Friday, June 30, 2017

Gotta Go?

One of the many things we take for granted is the availability of plumbing.  I don't think it is ever a problem to find somewhere to go to the bathroom when the urge strikes.  Well maybe if you are in New York City that may be a problem as even Starbucks have tried to lock toilets (which by the way they do now in some) and if you have ever tried to use the Public Library in NYC, think again, it is akin to going to the tombs.  But they do have an app now and apparently the Bryant Park toilets are grand;  Speaking of grand remind me never to use the toilets in Grand Central either!

But for the homeless is a major issue. Here our Public Library has gone out of the way to welcome the homeless that live in the park square across the street.  They have signs regarding the appropriate use but I have never had a problem going, literally and metaphorically, in the central library and you do see quite a line at the door to the building before it opens.  And I do worry that we are going to have some problems as the Library is closed for three days for the Fourth of July.  But I suspect given the dynamics of the Churches this too will be a project for them.  

As for secular cities this, however,  is an issue in urban cities where encampments are aligned to major highways and city streets.  The old gas station of yesteryear has no bathroom facility and if so they are inside the store with a key and that too becomes another hurdle.  Parks, public facilities and restaurants frequently find themselves has the major facility in town and for many of those small businesses they simply have a sign on the door that says "Customers only" or "No Restroom available."  The Enterprise Car Rental across from the Mission here which has large facilities available has had to  simply tell anyone that they have no Public facilities but if you must go they let you use the Employees restroom.  I have personally seen men toting bags and personal toiletries come to the Enterprise and ask to be finally refused as they occupy the space for hours and leave the room in such disarray that they now find themselves telling everyone that they have closed the restroom and apologize as no one wanted to work there and also be responsible for cleaning it when someone complained.   

For all the coverage Trump gets on the media for trash talking Journalists I note that nowhere near the coverage about America and American cities gets equal measure.   When I read the Guardian or the Christian Science Monitor to garner actual stories about real people and real lives it is telling me that no news is no news unless it is politics.  This is where the politics start - on the street.  So next time you walk said street ask yourself if that was someone's toilet that day.

This is a first world nation with third world problems.




At night on Skid Row, nearly 2,000 homeless people share just nine toilets

A new report outlines an ‘awful’ lack of bathroom facilities, impacting the health and dignity of residents at the sprawling LA homeless encampment

Alastair Gee in Los Angeles
The Guardian UK
Friday 30 June 2017


The toilets are located in stalls without doors, and bathroom tissue is only available from an attendant seated outside.

However unprepossessing, these nine cisterns in a sprawling complex on Los Angeles’ Skid Row are the only ones available at night to approximately 1,800 people sleeping on the surrounding streets, according to a new report out Thursday.

The authors say that this contravenes a standard laid out by the United Nations for long-term refugee camps, which specifies one toilet for 20 people at the most. Los Angeles is therefore meeting only about 10% of the need.

“It is perhaps the most basic human right that each of us be able to complete the most basic of human functions in a clean and safe space,” suggests the study, which was produced by Los Angeles Central Providers Collaborative, an alliance of major organizations working on Skid Row, as well as other experts. Judging by the odors that permeate the neighborhood, such spaces are in short supply.

“It’s really hard to explain in words how awful and how much of a public health crisis this is,” said Stephany Campos, the executive administrator of Homeless Health Care Los Angeles and a contributor to the report.

“We should not let any human being experience that kind of embarrassment or indignity or shame of having to utilize a sidewalk for a restroom, let alone live in the filth,” said Andy Bales, head of the Union Rescue Mission, a major services provider.

Bales speaks from experience – his right foot and part of his shin were amputated last year after becoming infected, which his doctor linked to the conditions in which he worked. “I lost my leg because I got E coli and staph and strep from the sidewalk because of feces being present.”

The Los Angeles mayor’s office does not contest the findings of the report, and indeed in 2012 a survey by the county’s public health department found that there were “small piles of feces and/or urine on the sidewalks and grass areas” of eight of the 10 blocks they examined, as well as accumulated human excreta in two storm drains. It indicated there was an increased risk of meningitis, tuberculosis, diarrheal disease and many other illnesses. Currently the city performs regular street cleanings.

Skid Row’s hygiene problems could hardly be more pressing. In the latest count, Los Angeles County saw a 23% increase in the number of homeless people, to 57,794. “Our infrastructure hasn’t caught up,” said Alisa Orduna, homelessness policy director in the mayor’s office. “This is the number one issue that residents talk about.”
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The report says there is an immediate need for 100 portable toilets available 24 hours a day, and also advocates for staffed, mobile toilet kiosks. Orduna said the city was budgeting an extra $500,000 of funding for such mobile solutions, and is investing in permanent bathrooms in two parks, though they will be closed at night.

During the day, there may be as many as 43 available toilets, but the authors say that because the population of Skid Row swells after sunrise, this is still well below the UN standard.

A reporter visited the nine nighttime toilets, located on the grounds of a major homelessness services provider called the Midnight Mission, at 1am on Thursday. An emergency was underway: a grizzled man was lying on the ground in a corner, his head cradled by another man as he convulsed with what staff thought was an epileptic or drug-induced fit. Medics in a wailing fire truck arrived to help him up.

Through the night there was a steady stream of visitors, who entered past a guard into a courtyard where dozens of people slept on the floor in the open-air. They walked up to a worker named Antwan Williams, who was sat behind an upturned cardboard box and handed out small bundles of bathroom tissue.

The men’s toilet was clean but unadorned. When the restrooms were opened “they had paper towel dispensers and tissue dispensers and mirrors, everything nice”, said Marcus Butler, head of security at the mission. But they were quickly destroyed; “some homeless people” – a minority, he stressed – “are just angry, and some days are just bad days”.

Men sat on toilets, visible to anyone passing through the restroom. Butler called out greetings to them, or asked how they were. He has sometimes found people who have overdosed in the stalls, a needle still stuck in their arms, which suggests the advantages of not having doors.
Marcus Butler, head of security, inside the bathroom on a recent night.

“These bathrooms are a blessing,” said Megan Neidhart, 25, as she left the women’s restroom sometime past 3am. When she can’t make it here, her options are grim: she explained how she has used used buckets and plastic bags. “It sucks sometimes – I’ve spilled the bag of pee in the tent.”

Observers acknowledge that the mission is trying to do a difficult job in adverse conditions. “I think that I can speak on behalf of anyone who is providing public bathrooms on Skid Row that if we had an unlimited budget this is not how we would provide them,” said the mission’s chief, G. Michael Arnold.

To produce the toilet report, researchers sought to pin down the number of lavatories in the area as precisely as possible, and nine teams of “auditors” made 86 visits to public toilets at different times of the day.

There are five automated public toilets provided by the city, but the auditors found that on average, at any one time four were out of service, and the one that functioned most frequently was also the farthest away from the heart of Skid Row. In any event these toilets seemed to be powered down at night.

Among all the toilets – including portable toilets in parks and those made available by homeless service providers – some “were so soiled with fecal matter and debris that auditors reported that they did not feel safe using them.” They described the implications for disabled people: the wheels of their wheelchairs pick up excreta, which they then must touch. Stall dividers were sometimes absent, and the report did not count such toilets as useable. (There are actually 10 toilets available at the Midnight Mission, but the auditors excluded one from the tally because it was particularly exposed and felt unsafe to use.)

Inequality shapes access to restrooms. Auditors found that it was easier for white people who did not look homeless to gain permission to use locked toilets than it was for people of color or those who appeared to be living outside. Menstrual products are unavailable in many places.

One auditor, longtime resident Suzette Shaw, was struck by a telling disparity – the comparatively large number of portable toilets available on film sets in and around downtown Los Angeles.

Old Kentucky Home

As I wrote in the blog entry,  South Will Rise Again,  it was in reference to an Economic theorist who was the true Architect  of this push to privatize most of the Government in response to believing in his paranoid vision that Governmental programs and policies create co-dependency and in turn reliance on the Government to solve problems that I sure he believed were intrinsic versus extrinsic in nature.   In other words a Southerner who while denying racism as the prime motivator in his arguments/theories, again shows how the Southern personality is that of one where lying while talking is by far more significant that the other misconception contradiction that exists here - Southern Hospitality.

Currently the entire fate of the Health Care bill reform falls into the grubby hands of the Beaver in Charge, Mitch McConnell.  He and his equally viscous counterpart, Rand Paul, are from Kentucky and they cannot even agree on how to further bring damage to Kentucky and in turn the rest of the United States.     Between the two of them I have no measure for the level of petulant remarks and attention seeking they seem to demand in very contradictory manners.  Thus again defining the Southern ouvere.

One of the largest recipients of Federal Grants or Co-Dependent largess is the Appalachian Regional Commission.   It has been a significant contributor to saving and remaking lives in the regions it serves.    This is one such an example of those who have found work and better quality lives through these types of programs.   But sure lets put them back into the mines.

When I read the article below frequently note the amount of criticism with regards to Obamacare and the incredulous shock that their current Senator is behind the destruction of the program while simultaneously voting for him.    It also is to be noted that Kentucky and West Virginia are two states with massive issues surrounding the opioid crisis that without the ACA could be worse.  But again this is the South and drug testing for food stamps is another proposal and again who would it harm more?   See the constant weirdness that runs policy here?  What this is filed under is Familiarity Breeds Contempt and given the state of their States it explains the idiocy and arrogance on display.  That should be Kentucky's new State motto. 





In McConnell’s Own State, Fear and Confusion Over Health Care Bill

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG THE NEW YORK TIMES JUNE 28, 2017


WHITESBURG, Ky. — Dewey Gorman, a 59-year-old banker who has struggled with opioid addiction, had just gotten out of the hospital in this tiny central Appalachian city when he heard the word from Washington: His fellow Kentuckian, Senator Mitch McConnell, had delayed a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He felt torn about that.

“It’s broken. It’s broken very badly,” Mr. Gorman said of former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. “But if they want to take away insurance from 22 million people — a lot of them would come from these mountains. That would be devastating to our area.”

Perhaps nowhere has the health care law had as powerful an impact as in Kentucky, where nearly one in three people now receive coverage through Medicaid, expanded under the legislation. Perhaps no region in Kentucky has benefited as much as Appalachia, the impoverished eastern part of the state, where in some counties more than 60 percent of people are covered by Medicaid.

And in few places are the political complexities of health care more glaring than in this poor state with crushing medical needs, substantially alleviated by the Affordable Care Act, but where Republican opposition to the law remains almost an article of faith. While some Senate moderates say the Republican bill is too harsh, Rand Paul, Kentucky’s other Republican senator, is among Senate Republicans who say they are opposed to the current bill for a different reason: They believe it does not go far enough to reduce costs.

Mr. McConnell, who was re-elected handily in 2014, seems committed to his party’s pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act even if it might hurt some constituents back home. A study last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the percentage of uninsured in Kentucky dropped from 18.8 percent in 2013, the year the health law was put in place, to 6.8 percent — one of the sharpest reductions in the country.

Here in Whitesburg, a city of roughly 2,000 people at the base of Pine Mountain, Mr. Gorman’s sentiment seems to be the prevailing one. In nearly two dozen interviews with health care workers and patients, at the hospital and at a nonprofit clinic run by the Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, Kentuckians sounded both fearful and flummoxed by the health care drama on Capitol Hill.

“It makes me very nervous,” said Brittany Hunsaker, 29, a clinic social worker who counsels pregnant women addicted to opioids. “Some of the most vulnerable people that we serve, we may not be seeing any more.”

Several clear themes emerged. Most people said they want everyone covered, and were appalled, as was Mr. Gorman, when they learned the Congressional Budget Office had estimated the Republican plan would leave 22 million more people uninsured over a 10-year period. They are happy that lawmakers are trying to fix Mr. Obama’s health law — rising premiums are a worry for many — but fear that Republicans, in their haste, will make a bad situation worse.s

Sorting out the way forward is agonizingly complex. Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion and successes under the Affordable Care Act are largely the result of former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat who is out of office now. Meanwhile, Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican elected in 2015, is pushing for a Medicaid waiver from the federal government that includes requirements for many beneficiaries to work or participate in job training.

Dr. Van Breeding, the clinic’s director of medical affairs, lamented that the Republican bill in the Senate had gotten mixed up in “party politics,” while patients had been forgotten. He summed up the situation this way: “Senator Paul is worried about the financial aspect of it. Senator McConnell is worried about the political aspect of it. And I’m worried about patients not having access to basic health care.”

Kathy Collins, 50, who suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disease — and who was uninsured until she got Medicaid coverage through the law’s expansion — is among Dr. Breeding’s patients. Sitting in her hospital bed here Tuesday morning, she said she was surprised to hear that Mr. McConnell, whom she had voted for previously, was leading the charge to roll it back.

“He is?” she asked. “Well, then, he’s no good for Kentucky.”

Health care is a growing part of this region’s economy, and people here are also deeply concerned that the repeal will bring job losses to a region already decimated by unemployment from the coal industry downturn.

Dr. Breeding says the number of uninsured patients at the clinic dropped from 19 percent to 4 percent as a result of the health care law. He said Mountain Comprehensive was “barely getting by” financially before the law was passed; business is much better now. Mountain Comprehensive has hired more people and now offers extended weekend hours and an optometry clinic — services that have been financed by revenue brought in from the health law, Dr. Breeding said.

And those services mean more health care jobs.

“If they do what they say they are going to do, then we may lose our jobs,” said Vicki Roland, a surgical nurse. “I think what we have works pretty good for the people. If they revamp it, I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”

Mr. McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for an interview. But Mr. McConnell did make his case for why the bill would help Kentucky on the Senate floor last week, and in an opinion piece in The Cincinnati Enquirer on Sunday, in which he argued that the legislation would stabilize markets and “deliver flexibility” to state officials to address problems like the opioid crisis.

Despite his constituents’ concerns, Mr. McConnell has little reason to worry about a political backlash; he is widely credited with building the Republican Party in this state, and after three decades in the Senate, his seat is secure. In 2014, he clobbered his Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, winning by more than 15 percentage points.

“He ran on a clear platform to repeal and replace Obamacare, as did Matt Bevin, the governor, as did Rand Paul, the other senator, as did Donald Trump,” said Scott Jennings, a Kentucky Republican strategist with close ties to Mr. McConnell. “And they all have one thing in common: They have overwhelmingly won their elections in Kentucky.”

Still, there has been pushback. On Monday, nearly 100 opponents of the repeal protested outside Mr. McConnell’s northern Kentucky office. On Tuesday, more than a dozen organizations representing health care providers signed an open letter to Mr. McConnell, published in his hometown paper, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, imploring him to “STOP the mad rush to pass this bill” and instead seek advice from health care experts.

“You said you have a ‘responsibility to act,’” the letter said. “We believe you have a duty to act responsibly. Kentuckians deserve better.”

The local newspaper here in Whitesburg, The Mountain Eagle, published an editorial assailing Mr. McConnell for putting the bill together behind closed doors. “Why the secrecy, Sen. McConnell?” its headline read.

Dr. Breeding, recently named Country Doctor of the Year by Staff Care, a Dallas-based health care company, shares these sentiments. His message to Mr. McConnell: “Don’t rush it. Bring in the experts. Let’s hammer it out.”

To spend a day with Dr. Breeding is to get a glimpse of his patients’ challenges. His weekday mornings begin at 4:30 a.m., when he arrives at the hospital in Whitesburg. Dressed in his workout gear, he makes rounds, visiting patients whose ailments run the gamut: pneumonia, respiratory failure, colon cancer, lupus, black lung disease, dementia, heart attack, kidney infection and multiple myeloma, a bone cancer.

By 8:30 a.m., after a break for a brisk walk through town, he arrives at the clinic, where his nurse practitioner, Heather Yates, says she sees the health care debate from both sides.

Like her colleagues, Ms. Yates, 35, worries that undoing the Affordable Care Act will hurt patients. But she has had to cope with the high cost of premiums; when her husband was out of work, they qualified for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act but still paid $400 a month for an insurance policy with a deductible of as much as $1,500. Now the couple pays $1,000 a month, with a $6,000 deductible, for a plan that covers all expenses once the deductible is met.

“I’ve got a mix of emotions,” she said. “I do want everybody to have insurance, but I understand what it’s like to pay for it too.”

The South Will Rise Again

I have said repeatedly that I have better understanding of the Trump pathos and ethos living in the South than if I had stayed in Seattle.   I get income inequity, I understand the bullshit behind school choice, the idea of privatization, racism and I get the sheer concept of the idea between access and availability in the same way I now get equality versus equity.

I also realized that I am done Teaching.  I think I always was but had I not moved here I don't think I would really sit down and examine what it would mean to write and commit to that wholeheartedly.  My priority is my health and my restoration of my teeth but during the down time for recovery I will make the time to put pen to page.  I seriously considered returning to school and get an MFA as the again the access to higher education is immense but then I realized I would rather spend the money on traveling as I have learned more from encountering others than I have in a classroom and that is another reason I will never set foot in a classroom professionally or personally again.  And if one person goes, "You need to move to another district and work in better schools." Bitch please I moved across country and trust me the schools are the same - fucked beyond belief - just different in how they manifest that concept.

You really need to live where you work and see the whole community to understand it and I live in the South and there is NOWHERE here I would live work NOWHERE.  And to prove it I offered an elderly white gentleman at the pool the other day my New York Times and he said, "I don't want that crap FAKE NEWS, so no."   My response: "A simple no thank you would have sufficed."  Then I busted out laughing.  That was so obviously a bait that I decided to switch that and sadly disappointed him as he swilled his second Margarita at 11 am.  He is the epitome of the people in my peer group I meet and it is hard to explain to people that I have to have socialization, positive encounters and interactions to be a fully functional emotionally stable individual.  I need intellectual stimulation and I need laughs.  I have found few and far between here.  The only encounters I have are with with kids half my age and are still finding their own way and direction and again, I did that already in my professional life and I have no interest in doing so in my personal one.  And  I have no interest in the adage, "If you can't beat them join them."  It would mean sacrifice my personal long held beliefs in liberalism, agnosticism, skepticism, public education, and in turn income equality to have a friend.  Then on that I would rather be alone.  I am willing to compromise but that is not possible here.  Walls exist metaphorically here so no wonder they support actual physical ones.

I did have a great conversation with someone who moved here from Iowa and thought Nashville was the new now and in turn realized early on that the press and PR is just that and that the reality of living here is by far worse than anyone could imagine and in a scary way; Not in a personal life threatening one but in a larger picture way as if it explains what is happening in America has been going on here for quite some time and in turn is now moving outwards.  I concurred and said that this is the irony of global warming as the deep read sea is now overflowing outwards and in turn the rest of the country will experience what we see and hear and on daily basis.  It was this knowledge that encouraged him to leave and go back to film school and he is moving to Chicago in August to pursue that career.

There is something about the South that coming here makes you want to leave as soon as you get here and I count the days.  Ignorance here is not bliss it is just stupid and the stupidity here transcends even the dumbest people I met in Seattle.  Seattle attracted people who want money, Nashville attracts those who want recognition and fame in the same way Hollywood does.  One is toxic the other tragic and it permeates the air here like humidity on a summer day.

But the level of ignorance is what dominates.  I have no problem disagreeing with anyone over any number of issues as long as they are willing to support their beliefs/thoughts with logic, analyzing information and finding reasoning behind their conclusions.  I go with the rule of three, anytime you make a statement back it up with three solid examples that support your truths.  I find few can even cite one here.  If you think Trump tweets are a source of reasoning then you are not reasonable.

The South is angry, resentful and again ground zero for what is happening across America.  The South will be the first region most affected by all that is being promised or threatened in our Congress.  The irony that Mitch McConnell is the head of the Senate and is from Kentucky should be reason enough to be afraid.   The man is awash in bullshit and elected by a populace who vote without thought or reasoning.  That explains it all.

So which brings me to the history behind it all and that is of course Economics.  Money runs the South and they have yet to recover from the Civil War but they figured out he who has the money has the power and they thought they had both and whoops owning, imprisoning and abusing people apparently doesn't count as being rich and powerful. Well that whole idea that one man was only worth 3/4 sort of is like saying you have a dollar but it Canada it's worth 75 cents.   That concept of math and exchange rate is sort of kinda hard here in the South.

 ****and to prove my point I said to the coffee shop kids that they were in my Will and that upon my death they were getting 100 bucks.  They said they could wait and I said good because it would be like if I tipped a buck a day and then at the end of the year they would get 365 bucks instead of a 100 that might be better.  And they go yeah and I go, well I already do.  Ah the South.***

And when I read the below article I was so relieved and not surprised that I am still mad that I did not go the University of Chicago back in the day to study Sociology.  That is one regret as that school was truly ground zero for that field and economics which are very much alive today and to think I still malign Harvard. But then again Boston is the east coast equivalent of a Southern city,
 pretentious, arrogant and utterly divisive.  It is a cold city in more than the weather.  

 Read and be afraid. It's coming, the Red Sea is overflowing and no life preserver will save you. The South will rise again thanks to global warming.  Donald Trump  reminds me of the first Southern President in the modern age - Carter.   Remember that one term Presidency? If you don't look into some of the horrific policies he advocated and enacted during that one term Presidency.    Let's hope that it also duplicates itself in that way as well.




The Architect of the Radical Right

How the Nobel Prize–winning economist James M. Buchanan shaped today’s antigovernment politics
James M. Buchanan emphasized the coercive effect of government programs.

Sam Tanenhaus July/August 2017 Issue Politics
The Atlantic

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
By Nancy MacLean
Viking

If you read the same newspapers and watch the same cable shows I do, you can be forgiven for not knowing that the most populous region in America, by far, is the South. Nearly four in 10 Americans live there, roughly 122 million people, by the latest official estimate. And the number is climbing. For that reason alone, the South deserves more attention than it seems to be getting in political discussion today.

But there is another reason: The South is the cradle of modern conservatism. This, too, may come as a surprise, so entrenched is the origin myth of the far-westerners Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan as leaders of a Sun Belt realignment and forerunners of today’s polarizing GOP. But each of those politicians had his own “southern strategy,” playing to white backlash against the civil-rights revolution—“hunting where the ducks are,” as Goldwater explained—though it was encrypted in the states’-rights ideology that has been vital to southern politics since the days of John C. Calhoun.

Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains is part of a new wave of historiography that has been examining the southern roots of modern conservatism. That lineage features episodes like the third-party presidential ticket headed by the Virginian T. Coleman Andrews in 1956, with its double-barreled attack on the Brown v. Board of Education decision and the federal income tax. Further back lies the breakaway Dixiecrat candidacy of the South Carolinian Strom Thurmond in 1948, after the Democratic Party added a civil-rights plank to its platform. Earlier still was the quixotic insurrection in 1936 led by Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge, the front man for something called the Southern Committee to Uphold the Constitution. A Dixie offshoot of the more visible Liberty League, it shared that group’s conviction that “an ever spreading governmental bureaucracy” spelled “the end of democracy.”

Talmadge’s movement is a footnote now, but it boasted delegates from 18 states and offered an early mix of the populist grievance and anti-tax fervor that presaged Tea Party protests, though the original brew had a pungent tang of racism. At a rabble-rousing “grassroots convention” held in Macon, Georgia, delegates received a news sheet that showed a photo of Eleanor Roosevelt in the company of two Howard University ROTC students. Her husband, the caption warned, was permitting “negroes to come to the White House banquets and sleep in the White House beds.” What looked like a redneck eruption was in fact financed by northern capitalists nursing their own hatred of the New Deal. Talmadge’s promise to slash property taxes brought in big checks from the du Ponts, among others.

Why does all this matter today? Well, we might begin with the first New Yorker elected president since FDR, a man who has given new meaning to the term copperhead (originally applied to Northern Democrats who opposed the Civil War). Lost amid the many 2016 postmortems, and the careful parsing of returns in Ohio swing counties, was Donald Trump’s prodigious conquest of the South: 60 percent or more of the vote in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia, with similar margins in Louisiana and Mississippi. And the message is still being missed. We’ve heard much about the “older white men” in the administration, but rather less about where they come from. No fewer than 10 Cabinet appointees are from the South, in key positions like attorney general (Alabama) and secretary of state (Texas), not to mention Trump’s top political adviser, Steve Bannon, who grew up in Virginia.
Buchanan always thought of himself as an embattled outsider.

All of this, so plainly in view but so strangely ignored, makes MacLean’s vibrant intellectual history of the radical right especially relevant. Her book includes familiar villains—principally the Koch brothers—and devotes many pages to think tanks like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, whose ideological programs are hardly a secret. But what sets Democracy in Chains apart is that it begins in the South, and emphasizes a genuinely original and very influential political thinker, the economist James M. Buchanan. He is not so well remembered today as his fellow Nobel laureates Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. Yet as MacLean convincingly shows, his effect on our politics is at least as great, in part because of the evangelical fervor he brought to spreading his ideas.

It helped that Buchanan, despite his many accomplishments, continued to think of himself as an embattled outsider and also as a revolutionary. In 1973, well before the term counterestablishment was popularized, Buchanan was rallying like-minded allies to “create, support, and activate an effective counterintelligentsia” that could transform “the way people think about government.” Thirteen years later, when he won his Nobel Prize, he received the news as more than a validation of his work. His success represented a victory over the “Eastern academic elite,” achieved by someone who was, he said, “proud to be a member of the great unwashed.”

This is the language of a movement intellectual. But a movement isn’t the same thing as a conspiracy. One openly declares its intentions. The other keeps them secret. It’s not always clear that MacLean recognizes the difference. Nevertheless, she has dug deep into her material—not just Buchanan’s voluminous, unsorted papers, but other archives, too—and she has made powerful and disturbing use of it all. A historian at Duke who has written a good deal about the South, she comes at her subject from the inside, with a feel for the legends and stories that southerners have long told themselves and others about the kind of country America is supposed to be. The behind-the-scenes days and works of Buchanan show how much deliberation and persistence—in the face of formidable opposition—underlie the antigoverning politics ascendant today. What we think of as dysfunction is the result of years of strategic effort.

Buchanan owed his tenacity to blood and soil and upbringing. Born in 1919 on a family farm in Tennessee, he came of age during the Great Depression. His grandfather had been an unpopular governor of that state, and Buchanan grew up in an atmosphere of half-remembered glory and bitterness, without either money or useful connections. His exceptional mind was his visa into the academy and then into the world of big ideas. “Better than plowing,” which he made the title of his 1992 memoir, was advice he got from his first mentor, the economist Frank Knight at the University of Chicago, where Buchanan received his doctorate in 1948. During the postwar years, other faculty included Hayek and Friedman, who were shaping a new pro-market economics, part of a growing backlash against the policies of the New Deal. Hayek initiated Buchanan into the Mont Pelerin Society, the select group of intellectuals who convened periodically to talk and plot libertarian doctrine.

Buchanan got his first plum teaching job at the University of Virginia, in 1956, during the single most crucial event in the birth of the modern conservative movement, the rise of the strategy of “massive resistance” to the Supreme Court’s mandate for school desegregation. Since the New Deal, conservatives like Herbert Hoover and Robert A. Taft had pushed back hard against the expanding federal government and its tentacular programs. But it was an uphill battle; the public was grateful for Social Security. Brown changed all that. More than the economic order was now under siege. So was a way of life, with its cherished “mores and folkways,” in the phrase favored by defenders of Jim Crow. A new postwar conservatism was born, mingling states’-rights doctrine with odes to the freedom-loving individual and resistance to the “social engineering” pursued by what conservative writers in the mid-1950s began to call the “liberal establishment.”

Today we remember ferocious civil-rights struggles waged in Birmingham and Selma. But ground zero for the respectable defense of Jim Crow was Virginia, where one of the nation’s most powerful politicians, Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr., ruled with the authority of an old-style feudal boss. His notorious “machine” kept the state clenched in an iron grip; the oppressions included a poll tax that suppressed black voter turnout so that it was on a par with the Deep South’s (and kept overall turnout under 20 percent). Byrd had allies in the president of the University of Virginia, Colgate Darden, and the newspaperman James Jackson Kilpatrick, who, long before his lovable-curmudgeon TV role on the “Point-Counterpoint” segment of 60 Minutes in the 1970s, was a fanatical and ingenious segregationist.

Buchanan played a part, MacLean writes, by teaming up with another new University of Virginia hire, G. Warren Nutter (who was later a close adviser to Barry Goldwater), on an influential paper. In it they argued that the crux of the desegregation problem was that “state run” schools had become a “monopoly,” which could be broken by privatization. If authorities sold off school buildings and equipment, and limited their own involvement in education to setting minimum standards, then all different kinds of schools might blossom. Each parent “would cast his vote in the marketplace and have it count.” The argument impressed Friedman, who a few years earlier had published his own critique of “government schools,” saying that “the denationalization of education would widen the range of choice available to parents.”

Why not see politicians as players in the marketplace, rather than as selfless public servants?

Far-fetched though these schemes were, they gave ammunition to southern policy makers looking to mount the nonracial case for maintaining Jim Crow in a new form. Friedman himself left race completely out of it. Buchanan did too at first, telling skeptical colleagues in the North that the “transcendent issue” had nothing to do with race; it came down to the question of “whether the federal government shall dictate the solutions.” But in their paper (initially a document submitted to a Virginia education commission and soon published in a Richmond newspaper), Buchanan and Nutter were more direct, stating their belief that “every individual should be free to associate with persons of his own choosing”—the sanitized phrasing of segregationists.

Either way, the proximate result of Buchanan’s privatizing scheme was to help prolong the stalemate in Virginia. In Prince Edward County, to cite the most egregious example, public schools were padlocked for a full five years. From 1959 to 1964, white children went to tax-subsidized private schools while most black children stayed home—roughly what some politicians had in mind all along. The episode was, among other things, a vivid early instance of the bait and switch, so familiar now, whereby many libertarians seem curiously indifferent to the human cost of their rigid principles, even as they denounce the despotism of all three branches of the federal government.

Yet race, MacLean acknowledges, was not ultimately a major issue for Buchanan. Fending off desegregation was only a skirmish in the long campaign to revive antigovernment ideas. That campaign dated back to the nation’s founding, gained new strength in the pre–Civil War nullification arguments of John Calhoun, and reached its modern apogee in debates over taxes and spending. Here the enemies were unions (“the labor monopoly movement,” in Buchanan’s phrase), leftish policy makers, and also Keynesian economists. Together these formed a “ruling class” that was waging war against the marketplace. This was not a new argument, but Buchanan gave it fresh rigor in his theory of “public choice,” set forth in his pioneering book, The Calculus of Consent (1962), written with Gordon Tullock. Governments, they argued, were being assessed in the wrong way. The error was a legacy of New Deal thinking, which glorified elected officials and career bureaucrats as disinterested servants of the public good, despite the obvious coercive effects of the programs they put into place. Why not instead see politicians and government administrators as self-interested players in the marketplace, trying to “maximize their utility”—that is, win the next election or enlarge their department’s budget?

This idea turned the whole notion of a beneficent government, and of programs and policies designed more or less selflessly, into a kind of fairy tale expertly woven by politicians and their flacks. Not that politicians were evil. They were looking out for themselves, as most of us do. The difference was in the damage they did. After all, the high-priced programs they devised were paid for by taxes wrested from defenseless citizens, who were given little or no effective choice in the matter. It was licensed theft, reinforced by the steep gradations in income-tax rates.

Buchanan expertly maximized his own utility. Money was flowing into the Thomas Jefferson Center he established at the University of Virginia in 1957, enabling him to run it as an autonomous entity, with its own lecture series and fellowship programs. Free of oversight, Buchanan gathered disciples—he screened applicants according to ideology—and his semiprivate school of thought flourished. The obstacles lay in the body politic. The 1960s looked even worse than the ’50s. Not long after Buchanan’s big book was published, the War on Poverty began and then the Great Society—one lethal program after another.

Nixon called himself a Keynesian and committed a succession of sins, from creating government agencies (like the Environmental Protection Agency) to instituting wage and price controls. Meanwhile, the government kept expanding through entitlements and programs aimed at the middle class. You didn’t have to accept Buchanan’s ideology to see that he had a point about the growth of government-centered clientelism—“dependency,” in the term used by a new wave of neoconservatives such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan. For Buchanan, the trouble now went beyond the government. The enemy was the public itself, expressed through the tyranny of majority rule: The have-nots preyed on the rich, egged on by the new elite—labor bosses, benevolent corporations, and pandering politicians—who fell over themselves promising more and more.
The rules of government needed to be rewritten.

With Reagan, deliverance seemed possible. Buchanan’s political influence reached its zenith. By this time, he had left the University of Virginia. As early as 1963, there were concerns—on the part of the dean of the faculty, for one—that Buchananism, at least as practiced at his Thomas Jefferson Center, had petrified into dogma, with no room for dissenting voices. After a battle over a promotion for his co-author, Tullock, Buchanan left in a huff. He went first to UCLA, next to Virginia Tech, and in 1983, climactically, to George Mason University, not far outside the Beltway—and much nearer to the political action. The Wall Street Journal soon labeled George Mason “the Pentagon of conservative academia.” With its “stable of economists who have become an important resource for the Reagan administration,” it was now poised to undo Great Society programs. In 1986, Buchanan won the Nobel Prize for his public-choice theory.

But triumph gave way again to disappointment. Not even Reagan could stem the collectivist tide. Public-choice ideas made a difference—for instance in the balanced-budget act sponsored by Senators Philip Gramm, Warren Rudman, and Ernest Hollings in 1985. Buchanan’s theory found another useful ally in the budget-slasher and would-be government-shrinker David Stockman, who idolized Hayek and declared that “politicians were wrecking American capitalism.” But Stockman also discovered that restoring capitalism to a purer condition would mean declaring war on “Social Security recipients, veterans, farmers, educators, state and local officials, the housing industry.” What president was going to do that? Certainly not Reagan. As Stockman reflected, “The democracy had defeated the doctrine.”

That was Buchanan’s view, too. It wasn’t enough to elect true-believing politicians. The rules of government needed to be rewritten. But this required ideal conditions—a blank slate. This had happened once, in Chile, after Augusto Pinochet’s coup against the socialist Salvador Allende in 1973. A vogue for public choice had swept Pinochet’s administration. Buchanan’s books were translated, and some of his acolytes helped restructure Chile’s economy. Labor unions were banned, and social security and health care were both privatized. On a week-long visit in 1980, Buchanan gave formal lectures

At his death in 2013, Buchanan was hardly known outside the world of economists and libertarians, but his ideology remains much in force. His view of Social Security—a “Ponzi scheme”—is shared by privatizers like Paul Ryan. More broadly, Buchananism informs the conviction on the right that because the democratic majority can’t really be trusted, empowered minorities, like the Freedom Caucus, are the true guardians of our liberty and if necessary will resort to drastic measures: shutting down the government, defaulting on the national debt, and plying the techniques of what Francis Fukuyama calls our modern “vetocracy”—refusing, for example, to bring an immigration bill to a House vote lest it pass (as happened in the Obama years) or, in the Senate, defying tradition by not granting a confirmation hearing to a Supreme Court nominee.

To see all this as simple obstructionism, perversity for its own sake, is a mistake. A cause lies behind it: upholding the sanctity of an ideology against the sins of the majority. This is what drives House Republicans to scale back social programs, or to shift the tax burden from the 1 percent onto the parasitic mob, or to come up with a health-care plan that would leave Trump’s own voters out in the cold. To many of us, it might seem heartless. But far worse, Buchanan once explained in a famous essay, is misguided Good Samaritanism, which, by helping the unlucky, cushions them against the consequences of their bad choices. This is exactly the sentiment voiced by the House Republican who voted to strip away Obamacare and then explained that the new proposal, which punishes people with preexisting medical conditions, has the advantage of “reducing the cost to those people who lead good lives.”

With a researcher’s pride, MacLean confidently declares that Buchanan’s ideological journey, and the trail he left, contains the “true origin story of today’s well-heeled radical right.” Better to say that it is one story among many in the long narrative of conservative embattlement. The American right has always felt outnumbered, even in times of triumph. This is the source of both its strength and its weakness, just as it was for Buchanan, a faithful son of the South, with its legacy of defeats and lost causes. MacLean’s undisguised loathing of him and others she writes about will offend some readers. But that same intensity of feeling has inspired her to untangle important threads in American history—and to make us see how much of that history begins, and still lives, in the South.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Whiskey Trail


The news this week that Tennessee is creating a Whiskey Trail to encourage more Tourists to visit and in turn promote the growing booze business in the area, an irony considering that we cannot buy booze easily here.   Coming from Seattle and having lived in California where I could pick up a loaf of bread and a gallon of vodka in which to get double carbo loaded on the walk home the laws and regulations (hilarious given the red state views on laws and regulations) are complex and well stupid.  Remember kids, Don't drink and drive!

When I relocated here Tennessee had just permitted Grocery Stores the ability to sell Wine but not on Sundays as that is the Lord's day.  They are now considering allowing the stores to sell on Sunday once they have ensured that small businesses are not affected by the Publix down the street, pike, road in the adjoining County which everyone shops at after Church anyway for Sunday dinner, to add wine sales to their cart.

Go to a liquor store on a Saturday afternoon here and to say packed and loaded is the same as the guns they tote in their cars on the way there. Nothing says welcome more than drunk and guns in the same sentence.

And I want to point out that Nashville has of course the highest Homicide rate in the Country and I am hoping they want to remake that show and place it here instead of Baltimore as the current show about Nashville is so not Nashville that no wonder Rayna died.   The best part is she died of a car crash, the second major cause of death an injury here.   Which explains the massive industry of personal injury Lawyers and that Opioid addiction problem.

I have never lived anywhere that feels so competitive that Tennessee wants to be Number One in that problem over Alabama which is number one with opioid prescriptions  or say West Virginia which is number one in deaths over opioids.   Take that Ohio that is only number four but that  has led J.D. Vance of Hillbilly Elegy to return and work with those who are struggling to stay clean.

What now has the Congress' knickers in a twist is that Medicaid issue that has led States to treat and help those who are struggling with addiction and other health related problems that are largely due to lack of employment that enabled them to have health care and lifestyle choices that have led Nashville to have one of the sickest populations in the region. And why?  Well if you want to experience first hand what life would be like under the GOP plan, come to Nashville, Tennessee we are in a state alright. And as everything in the State is divided by county that is how the area is measured.  But irony that there is only one major City in Davidson County that matters and that is the State Capital City of the State of Tennessee.  And Davidson is a larger reflection of both the good and the bad in the state.   A state that would be called Hot Mess when it comes to violent crime, health care, education, poverty and other ailments common to much larger Cities and States.  So much for all that prayer as clearly it is not working or God is really busy here in the South.

Tennessee did not expand Medicaid and this is deep dark red state that runs the two largest Cities in the State - Memphis and Nashville - as their own fiefdoms and experiments in legislating.  So when a city as Nashville and Memphis passed ordinances to decriminalize low levels of Marijuana and are looking into medical Marijuana  the legislation quickly gathers and of course overrides the municipalities and Haslam the Governor of the Idiot Brigade who has never vetoed a bill in his life, quickly signs it.  His explanation is that the Legislature approved it and who is he to question it.  There you go.  And this is the same man who wants to expand the education level of the residents here.  Sure.

And all of this is due to the religious dogma that dominates the thinking and believing here.  Where Face the Nation is cut short to ensure hours and hours of religious programming.  Where Church's have Police direct traffic into mall equivalent sized parking lots to the Churches that are next door to each other, down the street from one another and are the equivalent of a Starbucks where you cannot walk a block without encountering some type of religious facility serving the good on Sunday.  And in turn few facilities or businesses are open until after 12 when most services are over.  This works as tourism is the number one business here and most people check out on Sunday as they can't wait to leave as the hangover is probably higher than than a former Kentucky Coal Miner.

We have booze bikes, booze trains, trucks, pedal cars, floating boats.  Pick a form of transport and we have drunk people being driven across town from one bar to another toting a drink and screaming at the top of their lungs often screaming vulgarities and looking utterly like slut bags on a summer day.  It is a look I cannot wait to see during Fashion Week or on Project Runway in the future. 

But have massive transit overhauls, encourage business to move into the downtown core, well if we have a downtown but it is on the plan sheet you need more than booze to bring them here. But to the ignorant and uninformed populace here that means taxes and when wages are substandard to the national average that is more from an already extended check thanks to the rising costs of housing thanks to the growing population and in turn the growing cost of housing.  Growth means new and new costs money.  The cycle here of ignorance with regards to what defines urban is amazing.   Again we have less than 1/3 of the population here educated. 

I mapped my center here for a writers project and the center of my map was Music City Central where I catch all my buses and the markings on my map were the Library and Vanderbilt Medical where are my only other major points of interest and in turn the map was littered with the coffee shops I wrote about in my blog on Will Robinson and where I go daily to get my 12 oz Latte, double for here and the laughs I have with the Baristas who know my name and I theirs.  That is my ritual as I don't practice any other kind of worship.

I have also written before that the two rudest questions I am asked are:  What made you come here or why are you here?  And What Church do you go to.  Usually when I answer to the first: To Fuck you over they rarely get to the second. If I answer politely I get the second and then comes the whole join my Church you will find a Husband and then we go back to me getting angry and the Cops come.  Okay they came once as I have now figured out that go with rude immediately and that ends it as Southerners hate rudeness but then again they have mastered the art of lying while talking and utter hypocrisy that it brings so it is a win-win for everybody when I end the encounter sooner vs. later.

For the record I actually belong to the Y and only one instructor there goes Hail Jesus in every sentence and I quit taking her class, she is not even a good instructor so no loss.  Jesus is a winner there.

The South is awash of contradictions and in turn the hypocrisy and idiocy that accompany it.  I cannot regret or wish I had not moved here I just know that I cannot wait to leave and my sell by date will come and I will be like all Southerners conflicted about it.  Oh who the fuck are we kidding, no I won't.  I just will be better for it for if I had no come here I would never had my teeth properly fixed and I would still be living in my past in Seattle and since I came here and see what that does, it was just what I needed to quit doing so.

So come to the South, get drunk, get fat but just don't get sick here.  We only got drugs and not even the good safe kind as that we cannot have but opioids or booze - HELL YEAH!


Inequality and Opportunity in America
'We’re changing something': can alcohol boost the Bible belt's economy?

In America’s south, alcohol has been steeped in stigma. But attitudes are changing, and lawmakers have been exploring ways to boost their economic potential

Daniel Jackson in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Guardian UK
Tuesday 27 June 2017

When some residents in the area around Chickamauga, Georgia wish to imbibe, they will drive 15 minutes into nearby Chattanooga, thinking that distance will give them anonymity to drink in public. Grown adults, 40 years old or so, will not drink in front of their parents.

Customers ask Skip Welsh, the co-founder of Phantom Horse Brewing Co in Rock Spring, to put their beer into a Styrofoam or red solo cup. They don’t want anyone to know what they are drinking.

In the heart of the Bible belt, alcohol is still steeped in stigma.

For years, blue laws and a cultural condemnation of alcohol has kept much of the rural south dry, or at least sipping light beer. Yet there is a growing embrace of alcohol in this corner of the country.

In 2010, Welsh had planned to sell domestic beers on tap like Bud Light, Coors Light and Shock Top at Pie Slinger, his pizzeria. A year and a half later, he abandoned the taps. Beer wasn’t selling the way he expected, and he lost customers because he offered it.

That’s why Welsh expected pushback last year when, after discovering craft beer in 2014, he decided to take his homebrewing operation pro. Phantom Horse was the first brewery to open south of the state line in north-west Georgia.

He was surprised there was no public outcry. At first, there were looks when patrons entered to see Welsh and Randles mixing brews. But those changed, Welsh said, when they realized they were creating and building flavor profiles.

The switch began, Welsh said, when local kids went to college in the cities, and came back around 2011 with a taste for craft beer. They drank in front of their parents, and they approached drinking differently – to enjoy the taste of it, not to get drunk.

Growing up in Alabama, Welsh said beer was viewed as sin. His father would buy a six-pack when he was angry and fighting with Welsh’s mother. “I’m a God-fearing man, and I’m quite proud of what we do,” said Welsh. He sees little support in the Bible for a prohibition on alcohol. Jesus turned water into wine and the original Greek made it clear it contained alcohol, he said. The key, Welsh said, is responsibility.

Over the last few years, the beer industry has been a bright spot in US job growth. “Beer has never been more dynamic, which is reflected in economic numbers,” said Michael Uhrich, chief economist for the Beer Institute, an industry organization headquartered in Washington, DC. “Employment among brewers is growing at nine times the rate of total US employment.”

“Georgia has 78 permitted breweries today, compared to 48 in 2014,” Uhrich continued. “Today in Georgia, 1,721 people have a job in a brewery, up from 1,473 in 2014.” A similar story is occurring in Tennessee, where the 69 permitted breweries in 2014 grew to 108 two years later.

Towns across the area are taking notes: loosening their local ordinances could boost their economic potential.

In March, voters in Rossville, Georgia passed ordinances that legalized liquor by the drink and Sunday packaged beer and wine sales. Adjacent Fort Oglethorpe has had liquor by the drink for several years, allowing restaurants like O’Charley’s, Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings to spring up along its main strip.

Employment among brewers is growing at nine times the rate of total US employment
Michael Uhrich

But alcohol isn’t just a local issue. It’s a state one too, and whiskey startup Chattanooga Whiskey Co had to find out the hard way: to get up and running, they first had to change Tennessee law.

About 100 years ago, before Tennessee passed prohibition, Chattanooga’s Market Street was home to 20 distilleries. In 2009, the Tennessee legislature finally passed a law that re-opened the state up to distilling. However, lawmakers were able to opt their regions out of the bills, and so Chattanooga was passed over.

Doing what most startup whiskey companies do to quickly have a product, Chattanooga Whiskey purchased a whiskey made in Indiana, and sold it under its brand. It also launched a “vote whiskey” campaign to lobby, first at the county level, for a change in the law. It got it in April 2013 when the state bill went through.

“We’ve lived [the startup phase] for five years,” Tim Piersant, co-founder of the distillery, said. “We’ve had to change laws, raise capital, build a distillery, learn how to distil. We’ve almost come out with our product. Now, we’ve built a second distillery, learned a second operation on a larger scale.” Whiskey barrels take at least two years to age and the first of Chattanooga Whiskey’s genuine, locally-distilled product will be ready in July.

Recently, Chattanooga Whiskey expanded past its 5,000 sq ft experimental distillery in the heart of Chattanooga, and opened a second location in a former car dealership where they have begun to scale up operations.

Meanwhile, there are reasons why people in this area do not participate in the changing alcohol culture. Jordan Metzger, 33, doesn’t drink because it would undermine his ability to be a role model and minister as a youth pastor to sixth- to 12th-graders at Oakwood baptist church, located in Chickamauga, Georgia.

“If I was seen drinking in public, having a beer, a glass of wine, it would affect my ministry, the kids, the parents, the whole nine yards,” Metzger said.

Growing up near Baltimore, it was a non-issue if a church leader at a nondenominational church had a glass of wine while eating out with the rest of the staff.

At Oakwood, the question of alcohol is “a debate that’s alive and well,” Metzger said. The conflict, he sees, is split between the older generation’scultural values versus a new generation’s view. It’s part of a larger discussion about how to balance cultural expectations and reaching out to a new generation while staying true to the doctrines of Christian faith.

When Oakwood’s leadership discussed candidates for lay positions, the question of alcohol consumption came up as a criterion. Metzger believes the Bible does not forbid alcohol; that Paul wrote in the New Testament it is permissible, if perhaps not beneficial, although definitely not beneficial if it passes into drunkenness.

Metzger understands the old Baptist ethic that avoids activities and situations (such as dancing) because it might lead to sin. “The problem, the rub, comes in when you start judging others with the standards you set for yourself,” he said.

Like several Christian colleges in the area, Covenant College forbids its students from consuming alcohol. It’s a policy that has been on the student handbook since 1955 and has remained “remarkably consistent,” said Brad Voyles, vice president of student life at the college associated with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).

Through the years, the college has clarified exemptions. Outside the academic school year, students, if they are of age, can drink. “You should feel free to consume responsibly,” Voyles said. Other exemptions include wine while taking communion and married students who live off campus.

A prohibition on alcohol isn’t something that’s found in the Bible, the college believes. “This policy is an extra-biblical requirement,” Voyles said. “We’re saying in this season of life as a student of Covenant College, set that freedom aside.”

The reason for the alcohol-free campus is more pragmatic. Voyles cited American Psychosocial Association statistics that say alcohol is often a contributor to sexual assault, rape, violence, fights, property damage. Academically, the abuse of it can pull down grades and cause students to miss class. “It makes sense from an academic standpoint and a life-together standpoint,” he said.

Still, views against alcohol have remained entrenched in this area for generations.

An hour drive north from, Bryan College sits on a hill overlooking Dayton, Tennessee. The college was founded in honor of William Jennings Bryan, a three-time presidential candidate and populist politician of his time. Before he died in the town, Bryan, an advocate for federal prohibition of alcohol, said Dayton would be an ideal place to start a Christian college.

The current Bryan College student handbook says: “The use of or possession of narcotics, illegal drugs, or alcoholic beverages is grounds for immediate suspension.”

Dayton sits in Rhea County, which is technically dry, according to Tom Davis, the county’s administrator of elections. But that hasn’t stopped local cities from dipping their toes in. Dayton legalized liquor by the drink in 2010 and voted in April to allow package store sales of alcohol inside city limits.

“I like to call the south the last frontier of craft brewing,” said Kirby Garrison, 27, co-owner of Monkey Town Brewing Company, which sits on a side street in Dayton’s downtown. The company, which Garrison started with his father, offers food, spirits and the craft beer brewed in the steel 270-gallon tanks in a room off the dining area. Residents from neighboring towns regularly visit.

Growing up in Dayton, Garrison and his family left when he was 14 to live on eastern Long Island. They wanted to start a brewery but thought Long Island or Chattanooga would be too crowded. So they went back to Dayton. “This area we chose because we know [people] would appreciate it the most,” Garrison said.

When Garrison returned, there were more empty shops and for-rent signs in Dayton’s downtown than he remembered. Unlike New York City, a small town like Dayton derives its identity from its history, Garrison said. If you’re local, people will spend minutes trying to figure out where you hang on one predominant family tree or another. “A name means something here,” he said.

When Garrison first started building out the space, he would see people slowly driving their cars past. Other times, people would go right up to the windows to peer in. They were curious, watching from a distance. The community warmed when they learned Monkey Town offered more than just alcohol.

Part of Garrison’s job is education. About a dozen times a week, if a patron expresses interest in craft beer, then Garrison pulls 2oz samples. Most people assume India Pale Ales are bitter hop-bombs. Garrison brewed his cloudy IPA to capitalize on the hops’ diverse flavor, to make something that tastes as if fruit was brewed into it.

“We’re changing something,” Garrison said. “I don’t like teaching anything other than beer. Anything else, I’m impatient. But with beer, I have no problem starting from scratch with somebody.”

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I Feel Your Pain

Today I read an article that supposed the inability of those in power to feel empathy and lead to a type of brain damage.  Which still doesn't explain Donald Trump it does provide an elucidation to his bizarre inability to resonate with those he refers to as the "uneducated" and the "poor."
Powerful and Coldhearted

By MICHAEL INZLICHT and SUKHVINDER OBHI
THE NEW YORK TIMES JULY 25, 2014

I FEEL your pain.

These words are famously associated with Bill Clinton, who as a politician seemed to ooze empathy. A skeptic might wonder, though, whether he truly was personally distressed by the suffering of average Americans. Can people in high positions of power — presidents, bosses, celebrities, even dominant spouses — easily empathize with those beneath them?

Psychological research suggests the answer is no. Studies have repeatedly shown that participants who are in high positions of power (or who are temporarily induced to feel powerful) are less able to adopt the visual, cognitive or emotional perspective of other people, compared to participants who are powerless (or are made to feel so).

For example, Michael Kraus, a psychologist now at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and two colleagues found that among full-time employees of a public university, those who were higher in social class (as determined by level of education) were less able to accurately identify emotions in photographs of human faces than were co-workers who were lower in social class. (While social class and social power are admittedly not the same, they are strongly related.)

Why does power leave people seemingly coldhearted? Some, like the Princeton psychologist Susan Fiske, have suggested that powerful people don’t attend well to others around them because they don’t need them in order to access important resources; as powerful people, they already have plentiful access to those.

We suggest a different, albeit complementary, reason from cognitive neuroscience. On the basis of a study we recently published with the researcher Jeremy Hogeveen, in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, we contend that when people experience power, their brains fundamentally change how sensitive they are to the actions of others.

The human brain can be exquisitely attuned to other people, thanks in part to its so-called mirror system. The mirror system is composed of a network of brain regions that become active both when you perform an action (say, squeezing a rubber ball in your hand) and when you observe someone else who performs the same action (squeezing a rubber ball in his hand). Our brains appear to be able to intimately resonate with others’ actions, and this process may allow us not only to understand what.

In our study, we induced a set of participants to temporarily feel varying levels of power by asking them to write a brief essay about a moment in their lives. Some wrote about a time when they felt powerful and in charge, while others wrote about a time when they felt powerless and subordinate to others. The selection process was random, so that each participant had an equal chance of being powerful or powerless.

Next, the participants watched a video of a human hand repeatedly squeezing a rubber ball. While they watched, we assessed the degree of motor excitation occurring in the brain — a measure that is widely used to infer activation of the mirror system. This motor excitation was determined by the application of transcranial magnetic stimulation and the measurement of electrical muscle activation in the subject’s hand. We sought to determine the degree to which the participants’ brains became active during the observation of rubber ball squeezing, relative to a period in which they observed no action.

We found that for those participants who were induced to experience feelings of power, their brains showed virtually no resonance with the actions of others; conversely, for those participants who were induced to experience feelings of powerlessness, their brains resonated quite a bit. In short, the brains of powerful people did not mirror the actions of other people. And when we analyzed the text of the participants’ essays, using established techniques for coding and measuring themes, we found that the more power that people expressed, the less their brains resonated. Power, it appears, changes how the brain itself responds to others.

Does this mean that the powerful are heartless beings incapable of empathy? Hardly. Recall that we induced power in our participants randomly. This sort of manipulation cannot fundamentally change empathic capability. So the bad news is that the powerful are, by default and at a neurological level, simply not motivated to care. But the good news is that they are, in theory, redeemable.
Clinton, both Bill and Hillary, came from working class roots who ended up at the Ivy League.  And that path took them to the White House.    Right there I want to point out to the delusion that the meritocratic myth of "working hard" which seems validated by their enrollment and subsequent success thereafter.    What they neglect is that both of them rose up during a time when Government and their role in providing Education and the opportunities that result from said Education was at its peak.   The Clintons did nothing, however, to preserve this and instead seemingly went out of their way to decimate it.  That was a hell of a blow job as it cost millions of Americans millions.** I would have blown Bill for an invite to a State Dinner and nice piece of jewelry, go figure!**

This bullshit theme dominates most arguments regardless of who is there.   And it perhaps it explains the seemingly insincere manner that dominated Hillary Clinton during her Presidential Campaign and while Obama exuded it in his first but as time came along I felt he was much more diffident and closed off while Michelle became even more alive and in turn complimented Obama as many spouses do in a relationship that evolved in the White House.  Do I see this happening in the current one?  Hell to the NO!

The below articles discuss the mindset of the powerful.  It is akin to Traumatic Brain Injury which teaches the brain new skills and in turn accommodates the trauma.  And in turn dependent upon the trauma and the length of time sustained and in turn treated and how long that is sustained.  But what is fascinating is that this work was done in 2007,  nearly a decade ago and yet now due to Trump is getting the attention it deserves.

**For the record an organic one related to illness such as stroke is very different than one sustained via injury and in turn it is different than one attained Psychologically and yet all can have interconnected causes and in turn connections that all need treatment. Treatment which is unique to the individual and the injury sustained. Treating TBI is like any disease - there is no one size fits all.  And this is from one who sustained TBI four years ago and that expression "that what doesn't kill you make you stronger" is bullshit.  It makes you different. **

As in the case of Donald Trump, a boy of privilege and a man of one has never struggled or had to face a catastrophe.  He is also over 70 and I suspect in early stage dementia which will only embolden and deepen the qualities as he struggles with words, names and issues that will confuse and frighten him.  I expect larger anger rages and more muddled speak as he deteroriates. And because he has possessed these qualities and learned them over a lifetime they will in turn provide a blanket in which to hide behind. 

But you could look to the departed CEO of Uber, Travis Kalinick  or Martin "Pharma Bro" Shkreli  now on trial, who seem to personify if not characterize the new CEO. Gone is the Baronial type of yore and the new MEMEO in its place


When Power Goes To Your Head, It May Shut Out Your Heart

August 10, 20137:41 AM ET
Heard on Weekend Edition Saturday
Chris Benderev

Neuroscientists have found evidence to suggest feeling powerful dampens a part of our brain that helps with empathy.

Even the smallest dose of power can change a person. You've probably seen it. Someone gets a promotion or a bit of fame and then, suddenly, they're a little less friendly to the people beneath them.

So here's a question that may seem too simple: Why?

If you ask a psychologist, he or she may tell you that the powerful are simply too busy. They don't have the time to fully attend to their less powerful counterparts.

But if you ask Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada, he might give you another explanation: Power fundamentally changes how the brain operates.

Obhi and his colleagues, Jeremy Hogeveen and Michael Inzlicht, have a new study showing evidence to support that claim.

Obhi and his fellow researchers randomly put participants in the mindset of feeling either powerful or powerless. They asked the powerless group to write a diary entry about a time they depended on others for help. The powerful group wrote entries about times they were calling the shots.

Then, everybody watched a simple video. In it, an anonymous hand squeezes a rubber ball a handful of times — sort of monotonously. While the video ran, Obhi's team tracked the participants' brains, looking at a special region called the mirror system.

Where Empathy Begins

The mirror system is important because it contains neurons that become active both when you squeeze a rubber ball and when you watch someone else squeeze a rubber ball. It is the same thing with picking up a cup of coffee, hitting a baseball, or flying a kite. Whether you do it or someone else does, your mirror system activates. In this small way, the mirror system places you inside a stranger's head.

Furthermore, because our actions are linked to deeper thoughts — like beliefs and intentions — you may also begin to empathize with what motivates another person's actions.

"When I watch somebody picking up a cup of coffee, the mirror system activates the representations in my brain that would be active if I was picking up a cup of coffee," Obhi explains. "And because those representations are connected in my brain to the intentions that would normally activate them, you can get activation of the intention. So you can figure out, 'Hey, this person wants to drink coffee.' "

Obhi's team wanted to see if bestowing a person with a feeling of power or powerlessness would change how the mirror system responds to someone else performing a simple action.

Feeling Power Over Others

It turns out, feeling powerless boosted the mirror system — people empathized highly. But, Obhi says, "when people were feeling powerful, the signal wasn't very high at all."

So when people felt power, they really did have more trouble getting inside another person's head.

"What we're finding is power diminishes all varieties of empathy," says Dacher Keltner, a social psychologist at University of California, Berkeley, not involved in the new study. He says these results fit a trend within psychological research.

"Whether you're with a team at work [or] your family dinner, all of that hinges on how we adapt our behaviors to the behaviors of other people," he says. "And power takes a bite out of that ability, which is too bad."

The good news, Keltner says, is an emerging field of research that suggests powerful people who begin to forget their subordinates can be coached back to their compassionate selves.

And I want to point out this is not new as of all things ironic is discussed in this 2015 Harvard Business Review, article discusses.  Harvard, ground zero for this type of thinking as Duff McDonald's book, The Golden Passport proposes.  And nor has it been ignored as many CEO's have tried to repair the damage that they wrought.  I suggest try cutting their wages, examine how they pay their subordinates in relation to themselves and ask why they need a salary package 300% higher than the lowest individual on the tier. Try that.

But this all rings true and the truth hurts - everyone in its path as these individuals run like Hurricane leaving damage in its wake.


The Power Paradox

True power requires modesty and empathy, not force and coercion, argues Dacher Keltner. But what people want from leaders—social intelligence—is what is damaged by the experience of power.

By Dacher Keltner | December 1, 2007 | Greater Good Magazine


“It is much safer to be feared than loved,” writes Niccolò Machiavelli in The Prince, his classic 16th-century treatise advocating manipulation and occasional cruelty as the best means to power. Almost 500 years later, Robert Greene’s national bestseller, The 48 Laws of Power, would have made Machiavelli’s chest swell with pride. Greene’s book, bedside reading of foreign policy analysts and hip-hop stars alike, is pure Machiavelli. Here are a few of his 48 laws:

Law 3, Conceal Your Intentions.
Law 6, Court Attention at All Costs.
Law 12, Use Selective Honesty and Generosity to Disarm Your Victims.
Law 15, Crush Your Enemy Totally.
Law 18, Keep Others in Suspended Terror.

You get the picture.

Guided by centuries of advice like Machiavelli’s and Greene’s, we tend to believe that attaining power requires force, deception, manipulation, and coercion. Indeed, we might even assume that positions of power demand this kind of conduct—that to run smoothly, society needs leaders who are willing and able to use power this way.

As seductive as these notions are, they are dead wrong. Instead, a new science of power has revealed that power is wielded most effectively when it’s used responsibly by people who are attuned to, and engaged with the needs and interests of others. Years of research suggests that empathy and social intelligence are vastly more important to acquiring and exercising power than are force, deception, or terror.

This research debunks longstanding myths about what constitutes true power, how people obtain it, and how they should use it. But studies also show that once people assume positions of power, they’re likely to act more selfishly, impulsively, and aggressively, and they have a harder time seeing the world from other people’s points of view. This presents us with the paradox of power:
The skills most important to obtaining power and leading effectively are the very skills that deteriorate once we have power.

The power paradox requires that we be ever vigilant against the corruptive influences of power and its ability to distort the way we see ourselves and treat others. But this paradox also makes clear how important it is to challenge myths about power, which persuade us to choose the wrong kinds of leaders and to tolerate gross abuses of power. Instead of succumbing to the Machiavellian worldview—which unfortunately leads us to select Machiavellian leaders—we must promote a different model of power, one rooted in social intelligence, responsibility, and cooperation.

Myth number one: Power equals cash, votes, and muscle.



In The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence, Dacher Keltner demonstrates how power dynamics affect every aspect of our lives—and how power can be a force for good in the world. Order your copy today!

The term “power” often evokes images of force and coercion. Many people assume that power is most evident on the floor of the United States Congress or in corporate boardrooms. Treatments of power in the social sciences have followed suit, zeroing in on clashes over cash (financial wealth), votes (participation in the political decision making process), and muscle (military might).

But there are innumerable exceptions to this definition of power: a penniless two year old pleading for (and getting) candy in the check-out line at the grocery store, one spouse manipulating another for sex, or the success of nonviolent political movements in places like India or South Africa. Viewing power as cash, votes, and muscle blinds us to the ways power pervades our daily lives.

New psychological research has redefined power, and this definition makes clear just how prevalent and integral power is in all of our lives. In psychological science, power is defined as one’s capacity to alter another person’s condition or state of mind by providing or withholding resources—such as food, money, knowledge, and affection—or administering punishments, such as physical harm, job termination, or social ostracism. This definition de-emphasizes how a person actually acts, and instead stresses the individual’s capacity to affect others. Perhaps most importantly, this definition applies across relationships, contexts, and cultures. It helps us understand how children can wield power over their parents from the time they’re born, or how someone—say, a religious leader—can be powerful in one context (on the pulpit during a Sunday sermon) but not another (on a mind numbingly slow line at the DMV come Monday morning). By this definition, one can be powerful without needing to try to control, coerce, or dominate. Indeed, when people resort to trying to control others, it’s often a sign that their power is slipping.

This definition complicates our understanding of power. Power is not something limited to power-hungry individuals or organizations; it is part of every social interaction where people have the capacity to influence one another’s states, which is really every moment of life. Claims that power is simply a product of male biology miss the degree to which women have obtained and wielded power in many social situations. In fact, studies I’ve conducted find that people grant power to women as readily as men, and in informal social hierarchies, women achieve similar levels of power as men.

So power is not something we should (or can) avoid, nor is it something that necessarily involves domination and submission. We are negotiating power every waking instant of our social lives (and in our dreams as well, Freud argued). When we seek equality, we are seeking an effective balance of power, not the absence of power. We use it to win consent and social cohesion, not just compliance. To be human is to be immersed in power dynamics.

Myth number two: Machiavellians win in the game of power.

One of the central questions concerning power is who gets it. Researchers have confronted this question for years, and their results offer a sharp rebuke to the Machiavellian view of power. It is not the manipulative, strategic Machiavellian who rises in power. Instead, social science reveals that one’s ability to get or maintain power, even in small group situations, depends on one’s ability to understand and advance the goals of other group members. When it comes to power, social intelligence—reconciling conflicts, negotiating, smoothing over group tensions—prevails over social Darwinism.

For instance, highly detailed studies of “chimpanzee politics” have found that social power among nonhuman primates is based less on sheer strength, coercion, and the unbridled assertion of self-interest, and more on the ability to negotiate conflicts, to enforce group norms, and to allocate resources fairly. More often than not, this research shows, primates who try to wield their power by dominating others and prioritizing their own interests will find themselves challenged and, in time, deposed by subordinates. (Christopher Boehm describes this research in greater length in his essay.)

In my own research on human social hierarchies, I have consistently found that it is the more dynamic, playful, engaging members of the group who quickly garner and maintain the respect of their peers. Such outgoing, energetic, socially engaged individuals quickly rise through the ranks of emerging hierarchies.

Why social intelligence? Because of our ultrasociability. We accomplish most tasks related to survival and reproduction socially, from caring for our children to producing food and shelter. We give power to those who can best serve the interests of the group.

Time and time again, empirical studies find that leaders who treat their subordinates with respect, share power, and generate a sense of camaraderie and trust are considered more just and fair.
Social intelligence is essential not only to rising to power, but to keeping it. My colleague Cameron Anderson and I have studied the structure of social hierarchies within college dormitories over the course of a year, examining who is at the top and remains there, who falls in status, and who is less well-respected by their peers. We’ve consistently found that it is the socially engaged individuals who keep their power over time. In more recent work, Cameron has made the remarkable discovery that modesty may be critical to maintaining power. Individuals who are modest about their own power actually rise in hierarchies and maintain the status and respect of their peers, while individuals with an inflated, grandiose sense of power quickly fall to the bottom rungs.

So what is the fate of Machiavellian group members, avid practitioners of Greene’s 48 laws, who are willing to deceive, backstab, intimidate, and undermine others in their pursuit of power? We’ve found that these individuals do not actually rise to positions of power. Instead, their peers quickly recognize that they will harm others in the pursuit of their own self-interest, and tag them with a reputation of being harmful to the group and not worthy of leadership.

Cooperation and modesty aren’t just ethical ways to use power, and they don’t only serve the interests of a group; they’re also valuable skills for people who seek positions of power and want to hold onto them.

Myth number three: Power is strategically acquired, not given.

A major reason why Machiavellians fail is that they fall victim to a third myth about power. They mistakenly believe that power is acquired strategically in deceptive gamesmanship and by pitting others against one another. Here Machiavelli failed to appreciate an important fact in the evolution of human hierarchies: that with increasing social intelligence, subordinates can form powerful alliances and constrain the actions of those in power. Power increasingly has come to rest on the actions and judgments of other group members. A person’s power is only as strong as the status given to that person by others.

The sociologist Erving Goffman wrote with brilliant insight about deference—the manner in which we afford power to others with honorifics, formal prose, indirectness, and modest nonverbal displays of embarrassment. We can give power to others simply by being respectfully polite.

My own research has found that people instinctively identify individuals who might undermine the interests of the group, and prevent those people from rising in power, through what we call “reputational discourse.” In our research on different groups, we have asked group members to talk openly about other members’ reputations and to engage in gossip. We’ve found that Machiavellians quickly acquire reputations as individuals who act in ways that are inimical to the interests of others, and these reputations act like a glass ceiling, preventing their rise in power. In fact, this aspect of their behavior affected their reputations even more than their sexual morality, recreational habits, or their willingness to abide by group social conventions.

In The Prince, Machiavelli observes,

“Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.”

He adds, “A prince ought, above all things, always to endeavor in every action to gain for himself the reputation of being a great and remarkable man.” By contrast, several Eastern traditions, such as Taoism and Confucianism, exalt the modest leader, one who engages with the followers and practices social intelligence. In the words of the Taoist philosopher Lao-tzu, “To lead the people, walk behind them.” Compare this advice to Machiavelli’s, and judge them both against years of scientific research. Science gives the nod to Lao-tzu.

The power paradox

“Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely,” said the British historian Lord Acton. Unfortunately, this is not entirely a myth, as the actions of Europe’s monarchs, Enron’s executives, and out-of- control pop stars reveal. A great deal of research—especially from social psychology—lends support to Acton’s claim, albeit with a twist: Power leads people to act in impulsive fashion, both good and bad, and to fail to understand other people’s feelings and desires.

For instance, studies have found that people given power in experiments are more likely to rely on stereotypes when judging others, and they pay less attention to the characteristics that define those other people as individuals. Predisposed to stereotype, they also judge others’ attitudes, interests, and needs less accurately. One survey found that high-power professors made less accurate judgments about the attitudes of low-power professors than those low-power professors made about the attitudes of their more powerful colleagues. Power imbalances may even help explain the finding that older siblings don’t perform as well as their younger siblings on theory-of-mind tasks, which assess one’s ability to construe the intentions and beliefs of others.

Power even prompts less complex legal reasoning in Supreme Court justices. A study led by Stanford psychologist Deborah Gruenfeld compared the decisions of U.S. Supreme Court justices when they wrote opinions endorsing either the position of a majority of justices on the bench—a position of power—or the position of the vanquished, less powerful minority. Sure enough, when Gruenfeld analyzed the complexity of justices’ opinions on a vast array of cases, she found that justices writing from a position of power crafted less complex arguments than those writing from a low-power position.

A great deal of research has also found that power encourages individuals to act on their own whims, desires, and impulses. When researchers give people power in scientific experiments, those people are more likely to physically touch others in potentially inappropriate ways, to flirt in more direct fashion, to make risky choices and gambles, to make first offers in negotiations, to speak their mind, and to eat cookies like the Cookie Monster, with crumbs all over their chins and chests.

Perhaps more unsettling is the wealth of evidence that having power makes people more likely to act like sociopaths. High-power individuals are more likely to interrupt others, to speak out of turn, and to fail to look at others who are speaking. They are also more likely to tease friends and colleagues in hostile, humiliating fashion. Surveys of organizations find that most rude behaviors—shouting, profanities, bald critiques—emanate from the offices and cubicles of individuals in positions of power.

My own research has found that people with power tend to behave like patients who have damaged their brain’s orbitofrontal lobes (the region of the frontal lobes right behind the eye sockets), a condition that seems to cause overly impulsive and insensitive behavior. Thus the experience of power might be thought of as having someone open up your skull and take out that part of your brain so critical to empathy and socially-appropriate behavior.

Power may induce more harmful forms of aggression as well. In the famed Stanford Prison Experiment, psychologist Philip Zimbardo randomly assigned Stanford undergraduates to act as prison guards or prisoners—an extreme kind of power relation. The prison guards quickly descended into the purest forms of power abuse, psychologically torturing their peers, the prisoners. Similarly, anthropologists have found that cultures where rape is prevalent and accepted tend to be cultures with deeply entrenched beliefs in the supremacy of men over women.

This leaves us with a power paradox. Power is given to those individuals, groups, or nations who advance the interests of the greater good in socially-intelligent fashion.

Yet unfortunately, having power renders many individuals as impulsive and poorly attuned to others as your garden-variety frontal lobe patient, making them prone to act abusively and lose the esteem of their peers. What people want from leaders—social intelligence—is what is damaged by the experience of power.

When we recognize this paradox and all the destructive behaviors that flow from it, we can appreciate the importance of promoting a more socially-intelligent model of power. Social behaviors are dictated by social expectations. As we debunk long-standing myths and misconceptions about power, we can better identify the qualities powerful people should have, and better understand how they should wield their power. As a result, we’ll have much less tolerance for people who lead by deception, coercion, or undue force. No longer will we expect these kinds of antisocial behaviors from our leaders and silently accept them when they come to pass.

We’ll also start to demand something more from our colleagues, our neighbors, and ourselves. When we appreciate the distinctions between responsible and irresponsible uses of power—and the importance of practicing the responsible, socially-intelligent form of it—we take a vital step toward promoting healthy marriages, peaceful playgrounds, and societies built on cooperation and trust.