On Liberty", John Stuart Mill deals with the issue of "civil liberties" --not the metaphysical issue of "free will". While most attacks on civil liberties have historically occurred from the right within the context of a tyrannical or an aristocratic rule, Mill deals with threats against liberty from within the institutions of democracy itself. The issue is especially relevant at a time when widespread domestic wiretapping and surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The aim of early libertarians was to limit the power of the ruler over those governed; Mill, however, identifies a need to limit the power of elected governments and officials as well. Mill is not merely addressing the issue of "who should rule?", he seeks to establish limits on the power that government may exercise over minorities and individuals. His work is more relevant now than ever.

While "government of the people" is an ideal to be sought, Mill argues that such an ideal is often not the case in fact. He argues that those exerting the power of the government --elected officials, bureaucrats, the judiciary --often develop their own interests. They may be influenced by those constituencies in ways that are at odds with the interests and liberties of individuals or other groups.

Mill makes no distinction between a tyranny of one and a tyranny of many. A tyrannical majority running roughshod over the rights of individuals and minorities is no less a tyrant because it is a majority, because it is elected, or because it is elected by a majority.

While society may not tolerate criminal behavior, for example, society may not legitimately interfere with or suppress all non-conforming behaviors indiscriminately or because a majority may not approve. What then are the powers that society may legitimately exercise over the individual? Mill answers:
"The only purpose for which power can be rightly exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

-J.S. Mill, On Liberty
James Madison --called the "Father of the Constitution" --may have anticipated Mill's ideas in his draft of the Bill of Rights --the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Implicit in the Bill of Rights is the recognition that the power of the state is a blunt instrument. Abused, it can oppress and repress individuals and minority groups alike. The Bill of Rights addresses this issue by guaranteeing "due process of law", limiting state power over individuals and groups, guaranteeing that groups and individuals may speak freely, worship freely.

The Fourth Amendment specifically is a promise that our government made to us in its very founding:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

-Fourth Amendment, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution
Let's make something abundantly clear: there are no "inherent powers", "implicit" authorizations" that would, in any way, overturn, limit, or repeal the Fourth Amendment. Many politicians are not only wrong about that, they may have deliberately lied about it. Moreover, Congress may not overrule the Fourth Amendment with statutory law. Constitutional Law is supreme and provisions in the Bill of Right are valid until amended as set out in the Constitution itself. Widespread domestic surveillance is illegal whatever is done by Congress ex post facto --and until the Constitution is amended, it will remain illegal. At last, ex post facto laws, themselves, are expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

Mill is all the more remarkable for his insight into issues that remain contemporary. In every literate criticism of "special interest groups", PAC's, the gun lobby, the tobacco lobby, the Military/Industrial Complex, one sees the lasting influence of John Mill.

On Liberty is essential reading for anyone interested in law, the principles of government, political science, political philosophy, indeed, freedom itself. It is also essential reading for anyone interested in learning about the intellectual underpinnings of Anglo-American civil liberties.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Political Decision Theory Made Easy

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

I lost patience long ago with so-called 'progressives' because Democrats are 'imperfect'! Who is perfect? I've never seen such a person on any ballot! I prescribe an introductory course in 'decision making'! So what if the MESSIAH is not on the ballot!? You are stuck with two viable choices in any case. You don't like either though one is clearly superior to the other.

NOT voting is not an option; it puts a crooked moron in the Whie House! So --what do you do? You stay home, don't vote and piss and moan about it on FB while a criminal elitist takes over the White House.

I actually consulted a GOP campaign once. I wish I could say that it was an act of 'infiltration' to study GOP tactics and attitudes. Though it was not, I did learn --from the inside --how the GOP thinks. I was in the 'Belly of the Beast'. I even picked the 'brains' of one Tom DeLay --the evil genius who delivered Texas to the GOP on a platter.

Texas had been a Democratic state for some 100 years prior to Tom DeLay's GOP 'revolution'. The GOP campaign manuals actually cover the art of voter suppression. The GOP does not want you to vote. The GOP wants you to BELIEVE that Dems are not better. And --if you buy that crap --you lose!

Short of real revolution, we are stuck with a crappy and inaccurate system, a system that seems designed to keep the very best candidates OFF the ballot. It could not have worked out better for the GOP had they conspired to create it. Come to think of it --they did. That said, the GOP could NEVER, EVER have gone as far as they have of late if idealistic Democrats and Utopian progressives had not decided to boycott the election.

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Price We Paid for the GOP's Free Lunch with Ruling Elites

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

I am in a cranky mood!

C'mon Obama! Take the gloves off! Obama did not mention several issues that may be found in his own ads. Why not hit Romney with the infamous '47 percent'? Obama could have beaten Romney with his own words. Obama could have held Romney to his his own failed 'standard'.
Obama might have, could have disproved the utter and often meaningless crap that passes for speech these days. Obama might have hit Romney on the issue of the many jobs Romney cut at Bain. Will Democrats never learn this lesson: put the GOP on the ropes or let them hang themselves with GOP absurdities, lies and significant omissions?

Whomever really 'won' the first debate no longer matters. The issue is about the effect it's had on Romney's billionaire buddies who are now prepared to BUY the office for a moron and co-conspirator.
Romney is reported to be collecting money from his millionaire donors "hand over fist". Unless Democrats reach down deep, the race could turn around and elect an UN-ABASHED SHILL for the ruling elites. Latest polls put Romney within one point in Florida (47-46) and just two in Virginia (48-46s).

It would not be this close but for the money factor. Until that issue is addressed, Americans must live under an oligarchy at best, a dictatorship of the 1 percent at the very worst.

While the GOP, kowtowing to the desires of the ruling 1 percent of its creation, poses a clear and present danger to the rule of law, the rights enumerated in our Bill of Rights, the rights of everyone who must, of necessity, work for a living, the rights of those would dissent and protest the right wing destruction of the values of our founding.

The rights of those who wish to work honestly for their living are likewise threatened by the documentable export of jobs during every GOP administration, the export of jobs that are, in fact, the RESULT of GOP policies. And --no --assertions that there are no differences between the parties is (politely) uninformed; and less politely, it's stupid. Democrats who stay at home believing Obama is at fault might as well wait in vain for a Messiah to come again or a Klaato to beam down out of a space craft. Rather than waiting for a 'bailout', I urge Democrats and/or progressives to assume some responsibility and, at the very least, show some initiative.
This is, in a nutshell, the core problem facing liberals. Those who wish to become activists need to direct their energies to dismantling the corporate special interest system and restoring greater equality of income.

--Steve Kangas, The Origins of the Overclass
If the GOP did not invent the sellout, this ongoing auction of the U.S. to the ruling elites, they might as well have. This 'sellout' has enslaved U.S. citizens and, at the same time expects them to pick up the tab for their military adventures on behalf of the obscenely wealthy.

In the meantime, the American people are brainwashed by big media. That's by design. Why do you suppose the Reagan administration worked tirelessly to abolish, perhaps erase the memory of the FAIRNESS DOCTRINE?

Why do you suppose that the ownership of media is concentrated in the hands of some five or six huge conglomerates? Was this decreed by God? Is this the result of 'natural selection', good genes, or is it a product of the Big Bang. No --it was the planned result of the Reagan attack on the Fairness Doctrine specifically and, in general, every provision of the Communications Act of 1934.
The internet has proven NOT to have been effective in countering the well-oiled, well-heeled right wing money and propaganda MACHINES.


Wednesday, October 03, 2012

What Will We Make of Earth? Heaven or Hell?

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

We have known about threats to planet earth for years if not decades! Possibly even longer! And NOTHING is ever done to restrain rapacious assaults on the only environment that we will ever have; nothing is done to slow the increases in the consumption of fossil fuels; nothing is ever done to preseve the integrity of habitats, estuaries et al; nothing or very, very little is done to improve air quality as a result of a rapacious consumption of fossiul fuels, the use of oil derivatives in motor vehicles or the alarming rate with which we destroy habitats on the land and throughout the world's oceans --the ONLY oceans that we will ever have.

Bottom line: we MUST enact and abide by 'Limits to Growth' --the topic of a conference that was held in the 'Woodlands' near Houston.

At this conference, scholars, environmentalists, economists as well as representatives from some of the world's major oil companies met and discussed nothing less than the future of planet earth.

I covered this early (if not their first such meeting) for a Washington D.C. based journal: "Energy Users Report". Following is an excerpt from one of the papers that had been submitted:
II. How the Unlimited Growth Ethic Exascerbates Organizational Unresponsiveness

Unrestrained production, assumed desirable and feasible in the belief system underlying unrestrained growth, depends on and encourages unlimited rising expectations. In turn these lead to increasing numbers of conflicting demands on organizations (a) to be responsive by producing more goods and se)-vices, and (b) to be responsive to the adverse consequences of that growth. (Production and product-produced pollution are obvious examples.) Particularly distressing and complex are the demands growing from life conditions in the third and fourth worlds since the gap between them and the first and second worlds is almost certain to continue to grow in the absence of an interpretive context premised on interdependence in a finite world. Such conflicting local and planetary demands generate more information, and require attention to more information,if organizations are to be responsive. This, of course, increases information and decision over-load and is likely to lead to comparatively less responsiveness because comparatively more information. needed for discriminating responses, would be screened out or ignored.

The myth that production can be indefinitely increased also encourages tendencies toward splintering and the establishment of autonomous groups and activities. That is, ifthere need be no limits on matter and energy each dissenting group will feel encouraged to go its own way. “do its own thing”, believing it can be self-sufficient and feeling little need for interdependence or to be concerned for the welfare of others. Others can “get theirs” bv also tapping into the gravy train via the time-tested means for flourishing in a capitalistic or socialistic economy.

Autonomy and differentiation, operating in and stimulated by the absence of a shared set 01‘ values and rules of conduct. will Icad to continuing challenges to legitimacy: each group will be devoted to its interpretive context and to the specification of factual importance justified by its values.

--On Growth and the Limits of Organizational Responsiveness, DONALD N. MICHAEL
This dates to the middle 70s! Essentially ---we knew then what we know now: Earth is finite and dying! As nothing seems to have been done to prolong our planet's life, the question remains: are we resigned to sitting back, pointing fingers and, in other ways, refusing to accept responsibility for the fate of the ONLY planet that we have ever known or inhabited, the ONLY planet that any of us will ever call 'home'?

A 'bail out' is simply not a part of the equation! We do not have that luxury! Where would a 'bail out' come from? Heaven? The only world of which we have intimate knowledge is Earth. And it is on Earth that we must make a heaven or create hell itself!


Sydney Poitier Reads Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"


A Vote for the GOP is a Vote Against the Middle Class

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

There is --unfortunately --NO middle ground in a two-party system. There is no compromising with evil. The fact is the GOP is the enemy of the middle class; it is, in fact, the party of 'make war and share the booty with the cult of the ruling elites".

Put another way: the GOP is the party of 1) WARS FOR BOOTY 2) WARS which benefit ONLY the ruling elites.

The Romney-Ryan-Republican plan in a nutshell:
  1. It would, in effect, end Medicare, defund Planned Parenthood, repeal Obamacare
  2. It would slash student aid;
  3. it would GUT Social Security.
FACE THE FACT

The United State is not nor has it been for some time a NET EXPORTING NATION. The U.S. no longer markets its products abroad; the United States no longer makes a living.

Rather --the U.S. makes a KILLING by waging wars of naked aggression which benefit ONLY the Military-Industrial Complex and a ruling elite class to whom our nation is economically enslaved.

Tax cuts benefting ONLY the ruling elite has very nearly wiped out the middle class. The millions who still believe in the middle class and/or 'fair play' MUST organize at the grassroots now. Otherwise, the GOP will BUY ITS way into power with a flood of million-dollar checks from the Koch brothers.

Also see: U.S. workers stand against Mitt Romney model of outsourced jobs



REPUBLICAN'S WAR AGAINST THE MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN


Friday, September 28, 2012

Creationist Nonsense Exposed and Debunked

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Creationists believe that the age of both Earth and Universe can be derived by adding up the "begats" in the Old Testament. That is the methodology of latter-day creationists who, like Sarah Palin recently, have concluded that the age of the universe is about six-thousand years.

In fact, any number not in the billions is not even close. As science, the creationist ideology is easily disproved. Any geological period older than Sarah Palin's estimate of the Earth's age disproves her.

The verifiable age of fossils proves Palin wrong. I chose, as an example, the Permian era because I have some personal knowledge of that period having grown up in what is called the 'Permian Basin' in West Texas.

As a child of six, I assembled an interesting collection of fossils that I had found on my own explorations of King Mountain, a long plateau in West Texas, near the town of McCamey. Any ONE of those fossils disproves Sarah Palin. All of them date to a period far, far older than a mere 6,000 years.

A plateau [King Mountain] itself was probably underwater at one time. If you can see King Mountain with Google earth, you have proven Palin both wrong and stupid. Fossils found there are dated to the "Permian period" --a geologic period lasting from about 299.0 million to 251.0 million years ago. It is the last period of the Paleozoic Era. Any one of those fossils disproves Palin. Anyone of them is considerably older that Palin's estimate of some 6,000 years --a mere blink of an eye by comparison.
Two hundred and fifty million years ago, ninety percent of marine species disappeared and life on land suffered greatly during the world's largest mass extinction.
The cause of this great dying-off has baffled scientists for decades. Recent speculations invoke asteroid impacts as a kill mechanism. Yet a new study published in the December issue of Geology provides strong indications that the extinction cause did not come from the heavens but from Earth itself.
--New Evidence Supports Terrestrial Cause Of End-Permian Mass Extinction, Space Daily
It comes down to this: if we can look up at the sky at night and see Andromeda "creationists" are wrong! Andromeda --proven to be over 2 million light years distant --is the only galaxy that can be seen with the naked eye. We see Andromeda as it was over 2 million years ago. Seeing it --with or without a telescope --proves that the universe is exponentially older than the mere several thousand years that Palin ascribes to it. If we can see it at all, creationism is wrong.

Creationism is not science. The distance to Andromeda can be determined precisely.
By comparing the absolute and apparent magnitudes, Ribas's team concluded the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.52±0.14 million light-years from Earth. This agrees perfectly with the Cepheid-based distance to Andromeda: 2.5 million light-years. The newly determined distance, however, does not depend on assuming a distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud. The agreement means astronomers can trust Cepheid distances to more distant galaxies, such as those in the Virgo and Fornax clusters.
--First direct distance to Andromeda...
This alone disproves Palinesque nonsense. We can see Andromeda. We can date the age of rocks as well as the rock of ages.

We can also determine very precisely the distance to stars and galaxies. I found the Andromeda Galaxy as a kid in Odessa, TX. I had nothing more than a good pair of hand-me-down binoculars, a shaky tripod and a star map. It is the only Galaxy visible to the naked eye. Merely seeing it disproves Palin's theory that the earth is but a few thousand years old.

If we had discovered no other object but Andromeda --the only Galaxy visible to the naked eye --we must conclude, therefore, that the universe is very, very old. Most scientists are agreed that the age of the universe is some 13.7 billion years. Palin is utterly refuted by impeccable science conducted by reputable scientists and confirmed countless times in many ways by the world-wide scientific community.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Truth, Time and 'Absolute Space'

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

When Galileo was compelled to recant, it is said that he muttered inaudibly under his breath: "...but it does move". 'It' being Earth, of course. The Catholic Church had maintained its doctrine of an unmoving Earth in unmoving space, a 'God's eye view' of absolute space about unmoving objects. The Church insisted upon its version of the way the universe was created and worked.

If I should ever be compelled to recant my liberal, progressive views of both politics and metaphysics, it will be because the American right wing will have created and enforced a dictatorship of both the very stupid and those who choose to be ignorant; however faith based this vision may be it is best described as a faith based tyranny.

Those who know better but rationalize their accommodation with such a dictatorship epitomize what Existentialists call bad faith! Any school curriculum, any dictatorship derived from either deliberate ignorance or bad faith must be opposed to be replaced by a true democratic system based on egalitarian principles subject to reality checks and pragmatic expectations.

My views are entirely consistent with any religion based on 'faith'. Faith does not require proof or even meaningful sentences. Faith is just that: faith. But 'certitude' –certainly the best word to describe the more militant fundamentalist churches –is inconsistent with both faith and science. One cannot have faith if one is certain and if one is certain faith is not required. It cannot be both ways. Therefore, religion, by definition, must not be militant. If militant, it ceases to be religion and becomes dogma. Even the fundamentalist baptist church in which I grew up "preached" that the acceptance of Christ must be chosen freely! It follows, then, that if it is coerced or induced through brainwashing, the choice is not free. Like a bad vaccination, it doesn't "take".

One is reminded of the storied contest that pitted the storied attorney, Clarence Darrow vs William Jennings Bryan who was, in many respects, a very admirable and honest person. Nevertheless,  at Dayton, TN he supported state efforts to impose upon a curriculum a religious agenda. By definition, faith cannot be imposed. An oath imposed by law or coerced at the point of a gun or threat of excommunication is invalid. The very notion that religion can be compelled is self-contradictory.

A more recent example is Sarah Palin whose record of trying to put creationists on School Boards is anathema to those who believe in freedom of religion as guaranteed in the First Amendment. This is not a matter of faith; creationists believe their theory to be fact. As their acts have now made this a political issue, it is fair game for debate. For them creationism is not a matter of faith but of fact. The truth is that creationism is a pseudo-science that they would have us teach in school science classes. I oppose that because creationism is not science. I would oppose it for that reason even if I subscribed to creationist ideology. I am convinced that creationists would oppose in any case, confirmation that their position is ideological, inflexible, dogmatic, utterly without any empirical support whatsoever. As Cafferty said of Palin: "...   this women is one 72 year old's heartbeat away from the White House and if that doesn't scare you it should."

Creationism is not science but faith, in fact, "bad faith". As science, the creationist ideology is easily disproved. Andromeda has been proven to be about 2.5 million light years from Earth. Ergo: we see Andromeda as it was some 2.5 million years ago. If we can look up at the sky at night and see Andromeda, we have destroyed "creationism". Creationists are wrong!  Seeing it proves that the universe is exponentially older than the the mere six thousand years ascribes to it by Palin et al. If we can see it at all, creationism is wrong.

The distance to Andromeda can be determined precisely.
By comparing the absolute and apparent magnitudes, Ribas's team concluded the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.52±0.14 million light-years from Earth. This agrees perfectly with the Cepheid-based distance to Andromeda: 2.5 million light-years. The newly determined distance, however, does not depend on assuming a distance to the Large Magellanic Cloud. The agreement means astronomers can probably trust Cepheid distances to more distant galaxies, such as those in the Virgo and Fornax clusters.
--First direct distance to Andromeda
This alone disproves Palinesque nonsense. We can see Andromeda; Palin is wrong.
I found Andromeda as a kid in Odessa, TX. I had nothing more than a good pair of hand-me-down binoculars, a shaky tripod and a star map. It is the only Galaxy visible to the naked eye. If we had discovered no other object, we must conclude, therefore, that the universe is very old. Most scientists are agreed that the age of the universe is some 13.7 billion years. Recently, astronomers have discovered that is the oldest object yet discovered, a galaxy some 13.7 billion years from our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. It is a relic of our early universe. When Astronomers look into space --deep or otherwise --they are, in fact, looking back into time. The new discovery has taken us where no man has gone before.

Of course, there are many objects much, much more distant than Andromeda; the new discovery is the best example to date. Even prior to this recent discovery, scientists were buoyed by images from the Hubble telescope, considerably more advanced than a simple pair of hand me down 7x35 binoculars duct taped to a half-assed tripod. That and a cheap telescope were my tools as a youngster enamored with astronomy.

Theory is good! The 'creationist' position with regard to the teaching of 'creationism' in public schools, however, is a straw man. Every curriculum I have ever seen teaches science as theory. But creationism is not science nor is it a scientific 'theory'. Scientific theories are subject to being disproved and upon being disproved ––discarded. Religious dogma, by contrast, is 1) believed and/or espoused upon faith – not fact; 2) almost never provable one way or another even by experiment; 3) embraced or adopted upon 'decrees' issued by an 'authority' of some sort; in every imaginable instant it is a self-appointed 'authority'. The process differs little from that of 'the Church' in Rome which opposed Galileo. They were the 'authority' and Galileo was not. Galileo was compelled to recant for having proposed that the Earth revolved about the Sun. It is said he muttered inaudibly under his breath: "...but it (the Earth) does move"!

The authority of the church was, in the final analysis, merely assumed. It was asserted, conveniently, by those who had assumed it. It was decreed from the top and compelled with horrific threats of torture here on Earth and eternal fiery hell in the "after life". Churches of almost every persuasion may all be alike in this respect. Upon no proof or evidence, they presume to tell rational human beings what to think. The authoritarian nature of organized religion, thus, nullifies the individual conscience. In all matters verifiable, the church may be at odds.

In Existentialist terms, the worst creationists espouse their theory in bad-faith. They know it to be untrue but insist that you believe it. Many may know it to be untrue or --as bad --beyond verification by any means. But they will espouse it anyway. This is dis-honest. This is "bad faith". This is a crime against truth. As Bertolt Brecht said:
"A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot but a man who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a crook!"
Fundamentalists are crooks. Meaningful theories are subject to proof or disproof. Articles of faith, by definition, are not. If an assertion can be proven, there is no need for "faith". Because of the genius of our founders, people are free to act upon their religious convictions and may worship in the church of their choice –or not! Anyone insisting that religious faith be taught in schools financed with your tax monies violates your rights, specifically "Freedom of Religion" guaranteed you in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is the law!

'My good friend Douglas Drenkow wrote:
On the other hand, the Left – from the beginnings of humankind – has challenged us to think for ourselves, in both matters of reason and faith, while respecting those who have proven themselves advanced in studies or achievements in various fields.
That describes what should be our role. The First Amendment is respectful of those who profess a faith in "good faith" and guarantees a right of dissent for those who are of differing persuasions. Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertolt Brecht have defined 'integrity' far more effectively than any 'bible thumping' fundamentalist preacher that I had been forced, as a child, to endure. Both Sartre and Brecht addressed the issue of bad faith, essentially, the condition in which an individual appropriates a false notion of self. The fashion photographer Richard Avedon was even more succinct than was Brecht (quoted above):
You cannot expect another man to carry your shit!
Jean-Paul Sartre had his own version:
A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself!
The GOP –as a whole –is premised on "bad faith". Recent GOP Presidents –Ronald Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Jr. –courted the religious right in bad faith. The two Bushes, specifically, may be cause for alarm. Both were members of Yale's infamous "Skull and Bones", a secret society about which John F. Kennedy had warned the nation in his so-called "Secret Societies Speech". What little is known of the Skull and Bones leads one to believe that it is a Satanic Cult at odds with both religion, enlightenment, the various pursuits of verifiable truth. To the extent that much organized religion in America (especially the 'super churches' of the 'super' fundamentalist evangelical movement) is but a mass manifestation of 'bad faith'.

People do not seek religion because they wish to be moral. I would challenge any assertion that there is a statistical correlation between the espousal of religion and morality. On the other hand, moral people may be found among atheists and agnostics.

I am in good company when I am criticized for raising doubts among the faithful. Upon his conviction on similar charges, Socrates was forced to drink hemlock. He might have saved himself had he re-canted –a tactic favored by the most "establishments". The tactic is, In fact, a Faustian bargain in which one trades his soul for his life. Because he believed that "a man's soul is his self" [the existentialist point of view], St. Thomas More turned down the "offer". In Robert Bolt's great play "A Man for All Seasons", More tells his daughter, Meg:
...when a man takes an oath, Meg, he's holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers –he needn't hope to find himself again.
That is a description of "bad faith". Later, when More is sold out by the ambitious Richard Rich: "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... But for Wales?"

Another great existentialist play from the period is Jean Anouilh's Becket; ou l'honneur de Dieu. As the title suggests, Becket, having first served his King with distinction, found his honor in the service of God. To act contrary to that would have been, for Becket, the supreme act of bad faith. Forced to make the existential choice, Becket chose the honor of God above his duty to his King. Somewhat simplistically, he lost his life but saved his soul. Poor Galileo! He saved only his life.

I saw both movies in the same year in which I heard Stokely Carmichael address an audience at Cullen Auditorium on the University of Houston campus. It was historic –Stokely Carmichael's promise to keep alive the revolution that the assassinations of RFK and Martin Luther King Jr the following year would end. With them, the "dream" seemed to have perished.

JFK could have made the Faustian bargain with the Bush crime family that even then, via the Sr Bush, was directing CIA efforts against Cuba. RFK threatened the same people. Just recently, a BBC documentary established that RFK's "killer" was most certainly the CIA. Martin Luther King, of course, represented the 'black' revolution that would have rocked the establishment.

If a man's soul is his "self", then one may never find it in "organized religion", a standardized journey through preconceived dogma. By definition, every individual must take this journey and experience it. The journey differs with each individual; therefore, it cannot become scripture. However, the "form" seems always to be the same: the individual, in crisis, is given or confronts a choice: his life or his soul. It is no coincidence that this form is likewise the structure of almost every work of literature worth reading or watching.

Science and the Pursuit of 'Self'

I am quite sure that 'gravity waves' are a type of electro-magnetic wave like light, radio waves, and certain waves reaching Earth from deep space. It is tempting to imagine an inter-galactic space craft with sufficient energy to produce it's own gravity waves relative to a local field. The degree to which it is either negatively or positively in or out of phase with the surrounding gravity field just might get you from one planet to another, or from one star system to another. If I were to design such a craft, I would make it look just like the sleek craft that Klaato and Gort emerged from in "The Day the Earth Stood Still". Klaatu barada nikto

'Particle' and 'wave' are just words to describe a 'noumenon' --as Immanuel Kant called things as they just are –before names are stuck on them, things NOT as they are perceived or measured but things in the state of mere being. As I recall, Kant may have referred to it a God's eye point of view. Not a "God's view" is the "snapshot" we make of waves. We may think of a particle as the "snapshot" we make of a "wave". Waves, by definition, are manifested only over time, however short that instant may be.
,
Certainly –Heisenberg's "uncertainty principle" is verbally stated thus: a particle's position or its velocity may be measured at any given instant but not both at the same instant. I like the photographic analogy. If I use a slow shutter speed, my photograph of some object making a looping motion as it moves from point A to point B will look like a solid object if my shutter speed is –say–one half second or longer depending up the lateral speed of the object photographed. See: Pablo Picasso: Light Painting

An object making a looping motion while moving from point 'A' to point 'B' will look amazingly different if photographed at 1,1000th of a second than over a period of 1,2 or 3 seconds or an hour, a day! Depending upon how quickly the 'object' is moving. At very fast shutter speeds, my photographs are sure to suggest the shape of the "actual object". The question is: what is the "actual object". Point being, the faster my shutter speed, the closer I get to the actual shape of the object but at the expense of being able to determine its speed. This is the visual proof of Heisenberg's 'uncertainty principle' which I summarize thus: either the position or the speed of an object may be precisely determined but not both at the same time. This is the very crux of quantum mechanics.

For me, this principle evokes my recollection of seeing Pablo Picasso's lighting paintings for the very first time. Over a period of several seconds, his "light pen" has created an object, the shape of which is limited only by Picasso's imagination. If the shutter is is made longer, a different shape will emerge. As the shutter speed is made faster, Pablo's creation becomes increasingly smaller. Likewise, physicists hoping to pin down sub-atomic particles. As Heisenberg discovered: we pin down the location of a particle at the expense of learning its velocity; we may pin down its velocity at the expense of learning its shape.

As a child on a road trip with may parents, I asked by father: how fast are we going? My father answered: "...fifty miles per hour". I responded: what does that mean? He answered: "...over the course of an hour we will have gone fifty miles." I responded as a child might: "But how fast are we going right now?" I might not have known, at age 5, that my question was consistent with if it did not invoke Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.

At the Movie Theater

By definition, a shadow, or projection of a 3D object, indeed, any n-dimensional object will always be 2D. In other words, an (n-1) dimensional image; a 3D object makes a 2D 'projection' or, by analogy, a 2D shadow. Physical reality may, therefore, consist of 3-dimensional projections of 4D objects just as a 'time-line' through Platonia may be considered the 3D projection of a higher dimensional reality of at least four dimensions. Our world may be but "images" or "shadows", integrated projections of a 4th (or higher ) reality. We are not living in a movie; we are a living movie!

Depending upon its forward velocity, a looping object will describe a sine wave as it moves. In those instances, orbits are "frozen" sine waves. The moon, for example, orbits the earth but describes a wave as it follows the Earth in its orbit about the sun. An electron orbiting an atom makes a sine wave if both electron and nucleus are in motion...and they are always in motion. Depending upon how it is "photographed" (to use the analogy) it is both a particle and a wave. Electrons are particles if their position is pinned down, but waves otherwise. At the quantum level, particles are still blurs but smaller blurs. One wonders if anything really exists at all.

To use the photography analogy again –what shows up on the 'photograph' depends upon the shutter speed. Slow shutter speeds make blurry photographs in which small objects may appear to be large and blurry. A very fast shutter speed will result in a smaller, sharper object. Similarly, Heisenberg's equation describes the relationship between the accuracy of a position vis a vis a velocity. A precise determination of velocity can only be made at the expense of a precise determination of the object's position.

The question that I asked my father was really not a bad one. At that age, however, I could not have known the power of graphs, slopes, tangents and co-ordinates to any given point on a curve. It does make sense to say that at an infinitesimally small "point" representing an "instant", a speed is "X". One could define the car as the fourth dimensional shape manifested over the duration of a one hour trip. Theoretically, I could take a long exposure photograph of the entire trip. The result would not resemble a car. It would resemble a "string". String theory?


Zooming in to the quantum level, I will learn the shape of particles but I will have done so at the expense of the fourth dimensional shape manifested over the course of "trip". I like the description of "gravity waves" –that they are ripples in the fabric of space-time. I found some very interesting GIF animations of gravity waves in a 3-D graphics program. That, of course, is a projection twice removed --but nevertheless one gets the idea. If a craft is ever built utilizing the interference patterns generated by two dissimilar wave fronts, inter-stellar travel will allow one to "surf" the universe. Thought of in this way, such a craft is also a time machine.

The work of Julian Barbour is consistent with Occam's Razor. I believe that Barbour did not find it necessary to posit additional dimensions as he must surely be convinced that they are not necessary to his hypothesis. Barbour's theory is fully developed within four dimensions. If one is otherwise satisfied or convinced of Barbour, then the question is: what purpose is served by positing additional dimensions?

An atomic clock works like any other clock, that is, it measures time against oscillations of a known duration. For a Grandfather clock, it is the oscillations of a pendulum. For an atomic clock it is the oscillation of electrons about a nucleus. I have problems with the conventional MODEL of the atom depicting electrons orbiting a nucleus. As atoms are always in motion, those "ORBITS" are oscillations. Likewise, the moon is said to orbit Earth but because the Earth itself is in motion about the sun, and the sun about the about the center of the Galaxy, and the Galaxy about the center of the 'local group' etc, etc, ALL, it would appear, are oscillations. The universe is an oscillating machine.

Also see: Nasa Seeks 'Warp Drive', Anti-Gravity Space Craft