Friday, December 1, 2006

The Secret Government (and Friday Reflection)

Before we get going with today's selections, let it be known that God isn't a complete bumbler. Today, after giving some six years' worth of misdirection and bad advice to Bush, Rumsfeld, Pat Robertson, and Ted Haggard (among others), God finally got it right and advised Bill Frist not to run for President:

"In the Bible, God tells us for everything there is a season, and for me, for now, this season of being an elected official has come to a close. I do not intend to run for president in 2008," Frist said in a written statement.

A Pearly Gates spokesangel commented, "God knows He has spiritual capital, and He intends to spend it. But God has a greater Plan for Bill Frist, and as soon as the Hell Study Group has completed its investigation, an announcement will be forthcoming."


Today, we have the final part of Terry McKenna's series on the corporatization of our government. Next week, I'll be writing about how corpo-lingo and the corporate mindset have infected the minds of individuals within this culture. That, to me, is the truly ominous part of all this. It's bad enough when Bush claims that his government is "moving forward" in Iraq, when everything in reality points in exactly the opposite direction; but I really worry when I hear someone talking about the need to be "proactive" in a love relationship. Pre-nup agreements are another aspect of this corporatization of intimacy: where's the value proposition in that? Oops.

Also today, after Terry's had his way with Big Oil, we offer a Friday Reflection, in which the author of our banner quote for the week is revealed. Incidentally, we had over 3,000 unique visitors here at Daily Rev for November, and more than 13,000 pageviews. Our deep thanks go out to all of you who visit here: knowing that you're there makes all the difference, and helps us feel a little confident about the prospects for the future of our nation and its democracy. And now, Terry McKenna:

Now on to big oil. This article was published by a Western environmental website – the Colorado Trail Club. I’ve extracted and edited the opening sentences to make my point. Read on, the point will become clear later.

Gas drilling: boon or burden? 7/7/2005 Rural residents pay steep price in loss of privacy, time, and property values by Heather McGregor

Until a year ago, Dry Hollow was the perfect scenic hideaway for Orlyn and Carol Bell. … The Bells bought extra acreage to buffer creeping residential development and started to build a big barn that would hold a woodshop for him and a writing studio for her. But the Bells weren't the only ones with plans for Dry Hollow.

In August 2004, EnCana USA bulldozed three acres on the Bells' lower pasture and drilled four gas wells from the leveled site. After five months, EnCana's drilling contractor, Nabors Industries Ltd., moved the rig to a neighbor's land. In February another subcontractor, Schlumberger, moved in to do the deep underground fracturing that will complete the four wells and ready them for production.

… Already, EnCana subcontractors have accidentally spilled diesel fuel and other liquid chemicals at the well site on Bell's property. The presence of drilling has required constant vigilance, on top of research, meetings and negotiations.

"We probably spend four hours a day dealing with this," said Orlyn Bell, 59, a retired state division water engineer. "It affects us daily, and daily we have to assess if we can stand it, or should we hang up a sign and sell out."

The drilling started after months of negotiations between EnCana and the Bells over how the drilling, roads, and pipelines would be done, and how much the energy company would pay for the surface damages to their land.

EnCana promotes a "good neighbor" policy in seeking reasonable surface use agreements with landowners, said spokeswoman Florence Murphy. And drilling techniques have improved dramatically in the past decade.

"We're making good headway on the livability during the process," Bell said after the drill rig finished its work.

For those who don’t read environmental newsletters, the search for Natural Gas in our Western lands has taken an unusual turn. We’ve known about the existence of the reserves for decades, but it’s only now that we can get the gas out safely (in the 60’s we tried an atom bomb on the hard rock – it worked, but yielded radioactive and thus commercially un-saleable gas.) The new method fractures large formations of subsurface rock, then employs water at high pressure to force the methane out. As the gas and water are mixed and extracted, ground water is polluted (at least for a time). The long-term impact of the process is as yet unknown.

Gas reserves exist on both public and private land. Even on privately owned land, the mineral rights are rarely included with the surface rights purchased by the private owner. Thus, the right to drill both on public and private land is a public matter. As occurred with the Bells’ in the story above, out west, one may purchase a square mile of land but then an oil company may make a drilling claim, fence off your land, and put in a 3 or 4 oil rigs.

When we are dealing with oil and gas, we are dealing a multiplicity of laws and interests. For example, we have the management of public lands and forests, then we have policies on mineral reserves, then our environmental laws on matters such as clean water and air. And, since we have specialized tax credits for the oil industry, we have tax law as well.

A trolling of environmental websites reveals ongoing dissatisfaction with the way our government is handling the new manner of gas drilling. In a 2006 press release, the Wyoming Outdoor Council criticized its own congressional delegation over Coalbed Methane development. It expressed concerns about Wyoming’s water and the health of its ranches. It also noted Wyoming’s legal obligation to downstream states (such as Montana). Public pressure has begun to force a slowdown in the leasing of public lands.

For the drilling to occur on its current massive scale took a number of overt acts as well as lucky breaks. Remember the 2001 secret Bush energy meetings – led by Dick Cheney (a former Halliburton executive). These meetings were closed to the public. And on one hand, it seems entirely fair for the president and his staff to hold information gathering sessions where industry leaders can speak freely. But on the other hand, to what extent do these meetings become an important forum where the public is excluded?

In any case, after these meetings were held, a series of initiatives came out of the Bush White House, and these had the effect of making it easier for the energy industry to gain access to public land and resources. Notably, we have tax credits for oil producers; the opening up of our national forests to roads and harvesting of wood (the Healthy Forests Initiative); and restraints on the clean air act (the Clear Skies initiative).

We know who the government is. But who are the corporations? Under the law, corporations are what is know as “artificial persons.” See Wikipedia for more. Many abuses arise from the creation of corporations (and some genuine benefits). Under current court interpretations, corporations are considered to have much the same rights are persons, including the right to free speech – what would our founding fathers think of this bizarre event? Certainly Jefferson would have been surprised. Then we have the limitation of liability that comes from incorporations - so stockholders are immune to penalties from abuses caused by the entities they own.

And what about democracy? Our Republican form of government is based upon the existence of a single class of power holders, known as voters. But with expensive elections and corporate free speech, who really holds power?

--T. McKenna

Friday Reflection: On Wearing a Tie

I happened to be wearing a tie this morning, for the first time in over a year. I don't like ties, but something occurred to me as I looked down at it; something that I can vaguely recall thinking of before, but not in a truly metaphorical sense.

I noticed that my tie pointed directly to my penis.

The tie, of course, is the arrow that directs the viewer's eye toward the penis. I can't be the only person to have ever noticed this. Why else would a man working in the business and knowledge professions--you know, those areas where he is expected to use his brain--wear something that restricts circulation to the brain?

And why is the bottom of the tie itself pointed, like an arrowhead? Perhaps because it is meant to be a subliminal symbol of patriarchal aggression? Well, it does make the eye go toward the wearer's crotch, home of the phallic prominence, Freud's metaphor for all aggression, and Jung's for the male life force.

But it can't be that simple, I thought. The id-thanatos-eros thing just doesn't satisfy me, somehow. One alternative explanation, which seems more probing and complete than the psychoanalytic one, is to be found in Robert Bly's A Little Book on the Human Shadow. Bly writes that our habits of sexual repression cause us to create a vast "bag" of unconsciousness that we drag behind us throughout our adult lives. This, he says, is the shadow.

You will notice that Bly does not conceive of the shadow as a clinical entity, as Freud always did and as even Jung succumbed to doing every so often. Bly sees the shadow as a poetic, metaphorical presence, and thus it becomes more real, more immediate, when seen through his poet's vision. In the poem from which our week's banner quote is taken, Bly visualizes the human shadow as an objective, non-destructive force that is definitely not to be confused with evil:

After writing poems all day,
I went off to see the moon on the piney hill.
Far in the woods I sit down against a pine.
The moon has her porches turned to face the light,
but the deep part of her house is in darkness.

The darkness known as evil comes from a distortion, misuse, or (most often) an ignorance of shadow. Shadow itself is mere projection, which has nothing to do with good or evil, except as it is abused, distorted, or repressed. Thus, in order to have any chance at true human growth, we have to "eat the shadow," as Bly says: face it, examine it, question it, get to know it in all its wildness, its anger, its hairy, damp reality. Even when it comes to wearing ties.

For if we are to grow as individuals or a society, we will need to examine what it means to wear a tie, in order to recover the energy that the wearing of ties has repressed within us. We will also have to change our attitudes in the process--not toward business attire, but toward the covering that we have allowed to grow over our sexuality. As Eric Francis pointed out in his column on World AIDS Day:

If you can talk about sex, then you can talk about any related subject, including safer sex. If you're embarrassed and don't have the words, or if you're afraid to say them because you might be judged, it's a lot harder to have any discussion at all.

There is another point. Being real with people with whom we're sexual gives them the power to make an informed decision about whether they want to be with us. Often, the fear of jealousy is an excuse; it's a ruse that covers the fear of abandonment. Giving people sexual information about us is another way of giving them power, including handing them what they need to make up their own minds. And this is often the occasion for a chilling silence on the theme of sex and sexual history.

Rise above this stuff we must, and learn to speak, and to listen, particularly with and to our children, and with the adults with whom we are sexual, or plan to be sexual. As my first male lover George said to me, the answer to AIDS is not using condoms. The answer is whole relationships. Maybe that sounds a little like marriage, but I don't view it that way: I think a whole relationship is any one in which you're able to speak intimately about intimate subject matter.

With the flood waters of shame, ignorance and moralism somehow creeping up to our chins even at this rather late date in world history, we do indeed have a few things to talk about here beside the rising tide. And hey if you can't talk about sex, you're missing some of the best sex there is, since those discussions can really heat up that plump, juicy sex organ known as your brain.

So I think it is critical, if we are to really do something about AIDS and the sex trafficking of children and the sexual slavery of women, that we all look within ourselves regularly, and work to recover the lost energy of the self that has been hidden so long in the bag that Robert Bly describes. The alternative to such an opening of awareness is a spiraling danger--to ourselves, our societies, our planet. As Bly pointed out (in 1988):

People who are passive toward their projected material contribute to the danger of nuclear war, because every bit of energy that we don't actively engage with language or art is floating somewhere in the air above the United States, and Reagan can use it. He has a big energy sweeper that pulls it in. No one should make you feel guilty for not keeping a journal, or creating art, but such activity helps the whole world.

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