Saturday, December 18, 2010

I'd Rather Be a Piano Player in a Cathouse

This is what happens when I get snowed in. I find stupid shit to post from my hotel room. I guess there's worse places than Reno to ride out a blizzard. Actually you'll love this...stolen without remorse from William Banzai at ZeroHedge. The last outpost of truth. This first piece is rated PG. The second one, a catchy tune, is a re-run and rated R.

 

hehe

Friday, December 17, 2010

Smart Young Men and Dumb Old Geezers

My retirement seminar occurred in November this year. This is a group of fossilized people who gather for one day to hear all of the nuances of our public retirement system. For thirty years, the date "1/1/11" has been etched into my mind. Limping into retirement with a few marbles, a few teeth, and some hair. The word hair, as I use it, is singular.

As I took my seat near the back of the fossil room, we were given these clicker things. They ask you some questions with associated slides and you click on the appropriate answer. They split us into four groups and that way we could have some silly competition. It's all a lot of malarkey and the real reason we were given clicker things is so that our answers would be recorded. There is no real reason to take your name and the serial number of the device you are using unless you are keeping an individual tally. After all, it's not like I came to the fossil meeting looking for a nice new clicker to steal. I have too damn many clickers as it is.

There was a young and well dressed kid, early to mid- thirties I'd guess, doing the speaking that day. He is some sort of retirement specialist. He told a story as an illustration about a retiree he was working with a few months ago. The man had been in our retirement system for a long time. Apparently he was about fifty five and entitled to a couple thousand dollar check each month but kept insisting on cashing his whole retirement out. The kid said that he could not reason with him. The dumb old geezer split with the dough. The point our guy was trying to make was that in about nine years time or at about age sixty four, the retiree would have recaptured everything he had vested and then some. After that length of time, the subsequent months and years were simply free gratis. Everyone in the room chuckled at how seemingly stupid this was. Except one knucklehead in the back of the room fondling his clicker.

Now I have simplified this story somewhat. I do not know that retiree's motives for cashing out. But I do know that I have seriously mulled over doing that exact thing. I did in fact, cash out a large 401k last year and took the penalty. That ten percent penalty might look pretty cheap by the time this coming decade is over.

Americans, in my estimation, have been listening to fear driven stories for years. Remember those bombing drills in grade school and civil defense shelters? The worry of nuclear war? Remember those oil shortages that turned out to be bogus? How about stories of the great depression and dust bowl? All of the recessions we have endured and bounced back from? Americans have grown weary of people crying wolf, to the extent that Americans simply don't pay attention any more. People "crying wolf" get labeled and marginalized. They are ridiculed and scorned. Telling some ugly truth is not what people want to hear. Just like some poor sap that cashes out his retirement despite all of the "common sense" applied by some young kid in a suit.

We are entering the fourth year of this depression. That's what this is. It is not going to go away. In fact, I expect it to get worse. I'd like to tell you why.

Central banks are at the heart of the problem. They control the QUANTITY of our money supply. Think about this. They cannot make excess money, or interest, unless they increase the money supply via the issuance of debt. With static and regulated money supplies, the role of central bankers and primary banks gets pretty ho-hum. Almost dreary. If you decrease the money supply, that means less business, less debt, less interest and profits. Central bankers love financing debt, wars, home loans to anyone with warm blood, student loans. That's how their member banks make money.  What we witnessed in 2007, was the blow off top to debt gone wild. Politicians have fueled this insanity and as recently as yesterday, they continue to fuel it. Everyone is desperately trying to ignore and hide from that debt Godzilla. Politicians simply lack the collective will to stop this madness. Our current deficit is fourteen trillion. That is fourteen thousand billion. Our coming obligations such as social security, medicare, federal pensions, put the total bill north of one hundred trillion.

What I am saying is that America is bankrupt. We lack the capacity to pay what we owe. The 4 C’s of lending are: Capacity, Capital, Credit and Collateral. We do not have the capacity, or jobs, to pay this debt burden. The US government pledges your work, and your taxes, when it takes on debt. It cannot tax thirty million jobs that have left our shores. It can't even tax the corporations making dough outside our borders. No workers, no tax money. A bunch of elite folks parking their dough in Lichtenstein. All of this of course brings me back to a young and smart retirement planner dressed in a suit. Maybe an old war horse with a big ass cashier's check that he is now using to buy gold and silver.


Smart young men and dumb old geezers. It's hard to predict which one will prove right. Ultimately, this old geezer settled on the monthly check. I let them have their clicker back. Perhaps, I made a mistake. That's how these things are. Economic collapses don't come around all that often. Its kind of like that man who predicts the end of his life each day- knowing in advance that he'll be right- only once. I feel certain about one thing though. I am confident in America's ability to slick this debt catastrophe onto future generations. I hope. To smart young men with suits on.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ten Reasons Not to Buy a Chevy Volt

I've watched the Chevy Volt saga for years. I watched as President Obama demanded that the price of the car remain as close to 30k as possible. I suppose when you allow your government to buy a bankrupt auto maker, you get the proven track record of an owner that has screwed up everything it has touched. Obama, master car designer and businessman, lynched GM CEO Rick Wagoner shortly after the takeover. It was an easy sacrifice. I mean after all, Wagoner had the audacity to fly in a corporate jet to those congressional hearings. The outrage!

The Chevy Volt costs an astounding 41k. Throw in some sales tax, an option or two, dealer prep and doc fees, some bank interest and voila! You have a 50k car. Oh you'll be eligible for a tax credit.The same tax credit you'd get on another hybrid vehicle.

I can't get excited about GM's new flagship car. Here are my reasons why in no particular order.

1. The price. I don't give a shit about tax credits. The cost of this car is insane. Comparable models are half the price.

2. The gas math/MPG simply doesn't pencil. You can buy 7000 additional gallons (3.00 a gal.) of gas with the money you'd save on a Hyundai Sonata, base model. That's 220,000 miles worth. You still have to put gas in the Volt and charge it.

3. The Volt uses electricity. Guess where we get that from? Coal fired generators and I have no idea what the cost of charging this car would be. If you charged it every day, I am guessing 30-45 bucks a month.

4. It is a first run car. I never buy first year model runs. I worry about defects.

5. Performance. I don't think the Volt can hang with most Japanese/Korean models. The Sonata has 200 horsepower, the Volt has a whopping 83. http://autos.yahoo.com/car-compare/overview/?trimId0=28586&trimId1=29774&trimId2=27284

6. Most of my driving is done on the highway. After you have drained the Volt's 40 (tests show 35 miles) mile battery charge, you will be using gas again. A home charger is required for this car, but it is small and you can take it with you. Once you have drained the 35- 40 mile electrical charge, the Volt only get 31 MPG on what appears to be a woefully under powered gas engine. It takes about three hours to fully charge the car. All this car would do for me is save me one net gallon of gas on most trips. Hardly enough to justify the absurd price.

7. The Hyundai Sonata hybrid waxes the Volt it in every category. It has twice the performance and horsepower, gets 38 MPG, and costs 16 grand less. At 38 MPG v 31 MPG it would only take 5 gallons of gas to exceed the savings of Volt's 35 mile electrical charge. http://www.hybridcars.com/vehicle/hyundai-sonata-hybrid.html

8. The warranties are comparable. Sonata's basic warranty is 60, 000 miles or 60 months while the Volt's basic warranty is 36, 000 miles or 36 months. They have the same 100,000 mile power train warranty.

9. I simply can't support GM. Taxpayers had GM's bail out jammed down our throats. Unions made very few concessions nor did Obama or the Car Czar force them to. For some astounding bullshit, a "you love you" theme, and a huge dose of Obama ass kissing- read this...http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/10/14/the_car_czar_speaks Nice of Obama to save car jobs huh? What about those other 30 million unemployed workers? Ford stood on it's own and I'd damn sure buy a Fusion hybrid for that reason alone.

10. Initially, I expect to see some morons run out and buy this car. After the smoke clears, I think this car is going to be a bust. I am not sure the Volt will hold it's value and I damn sure wouldn't want to try and resell it if the bottom falls out of it. Remember GM's Pontiac Fiero? I do.

I have been studying various cars for a couple of years now- expecting to buy a new one soon. Obviously I have a big lean on the Sonata. General Motors should have been allowed to fail. They are still making crappy and over priced cars just like they were a few years ago. Motor Trend's "Car of the Year." We'll see how that pans out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time to Pony Up

Thankfully, we voted in those Republicans just in time to extend the Bush tax cuts. Give the elite a little more largesse. That and they kicked the can down the road exactly two years- to the next election. To call these guys cowards- gives cowards everywhere a bad rap.

Our government simply doesn't have the spine God gave a jellyfish.

Each taxpayer in this country owes 125,000 dollars. That's you. Go ahead and just send it to me and I'll take care of it for you. Make your check payable to Frankenstein Government. If you are feeling really responsible, scroll down to the bottom line and note that you actually owe just a shade over a million bucks and send that amount in. I'd do it now before interest rates rise.

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Travel day for me. The smoldering ruins of Boise States' Rose Bowl dreams, Reno.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shitageddon!

I started writing publicly about five years ago. Back then, I would craft what I believed to be some insightful masterpiece, edit the obvious errors, and whack the publish button. I would then tuck myself in for the night. I had three problems back then. I was writing on a business site that I did not control, I was the Police Chief and I was expected to behave accordingly, and I had an idiot for an editor. I eventually resolved those first two issues but alas, I cannot resolve the third. I still have an idiot for editor.

There are some emotional risks that you inherently agree to- when you write publicly. You are about to expose what kind of person you are, your readers are going to dissect what you have written, and most importantly- if you are a shitty writer people won't be interested in reading what you write.

Those are some of the risks. That and nasty commenters.

Imagine being a small town Police Chief, having "die hard" libertarian views, and trying to write in a very well educated and densely populated- liberal stronghold. This was my conundrum. I can only compare that experience to juggling nitroglycerin while under the influence.

Now I learned a few things while writing in Moonbat Valley. I learned that liberals have a great deal of tolerance and understanding for those beliefs that they hold near and dear. I also learned that they have absolutely no tolerance or capacity for anyone pointing out the flaws in their own collective belief systems. In Moonbat Valley you are entitled to an opinion just as long as it is theirs. I also learned that they will attack enmasse and that they can be rather nasty and personal. The last thing an indoctrinated liberal with a Princeton degree wants to hear is some cop telling them that their thinking is flawed. Some cop with a half assed education from state college.

One last thing. Liberals hate it when logic, facts, or truth stand in the way of what they want to believe. Nothing pisses them off more. They can get nasty fast. I was about to find all of that out in the early fall of 2008. That's when a crazy libertarian cop, researching an Indonesian candidate for President, questioned just who the hell Barack Obama was and if he was even qualified to be President. That I did that willingly, sober, and without coercion is a testament to my insanity. When I whacked that publish button in the middle of Moonbat Valley, I could never have known the shitstorm I was about to endure. It was October. I remember it well.

The next morning, the anonymous commenters went on the attack. My phone rang. Nasty emails came flying in. The site owner didn't even try to defend me, his advertisers were pissed. The moonbats found my friends and family and questioned whether I might need a stretch in the mental ward. But the coup de grace' came when my significant other called from Italy and laid waste to me. I had apparently embarrassed her as well.

All of that because I wanted to see a passport or a birth certificate. I wanted to know who wrote Obama's books. That passport has never been found. The original birth certificate has been sealed. Research has all but concluded that Obama's ghostwriter was most likely William Ayers. It is not insignificant that Mr. Obama has never addressed those issues to my satisfaction. Nor will he ever. I will have to rely on the march of time to take care of those things for me. I will post this link for the posterity that read this post:http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/12/crucible_of_a_hero.html

I still have an idiot for an editor. An idiot that doesn't find all of the mistakes or kill an opinion that's about to become shitageddon. There are no advertisers here to howl and whine. Moonbats, intent on personal attacks, are disposed of with a whack of the delete button. No nasty calls or emails and no globe wandering girlfriends embarrassed by something I've written. I like it here. It is peaceful and serene. Just you, me, and that idiot editor.

Government Failure, Ignoring The Role Of Restorative Justice

In my waning years as a lawman, I was introduced to the concept of restorative justice. Initially I bristled at this new term as I pondered what it meant for traditional crime and punishment themes. That and I inherently did not trust the liberals that introduced new concepts like this to me in Moonbat Valley.

I quickly became a convert. On a small local scale, I had the unique ability to actually listen and comprehend what crime victims were telling me. In our offices, in our courtrooms, and at our post office. Victims who would find that our criminal justice system doesn't really give a rat's ass about their being victims. Was that true? Well, I had heard it dozens if not hundreds of times. So often actually, it became difficult to ignore. The problem the legal system has is the same problem our government has. It makes sense- they run both systems.

They don't listen. They don't think they have to.

Here then is a comparison and the different approaches of these two types of justice. If you have ever been a crime victim, and odds are that you have, you will like this.

Restorative Justice posits a paradigm shift that is best understood by asking the oft-quoted "three questions." The more common three questions for a system of justice to ask are "1. What laws have been broken?, 2. Who did it?, 3. What do they deserve?" Restorative justice asks, "1. Who has been hurt?, 2. What are their needs?, 3. Whose obligations are these?"[7] 

This is an interesting concept. If victims could acquire the same distrustful beliefs, based on the indifference of the legal system, was it not in fact true? How about hundreds and thousands of victims spanning my 25 year career? These victims were often not consulted, nobody really cared what their wishes were, and the only consultation they received was some trial prep on how to answer questions and the mean things a defense attorney might say. In a sense, these victims felt victimized twice.

Now let's move this micro view to a macro scale. What would happen if the entire taxpaying base of the United States were victimized at once? Millions of people out of work, millions more losing their homes? Millions more losing all of their home equity and savings? What would happen as they saw government ignore the rule of law, bail out the criminals, and not prosecute a single one? What would they think as Goldman Sachs reported record earnings and the same criminals that ripped them off got big bonus checks?

You are witnessing it now. I have never seen America more angry. They have watched as this indifferent government does nothing. Fat cops, doing nothing, in the donut shop. They have formed a collective belief, and rightfully so, made far worse because they all became victims at once. They lost a lot of money and they are not going to forget despite a government that desperately wishes they would. The government wants and needs quick forgetters. Barack Obama for all of his fancy degrees, didn't stand a chance. He ignored the victims and still does. Any two term Sheriff seeking re-election is aware of this principle.

The American people do not trust government. They do not trust greedy and corrupt bankers and rightfully so. There can be no recovery until there is restorative justice. The criminals have been allowed to escape. Those same Americans, the millions that just got ripped off, have been marginalized and ignored. We cannot have a recovery until some sense of sanity, fair play, and a willingness to restore justice in the American people comes to pass. Until then, a pissed off America is simply going to dig in it's heels. It will not hire people, it will not invest, it will not trust. This country cannot turn that corner without the help of the millions of innocent victims who continue to pay a mortgage on a house worth half of what it used to be. All of the money printing and passionate pleas for more unemployment will not save you Mr. Obama. The American people are entitled to and deserve restorative justice. Maybe President Obama, instead of talking so much, you should try listening.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beat the Rush To Chernobyl! Make Your Travel Arranngements Early

I can't tell you that visiting a radioactive graveyard is on my bucket list. Apparently the Ukraine thinks they have found some sort of nuclear disneyland.

In reality, I'm sure there will be people "just dying" to see the place. I do not number among them.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/eu_ukraine_chernobyl_tourism;_ylt=AsPUxb5kAEiX8eeMb976GQRv24cA;_ylu=X3oDMTM2NWxlOTZkBGFzc2V0A2FwL2V1X3VrcmFpbmVfY2hlcm5vYnlsX3RvdXJpc20EY2NvZGUDdmlld3NoYXJlBGNwb3MDOQRwb3MDOQRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3JpZXMEc2xrA3VrcmFpbmV0b29wZQ--

I found the price. Reasonable. Only about 150 bucks. Tour information.
http://www.ukrainianweb.com/chernobyl_ukraine.htm

I love that part about the reactor still leaking. That'll draw them in by the thousands. I'm guessing you have to pay in advance.

 

It's Official...ObamaCare Supporters Prove Sheep are Brilliant, Now Willing to Pay an Oxygen Tax For the Air That They Breathe

We can all agree on one thing. We need affordable health care. We can agree on a second thing. We don't have affordable health care. We might even agree that you cannot fix health care by writing a 2407 page health care bill that nobody in Congress bothered reading before passing. Or do you think they read it?

Everything that has happened during and after that sham of a bill passing, the backroom deals in Louisiana and Nebraska to buy votes, this great national debate, is a waste of time. Everything.

I am no longer willing to debate the merits of a law that was a non starter to begin with.

Obama, the Democrats, and that bill have done more to divide our country than any single piece of legislation in our history. I am convinced of it. We fight among ourselves, we debate the merits and legality of a law that has no Constitutional authority. A bill that slicked in income reporting, taxes on real estate sales, and everything else they could think of. A bill that created the most unholy bureaucracy of all time. Read this list of shit Obamacare created and try not to short circuit your computer by drooling on it. http://www.carolinapatriots.org/cpblog/2010/04/new-government-agencies-created-by-obama-care/

I am not kidding you when I say that some of these people would pay an Oxygen Tax on the air that they breathe.

I will make it this simple. Any person in this country that supports any bill, any piece of legislation, that Congress admits that they did not read in it's entirety is an idiot. If they said they read it, then I want reading comprehension tests and polygraph testing to prove it. A full reading of that bill, with full attendance would have taken weeks. It didn't happen. It's really that simple.

Virginia Judge Strikes Down ObamaCare

So I read this article on Yahoo. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101213/ap_on_bi_ge/us_health_care_overhaul_virginia

Then I think, the White House will be calling the judge any minute. Asking the judge to resign.

Have you noticed the increasing number of idiots who compare compulsory health insurance to auto insurance? We are truly a nation of idiots.

My sis in Seattle has survived quite nicely without a car most of her life. She actually chooses to ride her bike to work. Thus she avoids depreciation, bank interest, car insurance, taxes and registration, and the Saudi gas subsidy. She has taken those savings and piled up quite a bit of cash for retirement. She figures it amounts to 5 to 6 thousand dollars each year.

My sister cannot avoid health care. Like many of us, choosing to live in pain or die, is not an option. It's not a choice.  Like owning a car might be. We haven't given up our divine rights, bestowed by our Creator, to a life at the mercy, pleasure, servitude, or whims of the state. Well at least not yet.

The next time you hear some imbecile compare auto insurance to health insurance, tell him it's about time to pony up for that air he's been breathing. Tell him we're trying to conserve oxygen for people with brains and that he doesn't qualify. The state should charge those souls 2 bucks a day- oxygen tax. They can send it in with their Obamacare premiums.

The Christmas Goose

Last week our President caved in to political pressure. He extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest and bartered for 13 more months of government largesse for the unemployed. Then he went on national TV to whine about it. Later at a press conference, Obama turned the podium over to White House Lewinsky molester, Bill Clinton. Then Obama ran out of the room. Clinton as you might recall, is married to astute cattle futures trader and international spy, Hillary Clinton.

http://www.therightscoop.com/obama-walks-out-leaves-bill-clinton-at-podium

The newly elected Republicans, bent on protecting their elite friends, drew a line in the sand. Obama, the Coward in Chief, nabbed the consolation prize- a few billion more from the taxpayers for his unemployed voters.

Let me score this. Government Cowards 2, American Citizens and Taxpayers 0. 

Now lest ye think I am picking on the current crop of cowards, let me retrace my steps back to Bush II. Bush as you might recall, was the President who lost his veto pen. Among other things, I will forever remember him as the man who failed to enforce immigration statutes, thus allowing the Mexicans to recover land and territory lost long ago. Primarily Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California. Bush may be best known as the man who stepped away from the podium and turned the reins of government over to Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson. Hank as you recall, was the Goldman Sachs CEO who I think history will show- pretty much helped bankrupt the world. I'd like to turn your attention to this chart.




As you can see, as Hank was stealing taxpayer dollars to bail out his cronies at Goldman Sachs and AIG, the FED was busy throwing 4.5 trillion toward it's member banks. The most curious part, is why couldn't the FED simply bail out Congress by supplying the mere pittance that would be TARP? Why indeed? Just a taste here below courtesy of Jonathan Schwarz...more here at his link. http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/

THEY NEEDED SOMEONE TO SHARE THE BLAME.
That's the first rule of political catastrophes: if everyone's guilty, no one can be punished.
This was an opportunity to get everyone else on the hook with them: both parties in congress, and both presidential candidates, each of whom would be under enormous pressure not to look "irresponsible." Even better, getting some TARP money from congress would create a huge distraction from the gigantic amounts of non-TARP money the Fed was shoveling out the door.
So all they had to do now was make congress terrified the economy was about to collapse. And to do this, they needed a plausible story.

Perhaps. But it's that AIG thing that bothers me. AIG is an insurer- not a bank. They owed a shit ton of dough in claims to Hank's old employer, Goldman Sachs. The same bastards that originated those shit derivatives, sold them as AAA quality knowing damn well they weren't, and passed the liability onto AIG.  Does the FED have any obligation to bail out an insurer? Would it even want to? The truth is, I don't think so. In fact it may have even been illegal. Is it possible that TARP was simply a cover story to bail out AIG and make it look good by throwing a few bucks at banks as well? I think so. I think AIG was the goal and real purpose of TARP.

Note the international flavor of FED loans at this link. The American Central Bank. How's my ass taste, chumps. http://projects.propublica.org/tables/treasury-facilities-loans

Now, we are left with Ben Bernanke. His job is to continue the cover up of a worldwide banking system that is bankrupt and a stock market made of smoke and mirrors sprinkled with quantitative easing and more debt. I wonder how he sleeps at night.

Government Cowards 4, American Citizens and Taxpayers 0

It's no wonder to me why President Obama sidestepped the financial collapse of our country. They co-opted the poor sap before he even got in the door. He never saw it coming. Carved up like a Christmas goose as my grandma used to say.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sons Of Miners

Next week on Jun 8th at the Butte Archives there is going to be a lecture about the greatest hard rock mining disaster that had ever happened up until that moment in time- Jun 8, 1917. So I thought I'd edit and re-run this old piece from 2010.

This is an old story. It is about an agreement that I made some forty years ago. An agreement I made with my friends and the effect it had on my life as I got older. It is about loyalty, blind trust, and misconceptions. I told this story recently and as I reflected back on it, I realized it was an indoctrination. It was not necessarily true or untrue. But we believed that it was true. It was a choice we made. We were just kids, many of us, the sons of miners.
I wasn't the son of a miner. In the 1900's, Butte, Montana was known as the richest hill on earth. The city was bustling and busy- a stark contrast with today. A huge open pit mine had replaced underground operations but I can still remember the electric whirr and creakiness of a head frame near my childhood home on Caledonia as it spooled cable up and down the shaft. It is a kind of haunting sound which I have never forgotten nor heard again.

The city was primarily Irish, but there were other ethnic backgrounds represented- complete with homegrown cuisine with bizarre sounding names, neighborhood bars, and a few brothels. Most of my friends were Irish just like I was. I felt this weird sense of loyalty to my friends as though we had this common bond and whatever they said, simply had to be true.

The sons of miners told me this. There had been a great underground fire later dubbed the Granite Mountain fire. Although it had happened during the time of WWI, the story had been passed down to my friends by their grandfathers. The fire had claimed 168 lives, many of them brave men and Irish. There were very few safety measures in 1917. Men toiled long and arduous hours, made very little, and were treated like slaves. Many men had been killed in the mines since that time. After the great fire, there had been a long and nasty period of labor unrest, people had been killed including cops, sympathetic to the mine owners. Eventually at great cost and human suffering, the first miners' union was formed. They told me that all of this death and destruction could have been avoided. I was then introduced to the villain, the Anaconda Mining Company or in Butte, "the company." Making millions a month and screwing over our Irish grandfathers who toiled for three dollars a day. The company owned the local newspapers. So when people died in those mines, even in the 60's, they dared me to find an obituary that ever said that. I never did.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_t4MIXLdITZw/SnddR6UmW4I/AAAAAAAAFY0/Og9cisKDjaQ/s400/Original+Headframe.JPG


I saw my Irish friends as heroes. Struggling against greedy and powerful men who could care less if people had to die while ignoring costly improvements in working conditions. Rich men needing banisters made of wood imported from India or stained glass from Italy. I was loyal to those sons of miners. They were my friends. We were in this together. I began to hate the rich. The rich represented all that was wrong with the world. Unions and the working class were my heroes and my friends. Anyone with money, well they just had to be bad people. That is what I believed. I mean I believed that with all of my heart to be true. I was 11 or 12 years old.

There is a real danger in making agreements like that. You carry those beliefs the rest of your life. They are emotionally planted in you and buried so deep that you can't understand why you feel a twinge of hatred when someone drives by in a Porsche or lands a personal jet on the runway. You see, they are all mine owners to me. Oppressive and uncaring people who must acquire what they have at significant loss to the rest of us. To this day when I hear someone praising personal wealth, I get sick to my stomach. Because I made an agreement, many years ago, to hate those kinds of people.

It would take about thirty five years for me to rewind that tape. It took all of that time for me to reach back and wonder just why I held that faulty belief system so long. How simplistic that all seems now. Those preconceived notions I held as a kid and which I applied to anyone including the people who worked hard for their money and earned it. They could not have known. That is how I saw the world. It was judgmental and wrong perhaps, too broadly applied and stereotypical. I know that now. I didn't know all of that as a child. I saw it as a fact of life which was sprinkled with the loyalty one has for his friends and the hatred we have for the antagonists in our lives. Despite all of that, the bigger part of me will always be a miner's son. That I think- will never leave me.

On the 99th anniversary of the Granite Mountain/Speculator disaster- Jun 8, next week- there is going to be a lecture at the Butte archives which is scheduled to start at noon. All that remains to be seen is whether I will arrive in Butte by car or by motorcycle. I booked a boutique room at the new Miner's Hotel in the old Miner's Bank building. I can hardly wait.

Mark Madoff Taps Out

When I was a child, newspapers had a habit of telling the truth about one's cause of death. If someone committed suicide, the obituary would often state that the deceased took their own life. Over the years, I have noticed a shift in the way obituaries are written. We no longer state the truth. Telling the truth is no longer important to us. We are far more concerned with being "sensitive." We justify and rationalize that sensitivity for a grieving family outweighs any need for telling the truth. If Mark Madoff had been just anyone, I doubt the manner of his death would have ever been disclosed.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101212/ap_on_bi_ge/us_madoff_son

The sad truth is that many of the citizens of this country fear suicide to such a degree that we are forbidden by custom from even discussing it. Many believe that suicide is something to be ashamed of. We feel guilty when our loved ones take their own lives. We feel diminished or less than because we could not prevent it. If only we could have known, then certainly we would have intervened. We become enraged, frustrated, helpless and hopeless, and we cope until we reach some hallowed ground called acceptance.

I know those five stages of grieving well. I have experienced them more than I ever care to remember.

It's a sad fact that many of us are poorly prepared for any talk of death or suicide. That somehow if we just avoid talk of suicide or death, perhaps we can all just continue living our lives as though it doesn't exist. We believe we are better off somehow when we avoid those truths that we don't like.

Right after Mark Madoff's death was reported yesterday, I scrolled the comment section under the Yahoo news story. The anger and vitriolic comments were everywhere. I sensed while reading those comments, just how sick many of us have become. I also got a very real sense while reading those comments, the very real anger and hostility that must have been a daily fixture in Mark's life.

Mark Madoff was presumed guilty by association by many of those commenters. Are we to "assume" that Mark and his brother knew what their father was doing? People make judgments and assumptions all of the time, irrespective of the facts. They practice contempt prior to investigation. There was no presumption of innocence here. Nobody mentioned that in fact, Mark and his brother had cooperated with authorities. That on the eve of his arrest, Bernie told his sons what he had done and they cooperated with authorities. Nobody mentioned that the Madoff brothers had been reviled and vilified non stop, investigated and sued. If the authorities could have proven a charge they would have filed it. They could not. Maybe, just maybe, Bernie Madoff's sons simply didn't know the truth until the last minute. I feel pretty certain that if my own father, the same father that taught me honesty and integrity did something similar, that he might avoid the embarrassment and shame of telling me he was a thief. Why is that possibility so hard to fathom?

Because we CHOOSE not to believe it. We don't want to believe that. We want to practice our unconditional hatred of the wealthy. We want to lash out at those people that rub their material possessions in our noses. Those people with mansions, jets, and trophy wives. Those people who get away with crimes. We are pissed, we feel cheated, that somehow life has treated us unfairly. People enjoy wallowing in that self pity. They enjoy hurting others to make themselves feel better. There was no better evidence of that- than that cowardly comment section under Mark's story. Complete with anti-semitism rhetoric. Thousands of comments.

I am not claiming the high ground for myself here. I have made similar assumptions particularly when there is no possibility of retrieving the truth. But what I absolutely refuse to do, is to revel in and celebrate the death of a young man that was so isolated and depressed that suicide became his only solution. That is very sad, indeed. Those hate filled comments in that comment section don't say anything about what kind of man Mark Madoff was. Because they don't know. But they sure speak volumes about what kind of people many of us have become.

There's a part of me that wishes we could tell the truth again. To see the national epidemic of suicide that we are experiencing rather than hiding from it with the aid of glossed over obituaries. We don't learn anything when we run from something or pretend it doesn't exist. In that same vein,  I've probably been associated with at least a 100 suicides in my life. Everyone of them is a horrific tragedy. Tragic lives and tragic endings. Death messages delivered and followed closely by sobs, shrieks, and wailing delivered at the top of one's lungs. Agony, anguish, and despair like you'll never want to see or hear again. Scenes that I desperately want to erase. When you have that kind of perspective, you see the other side. For those of you that haven't seen that side of life, I desperately wish that you could. I can't bear the thought of witnessing what I have seen and then celebrating someone's suicide. I am going to hope and pray that those experiences of mine would have the same effect on the people writing those comments yesterday.