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Chapter 6: Patient Priorities

Relevance: 100%      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 11: Delivery and Treatment

Relevance: 96%      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 9: Congress

Relevance: 86%      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: 38%      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 anandaschocolates.com 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 7: Supreme Court Justices

Relevance: 35%      Posted on: March 24, 2016

The Supreme Court is the final juror and arbiter of national policies and of the nations’ culture and behavior. harmless feels that a number of current Justices would benefit from a more empathetic and socially considerate perspective to their deliberations and decisions. Harmless wants to advise and ‘treat’ those needy Supreme Court Justices.   Homework.   The Supreme Court consists of nine justices, appointed for life:   Ginsburg, Ruth Bader:   appointed 1993 by Clinton;        now 83 years old; Jewish Scalia, Antonin:             appointed 1986 by Reagan;       recently deceased at age 79; Catholic Kennedy, Anthony:        appointed 1987 by Reagan;       now 79 years old; Catholic Breyer, Stephen:           appointed 1994 by Clinton;        now 77 years old; Jewish Thomas, Clarence:       appointed 1991 by Bush #1;       now 67 years old; Catholic Alito, Samuel:               appointed 2005 by Bush #2;       now 66 years old; Catholic Roberts, John Jr.:         appointed 2005 by Bush #2;       now 61 years old; Episcopalian Sotomayor, Sonia:        appointed 2009 by Obama;        now 61 years old; Catholic Kagan, Elena:               appointed 2010 by Obama;        now 56 years old; Jewish   harmless’ homework on and discussion of the Supreme Court occurred prior to Justice Scalia’s death in early 2016. As the harmless team and project progressed, the five conservative justices were actually ‘treated’ in late 2015, to perhaps affect the Court’s fall term.   The account that follows relates those deliberations and actions.   John Roberts has been Chief Justice for over ten years. He and Alito were appointed in 2005 by Bush #2. They, together with Scalia and Thomas - and to a slightly lesser extent - Kennedy, make up the Court’s conservative block. The others - Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan - and to a slightly lesser extent Ginsburg - make up the liberal wing of the Court. Kennedy and even Roberts are occasionally swing votes. This makes for a significant number of 5-4 decisions. Four of the five Catholics tend to vote very conservatively. Five of the justices were appointed by Republican presidents, four by Democrats. Their ideologies and decisions generally reflect those of the Presidents who appointed them.   Conservatives tend to like a literal interpretation of rules, regulations, laws - especially the Constitution and the Bible. They try to determine what the signers of the Constitution meant - what the words meant back in the late…

Chapter 10: Plutocrats – and Others

Relevance: 32%      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…