Paid Well Enough to Not See it Coming…

For 25 years, I have written about the social and natural evolution of Napa, a diverse county that includes rare and valuable biological “hotspots” and 140,000 people, most of whom are associated with what’s now referred to as the wine “industry.” During that time, I have learned something about developers.

Foremost is the fact that inside all of them is a 6-year-old kid dying to get out and dig a really deep hole. When they finally do get to do so, they fill the hole up with something that wasn’t there before and then repeat the experience with minor variations ad infinitum.

More disturbing, with far-reaching ramifications for all Americans, is the other fact: developers deeply, irrationally, and often vindictively resent anyone who objects to their plans, for whatever reason. This includes neighbors, citizens, scientists, clergy, and elected officials. But none receive more opprobrium than “environmentalists.”

James Conaway, Opinion Piece in Napa Register Guard May 26, 2017

http://napavalleyregister.com/wine/land-use-wine-and-trump/article_e093b513-692f-5da9-ae76-d908161b6e5f.html

 

Beyond the Present

Napa County’s 140,000 citizen’s can’t halt the torrential rain of developers arriving here with plans to build. If you are keeping score at home the developers remain unbeaten. Among the wealthiest among us a trophy property in this famed wine region is an essential element to any property portfolio. Government is controlled by Big Ag. You may want to be on the Board of Supervisor’s only if the wine industry deems your vote as sympathetic to the cause and your spine sufficiently pliant.

The velocity of the pillaging has only increased with land prices. Ordinary folk are squeezed out. The wealthiest among us grouse about not being able to land helicopters at “our” vineyards. They are crestfallen to learn their original 20,000 square foot chateau’s are going to be needlessly scaled back.

All this desecration is taking place before a numb and distracted public. Big money drowns the popular will. Getting in the way of the juggernaut risks personal ruin.  Fish extinction events are in the history books now. Childhood cancer rates are the worst in the state and remain under study while astute players continue to spray pesticides and resist regulation. Water tables are fragile and any slowdown in pumping of groundwater is deemed unnecessary. With the valley built out what remains is now under threat.

That’s the score. This is the truth beneath the veneer. The barons of big business can’t help themselves and the ordinary citizens are so far unable to organize and stop them. The denial is soon to come to a bitter ecosystem induced end that nobody paid well enough to look the other way ever saw coming.

Precious Versions of Personal Hell’s

Grapes

Lifeblood of Poetry and Passion

Good morning from San Diego. Will report there is some fog out my eighth floor window at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. The heatwave seems to be over. National Weather Service is expecting another record setting week ahead. Welcome to life between the heatwaves. My barber on Melrose in Hollywood expects the warm weather to last until November. Don’t trust him with a straight razor.

It feels to me that there is just a bit too much ramming speeding colliding with jamming tactics going on. All this ramming and jamming creates blowback. What I mean is that we’ll rot in traffic for so long and then the lid on top our head blows… its our eighth chakras urging us to abandon our fear of change.

This past week I’ve had to stick my head way up into what the Napa County Planning Commission’s business. It ain’t pretty peeps. They’re grinding through the process of approving, of allowing, of altering, scaling back, of listening sincerely, then doing what they were going to do in the first place. Theirs is more of a jam it up, then ram it through game than the other way around.

Dispensation of the last permissions to the last parcels as the wine country approaches full capacity is to witness the malpractice of democracy blended with a mendacious capitalism in a temporal demolition derby where the competitors all end up in their precious versions of their own personal hells.

That’s how we roll this fine weekend. We are barreling toward a showdown. Will they call for a moratorium? Will the developers mount a recall campaign? Will traffic grow so congested as to cork access to the jewel of the New World oneological promised land? It’s the hell bent big boys striking back against the perverted preservationists.

At the mouth of the Napa River is Mare Island in Vallejo. There is the perfect place. Vallejo could use the business and the Napa Valley can live without it. We build hotels on Mare Island. Build as many as the island can hold. We ferry visitors upriver to downtown Napa. From there they put the guzzling hordes onto the wine train, and from there they go north and then they are  uncorked upon a pristine winegrowers paradise. There they find that there is little to no traffic, there are fuel cell powered electric shuttles that take guests from tasting room to tasting room. At the end of the day visitors enjoy a return voyage back to Mare Island where they drink more wine, take more aspirin, and make more love after drinking a bottle of wine they can’t possibly afford. Perfection….

Ignacio's Home

Ignacio Sandras’s Place in the Napa Valley

It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Canary Starts Sizzling…

Six Boats

Setting Sail for a Better Future

Let’s head out from here where sanity prevails. First, we have a global manmade climate crisis. Got that? Let’s get our priorities right. Wake up!

Next up is worldwide population levels continuing to expand while we wreak havoc upon the support system all these new lives will need if they are to survive.

Our politics and our economics are complex. This is a two headed monstrosity. One defends the other, while the other goes about plundering the world and taking a modest sum of their profits to keep propping up their enablers.

Like an addict business just can’t help itself. The business of business turns out to be all too often quite rapacious of resources and let’s just say not particularly talented at focusing upon sustainability to say nothing of mankind’s survival.

And then there is Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a Democrat running for office and she can’t take a position on the Keystone Pipeline? That’s not going to get the job done. Does she support the Transpacific Partnership; a trade agreement that affects 40% of the world’s global trade? No, she can’t say one way or another. We are being asked to vote for a riddle inside of a mystery.

There is all of this plus we have Republican Senators plotting in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act which would result in stripping 17 million citizens of their health insurance. This isn’t humanity’s best moment.

Plus, with the world bursting at the seams with people this same grand deliberative body is rushing as fast as their fake bile can be spewed to defund an organization that tries to help all of humanity in general and women in particular to determine if and when they will have a child.

Some low life named Drudge calls the Pope the Antichrist. Some Cuban out of Florida running for higher office claims Obama is covertly funding the same terrorists that the Pentagon is trying to kill. Please…

Here is the situation. We have to deal with climate change. That means doing something about it here. We’ll need to work with every other country in the world because this isn’t just our problem it is the world’s problem too.

Next up is getting control of the world’s most voracious inhabitants… human beings. Where to start? Well, obviously we’ll need to figure out where all these people are coming from and why there are so many individuals, religions and governments blocking efforts to help humanity manage their reproductive systems. What the hell is wrong with you people?

This isn’t a mystery. If we deploy women’s health care programs across the world we will enable billions of earth’s citizens to have the chance to choose the right moment to start a family.

If you object to offering others the chance to choose how they wish to arrange their lives then you might well be confused about what the difference is between freedom and tyranny.

Finally the stupendous wealth that has accumulated in the hands of so few has in turn been used to frustrate efforts to put in place policies that will go a long way toward solving humanity’s problems. It turns out great wealth is in and of itself a great big problem.

Billionaires are not a feature of capitalism they are a flaw and to drain the swamp of excess wealth is to make our world a safer more egalitarian place where we might well survive if only we can clear our minds of the haze and get focused on the challenges we face.

Does this sound radical? Cleaning our air? To help men and women determine when to start a family? To tax our wealthiest citizens more and our poorest citizens less?

Some political party is going to have to clear their throat and speak out and then pass the necessary legislation. Trump and Sanders are merely canaries in the coal mine. They are harbingers sounding the alarm.

Our political, religious and economic systems are in desperate circumstances. They are all in need of change and yet each has exquisitely organized itself to resist change. One way or another, this is going to come to an end. I’d prefer a soft landing or if not perhaps it is time we start manufacturing helmets… and fast.

Five Boat

Let’s Set Humanity’s Course for Survival

The Kilted Salvation

Past as Prelude Mayan Ruins
Past as Prelude
Mayan Ruins

 

It Was Not A Surprise

The Scottish National Party swept this last week’s elections. They built majorities by convincing Labour Party voters to switch allegiances to the Scottish National Party.

I had followed last year’s vote in Scotland to decide whether they would secede from Great Britain. The initiative failed but the Scottish National Party continued to organize.

That vote plunged the Labour Party into their present crisis. Without the Scot’s Labour may never again be capable of building a majority coalition in Parliament. Never is a long time.

Scotland will press for another vote to secede. If there is any hope of keeping the whole of Great Britain together it will be because the Torres cease ramming through Parliament decidedly conservative policies and instead begin compromising with the progressives in Scotland.

The City of London is loath to let go of their dominion over all things economic. The Scot’s apparently are much too socialist. National Health Care, free universities, and public pensions are unaffordable. The City fears they may well be taxed more.

The tensions between the voracious financial sector and the spine stiffened progressives in Scotland are a wicked bit of business. It is but one of many skirmishes taking place across the globe.

SketchGuru_20150509150710

When Will the Greed Stop

Here back in the United States a vote next week in Congress to give the President Trade Promotion Authority will be taken. Multinational corporations advocating for this bill are not complaining about the labor or environmental provisions and that tells you everything you need to know. A more progressive agreement would be met with a multinational megaphoned shriek of grief and moans. A broad coalition against this agreement is fighting back.

In fact the Trade Promotional Authority the President seeks may indeed increase the profits corporations earn from trade. But, think with me for a moment. “ — trade creates winners and losers. Econ 101 says that the winners outnumber the losers in dollar terms, but not necessarily in people terms — if the richest 1 percent of Americans gain $1 billion from a trade agreement and the other 99 percent lose $900 million, then Ricardo’s theory says the country benefited overall. That outcome is perfectly consistent with Econ 101.”

That is the neoliberal economic model’s Achilles heel. On the whole free trade has by design benefitted the wealthiest. We are bombarded with distortions and half-truths by the moneyed interests that have gained by these trade agreements. Too much corporate money is drowning out the national interests. The world cannot keep pumping further profits into the pockets of the few at the cost of shortchanging so many.

There is no such thing as a free market. Nature is not a free market. Markets are a construct of human design. Rules and regulations are put in place to manage them. The City of London and the Wizards of Wall Street would prefer that we allow their designs and formulas to take priority. They have not any greater wisdom or authority than any other individuals or interest groups. They’ve tilted the playing field in their favor for too long. We’ve the worst income inequality in the world, a worldwide financial crisis we continue to suffer from. There are a vast trove of problems neoliberalism has no answers for.

The most serious of these problems we describe as climate change. At its root is the possibility that we trigger an extinction event that ends in wiping us all off the face of this earth. The one elixir to all of this is hope. We must have hope. And if there is to be any hope of our having a better future it will come by our insisting that our political and economic systems offer reality based solutions to the problems we face. The neoliberal economic model of freer trade, lower taxes and less regulation needs to be modified so that we may get on with the great task of saving all of humanity from its own worst enemy. We have done much damage and saving ourselves from ourselves is the kind of complexity and paradox that is all too prone to being gamed.

This is the great work ahead. The courageous and brave people of Scotland may well be the spark ready to point the way. The fierce kilted bagpipers and army of determined brave souls marching on the problems of the world is indeed a hope to be reckoned with.

La Buena Vida Akumal, Mexico The Authors Office
La Buena Vida
Akumal, Mexico
The Authors Office

 

We Don’t Drink the Water, We Take the Water

The Lightness of Neoliberal Being
The Lightness of Neoliberal Being

 

It may well be a mistake to read The Sixth Extinction. I’m susceptible to dour outlooks. Rather prefer a cheery point of view. Once in my Haight-Ashbury days my cosmic optimism came psychedelically amplified.

Replacing countercultural adventurism for this four decade long experiment in neoliberal economics is morphing into a rolling planetary disaster.

Case in point is the Loon Star State of Texas going bat crap crazy. Detention centers in abandoned Walmart Stores? People in Texas if you are going to be deluded do it Texas style and go King Sized.

Last Tuesday’s election Alberta, Canada tosses out their 44 year old rightwing for some newfangled progressive adventure. No wonder Texas is frightened and I’m tickled ‘commi-pink’.

Then, last night David Cameron and the City of London have got Scotland so worked up by their rapacious behavior that they birthed a full-on secessionist impulse among people that were once known for manufacturing fuddy-duddy woolen products and barrel aged booze. Good going boys. The Torres (conservatives) may well rule in Britain, but it may turn out to be a vastly diminished kingdom that they are left to despoil.

California’s drought has got everyone’s attention. With 400 different water boards scattered chaotically across the state the overlapping contradictory allocations of water rights deeded and lawfully recorded has been done in such a byzantine convoluted manner that no one and nobody can make heads or tails of it all. And you got to remember this is over water that did not fall and has not fallen for four years now. It is turning water rights into a theoretical conundrum.

Big multinational conglomerates have descended upon Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake Counties. Like lumber barons of the past they plant vines like Douglas Fir- cheek to jowl- while praying for rain and pumping groundwater at homo-ignoramus rates.

Not to be outdone by the states antiquated water board’s the various county supervisors have bent over backwards to embrace the overdevelopment of the wine growing region. You take a deeded absolute right to the water, toss in a multinational corporation, add a bought and paid for county supervisor and out of their mouths pops things like, “this is still a free country” and these businesses have an “absolute right” to the water deeded to them. For Christ’s sake we are talking about the ‘blessed sacrament’ itself. Christianity could learn a thing or two about capitalism and faith.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Big agriculture in Northern California is driving its inhabitants to the nuthouse. You’d think that water from the Russian River was meant for the people that live there. Where in the name of Wall Street did you ever get that idea from?  Huge flows of capital are rushing in sucking every last drop of water on a crop they are exporting to markets overseas. They take the water, ship the crop and pocket the money into an account in the Cayman Islands. This is God’s good work, capitalism at its very best. Tax breaks for everyone!

Who the hell has time to do anything about climate change? I was standing 40 feet above sea level in the heart of the Napa Valley in the hamlet of Rutherford a month back. Forty feet sounds pretty good don’t you think?

For the moment the San Francisco Bay extends north beyond Vallejo and spreads out upon a magnificent wetlands system that comes right up to the edge of Napa. Antarctica is now melting at a rate faster than ever measured. And you know where that water ends up? Oh come on… forty feet of sea level rise? That isn’t even possible is it? Not in our lifetimes.

And that my friend’s is the beauty of the neoliberal economic model. You don’t worry about tomorrow you keep your eye on today. That’s all there is to it. Sometimes we can be so oblivious to the economic benefits of free trade.

 

 

Kissing George Wallace at a Petting Party

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Fire the Boat Up… We’re Coming For Them…

It is all connected. Let’s review. Climate change is real and carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere is the cause of the problem.

Income inequality is real and uber wealthy titans of industry and finance have rigged capitalism and now literally spray money to regulators and politicians to maintain the status quo. This is a problem.

Sideshows? Sure we got plenty. In U.S. it is voter suppression legislation. The majority up at the House of Representatives is of the opinion that the voting rights act does not need to be renewed. They are a problem.

Union busting has been such a success we need to move on. What else can we do? Let’s defund social security. It ain’t nothing but a New Deal communist plot to weaken the spineless and lazy laborers.

More… We will create a 401K, then we’ll make it kind of cheesey… make it kind of mathematical and then while it looks like you are getting a 5% return on your retirement account we’ll let the fund managers take 2% off the top leaving you with 3%… Yeah, that gets the fund managers 40% of your return. You got that or is it too hard to wrap your head around? You shouldn’t be allowed to vote you are so stupid. You can be your own worse problem.

That my friends is what we are up against. Ready for this one? About 90 multinational corporations are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases being dumped into the worlds atmosphere. Ninety multinationals with thousands of locations, but when you are fighting snakes you go for the head of the animal not its tail.

The parade of rush hour traffic goes and surrounds each one of these ninety titans of industry and we punch them in the face (dramatic expression only… use your words) until they figure out how to stop dumping all the carbon dioxide they make into the atmosphere?

It isn’t complicated. That feeling of helplessness you are feeling isn’t a symptom it is a feature. The Fear News Channel pumps non-stop terror into your amygdala keeping you hypnotized into believing that what we really need is a bigger bomber and more guns in the hands of our citizens.

What if what we needed was a posse to saddle up and go arrest a few hundred white collar elites throw them in jail and then be sure to pay a fair wage to workers who we hire to shut down and or clean up those ninety multinational corporations?

Our institutions are failing us and by us I mean the collective good will of virtually every citizen I speak to on the street in the course of my day. I do not meet a single soul that wants to burn every last piece of carbon based fuel on this earth, incinerate ourselves and literally bring civilization to an end.

Citizens I know are also for a fair wage for a fair days work. Most of us are so piss poor at math we don’t even know what it means to have a boss that earns 400 times more salary than we do. What does that mean? It means if you get a salary of $4000. per month your boss is making $1,600,000. (one million six hundred thousand dollars) per month.

When you explain this most people cannot believe that is the truth. No wonder we want to privatize education. You see we count on you not be able to count and even when you can count we count on you not having any faith you could do a damn thing about it. So far they’ve been right.

You are reading my outline to my next novel and it will be a comedy. If you got a problem with any of this maybe time to ask yourself how whether its just a faith based case of delusion you got gripping your mind.

Ninety multinational corporations… and every single one of them is run by some guy who wished he’d been around to vote for George Wallace.

Hot Spring Honeymoon is now on Kindle Select… ” I didn’t want the book to end…” 

Sleeping with the Spineless Devil

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                      Good God it’s Sunrise Over Oakland, California
                    Nothing but progressives as far as an eye can see

Welcome to my particular version of hell. In this version of my personal hell there are two devils.

One is called Republican’s and the other is called Democrat’s. We only get two.

The Republican Party is totally into climate change and global warming. They can’t get enough carbon into the atmosphere fast enough. It is full speed ahead.

The Democrat’s on the other hand they look like a bunch of amoeba’s looking to find their backbones.

If you are keeping score at home: R’s totally into carbon and D’s are not totally. They are more closet carbon sympathizers.

On the issue of financial regulation we have Republican’s who are totally into deregulation under the veil of “technical fixes” and “job creation.” That rhetoric is all made of the stuff that comes out of the business end of a horse.

Democrat’s are kind of for stronger regulation. But, they are going to need a whole lot more calcium in their diets is all I can say.

Too many suffer from what I call campaign contribution amnesia. Funny how an otherwise standup politician of outstanding intellect and moral rectitude can sing soprano in a bath house of rectal rehydrating lobbyists tinkering with their vote by way of legal bribes and under the table babes.

That means as far as Congress goes we have a functional bipartisan group of politicians, most overtly and some covertly ready to do whatever it takes to keep the carbon based industry and Wall Street Fat Cat’s happier than a fully fed Great White Shark.

Case in point: Senator Amy Klobuchar our esteemed Democratic senator from Minnesota speaking on Meet the Press, she said the Keystone XL Pipeline “has merit.”

So do topless dancers, cheating husbands, and Ford Pintos.

Here is the bottom of the rot gut barrel line as far as this writer is concerned. You are either for saving civilization and willing to vote to stop capitalism from committing a carbon fueled mass extinction event or you are not. That’s it. It isn’t confusing.

With regard to the problem of what to do about the uber wealthy in this country? Sometimes this is called “income inequality or sometimes it is called wealth inequality.” This isn’t complicated. It is simple. You want to see some real entertainment? Start with the complete end of corporate tax code loopholes. That is what is known as the kind of deregulation a Democratic voter can believe in.

All of the Republican’s are against fixing the economic system and many of the Democrat’s can’t seem to find the spine to be for it.

Now, I don’t reckon I’d ever want to sleep with a Republican, but if Hillary wants to take a shot she’s going to have to do some mighty fine sweet talking before I let her have her way with me.

Getting someone to say what they mean, and mean what they say? That my friends is the difference between getting laid and being screwed.

All of the sudden I feel like we are communicating with each other.

So, I got my lips pressed up to this young man and he wraps his arms around me and squeezed me harder than a tube of toothpaste.”

Only live once, might as well mix in a few wild squeezers.”

Hot Spring Honeymoon