Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is the World Flat or Round

A Serious Discussion about our Hamilton School District

"There are 15,700 local school boards in this country. It is our intent to take them over one by one. All we need is majority...and then we will determine what is taught, we will determine who is hired and who is fired.”


“We can and WILL continue to take back control of our local school boards and eventually the entire system. We will fight to the end to stop any atheism, values clarification psychology, hypnotism, necromancy, immorality, homosexuality, or denial of students' or parents' free speech and free exercise of our faith in our schools.”


"We need strong board members who know right from wrong. The Bible, being the only true source on right and wrong, should be the guide of board members. Only godly Christians can truly qualify for this critically important position.”


“We will be the stealth candidates, and you must carry out our mission in such a way that the public won't know what we're about until we've won control. I'm a fundamentalist Christian, and as far as I'm concerned, that's the only kind of Christian there is."


“When we get our Christian agenda operating inside the schools, we can control all those things much easier, because our agenda leaves NO time for those kind of things.”


"I believe they are realizing they really have little or NO choice but to cooperate. So far, the Lord's leading has been working beautifully."


Hamilton School Board member Nancy Ballance is a self-identified member of the amazingly-candid Ravalli County Tea Party Patriots. She also identifies herself as an active member of Montana Citizens for Excellence in Education (CEE). CEE is in turn, the innocuous-sounding division of the National Association of Christian Educators (NACE), whose founder and president, Robert L. Simonds, made the amazingly candid statements above to describe the mission of NACE/CEE.

NACE/CEE was founded in 1983, after Simonds served on President Reagan's Taskforce to Implement the National Commission on Excellence in Education Report, 'A Nation at Risk’. The group claims 1,668 chapters, 878 church-based Public School Awareness Committees, and about 250,000 members. In the past, NACE/CEE has received financial support from the Coors beer family through the Coors Foundation.

Notwithstanding that NACE/CEE has effectively banned a wide range of books from our schools, including Little Red Riding Hood, Simonds characterizes any criticism of the NACE/CEE’s agenda as "specifically meant to persecute Christians". "It now appears,” he states, “that Christians in America are beginning to share the same treatment Jews received in Nazi Germany." www.publiceye.org/ifas/fw/9502/nacecee.html

Homo sapiens (1) have a natural inclination to ignore truly important things that are also boring. It’s in our genes. A mastodon charging our village is one thing, and definitely not boring. School boards are quite another thing, although potentially just as destructive to our village as an angry elephant the size of a school bus. The anthropological jury’s still out as to whether mastodons actually got angry, but let’s go with this. It’s the only rational explanation I can come up with. We simply haven’t evolved fast enough to recognize modern dangers when we see them coming. Our technology has outstripped our wisdom. We get sucker-punched by the religious-right when we’re not looking.
All that said, the Hamilton School Board is currently revising its District Policy Manual, which to most people is about as exciting as watching a snail race on a wet sidewalk in a city you don’t like when you forgot your raincoat.

Hardly anyone pays attention to local school board politics, which is why organizations like National Association of Christian Educators and its division, Citizens for Excellence in Education (NACE/CEE) specifically target local school boards for takeover in order to advance their bizarre agendas. It’s cheaper than winning a seat in the Senate and, cumulatively speaking, is arguably as impactive as actually having a senator in your pocket. And usually no one’s paying attention.

So here’s what happened. Last November, Hamilton School Board Chair Dave Bedey submitted a draft Vision Statement that some staff and community members thought looked more like a recipe for a Christian military prep school than the preamble of the district’s new Policy Manual, which was what it was supposed to be.

To put the following drama in context, Mr. Bedey is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, a former instructor at West Point and a mid-level neoconservative Talking Head on T.V. shows such as Anderson Cooper for “issues” such as our national security being at risk if gays are allowed to serve openly in the military. He is a contributing editor to Family Security Matters, which is an offshoot for the DC neocon think tank, Center for Security Policy (CPS). CPS, in turn, is a member-organization of the Cooler Heads Coalition (2) which seeks to "dispel the myths of global warming by exposing flawed scientific, economic, and risk analysis." Bedey also has written for a publication along the same vein, Patriots and Liberty (3) .

In Bedey’s draft Vision Statement, he exhorted school officials to prepare students to “participate in self-government”. Now let’s be fair and start at the beginning. The term “self-government” used to be a phrase you could use without too much baggage. That was in The Old Days, three years ago, before our local gun-toting tea party outfit, Celebrating Conservative (4) , equated the term “self-government” with armed rebellion against the 99%. The term is locked and loaded now. Read on.

Under “local control”, Bedey clarified. ”Local control of the Hamilton schools,” he stated, “is central for achievement of the District’s mission.” Therefore “…The Board of Trustees shall strive…to oppose further encroachments into the management of the District’s schools by the state and federal government and to restore those elements of local control that have been lost over the past several decades.” This is an extremely interesting statement to make in a school board draft document, at least to us homo sapiens (1) who have been paying attention to Ravalli County craziness these last couple of years. Remember the “Ravalli County Questionnaire” (5) that Celebrating Conservatism threatened our local officials with two years ago? That singular document included a demand that all “federalized employees” get permission from the sheriff before “approaching a Citizen (sic)” or face criminal charges and trial by a “citizens’ grand jury”. In militia-jargon, “federalized employees” includes any local school employees “attempting to enforce a federal agenda (sic)” and “citizens’ grand jury” refers to kangaroo courts officiated by the Good-ol’-Boys-Du-Jour who empower themselves with executing those they—and they alone—define as “traitors”. In other words, “Federalized employees”, with all the implied disloyalty these “Citizens” insist on attaching to the silly phrase, would include all teachers and staff just doing the jobs we pay them for. For added flavor, the amazing “questionnaire” also demanded that the sheriff be required to form a county militia to “protect” citizens from domestic enemies. “All able-bodied Citizens (sic)” will forcibly serve, and women will serve in combat only if “men are in danger of being overrun (sic)”. Remember all this? Ah, Yes…

For a context-break, let’s remember that vision statements can and often do run as short as one or two sentences. Who wants to waste time on wordy dogma, for instance, when you have kids at home who need feeding? Maybe if you’re tapping your brain out to find the exact right words to open a document that calls for armed insurrection against a king, and you want to get it right for history in case the king ends up hanging you. But for a school policy? Do we really need a whole section headed “Preparation to Participate in Self-Government”?

Yes we do, according to Bedey’s draft. And under that rubric he submitted the following “vision”:
“The definition of what it means to be an American is an issue that our graduates will decide.  To make sense of the various positions put forward by ideologues across the political spectrum, our graduates must have a sound grasp of the political principles set forth by our Founders and of the free market system.  Furthermore, increasingly politicized scientific claims and counter-claims confuse the discussion of many crucial issues.  Thus, to prepare our graduates to engage in self-government, it is also essential that they gain an understanding of both the scope and the limits of science.” (See footnotes 2: Cooler Heads Coalition & 3: Patriots and Liberty)

Shortly after the release of Bedey’s draft document, school board member Nancy Ballance (of Montana Citizens for Excellence in Education and Ravalli County Tea Party Patriots) sent an email to Republican Central Committee vice-president Lilya McAllister, who forwarded it to Commissioner Suzie Foss, who passed it on to such a large and indiscriminate list that even I got a copy of it. As did all of our already-concerned teachers and staff. In it she stated that:

· Bedey’s draft is “very encouraging”.
· It has “gone viral throughout the teaching staff and many are not happy about it. I am expecting to see several teachers show up at the next meeting to voice their opinions. It is very important to get supporting opinions represented”.
· “I expect we will have members of the public at every meeting for the next few months….we will need representation from the conservative voices. Feel free to forward this to anyone you think would be interested in coming to support the conservative voice”.

Ironically for someone proclaiming membership in an outfit that demonizes federal subsidies and bank bailouts (Tea Party Patriots), Ms Ballance is a recently-retired vice-president of Farmers Insurance Group, which is 100%-owned by multi-national giant Zurich Financial Group. Farmers, you might remember, bought AIG’s toxic insurance assets after an $80 billion+ taxpayer-funded bailout made their poisonous soup edible for the 1% at the expense of the rest of us. She is a recent arrival in the Bitterroot and is currently running for Gary McClaren’s seat in HD 89. Gary, you might be interested to know, is the Montana State Chairman of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (6) , a political Creature from the Black Lagoon of the Koch Brothers that brought us Montanans, among many other gifts, crippling power bills through Energy Deregulation (7).

Perhaps injudiciously, Bedey’s draft ended up in every school teacher’s in-box, and representative samples of these public employees charged (by us) with educating our children to do the very best they can with the 21st century have been attending and watching every school board meeting since. This is good news for Us the Taxpayers, but we need to do more than cheer our teachers on. We need to pay attention. We need to show up.

If you’ve ever wondered why public schools are so dissatisfying to more and more parents, wonder no more. The reason’s staring you in your Bitterroot face, and it’s a DNA-proofed child of Voodoo Reaganomics (shrinking government to the size of an unwed, pregnant Hollywood starlet you can drown in a bathtub). Our schools have taken a nose-dive in quality over the last 30 years exactly because of this kind of fundamentalist-reconstructionist assault. Rational people can only last so long on any given school board or teaching staff debating with these denizens of the deep-six as to whether their school ought to teach such radical notions as Science, to impressionable youth who might end up pregnant because they were exposed to too much….science! They get tired. They get disgusted. No one’s paying attention. No one thanks them. They quit, and their seat opens up to the possibilities of the vast beyond, biblically-speaking from a fundamentalist’s perspective, of course.

We Montana progressives have always acknowledged that there are deep divisions of thought and opinion within our communities. We have always accepted those with whom we disagree. Many of us know the same hymns they do. But we also acknowledge and resent that this basic expression of empathy and decency is not necessarily reciprocated by those who constantly try to demonize anyone who wants to teach their kids science and birth control as hounds from the gates of Hell trying to foist Evil Socialism on the unwary citizens of Hobbitville. We accept that a respectful debate is one thing. Teaching our children how to have a respectful debate is another one thing. But teaching our children, on our public dime, that “respectful debate” includes discussing whether the earth is flat or round is quite another thing. We declare that it’s no small stretch, in the face of demonstrable and catastrophic climate change and equally demonstrable and potentially-catastrophic college entrance exams, that this kind of nonsense is the other side of Ignorant and just this side of Criminal. There are plenty of private Christian military acadamies in this world without aiming Hamilton towards that rathole, thank you, and I think if you feel the same way you should let your school board members know. Right now. These kinds of red-herring issues make everyone working for the district defensive, which is not the position from which to be your most productive and creative, which is what our kids so desperately need, and unless you’re really into vast discussions centered around how many angels really can dance on the head of a pin, these kinds of disingenuous slams from the Right can only be seen as intentional squanderings of our valuable public resources on pointless personal dogma. If you feel you need to have these discussions with your kids, have them in your church, or in your home, and let your church or your home pay for them. Leave the rest of us and our kids out of it. Where are all these Constitution-lovers when it comes to…THE CONSTITUTION???!!! What the hell?!
I rest my case (8).



(1) Latin for "wise guy".


(2) http://www.globalwarming.org/category/global-warming-101/ Funding for Cooler Heads Foundation comes from Exxon Mobil, Ford Motor Co., Big Pharma heavy-hitter Pfizer, the Scaife Foundation as well as another giant front-group in Big Energy’s kit bag, the Earhart Foundation.


(3) Some of the articles listed on the Patriots and Liberty website include: “Too Many Christians–including Evangelicals—are Socialists”, “Creation vs Darwinism: God and Liberty vs Man and Tyranny”, “Welfare Recipient Lives in Million Dollar Home”,  “Yoga’s Frightening Demonic Experiences”, and of course Col. David F. Bedey: “Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’: A Clear and Present Danger “ http://www.patriotsandliberty.com/


(4) Reminder: The now-defunct Celebrating Conservative was the spiritual parent of our three incredible new commissioners, district attorney and Planning Office-manager.


(5) The “Ravalli County Questionnaire” was signed by almost 200 people, including three far-right candidates in the last election cycle, one of which shot a neighbor in his run-up for the Sheriff’s race (Wayne Kelly) and our two self-described “moralists”, one of whom accepted $100,000 from Wall-Mart in their corporate attempt to destroy our downtown business section (Dallas Erickson) and one who is alleged to have swindled $150,000 from a fellow believer while simultaneously condemning anyone who doesn’t want righteous people like himself sticking their nose in their bedrooms to Eternal Damnation (Harris Himes).


(6) ALEC is much more powerful than a lobby or front group. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. The corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the country as their own important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC, which describes itself as a “unique,” “unparalleled” and “unmatched” organization, predates the Supreme Court’s 2010 ‘Citizens’ United’ decision by a significant timeframe. ALECexposed.org.


(7) Ironically, the “father” of Montana Deregulation, Fred Thomas, whose successful 1997 deregulation legislation was written by Goldman-Sachs, is running for SD 45, which HD 89 is within. If consummated, this would be a match made in 1% heaven.


(8) It’s worth noting here that Christian Fundamentalism is not Christianity Whole-Cloth. It is a sect of Christianity, and a particularly peculiar one in this age of science for lack of a better word. Consider that one of the main tenets of Fundamentalism is that every word in the Bible is literally true, that the Earth is in fact only 6,000 years old, etc. Many of these good folks, in turn, believe that this literal belief in the Bible is a required pre-requisite to Constitutional Literalism, which is the Far-Right tenet that the U.S. Constitution—a document written during the European Age of Enlightenment by men who specifically believed in Science with a capital “S” was divinely-inspired AS WRITTEN and all frivolous add-ons to it, such as the last dozen or so amendments and 200 years of case law, are the Devil’s work. Add to this history-as-seen-through-a-literalist-prism that many of these divinely-inspired “founding fathers” specifically refused to self-identify with the Christian Religion at all, were slaveholders, or both. One can only say “ Wow”.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tempest In A Teapot

So here’s the deal in Ravalli County these days. It comes down to the inevitable collision between unreal ideology and real people, budgets and lawsuits. There are also a few corollaries I’d like to address and I’ll try to be coherent, but I want to have fun, too. So…begging your indulgence…here we go.
 Two nice round numbers to keep in mind when thinking about the Ravalli County budget is $50,000 and $250,000. Also keep in mind that Magic, at least in its application to current far-far (far-far) right ideological tenets, is real.
When our newly-elected commissioners presented their budget last August, their first move was to claim that the county was in “crisis”. In real-speak, this “crisis” was manufactured by applying their other-worldly ideology to real-world numbers. In other words, the previous commission had been advised by the very same budget director our new commissioners are now using, that a 3% reserve was normal and fine for a county like ours. After the election, the Ideological Ones (our new commissioners) proclaimed that 3% to be an odious number foisted upon an unsuspecting citizenry by socialists and Agenda 21 dupes who didn’t want them to know that We The People were as broke as three of the richest men in the world keep telling us that we are. For a fact check, remember that Rupert Murdoch is from Australia and the Koch brothers from the sheikdom of Texas. Anyways, our new commission now insisted—using the same budget director as the old commissioners--that the county reserve should have always been 15% and that that’s by god the round hole they’re going to pound it home into come hell or high water.

They then proclaimed that anyone who didn’t agree with them was…well….a socialist or an Agenda 21 dupe not worthy of being represented by them. This blanket dismissal of political rights included folks like myself who were used to vacuous dismissals by developers-in-power. But the blanket was now being thrown over middle-road Bitterrooters who weren’t as used to the treatment and are now scratching their heads wondering how they found themselves wrapped up in the same blanket as U.N. dupes and tree huggers. To any dispassionate observer, which now includes a lot of self-identified conservatives in our valley, this can only be described as Magic.
                          
It’s also revisionist history. We all remember Grover Norquist and Ronald Reagan bragging about shrinking government to the size of an unwed pregnant starlet they could drown in a bazillionaire’s Jacuzzi-spa. We all remember Tinkle-down economics, the Reagan tenet that if you give all your money to rich people they’ll tinkle down on you. Actually, Tinkle-down economics worked as advertised, but laissez-faire economics didn’t. Bathtub-sized government is not only proven B…S…, the striving for it has some really unfortunate side effects for grandkids who didn’t deserve the effects but end up having to pay for them. The Occupy Wall Street movement can be labeled our Exhibit A of really-pissed-off grandkids paying for the follies of their largely aging, predominantly white-middle-class tea-party grandparents, which we’ll label Exhibit B. It didn’t work, doesn’t work, deficits soared and will soar, and the blame for the debacle gets and will get shifted to communists, or in our case, wolves (Exhibit C). This is magic, and believe me. I’m in awe of it.

The amount our intrepid tepid tea ones decreed would save us from communist debtor’s prison (or a pack or two of wolves in our case) was placed at something looking like a quarter of a million dollars. I can’t say the exact number because I’m not sure anyone really knows, but that was roughly what they were going to “save” by firing 20+ county employees, the majority of whom were our lowest-paid salaried workers. The most vulnerable, in other words. Mostly women, in other words.

What a huge coincidence it seemed to all of us who recognized this figure as almost identically-matching the amount the commissioners almost simultaneously agreed to settle for with a disgruntled employee in a secret, improperly-noticed meeting over what turned out to be a bungled political-payback scheme!

Add to this coincidence the first lawsuit, filed by our two J.P.s, claiming that the commissioners were overstepping constitutional separation-of-powers boundaries by unilaterally firing court staff the judges claimed were critical to maintaining the kind of court required to provide justice to the people. By statute and by constitution, both state and federal, the executive branch, our commission in this case, can’t simply wage economic war with the judiciary branch by decree, which they were attempting to do.

Never mind, said the commissioners. They wanted to save the citizens that $42,500 by firing the two women so they took the county to court against itself. Ironically, the trial, conducted in Judge Langton’s court at undisclosed public expense, was argued for the commissioners by Howard Recht, a new hire in the county attorney’s office at $64,000/yr. The justices hired former county attorney George Corn, also at undisclosed public expense. George grilled Kanenwisher to a fine brown toast on the stand, and the county lost all the way around, fiscally-speaking. The commissioners in turn pulled out their magic Ideology Cosmoscope (I guess), inserted the court debacle into it which in turn shined an image against their wall that looked eerily similar to a Kanenwisher power-point presentation, and came up with The Revelation. Rather than lick their wounds and at least act like they believe their own rhetoric about “limited government”, they would throw even MORE supposedly-scarce county resources toward firing two relatively-low-paid women and take this freight train of a case all the way to the Montana Supreme Court. This could take years and cost the county far more than they are purporting to save”…………...........................................................................Sigh...

And there’s so much more. In another huge coincidence, the amount they claimed to be trying to “save” by spending more than the “savings could possibly be worth was almost immediately matched—by themselves   again! This time, it was the $48,000 paid out to political developer-benefactors Aldo and Nicki Sardot to upgrade their subdivision road. This deal is fraught with inconsistencies and downright hypocrisy, including another improperly-noticed Aug. 29th meeting that might as well have been secret when they gave their friends the money, in part because it appears they actually falsified the public record before anyone knew what was happening. We’ll see where that goes, but there's a lawsuit pending on this now, and We The Folks are hopeful that a decision will ensue that enforces accountability on these true believers in the Wicked Witch and socialist wolves.

O.K., speaking of $50,000, how about that Title X grant to fund our Family Planning Clinic that the commissioners bent over backwards trying not to take because it wasn’t right to ask the federal government to do anything for low-income women? Now Commissioner Foss is claiming it’s all our fault we didn’t look for the “alternative” funds that they actually voted to find themselves, even though if they ever found such funds they would try to do something illegal with them due to discrimination issues (see newsletter). She’s also magically saying that they were going to accept the funds all along, that all those official minutes she and her fellow commissioners approved were just a big misunderstanding for those who can't read between the lines and she hopes those mean ol’ pregnant teenagers don’t pester the broke federal government anymore to take care of them. However, inserted into their truly inestimable Ideology Cosmoscope, which shined an image against their wall eerily similar to a Kanenwisher power-point presentation, they had ANOTHER REVELATION. $40,000 in federal grant money revealed itself as a GOOD THING when such funds are applied to building a jetport-lite to facilitate the transportation of golf clubs for rich out-of-staters , and they have not only duly accepted those funds in the name of We The One Percent, but they have their hands out for more.

Now a word about the Civil War. Has it occurred to you yet, when reading about all the wolf horror stories brought forth by neighbors of ours who by their own account moved to our little corner of The Wild West for, well, the Wild West, and actually dress the part complete with guns, that these same folks are also adamantly admitting to being scared to go outside their houses to experience some of that wildness? Wolves can legitimately be seen as scary creatures, to be sure, but so can cars and semi-trucks on a slippery winter road. Does one need to state the obvious? That in choosing a frightening experience you’d think these cowboy-bedecked folks would choose a face-to-face meeting with a beautiful, scary animal in the wild than an un-beautiful semi’s grill on I-90?

Just for reference, I log at least as much time in the woods and hills as most wolf-o-phobes can match, and it speaks volumes to me that I’ve not yet seen a wolf face-to-face. Only their tracks, scat and howls. They go out of their way to avoid anyone who’s really out there, so what the hell? If you have an encounter, I’d say savor it, or at least be honest about it.

Just a postscript on “coordination”: We still have an outstanding Freedom of Information request from last January concerning our commissions’ collusion and possible conflict-of-interest in American Stewards of Liberty’s  for-profit “coordination workshop” put on here in Hamilton for $45/head with four out of five of our commissioners attending. The commission has never honored their statutory obligation to fork over the goods,  like who actually profited from the meeting, what other meetings have our commissioners had with ASL etc. and we feel this would amount to another open-meeting violation as well as a broader open-government violation (vis a vis FOIA). Hasn't happened yet.

Finally, our new Planning Office-Manager Terry Nelson is pulling in about $50,000 with his government plum job gifted to him by his political beneficiaries—our new commissioners. Neslon, as you might remember, is the current Ravalli County Republican Central Committee chair, owns Applebury Surveying, believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, and has no professional experience in planning other than circumventing subdivision regulations for himself and his clients. Kanenwisher and Stoltz actually had to change the job description and title to fit Nelson’s un-qualifications. You might also remember that when he accepted the position, he publicly promised not to take on any new business for Applebury Surveying in an effort to side-step citizens’ charges of conflict-of-interest. There’s now hard evidence sitting on the table, so to speak, that Nelson has broken that promise and has willfully created screaming conflict-of-interest and corruption issues for himself by doing Applebury Survey business on county time in spades. He has yet to be publicly called out for this behavior.

As far as real magic goes, I find myself wishing that our local Celebrating Conservative spawn would click their collective heels three times and go back to pre-Civil War Kansas or wherever it is these crazy notions they’re operating under still hold some water. Suffice it to say that from my perspective as a veteran, a 30+-year-Montana resident, a descendent of pilgrims and union soldiers, prairie wives and  cowboys, a little real-world perspective on the Big Bad Wolf and other related discussions going on in all of our lofty levels of government would be refreshing, and even welcome. Let’s have coffee sometime and talk about antique guns!

Next post promised will be on Hamilton School District

Friday, January 6, 2012

preface to Tempest in a Teapot

Preface to  Tempest in a Teapot
If someone told me that 99.9% of American scientists are involved in a massive conspiracy along with 99.9% of the rest of the world’s scientists to fool the American people into U.N. slavery through Agenda 21-style global-warming strategems, I would say that person should get a copy of the movie “Dr. Strangelove” and take notes. I’d point out they were manifesting classic symptoms of sociopathic paranoia that were identifiable to Hollywood script writers at least as far back as 1964 and that they were a probably a danger to others if not treated, and I’d be right. If that same someone were to indignantly protest that I was misrepresenting her, that she clearly said she believed it was closer to 99% instead of my inflated 99.9%, I’d be forced to add that she was delusional to boot, still just as dangerous, and I’d be right again. If that person then accused me of being a U.N. dupe for holding such unpatriotic views, I’d be amused. Finally, if that person ran for public office and won, deafening fire alarms would start going off in my head and, once again, I’d be right.
Reasonable people who live in Ravalli County, Montana know that this isn’t a hypothetical situation. They’d also recognize that, compared to the toxic paranoid stew of national teabaggery these days, the Bitterroot is just a little teapot’s worth of trouble. But although real tempests are nothing if not localized catastrophes, the tempest we’re experiencing here is our own local version of what's going on all over our great land these days, and a symptom of a grave, possibly fatal, national illness. Every small, rural community is getting hit in similar ways. In a Democracy, Ignorance is Death, and when the burnt scrum of provincial local politics at the bottom of the pot finally builds up and boils over, the stew tastes like nothing more than overcooked personal issues liberally seasoned with jingoist bullshit . Like Samuel Johnson famously put it, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”. He was talking about false patriotism, but we’ve all internalized his maxim, so to speak. So we’re stuck with it, and since we are, let’s use it to contemplate mass paranoia fed by corporate demagoguery.
I write this in the interest of full disclosure. Notwithstanding limiting factors such as time constraints and caffeine shortages, this attempt sums up my baseline definition of “paranoia” in any current political sense. All similarities to actual people and events, therefore, are completely intentional, as are references to “teabaggers” and “teabaggery”. I am, at heart, like Pete Seeger once said, not really a pacifist. If someone were really attacking my homeland—as I believe they are-- I would like to think I’d place myself in the front lines—at least rhetorically, eh? Here's hopin' for a more-informed public and please be forewarned.