Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Last night, January 28, 2014, several hundred Whatcom County residents packed out the Council Chambers to watch and speak to the decision on continuing or dropping the Whatcom County Government appeal over the GMHB determination on exempt wells.

The crowd about 10 minutes before the meeting started.
As if anticipating a heated, blistering evening of rhetoric, Carl Weimer and Ken Mann opened the Council meeting with an announcement that a closed door decision had not been made during the immediately preceding executive session. They then promptly moved to continue funding for the appeal. Carl Wiemer generously acknowledged that a court ruling in this situation would provide certainty that would be good for all. Great guy, Carl Wiemer. Council voted 7 to 0 to continue funding the appeal. Then open session testimony began.

Testimony largely ran unchecked in favor of challenging the growth management hearings board ruling. There were several who chided council and landowners for seeking financial gain over wellness or good will. There were also two sizable groups that spoke in favor of 1) local regulation of marijuana growing or processing business locations and 2) creating taxing authority (another progressive funding stream) for arts groups in local settings.

Having watched the acrimony of the past election season, and seen the predominance of progressive minded testimony on local issues in the last year, the silence from the local progressive organizers last night was deafening. Adding that to the strong campaign promises of Mann and Wiemer with their pre-election votes to scuttle the GMHB well appeal, I said to myself, “What is up? Is this another charade? Why the tight lipped silence from the progressives? Something is fishy here.”

After a prolonged release of air from the emotional balloon, the open session ended and 75% of the people went home. Then came the selection of appointees to various commissions and boards. I said to myself, “Perhaps this change of course for Mann and Wiemer on the well appeal is calculated to clear the air, to suggest a spirit of good will and coming together. Perhaps, but keep watching, John.”

Sure enough, a different tack was taken with appointment of planning commissioners. Incumbents Jeff Rainey and Rod Erickson, having a track record of supporting existing property rights and landowners and challenging progressive initiatives from planning department staff, were decisively replaced with three progressively oriented commissioners. Michelle Luke did not re-apply.

One of the “new” planning commission appointees, (having served two prior terms on the planning commission), lawyer David Hunter,  has a reputation as being extremely verbally abusive, a gifted and biting cross examiner of property and business owners that “enter his private court” during planning commission sessions.

The David Hunter appointment, to me is instructive of where things will go with this council. Ken Mann and Barry Buchanan first preferred a more moderate progressive, (there is the engaging smile) while Carl Weimer and Rud Browne voted for Hunter (the finger in the eye). Brenner, Crawford and Kremen voted for Jeff Rainey. In the second vote, Mann and Buchanan came together with Weimer and Browne to appoint David Hunter.

The impact of the planning commissioners, in my view, will have a far greater impact on ongoing county policy than the exempt wells ruling appeal. Smart, hungry progressives. Sleepy, sheepy conservatives. The fairy tales of The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood are playing again.

Good cop, bad cop. Limiting choices. Move county policy and citizens left, left, left.

How does Saul Alinsky advise his disciples to operate? Only moderate in appearance. Always go for the kill. Keep the fight going. If they bring a knife, you bring a gun. Alinsky’s dedication of his book, Rules for Radicals, to Lucifer is fitting. Once upon a time there was a cruel king named Herod. No means were too violent, too evil if they kept him in power. Watch out, Whatcom County!!

One last thought. What if the exempt wells ruling appeal went to negotiation? What if the appeals court or the supreme court never had to validate the rule of law here? What if Mann and Wiemer met with the lawyer for the exempt wells litigants behind closed doors and worked out some concessions from the county for a measure of peace and joint progressive advance? RE Sources (Weimer) and Futurewise (Melious) both have the same basic playbook.

What if the same pattern that got the Lummis off the hook in the ground water dispute several years ago was used here? In that setting, when the judge was indicating that the Washington State supported Lummi claims were without grounds, the Lummi’s withdrew their suit and filed for negotiation. In the end, they got a large measure of what they wanted, outside the courts, and their claims were held in abeyance, never ruled against.

Good cop, Bad cop. The game is on.

What is the next stage? Just as the national Republican Establishment is at war with the Tea Party over stripping away entitlements and K Street influence, so local individual conservative activists will likely end up ground between the progressive upper mill stone, and the corporate business lower stone.

An example of this is the proposed WID system that farmers are considering. To maintain some self determination, farmers are realizing that they have to organize like their tribal and governmental bureaucracy adversaries. It is not just enough to show up, you have to have taxation authority (funding), and be able to threaten serious damage to the other side.

What a great place to live. Behind the tall cedars and glorious vistas of Whatcom County is this war. Will local corporate interests stand up for their historical neighbors? Most likely not. Survival of the business will supersede survival of traditional local values.

Case in point? Again, from last night, it is a local corporate name, Lautenbach, that has applied for a marijuana license in a building in the middle of Clearbrook community in north Whatcom County. After considering an appeal from the Clearbrook families to grow/process marijuana with some setbacks from the homes, the applicant has decided his hot business prospects trump local family values and safety concerns.

Good cop, bad cop. The only winners will be those whose endgame is multi-generational. After this “cold, socialist war” plays itself out, in thirty or fifty or one hundred years, (think USSR 1916-1989) some one’s descendants will rebuild something here.

What does the future hold? The future is the children!

-- JK

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sure Footing

When I was fifteen, I bought a pair of hiking boots. I wore them every day during that summer. Jumping from boulder to boulder along miles of beaches, pulling myself along the abandoned rail grades through tall forests on Quadra Island, I was able to enjoy the company of other like-minded young people as we lived out the idyllic weeks of summer and sun. I still have those boots, forty years later. They were quality made!

How did those boots tame sharp rocks? What made them laugh at soggy rail beds? They were crafted to endure and protect, to carry human sized weights with comfort and strength. They gave sure footing.

Rural and suburban residents of Whatcom County are facing sharp rocks and steep inclines these days. Certain “neighbors” have taken it upon themselves to “democratize” the rest of us, to use lawsuits and social action groups to “correct” land and water usages which they have decided are immoral.

There will always be playground bullies, acting out the good cop/bad cop routine.  When bullies gather in gangs, they usually get their way. When bullies are sophisticated in massaging the truth to their ends, they can go quite a ways towards gaining their objectives before their victims even know they are being plundered. Surprise and subterfuge are important. Paralyzing dismay indicates the “game” is almost over, the plunder is almost complete.

Such is the state of Whatcom County, of Washington State, of America. The progressives have been termiting our culture for many decades.

How did we get here? Is there anything that can be done? What victim reactions will do more damage than the oppressors could ever imagine? Who are the oppressors? Who ARE the victims?

Is the system beyond repair? What compromises must be endured? Are compromises even a possibility? Must the polarizing of this county and country increase? What happened to win-win solutions?

I would like to use three of Solomon’s proverbs to attempt to craft footwear for these perilous times here in Whatcom County.

(Just as the Bolsheviks redistributed the wealth of Ukrainian businessmen in the 1920’s, and brought decades of famine and death, so we have progressive politicos who are toying with the money of Seattle millionaires to affect redistribution of property and water rights in Whatcom County by electing extremely progressive legislators who appoint extremely progressive judges and commissioners.)

Proverbs 22:3  A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Proverbs 28:28  When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.
Proverbs 29:18  Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Good people are now calling for an all out appeal to the newly elected Whatcom County Council over their expected decision this coming Tuesday evening,  regarding the water rights appeal lawsuit before the Washington State Appeals Court. It is good to speak up for rights established in law. I would encourage you to speak up in favor of completing this appeals court lawsuit.

It can be argued that where “conservative” council members have been besieged by legions of foppish progressive proxies, the appearance of awakened conservative land owners in county chambers has slowed the progressive onslaught somewhat. Such appeals strengthened the resolve of conservative leaders to oppose redistribution of wealth and unlawful takings of property.

But is this the full hiking boot that is needed for the razor sharp perils we must walk through? What is the vision that will surmount the evil day?

1) Identify and work with real problem solvers. Cut out the pretenders. Cross boundaries and de-stratify conservative action groups.

Last week, I listened to a group of farming community leaders discuss plans to counter the progressive land and water grabs.

ReSources was there, and used their allotted to ten minutes to put their best foot forward. Carl Wiemer, ReSources guru, attended, and listened attentively as Wendy Steffenson painted the ReSources project in the Ten Mile Creek watershed in glowing water stewardship colors. Sharp questioning was deferred, and a civil atmosphere was maintained.

The Lummi Tribe was there. Jeremy Friemund made a case for Lummi water rights, however, in contrast to the ReSources presentation, there was extensive, substantive questioning that went back and forth.

The last hour of that meeting was a nine member working group of farmers, three each from dairy, berries and general horticulture, who presented a plan to create county wide Water Improvement Districts. By law, a WID can self organize itself, collect, and use taxes to carry out its agreed on projects. In other parts of Washington State, WIDs have worked together with tribes to hammer out win-win solutions. The state legislature seems to look with favor on such coalitions, sending millions of dollars of funding to help with capital infrastructure programs such as separation of handling facilities for potable water from irrigation water. After the meeting, farmers were encouraged to sign up for involvement in setting up WIDs in five or six sub-watersheds in Whatcom County.

What is my point?

Farmers are large water users. For a couple of decades, farmers have been hiding themselves. A barrier to the EPA/DOE WA onslaught was created by having WSDA inspect local dairy farms for manure handling and water quality standards. That barrier is now under large assault by progressive change agents.

Now, however, with a progressive dominated county council, farmers have their backs to the wall. Other resource use groups such as the BIA of Washington State are stepping up to plate to offer funding for this water appeal. Such developments are heartening, but late in the game. Still, the progressive bullies may have to play hardball instead of plundering other surprised citizens.

My question is this. Farmers who feed the rest of us have grounds to push back against water and property grabs by the progressives. But, where are the farmer’s kids? Where is the next generation? There were many youthful faces in the farmer’s meeting. But, how can an electorate that votes to deny local slaughterhouses come to terms with the practical careers of producing food?

2) Invest in children. This is a contest of generations. Get ready to pass the baton to the next generation.

Many conservative water rights activists themselves live the life of Riley, eating but not producing food. After the farmers’ WID meeting, the question was, what is the role of the non farmers in water rights discussions? If the WID group dominates, what about well owners? Manufacturers? Other non farm groups? The stratification of modern culture is much more pervasive than we realize. Do we really understand and accept and work with other groups we pay initial lip service to?

One more window. Last week I was invited to a multi-level marketing promotion. A privately held company, ACN Inc, has gained the confidence of many essential service providers. With the legislated deregulation of gas and electric utilities, individuals will be able to shop rates from businesses that buy and sell gas and electricity futures. There is big sales force money to be made as service providers prefer the efficiencies of multi-level marketing groups such as ACN.

Apart from disliking multi level sales pressures, I am alarmed. The return on investment of corporate employees has fallen so low that all large cellular providers allow ACN to underbid their own in house plans, knowing they will make more money from the motivated external sales and service agents than from their own employees.

What a commentary on our culture. What a rebuke to our business systems, to our educators, to our parents. What footwear can give sure footing in such cultural quicksands? The problems of water and property rights in Whatcom County pale in comparison to living in a nation of incompetents.

What hiking boots will carry the day? What gives sure footing? An evil day brings suffering to all.

One. Survivors measure objectives against abilities. Douglas MacArthur did return to the Philippines to lead liberation forces against Japanese invaders, but he had to leave first. Sure footing requires sure ground, and engagements in quicksand usually end in both parties being sucked to doom.

Two. Survivors see the end game. Folly collapses under its own weight, but not usually the first day.

Three. Survivors stay fit. Seriously, why did conservatives along the BNSF right of way become the slim majority that gave the progressives this most recent Whatcom County election? Maybe we conservatives need to lose some pounds to fit into the hiking boots. Maybe we have become like the monkey that is easily captured because it will not let go of the peanuts in the entrapping gourd. What is more important? Money? Investments? Retirements? Luxury waterfront homes? Or skills, character, generosity and generational transfer of values?

Four. Ultimate survivors see and serve the hidden hand. There is a transcendent element to this life on this ball. We are not just animals, fighting out survival and then vanishing forever. There is a God who rules and rewards, who even allows progressive county councils for his larger purposes. Is Whatcom County the destination, or a “green room” for something bigger?

In his book, “How Civilizations Die”, David Goldman singles out evangelical Christians and orthodox Jews as ethnicities that will survive when other groups fall below a reproduction rate of 1.2 children per family. He says it is their sense of heaven or a coming kingdom of God where physical death is reversed and life is restored in an ultimate paradise that motivates them to bear and raise full families that preserve their traditions.

So, let’s speak up. Let’s organize. Let’s force the progressives to stop playing shell games. Let’s work with real stake holders like the tribes, not these phony pretenders like Stalheim and Melious and their millionaire meddlers. Let’s grow some of our own food. Let’s encourage the farmers who feed us. Let’s understand the tribal groups and give them a measure of the certainty that they desire. And, let us also be willing to invest, even die for the next generations, not just our own petty comforts.

-- JK


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Capitalism, Families, Corporatism, Charity.

For better or worse, Life 101 involves capital assets. Capital assets can be tough to manage. Capital assets provide for us, and also can get us into a lot of trouble. No pain, no gain. No risk, no return. No humility, no charity.

When we are children, we are provided for. When we are parents, we provide. When we are grandparents, we watch provision wobble on. Gaining, using, sharing, hoarding, leaving behind… asset management is pervasive.

Two opposing realities all people experience are life and death, order and entropy. There is the wonder of the green blade springing out of the earth, providing food, shelter and beauty. There is the shock of drought, disease, fire and harvest, life consumed in death and the struggle to not die so fast.

No where is this so evident as on a farm.

Cycles of planting, cultivating, harvesting, and dormancy miniaturize seasons of human life every year. Cycles of animal breeding, gestation, birth, nurture and independence model cause and effect for us and our children.

And, nothing escapes the tearing and shock of destructive forces that are beyond our control. A lamb dies when the mother ewe inadvertently smothers it on a cold spring night. A lamb dies when a birth defect robs it of its functions of life. A lamb dies when a coyote makes a meal out of it.

Life and death. Shiny new metal tools that get rusty blades and rotten wooden handles. We get tired of the fight, and look for mitigation. Why not sell out and retire into town. That corporate job sure looks good! Shift work? 12 hour days? Unhappy mommies? We can put up with it.  "Can" the farm troubles!!

Recently, I read several eye popping histories that look at American corporate investments and values at probably the most sensitive level—espionage. Some of you may recognize the name of former federal prosecutor, John Loftus. His several epic portrayals of 20th century international political and economic subterfuge are at least highly controversial, and at most totally damning of the American corporate soul.

In short, shut out of extreme corporate advancement by Theodore Roosevelt’s anti-trust/monopoly laws, American big money families gained a legal loophole that enabled them to play business cartel games at the international level. Two decades of lucrative investments into Russia, Germany and Saudi Arabia culminated in huge conflicts of interest as World War 2 burst into flames.

Indicted at the highest levels by previously highly classified and deliberately buried government archives, leading American corporate families and American State Department officials were co-perpetrators of the Holocaust. After the war, they became more deeply enmeshed with other Western governments and the Vatican in a huge cover up of Nazi war crimes and criminals. All this was done in the interests of American corporatism and preserving American, British and German capital assets.

This last month, Whatcom Works has been silent. In the recent quarter, our capital assets took a beating. The windstorms ripped a stretched fabric shelter to pieces. Two older vehicles died. A third vehicle had significant repairs. A fourth vehicle kissed a tree on the other side of the ditch. A hard disk died. The color printer died. We have been a little distracted and busy.

Yet not all was bad. There were several good electrical jobs. The registered Labrador Retriever had nine puppies. We were able to car pool and get new tarps on and save the data on the hard disk. We were able to keep going with the after school clubs in Kendall. We were able to complete commitments in the election cycle. New public policy doors are opening.

If I were working for a corporation, I would have had much less flexibility to team up with family members to do these things. Corporations pay you to be there at set hours. Family job wages come with strings attached.

If I were working for a corporation, I may have had more money to buy better vehicles. Farmer and self employed electricians seem to pay less attention to having a late model car or truck. Family based businesses are more vulnerable to the blows of life, and often lack the capital and trained professionals to quickly leverage themselves into sudden, golden market opportunities.

Corporatism is attractive! Let’s get a coal terminal. OR, lets get Sierra Club or Washington Conservation Voters to throw their corporate assets at shutting out the coal terminal. (Is it just a rumor that the big donor from California to the no coal campaign actually owns significant right-of-ways for the Keystone Pipeline, and stands to benefit from oil (trains?) more than coal trains? I would like some feedback on this.)

May I suggest that although family based endeavor is fragile and weak, that is the model the founders of America used to build this great nation. Checks and balances were the watch word. Families checked families. Cities checked cities. States checked States. Citizen rulers checked prior citizen rulers. 

When a businessman becomes a corporate titan, he has the option of leaving his roots and joining the macabre wax museum club of international corporations. Uber-rich families with unbroken successes usually become wrinkled, strange caricatures that grasp and groan and kill to keep their grip on their assets. Failure teaches far more life lessons than success.

Charity. As a parent, I run the world’s best charity. I get to give daily to the poor and needy under my roof. As a family, we can share freely with our neighbors, without having to get the head office to put it into the budget. When the tarps blow off and the cars go off the road, we are grateful for the words and acts of charity from other families and people who have skin in the game. You know who you are. Thank you!

Corporations. Families. Capitalism. Conservatism. May I encourage you to continue to invest in families, and as families. Big corporations are probably smarter and more efficient than big government, but beware of the larger levers of community that both the big corporations and big government move. See the links at the end--
  • Common core and dumbing down children to being factory workers rather than entrepreneurs and corporate competitors. RINO legislators are deliberate malefactors here. 
  • Immigration of willing workers who are malleable to corporate interests.
  • Locking up of natural resources by green groups who are largely pawns of international corporations and educational institutional survivalists.
  • Foreign policies that pawn lives and families in large and uncertain circles of economic intrigue.
  • Moral confusion that blackmails gifted people into zombie like corporate servitude with bitter ends.

Families? Yes! We will keep on trucking! Lets ignore the uncommon ground and work together. Lets use checks and balances at the local, community level. Then, perhaps, we can mitigate the monopolies at the top. --JK