I’m not very interested in writing about myself. The point of the flight is to spotlight corruption in DC and more importantly, to present the solution(s) to the institutional graft. There will be apprehension about the threat posed by any aircraft that defies the no-fly zone. I’m as curious as anyone what the response will be. Maybe more. The only reason I’m writing about me is to dispel any fear and foster some curiosity. Curiosity may hold an audience of voters long enough for them to hear about solutions to a problem they despaired of solving years ago. Let me assure you, as I have informed the authorities, I have no violent inclinations or intent. An ultralight aircraft poses no major physical threat – it may present a political threat to graft. I hope so. There’s no need to worry – I’m just delivering the mail.
This isn’t my regular route. I’m a mailman in Riverview, FL – near Tampa. I’m 61 years old, married, with four children. I flew with my father who was a private pilot, fixed wing and almost helicopter. I’ve been flying gyrocopters for over a year.
I grew up in Santa Cruz, CA – at that time, a small coastal community about 70 miles south of San Francisco. It’s still 70 miles south of SF, but surrendered its small status decades ago. My first job was at the McDonalds on Mission Street in the old days before frozen fries. Some won’t believe this, but at one time McD’s made fries from spuds and mixed shakes on spindles. The Big Mac was 59 cents.
I joined the Navy after High School – served on the USS Enterprise CVA(N)-65. My ‘shop’ worked on the catapults and aircraft elevators – I was an electrician. The ‘Big E’ was decommissioned last year after 50 years service. (Hat tip to my former shipmates) I was on board and offshore for the evacuation of Saigon. (Look up Saigon, kids) The Navy taught me a lot about leadership, mostly how it shouldn’t be done. (With a few exceptions like CWO Bosun Andreson)
After the Navy, I got into restaurant management, which is one way to work a lot of hours without banking any OT pay. It’s good work if you like people and I do. I won’t do corporate name dropping, but I worked fast food to steak houses in northern CA and up to Washington state. I could see Mount St. Helens from one of my stores and missed the eruption by a year. When I left CA, I missed the Loma Prieta earthquake by a short time and I left NC for Florida just after Hurricane Fran hit Raleigh. (Trust me Florida, you don’t want me to move.)
While I was in North Carolina, I used my GI bill college benefit and worked in computers for a time. I married in NC – we had three kids and I’m proud of all of them. At one point I was a Senior Systems Analyst for the American Board of Pediatrics in Chapel Hill, NC. Work and my marriage and a lot of things came undone all at once. Thos of you who have hit the ‘reset’ button on your lives know how it feels. Kudos to my X and an honorable mention to Mark, the stepdad who did right by my sons. I wasn’t totally absent, and I’m proud to have participated in my kids upbringing.
Post divorce, I moved to Florida and eventually remarried. My wife is a wonderful and supportive person – we have an 11 YO daughter and a dog who thinks she’s human. So far, I haven’t clobbered anyone who thinks I’m Kathy’s grandfather. Which by the way I am, twice. (Grandfather, I mean) My son in Orlando has a daughter and my older daughter in Roanoke is a mother.
I’ve been a mailman in FL for 11 years. I have to invoke the Thumper Policy when asked about the USPS. However, it was through work that I met Mike Shanahan.
Mike developed and wrote up a political concept called Civilism and we started talking at his place over beer. Unlike the typical bull session which consumes a couple of hours and a 6-pack (or two), the discussion started with his specific written ideas which we honed into four short articles called ‘The Civilist Papers’. The essays are an action plan, not to make the country more liberal or more conservative, but to restore democracy – rule by the majority.
Mike once suggested that we send a copy of ‘The Civilist Papers’ via certified snail mail to every member of Congress. The problem is that Congress loves the individual benefits of corruption and (generally) has no intention of changing damn thing. The idea was a good one – the trick was a method of delivery which made the problem and the solution so clear and the principle so politically volatile that no member of Congress (or candidate) could avoid taking a stand.
Our journey with ‘The Civilist Papers’ introduced us to the greater movement. We went in hock to attend a conference in San Francisco (We drove 6000 miles – Mike hates flying.) where the leadership of the reform groups (see the menu on the right) spoke and answered questions. These groups aren’t run by mailmen – the leadership includes a Harvard scholar, an internet media icon, a republican former governor of Louisiana, and a former head of the Federal Election Commission. In terms of leadership, these guys are the real deal. They know the subject and they’re committed to real answers..
Our ‘launch’ of our ‘The Civilist Papers’ never launched – we lacked funding, media savvy, technical know-how (social networking is a science) and lacked anything remotely resembling credentials. I was delighted that ‘our side’ (reformists) was represented by a team that had everything we lacked. If leaving the field that we never really occupied was a disappointment, there was satisfaction that Mike and I had arrived at conclusions so similar to the gospel this esteemed group was preaching. Since I’m on their mailing lists, I can tell you there’s not a drumbeat for donations – though they will accept financial support.
Over the last year, I’ve observed the strategy and techniques being employed by the reform groups. They are operating straight out of the playbook – social networking, blog articles, email drops, activities to draw attention to the group objectives. There were two things, two essential things, lacking however – media coverage and explosive growth.
This is purely opinion – I think the reform movement is in a race against forces who will try to impose their vision on you and me by violent revolution and domestic terrorism. Under normal circumstances, the American public would straighten out the situation in DC by themselves – but the overwhelming tide of distrust for government institutions is fueling sympathy for violent change from citizens who don’t know – non-violent reform is an option! Real reform has to be catapulted to the forefront of public consciousness as a defining principle more critical than any partisan issue in order to prevent random violence among us – to be followed by repressive reactions of a frightened government.
You may disagree, believing that the government has everything under control with your best interests at heart – or you may think that a little violence is the gateway to utopia which won’t be hijacked by extreme elements waiting in the wings. Proof of my hypothesis requires a nightmare to come true – I don’t want to be right. End opinion.
Congress has an approval rating at record lows, and concern about government corruption is at record highs. Groups with credible leadership and well-developed plans for reform should be as popular as free ice cream in Miami in August. I’m convinced that the issue of Congressional reform is black-listed by the corporate (network & cable news) media. The reason is pretty obvious if you think about it.
Elections have only become more expensive and it’s the media who gets the lion’s share of that cash. (Campaign commercials, dude. Networks sell ad time to campaigns for top dollar.) The Big Mac costs four times as much as in 1970 – the average cost of running for Congress is fifteen times what it cost in 1970. And the price tag for a seat in congress is rising as recent rulings allow unlimited corporate cash to flood elections and drown your voice.
Any real examination of corruption in Washington will lead to an examination of campaign finance – and reform will threaten the orgy of unlimited campaign cash that campaigns dump like a drunken sailor on an overnight pass with a month’s pay burning a hole in his pocket. If the candidate is the drunken sailor in this metaphor, the networks stand under a streetlamp in high heels and a short skirt. Not wanting to risk a few (hundred) million in profits, the networks keep pushing Grumpy Cat and the Kardashians – with hardly a minute of air time to discuss the true situation in Washington.
The situation, as I see it, is this
1) a sold-out Congress
2) a network of corporate clients and lobbyists prepared to generously reward Congres-critters who vote as they are
3) the network and cable media, who should be the safety valve in a functioning democracy, but is fully enlisted in the scheme.
Think about that summary and decide if you are willing to make honesty in government the top item on your list of political priorities. If you are a non-political person, it will be a short list. If you are political, nothing on your list is likely to see progress while corruption flourishes. If you agree, sign up with any group listed to the right – stay informed and act according to your informed conscience. Total cost – a few minutes per year for a few years and an honest government of the people will result! I’m talking about a small fraction of the time you spend on fantasy football or the World Series or ‘Dancing with the Stars’ or the fall fashion catalog. We need a low level of engagement from a LARGE number of people.
There’s a distinguished assembly of reform groups with concrete plans but there’s also a conspiracy to keep those groups unknown to the disgruntled voters across the political spectrum. The idea of real democracy has universal support, from the Tea Party to progressives. There is also universal opposition, both parties, Wall Street, almost all elected officials, the election industry, the media.. I think the Girl Scouts is one of the few organizations unopposed. However voters still have the upper hand – when they figure that out, they are invincible. ‘Establishment’ politicians and sold-out talking heads will do anything to keep you from comparing notes with the ‘other side’. The hyper-partisan divide is a strategy to maintain bi-partisan corruption. Don’t fall for it.
IMO, anybody in politics or the news media who want to spend inordinate amounts of time talking about me is avoiding the real discussion – which is about Congress. “It’s not about me.” is a truism more true about an old mailman from Florida that it’s ever been about anyone. There are concrete plans for reform and great communicators available and I’ve linked to them from this site. Let’s keep the discussion focused on reform – not me – I’m just delivering the mail.