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The Hillary Express

The Hillary Express is a bullet train aimed straight at Washington D.C. This express has a lot of baggage cars attached which for me ought to be seriously challenged. Alas, any challenge issued will be rejected as totally anti-feminist or otherwise anti-women. This will bury substantive criticism and we will thus lose the possibility of an intelligent debate. Now I will personally admit that I have personal prejudices and I put them up front. I have had enough of the Clintons. Enough is enough.

The first car behind the engine is one loaded and I do mean loaded with money. Hillary and Bill are veritable money printing presses. The last I heard Ready for Hillary had raised 6-7 million and counting.

Recently, Hillary garnered $400,000 for two speeches to Goldman Sackedus. One of my favorite economists, Matt Taibbi, characterized them after the meltdown as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Me? I’m looking for a politician who will get out of bed with the Banksters and tend to the rest of us. I hope it doesn’t take another global meltdown for that to happen but I am not hopeful. Wall Street is where the serious money is and the Clintons ever in pursuit of power for the sake of power, have been and always will be where the serious money is.

Then there is Bill’s baggage car. I think if any one person can be named the best facilitator of the global financial mess, it was Bill. Over and over he blew it. Ending the Glass-Steagall Act was perhaps the most egregious of the multiple steps he took to ultimately bring about the global meltdown and royally shaft the tax payers.

Then there is the Secretary of State baggage car. She will be promoted as having serious credentials. Opening the car, I find it empty, save for some promoting of women’s issues around the world, surely a good cause. Other than that I simply find four years of vagueness and obfuscation. Hillary plays her cards close to the chest.

I think it time we had someone who would lay all the cards out on the table. Bill’s blunders would be a start.

The next baggage car however is one full car. Make no mistake, Hillary is a hawk and there are hawks galore here. Iran, Syria, Ukraine and oh boy all over Africa. Buy defense stocks! Now I am no isolationist but we are overdue to start withdrawing from the role of the world’s policeman.

Then of course there is the caboose. Ever lusting for power Chelsea is for sure being groomed as the heir apparent. I’ve had enough of American dynasties.

Nonetheless, although it is early I see no real opposition emerging. A far out guess is that if the Republicans nominate someone that is part of mainstream America, the male vote will totally bury Hillary. If someone outside the Mainstream is nominated I foresee the very real possibility of an oligarchical theocracy with Libertarian views. In this fluid time I think anything is possible.

Even though I am no Miss Merry Sunshine, I’d like to leave this on a positive note.

The future of the Democratic Party (or a new party"the old one will have a hard time changing) is with Shenna Bellows, running against Susan Collins in Maine. She was head of the Maine ACLU, favors single-payer healthcare, promotes dealing with climate change, opposes the Keystone pipeline, and gathers Libertarians and Tea Partiers in where they can find common ground.

Heck, I know from personal experience common ground can be found with the Libertarians. Win or lose, the woman points the political debate in an intelligent and forward looking direction. What a breath of fresh air.

(Ron Keeshan fears a repeat of the past and hopes for the glimmers of new path.)

Life’s Jolts

I have always been a hiker/walker. My hiking days are long over so very limited walking it is. My legs are frail and stability on my feet worse. Nonetheless at 81 I will take what I am given.

After a year of not being able to walk at all"from what a combination of prednisone and poly-myalgia-rheumatica had done to me, I started gingerly on the Burke-Gilman Trail. That worked wonders as it is just down a hill from us. It worked perfectly as the trail is flat and easy. There are benches nicely spaced all along it. I need them.

Also I occasionally run into and chat with some delightful folks. One woman spends her life adopting dogs from the shelter. She had two young shepherds she wanted me to take. There came a time when I REALLY wished I could have taken them.

It is the I 5 of trails. We are just a couple of miles from UW and the biking, runners and walkers can be intense. Most just want to mind their own business and since I am concentrating on not falling that is okay by me.

One morning in January I had reached my end point, sat down a bit, then turned to head back. Shortly after starting out I noticed someone coming towards me with a small dog on a long leash. He was walking in a manner that stated he was not going to move over for me. I was used to that, especially from male runners. So, I just pulled off the trail a little to wait and rest. As he moved closer I saw he was strongly pointing his right hand to the left and mumbling something I could not understand.

Soon, I could hear him saying over and over, “Pass on the left.” Huh? That’ for bikers. Then literally in my face he screams, “I see you looking at your stick. (I carry a carbon fiber walking stick, slightly more dangerous than a fly swatter.) You are going to use it to attack me.”

The next thing I knew I was up in the air and smashed to the ground. As the stars began to diminish I could see him standing there and yelling, “The next time I’ll leave you unconscious.” Then he casually walked off like he was going for an afternoon stroll in the park.

If there was any luck, I fell on one of the piles of mulched branches Park and Rec regularly deposits beside the trail. If I had landed on the asphalt area or on hard ground-ugh-I hate to think. Anyway his strength was that of three linebackers. Where he picked me up with one hand, my left arm from elbow to shoulder was completely shredded of skin.

We filed an on line report with the Seattle Police Department. We were #200 after just the first eight days of January. We did not expect to hear back and have not.

As has been our custom for 38 years, a few days later we were finishing the day with a good glass of wine. It is a time when we kick around our neighborhood, city, state and international problems.

I said that I thought this big wound would heal at some juncture okay (almost three month later it is still slowly healing), but what I was still dealing with was how incomprehensible it is. I still wake up with a start in the middle of the night, but less frequently. Liz responded that I was experiencing what women experience when their space is invaded in one form or another. Bingo. That really registered.

I am a life- long intellectual supporter of women’s rights. It took experiencing invasion of my space and not being able to respond to fully understand what women go through. As you know I am no Miss Merry Sunshine. But taking something useful away from even untoward experiences is something I have done all my life.

Also, people that I had casually seen almost every day on the trail asked me where I had been. They are now “looking out for me.” One had an excellent suggestion that I carry a whistle. Any of them that hears it will respond. Hey, what more could if ask for?

(Ron Keeshan wishes you happy spring trails.)

Speed And Change

I’m still trying to adjust to 2013 having flown by and here I am in the middle of February already. It seems like only a little time back that time did not pass with such speed. Then, I began to think it was part of aging, but as I talk with younger folks they too are experiencing the rapid flight of time. To be honest I think most of us have our comfort zones and prefer change to come in small increments so we have time to adjust. The world is shaky enough as it is.

A lot of us grew up in an America that took for granted that it was a white Christian nation. That’s simply the way it was. But all of a sudden you turn around and we have a black president. What a jolt to the status quo, but not the last jolt by a long shot.

Again, it seems suddenly, more people of different colors began showing up and with them, all these strange languages and good grief, very strange dress.

And boom, all of the sudden there is this same sex marriage thing.

Many, many changes occurred globally. Ultimately I think the increase in nations with nuclear weapons ranks at the top of the list. We are long beyond the old policy of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Tennessee Williams had a brilliant phrase that perfectly characterizes another change that I think is far more momentous than all the rest put together.

He wrote in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof that the great crises of life come in like little cat’s feet on a hot tin roof. Some of my customers in the mid-seventies said that they had seen for some time the diminishment of the middle class. I did not see it with total clarity until the early eighties. In my business real downscaling was obvious.

Another arena was obvious to me. I was the neighborhood watch organizer and I would go for blocks finding no one at home in the daytime. It was about then when Liz and I, who were both working, began to question each other about what the middle class was going to do next to hang on to their life style. The father was holding one and a half jobs and the mother a full time job. What was left to enable them to hold on?

Then along came NAFTA, a brutal slash at middle class labor. Later would come a financial crisis that smacked the middle class across the world. So much has been written on that, but the best I have seen is the woman that was quoted in the NYT as saying, pushing against the glass ceiling was one thing, but what she really felt now was the floor boards crumbling under her.

There has been a lot of thoughtless political snipping about wage inequality. I think a sea change has come to that. The business community sees restaurants and retail department stores that catered to the “midtier” beginning to falter. It is one thing for politicians and economists to argue, but when an industry analyst from Morgan Stanley highlights the impacts of income inequality, the ground rules are changing.

Any student of history will tell you that without the middle class there is no democracy and big trouble lies ahead. The foundations are crumbling. Maybe you see a political party that has a vision that will take us into the future, but I don’t. What I hear is more like, stop the world, I want to get off. Alas the future is barreling down on us,

>Jaron Lanier You are Not a Gadget and most recently, Who Owns the Future I consider two of the best books I have ever read. He is brilliant and human, deeply concerned about where things like Facebook are taking us. I am so awed at what he has done that I can’t begin to do justice to a review. But briefly I want to share what continues to haunt me.

A definition he gives serves as a summary of his concerns: “…Singularity…is the idea that not only is technology improving, but the speed of improvement is increasing as well…We ordinary humans are supposedly staying the same (a claim I reject), while our technology is an autonomous, self-transforming supercreature…In the blink of an eye we will become obsolete…we might be instantly dead, because the new artificial superintelligence will need our molecules for a higher purpose. Or maybe we’ll be kept as pets.”

Death, says Jason, is everywhere in Silicon Valley at the forefront, whether it be mechanically prolonging life or making life mechanically permanent. A new metaphysic is born.

Fasten your seat belts. A world of accelerating change is upon us. Good luck.

(Ron Keeshan hopes you’ll treat yourselves to Lanier’s books.)

Medical Marijuana And Me

It seems like a previous incarnation but in reality only a few decades ago. Anyway it was a time when I worked with terminally ill patients, family and friends. I had a lot of different experiences doing that.

What memorably happened for me were a couple of things but I’ll look at only one here. After time developed trust with people I was asked to find them some marijuana. At this time adequate pain control was not practiced for fear of a dying person becoming “addicted.” They would say, Ron, I’m dying. What the heck (more belligerent than that) difference does it make what I take?

I have to tell you no matter how often you hear that it does grab you. I had connections from my drug counseling mainly with teenagers, to find a supply. Most I talked to found some humor out of my requests. My own humor was visualizing a headline in the local paper: Presbyterian minister arrested for dealing in drugs.

So I’ve spent my adult life wondering where this terrible drug policy would go. I never personally used marijuana. Life does take strange turns doesn’t it? Here I am in my eighties and I’ve turned to medical marijuana (MMJ).

But let me back up a little. At the time I was diagnosed with kidney cancer I was also diagnosed with polymyalagia rheumatica. It is a brutal disease of the muscular system. Mainly it is treated with prednisone and I suffered terrible side effects.

I tried tapering off prednisone totally and that was terrible, too. It was tough and I had to go back on some just to get out of bed.

I had by then decided to try MMJ. Legalization came along just in time for me. My oldest daughter recommended a Naturopath. Liz and I spent more than an hour with him and when we left we both said he was the ultimate professional. He told me to begin slowly since I had no previous experience with marijuana. He gave me a list of dispensers. I’ve used one with a good reputation and been totally satisfied.

I tried a number of different things but I am now using two. The MMJ cream is very expensive but has worked to radically reduce the agonizing morning pain. I am in better shape to take long walks which I have been doing for the first time in two years.

The other thing that has worked is the cookies. When I am restless or otherwise having difficulty going to sleep, a half cookie puts me gently to sleep and I awake rested as I seldom had before. The next morning is wonderful plus no hangover or buzz. PS"I don’t do recreational drugs. I’ve still never “smoked” marijuana.

Alas, I still run into a lot of people who only have heard of marijuana cigarettes and are totally appalled at the whole idea. Ignorance dies a slow death.

There must be something in the karma when I write a column on drugs. It seems like inevitably a new study comes out reflecting the lost war on drugs. This time it is the international Centre for Science in Drug Policy saying that their lengthy study concluded that the war on drugs was long since lost and that drugs are a public health issue and not a criminal issue. Amen.

(Ron Keeshan is grateful he lives in Washington).

The Maze

Good morning. I need a permit and I hope you can help me. And you are---PLANTOPLAN? Hey I am not the brightest bulb in the house but that seems redundant to me. How do you plan to plan?......That’s not easy. We plan headaches for people. Very creative you know......Uh, how do I get out of here?...... Sorry we can’t help you. We don’t know. That’s the next stage of planning. Good luck.

Howdy, looking for a permit place…... We can do better than that. We are WISDOM FOR THE FUTURE. We will tell you all you need to know about what is to come.... .Gee whiz that is exciting. Can I buy you for an afternoon at Emerald Down……. No, that’s not what we do here. We consult Tarot cards about your environment. All the rest is mere speculation. You see how well grounded we are. We have the best Tarot cards anywhere……Right. See you somewhere in the future maybe.

Sorry to disturb you. I’m looking for a permit to……We don’t give permits. What we do is advocate for the removal of your so-called property. You see, you are a blight on the land that has to go. Tourists spend a lot of money to come here and see pristine, non-blighted land. They have a major investment in coming here and we have to protect that..... Hey, I didn’t expect this but since you brought it up. What about our investment, which is for most of us the investment of a lifetime?...... You don’t count. The tourists bring the money, you don’t.

Well, I needed out of there big time. See what’s down this corridor. CHILLOUT. Wonder what the heck that is. Hi, I’m looking for a permit, but wow is it cold in here. Yes, just what we need. Can’t take the heat up there so this is our chill out space..... . Heck, have you thought about, as the man said, if you can’t take the heat you get out of the kitchen?...... Heavens no. That’s our space and we are entitled to it......Uh entitled. Think I’ll mosey along.

FE FI FAUX FARM Now I’m really lost. Could you explain that to me? All I want is a simple permit to……You have come to the right place! Just put out a couple of cows, plant a few trees and put up a sign that says something like AG TO COME. It’s a great deal. You wouldn’t believe what it will save you.... . Yeesh, maybe I should go and chill out.

Good grief what could possibly be next? What the heck is SCIFI?......Hello, I am looking for a permit but this seems one of the more interesting caves. What do you do?...... Since you asked we are happy to invite you in. We have been dubbed “The shovelers” because we are always trying to dig up problems. It is a difficult job because of the lack of respect for what we do. A little respect please...... OK, I’m always for respect. What have you found?...... Nothing yet, but we keep determinedly shoveling because we know something is there..... But how do you know?...... Because you see, we do know...... Ah me, where’s the out door?

And this is what? This is PICAPEEP, everything you ever wanted to know about a neighbors house and all the rest for that matter...... But why should I want to look inside my neighbors house?...... Because they obviously will want to look inside yours. This makes it all even and that is in addition to the fun. You’ll never know what you are going to see next. Also, what a tourist attraction..... .Hmm. I don’t think I want to be an attraction to anyone, especially tourists or neighbors. Why don’t you just take pictures of yourselves. That will really be satisfying to you. In the meantime I’m gone.

PLANTOPLAN Hey wait a minute. I’ve been here before. I feel like I am going in circles……

For all those who labor long and hard and often without pay to straighten out the circle of the maze. Thank you -Ron Keeshan

The Herding Mentality

In the early 1950s a new type of drama appeared on the world theatrical scene. A renowned theater critic, Martin Esslin, dubbed it (not negatively) the theater of the absurd. To understand where it was coming from, one has to be able to grasp the world environment from which it arose.

The world was trying to grasp what it had just passed through: the horrors of the Nazis and the incomprehensible nuclear blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Eugene Ionesco was one of these playwrights. His play Rhinoceros is one of the most simple and for me outstanding in the genre. Simplicity is part of the genus of it.

Berenger, the character who speaks for the author, observes with considerable angst his friends, acquaintances and the general public, one at a time, starting to grow horns. Ionesco uses the symbolism of rhinoceros horns to demonstrate how people can forfeit their integrity in order to “get along.” The get along is capitulation to the Nazis, Communism or any authoritarianism for that matter. Soon the city streets are loaded with massive numbers of rhinoceroses smashing everything in sight.

It is Ionesco’s picture of a humanity totally capable of turning en mass to evil. It is a dim picture of the human condition. But"Ionesco does uphold the human capacity for nobility. Berenger never capitulates and in the end stands alone.

The call for the herd is world-wide. We have had our share, certainly in my lifetime. The rally cry for the Viet Nam War was “Beware the dominoes falling.” For the continuing wars in the mid-east the rallying cry was “Weapons of mass destruction.”

Wow, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a vote in the House of Representatives against the NSA authoritarian state’s campaign of fear. Counter to the call for “National Defense!” people who genuinely feared for the loss of Constitutional rights, rose up and said no. It was a combination of Tea Partiers and Democrats that almost pulled off the defeat of NSA’s authoritarian agenda. Yea, we barely lost but we live to fight another day.

I think the recent San Juan Island election was won by an unstated but nonetheless real coalition of people of different beliefs coming together. I hope that is the beginning of the capacity of folks to vote independently, confronting issues instead of herd voting.

(Ron keeshan, who is thankful for the freedom demonstrated by Island Guardian and the Trojan Heron.)

Contention Or Education

I have spent the last several days reading and mulling the Friends piece about looking for summer interns. I found it to be instructive about the continuing philosophy under which the Friends now operate.

For beginners, the document states clearly that it is a project of the Friend’s attorney. Indeed the document then goes on to make it very clear that they would be looking for someone to work in the field of litigation.

In the opening paragraph it states he/she would “…develop and prosecute environmental litigation and other advocacy efforts. The summer interns will gain practical litigation and policy experience…”.

My, my, we have a forthright statement of the philosophy of contention don’t we? We know what to continue to expect. The rest of the document carries this same contentious aura. I will return to this later but I have some other thoughts on this document I would like to share.

One area of the document states that the intern could be “…delivering oral testimony to local and state decisionmakers…”. Goodness, one, two, or three months on the ground and I will be getting the word ex cathedra. You know what? I find that contemptuous of those of us who have devoted incredible time, money and energy over many years to our land, not to mention the failures and frustrations we continue to go through as the land teaches us. This attitude is unquestionably from one who has had no dialogue with the land. I consider the land the teacher and I have learned to be a humble student -believe me I have learned humility here the hard way.

Land is an evolving organism. Water flow, temperature changes, winter moisture, storm damage, vectoring, the earth’s curriculum is endless. But it is not learned in a hurry. That was my first F from the earth after I had studied for a year what I was going to deliver to the earth ex cathedra. It was trial and error -and a whole lot of errors. One, just one of the things I learned was that land, that magnificent living organism, is in some ways like human beings, everyone is different. And learning differences requires patience and patience requires time.

Well, we have come a long way from dropping an intern into the islands and having near instant experts. Heck. You know me, I don’t believe there are any experts, only exs and spurts.

What a difference it would make if the whole unfriendly philosophy were changed to one of education. For instance:

Hiring criteria: priority is given to those with demonstrated ability to listen, digesting what has been said then asking salient questions. To facilitate this, a staff member will, at the beginning of the process, take interns to site specific areas and enter into a dialogue with owners that will involve, listening to the complaints the owner has with the County, and what areas he/she might be open to any help they request.

It would mean approaching each and every situation/person with an open mind. We are talking here of working with minds full of imagination. We are not interested in closed minds, i.e. “practical litigation”, “oral testimony”, or “proposed ordinances”. We will take you on a journey of imagination.

(Ron Keeshan Lennon still lives)

Seeking A Bridge Builder

To start with I have to be truthful with you. A year ago this past spring I sent a letter to Murray; Cantwell; Merkel; the two Udalls and Inslee stating that I thought Obama was the weakest President in my 80 years if not the history of the republic. I heard back only from Inslee that he was glad I was civically involved.

When I wrote, I felt that the Caver-in-Chief was amongst other things totally incapable of mastering the ship of state through financially uncharted waters. Now as it turns out things were worse than I thought. I think he should resign or be impeached.

As for the Republicans and Romney -yeesh. I thought he was a robot imported from China complete with toxic parts.

With all that cynicism I can unabashedly say that I remain a great believer in Lincoln’s America as the “last best hope.” I think we need it now maybe more than ever. The mid-east is a cauldron that might do us all in. The nuclear genie is out of the bottle and awaiting its opportunity. In this toxic stew I reject those who see only fracture as a solution.

It is my firm belief that a détente can be found between non-ideological liberals and the Libertarians. You have to leave behind the ideologues in both groups. I think there is more than enough room for this to happen.

What has been and is happening to civil liberties is frightening. Never, ever, did I envisage the destruction of habeas corpus. Habeus corpus dates back to the Magna Carta (1215), the first statement of rights for the common man in England. The right is included in our Constitution (Article 1 Section 1X).

Bring the drug war to an end. It has long since been a total failure. Legalize drugs, regulate them and tax them. I am fed up with this phony war making billionaires out of the drug cartels.

End the bail out BS. No one is too big to fail. This crony capitalism needs to go once and for all.

Rein in the military-industrial complex. Eight hundred to a thousand US bases around the world? And we have an infrastructure that just got a D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers?! Just what are we defending? Bridges that are ancient and falling? Civil liberties beginning to resemble dictatorships around the globe?

Whew! That’s a bundle. Too much to ask for in a coalition? I don’t think so.

Voices from the past call to those who can listen. Hear one of Libertarianisms eternally great voices -Aldous Huxley in Brave New World Revisited:

Organization is indispensable: for liberty arises and has meaning only within a self-regulating community of freely cooperating individuals. But, though indispensable, organization can also be fatal. Too much organization transforms men and women into autmata, suffocates the creative spirit and abolishes the very possibility of freedom. As usual, the only safe course is in the middle, between extremes of laissez-faire at one end of the scale and total control at the other.

And then there is John Kennedy’s Inaugural Address:

So let us begin anew-remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

(Ron Keeshan worries about the fractures that divide us but continues to hope for bridge builders who have the imagination that enables them to cross boundaries into uncharted territories.)

Tom Bauschke
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Mary Kalbert
Ron Keeshan
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Janice Peterson
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