Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

For the Sake of the Record

So I ran out of money to keep doing the blog... again and I have some strong feelings about that. In order to keep what I call, "brain leakage" (a state where I am unable to keep negative thoughts and feeling from affecting what I say and do) at bay I've been mostly writing stuff offline to sort out how I feel about it but somebody asked so here goes.

It takes money to keep up the blog and it's never been self-sustaining. I've also had trouble finding money otherwise in my personal life and am in huge amounts of debt. In all honesty, restarting the blog in January was a pretty irresponsible move on my part along with other things I did, that shall go unmentioned. But at the time I wrote down (again offline) what I was doing and why and I understand the logic of me of six months ago even if I can't say with a straight face I'd make the same choices, though yeah I probably would. I'm a predictable little bastard. 

This sort of stuff is what I want to do with my life and if I have the capacity to do it I will. I just don't right now. And yeah it bugs me but it is what it is at the moment.

All that having been said I'm not as angry as I was the last time things kind of fell apart. Even if I don't have the power to do all the stuff I want to do right now, I know how to rebuild things in my head and know that me not being in a position to do what I want isn't a permanent state. Or to put it another way in 2017 I was a bit of a junkyard dog, but the simple act of proving to myself that I can rebuild things has helped calm me down and find ... peace.

And Megalobalboa didn't hurt either.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Everything is Politics and Politics is Everything

So a lot of hay has been made about Republican political officials being accommodations in public spaces or being heckled in said public spaces. And none of the usual scuttlebutt from the usual places seemed to feel right.

The "Can't we get along pieces" from Washington Post seemed totally tone death from this moment in time and I just haven't seen an article from the opposing side of that sentiment that articulated exactly going on without talking about the incredulity of specific policies and well as much as I hate to say it elections have consequences. 

And then I saw this video from Extra Credits about political and something clicked for me.

There is a sentiment in this country that politics is divorced from daily life, that is in the broad strokes politics does not matter. And that sentiment is one that's really been subtly under question for the past few years.

From where I sit of course politics matters because public policy matters and is one of the great forces that affects lives on a massive scale.

Because of that sentiment, it's not unusual to view politics as just a job. Something that can be slipped into and out of at the end of the workday. But I would argue it's more than that.

In the 2016 election, there was this great cynicism. This feeling that if the citizenry couldn't change the system they should revolt and dismantle it. And part of what led to that was a feeling that politics, the stuff people see on cable news, was divorced from their everyday experience. 

And that runs counter to how I think. For me, everything politics. I can look at even the keyboard I'm typing on and work backward to environmental policies about manufacturing which affect the durability and pricing of the thing. We are a society of law even when the law is obtuse or invisible. 

I don't know if I support the heckling of Republicans in these spaces but it speaks to a larger ideological divide. A politician doesn't stop being a politician at the end of the workday. The effects of their policies don't stop at the office door.  The effects of decisions about who gets what money and who doesn't, or who gets prosecuted and who doesn't, or who gets to vote and who doesn't don't just stop 50 feet from the office.

And the notion that it does is from where I sit why we ended up with a party in power that doesn't believe the government helps people in their daily lives because for the representatives of that party government doesn't exist outside of the physical workplace.  And that's something worth changing

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

SMART (and Mass Transit in Metro Detroit As A Whole) as It Is Right Now Does Not Work But The RTA Millage Would Go a Long Way to Helping It Get There

So Mark Hackel and L. Brooks Patterson's solution to regional transit is to essentially expand the SMART BUS system, which on its face doesn't sound like a bad idea except ... SMART is kind of broken. It's not the institution's fault. From where I sit a lot of the problems associated with SMART are caused the by the opt-outs and the lack of resources that those opt-outs cause which these two fellows are absolutely stuck on.

All the same, I can't get behind the idea that SMART as exists right now works. That is that it does its job of efficiently and cheaply getting people from place to place in a timely manner, which by the way is something that I consider essential.  We have to make this work. We can't just keep shrugging and dusting it's failings under the rug.  Don't get me wrong it's better than nothing but if we really wanted to (i.e. supported the RTA) we could do better.

So here is a list of long-standing gripes big and small I have with SMART many of which, though not all, the RTA plan explicitly seeks to fix





P.S. As it is the RTA plan is dependant on SMART. So we actually need both SMART and RTA millages to pass in order to actually enact that plan. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Case Against L. Brooks Patterson

So if you haven't guessed already I am in favor of Warren Evans' transportation plan as I was also in favor of the original 2016 RTA plan.

Right now the main obstacle from keeping it from happening isn't so much that people are against it, though they very well might be but rather that Macomb and Oakland County executives Mark Hackel and L. Brooks Patterson via their representatives on the RTA Board of Directors essentially have veto power over any attempts to even put it on the ballot.

Which is to say I kind of hate those guys right now.

I don't know Mark Hackel but not counting college I've lived in Oakland County my whole life. L. Brooks Patterson is my guy and has been since childhood. And that thought makes me want to bang my head on a desk.

Despite that and my own personal fortunes, I have to admit Oakland County as a whole is in a state of relative prosperity.

But I would also argue that a lot of that prosperity is the direct result of white flight from the City of Detroit which Patterson directly encouraged. Which is one of the most frustrating things to me about this.

Patterson's rationale for not "giving" "Detroit" (for the record those are irony quotes, the money the RTA millage would raise would in no way be under his stewardship except maybe via his representative on the board of directors and the REGIONAL Transportation Authority as its name suggests is a regional body that encompasses not only Detroit but also Oakland County and as mentioned I for one as a resident of Oakland County would very much like a functional mass transit system which right now we do not have.) is that the city is politically dysfunctional but from where I sit at least some of that dysfunction though admittedly not all of it is his fault.

P.S. I also have beef because he continuously advocates for the widening and expansion of highways which have historically, especially before his time, been to the detriment to the neighborhoods of the city.

Oh. And the bus integration thing... WHY IS THIS GUY STILL IN CHARGE!?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I am The Darkest Fear of Grover Norquist and the Koch Brothers... A Tax and Spend Marxist



So this year there are a lot of local millages coming up in the Detroit metro area. Part of me wants to talk about the importance of taxes and my hatred of the current anti-tax environment both nationally and statewide but after some thought, I realize I might have the blinders on. The past two, if I'm being honest eight years of my life, both politically and personally has been a laundry list of things I want and need not getting done because the money isn't there so I have a natural bias towards the shiny new policy proposal that could change my world save for the lack of funding.

Indeed, it is easier to tell people what would make me oppose a tax rather than what would make me support it because supporting taxes is my default position. My baseline is that the government does a lot of important stuff and in order for it to keep doing all that important stuff, it needs money. "Starving the beast" is a very bad no good horrible idea.

Accountability
I know everything I just said. But taxes are still essentially "the people's" money regardless of how necessary I think they are. There are lots of reasons Donald Trump bugs the hell out of me but this is one of them. Even if you think the amount of graft in the administration is negligible compared to the size of the actual federal budget, which it is, the graft degrades trust that tax dollars will actually be spent on the missions of their departments which is something citizens are absolutely in the right to expect and be upset about when it does not happen. That graft is making every conservative right when they complain about the inefficiency of the federal government. And I hate it. 

Transparency
Part of that accountability is having a clear, understandable, and accessible purpose for each dollar the government spends. And honestly, I do think government budgets are a bit too complicated. Not so much that the government itself should be paired down but in how they are prepared in presented to both lawmakers and the public.  Budgets are more than a bunch of numbers but practical records and mission statements of the priorities of their organizations. If you want to know what the government actually does rather than what it says it does look at the budget

Progressiveness
Notice I didn't say tax and spend liberal in the title. I have drunken from the fount of Engels and Marx. Capitalism is inherently exploitative but we have so oriented our society around that system of production that replacing it would require radical revolution: cultural, economic, and political.

... But Communist revolutions don't exactly have a great track record of advancing the interests of the proletariat. 

Apart from throwing off the oppressive yoke of the bourgeoisie, ... a progressive tax along with services aimed towards helping poor and middle-class people (and maybe universal basic income)  is about the fairest and most practical means of the wealth re-distribution needed to create a more equitable and egalitarian society short of the alternative.

Which is to say I am tired of hearing rich bastards bitching about taxes while gutting worker pensions and arguing against raising the minimum wageI do not like the republican party right now.

And  I wish they would knock it off before I give up the pretense of respecting property rights and show them what a real pinko commie bastard would look like rather than the limp center-left policy advocates that pass for socialists/communists in their heads.

I have family that works for the local energy company. Seizing power plants would go down great at the family barbecue.

(For the record that was sarcasm. Seizing power plants is a very very bad idea that I do not support. It was just an idea of something a hard-line old school commie would want that nobody is seriously suggesting. The mainstream left is pretty far from out-right communism or even socialism right now, despite the fever dreams of Fox News, Breitbart and whatever crazy Youtube talk show host is in my suggestions this week.)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

April 26, 2018 RTA Detroit Community Meeting




On April 26 2018, the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan held a community meeting at the Detroit Historical Museum to educate the public about the Connect Southeast Michigan plan.

Friday, April 27, 2018

April 25, 2018 RTA Birmingham Community Meeting


On April 25, 2018, the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan held a community meeting at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham Michigan to educate the public about the Connect Southeast Michigan plan.


More information about the plan can be found at http://www.connectsoutheastmichigan.org.

Southfield April 24, 2018 Board of Education Meeting



An agenda and related documents can be found here.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Opioid Town Hall



On April 11, 2018, a town hall meeting was held on the Opioid Crisis at the Southfield Public Library in Michigan.



The town hall featured remarks from:

  • 46th District Court Judge, Debra Nance
  • State Representative, Jeremy Moss
  • Oakland County Commissioner Janet Jackson
  • Oakland County Sheriff, Michael Bouchard
  • Southfield Police Chief, Eric Hawkins
  • Fire Chief, Johnny Menefee
  • Oakland County Health Network, Christina Nicholas
  • Attorney, Mark Bernstein


Also, the presentation included a clip from a speech from Sam Quinones, Author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic.

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