Without intention, Mike kind fulfills the proverb that not all who wander are lost. A 1973 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross with a BA in Philosophy, he had successfully dodged the draft during Vietnam, despite his lottery number of 29. Logically, after failing at being a bum for a year after college, he then enlisted in the Army. His theory was to hang out for two years, go to Germany, date blondes, drink lots of beer, improve his wretched German and come home to use the GI Bill for Graduate School. Didn’t quite work out that way; he did go to Germany and stayed five years first tour; married a red-headed American GI who worked in S2; did drink lots of beer and developed some acuity with pidgin Deutsch. Mike re-enlisted and then wandered through a great 23 years as a soldier. A lot of it sucked, of course; but, he avoided ending his adolescence until the end of the 23 years…since then, he’s been in a fight to regain that feeling of camaraderie, purpose and trust.

Mike chose to stay a career NCO. There were a couple of dozen reasons, but they’re best summed up by the fact that he really didn’t like officers. He still doesn’t, sheepishly at times admitting that “Some of my best friends are officers. Some of my best friends are gay. Some of my best friends are gay officers. I’m not gay and I’m not an officer – I like it better that way.” He got his initial First Sergeant assignment in his 14th year and basically stayed a First Sergeant until he retired, as a First Sergeant. If he hadn’t retired, the day after the retirement would have been the day he pinned on CSM stripes but, as he says, “Some of my best friends are Sergeant Majors; some of my best friends are hookers. I’m not a Sergeant Major and I’m not a hooker and that works fine for me.”

Since retiring, Mike’s worked in Labor Relations, HR and General Management for government, tribes, nonprofits and for profits including Defense Contractors. He’s found that his “not being a hooker” approach hasn’t necessarily worked to his career advantage. He’s picked up a bunch of irrelevant graduate degrees, that basically were there to teach you how to be a Hobbit.

Hobbits are small, insignificant fearful types who scurry around getting in the way and accomplishing nothing of any great merit. He believes that the movies would have been infinitely better had the bad guys killed off all the Hobbits in the first part of the first movie, and then spent the rest of it avenging the little twits. Mike really hates Hobbits He’s a Senior Professional in Human Resources and a Six Sigma Black Belt. He plays guitar, reads, broods and drives too fast in fast cars – currently, a Mustang GT – channeling Hunter S. Thompson, patrolling “on the edge of the desert, just outside of Barstow.”

An avowed leftist and philosophical Stoic, Mike admits that everything is probably going to hell, but thinks that it’s the duty of people of honor to work to stop it from going there too quick. Since he regards all veterans as his extended family, he expects that they’ll do the same. An oddly religious guy, Mike believes that God is a not very bright, self—entered and hormonal teenage girl obsessed with the Jonas Brothers and whether or not her Daisy Duke jeans make her ass look fat. They do, but he’s not going to be the one to tell her the truth. God can’t handle the truth.

While he might write about anything, he’s really interested in business, economics and how to keep people from being screwed by machines, be they corporate, government, or societal. He's also interested in guitars...


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Dispatches from Wolf Country — Where It’s Dark as a Dungeon

These are not dumb troglodytes; they know that they have gotten a raw deal and they just want it to work for them and for their families. They keep hearing politicians make promises that they haven't kept, and they don't trust anybody anymore. They are true change voters, and the failure of the Democratic party -- we're looking at you, Joe Manchin -- to excite and enlist them in a meaningful and progressive political revolution got the result it deserved. Trump.

When coal country keeps foundering, what will the loud-mouthed president say then? What lies…

A relatively old man. I will die in the foreseeable future; this will will have no effect on me. On the future? Sweet Jesus…

Republicans lie, Appalachian Democrats enable and nobody does anything meaningful or positive

Lawrence O’ Donnell had Bill Nye the Science Guy on the evening of March 28 to discuss the new Trumpian fantasy edicts about the climate. Since a lot of executive orders are guidance on implementation of laws already passed, I suspect the Orange Orangutan is in for more frustration as the environmental suits pile up. However, Bill Nye was extremely clear on the concept of Clean Coal. He admitted that Obama had also used the term but in fact scientifically “Clean Coal is a lie.”

Harriman Tennessee Coal Slurry Pit Aftermath — Coal is Dirty photo

Nye, as he does so well, explains the science. To get energy out of coal, you have to burn it. If you burn it, you release the compressed green-house gases of millennia’s past all at once, far more than natural gas, and infinitely more than the renewables — wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and so on. You also get waste products with coal, which isn’t exactly suitable for turning into bath soap.

I am a relatively old man and I will die in the foreseeable future. This nonsense will have little effect on me. On future generations, on the ecology, on the world the construction and use of new coal plants will have horrid effects. Nye points out that this clean coal nonsense will encourage more nuclear power since by comparison, nukes are considered clean. Sweet Jesus…Fukashima, anyone? Or collapsing slurry dams flooding valleys in coal slime and mud? Pick One.

One of the amazing things about the whole coal country argument is that the miners know that the coal jobs aren’t coming back in any great numbers — they’ve watched the automation of the mines and the implementation of basically robot mining through strip mining. They know that this is a shitty bargain, but it’s the only one they’ve got. The Republicans lie, the Appalachian Democrats enable and nobody does anything meaningful or positive.

You know, Ross Perot was absolutely wrong about crazy aunts and fixing the engine. Nice thought, but it doesn’t work that way. Perot, of course, was a Systems Engineer and Entrepreneur and he understood that existentially. It’s complex, but the the American experience has been based on problem solving not whimpering and whining about it being to hard.

Any genius who preaches simple solutions  for complex problems is either a fool or  a lying sack of shit

The American experiment should have shown us  that the genius who preaches simple solutions  for complex problems is either a fool or  a lying sack of shit who should be locked away on a desert island sandbox where he or she can play with their construction toys and their baby Jesus talking dolls out of the way of the people who actually have to deal with the consequences of their rhetorical simplifications and lies. It’s like the good old boy shade tree mechanic from Gopher’s Gulch who goes out to work on someone’s Lamborghini Gallardo that has developed a cough. You can’t do it with a wrench and set of pliers and a Phillips head screw driver…you need to plug in a diagnostic cable to your computer and go step by step through the troubleshooting instructions, which in this case are written in Italian, translated by another computer made in Albania.

66 Olds 442 Cutlass, Like the One I Wrecked

Laws and regulations come about because there are problems that need resolution. Lots of these problems might be like the 1966 Oldsmobile 442Cutlass SS that I totaled on June 30, 1969, going to fast and hitting a pothole on a twisting country road. As my dad explained, if I hadn’t bent the frame, he could have fixed it. But, I bent it in several directions and it wasn’t going to go anyplace but the junk yard. Others are like that Lambrogini — gonna need a computer to hook up the computer to diagnose it.

Well, in the true genius of modern political science, the people in coal country have been told for the past 30 years that their problems are like that old Olds 442 Cutlass, and if you just tinker with it and get the crap out of the way — straighten the old frame — it’ll just run along like a top. Until the frame breaks and it all goes horribly wrong and everybody in it dies as it shatters at 125 on a curvy mountain road…but, the guy selling the thing isn’t going to warranty it, and anyway, he told you about the frame. Not his problem you didn’t understand the implications.

The problem is that the Smilin’ Jack Stab in the Back Used Car and Coal Executives Emporium aren’t getting away with it quite so easily. On March 13, 2017 Bernie Sanders and Chris Hayes went to McDowell County, West Virginia, in many ways the Patient Zero of the Pandemic of Economic Disaster and Human Tragedy sweeping not only coal country the rest of rural America. They did a Town Hall, and the first member of the audience Hayes asked to comment was a Coal Miner. Young man, early 30s, who said that he love being under the ground, because he can make enough money to take care of his family and himself. “I got laid off and had to take a secondary job and I hated it. Couldn’t make any money, didn’t have hospitalization.” Asked by Hayes if there were any other jobs in McDowell county that had the same pay and benefits as coal mining, he said no. Hayes asked the crowd, if there were other jobs in McDowell country that paid the same wages and had the same benefits, would people do them. Applause and nods all around.

The Smilin’ Jack Stab in the Back Used Car and Coal Executives Emporium don’t get away with it quite so easily.

These are not dumb troglodytes; they know that they have gotten a raw deal and they just want it to work for them and for their families. They keep hearing politicians make promises that they haven’t kept, and they don’t trust anybody anymore. They are true change voters, and the failure of the Democratic party — we’re looking at you, Joe Manchin — to excite and enlist them in a meaningful and progressive political revolution got the result it deserved. Trump.

Sanders, by the way, carried West Virginia in the Democratic Primary by 20 points.

Barkan explains the situation this way.

Some sneer at the largely white and poor people who depended on coal for their livelihoods, but their distress is understandable. Morally bankrupt political leaders have lied to them repeatedly, blaming the Environmental Protection Agency for the vast decline of coal country’s fortunes. (Both parties) have encouraged this canard: all you have to do is deregulate everything, they say, and the boom times will return….There just isn’t a market demand for coal. Production peaked two decades ago. Trump’s electoral sweep of Appalachia – in once Democratic West Virginia, he crushed Hillary Clinton by 42 points – undoubtedly motivated him to kill the clean power plan as quickly as he could, since his voters are particularly desperate. Political leaders keep failing them, and they want easy answers. (My emphasis)

In his response to some questions Sanders pointed out that coal had been in decline since the 70s and the young miner and others were nodding their heads in agreement. He then said, prefacing his remark with the request to “Tell me if you disagree, but climate change is real” to loud an sustained applause. But, he said, “You can not blame these people for climate change; they are heroes.” The issues troubling West Virginia aren’t coal and climate change; it’s the inability of contemporary America to create jobs and build opportunity for people who work with their hands and their backs as well as their minds. It’s the geographic and educational divide; it’s the failure to provide meaningful educational and development opportunities.

Barken has an excellent summation here.

In the short term, Trump’s actions may make a slight difference. Share prices of energy companies soared this week. A few coal mines may stay open slightly longer.But as with Trump’s Twitter bullying of companies to keep jobs in the US, stripping Obama regulations is no strategy for saving the jobs and towns of one of the country’s most economically depressed regions. America’s fraying social safety net and capitalism’s capriciousness punished coal country for decades, forcing poor people to rely on the whims of executives who once profited off the destruction of the planet.

Trump offers no serious hope for the millions of blue-collar works who are losing their jobs to machines. Rather than shred environmental regulations, he can offer a vision for a future that is phasing out the reality of well-paid laborers with only a high school degree. A stimulus plan to put them to work elsewhere or even something akin to a guaranteed minimum income may be needed – not a shortsighted evisceration of what Trump Svengali Steve Bannon dubbed the “administrative state”. When coal country keeps foundering, what will the loud-mouthed president say then? What lies will he proffer? Even his supporters deserve better.

Now, this is where I differ with Barkan. There are classes of Trump supporters everywhere, but especially in coal country, and they all deserve something different.There are the rich bastards who expect to profit from Trump’s exploitation of fearful and desperate people and times; they deserve the desert island treatment.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper. — TS Elliot

There are the ideologues and fools who buy into the Trump[Paul Ryan school of Ayn Randian nonsense, greed and domination and they deserve the opportunity to put their doctrine to work. Preferably somewhere else where these “Creators” can create away with no one to make their dreams actually work and no infrastructure to support them until it does. Electricity is great, but until somebody builds the damn generating plant by actually assembling it and someone is there to take care of it and maintain it, you can draw all the dreams you desire…nothing else is going to happen.

And finally, there are the people like these folks in McDowell County, West Virginia and Kenosha Wisconsin, and Barstow, California — They deserve leaders with courage, imagination and energy to actually fulfill the promise of the the Preamble of the Constitution and the dreams of the founders.

For if not, the American experience will end as the American experiment fails and it all shatters in the tricky mountain curve and joins that 442 Cutlass in the wreckage on the side of the road.



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Posted by on March 29, 2017, With 0 Reads, Filed under Corruption, Elections, Government & Politics, Health, Of Interest. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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