Monday, August 27, 2018


Gerrymandering is about changing the boundaries of jurisdictions:  juri--law; diction--spoken.  We think of the changing of boundaries as being about voting, but it also part of law, a variation on definitions which is another way to tunnel under the meanings of written law.  Changing the boundaries and definitions are ways to defy the will of the people, while claiming to follow it.  

In theory, the law makes a line between what is permitted and what is not.  In fact, this is true, but public sentiment can subvert written law, as when a beloved figure is tried in a court of law, but the jury refuses to convict.  The REAL boundary is arbitrary and culturally controlled: that is, if people don't agree with the explicit law, they'll just ignore it. 

The great danger of this is that it means an opportunity for profit at that law/boundary.  First of all, one can sell what now goes for a higher price because it is forbidden and therefore has cachet and exciting risk.  Second, once someone has bought something illegal, blackmail is on the table, an additional source of profit.  Prohibition is the paradigmatic example.

Over the last few years the laws have become tighter and more idealistic.  This has meant that there are many laws and regulations that are ignored because people have looked left and right at the neighbors they know, and decided the law is irrelevant.  "Everybody does it" erases the idea of not cheating on taxes.  Drugs were a precursor.  An attempt was made to stigmatize certain practices as a backup to law (or maybe a trigger for the law) and strengthening of law, but a wave of anti-stigmatizing complicates that.  If everybody takes drugs bought on the street, they must be redeemed by antidotes and programs, instead of just letting them die, or -- worse -- pilling their corpses somewhere in plain sight, a variation of heads on spikes.  But the people who love them in spite of everything will not allow it.

I grew up with suppertime conversation centered on cooperatives versus corporations.  My father worked for a cooperative, but as soon as it was bought out by a corporation, he was fired as incompetent and redundant.  As far as I know, the accusations were true.  He was not good for the profit line.  So that's a bias, but I expected my father NOT to be those things, to do something about it.  He didn't.  I blamed him.

Incorporation -- pretending that an organizational body is a REAL body -- is a great way to avoid taking personal responsibility.  One is simply a small part of a big group.  The co-op was sold, the same as the local co-ops in Valier, as a way of exiting responsibility as in member voters researching and deciding management practices.  They don't have time, it's too hard, it's not efficient, we hate having to go out in the evening after working all day . . .  Before you realize, like Missoula, the town water system has been sold to people willing to hold you hostage because you don't even know where they are, much less who they are.

The great social conflation of our time is the folding of corporations into mafia -- first they become like one themselves, then they join another more global one.  As my mother used to say,  "For every bug there's a bigger bug."  Once you have no real reason to object -- partly because you don't know and partly because it's easier at first -- you've become biofilm.  When bacteria in your sinuses reach a point where they can form biofilm, it's just about impossible to get rid of sinusitis.  Creating a mafia is quite parallel.

Just as the great gift of humans is the ability to change the environment to suit themselves, it is the strength of mafia-style corporations to change the environment of doing business so that it responds to gaming.  The best game is normalizing criminal behavior so as to declare that it is no longer criminal, but simply the normal way of doing business:  laundering money, ignoring bank regulations, bribing governments, triggering famine.  In his railing against what happened to Pacific Supply Farmer's Wholesale Co-operative, my father immunized me against corporations, even churches.

On Twitter "Lincoln's Bible" is systematically and historically proving that the Republicans have become a mafia, with Trump only a figurehead supplied by someone or someones who sound like "Star Wars" characters controlling both Trump and Putin.  If Repubs begin to diverge, they are grabbed by the throat.  Part of the case is that many of these opportunists (because of the cover of government they can evade the charge of being criminals) put down roots around here.  

In the nineteenth century the area was home to gangsters on horses, maybe stealers of horses, purveyors of alcohol, users of force.  When I came in 1961, Mrs. Tellefero, who lived where Piegan Institute is now, had been the daughter of a store keep in St. Marys who occasionally let renegades takes shelter in the store, sleeping on the counters to avoid the draft across the floor.  When Mrs. Tellefero, then a girl, went to her own bed, she leaned a shotgun against the head.  I don't know whether she ever had to use it.  

But maybe I'm remembering wrong.  Maybe it was Mr. Tellefero who was a store keep and Mrs. Tellefero's father was a doctor who was never harmed because he was so needed.  The shotgun is what I remember.  Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat on the Canada side of a then very permeable border, were populated by Texans.  That means Confederates.  It also means Sein Fein and the KKK.

The Conservative Party of Canada just voted to end birthright citizenship in Canada.  That means one cannot be a citizen simply by being born there.  You'll have to meet protocols and standards and be dangled.  That is, the qualification for citizenship is at the mercy of the authorities.

At present the boundary with Canada is not moved, but it is enforced from the US side with hardened vigor.  Now that ICE is in the picture, that hardness extends to death.  But mafias know that getting too harsh too soon can be a mistake.  Manafort has two good reasons not to flip:  the hope of a pardon from a mafia don and the threat of death -- if not him, someone he cares about.  If I were his wife, I would sleep with a shotgun leaned against the head of the bed.

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