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Reading Between the Lines – Creatively

Relevance: 100%      Posted on: July 1, 2016

Jay, Bill, and I were at the Roasting Company - a pleasant first of July day. We had agreed to each review some stories in the local and national papers.   "You go first," I said to Bill. "My big news is, of course, the Dalai Lama in Salt Lake City." "You've known him for some time, haven't you?" "For some 20 years. He talked at the Huntsman Center on campus. You could have heard a pin drop," Bill said, smiling. "He promoted positivity, among other things." "And he's threatening to not appoint a successor?" Jay asked. "Yes and no," Bill answered. "He's dealing with the crazy Chinese government, who insist on 'approving' any new Dalai Lama. He also said some interesting things about reincarnation - or not."   "You go next, Jay," I said. "I'll do the Mike Lee - Donald Trump games." "You mean 'loathsome Lee', according to his new demo opponent, Misty Snow?" Bill asked. "Loathsome isn't a new descriptor for Mike," Jay countered. "Mike and wife Sharon are on the GOP Rules Committee and are going to the convention." "So?" I asked. "So, he's said he sees no need to change the rules - he'll be a good boy even though Trump insulted his 'best friend' Cruz." "So?" Bill asked. "Why so good?" "Hey, read between the lines," Jay smiled. "Trump's a bit too liberal for the base - for the Cruz, Lee tea party - Freedom Caucus crowd, right?" "Right!" Bill said. "So Lee could be VP - and bring all the hard right ideologues with him." "Bingo," Jay said. "Did you see the piece about Romney saying his family is encouraging him to run?" "Oh, yes. A sacrificial Independent run, so Trump-averse Utah Republicans don't have to vote for Hillary." "Another Rubio. I say 10,000 times I won't run. ..Oops, maybe I better - for the good of the state, the country, the party." "They're all hypocrites. Or is it the revelation syndrome? Anyway, your turn," Jay said, looking at me.   "I'll do local. The U carbon divestment campaign." "Yea - the President said no divestment, so they can get continuing support from ... the fossil fuel industry," Bill read from the Salt Lake Tribune. "At least they're honest about their motives," Jay added. "Nothing about leadership, education, morals, values." "Bingo," I said. "But he did say climate change is one of the…

Has Hatch Lost It?

Relevance: 89%      Posted on: May 13, 2016

We sat down at Coffee Noir, outside, enjoying the spring sun. "It's been a while," Bill said. "About three weeks, I think." "I've been rereading our patient write-ups, especially Chapters 7 to 10," Jay said.  "Although we've had all the president-wannabees dropout, except for Trump, the other 25 perspectives are fairly current." "And you really nailed Hatch," Bill said, looking at me. "What do you mean?" "About losing it," Bill answered. "He's obviously completely lost it. It's no longer just his ignorance and arrogance - his neurons must be short circuiting." "Details, please," Jay said, impatiently. "You both saw it. Hatch is now in bed with Trump, expecting to change Trump a bit by whispering in his ear." "Good luck," I said. "Trump is not a listener; I doubt he pays any attention to whispers in his ear." "All the more reason Hatch has clearly lost it." "Maybe there's a reason," Jay said. "Hatch always wanted to be nominated for the Supreme Court. Wouldn't he be the ideal new Scalia?" "Our discussion of Scalia losing it may have been prophetic. From one scrambled brain to another." "God! Hatch would be worse than Gowdy - or even Mike Lee," Bill said. "It just keeps getting worse and worse," I said. "Dumb and dumber," Bill concluded.  

Democracy, Fascism, Trump – and Evil

Relevance: 70%      Posted on: January 4, 2017

Diana and I were back in Portland, with Lucien, Peter, Saul, and family - trying to avoid talking politics. I have been working in the Reed College Library, where so much of State Change was written more than a year ago. Lucien, Peter, and I had a lunch discussion in the Reed Student Commons.   "Did you see that full page ad, in today's Times?" Peter asked. "Not yet, go on," I said. "It's by a group called , arguing for a month of resistance, 'reaching a crescendo by the Jan.20, 2017 Inauguration'." "Who's behind it?" "A few names I recognize: Cornell West, Bill Ayers, Alice Walker. It doesn't seem to be connected with the Women's March." "There's been a lot on the web," Lucien added, "saying don't rationalize or give Trump the benefit of the doubt, don't cooperate, don't back off - protest, make noise, get involved." "Remember the poster on the door at Mississippi Pizza the other night?" I asked. "It defined the place as a safe house, a safe place - inclusive and welcoming all." "Yes, that's going on all over Portland," Peter added. "And Seattle - all along the West Coast." "And Jerry Brown's taken a very strong position on rights and the environment - California will ignore Federal actions against the environment and human rights." "The good news is Trump's no Hitler," I suggested. "Hitler wrote a real book, had a real philosophy, had a vision and plan - albeit demented and evil." "Didn't Brooks have a good take on Trump the other day?" Lucien asked. "Yes," I said. "I captured his quotes - just a second." I opened my new rose pink 2 pound MacBook and read: "[Trump] has no experience being accountable to anybody. …His statements should probably be treated less like policy declarations and more like Snapchat. They exist to win attention at the moment, but then they disappear." "Hitler wasn't accountable to anyone either - if someone got in his way, he just eliminated them," Peter said. "He could've been taken out," I said. "I just read a book titled To Kill the Devil - on the many attempts to assassinate Hitler. He had several very close calls." "His death would have changed history in a very positive direction," Peter said. "Death is a very effective means," I suggested, "if it's accomplished early enough that the victim doesn't become a martyr." "If the death…

Treating Trump? State Change II?

Relevance: 64%      Posted on: December 13, 2016

We needed to talk. We needed self-therapy. Jay was depressed. Bill was despondent. I was in tears thinking of my granddaughters and the billions of others who would need to survive on an increasingly destroyed planet. Diana and I were in Monterey for several weeks, escaping Salt Lake City’s cold and its winter air inversions and polluted air. Thanks, gods, for Skype. Bill and Jay were at the Roasting Company, in a second floor secluded corner. I was in a corner of Book Works Cafe in Pacific Grove. We decided earlier to give Trump the benefit of our doubts - for a few weeks. That time was now over.   “It’s all over the Net now,” Bill started. “Tillerson is the international oil dealmaker par excellence - and knows Putin well. As Trump’s new Secretary of State he could lift the economic sanctions on Russia, allowing a whole new level of deals for Siberian oil.” “And thus for creaming the planet,” Jay groaned. “… our worst fears - the worst scenario imaginable.” “Yes, horrible for the planet - both physically and humanistically,” I added. “Cheap Siberian oil, with the backing of Russia and the USA, could flood the market, economically devastating the Middle East, Nigeria, and Canada.” “And the Secretary of State orchestrates the whole transformation - from deals to production, sales, and economic devastation.” “A new world order,” Bill said. “Exactly what Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton, and Bush wanted - but via oil rather than war.” “Dollars for ISIS and Al Qaeda dry up. Saudi Arabia goes under - or gets transformed via a new Arab ‘Spring’ - also Iran.” “Another Nobel Peace Prize!” Jay noted. “Not a bad plan,” I smiled, “were it not for the death of the Planet as a side effect.” “But as global warming isn’t really real, it isn’t a concern for climate deniers and agnostics - certainly not for Trump, Putin, or even Tillerson.” “The melting of the tundra, the massive release of ancient trapped methane, the leaks and fires due to tundra-disrupted oil pipelines - all collateral damage on the way to a new world order, controlled by powerful white guys, of European ancestry.” “Hitler would have loved it, assuming Germany’s chemical industry played a leading role.”   We looked at each other, via Skype.   “I’m not sure Ananda’s Chocolates are up to the task,” Bill offered. “We tried that - and…

Trump 2016 Election: State Change now even more important

Relevance: 63%      Posted on: November 9, 2016

The harmless team was at The Roasting Company - doing our 2016 election mourning over good coffee. "Jesus, I'm depressed," Bill said. "There's no question I am," Jay said. "I even considered fully losing it early this morning." "Remember those last pages of State Change," I cautioned. "Those who are old and ready, and those who are considering checking out, can have an especially important set of opportunities. They can go way beyond distributing Ananda's Chocolates to our entire hit list - our 29 ideologues. Most were reelected." "You mean really take them out, don't you?" Jay asked. "Or at least make them undesirable for further service." "Why not? All they'll do in Congress is do more damage. They'll make many others suffer for their distorted ideologies." "We could just plant some illegal drugs on them," Bill suggested. "That might do it. Or do - or get done - some serious investigative reporting exposing their financial connections and other shenanigans." "Most of them - especially Gowdy and Chaffetz - love conspiracy theories and witch hunts. We could give them a taste of their own tactics - develop some paranoid fantasies in them." "I thought State Change would be somewhat obsolete after this election, because Hillary would make it, we'd likely take the Senate, the Supreme Court would be modernized, and the state would begin to change," I said. "So much for wishful thinking," Jay said. "There was a piece in The Guardian this morning, by Thomas Frank, ..." "The guy who wrote 'What's the Matter with Kansas', right?" Bill asked. "Yep, and he has a new one Listen Liberal; the piece in the paper is like Liberals put Trump in the White House." "Ouch." "Anyway, State Change is even more important and valuable now that Trump will soon be thrashing around in the White House," I said. "My Australian and Canadian friends are incredulous," Bill said. "I've started to add overseas audiences to my Tweet destinations now, because Europe is so concerned. A major Madrid paper, El Paix, had columns today titled The Crazy is in Charge of the Asylum - and another The Suicide of Democracy." "It's time to up the action," Bill said. "I think so," said Jay. "I'm ready for some serious activism." "Let's think this through and meet again right after Thanksgiving."    

Scalia Supreme Court Michael Lee Hayek Simplism

Relevance: 44%      Posted on: April 13, 2016

“Did you see the local papers in the last two days?” Jay asked. “There’s a move on to get Trump to commit to appointing Mike Lee as Scalia’s Supreme Court replacement.” “Crazy,” Bill said. “He’d be even worse than Scalia. It’s because Cruz did commit to appoint Lee. Cruz and Lee have been shouting Libertarianism fallacies into each other’s ears since they both ran for Senate.” “We said it earlier,” I said. “They’re afflicted with – and addicted to – their mental adolescence. They are infected with seductive Hayekian simplicity – what the psychologists might call simplism.” “Maybe we should get more chocolate to them,” Jay said, smiling. “In their case, change would require a brain transplant,” Bill said. “Or a more powerful chemical change agent,” I suggested.

Rubio, Trump, and Fathers’ Day – Tom’s Mass and Catholic Youth

Relevance: 43%      Posted on: August 29, 2016

Bill, Jay, and I were celebrating their identical August birthday dates at the Roasting Company - on a warm, clear but semi-dirty air day.   "Bill said you wrote Rubio a Father's Day letter?" Jay asked. "I did, and submitted it to the Miami paper and Buzzfeed. Miami Herald didn't pick it up but it is at BuzzFeed." "What did you advise him?" Jay continued. "Look at the BuzzFeed link. Advices number 1 - 5 are still very valid and relevant; only Advice #6  (Run, Marco, run) is now outdated - he's running." "But Trump may take him down," Bill said. "Yes, hopefully. Patrick Murphy, currently in the House  representing Florida 18, is coming on strong." "If Rubio takes your advice, he might win," Jay said. "I hope not," Bill added. "For all the reasons in State Change." "He's unlikely to take my advice," I said. "He's too young, naive, arrogant - unless one of his kids sees the letter and really gets to him." "Or Jeanette," Bill said. "Yes, or Jeanette." We sipped our coffees and tea (Jay) silently for a few minutes. "Did you get to Tom's memorial Mass?" Bill asked. "I didn't." "Yes, it was at St. Ambrose's - a beautiful church with an incredible organ and sound system." "I thought you didn't like organ music," Jay said. "Normally not, but this sound was really incredible, majestic, spiritual. The priests mentioned Tom towards the end - they recognized several people, as well as Tom. Carrie told me they'll have a memorial - recognition - event later in the year. I'll keep you posted." "And did you hear about the new Pope Francis High School - in Springfield, Mass?" Bill asked. "Two existing schools merged - the students recommended the new name. Some of the older parishioners were very critical, according to the USA Today story, today." "As long as the kids - the youth - get it, we may muddle through the mess created by all those adults - even Catholic youth," Jay said. "Why not a letter to the school paper, encouraging the kids to read State Change, and its take on Francis and the Encyclical?" "I'm on it," I said. "Cheers," Jay said. We finished our drinks, toasting Tom, Pope Francis, and Springfield's Catholic youth.

Did Koch eat Ananda’s Chocolates?

Relevance: 40%      Posted on: April 25, 2016

"Did you see today's NY Times piece by Barbaro - on Charles and Hillary?" Bill asked. "Not yet, I thought Charles was fond of Sanders," I answered. "He's certainly anti-Trump, and probably not pro-Cruz," Jay said. "The Brothers must be very disappointed, even despondent." "Yea, so much money spent refocusing the GOP - mainly to result in a stable of loser candidates for President." "The Times story, very briefly, suggested Koch was willing to at least consider Hillary," Bill said. "Maybe you did get to him," Jay said, smiling and looking at me. "The chocolates went to his Wichita receptionist - she said she'd give them to him." "Well, she apparently did," Jay said. "He does seem to be more open than before." "Yes, his Sanders comment and now this Hillary one." "Another dose could have an even greater effect," Bill said, " - that and his growing awareness of impending mortality." "Aging does cause some of us to be more philosophical - and open-minded," I said. "And Charles is five years ahead of me. It's easy to get to Wichita. I'll make another visit."  

Author Fake Interview – Book Review

Relevance: 29%      Posted on: June 16, 2016

Book Review Press Release (for immediate release) State Change - A Chemical Fantasy By Joe Andrade 491 pp. Andrade Self-Publishing Free at An ‘interview’ with the author:   Academic Activist Advocates Illegal Politics   'We cannot elect mental adolescents to public office,' says Joe Andrade, author of a provocative new novel State Change - A Chemical Fantasy. He corrects me: “It’s a semi-novel. Two thirds of it is fact.” Andrade is a University of Utah retired engineering professor - now involved in local and national politics. I ask - What do you mean by mental adolescents? “I don’t want to disparage adolescents - they’re great, exciting kids. But they’re too young to be elected to political office.” I’m confused: If they’re too young to run, how can they be elected? Andrade looked annoyed. “They’re adults, so they ran, and we elected them. But they have the brain development of pre-adolescents. They need mental enhancement - treatment - to do their job.” You mean education, I asked. “That would help, but most never got a decent education. Most were brain-washed early by simple-minded, often highly religious, parents. So they became simple-minded adults - and we elected some of them, many of them, to high office.” And, what is mental enhancement? “Well, they won’t voluntarily submit to serious education - they can’t listen to anything except their own ideologies. They exist in echo chambers. So they have to be treated.” I ask: And what is this ‘treatment’? “You have to read the book,” Andrade said, smiling. “They need to have a revelation to break free of their ideological moorings - and begin to evolve to mental adulthood.” Is that possible? Is it legitimate? I ask. “It is possible - good chocolate helps. But it’s not ‘legitimate’. That’s why you titled this interview ‘... advocates illegal politics’.” And who are these elected adults who are functioning as mental adolescents? “There are hundreds, but we selected 29 special ones to treat - all politically powerful, mentally constrained adults. They are simplists.” Wikipedia came to my rescue, saying simplism is the trait of oversimplifying things by ignoring complexity and complications. Didn’t Einstein say something about simplism? “Einstein said ‘Science should be as simple as possible - but not simpler’ - but that applies to everything, not just to science.” I was getting it. I asked: it’s looking at the world from the mental perspective…

Why the Increase in MDMA ‘Problems’?

Relevance: 20%      Posted on: June 14, 2016

I was on the phone with Lucien and Peter, who were at a coffee shop in Portland. "My Google Alert on 'Ecstasy' shows more issues, problems with street Ecstasy," Peter reported. "Yes, I've also seen some reports on more ER admissions and even deaths," Lucien added. "I've seen them, too," I said. "The Chinese?" Peter asked. "Have you been listening to Trump? The Chinese aren't responsible for everything, but they are connected." "So you've dome some homework?" Lucien asked. "Yes. I came across a UK psychopharmacologist, a Valerie Curran with University College, London. She was on the BBC recently warning users about high dose Ecstasy." "And?" Peter asked. "Patience!" I said. "She was almost immediately criticized, even vilified, by the drug control crowd for advising users to cut current pills in half, because street pills in UK and rest of Europe may now have 200 mg or more of pure MDMA." "That doesn't make sense," Peter said. "Why would dealers use excess drug?" "Good question. Apparently there's a new precursor readily available - from China, of course - that makes it easier and cheaper to produce MDMA. So there's now sort of a competition to produce, provide more potent pills." "Why?" "It may be a macho thing - kind of a pissing contest between producers or dealers?" Lucien asked. "That's been suggested. But there's probably another - a better - reason." "Go on," Peter said. "In some European countries the possession of a pill or two is often ignored. So if you're a small scale user - or dealer - you can have just a few pills on you which can supply many normal doses - you just break up the pill." "But if you don't know - or you're already partly stoned?..." "Right - if you take the full pill, which can be 200 or even 300 or more mg, then you have a serious overdose." "Especially if you're a woman, small, or have a bad liver." "Yep. This has all hit the media," I continued, "because the 2016 Global Drug Survey was just released - I'll send you the link, but here's a short summary: 2016 is the worst time to be using MDMA in a generation: Increase in use of both MDMA and cocaine over the last 3 years. Concerns over high dose MDMA pills leading to increased risk of acute harm. 4-fold increase in British female clubbers seeking emergency…

Manzanita, Neahkahnee, and Arthur Koestler

Relevance: 19%      Posted on: August 4, 2016

July 21, Manzanita - during and after Neahkahnee hike - and Arthur Koestler Peter, Lucien, and I were in Manzanita for the annual family gathering. The weather was perfect - sunny, low 70’s, very light wind. This place and time is not conducive to thinking about global warming and planetary perils! While in Portland I experienced one of the better cannabis medicinal shops - Farma on Hawthorne. I bought an oil salve for my bruised toe - the victim of a dropped wine bottle a week earlier. Peter and Lucien did their vap experiments. I did, too - and this time did feel a bit giddy.   “What’s that large black book you’ve been reading?” Peter asked. “One I should have read and used a long time ago. I should have referred to it in State Change,” I said. “It’s Janus - A Summing Up, a sort of final autobiography by Arthur Koestler, from 1978.” “So,” Lucien asked. “Who’s he?” “Very interesting thinker - in the Aldous Huxley mold. He became a sort of neuro-biologist and was very interested in the evolution of the brain - in why we have a phenomenal neocortex that’s often over-ruled by our primitive reptilian emotional impulses.” “And then what?” “He actually suggested treating people to help suppress their reptilian inadequacy.” “With drugs?” “Not exactly. The neurochemistry of neurotransmitters and neurodrugs wasn’t really available to him then - best to ‘hear’ him for yourself. Here’s some quotes from Janus:   ...the most important date in the history and prehistory of the human race ... 6 August 1945. ...mankind ... [now has] to live with the prospect of its extinction as a species. ...The most striking indication of the pathology of our species is the contrast between its unique technological achievements and its equally unique incompetence in the conduct of its social affairs. ... Russian roulette is a game which cannot be played for long. ... homo sapiens is not a reasonable being. ... an aberrant biological species. ... the trouble with our species is not an excess of aggression, but an excess capacity for fanatical devotion. ... Man’s deadliest weapon is language...susceptible to being hypnotized by slogans... Without words there would be no poetry - and no war. ...we are concerned with a cure for the paranoid streak in what we call ‘normal people’ ... to reinforce man’s critical faculties, counteract misplaced devotion and that…

Chapter 8: Presidential Candidates

Relevance: 16%      Posted on: March 24, 2016

Leading Presidential Candidates get an enormous amount of press. Major U.S. elections are a media spectacle, where hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on advertising. harmless feels that all the Republican candidates would benefit from a more empathetic and socially considerate perspective in their campaigns. Harmless wants to advise and ‘treat’ those needy candidates.   Homework.       “Let’s start with Bush, Rubio, and Cruz,” Bill offered. “They are likely to be in the news at least until the 2016 GOP Convention.”   “And one of them is likely to be the Republican nominee,” Jay said. “And each has an interesting wife and lives in a climate-impacted state.”   “And two of the three are not total nuts,” Bill noted.   “Two? You left Cruz out - the total nut?”   “Yep - together with Donald Trump and a dozen or so others.”   “Scott Walker is now out - so I don’t have to read his Unintimidated,” I said.   “The lack of money must have intimidated him,” Bill smiled. “The Kochs must have read the writing on the wall.”   “And let’s look at Rand Paul, too,” Jay said. “At least he’s consistent and interesting.”   “Business darlings Trump and Carly were in the lead - or was it Carson?”   “Business failings, you mean.”   “At least Carly is a woman. She’s struggled with breast cancer, and she lost a stepdaughter to drug addiction. Some of this is in her memoir Best Choices. There may be a hint of empathy there.”   “Hillary’s memoir is called Hard Choices,” Bill said.   “Carly may have trouble with the truth,” I said. “The Times’ Charles Blow quoted Josh Marshall as saying: ‘Fiorina has a habit of simply making things up’.”   “Which makes her a typical, main-stream GOP candidate,” Jay added.   “Sometimes you have to do that - make things up - to make sense of philosophy and medieval history,” I smiled.   “What?” Jay asked, annoyingly.   “Those are Carly’s undergraduate degrees from Stanford,” I said. “I was sort of joking.”   “Sort of,” Bill noted.   “Here’s a Carly quote,” Jay said: I feel empathy with every woman who is working really hard and giving it all they've got - and Hillary is.   “Fiorina claims to have empathy for Hillary - and perhaps vice versa. Some Fiorina empathy enhancement could prove helpful.”  …

Chapter 6: Patient Priorities

Relevance: 11%      Posted on: March 24, 2016

harmless is now meeting in parks, on the U campus, or at Westminster College. We’re too far along in the project to risk too much general public awareness or curiosity. We don’t want coffee shop - ‘regulars’ listening in. Today we’re on the U campus at one of the picnic tables outside the cafeteria.       “I’ve been thinking about the challenge ahead - the logistics,” I confided. “It would be most effective if we could treat all of our highest priority patients at once, thereby helping initiate an empathy tipping point.”   “You mean like over a very short period of time, so their individual experiences are roughly coherent?” Jay asked.   “And in a supportive, non-threatening environment - during a comfortable time,” Bill added. “We know that set and setting are critical to a good experience - to effective therapy.”   “It should be during a time of good press access,” Jay continued. “Perhaps when they’re giving speeches, being questioned, being interviewed.”   “What about college and high school graduations?” asked Bill. “They’d be accessible on campuses and in their local districts. Many would be giving graduation speeches - talking about futures, opportunities, careers - perhaps in a more open, compassionate mental state than normally.”   “It seems more doable - and less threatening - than at Congressional committee meetings in DC,” Jay said.   “And those speeches, receptions, interviews are covered by the press - especially in local papers and via social media,” I added. “That should work.”   “Do they get press!” Jay said. “Michelle Obama was blasted by the ideologue media for her Tuskegee University commencement speech, for saying to the largely black audience ... people might make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. The racist-leaning press didn’t like that.”   “A limited notion of the world is exactly the pathology we want to treat,” I said.   “Think we could get her to be an advisor - even an active participant?” Bill asked.   “We will need ongoing action after the initial application of harmless’ therapy,” I agreed. “And she’ll be unemployed in a less than a year,” continued Bill.   “Barack spoke at the Coast Guard Academy graduation and really focused on climate change, oceans, and coasts - and took on the deniers.” Jay said. “And while we’re on the news - why…

Chapter 9: Congress

Relevance: 9%      Posted on: March 24, 2016

We had decided to allocate 15 of our patient ‘openings’ to current members of Congress. Who are our ‘winners’?   Homework.     “There are 435 members of Congress,” I said. “So many potential patients.”   “Time to decide on our full list of high priority patients,” Jay reminded us.   “I’ve been working with Kay on the various Congressional committees and subcommittees,” I responded, “trying to identify which might provide access without serious security or related issues.”   “Yes,” Bill said. “If we can get access to a subcommittee hearing or meeting, we may be able to access several members during one session.”   “And if that doesn’t work, we can still work to treat them on their own turf, during local events, town meetings, Congressional recesses, etc.”   “And parties, “ Jay suggested.     Committee and subcommittee meetings are generally open to the general public. They are scheduled at least a week in advance, although the specific agenda may not be fully available. The schedule is readily available. Audio and/or video records of meetings are available within three weeks after the meeting. Many are covered via C-Span. The site includes information on the Chair and Members and often on the specific agenda, legislation, or issues being addressed, as well as direct links to the Committee’s own site where there is far more information, including video records of hearings and meetings. The videos are a good way to ‘get to know’ the specific patient serving on the committee. harmless will review previous meetings and hearings using the available audio or video recordings.   There are major problems with the Committees and indeed with Congress itself, going back to Gingrich and the Bush-Cheney era.   “You mean Congress is broken?” Bill asked.   “Very much so. In fact The Broken Branch was published already in 2006 - and it’s gotten worse from then on,” I said.   “I read it, too,” Jay said. “And Mann and Ornstein’s more recent It’s Even Worse than it Looks.”   “And even more recently, mid-2014, we have The Big Lobotomy, a summary of everything Congress has done to make itself - and its members - even more stupid and uninformed,” Bill said. “It even covers the shutdown of the Office of Technology Assessment in 1995.”   “You worked for the OTA, didn’t you?”   “I did. They did the greatest fact-finding reports for…

Chapter 12: Outcomes and Tomorrow

Relevance: 5%      Posted on: March 24, 2016

Jay, Bill, and I traveled and worked during the holiday season and in January to make our many assigned deliveries. Peter completed his trips by early January and filled me in via phone. About six weeks later, the delivery phase of harmless finished with a meeting and discussion - at a new coffee shop near Bill’s home - in the Avenues. It was an unusually warm early spring day, so we sat outside, away from the other patrons. The Salt Lake Valley had had another terrible winter inversion season. We were pleased that today the air was clean and relatively warm.     “I’m very happy to be here,” Jay said. “There were times I thought they’d get me.”   “Me, too,” Bill agreed. “Some of those local Congressional office staffers are scary. It was hard to fake it without really taking them on.”   “You can thank the Kochs and their libertarian study fellowships and professorships for providing such well trained staffers,” I smiled.   “Brain-washed staffers,” Bill corrected.   “Reminds me of a quote in Dark Money,” I said. “Back in 2009, Mayer writes, Charles Koch gave nearly $150,000 to Brown University’s Political Theory Project - a freshman seminar taught by a John Tomasi. She quotes Tomasi: After a whole semester of Hayek, it’s hard to shake them off that perspective over the next four years.”   “Very effective brain-washing,” Bill added.   “I’m ready to take some notes - I need to hear your stories - for the book, of course. But for now, just a brief overview - brief summary.”   “Before they catch us, you mean, right?” Jay asked.   “I think we’re ok now. The riskiest time was during the delivery of Ananda’s potion. If they didn’t get us then, it’s unlikely they’ll get us now.”   “That’s not how I understand the statutes of limitations,” Jay said.   “By the way, Lucien tells me the traffic to rose quickly as we hit the road and has continued to climb slowly.”   “I’ll bet they’re disappointed they can’t order some,” Bill said.   “So am I,” I said. “I wish we could continue to produce and give away our unique moksha.”   “Let’s do the numbers,” Jay said.   “Let’s hear about all of it .... this may take some time.”     We each reported on our state assignments, starting with Bill…

Chapter 10: Plutocrats – and Others

Relevance: 5%      Posted on: March 24, 2016

The United States is the most plutocratic ‘democracy’ on the planet. We’re not even close to being second ranked. Some say that’s not so bad - that we were founded and organized as a plutocracy, of sorts. In order to vote, you had to own land and had to be a white male, and you were allowed to own African slaves. It was only much later that black men were allowed to vote, and even later women. We were founded as a republic - a representative ‘democracy’. Voters voted for representatives who would in turn write, pass, and implement laws and policy.   The founding fathers, by and large, were semi-wealthy, white men who owned significant land and other property, and were naturally inclined to favor a system of government that protected the financial interests of their own class. But they were also, generally, well educated, well read, and fairly intelligent. The historical musical Hamilton is helping to inform Americans of that intellectual heritage.   The word "democracy" does not appear in the US Constitution. The founding fathers were afraid of true democracy; they warned of the dangers of the tyranny of the majority if America adopted a truly democratic government. Hamilton claimed that ‘The people should have as little to do as may be about the Government.’   As the nation developed and evolved, our ‘democracy’ slowly became more inclusive. Blacks were finally allowed to vote, then women, then the 18 - 20 year olds, although the black vote was - and still is - thwarted and controlled by voter registration restrictions and barriers.   Although we are much more of an inclusive democracy today than at previous times in our history, we are also more financially unequal and distorted today than at any other time in our history - including the so-called ‘Gilded Age’. Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States provides a good background up to about ten years ago.  And since then, the situation keeps getting worse.   Jane Mayer’s Dark Money is one of the more recent treatments of plutocracy in America. The book is subtitled: The Hidden History of the Billionaires behind the rise of the Radical Right. The book was apparently stimulated by her 2010 New Yorker piece titled Covert Operations. The Kochs took issue with much of what she wrote. So she’s spent much of the last five years fleshing out…

Chapter 11: Delivery and Treatment

Relevance: 3%      Posted on: March 24, 2016

“Let’s talk about Centennial Valley,” I said. “It needs to happen by mid-September or it’ll be too late for harmless. September 23 is father Fred’s birthday, I think.”   “I read it’s the 26th,” Bill said. “I’ve talked with the Manager of the U’s facilities in Lakeview. They have space available in September, which is nearly ideal for early school year events.”   “Terrific. I’ve been doing the homework on Bill Koch’s Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, especially on the science and environmental studies teachers and courses. I’ve made contact with several who are very interested. I’m now working on getting the idea to Bill Koch, perhaps via his wife or son. School starts in early September. Once we book the school - and hopefully Bill - then we can work on his brothers.”     Koch Industries’ Matador Cattle Company operates three ranches: Beaverhead near Yellowstone National Park in Montana, Spring Creek in the Flint Hills of Kansas, and Matador Ranch in Texas.  Beaverhead Ranch is located on more than a quarter million acres in Southwest Montana. It stretches along a 90-mile road from Dillon to the Idaho border then east to Yellowstone Park. It was acquired between 1941 and 1952 by Fred C. Koch and today totals nearly a half million acres of owned or leased land.   The U’s Taft-Nicholson Environmental Humanities Education Center (T-N Center) is located in Montana’s Centennial Valley, a 6,000 foot high and 60 mile wide wetlands east of the Continental Divide on the North slope of the Centennial Mountains, an East-West range. The Center is named for John and Melody Taft and their friends the Nicholsons.   The Valley includes the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, created in 1935 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, to provide habitat for the trumpeter swan, then facing extinction. The swans now thrive in the refuge.     “The Centennial Valley refuge is really beautiful,” Bill noted. “The majestic Centennial Mountains are on the South, forming part of the Idaho-Montana border.”   “Refuges have been in the news,” Jay said, “especially the Malheur one in SE Oregon, where God apparently sent Emmon Bundy to occupy it and throw out the Feds.”   “Did you see the cool Bagley cartoon on ‘I am doing God’s will’? Bill asked.   “Yes,” I said. “God not only sends Bundy, but also ISIS, Kony, Boka Haram,…

Chapter 2: From Eleusis to Revelation

Relevance: 2%      Posted on: March 20, 2016

“So how are you going to drug Stewart - in his Mormon coffee?” That’s Jay talking about Utah’s then new District 2 Congressman, Republican Chris Stewart. “Ryan couldn’t even begin to get him to think during his protest at a Stewart town meeting. The guy’s hopeless.” Ryan is young, gutsy, passionate. On his first day as a public school bus driver in Salt Lake City, he altered his route slightly so the students on board could see the large protest near the Federal Courthouse - a protest against the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher for ‘disrupting’ a Federal fossil fuel lease auction (see Bidder 70 for details). Ryan was fired from his new job the next day. “Stewart has been deprived of any intellectual puberty. He’s an anti-science ideologue, a far-right Republican - an arrogant denialist - and a Mitt Romney wannabe,” Jay said. Jay helped during my campaign against Stewart in 2012. Jay’s tall, thin, bearded - and emotional and even impulsive, like Ryan but some 40 years older. He has a deep, resonant voice - and is impatient for change. “But he is Mormon, meaning he believes in ‘agency’,” I said. “Maybe he can accept a ‘revelation’.” “The Revelation won’t come from his Church,” said Bill. “That is truly hopeless.” Bill (William) is a PhD plant ecologist - a good friend. We meet about weekly to talk and commiserate. He loves to read, ponder, discuss, but rarely acts. He almost never writes a letter or asks a question in public. We sometimes call him William - the Connector because he loves to bring different people together. Bill continued: “The Mormons just had their General Conference. Three of their Big Twelve died recently - they had three big slots to fill.” He was referring to Mormonism’s twice a year General Conference and to their ruling body, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The Quorum advises and reports to the First Presidency, a three man group reporting directly to Jesus Christ. “Yes,” Jay said. “And they filled them with old, Utah born, white guys. So much for recognizing diversity.” “Well, we didn’t expect a woman - but someone at least off-white would have been interesting,” Bill added. “Someone with some hope of receiving a revelation or two would have been helpful,” I said. “A little LSD might work - better, Ecstasy.” That was Peter - he’s been there, he knows. Peter’s…