Friday, June 27, 2014

july 4, 1776, pluses and minuses

American Independence may in part be something to celebrate. If Edmund Burke, the arch conservative, Ben Franklin, the arch moderate, and Tom Paine, the arch radical, could all agree on the need for the Americans to break away from the British, then they must have a point. No doubt, the English were heavy handed. True, fundamentally, the English did seem to have a point that the American should pay at least a fraction of the taxes that the people back in England had to pay in order to cover the costs of defending the colonies from the French and Indians. Still, the war was justified due to the lack of compromise on the English side.

But was American independence good or bad?  It's hardly a slam dunk either way. Let's think about a few things:

1) The Indians were worse off. 

The victory of the Americans over the British was a catastrophe for almost every Indian nation in what is now the United States and not great for some in Canada. From the founding of the first colony at Jamestown in 1607 to the end of the revolutionary war in about 1783, English speaking colonists had gotten as far west as Albany New York and not much farther. In half the time after the revolution, colonists were on the Pacific ocean. Being able to put a national army on the field without having to consider British imperial priorities and financing was key to this.

Slower conquest of the west would have been a good thing not just for the Indians. The pattern of settlement would have been better, more planned, and American towns and cities in the west would be more logically laid out than they are now.

With better planning, public transportation would be easier, we would be less of a car country and contribute less carbon to the atmosphere.

2) The slaves were worse off.

A high percentage of people in the 13 colonies were slaves. Slavery ended 30+ years earlier in the British Empire without a civil war than it did in America. If the Americans and the British could have worked out a compromise in 1776 and the American colonies remained part of the commonwealth, slavery may have ended earlier with less bloodshed.

You cannot say the 20 million people spending 30 years in slavery is trivial. True, if the southerns were part of the Empire, they would have objected to emancipation in 1833. But the planters in the West Indies were unable to stop the process. And American pro-slavery southerns were not as well organized politically  the 1820s as they would be in the 1840s and 50s.

Plus, if America were part of the empire, northern abolitionists would have had some sway as well, countering the pro-slavery forces.

3) The value of political stability may be overrated in one way. 

Unlike the Spanish colonies, the English colonies were able to forma single, powerful, stable government: no coups, no chaos, law and order and constitutional government for 238 years, more or less. There is one exception: the Civil War. But that exception is huge. More people were killed in the American Civil War than in every class of political violence in all of central and south America, the Caribbean combined for all of history from Cortez to Chavez: more died violently in the American Civil War (not including the miners in Potosí, that's not war...)

In fact, we could throw in all the Americans (US) killed in all wars except the Civil War and the tally for the Civil War would still be higher. If American Independence lead to the Civil War, July 4 has some explaining to do.

True, long periods of stability allow development. But development can lead to industrialized warfare, which then wipes out a staggering number of people.

4) The individual liberties we admire are actually British anyway.

One way or another, if the colonies had stuck it out in the Empire, the Americans would have eventually gotten home rule and independence from Great Britain like the other white majority colonies, like Australia and Canada. True, the Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans might have gotten better treatment due to the example of the Americans, but it's hard to imagine some kind of commonwealth not being established if only the founding fathers had stuck it out.

5) Home rule, when it came, would have included Canada.

If America could have sucked up a little high handed administration for just a little while longer, and avoided war, there would have been no exodus of royalists to Canada. The cultures of Canada and American would not have diverged as much. With a peaceful transition to home rule, all the of the American territories would been part of a single unit.

With Canada and America as a single unit, the power of the reactionary and racist south would be far less. No gun violence. No racist code word politics. That crap wouldn't work in a country with Ontario, Quebec, Vancouver, etc. as members of the country. The north would be just that much stronger and politically.

Plus, without the Civil War, the south would not have ended up so unique.

So, slavery ended peacefully in 1833, no civil war, no reactionary politics, better integration of Indians, longer periods of freedom for Indians...

Now, what is it we were celebrating on July 4 again?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

second home owners: Columbia County's main industry

Sam Pratt has a story up about Ginsberg getting 33 acres for free from Columbia County. I was having trouble getting on his blog a few minutes ago but it should be back up soon.

Basically, the story is insiders cutting themselves a deal to build something ugly. This will be great for "jobs" and industry, someone will say. But we need to be clear: the only reason Columbia County is not as poor as other counties further north in upstate New York is that Columbia County can attract second home owners to buy houses. This is our primary industry. We depend financially on people who have money but little room coming to Columbia County and spending money, paying property taxes and investing in the county.

People do not want to come from New York City to see ugly sprawl. How many people from New York City spend the weekend in East Greenbush? We don't want our county to be ugly and poor, right? So make sure the place stays attractive to people who want so spend money. That means: open space, agriculture, all good. Sprawl, suburban generic ugly bad.

Weekenders: pay for lawn care, pay for house maintenance, pay for tickets to shows, go out to eat, pay taxes, support non-profits, buy art, buy food. Can you build an economy on that? Absolutely, if your population is 60,000 but there are 15 million people in the NYC area. Weekenders don't pollute more than anyone else, they pay decent wages. It's a great, great, great economy. No economy is perfect. In Detriot, they make cars and that pollutes and leaves the city vulnerable to the global market, etc. But go to Michigan and say you are against the auto industry? In LA, they make movies. Not perfect, sure, but would politicians in LA actively try to undermine the entertainment industry?

Weekender are what we do. Farming works well with tourism, so that is a good number two. Art works well with tourism, so that's fine. Trucking and heavy industry don't work with our primary source of employment. We have no advantaged in heavy industry and trucking over other places. So, we should do what comes naturally to us: tourism, particularly that niche of tourism called weekenders.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I won


I won an appeal, Freedom of Information request against Columbia County. 

The county is hiding evidence that they have many no show, fake jobs. The most obvious, as ran on the front page of the Albany Times Union, involves the felony larceny of Tal Rappleyea. 

Rappleyea routinely billed in excess of 24 hours per day. He was paid by municipalities without submitting as much as a scrap of paper. The comptroller knows about it and refuses to investigate. The attorney general claims no jurisdiction. The local DA Czajka promoted Rappleyea as prosecutor in one town AFTER acknowledging Rappleyea's criminality in a meeting. The state police refuse to act. Pat Grattan, chair of the CCBOS, knows this practice of theft, millions stolen, continues even now. 

Rappleyea is not alone. New Lebanon paid Andrew Howard 24,000 for 45 minutes of "work." That works nicely with his fake county job.

Paul Czajka's secretary was Rappleyea's wife and he refuses to get off the case. Some more background here

Oh, and I have an art opening next week and some classes for children and teens around town. Knowledge is power and all that, democracy, etc. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


The supreme court voided campaign contributions limits.

Meanwhile, the top .1 percent of the country in wealth controls 12% of the nation's wealth, which is about the same as the bottom 50%, on in other words, some 30 thousand people have as much wealth as 160 million people.

In short, that's ridiculous. Morally, economically, environmentally, democratically-- in no way is that a good thing, to give a small group of people so much power over the rest of us.

One dollar, one vote. I mean it's just bullcrap.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I have to follow up on this. When is the final decision coming? And then there is this.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

international law

This article says American foreign policy is arrogant and Obama is a huge disappointment. This article is about the terrible abuses in North Korea. This wikipedia page is about the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1951. This disgraceful law is emblematic of US paranoid nationalism. In this piece, Abdulrahman's grandfather points out that Barack Obama killed a 16 year old boy in cold blood for no coherent reason (and many other people) on October 14, 2011 and has kept it up since then.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

how to fix the world

Today happens to be my birthday. So, to celebrate I would like you to indulge me and read this article. I will also like to take a break and write a bit, and in a few short paragraphs diagnosis the problems of the human race and fix them all.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Politics still stinks in Columbia County. This is hypocrisy. The State Police won't lift a finger to touch Robert Fitzsimmons, Columbia County Attorney and active is supporting and encouraging the felonies of Tal Rappleyea and other, likely including himself, stealing millions and still there and still stealing but they will run a sting on a woman syphoning off $20,000.

Monday, October 21, 2013

article in the Albany Times Union and a BREAK IN by the supervisor at the Board of Elections

Frank Serpico is back on the anti-corruption trail, this time in upstate New York, Columbia County, after a developed chopped down his trees and did not get a ticket from the zoning officer because the developer was paying rent to the mayor (supervisor).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

the 9th amendment

Here is the wiki on the ninth amendment. Ever heard of the ninth amendment? Here is what it says:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Reading the history of the amendment and even just the plain language, what this amendment says, as Madison and Hamilton made clear, is that the list of rights in the first eight amendments is not the whole list of rights.

All the ninth amendment says is there are rights out there that are not in the Bill of Rights.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

what did I get for that $437.50 I paid Tal in 2009?

Here is the audio from a town meeting in which Tal admits he did wrong.  A link.

Here is the piece of paper he gave me.

I do not have audio of the 2010 meeting when he hit me up for the grease online at this time but I do have this. And here is the back and forth about them destroying the tapes they later found.

Here is Tal's nonsensical letter to the CCBOS. If you read this letter, then listen to the actual tapes of the 2010 meeting, which I have not yet but will post here, you see that Tal is simply lying.

Don't forget this, 26 hours a day billing. If you are new to this blog, don't miss this and this.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I won in state court

I've been meaning to blog about this case in Half Moon and about the hypocracy (like hypocrisy but as a form of government, like autocracy) of this charge when the County Attorney's office is stealing way more and the DA know ALL about it and does nothing, same with the state police and comptroller. 

But before I could write about that, I won in state court. To review, I paid a kickback to the Stuyvesant Town Attorney Tal Rappleyea of $437.50 in June 2010 and got a permit to run a business. The Zoning Officer Gerald Gerry Ennis showed up wanting his grease too, which I refused to supply. So, the zoning officer revoked my permit.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

an epidemic

False timesheets. Some get prosecuted, some, like Robert Fitzsimmons, Tal Rappleyea, Barrett Mack, Hoag, and Andrew Howard, get away with criminal activity, even though the District Attorney, Paul Czajka, and CCBOS Chair Patrick Grattan absolutely know that the activity is ongoing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

on another blog

Over at my blog about my grandfather's manuscript about the Spanish Civil War, I reflect on the war in 1936 in Spain from the perspective of the US in 2013.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

cop on the beat (BAR association) was on the take, also sending in fake timesheets? well, that explains why they gave the local guys a pass for doing the exact same thing, doesn't it?

The guys in Albany had to resign, so why are Fitzsimmons, Grattan, Howard, Hoag, Mack, Stack, Garvey, Czajka, and Watz still on the job?

So, crooked lawyers who cheat on timesheets are supposed to resign right? Rappleyea resigned. The people named above are all involved in submitting false timesheets or aiding and abetting the submission of false timesheets. So, guys, resign. Much more money involved in Columbia County Attorney office than in the scandal in Albany, more people, longer time, more money looted by Fitzsimmons.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

sunshine again, another morning, another long night

The state police officer said, in audio, "I don't know what your agenda is."

(more audios to come)

Now, I should be able to report a crime in a purple thong, a full length Indian feather headdress, holding a picture of Che Gevara. If the crime is a crime, the police should take my statement and investigate.