Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:28 am

PART 2 OF 2 (RUDE AWAKENING, CONT'D.)

Wipeout

For my wife, losing faith was about as painful as losing her skin. For over twenty years she had invested every waking thought in the project of self-perfection according to the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. She had performed a hundred thousand prostrations, many more than a million mantras, transcribed and edited teachings by our guru, built thrones, sewed every ecclesiastical fabric creation requested of her, and managed hundreds of meals and ceremonies, large and small. When she realized that nothing good had happened to her mind as a result of all her efforts, and that she was just as far from clear on the meaning of Buddhism as she had been years before, she was enraged. As the thought-structure she had created began to come apart, it was about as dramatic as the Challenger explosion, and for several years she was condemned to repeat it daily. Self-deprogramming from a delusive worldview can be painful.

My faith in Buddhism had always been tenuous, but losing it altogether was no fun. By tenuous, I mean that I always felt like a phony practitioner. My mind is incorrigibly active, and meditating had always made me more uptight, to be honest. I certainly didn’t get the hang of trancing out in meditation, like Ram Dass, who found it an adequate substitute for drugs. I generally considered myself more lucky than good, but luck is all about associating with the lucky. The lucky ones in my pantheon were the Siddhas and Mad Saints who overleaped the restraints of this world to declare the triumph of the human spirit. I had gotten quite used to relying upon their company to enliven the dreary confines of the workaday world. I was also very used to the company of wrathful and peaceful deities whose presence I had cultivated. My Buddhist lifestyle had made me able to balance various different personalities on the theory that my inherent nature was empty, but in actual fact, I had gone somewhat crazy. I woke up to my condition one day after reading a book by a Miriam Williams who had spent fifteen years of her life in the Children of God Christian sex cult, a cult that I myself had been in just before it went altogether freaky. I realized I’d been in one cult, then gotten into another one, and spent twenty years in it. My self-delusion that I hadn’t been in a cult crumbled as I reviewed the last years of my life, how I had ended up living in a remote backwoods location near an empty temple where an old Tibetan lama had broken up with his wife, and nothing very interesting was happening at all.

When we lose faith, we lose several sources of psychological comfort. We lose the social agreement and ritual activities we shared with other believers. We will no longer share homilies with the Sangha. We will not regularly read Dharma books with a reverent air. We will not push ourselves on toward the goal of enlightenment for the sake of all beings with that terribly earnest style. We will not wear special clothes, sport prayer paraphernalia or religious fashion accents. The evenings become strangely lonely when you have no fellow-believers to shore up your self-image.

I have recounted how my experiences first led me to embrace, then reject, spiritual doctrines of the sort endorsed by Ram Dass, because few people experience religious disillusionment after a long period of belief, and apostates are often not very outspoken about their despair. The faithful certainly don’t want to hear about it. Therefore, it is significant that Ram Dass clearly states in Fierce Grace that after a lifetime of faith, his near-death experience devastated his beliefs, leaving him far less certain of his beliefs than he appeared during his long and apparently self-deluded career as a spiritual teacher.

Ram Dass’s Excessively Real Visualization

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During the last quarter of the twentieth century, Ram Dass was iconified as the epitome of a New Age guru with unquestioned credentials. His achievements were logged in the hall of fame and required no further confirmation. As he passed into middle age, he kept cranking out lectures that were turned into books, and kept certifying the experiences and writings of other spiritual lights. Like a restless explorer always looking for new places to discover, he at last settled into “aging” as his next big frontier. Of course, he subjected his encroaching decrepitude to the same internal scrutiny he had perfected with his meditator’s eye. One day he was visualizing what it would be like to have failing eyesight and other weakened faculties, when it stopped being an experiment, a speculation. Most human potential fans say that if you visualize something really clearly, it becomes reality, and Ram Dass should’ve probably taken that promise more seriously.

Ram Dass had just answered the phone when he began exhibiting severe symptoms caused by a cerebral hemorrhage from a ruptured blood vessel in his brain. A cerebral hemorrhage leads to unconsciousness, coma, brain damage and death as blood pressure increases inside the braincase. Ram Dass had begun to slur his words, and his friend on the other end of the line, concerned, called the paramedics. “When I answered the phone, my right side wasn't working, my words were slurred, and the friend on the phone was worried,“ Ram Dass said about the stroke. ”My friends called 911. I was on the floor when these big young firemen came. They stared at me and suddenly, I knew what it was to be old. On the gurney I remember the pipes and the long faces of the doctors and nurses. Later, I found out they thought I was dying.” An attending physician said, “Ram Dass had a massive left hemorrhagic stroke and I believe he had chronic hypertension. Since I am not his personal physician, I cannot tell you how closely his blood pressure was followed nor if it was controlled, so that may have played a part in his stroke.” The lay name for hypertension is high blood pressure. When the blood pressure went up too high inside Ram Dass’s blood vessels, one of them ruptured in his brain, and then the pressure started going up inside his braincase, and then he started dying.

Ironically, most doctors today will tell you “yoga” is good for reducing your blood pressure. The doctors of course are thinking of hatha yoga asanas and pranayama, the rhythmic stretching, relaxing and breathing exercises that some yoga practicioners perform. Apparently Ram Dass was dedicated to a subtler “heart yoga,” which he sometimes taught people to practice by imagining that they had nostrils in the middle of their chest. It must have worked for him, but he apparently missed the fact that he wasn’t taking care of his body. Like many spiritual athletes filled to the brim with the adulation of disciples, his specialness had inflated to such a dimension that it blocked an honest view of himself. In the midst of the last thirty years of hoopla, it had slipped his mind that, when it comes to death, one size fits all.

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Some of us don’t look forward to dying, but Ram Dass had been anticipating the moment when death would remove the fleshly barrier between himself and “Rama” the big blue God-king from ancient India whose name he had by now repeated millions of times. Constant recitation of Rama’s name was said to be like “placing a lamp at the door of the mouth, so there will be light within and without.” Pronounced with the last “a” silent, as in “Rahm,” Ghandi shouted out the holy name the moment his assassins cut him down. Ram Dass was fond of this story, of course.

But to his own great disappointment, during the moments when his brain was failing and he was plummeting toward death, Ram Dass didn’t remember Rama, God, guru, enlightenment, or anything spiritual at all. Of course, you can hardly blame him, since nothing happened to remind him of his planned after-death scenario. He didn’t travel through a long tunnel, he wasn’t drawn to a beautiful light, no guides showed up to meet him, and he didn’t return to this world because he still had work to do among the living. He just stared at the pipes on the ceiling, noticing that they were there. He didn’t think about God, not one little bit. There’s no mystery here, unless you want to invent one. Ram Dass’s malfunctioning brain couldn’t access the programs he’d stored to know when he was dying, and how to act. He’d locked his spiritual keys in his material vehicle, and wasn’t going anywhere.

Ironies abound in Ram Dass’s situation. Ram Dass apparently thought the power of the spirit could trump physical limitations, but his physical collapse has underlined the folly of ignoring one’s physical health if one wishes to enjoy continued mental clarity. He didn’t even know he had high blood pressure, or must’ve figured he’d just muddle through on good vibes. High blood pressure kills, and you don’t argue with the numbers – you get your blood pressure down or you die.

Ram Dass believed, however, that spirit and body were fundamentally distinct, and that he had set things up in such a way that his consciousness would trend upward into clarity and peace, gradually freed from earthly constraints into “liberation.” That is the fairy tale. Now, paralyzed and cognitively impaired, unable to drive his new car, to roll his own wheelchair, to speak clearly or express his intentions unambiguously, he is a living demonstration of how the mind depends on the body to experience suppleness and beauty.

The entire wisdom of Ram Dass’s teaching is of course called into question by his own sense of complete befuddlement when faced with precisely the event for which he’d been preparing for the last thirty years. Ram Dass’s philosophy flowed from his first psychedelic experience, when he believed he suffered “ego death,” and discovered that even though “nobody was home,” his existence-less self was still “minding the store.” After getting over the shocking effects of ego-death, Richard Alpert decided it was a good thing to go through, and that it should, logically, turn you into a holy man, which is why he became Ram Dass by means of the available route – going to India with a stash of psychedelics and looking for God among the hash-smokers of Benares. But whatever Richard Alpert’s ego-death was, it must have been really different from Ram Dass’s near-death experience, because he clearly did not conceive of it as a good thing, and it didn’t turn him into a holy man. It turned him into a very sad man.

Ram Dass placed his faith in the power of the spirit to soften the reality of life. By dint of good fortune and a kindly disposition, he did in fact make his life pleasant, and he articulated a cozy philosophy that has no doubt comforted legions of believers. The history of his popularity and the adulation he received are in the record books. But when death came it didn’t stop to look at the clippings and the videos and the audiotapes. It came straight for him, and he was unable to take proactive, conscious steps to manage the death experience. In the Mission Impossible moment when the smart yogi hot-wires reality and flies off with the dakini in a magic vehicle, he froze. Nothing looked right, and he forgot what to do. Whoa! Had he been studying the wrong map? Was he like an old convict who had always said he would escape, but dozed through the big jailbreak, and woke up inside the same old slammer? Or was the whole escape story just bullshit? Was there no “outside?” Perhaps what we see is all there is. Certainly Ram Dass couldn’t testify to anything different based on direct experience. He fell from a height of certainty into a chasm of doubt about our mortal destiny. Based on his own spiritual criteria, Ram Dass announced at the beginning of the film: “I failed the test. I have a lot of work to do.” Ram Dass never recants this dark declaration, and all by itself, this statement undermines a lifetime of confident pronouncements, as both his theory and practice appear to have left him a goodly distance short of the finish line.

Revisiting The Legacy

Fierce Grace doesn’t retell a fraction of Ram Dass’s career as a guru, and indeed, doesn’t pretend to be an entire biography. Nevertheless, to leave out the scope of his life activity presents a one-sided view of the man. His involvement in pyramid schemes like The Circle of Gold in the late seventies, which siphoned money into the hands of a few spiritual and political elitists based on a ridiculous metaphysical proposition that a pyramid scheme was just a brilliant method of investing money that would make the whole world rich if we’d just let it do its work. I remember two local healers brought two of the official Circle of Gold chain letters up from the Bay Area, that you had to buy for $150, and conveyed the right to sell them to two people for the equal price. A big selling point was that Ram Dass and other spiritual luminaries appeared as senders of the original letter. The healers were unable to sell the letters to the unventuresome Ashland hippies, who wanted to buy large bags of granola and dried fruit, not silly letters that anyone could write. A few months later the whole scheme went bust. Quite a saintly venture, that.

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Left out entirely is the saucy story of Ram Dass’s humiliation at the hands of Chogyam Trungpa during the early years at Naropa Institute, when Trungpa, a throwback feudal lordling with eleven incarnations in the Tibetan Ancien Regime, showed him how a tulku wields spiritual power. Ram Dass felt unable to compete when Trungpa talked about lineage. He hadn’t even asked Neem Karoli Baba what his lineage was. In a painful humiliation that ran the spiritual circuit worldwide like a satellite transmission, Ram Dass’s friend, the Hindu troubadour, had his ass-length sadhu braid cut off by Trungpa as he lay unconscious after a night of drinking at Naropa. Trungpa explained that the braid was for sannyasis, not drunkards. After that major tonsorial event, Bhagavan Dass acquired a permanent shit-eating grin that he still displays in the movie, and although the braids are back and look okay, his eyebrows are ridiculous.

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Fierce Grace also completely misses the Joya Santanya scandal. Ram Dass indiscriminately legitimized a lot of mediums and holy people. One of his channel-surfing buddies, Hilda Charlton, introduced him to Joya, a thirty-something Brooklyn Jewish housewife who fell into trances from doing “the yogi breath” in the bathtub for six hours as an appetite-reduction thing. Guess she was really hungry, and Samadhi was her only refuge. After falling into trances, she developed this problem of seeing “an old man with a blanket.” Hilda asked Ram Dass to see Joya, and just like catching a fever, dear old Ram Dass went head over heels for Joya. He decided the old man in the blanket was Neem Karoli Baba, so he got his guru back, because Joya was a channel. Better yet, she was a channel with huge capacity, a virtual spiritual television who could channel anyone from Crazy Horse to Mohandas Ghandi. Joya was a scandalous divine mother given to salty language and straight talk. A little bit of Dr. Laura, a little Leona Helmsley, and a lot of Helena Blavatsky. She grabbed Ram Dass and took him like an elevator straight to the top. She taught Ram Dass what it meant to have superstar status, and locked him into a lie – they were having sex, but publicly claimed to be celibate. There was of course a discovery, more discoveries, a coverup, a scandal, an explosion, an implosion, and egg all over Ram Dass’s face, as he admitted in his book Grist For the Mill.

Ram Dass’s complete failure to perform as a guru on an equal level with Trungpa, or as a partner with Joya, is omitted from the movie, and the filmmakers don’t ask Ram Dass about those years. I would have thought they merited as much attention as the silly “Millbrook experiment,” a free-floating assemblage of self-conceived geniuses dosing on acid in a groovy mansion owned by those signal exploiters of humanity, the Hitchcock-Mellons. Wow, utopia. Not. Leary and Alpert had just been kicked out of Harvard because they had given in to the desire to proselytize and liberate the chemical sacrament, as they conceived it. They had been giving LSD outside the parameters of their job authority, and were proving for everyone that LSD caused people to lose their sense of social reality. Indeed, the fact that both Leary and Alpert seemed totally fine with their disgrace was virtual proof that the drug they championed had caused them to lose the very rationality that had been the whole reason for being Harvard professors at all.

We can thank this incredibly stupid faux pas by the Leary-Alpert pair for giving the DEA a huge win in its effort to ban an expanding spectrum of mind drugs of every type, including traditional native medicines. But even after living through a lifetime and a near-death experience, Ram Dass doesn’t realize that by getting run out of Harvard in disgrace while sporting a silly acid smile, he squandered the opportunity to experiment legitimately with psychedelics in one of the world’s finest educational institutions. Instead of defaming psychedelics with his own childish behavior, proving unable to apply scientific protocols to a serious endeavor, he could have kept his head. He could have been more like the discoverer of LSD, Dr. Albert Hoffman, for example, who died recently, mourned by all, and fit as a fiddle until he stepped off the stage.

Ram Dass also seems a bit of a selfish child grown large. He seems willfully oblivious to the shock his abrupt decision to kamikaze his career must have given his father. Shock or no, Ram Dass’s father aged far better than his youngest son Richard. As has Ram Dass’s older brother William, a silver-haired, tanned gentleman. He reminisces briefly about how Richard once wrecked a brand new boat within seconds of taking control. The future guru manhandled the shifter, causing the boat to slam back and forth between the dock and another obstacle. That was all the boating they did that day. With a resigned note in his voice, William wraps up the story with an explanatory declaration — “That was Richard” — tilting his head, raising his brows, and twisting his mouth wryly in a tolerant expression.

Yes, that was Richard, the same Richard who returned from India as Ram Dass to host flocks of barefoot young people on the golf course adjacent to his father’s country estate. That was Richard, earnestly but self-impressedly telling the crowd through closed eyes, “Now, we will meditate … for about …” here pausing for a self-adoring smile, the better to select a mystic number, “seven minutes ...” No doubt seven minutes became the right amount of time to meditate for dozens of people that day. Richard, now Ram Dass, never realized how silly he must have looked to his relatives, and how sorry his brother must feel for him now. No wife, no kids, no one to care for him. Sure, he had a hell of a good ride, the incense smoke and the adulation, but it wasn’t very virile or very challenging, and now it’s tired, cold and lonely with a crew of hangers-on standing in for a family.

We Can Do This

The moviemakers are not very receptive to criticism of Ram Dass’s past or present personality or “teachings.” Ignoring the obvious fact that a great part of Ram Dass’s spiritual value to students and devotees has been crushed under God’s careless hammer, this film highlights the silver lining in the clouds that have engulfed Ram Dass in their darkness. The feel-good machine has to be turned on high to accomplish this transformation, but after all , what is the New Age all about but doing amazing things with film? As the movie maneuvers to a feel-good conclusion, the background music becomes more encouraging. Ram Dass, it turns out, has come out of his funk. He’s battling back against the paralysis, getting on his feet, blending his own arcane grief with the pedestrian sufferings of others. He is writing a book with a man who finishes his sentences, although at the beginning of the movie he said he prefers that people not finish his sentences. The “writing” process comes across, literally, as a charade. Ram Dass is trying to make his mind produce speech from thoughts that aren’t even fully there. The writer is sitting there putting words in his mouth, writing stuff down, just guessing what to say, and he has no gift for this – he knows he’s failing, but he keeps trying. After the writer manages to come up with a complete cheeseball of a closing line, Ram Dass, smiling beatifically the while, ekes out the comment, “You’re so … New York schmaltzy”. The writer backs up, exposed. Okay, we’ll just cut that last part, he volunteers. Ram Dass says no, let’s finish it. So it is finished, but when books are written this way, by civil negotiation between a wordsmith and an aphasic older gentleman formerly-famous for his metaphysical eloquence, something has gone seriously awry. Spiritual leadership has been redefined at this point. In Ram Dass, the New Age has found its Reagan, an old warrior venerated even in dotage. Reagan had Nancy. Ram Dass has the publishing industry.

Thanks to the publishing industry, Ram Dass has got his groove back, and in so getting it back, he echoes what Wavy Gravy says to the camera with total non-seriousness – he is going ahead of us baby boomers into the tunnel of aging, bringing back the information we need to make it through. We’re not going to be let down by this movie, I realize. It’s a recovery story. As the theme sweeps onward to its conclusion, Ram Dass is interviewed in front of a hall that is never quite shown to be full of people. Baby boomers, particularly women, come to say hello, to express deep warmth, to give hugs, and Ram Dass is back on his game. He’s talking better, and he has a new rap down. A somber moment falls when his caregiver rolls him out of the empty hall, shown in its unfillable expanse for the first time. It is a lonely moment.

What’s a little lame about Ram Dass’s recovery is how he doesn’t own the bummer he was on after he first recovered from the stroke. He blames it on other people – everybody around him thinking “poor Ram Dass,” causing him to believe their negativity. Okay, I don’t want to beat up on an old man trying to get through a very hard day such as Ram Dass faces daily. But at the beginning of the film Ram Dass said he’d been jolted by his failure to manifest spiritual awareness during imminent death, and was deeply grieved by mental and physical deficits resulting from brain damage. That’s enough for anybody to be entitled to be a little bleak of spirit, but it’s typical of Ram Dass’s willingness to rise to the role of role model that he preserves his image even under hellish circumstances. At this point, his time for naked honesty is past. He needs to survive and keep on, so he is now buying into the revisionist history constructed by his handlers.

Like a Hallmark greeting card that rises to any occasion, Fierce Grace tries to make everything all right. Doggedly, the producers plow on, attempting to show how Ram Dass is carrying on. He explains to the camera that he had lost faith, and reclaimed it when he realized how bleak life is without it, so again he's a believer. We can all breathe a sigh of relief. Ram Dass is saved from a permanent bummer, and we won’t have to digest his grief! But what Ram Dass believes in is a pretty vague quantity. His faith seems like a cup that’s been broken and glued back together – marginally functional and unable to bear ordinary use. It’s not entirely clear that it is an unalloyed pleasure for this old man to sing bhajans anymore. As he claps to the rhythm of a roomful of blue-state Americans singing Hindu holy songs, he gets a pained, confused look on his face. Behind closed eyes, Ram Dass seems to be digging for meaning, until he gives up the process, his emotions carry him away, and he starts to cry wretchedly. Throughout the uplifting singalong, Ram Dass’s face reveals difficult emotions, and he looks very little like the other devotees, affecting serene transports as their reward for devoted crooning. Among his many expressions, one recurs most often – ambiguous bewilderment – the look of a man who is trying to laugh along, but is not sure if he has exactly got the joke.

This is a big loss for everybody, because before his stroke, Ram Dass knew, and taught his beliefs with confidence. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his close disciples, “Ye are the salt of the earth. If the salt shall lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” Jesus was telling his disciples that they had to be filled with faith, to communicate faith to others, just as salt must be salty to be of any use. Ram Dass was the salt – he communicated the flavor of the Buddho-hippie-Hindu-reincarnationist philosophy to all of us. By his own admission, however, he has slid considerably down the scale of relative saltiness. He isn’t very salty at all any more, in fact, he probably needs salt, but as the former saltiest man in America, where would he get a supply?

Despite the obvious fact that it’s time to scale down the myth to fit the reality, the makers of Fierce Grace have quite another story to tell. Ram Dass, they push us to believe, deserves continued veneration as a saint. However, they simultaneously disregard his true message, perhaps because Ram Dass isn’t consistent in communicating it, and really no one wants to hear it. Ram Dass’s true message was politically unacceptable for those in the religion business, so the filmmakers sweep it under the rug.

Instead of airing the truth that Ram Dass is disoriented by his brain damage, and is recovering from depression, the movie is intent on burnishing his credentials and piling up fuel to fire the funeral pyre of his legacy. For example, at the start of the movie, a couple from Ashland describes how Ram Dass’s letter to them after the sudden death of their daughter helped them heal from their bereavement. This scene seemed ill-conceived, like several others in the film. Granted that he wrote good consolatory correspondence with students, Ram Dass can no longer perform at that level of intellectual and emotional subtlety. Besides, what is the point of this bit of character-testimony? Obviously no one was willing to say he’d healed the blind or made the lame to walk, but why get into the competition at all? Perhaps because, with a bit of nostalgia, we can honeycoat this reality and pretend that, notwithstanding Ram Dass’s disheartening cry of pain and fear at the moment of his rude awakening, it is all okay. We’ll just crank up some emotional footage with guitar music to cover it up. Don’t worry folks, we can do this. Just close your eyes to reality, and the movie’s spin will take you to a good space where it’s “all good.”

A Diagnosis and Report of Cure

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Reviewing the evidence, I would submit that Ram Dass suffered from a form of narcissism I have dubbed TIDS (“Tantra-Induced Delusional Syndrome”), a proposed entry for the Diagnostic Symptoms Manual for Mental Disorders. TIDS comes in three flavors – Student-Side, Guru-Side, and Transitional. Student-side TIDS causes the slavish, self-hating behavior typical of many cult adherents. Guru-side TIDS leads to a “god-realm” attitude in which internal and external events reinforce delusions of wisdom, greatness, goodness, and significance in the subject, who floats ever-higher on a spiral of self-reinforcing self-adulation. Transitional TIDS is an advanced stage of Student-side TIDS, in which the subject develops the delusion that they are turning into a guru, something that so rarely happens as to be discounted entirely from the realm of possibility. Transitional TIDS-sufferers are often highly energized and competitive, and thus are found in high levels of spiritual organizations, currying favor and partaking of the true Guru’s reflected glory, fancying themselves greater than they are ever likely to become.

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While hardly anyone gets Guru-side TIDS without the aid of outside persons who “recognize” the spiritual genius within them, virtually no one recovers from it. The self-delusive lock is self-reinforcing. Having experienced the impossible pleasure of complete guru-hood, their minds just won’t go back. Even if Andrew Cohen ends up living in a dumpster, he will still think he’s a guru. But I think Ram Dass is off the high. At the start of the movie, Ram Dass was terribly put out because he failed to think of God at all, and became absorbed in the appearance of pipes on the ceiling above him. Perhaps if he’d been practicing “bare-awareness” meditation, this sterile perception wouldn’t have disturbed him so deeply, but Ram Dass was apparently expecting some confirmation of his beliefs when the death process began, and there was none. His Guru-side TIDS condition collapsed when it was punctured by the sharp point of reality.

The proof comes from a sad scene toward the end of the movie, shot with a young girl who has come to Ram Dass distraught over the murder of her activist boyfriend by a Central American death squad. Ram Dass tries to comfort her by saying that God doesn’t follow our desires, but he clumsily invokes as an example his own disappointment at being unable to do a radio show he’d been planning before he lost his mental capabilities. Most people would say that was an insensitive response to death – to compare not doing a radio show with never seeing your sweetheart again – and the girl’s face shows it. She seems to be wondering, “What the hell? This is helpful?” By the time Ram Dass blurted that malapropism, though, the interview had turned into a debacle. He had harvested a rejection when he tried to give the girl a flower. Smiling beatifically like a sweet old grandpa didn’t work either. This girl wanted answers to deep questions, and Ram Dass struggles to converse about everything. He said to her that “losing a lover is a path,” but that didn’t help. She told Ram Dass about a dream in which she communicated with her dead boyfriend, but with his limited vocabulary, Ram Dass could barely get out a crippled exclamation that evoked a rudimentary mental state: “Yummy! Oh, yum, yum!” It’s a tortured scene. Ram Dass can’t express himself clearly; the girl’s not getting any empathy; she’s having to cover for his frailties; the whole exchange is humiliating. Ram Dass breaks down. The young lady leaves after they exchange a cute hug and she gives him a kiss. Who the hell thought this was a good idea? Well, at any rate, his career as a guru is clearly at an end.

As a Guru-side TIDS sufferer, Ram Dass’s prognosis for recovery was terrible, but he beat the odds when the outer and inner framework supporting the delusion fell apart. From the outside, he lost the charming eloquence that made him a spiritual personality in modern media. He lost the chance to do a radio show. The few cooling embers of his career can’t get his kettle boiling. And on the inside, Ram Dass lost the illusion that he enjoyed for all the years when he thought that his spirit, independent of his body, would travel on into eternity to continue the joys of consciousness. He knows death is coming with a gun loaded with darkness that he can’t see into, and he doesn’t believe the pretty pictures he painted on the darkness for a lifetime. He is free from TIDS, and subject again to the normal constraints of humanity. But don’t try to tell the moviemakers. They’ve got TIDS themselves.

Ram Dass: Fierce Grace, directed by Mickey Lemle
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:34 am

WHITE MAN TWEAK WITH FORKED TONGUE -- THE GOVERNMENT-INDUCED SPEED PLAGUE, by Charles Carreon

April 13, 2006

Warrior Tweakers, Good! Citizen Tweakers, Bad!

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They’re tweaking again. The military, I mean. It’s not just the throttle jocks, I’m sure, who are popping Dexedrine to stay alert. It’s a war on, man, and if you can’t sacrifice a little sleep to the war effort, then what kind of patriot are you? That’s speed thinking. Compelling, so compelling of course that virtually all of the pilots flying combat missions in Iraq are in an altered state.

An altered state, may I remind you, that in an ordinary citizen is considered illegal in the extreme, a dangerous self-indulgence in a forbidden psychic kick that renders you outré. You’re a meth-head, a dangerous, child neglecting, spouse-abusing, larcenous scab on the body of society, in need of treatment and scorn. As a former prosecutor and criminal defender, I know the depictions are not far-fetched, either. Cranksters can be vile creatures, and meth induces a callousness of character that is definitively anti-social. Delusions of grandeur can feed notions of gangster mystique, and facilitate violence. I once had a client tell me in jail about how he brutally broke the kneecaps on a total stranger after taping him to a chair in his garage, because he had mistaken the poor fellow for some guy who ripped him off. After another tweaker friend came home and informed my client that the fellow was not the ripoff, they put him in the back of a pickup and threw him out in front of the emergency room and sped off. Of course, some meth users merely become weasely thieves, and do not commit mayhem. At all events, it has a corrosive effect on character.

So why do the military rate? Eliminate from your mind first the notion that the drugs are not the same. Dextroamphetamine is what the Air Force hands out to pilots, and they take extras along in the jet to self-administer as desired. Dextro just means the molecule “turns to the right” instead of to the left, but to your brain it’s all the same – left turn, right turn, speed on. To fight fatigue is said to be the reason. But a great side effect is the creation of the callous, anti-social character necessary to drop weapons of mass destruction on fellow humans. It takes a certain distance to do this sort of thing. Speed helps.

It makes me think of the lyrics from “Lucretia,” by the Sisters of Mercy:

“I hear the roar of a thin machine,
Hot metal and methedrine.
Love lost, fire at will,
Dum-dum bullets and shoot to kill,
I hear a dive bomber …
Empire Down …
Empire Down …”


Returning to the question – why do the military get to take speed? Because they need to, we are told. The Iraqis are probably doing speed, too. They’re not stupid. It gives them a little bit of advantage, what with having to stay up all night soldering together bomb-timers, and repairing assault rifles, not to mention keeping a prayer schedule. Speed helps.

Where’s The Money?

The origins of amphetamine are recent. Discovered just before the turn of the century, methamphetamine was synthesized by Smith, Kline & French in 1929. The company filed two trademarks on the trade-name “Benzedrine” in 1936, one as a tablet “medicine for the stimulation of the nervous system,” and another as a decongestant inhaler, citing first use in commerce in 1933. Glaxo, Smith Kline is still the big distributor of Dextroamphetamine for the military, and related stimulants like Adderall, for obnoxious little boys who won't sit still in school. Merck developed a simplified synthesis during the second world war to fuel the Blitzkrieg. I assume we aren’t holding back from giving infantry their share of the crank. After all, the infantryman and mechanized armor guys have the hardest work. So they’re speedin’ legally, driving humvees, tanks, fuckin’ rockin’ and rollin’ for real, and their commanders don’t mind that they’re listening to death metal with titles like “Cook Your Balls and Eat ‘Em,” ‘cause it’s a new crankin’ Army muthafucka.

War Is Hell, But Peace Is Sooooo Boring!

Our little cranksterized killers are going to have a hard time adjusting to civilian life. Death metal they’ll still have, but speed will be dearly bought with social ostracism. And they may begin to reflect on the horrors that they committed when the tunes were crankin’ and their reflexes were cleanly, smoothly distributing ammunition among the Iraqis. It seemed like a video game, but after the smoke and heroics are blown away, there is a terrible wound that the heart does not know how to heal. I knew that wound in some of my uncles who were in the infantry during world war two. They drank a lot.

Of course, the speed experience is not all exhilaration. There’s depletion and exhaustion and paranoia. No amount of speed will move the weariness out of bones that have been worked sore, and the business of dispensing ammunition is terribly wearying. I like to shoot my daughter’s .44 magnum lever-action gun, but it doesn’t have a cushion on the butt, and I’ve never shot a whole box of 50 rounds at a time. My shoulder just gets too sore. I’d hate to have to use that rifle in a war. They’d win just because my shoulder would get sore. Speed might help.

This Shit Works!

I wonder if it’s just possible that the policy makers, munitions makers and pharmaceutical makers might have realized how beneficial it would be for them to encourage the use of a drug that makes people more productive, less sensitive, more able to commit mayhem, less concerned with how they feel about what they are doing. Alfred Nobel created dynamite, some nameless chemist created speed. Who did the more powerful deed? Well, certainly their inventions worked hand in hand to make the world a far more detonated place.

Celebrity Cranksters, Celebrity Killers

Genies have a habit of getting out of the bottle, and the meth genie has been out of the bottle for about seventy-plus years now, fueling an expansion of manic energy that has probably resulted in the unnecessary damming of rivers, cutting down of forests, annihilation of entire tribes, species and ecosystems. And the toxic mentality has spread from the top down. Both Adolf Hitler and John F. Kennedy had “Dr. Feelgoods” who injected them with methamphetamine daily. Dr. Theodor Morell was Hitler’s psychiatric physician and constant companion, just as Dr. Max Jacobson was always present to serve as Kennedy’s pharmaceutical nursemaid. Both doctors supplemented the stimulant regimen with downers to moderate the manic effects of speed. It has been observed that Hitler’s mania for annihilating the Jews developed in intensity during the period of Morell’s influence.

Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap

Hitler’s allies, the Japanese, were also tweaking freely throughout the second world war, as the Imperial government doled out speed to the military and civilian populace alike, to keep up the “war effort.” The Rape of Nanking, a horrific war crime perpetrated by Japanese soldiers against no fewer than 369,366 Chinese men, women and children during 1937-38, was a murderous orgy that continued for months, during which the Japanese troops raped no less than 80,000 women of all ages. Reliable historical reports indicate that the Japanese killed many millions of Chinese during the second world war, although this Sino-Japanese holocaust has received little attention or commemoration. This type of lethal productivity has the feel of a meth-fueled murder nightmare. The suicide pilots of the Japanese air force were given amphetamines to overcome the desire to survive. The Japanese reversed course on their people after the war, made meth illegal in 1952, and arrested over 50,000 people. The country still has a serious problem with intravenous methamphetamine users, who comprise a large proportion of the 2 million meth users in the land of the Rising Sun.

African Children Turned Into Killing Machines

Many of the approximately 100,000 children under arms in the world are manipulated with amphetamines. For example, in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Burma, and other war-torn nations, children are taken captive, raped, starved, brutalized, and then injected crudely with amphetamines, cocaine, and other drugs, and directed to commit murderous rampages. A Washington Post article by Douglas Farah, published April 8, 2000, quoted international aid sources as follows: “In Sierra Leone, said social workers and the child combatants, taking drugs-especially amphetamines and cocaine-was a regular part of ‘military training.’ Human Rights Watch found in a 1999 report that ‘child combatants armed with pistols, rifles and machetes actively participated in killings and massacres, [and] severed the arms of other children. . . . Often under the influence of drugs, they were known and feared for their impetuosity, lack of control and brutality.’”

American Children Turned Into Substance Abusers

That’s one way to get folks into drugs young, but we are more subtle in the USA, and we use what is called “treatment.” Under the guise of treating ADD and ADHD, two “diseases” that seem to afflict little boys who eat junk food and watch a lot of TV, our little preschool punk rockers are “treated” by school nurses who dole out speed from a jar. Of course, first they started out using “methylphenidate,” aka Ritalin which supposedly “wasn’t an amphetamine.” This label-switching was ordained by the pharma marketing geniuses who started this project to turn kids into cranksters back in the fifties, because the diet pill craze was winding down, and amphetamines, bennies, white crosses, pink hearts, and black beauties had all got a bit of a bad name at the courthouse and in popular literature. The Rolling Stones helped break the bad news about diet pills in their song, “Mother’s Little Helper,” with its pleading refrain “Doctor please, some more of these!” and its jabbing rejoinder, “Outside the door, she took four more!” But the pharma hacks are always good at finding another use for powerful substances, and now, it turns out that Dextroamphetamine, mixed with meth, in a formulation called “Adderall,” is even better than silly old Ritalin. So what good is it to give speed to kids who are speedy?

Thanks for asking. To answer, I must introduce the vaunted “paradoxical effect” of amphetamines on children under some uncertain age. Marvelously, the pharma hacks explain, speed slows down speedy kids! And you know, with proper medical care and monitoring, maybe it is helpful in extreme cases. But in the USA, what’s good can get force-fed down your throat, whether you need it or not. Think lobotomies for excitable mental patients. The same thing has happened to children. Researcher Nadine Lambert recently presented data at the Consensus Development Conference indicating that prescribed consumption of stimulants during childhood predisposed young adults to cocaine abuse. This sort of obvious connection occurred to me when I heard that one of my nephews, a longtime Ritalin-kid, was doing hard time in the penitentiary because he couldn’t stop using meth. Soon, some criminal defense attorneys are going to wake up and realize that when the state gets you addicted to a controlled substance, that should be a defense to criminal possession.

Houston, We Have A Problem!

Meth has crept into our lives very quietly, and will not leave easily. It may very well explain the extreme bellicosity and hardheadedness of many white American males, who develop a strong loyalty to the drug because of its association with productivity, the work ethic, and a positive, can-do attitude. There is a great false optimism that is brimming over among the nation’s military leaders. We are going to export democracy, uproot tyranny, and kill all the bad guys. With a little crank, it’s all in a day’s work, because speed helps. On speed, we can do more. Somewhere Hitler is smiling.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:56 am

WHEN KILLING BECOMES HOLY, EVERYONE WANTS TO PRAY, by Charles Carreon

On the Virginia Tech Shootings April 16, 2007

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I and people of my generation were taught that human society evolved out of barbarism, away from horrific usages like slavery, torture, and murder, because we have gradually adopted virtues like humane treatment of all human beings. This progress was said to have been slow and difficult. A thousand years ago, a Nordic poet proclaimed in the saga of Beowulf, “A good king does not kill his nobles in drunken rages.” Moses proclaimed as his Sixth Commandment — “Thou shalt not kill.” I learned that the norms of basic non-violence were the essential terms of the “social contract” that made life secure, freeing us from the tyranny of lives that would otherwise be “nasty, brutish, and short.”

That was, of course, before the neocons came up with a new definition of civilization. Their plan for civilization was much along the old plan of “civilizing” the “inferior races” to make the world safe for “our way of life.” Believing that coercion and threat had unfairly received a bad name, armed with concepts like “the Management Secrets of Attila the Hun” that they imbibed in Business School, people like Wolfowitz and Cheney promised a return to the old values that alone could assure the future of our society — never mind that our society would be turned into a police state and our politicians into dictators in the process of revamping government to meet the challenges of the New American Century. Human impulses had to be jettisoned, like excess baggage during a storm. The dangers of kindness were too great, we were told. Our impulse to be kind would be our undoing. We had to resort to the old methods — kidnapping, torture, and blackmail, or we would go down in defeat before an enemy to whom scruples were alien. The only way to save our way of life, we were told, was to turn our back on it.

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Today the nation wrings its collective hands like Lady Macbeth, trying to wash off the stain of blood from its hands. The media, ever reassuring the nation's viewers that we are a nation of right-thinking people, indulges a well-entitled sense of perplexity about this unfathomable circumstance. Although school and workplace shootings have become a staple of American life, people persist in “wondering why these things happen.” There is plenty of evidence in plain sight, of course, but the media will not see it.

“Trickle down” dynamics affect more than economics. The drip, drip, drip of violent behavior is percolating down from the top. Living in a world governed by war profiteers, given the choice between poverty and military service, and taught to believe that problems are solved by gunfire, it is easy to understand how tormented young men so often explode in violence. This time the horror unfolded swiftly in a white enclave of higher education, whereas it occurs steadily and commonly in minority neighborhoods. The LAPD reports 92 homicides, 179 rapes, 3553 robberies, and 3215 aggravated assaults this year already, and no plan is in place to stop it, nor does the nation stop to consider these statistics with shock and regret.

While we are devising a plan to prevent future “Virginia Techs” from destroying the fabric of higher education, we might do well to consider a broader social initiative to bring peace to every street and neighborhood, all across this nation, and in other lands, where young Americans are doing a great deal of shooting under the presumption that it is necessary and honorable service. What if it were not? What if it were simply the needless infliction of grief?

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Delay in stopping killing is always wrong, and if it seems blameworthy to some people that the college authorities failed to act for 2 hours after the first shooting today, how much more blameworthy that our nation has not yet reversed course in Iraq, years after it became apparent that we could do little but sponsor further carnage. Killing should always be stopped as swiftly as possible, at both the personal and political levels. As individuals, we should personally resolve not to engage in killing people. As members of a self-governing democracy, we should restrain our public officials from kidnapping, torturing, and killing people in other countries. One good deed will lay the foundation for another, and eventually, peace will be the result of our efforts.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:21 am

LIFE WITH FATHER: THE NEW PATERNALISM, by Charles Carreon

The outlines of the average American’s relationship with the current regime, at least in theory, are clear. The government is entitled to know everything about you, and you are entitled to know nothing about it. The government has an absolute right to know what phone numbers you dial, what websites you visit, where you shop, what you buy, whom you email, what you watch, and so much more, including your genetic identity. They have to know everything so they can thwart dangers to national security.

You can’t know anything about the government, because government in the new age of global terror has to keep its operations secret from security leaks. The leaks of photographs of prisoner abuse, the domestic spying program, doubts about the validity of grounds for invading Iraq, all these leaks show how important secrecy is. The entire domestic spying program itself, which is vital to national security, is now in danger due to these leaks. The ACLU and Electronic Freedom Foundation lawsuits against the government for unlawfully gathering data on Americans also endanger national security.

You also don’t need to know anything about the companies you pay your monthly phone and Internet bills to, the ones that help the government to spy on you, like Verizon, AT&T, and all the other private defendants in the lawsuits. To protect national security, the Department of Justice just filed a secret brief on behalf of AT&T, saying the case has to be dismissed, because the plaintiffs can never win, because the government will not give up the evidence the plaintiffs would need to win against AT&T, because that would compromise national security.

You can’t know what the evidence is against people who are charged with terrorism offenses, because to reveal that evidence would compromise the ever-ongoing investigation of the international terror web, and endanger national security. So when they take away your neighbor in a van, the Homeland Security people might have to tell you they can’t answer questions about why they took him away. They’ll be more concerned with your security. Were you friends with your neighbor?

There is only one relationship that mirrors this one, and that is the relationship we have with our parents. Parents are free to search through their kids’ possessions at any time, but children are forbidden to dig through parents’ private things. Parents tell their children who to play with, what to watch, listen to and read. Under the law, parents are effectively all-powerful with respect to their children. Many parents wield their absolute power well, and many not so well, but all children are conditioned to obedience.

The current regime spends lavishly to solve problems of its own choosing – sealing our borders, keeping tabs on domestic communications, pursuing military power plays in the middle east, managing a juggernaut of spiraling debt, granting billions to churches to provide social services, and making the marriage altar safe for heterosexual couples. Great generals, powerful bankers, brilliant lawyers, and rich lobbyists, we have seen, can manage our world, so long as they are given an infinity of tax revenue to pay for it.

Children have no control over their parents’ finances, but then they don’t pay the bills either. Taxpayers, however, do pay the high cost of intrusive and abusive edicts that subordinate individual and social good to a great, grey abstraction – national security – that was equally worshipped by Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Fujimori, Pinochet, all the great ones. All tyrants love to make the nation secure, and to pauperize the nation doing it.

But our ancestors realized that we do pay the bills, and therefore a popular rallying cry of the American Revolution was “No taxation without representation.” Today’s average taxpayer would have no idea what “representation” in such a context would mean. Wal-Mart and Halliburton would not be similarly tongue-tied. Their tax lobbyists write legislation, and the President signs it. That’s called representation. I’d like some o’ that, Daddy.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:31 am

HEY DUDE, WHERE'S MY SILVER MINES?, by Charles Carreon

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A Family of Gascons

My mother was named Eloisa Ainsa, and her sisters were named Filomena and Perla. Her brothers were named Juan and Alfonso. The Ainsa family were miners, and the town of Ainsa is in the foothills of the Pyrenees, just south of the French border region called Gascony. The people there, called Basques in Spain, and Gascons in France, were never conquered by either nation. D’Artagnan, the hero of Dumas’ great adventure, “The Three Musketeers,” was a Gascon, to which Dumas attributed his inclination “to fight on all occasions.” The Basque separatist political group recently agreed to abandon violent resistance in pursuit of their goal to separate from Spain. The Basques are miners, sheepherders, makers of wine, good cheeses, hams, and the excellent fish they pull from the Cantabrian sea. They are descendants of the first cave painters of Altamira, who rendered their prey, the giant bison, with faultless artistry, making the first crayons by filling the marrow holes in bison bones with colored clay and animal fat. They were among the first toolmakers, creating bone needles to stitch skin clothing. If they had a religion, nobody knows what it was.

The Ainsa family migrated to New Spain in the 1700s, when they came to the New World to extract ore for the King of Spain. The line of the Ainsas blended with that of the famed explorer, Francisco de Anza, the founder of both Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the first man to ever lead an expedition of “white people” across the Mohave Desert. A plaque in front of the Santa Barbara Courthouse, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution commemorates de Anza’s arrival at the location on July 4, 1776. Thus, my relatives were busy settling the west coast for the King of Spain, while the Mayflower descendants were telling George the First to piss off. De Anza was apparently a tough and literate man. Although rarely seen without two pistols and a sword, kept a detailed diary of his travels up the California coast. He was also an effective manager of men and women and skillful negotiator. On the entire trip from what is now the Arizona-Sonora border, through territory peopled by Yaquis, Comanches, Apaches, and Mohaves Indians, they recorded no pitched battles with the natives, and only one of his band of settlers died. The final head count in Los Angeles was the same as when the party started out however, as on the way, one child was born.

The Arizona Story

They were all raised in a town called Morenci, Arizona, which was then the site of the world’s largest open pit copper mine. The Phelps-Dodge mining company owned the entire town, down to the dirt and everything below it, all the way to hell. All of the miners were Mexicans, all the houses were owned by Phelps-Dodge, and my grandfather Juan collected the rent from the Mexican miners. You didn’t have to be a citizen to work in the sweltering mine, or to man the hellish smelters where fires raged night and day, billowing sulfur-filled smoke that generated acid rains and snows so toxic that nothing green was seen for miles around.

The family was as proper as any you can imagine. They had indoor plumbing, and all three girls learned to play the piano and assimilated well. Filomena became “Phil,” and went to work for the State of Arizona. My mom became “Eloise,” and also became a secretary for the Highway Department. Perla became “Pearl,” and became a gifted schoolteacher. Both brothers enlisted in the Army. Alfonso stormed the beach in Italy on D-Day. Johnny was a supply guy who kept the other GI’s stocked with materiel. When the war was over, they came home, got educated on the GI Bill, and married their sweethearts. They assimilated further, moving to the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona.

My father was born Conrado Santiago Carreon, on a little ranch north of Tucson, Arizona, near the Catalina Mountains that he loved with a passion. Tragedy stalked his early life. At the age of three or four, the flu epidemic of the thirties took both his parents, and he was adopted by a Swiss-Italian couple, whom he called “Mama and Papa Buzzini.” He had a little brother who was taken in by a Chinese family, and my dad remembered how the little boy developed a Chinese accent to his Spanish. It was heartbreaking to hear Dad tell med the story of the last time he saw his brother in the Tucson Chinatown. The little boy told him, “You bring another mama back here.” He wasn’t able to do that, because the flu killed both the Buzzinis a few years later.

My father was transferred to live with some relatives in Los Angeles, but the family was poor and already ha three sons, and they treated him so badly that he left. From the age of twelve to his late teens, Dad shined shoes for the people of Los Angeles, and slept in twenty-four hour movie theaters, “the nickelodeons,” he called them, where a boy could watch W.C. Fields, Jimmy Cagney, Clara Bow, and get a little rest in the back row. Early on, he took refuge in amateur boxing, “Golden Gloves,” as it was then called, and fought his first professional prize-fights before he was an adult. Ambitious and not afraid to over-train to fight in a variety of weight classes, he could gain or lose up to thirty pounds for a match. The training practically killed him. At twenty-one, he was dying of tuberculosis, for which there was no cure. The surgeons cut out one lung, and told him if he could do without morphine, survive the pain, and stay flat on his back for two years, he might live. He followed their instructions, and lived to ninety-two with one lung. Along the way, he had two sons by his first wife in LA, and two sons by my mother, Eloise.

After leaving behind the ring, Dad learned bookkeeping and went to work for the tax assessor in Phoenix, Arizona. He met my mom, then in her mid-twenties and projected to become an old maid because of her love for reading, and a great romance began. He adopted her family as his own, and hit it off very well with my Grandpa and Grandma. Dad was the kind of guy who would win a big poker game and give all the winnings to Grandma, who would bless him with the words, “May God give you more.” God gave him more, and he kept giving it away in a life of public service. He became the first member of the Arizona State House of Representatives with a Spanish surname, and served for two-year terms, authoring laws to make a better state, including the law that put women on juries, and another law, among the first of its kind in the entire nation, that made it a felony to kill someone with a car while driving drunk. Prior to that time, drunks pretty much ran over anyone they wanted, and paid modest fines for the privilege. When his legislative career was over, he put in eighteen years as a contracting specialist for the U.S. Department of Labor. For over ten years he lived in Washington, D.C., while my mother lived in Phoenix, Arizona. It was what was needed to pay for the education of my brother and myself. He was immensely proud of his photograph shaking the hand of the great Texan who then ran the country, Lyndon Johnson.

Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

My Dad spared no expense in the education of his sons. I had to learn Spanish perfectly, so I went to summer schools in Mexico City. I also had to learn to speak English “without an accent.” My father emphasized that I had the advantages necessary to succeed in Anglo society – fair skin and no accent. While I should never abandon my heritage, I should not disadvantage myself by sounding like a foreigner. Although he despised violence and refused to own a gun, he sent me to a Catholic military school in Virginia for three years, which meant I lived with him in Washington, D.C. on vacations, and thus learned about segregation, bigotry, and racial violence when the city exploded in flames after the murder of Martin Luther King in 1965, when police and snipers traded fire in the streets of the nation’s capital.

My Dad’s plans paid off. It took me longer than he expected, but I became a lawyer, which caused my Dad to remark, one day as we stood, dressed in our business suits, on Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, the skyscrapers rising around us and the traffic flowing by, “Son, you’ve really made it. I wish your mother could see you now.” Alas, she could not, having died suddenly during my last year of college at Southern Oregon State College, but he told me she had said to him, perhaps in a moment when he was lamenting how I was wasting my talent meditating in the woods, “Someday honey, that boy will really do something.” I’m still trying.

My older brother Aaron also became a lawyer, and he’s been a prosecutor for the City of Phoenix for thirty years, accounting for thousands of drunk driving convictions in a town where drinking and driving still seem to go together. He married a lawyer, Gloria Aguilar, and their daughter Aubre attends Wellesley. I married a blonde from a Mormon family, which brought out my Dad’s latent prejudice. He said he didn’t approve of the marriage because Mormons had two undeniable defects – they were liars and hypocrites. They were liars because as farmers, they cheated their Mexican laborers. They were hypocrites because they owned bars and didn’t drink. Little did I know that my Mormon relatives weren’t pleased with their blonde daughter marrying a Mexican. Meanwhile, Tara and I were unaware of racial issues at all. We were hippies.

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The “Immigrant Problem”

Recently, there has been a great hue and cry about the “immigrant problem.” I have no idea what immigrant problem they are talking about. I was in Medford yesterday, and saw people holding signs saying stuff like, “I’ll Mow My Own Damn Lawn,” and “No Amnesty.” None of them looked mean or nasty. The skinheads were friendly as hell as Tara leaned out the window to snap their pictures. I can only conclude that someone has decided that race hatred is a good thing to feed at home, as well as abroad. Perhaps their attitude was best explained by Ross Davis, former Chief Judge of the Jackson County Circuit Court. I tried my first case in Jackson County in 1994. I was a new prosecutor, and had just won a conviction in my first DUII trial in front of a Medford jury. Judge Davis liked me, and said, “You’ll do all right here. The thing to remember is that people here are so stupid, when the Republicans tell them that the poor are trying to steal from the rich, they think they’re the rich!”

My Prejudices and Yours

I have lots of experience with prejudice, even though most people think I’m “white.” In Mexico, I was called a “gringo,” and treated badly. In Washington D.C., I was called a “honky” by black people. Innumerable “white people” have asked me what I “am.” When I answer, “I’m a Mexican,” they often reject the idea, telling me “Oh no, you’re Spanish.” To which I respond that once the Mexicans and Spaniards got in bed together, it got hard to tell. In the blood of my family, there are many people called Native Americans – two hundred years in the desert will erode a lot of race purity – but my Mom, whose own mother was obviously a tiny woman of indigenous origins, never thought of herself as “an Indian.” Blindness is in the eye of the beholder.

I’ve traveled around the world with Tara. I was in Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan when it was still safe for Americans to go there. Islamics didn’t hate Americans then, so I’m not sure who taught them to do so – perhaps it was our own government, with all its hate speech toward Islamic peoples, pursuing a stealth agenda to court Israelis without favoring Jews. Or maybe the Ayatollah did it all by himself. I traveled up and down the length of India, where people are divided by caste, Brahmins won’t touch you, and “untouchables” won’t even look at a Brahmin. Everywhere, people are made of flesh and blood, love their children, and need shelter, food, clothing, health care, and education. As a lawyer, I have convicted and defended people of every race, except Asians, who are just too rare in Southern Oregon to get in trouble in large numbers. I have represented white men who robbed banks to pay the mortgage, and a white boy who robbed a bank that was owned by the man across the street, because he had to buy cocaine. I have represented many Mexicans who were in jail solely for being on the wrong side of a border that wasn’t there when my ancestors first arrived. I represented a redneck meth dealer who candidly told me it was just bait for blondes.

The people who treat me most like family are Spanish and Mexican. When I first came to Southern Oregon in 1976, I picked fruit with the other Mexicans in Talent and Medford, and they treated me like a brother, albeit a little brother who could barely pick fruit. Sometimes they’d throw a bag of pears in my bin just out of pity. I also get pretty fair treatment from Jews, and most of the affluent people I’ve known socially were Jewish. Anglo lawyers didn’t open up socially, so I only saw them at official firm parties. Most of the Texans I have known were swindlers. People from LA lie with the greatest facility, but it’s not that hard to tell. New Yorkers act like your stuff is theirs, but that’s because legally, it is. Florida people are mostly New Yorkers who move south, where their lack of scruples is fully appreciated. People all over Arizona hate to think. People in Oregon sort into two groups – those who live in Ashland, Eugene, Salem and Portland, and those who live everywhere else. These kinds of generalizations may be funny, or you might find them irritating. They are my prejudices, and I apply them in life and business. A Portland jury is not like a Grants Pass jury, or a Medford jury, or an LA jury, or a San Diego jury. A Portland jury most resembles a San Francisco jury, and a Medford jury most resembles a San Diego jury. A Grants Pass jury is a creature like no other.

I trust my prejudices for my own purposes. It’s easier to manipulate rednecks if you adopt a southern accent, which is why the president uses words like “nucular,” and is “keerful” about his way of “tawkin.” It’s sad the way Mexican immigrants get suspicious when you try to help them, and would rather give up their rights than try their luck in the legal system. It’s sad the way hippies from good families pretend they are going to redeem a world in which they can’t buy food without a government card. Further, I enjoy all of these people, usually because of their characteristic foibles, and not despite them.

While my prejudices may be accurate, they are not a basis for law. My Dad was disappointed when I married a Mormon, but he wouldn’t have made a law against marrying them. He thought it was better for society if women stayed at home and took care of the kids, but he passed a law to put women on juries. Prejudice is here to stay, in my mind and yours, based in thousands of years of history. Black people, Native Americans, and Latinos have no reason to trust Anglos (aka “whites”). Nevertheless, we can’t get rid of them. When we make laws based on prejudice we simply ratify and compound the mistakes of our ancestors. If I were to demand historic justice, I could demand the return of all the silver and gold mines the Ainsas and Anzas once had, before the Mexican-American war destroyed those holdings, turning New Spain to the western United States. But what would I say to the Yaquis and the Apaches, who lived in Sonora and Arizona long before my people arrived? I don’t want anything more than my Dad got – a fighting chance to live a decent life in the country where I was born. Whatever the anti-immigrant protesters think, most “Mexicans” want nothing different.

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What To Remember, What To Forget

Recently, I called my Aunt Pearl down in Phoenix, where she’s been laid up with a broken leg. She told me proudly that my brother Aaron and his wife Gloria were out in the streets protesting the anti-immigrant laws being proposed in Congress. She laughed that there were a hundred thousand people in the streets, and “all of them are citizens.” Yes, we’re citizens – citizens of the United States, as our ancestors were once citizens of New Spain. Before that, we were Gascons, and before that, cave dwellers in Altamira. The question is, what heritage will we claim?

Balthasar Gracian, the fifteenth century Spanish Jesuit philosopher, said, “Most people remember precisely what they should forget, and forget precisely what they should remember.” Those who raise hatred against other people, based on skin color or language or national origin, are reminding us of “exactly what we should forget.” We can nourish the memory of all the nasty epithets our ancestors hurled, or had hurled at them. We should remember the hard work our ancestors did, the way they got along with their neighbors, the way they mined the earth together, were educated together, even fought wars against other nations together. We should keep scrubbing away at the tradition of bigotry that stains the history of this, our present nation, and fight fearlessly to be sure that no one, not one single person, is treated like less than a human being, from sea to shining sea.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:42 am

RIGHTEOUS LIVELIHOOD -- BUILDING WEALTH IN OUR COMMUNITY, by Charles Carreon

Invisible Hand, 101

Adam Smith was one of the first economists, and those who feel that the government should stay out of labor relations, or at least refrain from supporting the goals of workers and restrict itself to benefiting industry, often claim to quote Adam Smith. They say Smith’s “invisible hand of commerce” will guide the operations of the economy, setting prices for labor, food, and commodities, making wage and price controls such as those Nixon imposed, completely unnecessary and totally objectionable. The invisible hand makes no distinction between licit and illicit trade, and for years kept the retail price of a quarter-ounce of marijuana at parity with an ounce of gold, and provided johns with twenty-dollar prostitutes and prostitutes with twenty-dollar bags of heroin. All things work together for good in this best of all possible worlds, as Dr. Pangloss might say. Your average person’s knowledge of Adam Smith usually stops at this level, but Smith’s massive work, An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes of The Wealth of Nations, does not exhort us to have faith in an invisible hand that will adjust our economic fortunes into the black, but rather advises us to watch the movement of labor, goods, and money to learn how people adjust prices and engage in trade.

The Policies of Communities Affect The Creation of Wealth

People, not an invisible force, drive production and trade. Smith’s metaphor was meant to turn attention to the rather amazing characteristics of the marketplace, much as modern scientists have pointed out the marvelous operations that the planet and living beings perform without conscious thought. It is true that Smith was sanguine about the coexistence of poverty and wealth in a single society, and saw no inherent evil in an economic order that he could describe thus:

“Among civilized and thriving nations … a great number of people do not labour at all [but] consume the produce of ten times, frequently of a hundred times more labour than the greater part of those who work; yet the produce of the whole labour of the society is so great, that all are often abundantly supplied, and a workman, even of the lowest and poorest order, if he is frugal and industrious, may enjoy a greater share of the necessaries and conveniences of life than it is possible for any savage to acquire.”

One would certainly agree that today many consume hundreds or thousands of times what one other person can produce – a fast-food worker working all day in Los Angeles would be unable to even pay for a day’s worth of parking that an executive would simply put on an expense account. It is also true that Ray Kroc, the popularizer of the McDonald’s fast-food system, got his big idea when he was but a traveling salesman selling milkshake mixers in Southern California, so he may very well count as a “frugal and industrious” workman who rose to “enjoy a greater share of the necessaries and conveniences of life.” But Smith’s positive attitude toward disparity of wealth is not the point of his book, and he is well aware that government policies affect the occupations and prosperity of nations and their citizens:

“The policy of some nations has given extraordinary encouragement to the industry of the country; that of others to the industry of towns. Scarce any nation has dealt equally and impartially with every sort of industry. Since the downfall of the Roman empire, the policy of Europe has been more favourable to arts, manufactures, and commerce, the industry of towns; than to agriculture, the industry of the country.”

A good example of differing policies toward similar industries might be the US government practice of licensing industrially-produced narcotics manufactured by pharmaceutical giants, while simultaneously fighting a “war on drugs” by spraying toxic materials on coca crops in Colombia and Bolivia, while simultaneously pumping new life into the opium economies of Afghanistan and Pakistan by getting evil tyrants like “the Taliban” off the backs of legitimate poppy growers who supply the increasingly bargain-priced street heroin now flooding American cities. Eventually the invisible hand will bring this strong, cheap heroin to Ashland, but for now our local junkies will have to stick with Mexican “black tar” heroin.

The new president of Bolivia wants to legitimize coca growing and use of the native plant, that has no more harmful effects on the native population than tea has on the English. He says it can be used to make soap, toothpaste, herbal remedies, and many other useful substances. Dr. Andrew Weil, the new age doctor whose paunchy good health is now advertised from a thousand Sunday magazines, once suggested we substitute coca chewing gum for coffee. Of course, in the US, we’d have people buying a thousand packs of gum, soaking them in a bathtub, washing the result with gasoline to extract the cocaine, and blowing up their house and kids trying to get a buzz. As Adam Smith might say, some people are just savages.

Everything Has Its Price

Having dispensed with the idea that Smith’s Invisible Hand is predestined to provide benefit for humanity, or that it will do the work of wholesome laws made by ethical politicians with the approval of informed citizens, we can move on to what Smith was really saying. Smith’s thesis is that the cost of goods is established by the cost of the labor required to produce them. Nothing has an intrinsic value. Everything is priced according to how much it costs to get a skilled person to produce it.

Gold and Oregon green bud remained at parity for a long time because it cost a similar amount of money in labor to employ poor blacks at starvation wages in South Africa to produce, smelt and ship bars of gold as it did to employ hippies (not very hard workers, but willing to risk getting arrested and to be paid in product) to grow a finicky psychoactive weed in a secret location someplace near Williams, Oregon, and smuggle it to San Francisco. Take note, however, that gold lasts forever unless you lose it down a rathole, and cannabis must be consumed to extract its value, and will become worthless after a couple of years. So you might argue that cannabis is far more costly, since your ounce of gold will last a lifetime, but your bag of pot will be empty next week.

Raiders of The Labor of Others

Now that more Indian and Chinese people are getting into the middle class, they are buying more gold for marriage ceremonies, there is greater demand for gold, apartheid is over in South Africa, and people are getting paid a wee bit more to extract gold from the earth, and of course, people who think the dollar is going to sink in value want to buy “hard money.” The notion that gold has a fixed value is, however, utterly mythical. During the “Age of Gold,” Spain and Portugal stole so much gold from the Incas and Aztecs that they flooded the European economy with the damned shiny stuff, reducing its value to one-third, much to the chagrin of other European nations, who found their existing stock of gold ever shrinking in value as the conquerors of the New World became the dominant players in the precious metals market. Spanish gold was cheap, please take note, because they didn’t pay for it – they stole it – so it didn’t reflect the cost of feeding, clothing, and managing the dead Incas and Aztecs whose wealth was thus acquired.

Stealing from other nations is what one anthropology professor of mine called “a raiding economy,” such as was traditional among the Apache Indians of Arizona and Sonora. Once they got horses from the Spanish, who had introduced the whole concept of mounted cavalry to the New World, they started raiding other, richer tribes, and their mounted warriors were skilled at scooping up a goat, a child, or a bag of corn with equal facility while marauding through a little village full of squash-growers. Labor costs are affected by many factors, and different “nations” require people with different skills. A farmer would have fared badly in an Apache tribe, but would be appreciated by the Hopis, who moved way up on high mesas to avoid raiders, and there skillfully collected water in cisterns to feed small irrigated plots of beans, corn and squash using unique methods of dry-farming. Interestingly, the Apaches have adapted to the ways of the white invaders better than most tribes, as their facility on horseback and indisposition to surrender gave them a leg up in the larger economy, and many tribes adopted ranching, farming and logging when they were forced to give up raiding.

Of Brickmakers & Woodcutters

The productivity of a community is enhanced, Smith explained, as people become more skilled in particular productive activities. This is called the “specialization of labor” to exploit “the relative advantage” of different workers. Exploiting “relative advantage” can be illustrated by the story of two couples with different skills. The first couple was Jane and Wanda, two lesbian brickmakers. The second couple was Jeff and Sally, two heterosexual woodcutters. Since they enjoyed each other’s company, the two couples at first decided to work Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on brickmaking, and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays cutting wood. After about a month they took a tally of the bricks and the cords of wood produced, and discovered that they had produced both less bricks and less firewood than when the two couples worked separately. Why? Jeff and Sally were unskilled at making bricks, so they made errors, and Jane and Wanda had to spend time training them, and even then the hetero couple didn’t produce as many usable bricks. The same result occurred when the lesbians tried to cut wood. They weren’t as good at it as Jeff and Sally, and due to their inexperience, produced less wood at greater cost in time. Facing the possibility of not having enough bricks to build the house or enough wood to get through the winter, the two couples focused on what each was best at, and in the end there were not only enough bricks and firewood for their personal use, they had some left over to sell. Eventually, Jane and Wanda adopted some war orphans that they turned into a tribe of little brickmakers, and Jeff and Sally gave birth to several children who were handy with the saw, loved the smell of the woods, and branched off into reforestation. A few generations later, the two couples were barely remembered, but their wise choices left a legacy of brick homes and leafy avenues in a town where sexual inequality was a forgotten memory.

The Roots of Modern Underemployment

In story of the brickmakers and the woodcutters, everything is happy, because workers specialize by choice to their greater communal benefit. Of course, this is not how it works in the real world, where people no longer follow the traditional occupations of their parents, and acquire few specialized skills besides what are gleaned from channel surfing, playing video games, driving dad’s car, and purchasing fast food. Most young people are losing specialized abilities like cooking, sewing, and gardening, that help them keep expenses down. The value of acquiring a standard credential like a high school diploma has become vague to many young people. College degrees are very costly to procure, and employers increasingly doubt that college graduates have the skills needed. Top hourly wages in our techno-driven economy go to people with certifications issued by private computer companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Novell, not to college graduates. The old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is now impolite to ask, since it is likely to throw the child into a quandary that, parents fear, will cause anxiety. Besides which, how could a child be qualified to decide that he wants to be a Linux networking specialist until after he hacks his way into the school network to change his girlfriend’s biology grade? Experiences guide choices, and in this world, choosing what type of labor to specialize in often defaults to “whatever someone will pay me to do.” Which explains why the price of marijuana keeps dropping.

The War Economy and the Market For Soldiers

The disconnect between young people and gainful employment explains why the sudden desire to go open a can o’ whupass on them Arabs took root so quickly in the apocalyptic soil of the unemployed, working-class young people in this country. There was a genuine crisis on hand, fueled by the public murder of over four thousand people in downtown New York. There was a charismatic president leading the nation, there was a fire in the desert, a Holy Grail to chase, and a lot of people wanted in. Money was easy to get in Iraq. In fact, huge stashes of bundled hundred-dollar bills were left completely unguarded, and uncounted billions have gone missing. War is good business, especially when the Vice President is still getting a $300,000 annual payment from Halliburton, the prime no-bid contractor on the project to level Iraq under the guise of nation-building. The invisible hand is working overtime these days.

Two billion dollars have been spent developing and deploying technology to block increasingly sophisticated cell-phone-detonated bombs in Iraq. People often say “think what that would have done if spent on schools.” But they don’t say it when the nation is “at war.” Typically, too much is being claimed for the use of this term. Certainly we aren’t at war like we were in World War II, when we entered a two-front war against two industrial giants that had defeated all of Continental Europe and the South Pacific. Certainly we aren’t at war like we were when I was in high school, the American death toll stood at over 40,000, everybody was buckling down in school to avoid being drafted, and ultimately they turned it into a negative lotto game where the unlucky ones got picked out of a hat, and student or no, it was time to go. We are “at war” because the president said we were. “Being at war forever” has officially become our policy, and like all other policies, it is an economic policy.

Since we are at war, money goes first to guns, then to butter for the soldiers, then to pay for the creation of a gigantic, unwieldy security apparatus to strangle the airline industry, then to pork-barrel projects necessary to grease all of the palms that wrote the campaign checks and bought the dinners and paid for the trips that a Congressperson just can’t live without. If the sleaze of politics seems far from you, be assured it is not. The wages that never go up, the jobs that cannot be found, the housing that isn’t available, the opportunities that don’t appear, have all been swallowed up by a national economic policy that is far more monstrous than one would think from watching TV. Some folks don’t believe in conspiracies. Okay, we’ll chalk it up to the work of the invisible hand.

What Money Buys

No one is going to advocate the end of money if they are sane, because money is the most amazing thing in the universe – it is the equals sign between anything and anything. Using “money,” we can put a value on anything from apple pie to a course in Zen, and the price will always be based on how much it costs to produce the product. It may be more charming to pay for Zen in apple pies, but most Zen masters want cash, because using money, they can buy whatever they want. The flexibility of money makes it useful, but it doesn’t give it any intrinsic qualities of value. A lot of the time we think we want money, and forget that ultimately, we want what money buys. We usually don’t think about this until we go out looking for a midnight snack, and unable to find a grocery store open, return home with gratitude to find a single ice cream bar stuffed in the freezer.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of exchanges are going to be facilitated by money, including, ironically, the establishment of social policy to expand productivity beyond the monetary realm. There is a cost for everything, including an economic policy to increase real wealth among the citizens. The calculation of wealth goes beyond tallying dollars, because one may be wealthy without having a dollar, like an eccentric hermit living happily in a distant location, tending a garden and feeding the birds. Wealth, distinct from money, is an abundance of what we want and need. If our community priorities are straight, we will strive to become rich in essential goods like clean air, fresh water, arable land, inspiring housing and livable towns. We will give people an incentive to increase the wealth of knowledge and skills they carry within them, so we can have excellent teachers in our schools, skilled medical care for those in ill health, and media resources that foster communication in an environment of free thought. These things usually cost money, because people create them, but they can be created and exchanged without money, and can enrich us concretely and directly, giving us more of what makes life worth living.

Markets Encourage Trade and Increase Actual Wealth

Leaving money out of the equation, we still have our skills and creations to exchange, but we lack a “medium of exchange.” A medium of exchange is used to reduce what economists call “transaction costs.” Transaction costs are evident in all activities. Take sending someone a letter. It involves the following transaction costs: time spent writing the letter and addressing the envelope, plus the expense of a piece of paper, a stamp, the time it took to buy the stamp, the time you’ll spend mailing it, and a few days waiting time for your recipient to receive it. The telephone reduces the human transaction cost of having to write the letter, which blocks innumerable communications from taking place. Email reduces the transaction costs greatly, but only at the cost of knowing how to use email and getting access to a machine with Internet. Transaction costs prevent communications and productive exchanges from taking place.

Markets are intended to overcome transaction costs by having everyone bring their product to the same place, so a purchaser can visit many merchants at once. Nowadays, markets have migrated online. Everyone is getting in on the action. Myspace is a marketplace for attention. Craigslist is a marketplace for everything that’s cool. eBay is a marketplace for people who are willing to take risks to get a bargain, and for many legitimate sellers, as well as for scammers looking to turn over questionable goods.

The Missing Marketplace

Local marketplaces, however, have disappeared, especially ones that serve the needs of young people looking for work, housing, rides, or musical and cultural events that don’t cost a bundle. While granting full dignity to all those people who work the outdoor markets here in Ashland, their offerings are largely focused on the tourist trade, and boxing the farmer’s market into the Armory instead of allowing it to operate in the open air like Portland, Santa Monica, and other cool towns, seems altogether too resonant of the state-of-war attitude that somehow is trickling down to the local level. The entire length of our main drag is dedicated to supplying young people with trinkets, media discs, and t-shirts and supplying older people with pricey food. Miraculously, a laundromat and a drugstore, the last bastions of ordinary commerce, cling to life in the heart of town, but we know this is not forever.

Recently The Tidings ran an article on how much money there is in being spiritual. The next day they ran an article on how much money there is in being fun. Ashland is both spiritual and fun, so let’s make money! Ah, if it were only that easy. The most spiritual people I know are the poorest, and it is impossible to generate enthusiasm for the teachings of people who are making money in the spirit business. All of the money in the guru business is at the top. Everybody else works for smiles.

Taking Stock of Our Assets

If we’re going to find any way to increase the productivity of Ashland people, we’re going to have to do what the hero Wesley does in The Princess Bride when it’s time to storm the castle and rescue Princess Buttercup. Even though Wesley himself is limp and unable to move due to the effects of Prince Humperdinck’s poison, he asks his companions, the Spanish swordsman and Fezzick the Giant, “What are our assets?” By skillfully using each one of the assets, he storms the castle, captures the Prince, and frees Buttercup. The Spaniard also kills the Six-Fingered Man, thus avenging the death of his father. Fezzick procures four white horses, and they all ride off happily together. If we are to accomplish anything remotely as miraculous, we must remember to first take stock our assets.

Listing Ashland’s assets, first I see the amazing environment, then the strategic location on the highway between San Francisco and Portland, then the intelligence and sensitivity of the citizens, coupled with intellectual and information resources like the University, the municipal fibernet, the new libraries, and the theatres. I also see the large population of professionals, and the sensitive people who are talented cooks and gourmet food crafters, and institutions like the Geppetto’s garden, blending into the larger texture of family farms and vineyards that surround the area. Finally, I count as an asset the convenient proximity to Medford, with its many gritty, useful realities and international airport.

Alternatives to Money As A Medium of Exchange

When we remember that money is but a mechanism for equating one person’s labor to another, we may intuit something clever – we don’t need US Treasury Notes to keep track of people’s labor. We can record their relative work outputs in a spreadsheet or other database, or even on a piece of paper. Strictly speaking, that is all the banks are doing anyway, and people who move large amounts of money around are well aware of this. Computers allow us to create and manage databases quite easily. Your paycheck is only good if your boss’s account has enough money in it, which is to say, it appears to have enough money in it when the bank teller looks on her screen. What is handy about the designation of your labor as money is that anyone else will take it in exchange for their goods and services. What is not handy is that you can’t get enough of it to do everything that you want to do.

People will trade for what they could not pay for with cash. Why? Between rent, gas, food, insurance, child support and a DUI diversion, there’s no money available. Statistically, a guy like this in Oregon will likely go bankrupt trying to make money at video poker, which is statistically unlikely. Instead of pecking at a screen like a pigeon, a guy in this situation might wisely choose instead to spend his time sawing boards and pounding nails – building stuff for a friend in exchange for some goods or skills. Maybe he’ll pick up a nice TV by building some shelves for a friend, and then he’ll end up with a girlfriend to clean up a little. Skills and goods exchanges allow a community to grow more wealthy by consuming its own local products and employing its own people. Local skills and goods trading improves individual living standards, gives young people a chance to apprentice in a non-wage environment, and allows community members to preserve cash resources by reducing reliance on money.

Money developed based upon exchanges of concrete trade items or particular services, and was used to facilitate exchanges, not to monopolize the means of exchange. Where economic squeezes by national governments and international bankers impose embargoes and sanctions, barter can keep national economies alive. For example, Venezuela ships oil to Cuba, that sends back medicines, doctors and teachers. Thus Venezuela supplies Cuba’s energy needs, and Cuba helps Venezuela care for the education and health of its people, and they both get the satisfaction of telling Uncle Sam to pound sand.

Historically, people in love have exploited their relative advantages by dividing labor along classic sex-role lines, and family life has been the great factory of non-monetary wealth-generation. People used to routinely help each other build a house, then spend a lifetime washing clothes, making and raising babies, cooking food, growing gardens, fixing cars, chopping weeds, all that stuff Some relationships are very elevated transactions that produce works of art that humanity will enjoy forever, like the music of Chopin and the writings of George Sand, or the sculptures of Camille Claudel and Rodin. For this and many other reasons besides producing soldiers for the fatherland, society has for a long time made it a legitimate social and governmental goal to make it easier for young people to get married, have children, live productive lives, and contribute to the life of the community. Skills and goods exchanges can be great resources for young people who have the energy and motivation to help themselves by working for others, because they benefit three ways – connecting with creative people, learning skills, and getting something valuable from their labor.

Putting The Invisible Hand To Work For the Good of the People

Skills and goods exchanges between individuals don’t happen on our local level mainly because there’s little thought given to non-monetary exchanges, and no place is dedicated to making them happen. There is no forum that is specifically focused on facilitating skills and goods exchanges within our community, and thus money is virtually the only avenue for trade in goods and services. Particularly at a time when the capital for business development is so difficult to obtain, the City would demonstrate vision by establishing a local skills and goods exchange database, available online and in a walk-in office open to the public.

Money can be used to build a community, but it is ultimately so only because money commands the power of human labor. It is of great benefit to a community to mobilize all of the creative resources of its people, including that which cannot be tapped by spending money. The City should first explicitly declare that the primary asset of the City is its people, and that the care, cultivation and development of their welfare, wealth, and well-being are the primary concern of City leaders. The City should establish a skills and goods exchange, using City office and technological resources to increase non-monetary economic activity. The City should establish grants and subsidies to supplement the efforts of gleaners, food banks, and homeless shelter-providers, who are distributing actual wealth to those in need. The City should also adopt a purchasing and hiring policy that requires giving first consideration to local goods and service providers in all City purchasing decisions. Such policies will put Adam Smith’s invisible hand to work accomplishing acts of social benefit, and we will all be the gainers.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:44 am

LINCOLN'S HEAD, by Charles Carreon

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Down at the entrance to Lithia Park
To the left by the stairs at night it gets dark.
Just like Prescott Bush stole Geronimo’s skull,
Some Oregon crackers gave Lincoln’s the pull.

You might try to imagine what it looked like,
The beard, the head, in the lovely moonlight
But it’s gone, my friend, there’s nothing to see,
Those assholes done broke it and left it ugly.

Right by the plaza, where police are now
Cracking down on dangerous feral panhandlers,
City officials were too busy being responsive
To note the Great Emancipator’s radical haircut.

Hundreds and hundreds of times civil servants
Drove by in City vehicles, went to meetings, and
Performed important jobs, none of which involved
Replacing the former president’s missing dome.

The City budget doesn’t include replacing the heads on
Historical statuary, and perhaps removing the Proclamation
From the hand of the Great Assassinated One
Was an attempt at recycling.

Freed slaves take note, we haven’t allocated
Any funds to replace Lincoln’s vandalized visage
And probably we’ll just haul the whole
Damn decapitated politician to the dump

John Wilkes Boothe would sure
Get the last laff around these parts.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:47 am

LOCAL MUSICIAN SPOTLIGHT: BOB MINER, by Charles Carreon

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What do you say about a guy who can hold his own in any musical company? Who can belt off an oratorio from centuries past, get funky like Stevie Wonder, sing labor tunes like Pete Seeger, and listen to Iggy Pop somewhat appreciatively, all in the matter of an hour? That would be Bob Miner, a multi-faceted sonic powerhouse whom I recently saw performing at the Camelot Theatre in the role of a vainglorious major in Steven Sondheim’s “A Little Night-music.” Bob played a pompous but virile stuffed shirt who alternates between seeking revenge over the honor of his mistress and being put out that his wife finds him disgusting — exuding old-world charm and detestable chauvinism in a single breath.

Bob’s next appearance on the intimate Camelot stage will be in the role of Edward Rutledge, South Carolina’s silken-mannered representative to the First Continental Congress, in a production of the remarkable musical 1776, scheduled to run during the patriotic time period from June 21st through July 23rd. Rutledge was the man who brought the Declaration of Independence to a vote, without the anti-slavery language his fellow-slavers found offensive. Rutledge’s big number is “Molasses, To Rum, To Slaves,” one of the most unforgettable songs in the musical, that commemorates the profitable and ignominious “Golden Triangle” that ran from the Caribbean sugar plantations to the ports of Europe to the African coast, maintaining an endless flow of profit and misery for three hundred years. Slaves farmed sugar cane, from which they extracted molasses, that was shipped to European distilleries, that shipped rum to Africa, where it was traded for slaves, and so on, a “golden triangle,” indeed. Not a pretty piece of our national history.

As Bob tells me about the role, he fills me in on the history, interspersing his observations with lines from the libretto, shifting smoothly from a speaking to a singing voice and back to natural speech. For a moment, our conversation turns into an exchange of historical knowledge of the revolutionary era, but it’s clear he has the upper hand, and I settle back to listen as he tells me how John Adams was the man who knew we needed a Declaration of Independence, and wanted to include anti-slavery language. Adams wasn’t well-liked, however, so Ben Franklin got Thomas Jefferson to write it, and recruited Richard Henry “Liberty or Death” Lee, a well-liked scion of Virginia to propose the Declaration to the entire body. Lee’s championing of the document prompted Rutledge to remark, “When a gentleman proposes it, attention must be paid.” The arrogance, the courtliness of Rutledge waft from Bob’s rendering of the line like perfumed powder from the shoulders of a southern gentleman.

Speaking in his own voice, Bob tells me, “This is a story that needs to be told today.” I agree, remembering how the last time I saw the play, it was in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Lyndon Johnson was president, and the daily bill for bombing Vietnam was $50 Million. A Paris-educated revolutionary called Ho Chi Minh was said to be our problem, and our friends were supposed to be the out-of-touch Catholic puppet leader Nguyen Cao Ky and his wife, Madame Ky. The Golden Triangle of those days was the heroin triarchy of Laos, Cambodia and Burma. We sacrificed around 50,000 red-blooded American men, and turned many times that number into wrecked individuals who wandered the streets of our largest cities, addicted forever to numbing the pain of their days in hell. Those days were similar to the present time, when traitors sit in the highest seats of power, spend on war without restraint, ordering soldiers and paying mercenaries to kill innocent foreign civilians, while running a new Golden Triangle of military adventurism, oil production, and gasoline over-consumption.

So we turn again turn to an uplifting, positive production like 1776. When the strong voices of our community join together in music that celebrates the courage our ancestors showed in forming our nation, we experience nostalgia. Nostalgia for what? Let us hope we experience nostalgia for the freedom our people once enjoyed before the militarists hijacked it with dreams of foreign conquest and the never-too-ancient-to-be-reactivated poison of race hatred. 1776 reminds us also that ideals are fulfilled one step at a time – by ordinary people who see their duty clearly and work together to achieve it. So when you go see Bob and his pals perform 1776, as I heartily recommend you do, take along a real revolutionary attitude.

Wait a minute, I hear readers exclaiming — I thought this was a musician spotlight – let’s get back on track! Here in Ashland, we try and keep the musicians light and entertaining, like the pliable players who tramp on and offstage in a Shakespeare play at the king’s command. But with a few more singers and musicians like Bob in Ashland, we’ll be able to challenge that slavish cliché. Bob is a consummate performer who channels the creative power on both sides of the performer-audience polarity. Rather than teaching aspiring singers and actors how to sound as good as he does, he teaches them how to sound like themselves. An audience that is addressed in this fashion experiences their own natural enjoyment of the process, and the result is a successful performance.

When Bob teaches voice, he comments on the emotions and thoughts underlying our habits of speaking and singing. Working with Bob means experiencing the whole spectrum of your voice, including the strangled tones and flattened registers. It’s often not easy to do. My singing voice, for example, is timid and restrained, while my speaking voice easily fills a courtroom. Everyone has such limitations, and for each of us, the question arises – why? Bob helps us acknowledge the limitations that dampen our expressive spirit, and pretty soon, we’re hearing a sound we haven’t heard in a long time – our own, natural voice.

Bob Miner’s website is at http://www.youramazingvoice.com, and his phone number is 541-482-4784.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:49 am

FRIDA AND DIEGO OVERHEARD AT STARBUCKS, by Charles Carreon

July, 2006

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What if Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo came to town? They might have a conversation like this:

Frida: Diego, I like this town. The gringos are so friendly.

Diego: I don’t like it.

Frida: Why not? Aren’t there enough beautiful girls for you to cheat on me with?

Diego: Oh no, there are plenty of those, maybe even more than other places, but they have stupid laws.

Frida: Really, like what?

Diego: They have laws against the size of a sign that a restaurant can have, and they have nosy inspectors who go around and take signs from the shopkeepers.

Frida: The sign on this Starbucks is really big. I bet they don’t take it away.

Diego: Of course, they are big capitalists, so they have big signs, and no one would take them away.

Frida: So what, are you a sign painter?

Diego: No, Frida, why are you teasing me? You know I’m the great muralista.

Frida: Yes, and when are you going to get to work? I notice a lot of blank walls around here that don’t have any murals. There’s that Coca Cola sign on the wall of the Peerless, but it’s so commercial. How about a mural of the massacres of the local natives, the destruction of the forests, and the suburbanization of agriculture? It would be beautiful, and awaken the conscience of the local people. They seem so depressed.

Diego: That’s what I’m trying to tell you! They won’t let me paint anything here. Like that big empty wall in the parking lot of that youth hangout over there, that Evo’s place. I heard the owner of the building wanted a mural, and I would be glad to do it, but the political bosses here won’t allow it.

Frida: It’s the same as in Mexico. Corruption everywhere.

Diego: Of course, mi amor, corruption. Are you going to finish eating that cookie?
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:54 am

A LEGEND IN HIS OWN MIND -- MICHAEL RUPPERT SOLDIERS ON, by Charles Carreon

Met At The Goose

I first met Michael Ruppert on a karaoke night in the smoky Wild Goose bar, where he was sitting with some friends of mine. I’d watched one of his DVDs, a recording of a talk he gave explaining his status as a former LA cop who got bounced out of the corps after a run-in with CIA drug-runners. He was explaining why no planes were shot down on September 11, 2001, despite the proximity of many airbases staffed with throttle jocks ready to mount their aerial steeds and blow airliners out of the sky. He had then explained that America’s military might had been deliberately tied up in knots by a spate of overlapping training exercises with names like “Vigilant Guardian” and “Vigilant Warrior.” So I figured I should interview him and we would discuss 911. He gave me his email address, and told me to send him an email, but to write “met at the Wild Goose” in the subject line, so he would know to give it the attention it deserved. I made a note to do that.

What Columbo Would Ask

I have had a lot of questions about 911 for five years now. It looked so much like a controlled demolition, which I remember being an absolute marvel of engineering – far more impressive really than a moon walk. I mean, tearing a skyscraper down when I was a kid was a big deal. They had these things called wrecking balls that were a blast to watch, smacking away at a wall all day long to bring it down. It could take months to take down a big building, and now thanks to dynamite and human ingenuity, they could do it all in just a few seconds, whammo. So I didn’t figure if the WTC towers burned down that they would do it neatly. I also knew that during the grisly firebombings of Tokyo, Hamburg, and other “Axis” civilian populations, huge firestorms with heats above two-thousand degrees had not melted the steel-frame skyscrapers, but merely turned them into enormous ovens in which their occupants were baked. Skyscrapers have flammable contents, so they can have nasty fires, but they don’t catch on fire, which was always considered one of the advantages of steel and concrete construction. So from an engineering standpoint I had a problem with the whole scenario of Buildings One and Two being brought down by misdirected airliners, whether being flown by remote control or otherwise.

Fortunately my puzzlement about why Buildings One and Two came down was resolved when I saw Building Seven suddenly collapsing just like Buildings One and Two, without having been hit by anything, but rather upon the command of several bigwigs who agreed that it was time to “pull it,” as Larry Silverstein, the building’s owner said on national TV. The meaning of “pulling it” has not been explored to my satisfaction, but seems obvious – the building was full of explosives, and had to come down. Presumably it did have to come down, and Silverstein’s weird excuse that Seven was pulled to prevent further loss of life flew in the face of reason. The collapse of Buildings One and Two didn’t save any lives, so why would the collapse of Building Seven? Could it perhaps be significant that the New York City Emergency Command Center, the State Department, the CIA and the FBI were located in Building Seven? Assuming, for argument’s sake, that the same people used the same methods to destroy all three buildings, and staged it from a base inside Building Seven, then it would be logical to destroy all the evidence in the command post – evidence that would simply be too explosive, given the “loss of life,” i.e., the number of murder charges that would be leveled against whoever pulled it off. If I were Columbo, I would want to talk to Larry Silverstein. Talk about somebody at ground zero. I would have to ask him, why did Building Seven have bombs in it? Do you tell your tenants you can blow them up? Is it the ultimate eviction threat? Why were all those bombs in Building Seven ? Did he plant similar bombs in Buildings One and Two, that he also owned? These are my big 911 questions, and I was looking forward to getting Mike Ruppert’s take on them.

When Ruppert and I met again, it was at the Wild Goose, this time for lunch and the official AFP interview. Not yet having read Mike’s book, and therefore not realizing that he was pursuing a particular tack on the issue of 911, I sat down thinking we would have a rollicking discussion about the basic non-credibility of the government’s position and the likely reasons why Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Gonzales, Condi, Rumsfeld and their pet Congress worked so hard to block a real investigation. But politeness takes first position, so I started by exploring Ruppert’s background.

Born Cop

Ruppert was born and raised in a family steeped in police tradition. His father was a defense insider at Martin-Marietta, and his mother was an NSA cryptographer and a secretary to Cordell Hull. Ruppert placed meaningful emphasis on this connection – Hull was a man of immense power and influence, who raised himself from barefoot Kentucky beginnings by becoming a lawyer, a judge, a Congressman, and ultimately, FDR’s Secretary of State for nearly twelve years. Ruppert’s love of authority runs deep. He had so many other relatives in the CIA and OSS, the CIA’s predecessor-agency, that “everybody had clearances.” He cultivates the mystique of having government contacts in his blood, and name-drops compulsively. As a UCLA undergrad, Ruppert interned as a police-student worker under Chief Ed Davis, which I could see putting him in charge of donuts and briefcases. To hear Ruppert tell it, he had all the marks of a fast track career officer. When he graduated from UCLA in 1973, he had a single-minded career goal – to be an LAPD detective.

Narcs Don’t Cry

He started in patrol and was on loan to the Wilshire Division undercover narcotics unit when a woman he calls “Teddy” ravaged him body and soul in an effort to get him to join the CIA. As Ruppert explained to me, before narcotics cops request a warrant to search a drug-dealing location, or to arrest a known drug dealer, they have to put their request into a national database. This request lets all the other narcs know if one of their informants is about to get busted. In principle, this means that the Ashland Police Department won’t execute a warrant on a known coke dealer if the DEA is using the coke dealer as one of their informants. In practice, it means that the CIA takes the heat off their people by claiming that they are working as informants. Additionally, it means that the CIA can finger people who are troublesome drug dealers, thus eliminating competition, maintaining high drug prices, and keeping everyone on a string. Teddy said it was a sweet deal, and lots of other cops were working for “The Company” holding down jobs at police agencies all over the country, keeping the Company’s government-sheltered narcotics network running smoothly by keeping the heat off their pet dealers and putting the competition in jail.

In short, Ruppert had fallen for the wiles of a femme fatale working for the “Dark Alliance,” as Gary Webb, the San Jose Mercury reporter whose career was ended by two bullets in his head, called the international web of drug dealers and intelligence agents. Webb proved that in order to buy weapons to wage a war of attrition against the Sandinistas, the Nicaraguan contras, remnants of the fascist Somoza regime, had shipped hundreds of tons of cocaine in US government aircraft for sale in American cities as crack cocaine – a drug literally engineered for its addictive power. Webb’s accusations also gain support from the book by former Defense Intellegence Agency operative Lester Coleman, “Trail of the Octopus – From Beirut to Lockerbie -- Inside the DIA,” that explains how a group of rogue CIA drug smugglers blew up PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland by planting the bomb in a special suitcase that was normally used by the DEA for the monthly “controlled delivery” of 40 pounds of heroin to Chicago. Since PanAm and the German airport authorities were in on this arrangement, the bomb was thought to be the usual dope shipment, wasn’t inspected, and killed everyone on board. PanAm was sued by the families of dead passengers for negligently allowing a bomb on board, and responded by issuing subpoenas to the CIA, that refused to produce any information, successfully invoking the “state secrets privilege” that the Bush administration is now trying to use to block lawsuits over NSA domestic spying. As a result PanAm, the world’s largest airline, so big that it its logo appears on a building in Ridley Scott’s futuristic movie “Blade Runner,” no longer exists. That’s what can happen to the largest company if it runs afoul of “national security.”

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Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott

Ruppert eventually got permission from his boss in Wilshire Division to go to New Orleans to find Teddy, who had disappeared from LA, and investigate her activities. He says that what he found in New Orleans was outrageous – the CIA and the Mafia were locked in an embrace so tight that it encompassed virtually all of the heroin trade, and Teddy was a major player, watching through binoculars from her apartment as drug-loaded boats docked and unloaded, setting prices, calling in hits, and generally being a major drug kingpin. Not surprisingly, Ruppert’s LAPD career came to a screaming halt when he reported what he’d learned. He went from being the Wilshire Division’s fair-haired boy to being perceived as a mental case, and in an effort to abort a plan to ease him off the force for medical reasons, he checked himself into a private mental hospital and underwent a battery of psychological tests administered by a doctor who tested the mental health of the people who babysit the nation’s ballistic missiles in their iron silos. Ruppert says he got a clean bill of health from the superdoctor, and slowed the speed of his descent from the upper reaches of cop hierarchy, finding a perch as an instructor at the Police Academy for awhile, but eventually leaving in the midst of a career that had stalled before it started.

Career Wreckage

I used to do a lot of “wrongful termination” cases in LA when I worked for Mazursky, Schwartz & Angelo, and had represented lots of people fired from managerial positions in the LA area. So I tend to evaluate someone like Mike Ruppert in that light: Had he been screwed? Was he a fruitcake? Should I take his case on? If I’d still been sitting in my office at MS&A in Century City, the answers would have been yes, maybe, and no. My standard for determining whether someone had been screwed was not hard to meet. I’m sympathetic by nature, even toward people who are stupid enough to want to be LAPD detectives, then discover what a bag of shit they’ve bought. Having subjected himself to the psychological testing routine, however, seemed suspicious, and would certainly cause a jury to wonder why he did it. I definitely wouldn’t take the case, because downtown juries would probably not respond warmly to an LAPD cop complaining that he’d been treated shabbily. I would have been put off by Ruppert’s tendency to shade over the fact that he’d never been promoted to detective, and would question his inclination to live in his cop role for the rest of his life in a state of arrested development. Of course, there would be no way to corroborate the Teddy story or the New Orleans adventure, because the LAPD would strenuously deny any knowledge, the CIA would invoke state secrets, and the entire adventure would be an unhappy and unprofitable one.

Mike Ruppert probably tried to sue the LAPD, and probably received many sympathetic refusals from other wrongful termination lawyers, some possibly sitting in the same building I was sitting in. In its own way, LA’s a small town. In any event, Ruppert didn’t sue the LAPD, and found himself blackballed by his former employer. He couldn’t get a job at a Seven-11, or if he did, he’d soon be fired, after Wilshire Division narcotics cops dropped by to ask his new boss if he had actually hired Mike Ruppert. Hounded into the one employment he couldn’t be fired from, he became the notorious author of “From The Wilderness,” a publication dedicated to – well, dedicated to Mike Ruppert. “FTW” is emblazoned on the company logo, an eight-pointed star that resembles the CIA logo. Cops often see the initials “FTW,” which stand for “Fuck The World,” a common prison tattoo.

The Gary Webb Un-Story

After we finished our lunch at the Wild Goose, Mike invited me back to his office. I was kind of surprised to find him sharing space next to the Forest Service. He showed me his office proudly, and I admired the huge secured parking lot out back that was used only by the federal government. Strange place for an anti-government crusader to shack up, but what the hey, I wasn’t trying to ask a lot of difficult questions. There was a poster of Gary Webb on the wall, autographed to Mike Ruppert, saying something like “To Mike Ruppert, who was on the story before I was.” Ruppert said Webb had been a very good friend. I felt so bad to be wondering if Ruppert had forged the inscription. I volunteered that most people didn’t think Gary Webb shot himself twice in the head, just because it’s so hard to do, and this provoked a firestorm of contempt from Ruppert. God, how he hated hearing that crap. No one knew, like Mike, how much Gary had suffered from depression, and as far as a double-shot suicide, they were hardly unheard of. Oh, I explained, they were heard of, they were just implausible. No, no, no, insisted Mike, with so much disgust in his face that I just dropped the subject.

The Dangers of Physical Evidence

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Fargo, directed by Joel Coen

About that time, I thought it would be a good idea to start discussing 911. I started by saying I just didn’t think that buildings One and Two could collapse that fast without being intentionally detonated. He grimaced, and said that was really not the thing to focus on – there was too much speculation involved in dealing with engineering concepts. I insisted that I thought based on the laws of physics, combined with the information available from the building plans and the precise specifications of all the materials that went into the structure, and the completely anomalous nature of the event in the history of architecture, it didn’t seem very speculative. I had even seen the video taken in January 2001 of one of the top engineers on the WTO project, who die in the September 11th disaster, saying that the buildings were built of such a dense net of enormous steel that an airliner, even multiple airliners, would not meaningfully damage the essential structure, because it would be like “poking a pencil into a screen door.” Ruppert didn’t seem to like hearing this type of discussion, and it rapidly became more than he could bear. Grimacing really earnestly, he explained that he avoided all of this dangerously non-provable stuff, because, he warned me, expert witnesses on the mechanical causes of structural collapse would be vulnerable on cross examination. I couldn’t buy that story. In a twenty-year career as a trial lawyer, I’ve questioned a few hundred experts, many of them mechanical engineers, and actually when they’ve got their numbers right, they’re pretty hard to cross up. And I think that, thanks to physics being such an old field of study, what with Galileo and Newton having worked on the falling problem, most of these numbers are available or derivable to figure out everything in units of load-bearing capacity, explosive force, distance, and time. Given the availability of detailed architectural drawings, and the whole project being executed with materials of known strength, I would expect the numbers to bear out what the eye perceives – the towers were an inside job.

Oil-Centered Reality

Having exhausted all my reasonable efforts to discuss 911 from my own direction, I was ready to give in to Ruppert’s approach. Since he clearly wanted to deal with it as if he were a journalist-cop setting out to convict somebody with a litany of uncontrovertible statements, I asked him, who was guilty of 911? Cheney, he responded, without hesitation. Suddenly I felt as if the gates of speculation had boomed wide again, so I asked him where Cheney was when the towers were hit. Down in a bunker, running the whole show. What show? All of the overlapping military defense exercises that were being conducted to keep military aircraft tied up, so no one would shoot down any terrorist planes. What evidence was there of that? As hijacked planes still prowled the skies, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta heard Cheney tell an underling, when asked whether “the orders still stood,” that of course they still stood, and why was he asking? That was interesting, but why would Cheney want there to be a terrorist attack on the US? In order to provoke the war with Iraq. Why? Because Iraq has an immense amount of oil. So it all came down to Peak Oil, the driver of history.

Many Words, Not Always Well-Chosen

Mike wrapped up our interview nicely, by autographing a copy of his enormous book, “Crossing The Rubicon – The Decline of the American Empire and The End of the Age of Oil” with the inscription “Bruins Rule!” to commemorate our status as fellow-UCLA-alumni. Chapter One, entitled “Petroleum Man,” enunciates a disturbing assumption in Ruppert’s reasoning:

“But it comes to this: first, in order to prevent the extinction of the human race, the world's population must be reduced by as many as four billion people.”

This fearful article of faith has been repeated throughout my lifetime by the “Limits to Growth” people, “The Club of Rome,” and their hysterical cheerleader Dr. Paul Ehrlich, author of the now-forgotten pessimist prophecy, “The Population Bomb,” that visualized mass extinction through nuclear war well before the end of the last millennium. The repeatedly disproven notion that there are just too many people on the planet has been used to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment, to justify forced sterilization campaigns, and to denigrate the humanity of those who “breed too much.” Adolf Hitler, for one, took the need to get rid of extra people very seriously, so when says we must rid the planet of some four-billion souls to assure our planetary survival, I take notice.

As I kept pushing through the book, I discovered that it is a loosely strung-together narrative in which Ruppert plays the part of a super-sleuth with deep insight into the workings of high government officials, covert operations, financial systems, national economies, and courtroom procedure. We wouldn’t know that Ruppert is incredibly insightful if he didn’t keep reminding us with lines like, “From my knowledge of covert operations this had to be a cover story.” He regales us with quotes from smarmy emails to CIA officers stuffed with allusions to his military pedigree: “I pulled out all my aces and namedropped shamelessly. I mentioned that I was good friends with the widow of famed CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers, shot down over Russia and captured in 1960.” Ruppert’s hyperbole about the all-knowing powers of intelligence agencies serves his thesis that the FBI and the CIA were lying when they said they couldn’t “connect the dots” before 911. The PROMIS software, Ruppert asserts, is a virtual eye-of-God, so how can the government claim ignorance of anything? Mike has a naive faith in computers, believing them capable of turning Arabic speech “into substantively reliable English automatically.” For this dubious claim, Ruppert’s cites only an online article in Technology Review that falls far short of supporting his novel assertion.

Ruppert makes the going difficult by adopting the tone of a lecturer on police procedure, inflating his credentials with unctuous sermons like this one: “In a sound investigation, the simplest explanation must also encompass the known facts without any of those facts being disregarded as a measure of expedience.” It would be less annoying if he would at least follow the rules of police work he so earnestly announces, and not exclude, for example, engineering evidence from his analysis.

For Ruppert, the really important facts are learned by schmoozing people in the know, asking questions of highly-placed government officials, comparing the pronouncements of various politicians, and trying to find the person in authority who is pulling the strings. Logically, he shines best when he is working on deconstructing someone else’s theory, and his attack on the official Congressional 911 Commission report is excellent. In aid of that attack, he marshals much of the evidence that the Commission refused to consider, including the large bets against American Airlines and United that were made in the stock market just before their planes were hijacked, the simultaneous military exercises that distracted the Air Force from protecting the East Coast on September 11th, and the persistent lying by the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) about when the FAA told NORAD about the hijackings.

Ruppert often reminds us of the impact he has on important events, introducing one of the many reprinted articles with great modesty as “the October 2001 From The Wilderness story … that ground the propaganda machine to a halt.” Since the publication of that article, he claims, “the entire United States government – as well as the entire world financial system – has gone completely silent about the insider trading.” Well, that just might be a slight overstatement. Many writers continue to discuss insider trading in American Airlines and United sell-options, wondering aloud why nobody picked up the cash when the bets came in. Maybe Mike just stopped reading about it.

FTW Suffers Extensive Property Damage

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The FTW offices after the mysterious break-in

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Apparently, a secure area.

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Mike had a cozy relationship with the Feds.

I guess the big question about the credibility of Mike’s role as a counterspy for the forces of freedom is, if he’s so damaging to the powers that be, why isn’t he dead? Mike’s friends sometimes die, of course. There’s Gary Webb, who Mike is so sure accomplished the amazing feat of shooting himself twice in the head. There’s Bill McCoy, investigator for Bill and Nancy Hamilton, the folks who had their PROMIS software stolen by Ed Meese. Ruppert seems to opine that McCoy was likely murdered, although he had a heart condition. And the list of people who have died, often by supposed suicide, when they dug too deep into the mysteries of drug money and the CIA is fairly lengthy.

On the night of June 25th, Ruppert’s office was vandalized by a person or persons unknown, destroying seven computers, and thereafter many curious circumstances came to light. One of the odd things was that Ruppert’s office was in a building that was otherwise occupied entirely by a Federal agency, the Forest Service, which meant that the entire parking lot outside Ruppert’s back door was secured with a ten-foot chain link and barbed wire fence with an electronic gate with key-card entry. Investigation by the AFP disclosed that none of the other Southern Oregon Forest Service offices share their space with non-governmental entities. However, in what seems an odd lack of surveillance in these terrorized times, there were no security cameras anywhere. Rather strange for government offices, and for Ruppert, who goes on at length at his website and in person about how many times government infiltrators have tried to destroy his publishing business.

Mike Investigates Himself Thoroughly

The police investigation was apparently a bit of an embarrassment to Ruppert, because one of his employees speculated aloud that Ruppert might have destroyed his own computers, and the police didn’t rule out that possibility. The employee, young and female, also accused Ruppert of sexual harassment, a claim that Ruppert seemed to acknowledge when he admitted that he had danced around his office in his underwear while the employee was in the room, explaining of course that it was a bold investigative tactic intended to flush out the woman’s true intentions, trying to get her to “show her hand,” as Ruppert puts it in his own spoutings on the matter. These were, as you might expect, voluminous and filled to overflowing with closely-argued cop-logic, complete with compelled conclusions and obvious cant. In mounting his defense, Ruppert demonstrates a cop’s expert ability to interpret facts in the light most favorable to himself, and uses the old trick of making evidence do double duty. For example, watch how he turns an uncorroborated alibi into a basis for accusing his employees of the crime: “It is almost certain that the burglary was perpetrated, at minimum, based upon inside information provided by recently fired or resigned FTW staff members. There is – or was – only one television program I cared about, HBO’s Deadwood. It was common knowledge in FTW’s new offices that I was obsessed with the show, and on June 25th I was certain to be home watching one of the first episodes of the new season I had been anticipating for a year.” In other words, he had been alone when the crime occurred, and no one could confirm his whereabouts, which for most people would be a disadvantage, but not for Ruppert – it proves that his employees did it!

Ruppert is sure that three motorhomes full of road people were spying on him, because for months they parked down on Washington Street, that runs parallel to the freeway out where the cops rarely go, and they all disappeared right after the break-in. Although Ruppert says he assumed the motorhomes were stuffed with spies put on his tail by people who want to silence him, he apparently took no photographs of the vehicles, never wrote down their license numbers, and never reported their presence to the police. Now he bemoans that these, the only witnesses, have disappeared! And who is to blame for failing to record the evidence?

Never fear, Clouseau is on the case. He is certain there were two perpetrators, because the work required to destroy seven computers with a sledgehammer would be “physically exhausting.” Although he admits that the office was on little-traveled Washington Street, where the vandalism took place in the middle of the night, he argues vociferously that someone would certainly have spotted his “Blue and Gold, 1996 Ford Bronco” that “stands out like a sore thumb.” Similarly, he places it in the realm of impossibility that “I could have walked a block or two with a sledge hammer over my shoulder without risking being noticed.” It is obvious that whoever broke into the building would have been equally likely to be noticed, as there is nothing about Ruppert, who has an unremarkable rotund profile, or about a blue and gold Bronco, that would evoke particular notice. AFP investigation, conducted from an unmarked car parked in front of Ruppert’s office for eleven minutes at 10:30 pm on a weeknight, resulted in sightings of no vehicles, pedestrians, or domestic animals for the entire eleven-minute time period. Thus, it is no surprise that whoever smashed the computers did so undetected.

What stood out like a sore thumb was Ruppert’s panicked response – issuing elaborate denials of his own culpability, analyzing the crime with pseudo-expertise, and throwing accusations of drug use at an employee whom he had assaulted with a rather gross impropriety. Like small town cops are likely to say of such stories – I don’t know how you do it in LA, but here in Ashland, we keep our pants on around the employees.

When Mike posted on his website that he was going to Venezuela to avoid being hit, I thought, yeah right, by a sexual harassment lawsuit. Who knows who smashed his computers? Maybe it was a desperate gambit to refuel his crisis-powered career, or maybe the breakin just caused Ruppert to crack, broke his nerve, after all those years. Once again, he’d let a woman get under his skin, and everything just blew apart. Suddenly, he’s sweating, crazy fearful that they’ll get him, like they got Gary Webb. No of course, they didn’t get Gary Webb. But maybe they got Hunter Thompson. Well I tell you what, Mike, you’re no Hunter Thompson.
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