The World Can Be Better Than This: Part II – The Future

Fortunately for the powers that be, one of the most effective methods for tearing down their old world and casting it into dust of history is building our new one. It’s also the most important. Anger, even justified, may spark a movement, but it cannot sustain a revolution; it cannot build a better world and it cannot give us any hope for the future.

What would this future look like? How would we even go about getting there?

Given the unique and absurd nature of the world and especially our country at present and given that we are essentially living in a hybrid oligarchical-feudal-capitalist-fascist police state it may be the best time to try something that sounds kind of crazy – and given the circumstances of our political climate and the incipient mass extinction we literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So, I’m building a Kingdom! It sounds like a joke, but so did Donald Trump being president.

We’ll have a humble start, but big things have small beginnings.

Already we have written a constitution and it begins with a declaration rights instead of tacking them on the end because any nation, or self-governing society, is not a business where the bottom line is about profit, the bottom line is about the wellbeing of its people.

We have a modest treasury which helped finance the construction of the Royal Multi-Locational Urban Farming Cooperative.

We’re creating a small forge and gathering aluminum cans to cast into artwork.

We can search craigslist curb-alerts and drive around on trash day to collect supplies ranging from pallets and scrap wood for building future garden beds, or other projects to furniture we can sell at a yard sale. We’ll get free materials, free products to sell, and be reducing waste.

I personally enjoy creating art and writing. As such I’ve created websites, an Etsy, and Facebook pages for both my art and writing. Writing has the dual purposes of potentially providing revenue and at the same time generating awareness whatever we deem worthy of attention. I’m also contributing a percentage of my earnings towards our Royal Treasury to fund various projects including investing in the small businesses of others.

We have expeditions and quests to plan, monuments to build, festivals and feasts to celebrate, political calls and writing campaigns to do, businesses to expand, survival skills to learn, and history to make!

Our long term goal is to save enough money to purchase a sizeable amount of land and create a fully sustainable intentional community. People have already done similar things in other places and academics are finally saying local cooperative living is the future: they’re economical, they’re essentially self-sustaining, they can help fight climate change and even be beneficial for the local ecology.

Ideally we’ll have a community where we produce food in our back yards and larger permaculture forests; where all our electricity and energy needs are provided by solar panels, or perhaps shingles and windows by then; where there’s a well-equipped school that caters to different intelligences and learning styles; where the cost of medical needs are taken care of already by everyone’s shared contribution; where water isn’t tainted with lead and soil is rich, and a community where we can live a life we don’t need a vacation from.

~Justonius Rex~

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The World Can Be Better Than This: Part I

A few years ago one of our family dogs got sick. Her name was Sugar, she was a Bijon Frize, she could steal and drink your coffee without spilling it, and she was one of my best friends. We took her to the vet and after some tests found out she needed to have surgery. She was an older dog when she got sick, but could have lived for a few more years after getting better. Unfortunately after the surgery she didn’t stay better for very long. She had gotten some kind of infection that wasn’t going away with regular antibiotics. The vet couldn’t be sure what it was without more tests. My mother spent a small fortune on that surgery and these tests, which weren’t even guaranteed to find the answer, were also expensive as would have been further treatment. It wasn’t long after her surgery she got real sick again, she wouldn’t eat, or drink, she couldn’t get off the bed.  So we took her for her last car ride. And there we were with a dead dog and getting even fewer groceries. I think that was the first time I ever saw my mom cry.

There’s also my grandmother, Dorothy. I used to think we were never that close, but I’ve come to realize I had merely come to know some of my other relatives better and kind of took her for granted. I mean she’d helped take care of us, especially when we were younger; I remember her at all the birthdays and cookouts and I remember she loved to take us out to eat when she came to visit, nothing fancy, usually just the food court at the mall, or something like that. She had always mixed up people’s names, my mom and her siblings confirm as much and I can also recall her driving not exactly being the best, so it was no surprise when she mixed up names and had more difficulty driving.  But eventually she started saying she could see these dogs in the wooded area outside her apartment complex. No one else could see them and no could find anything in the woods, maybe a weird rock, or a wayward hoodie, that could look like a dog. They shortly became ghost dogs and demon dogs trying to get into her apartment. As terrifying as demon dogs must have been, she took the advice of her kids and upon seeing the dogs again to tell them they’re not real and to go away and it worked. When she started a fire while cooking, no one wanted to put her in a home, but it became increasingly difficult and expensive to deliver her microwavable and prepared foods.

She’s now been to a few. The first one was terrible: they could not keep track of any paper work, or financial information; it smelled like urine on her entire floor because they kept soiled laundry in basket in a hallway closet; they kept several residents requiring more intense physical care on the same floor ill-equipped to care for those residents; my grandmother’s clothes and belonging would routinely go missing; and when she was moved and my mom and aunt went to pick up her what remained of her clothes and belongings they found them in plastic trash bags in a shed outside. And almost everything was ruined because mice nested inside. The one she’s at now is better, but it’s far from an ideal environment for anyone. She looks like a ghost, pale and gaunt. You can’t really have a conversation with her; she doesn’t make sense and can’t hear well enough even when the staff hasn’t lost the hearing aids, or dentures for that matter. She does not know what day it is, she didn’t recognize one of my cousins, and she didn’t recognize me the last time I saw her.

I also have friends who have lost parents to preventable illnesses, friends who stand to be homeless because of inherited debt and I struggle to fathom how they go about their lives in a state other than constant stress and sorrow.

So much of this suffering was preventable, so much of it could have been mollified, and so many lives could have been lived more fully before their inevitable conclusions. It could have been different because we live in a post scarcity world – although you wouldn’t know it by looking around. There is enough food, water, shelter, medicines, for literally everyone and yet somehow it all becomes more expensive and harder to get.

For generations now, politicians and bankers have parasitically drained the wealth from people and nations while exploiting natural resources into such ruin that the species itself may face oblivion. As we face that oblivion now, they will hold on with tightening chains to keep together their crumbling world at our expense until we have nothing left to expend. There are no other choices than for all of us to die in their decaying world, or we can build and live in our new one.

So think of your families and loved ones remember while we work ourselves to an early grave to keep the lights going and food on the table, never really being more than broken leg away from out of the job and out on the streets there are ill-made men sitting on luxury super yachts and drinking champagne worth more than what we make in month. While we break the bank for gas, insurance, and car maintenance they have a collection sitting in a private garage.  And while we bury our dead they shit in golden toilets that they paid for with the profits from our hard work, and the hard work of our parents and grandparents. The anger and outrage here does not stem from petty jealousy, but from injustice so wide spread it’s considered the natural and immutable order of the world. It is not natural, nor is it immutable; it is an obscenity against nature and goodness itself.

Chains of debt are more efficient than iron shackles could ever be: keeping us dependent on preforming tasks and selling our time to rich men to make them richer.  And if we ever want justice, if we even want to just survive the sixth mass extinction, then with urgency and agency we must begin building our new world and tearing down their old one.

~Justonius Rex~

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Obligatory Update

The function of this blog seems to always be changing, or at least vague and multifaceted. It’s served as an online journal of sorts, a writing portfolio, and just a general platform for my voice – which itself changes. For the foreseeable future, rather than try to hammer down a specific niche, I’ll embrace the current and various underlying themes.

As the time stamps on any post will show, it’s been some time since I’ve written anything. Actually, that’s not true, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but I have done some writing and lots of rewriting.  So this here is just a summary of goings on as of late.

Perhaps most notably though would have to be the change in my general mood.  Some time ago I removed a number of posts because I loathed the voice used in writing and it came from a very different place – a much darker and depression saturated place. Since that time my mood has continued to improve and with that improvement finally comes more agency to make even more. While I’m by no means “cured” of anxiety and depression, everything’s easier because it turns out when you don’t have to use all your remaining energy and will power to get out of bed and brush your teeth there’s a lot more you can get done during the day.

As the country and world’s respective moods worsened mine started to get better (just weird timing).But it feels like I’ve always been in crisis mode and now other people have to catch up. My neurons have an endless supply of crises to fire off at instead of only the intermittent crises during the last administration. However, that’s probably just coincidence given that most people react to the incessant barrage of bad news and almost daily constitutional crises oppositely by exhibiting an increase in depressive symptoms. Regardless, it compels me to write and better myself which in turn will not just make the world a better place, but grant me increased agency to continue making it better.

Perhaps you’re wondering how bettered my mood, or how I got the upper hand over my own neurons. Well, while I intend to write more about my various projects and such that helped me, they may not work for everyone. But, if I had to distil it all into a single sentence, or tweet: “The main thing is to just keep trying and to keep trying new things until something seems to help. “

 

~D.T. Kukulkan~

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Holocaust By Attrition

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Plenty of people have compared Trump to Hitler, including me, but we’re not saying he’s currently equivalent to Hitler in the arena of mass murder. What we are saying is his rise to power resembles that of Hitler’s and other autocratic shitlords: a charismatic speaker scapegoating ethnic minorities coupled with a rise of populist nationalism under the guise supporting “law and order” and other bullshit that plays well. We’re saying Trump is probably just as warped and potentially dangerous as Hitler – though, and this is important, in somewhat different ways.

2017 and the 1930’s are very different times as are the modern United States and pre-Nazi Germany, so if the proverbial shit and fan scenario played out it would probably look different too. While we did round up Japanese Americans and it’s even been cited as a “precedent” by a Trump surrogate, in the age of instant communication and social media an executive action like that would be struck down by a judge before the ink dries and even without judicial intervention more than a few states would simply not comply. That’s not to say it’s impossible, just unlikely. But given a national security crisis like a terrorist attack the administration might have a viable avenue to try.

But Trump and Republicans are doing a lot of other things like cracking down on immigration by stepping up ICE raids. Rounding up “illegal” immigrants might sound great to some, but in practice not only is it super dickish to kick out decent, hard-working people, they deport Americans citizens regularly because it’s an entirely flawed system – it’s barely a real system at all. Conveniently, those are some of the exact type of people that have no place in Trump’s America.

However, it probably wont be through explicit and overt aggression by  the government that kill and imprison people. Congress and certain Trump appointees are attempting to legalize discrimination under self-righteous labels of “religious freedom” and “school choice,” which would allow businesses and schools to just opt out of accepting anyone who doesn’t meet their religious beliefs, or some other arbitrary standards. They’ve also decided that cutting virtually everything in the budget that’s not the military: this includes education, infrastructure investments, health and human services, the justice department, departments in charge of safety regulations, it’s literally almost everything – even fucking Meals on Wheels. And all the while that they’re doing this and trying to take away health insurance for tens of millions Americans, they’ll be giving tax breaks to themselves and corporate sponsors.

What we’ll be left with is a country with fewer social safety nets; increasing costs and barriers to education of decreasing quality which will surely give a boost to the school-to-prison pipeline; increasing water and food contamination akin to Flint thanks to no infrastructure investments and the slashing of safety regulations; unaffordable health insurance options; increased sentences for non-violent drug offenders if Jeff Sessions and private prison industry have their way, and the list goes on. The proposed Republican “healthcare” bill would potentially kill tens of thousands of people a year alone. Contaminated food and drinking water will certainly add to that number as will rising levels of poverty because of fewer social programs, a lack of quality education, rising costs, and falling wages.

These cuts and policy proposals will impact the poorest Americans and disproportionately hurt the elderly and people of color. Make no mistake, these cuts will ruin and take lives, it wont be the spectacle of evil like the Nazis with concentration camps and firing squads, but an insidious, silent rot slowly eating away the final remnants of the American Dream.

~D.T. Kukulkan~

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Betsy DeVos Against The World?

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Recently, one of the most questionable nominees in the Trump Cabinet gained the limited support necessary to be confirmed as Secretary of Education. The Senate vote resulted in 50-50 split, but Mike Pence fulfilling his duty as Vice President broke the tie and Betsy DeVos became confirmed as Secretary of Education.

She nearly lost the candidacy due to the lack of knowledge of what the job of Secretary of Education entailed. No Democrats, or Independents voted  in favor of DeVos and even two Republicans broke party lines to vote against DeVos. Senator Al Franken from Minnesota, during the over-night Senate protest before the nomination of DeVos, stated that she did not know what the job entailed as she gave him no real solution to fix the problems that are facing the Department of Education. Our own Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse went over the countless emails and letters that were sent to them to oppose Betsy Devos. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, and former Democratic Presidential Candidate, called out Devos’ family for funding Republicans with millions of dollars over the years which may be the real reason she was nominated to occupy an office in which she is unqualified to hold.

Although she won, the fight is far from over. DeVos has already has faced major challenges with the public and people have taken to the streets to oppose her. Protestors even managed to block DeVos from entering a school in D.C. to express their dissatisfaction with her confirmation. On other occasions, DeVos was met with opposition on Twitter. The tweets commonly remarked on the Secretary of Education’s inability to understand how the department works. However, many Conservatives, especially on the Far-Right, have stated that she will give more choice when it comes to parents deciding where their kids should go to school. The choices will include public, private, charter, and religious Schools. Although this seems as a good option, the concerns over privatizing education raises major concerns for Democrats.

Whatever the Republican Party and Donald Trump see in DeVos, many Americans including some Trump supporters do not support DeVos. Betsy DeVos has broken the record of receiving the least number of votes to be confirmed as Secretary of Education. This historic “tragedy,” or success in the eyes of many Conservatives, will inevitably lead to further issues between the two parties during the upcoming 2018. And if DeVos doesn’t fulfill her role in protecting education, the Senate and the House may end up looking very different. But in the end, only history will decide if Betsy DeVos will be remembered as an underdog succeeding despite her clear limitations, or as the worst, least qualified candidate to ever become Secretary of Education.

~Stephen Nelson~

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Fake News, Fake Problems: The Right’s Alt-Reality

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Republican, or more broadly conservative, issues are no longer real issues. The “issues” and talking points that seem most important to the Right include opposing progress and reality itself. Their reasons for believing some of the things they believe can only be malice or ignorance, though at a certain point there’s not really a difference.

The Republican Party’s biggest goals and accomplishments over the last eight years have not been to create jobs, or balance the budget, but to simply to oppose President Obama in every way. It was this singular goal they had in mind when they successfully stole President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, breaking their oaths to uphold the Constitution, denying the will of the American people and all that sounds an awful lot like treason. Now they will most likely get to stack the court with regressive justices who will side with corporations over the American people and polluters over our clean air and water.

Illegal immigration is a popular “issue” because they supposedly bring drugs and crime then steal American jobs – none of which is true, certainly not in any statistically significant sense. In fact immigrants are less likely to commit crime than native citizens, but they are incarcerated at a higher rate. The people who are bringing drugs and crime are part of the drug cartels, not immigrants, legal, or otherwise. Furthermore, no one can “steal” your job, an employer hires the person they believe is best to fill whatever position, so if there’s anyone to be angry at it’s the employer, or yourself for not being more qualified than an unskilled laborer who can’t speak English. This nonsense is often lobbed at immigrants as a whole rather than distinguishing between “legal” and “illegal” which is one of the red flags indicating xenophobia, “fear of the alien/foreign,” manifesting as more overt racism and scapegoating at the expense of certain ethnicities. Job insecurity, lack of job opportunities, and other economic hardships are very real problems; problems that just don’t have to do with immigrants; problems that do have to do with corporate welfare and profit hoarding, fifty plus years of stagnated wages combined with ever increasing living costs. Instead, Republicans blame immigrants for economic problems they are largely responsible for creating by deregulating financial institutions, refusing to raise the minimum wage, or take any action to make real progress.

Republicans still do not have a viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act, as in they do not have a plan so millions of people do not loose their health insurance, some of whom will die without it. They’ve been trying to repeal it since it passed in five years ago and have made the same amount of progress on their plans for a replacement.

More controversial than general healthcare, abortion is a difficult issue and a real issue worth discussing. A large majority of Americans support a woman’s right to have an abortion in at least some situations. It’s a minority of people who believe it should be illegal in all circumstances. And at present, it is a woman’s right to have an abortion. However, despite that Supreme Court decision, they have tried regulating abortion clinics into oblivion and requiring the women to jump through hoops. In other words, they are undermining the right’s women. However, conservative law makers take things in a very strange and illogical direction. If you’re pro-life certainly you’d want to reduce the need for abortions like funding comprehensive sex-ed instead of abstinence only programs, or free birth control, or at least making access to it easier, but instead fight to limit access to it. You might also expect pro-life law makers to want the child clothed, fed, and otherwise cared for and yet they cut and restrict access to assistance programs including those for single mothers.

The biggest conflict of interest with reality comes in the form of the conservative obsession of denying climate change, despite admittedly not being scientists. The scientific data on climate change is overwhelming and convincingly conclusive. There’s also the simple yet powerful photographic evidence of glacial and sea ice decline over the decades. There’s also the increasing commonality of extreme weather events ranging from floods to drought. There’s also the fact that almost every year becomes the hottest year on record. The Republican aversion to facts on this matter alone is disturbingly irresponsible at best. Instead of addressing the problem and investing in renewable energies they side with the fossil fuel companies and their lobbyists, who are responsible for funding climate denial to begin with and keep pushing for environmentally destructive pipelines for a toxic resource that’s just going to run out.

Apes In Charge

The conservative opposition to marriage equality is based solely in religious beliefs and since we are not a theocracy, religious arguments should have no bearing on secular laws.

Religious conservatives trying to keep evolution out of schools and replacing it with creationism: blatantly disregarding evidence to the detriment of their students’ education and our shared future.

Voter ID laws are meant to keep the opposition from voting, not protect democracy as they usually claim. Despite rumors and tweets from from the president, claims of actual voter fraud is so rare it might as well not as exist at all.

Most, if not all of the issues Republicans are fighting for aren’t real issues, they are fictions woven by special interests, propaganda, fake news and digital information bubbles and allowed to spread because of ignorance and our failing education system. It has gotten to the point where the president and his administration have began embracing “alternative facts.” Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want, but if those beliefs are not rooted in reality and go on to directly contradict physical evidence your beliefs are holding us all back and more than deserving of ridicule.

~David T.K.~

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Conservatives: The Really Special Snowflakes

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It’s easy to throw out an ad-hominem attack to simply dismiss someone along with what they have to say. Most, if not all of us are guilty of ridiculing someone while ignoring their argument at some point, but we try not to make it a habit. Alas, certain right-wing “news” sources and individuals have literally made careers by passionately dismissing liberals as “special snowflakes” who live in “liberal bubbles,” require “safe spaces,” and have no emotions except for faux outrage and being “butthurt.” Unfortunately for many Trump supporters ranging from well spoken blondes full of hot air and fallacious arguments to the “Alt-Right,” – or as we called them before their rebranding, racists and Nazis – it is in fact they who are actually guilty of all the things they accuse liberals of.

Firstly, there’s a common misunderstanding among many conservatives and liberals alike about “safe spaces,” and “trigger warnings.” Granted, their are a number of probably well meaning, but ultimately extreme, or ridiculous instances “safe spaces.” But they’re mostly places for LGBTQ individuals, or members of a minority group, or anyone not considered “normal”, to go without fear of being judged. And it must be admitted that people belonging to these groups are often the targets of discrimination and hate far more often than straight, white men. “Safe spaces” when done right are really no different from the many forms they’ve taken before like man-caves, or men’s only clubs, or democracy in America before the 19th Amendment. “Trigger warnings” aren’t meant for people to avoid offense, but rather to avoid panic attacks and flash backs of traumatic events. You wouldn’t light off fireworks next to a veteran with PTSD without at least maybe giving a heads up. “Trigger warnings” are intended to be that heads up for survivors of sexual assault, or some other traumatic event. There’s bound to people who take these ideas to an extreme, or apply them to situations of minor and insignificant offense. These people then become conflated as the majority because the craziest are usually the loudest on any side.

Now with a few clarifications out of the way, we can address the blatant hypocrisies embedded within some of their favorite diminutive labels for liberals. Conservatives do seem to have a lot more names to call liberals than liberals have to call them, perhaps it simply shows what issues they spend their creative thinking on. Of the most popular are accusations of being “special snowflakes” who are fragile little creatures requiring special treatment because stupid things offend them. Tomi Lahren for instance believes the anti-Trump protestors are just mad because they didn’t get their way – which would be a petty reason to protest. But the protestors have legitimate reasons to be more than concerned about a Trump administration as each day continues to prove. Yet, Lahren and her ilk seem to be outrageously offended by the mere fact that so many people have a different point of view and used their freedom of speech and assembly to express it.

Among the list of conservative grievances there are actually a good number of incidents where real “butthurt” is presented: Starbucks cup controversies, Mike Pence’s Hamilton visit, a football player exercising his First Amendment rights, Saturday Night Live skits, Nordstrom’s purely business decision to pull Ivanka’s clothing line, and those are just some of the recent ones. But there is one form of protest that’s exceptionally likely to “trigger” a conservative: flag burning. When many conservatives see it happen they’ll lash out with threats, or actual violence while suggesting the act be criminalized despite two Supreme Court rulings protecting it under the First Amendment. Burning the American flag is disrespectful, but flying Confederate and Nazi flags – traitors and enemies of the United States that are responsible for the deaths of millions – for some of these same people is an entirely different story.

Lastly there’s the myth of the “liberal bubble,” and the “real America.” Liberals statistically can be found mostly on the coasts and clustered in and around cities. Meanwhile their conservative counterparts tend to cluster in isolated rural regions and the landlocked middle states. Some individuals claim they live in the “real America” versus some perverse alternative America. But there’s no “real” America; there’s no standard model, or something we’re supposed to go back to. If there can be any notion of the “real” America it must include the country as a whole. As for the “bubble” it’s not real either: cities may seem like isolated “bubbles,” but in reality cities are where the majority of the world’s population lives. Though small in area, cities have large and diverse populations; high population density; they, and the people living in them, have various personal and business connections around the world; they are centers of international trade, travel, and commerce; they’re literally the opposite of a proverbial, or literal, “bubble.”

However, that’s not to say there aren’t other regions that more closely resemble a “bubble.” Ironically, it’s where most conservatives live: isolated rural areas with small homogenous populations that are insulated from the rest of the world.

~David T.K.~

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