28 November 2008

Buy Nothing Day

http://lauraflanders.firedoglake.com/2008/11/27/the-church-of-stop-shopping/ Reverend Billy and Savitri D of the Church of Stop Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. It’s known as Black Friday to many but to Rev. Billy and Savitri D, it’s Buy Nothing day. And with an economy in decline the Church of Consumption, where everything was a profit center, has taken a hit. What will replace it? Rev. Billy and Savitri D say that instead of looking to the corporations we can look to ourselves. Support your local economy. Give time not money. Hell, make something. Reverend Billy's Ten Commandments THOU SHALT 1) Forgive people, yourself and everybody else. We all shop too much. 2) Know your Devil. Shoppers are only dancing in the land of ten thousand ads. Consumerism is the system. Corporations are the agents of the system. 3) Respect the micro-gesture. Magicalize the foreground. Fore-go the plastic bag and grab that bare banana– Amen! 4) Practice asking for Sweat-free, Fairly-traded products. That's the rude that's cool. 5) Buy less and give more. Giving is forceful, the beginning of fantastic new economies. 6) Buy local and think global. Love Your Neighbor (buy at independent shops) and Love The Earth (walk to, bike to, mass transit to – the things you need.) 7) Citizens can buy or not buy, produce or not produce. We can change to a sustainable personal economy. Then corporations and governments will change. Envision the history of a product on a shelf. Workers and the earth made that thing. Resisting Consumerism is an act of imagination. 9) Complexify. Don't be so easy to figure out. Consumers tend to regularize. Shopping at big boxes and chains make us all the same. Viva la difference! 10) Respect the heroes of the resistance. A small band of neighborhood-defenders who staved off a super mall with years of protests? Beautiful. It's our turn now.

We Can't Have Our Earth And Eat It Too!

If every fertile woman in the world was limited to one child...and it somehow began tomorrow, our current 6.5 billion human population would drop by 1 billion by the middle of this century. (If we continue as projected, it will reach 9 billion.) At that point, keeping to one-child-per-human-mother, life on Earth for all species would change dramatically. Because of natural attrition, today’s bloated human population bubble would not be reinflated at anything near the former pace. By 2075, we would have reduced our presence by almost half, down to 3.43 billion, and our impact by much more, because so much of what we do is magnified by chain reactions we set off through the ecosystem. By 2100, less that a century from now, we would be at 1.6 billion: back to levels last seen in the 19th century, just before quantum advances in energy, medicine, and food production doubled our numbers and then doubled us again. At the time, those discoveries seemed like miracles. Today, like too much of any good thing, we indulge in more only at our peril. At such far-more-manageable numbers, however, we would have the benefit of all our progress plus the wisdom to keep our presence under control. That wisdom would come partly from losses and extinctions too late to reverse, but also from the growing joy of watching the world daily become more wonderful. The evidence wouldn’t hide in statistics. It would be outside every human’s window, where refreshed air would fill each season with more birdsong. ~Alan Weisman, "The World Without Us"

The Earth is About to Catch a Morbid Fever...

Published on Monday, January 16, 2006 by the Independent http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0116-21.htm by James Lovelock Imagine a young policewoman delighted in the fulfilment of her vocation; then imagine her having to tell a family whose child had strayed that he had been found dead, murdered in a nearby wood. Or think of a young physician newly appointed who has to tell you that the biopsy revealed invasion by an aggressive metastasising tumour. Doctors and the police know that many accept the simple awful truth with dignity but others try in vain to deny it. Whatever the response, the bringers of such bad news rarely become hardened to their task and some dread it. We have relieved judges of the awesome responsibility of passing the death sentence, but at least they had some comfort from its frequent moral justification. Physicians and the police have no escape from their duty. This article is the most difficult I have written and for the same reasons. My Gaia theory sees the Earth behaving as if it were alive, and clearly anything alive can enjoy good health, or suffer disease. Gaia has made me a planetary physician and I take my profession seriously, and now I, too, have to bring bad news. The climate centres around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology lab of a hospital, have reported the Earth's physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger. Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma. She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years. We are responsible and will suffer the consequences: as the century progresses, the temperature will rise 8 degrees centigrade in temperate regions and 5 degrees in the tropics. Much of the tropical land mass will become scrub and desert, and will no longer serve for regulation; this adds to the 40 percent of the Earth's surface we have depleted to feed ourselves. Curiously, aerosol pollution of the northern hemisphere reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back to space. This "global dimming" is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse. We are in a fool's climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable. By failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible - and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us. To understand how impossible it is, think about how you would regulate your own temperature or the composition of your blood. Those with failing kidneys know the never-ending daily difficulty of adjusting water, salt and protein intake. The technological fix of dialysis helps, but is no replacement for living healthy kidneys. My new book, "The Revenge of Gaia" expands these thoughts, but you still may ask why science took so long to recognize the true nature of the Earth. I think it is because Darwin's vision was so good and clear that it has taken until now to digest it. In his time, little was known about the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans, and there would have been little reason for him to wonder if organisms changed their environment as well as adapting to it. Had it been known then that life and the environment are closely coupled, Darwin would have seen that evolution involved not just the organisms, but the whole planetary surface. We might then have looked upon the Earth as if it were alive, and known that we cannot pollute the air or use the Earth's skin - its forest and ocean ecosystems - as a mere source of products to feed ourselves and furnish our homes. We would have felt instinctively that those ecosystems must be left untouched because they were part of the living Earth. So what should we do? First, we have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realise how little time is left to act; and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilisation for as long as they can. Civilization is energy-intensive and we cannot turn it off without crashing, so we need the security of a powered descent. On these British Isles, we are used to thinking of all humanity and not just ourselves; environmental change is global, but we have to deal with the consequences here in the UK. Unfortunately our nation is now so urbanized as to be like a large city and we have only a small acreage of agriculture and forestry. We are dependent on the trading world for sustenance; climate change will deny us regular supplies of food and fuel from overseas. We could grow enough to feed ourselves on the diet of the Second World War, but the notion that there is land to spare to grow biofuels, or be the site of wind farms, is ludicrous. We will do our best to survive, but sadly I cannot see the United States or the emerging economies of China and India cutting back in time, and they are the main source of emissions. The worst will happen and survivors will have to adapt to a hell of a climate. Perhaps the saddest thing is that Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. Not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems go extinct, but in human civilization the planet has a precious resource. We are not merely a disease; we are, through our intelligence and communication, the nervous system of the planet. Through us, Gaia has seen herself from space, and begins to know her place in the universe. We should be the heart and mind of the Earth, not its malady. So let us be brave and cease thinking of human needs and rights alone, and see that we have harmed the living Earth and need to make our peace with Gaia. We must do it while we are still strong enough to negotiate, and not a broken rabble led by brutal war lords. Most of all, we should remember that we are a part of it, and it is indeed our home. James Lovelock is an independent environmental scientist and Fellow of the Royal Society. "The Revenge of Gaia," scheduled for release February 2, 2006, is published by Penguin.

11 November 2008

An Open Comment to The Republican Party

I suggest if you wish to become a party of unity rather than division, of hope rather than fear, of action not reaction...quit repeating the myth of Reagan. His was not a small government, balanced budget, working class presidency. He doubled the payroll tax on working americans, busted unions, supported crony-capitalists...made comments like 'trees cause pollution'...quadrupled the nation's debt with 'trickle-down' economics. Bush I continued in his footsteps, adding more government and more debt...Bush II took a budget surplus and ran the country into the ground with debt and trade imbalances. Eisenhower warned of the Military/Industrial Complex...Teddy Roosevelt's progressive policies righted many of the wrongs and injustices of the 'gay 90s'...Abraham Lincoln united a very divided nation... You'd do well to avoid the likes of Sarah Palin...small minds with insular, fearful, religiosity. The James Dobsons, Grover Norquists, Tony Perkins... Conservatives these are not...nor was Reagan or either of the Bushes. Look to Teddy, Abraham, Ike...for our nation's prosperity and unity. By far, the more conservative candidate in this recent presidential election won...and that was Barack Obama... United we stand. We the people. A sense of the commons. Common sense.

10 November 2008

Veterans' Day

We were with our oldest grandson yesterday...he told us he didn't have school today (Monday) and I asked if it was because of Veterans' Day...he said, no...it's a 'deer hunting opening weekend' holiday. I wonder how many young folks (or older folks) understand why Veterans' Day is celebrated on November 11th? 1918, the Armistice had already been decided at 0500 on 11 November, the war was over...although the official time was set for the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...between the time that the outcome of the war was decided and the actual time came...11,000 troops were killed...and countless others wounded, amongst them a young german corporal: Hitler is recovering from blindness induced by gas attack at the end, he later writes in "Mein Kampf" that it was at this point, that he swore that the dishonor of the German surrender must be "erased, eradicated, and, therefore, I shall devote my life to that." I guess he meant it.

07 November 2008

Why so much hate?

In Minnesota, where I am, there is no shooting allowed for 5 days prior to deer season opener...which is tomorrow morning. As a fact, no rifles are allowed in the woods for 5 days prior to the season. Well...I live in the midst of a state forest on 50 acres...and was walking in the woods this morning...when shots rang out...close... just to my north...echoing through the draw. I made sure my wife was okay back at the house, grabbed my cell phone, some bright clothing and went to the pickup...drove out my driveway and onto the township road. A new SUV pulled out of the forest about 1/4 mile north, drove across the road and into the forest on a trail...I followed, flashing my lights trying to flag them down. They spun out...and took off...a bat out of hell. I followed them to another trail which they turned onto...I knew it to be a dead end. Called the Conservation Officer, rec'd a dispatcher...gave them the license plate number. Was told it was relatives of a neighbor who lives a couple of miles north. Went home. Later in the afternoon I was driving down the road, when they came out of the forest...I followed them...they bypassed their relatives and kept on truckin'...I flashed lights, they pulled over. I recognised them and mentioned the shooting and that it was close to me and illegal. The older fellow ( a nefarious sort) got red as a beet and blew a gasket..."I bet you voted for Obama...you're an Obama lover..." And he continued to rant. His son, "You anti-gunners are all alike"...I told him I'm certainly not an anti-gunner...and even have a permit to carry...(they looked toward my belt)...The son, "Are you threatening us?"...No, but I did call the Conservation Officer and gave them your license number..."Whatever, asshole"...and they drove away. I'm a member of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. I believe in ethical hunting...and a sense of the commons. Common Sense. http://www.backcountryhunters.org/
Click the map to enlarge the image. ***
This is a map of trends...counties which voted more democratic than in 2004. I'm tired of the whole conservative/liberal...right/left diatribes. Bill Clinton closed the deficit and turned it into a surplus...created jobs...got people off of welfare...opened free trade (which needs to be revisited)...and wingnuts call him a liberal. Reagan increased the tax burden on the working class, regressively, by doubling the payroll tax...and then ripped off the system by stealing from the trust fund which was created. Reagan left the nation with 5 times the debt he inherited. Bush I entered into a massive war, using depleted uranium shells and creating an environmental catastrophe, killing thousands upon thousands...in support of a monarchy in Kuwait (which was a breakaway province of Iraq and were 'drinking Iraq's milkshake' by horizontal drilling)...GW Bush, well you all know his legacy...shredding the constitution, increasing the scope and breadth of executive powers and privilege, driving this nation deeply in debt...while handing money over to his cronies, who have shipped jobs overseas...in Halliburton's case even leaving the country and headquartering in Dubai. All three of these men have eased restrictions on water quality, air quality...opened wilderness areas to logging and mining friends...and they are called 'conservatives'?
"The Republicans' problems go beyond leadership races, as Election Day data suggest the party is losing grass-roots support. Republican voter turnout declined 1.3% from 2004, while Democratic turnout grew 2.6%, according to election expert Curtis Gans. The portion of voters calling themselves Republicans dropped to 32% Tuesday from 37% in 2004, according to exit-poll data, while self-identified Democrats grew to 40% from 37%. Mike Franc of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, said that exit polls also showed 20% of self-identified conservatives voted for President-elect Barack Obama. "Why has it been so hard to communicate the essence of what conservatives stand for?" he said party leaders are asking. Conservative conclaves have been seeking the answer. Thursday, about 20 political strategists and social and fiscal conservative leaders met at the rural Virginia home of conservative activist Brent Bozell to discuss a way forward. The group included Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Mr. Bozell told reporters following the meeting that it was the first in a series. "The purpose of these meetings is quite simple: The conservative movement is going to retake America," he said. He added that the focus of their efforts in coming months will be to rebuild the party at the grass-roots level, develop new technologies to reach voters and fund raising."
***
Brent Bozell? Grover Norquist? Cultural warrior Tony Perkins? They are part of the problem, not the solution. If the Republicans wish to remake their image, they would be far better off looking at Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln for inspiration... True conservationist, progressive/forward looking, inclusive thoughts and ideals.

05 November 2008

The Morning After

I slept well last night after watching President-elect Obama's speech...and seeing the reaction to his election all across the world. Dancing in Kenya, an entire Japanese village named Obama cheering, Australians, Europeans, Asians, Africans...and Middle Eastern responses in the affirmative. The dawning of a new day...a generational shift. Pragmatists over idealogues. I've suggested in the past that we need good garbage collectors in office...The Augean Stables are filled with crap left from the current occupant. Can a person unite two rivers of change into one powerful surge, sweeping clear the perceptions and realities left by GW Bush and his neo-con/neo-liberal partners? Yes we can...is what I truly believe. The first 100 days we need to shift gears and get behind to push...get us out of the petroleum ditch and malaise...toward a green economy. That single priority...retooling and rebuilding our infrastructure to prepare for the real 21st century needs and demands...optimistically moving forward... All we've gotten for the 11 trillion dollars in debt that this country is in...(90% from three Republican presidents...Reagan, Bush I and Bush II)...is someone else's hangover...from the party that was charged on our credit card. I wouldn't have minded the debt, if it would have built something, improved our lot, created jobs, and gotten us away from our energy and plastic gluttony. This is a new morning. It is a time to regain a sense of the commons in this country. Oddly enough, if you juxtapose those words you'd get 'common sense'...something we've been sadly lacking. I wish everyone well...I know you're all watching this grand experiment, and our chosen leadership. I, for one, will remain active to keep them all accountable...for the change we can believe in...for the change we sorely need. Peace in all your lives...and on your homesteads.

09 October 2008

Angry God=Angry people living in fear

I believe in visualisations, manifestations...wanting things so much that you can make it happen, having friends/family/lovers send energy to you for healings...I believe there are many things we don't know...but I'm irritated by the thought that people believe there's a paternal "god" who takes care of his "children"...especially if that "god" said and did everything that was attributed to him in the old testament. Some uptight old dude on a throne with a long white beard and a stern, set jaw. I'm not a fan of the Abrahamic religions, I've mentioned that before. I also believe that we make feeble attempts to explain the unexplainable, know the unknowable...and yes, to believe the unbelievable. We've been through this before, though. My opinions are nothing new. I believe in the power of crystals...as a fact, that's how we get our electricity here. I believe in the healing ability of our bodies and the use of herbs and food as medicine. I believe stress and fear can wreak havoc on one's body, community, relationships, nation, economy (personal and global), and can (ultimately) cause dis-ease and death. I find comfort that I don't and can't know TRUTH with a capital T...let the mystery be...and breathe, breathe, breathe...exhale. The breath of life.

08 September 2008

The Story of a Sign...Cannes Film Festival Nominee

Written by Wasilla resident, Anne Kilkenny

I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city. She is enormously popular; in every way she’s like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won’t vote for her can’t quit smiling when talking about her because she is a “babe”. It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months. She is “pro-life”. She recently gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby. She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym. She is savvy. She doesn’t take positions; she just “puts things out there” and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit. Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin’s kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans. Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters. She’s smart. Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents. During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign. Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a “fiscal conservative”. During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents. The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later-to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing. While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodelled and her office redecorated more than once. These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city. As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state. In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today’s surplus, borrow for needs. She’s not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren’t generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren’t evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them. While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day. Sarah complained about the “old boy’s club” when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of “old boys”. Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal-loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State’s top cop (see below). As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla’s Police Chief because he “intimidated” her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska’s top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it’s pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn’t fire her sister’s ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support. She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn’t like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness. Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her. When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the “old boys’ club” when she dramatically quit, exposing this man’s ethics violations (for which he was fined). As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the “bridge to nowhere” after it became clear that it would be unwise not to. As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects-which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance-but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as “anti-pork”. She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative. Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her “Sarah Barracuda” because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah’s mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her. As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as “AGIA” that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum. Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned “as a private citizen” against a state initiative that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State’s lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior’s decision to list polar bears as threatened species. McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President. There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she. However, there’s a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it. CLAIM VS FACT “Hockey mom”: true for a few years “PTA mom”: true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since “NRA supporter”: absolutely true social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconstitutional). pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it. “Pro-life”: mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down’s syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation “Experienced”: Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000. political maverick: not at all gutsy: absolutely! open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions. has a developed philosophy of public policy: no “a Greenie”: no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR. fiscal conservative: not by my definition! pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards. pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents. pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla’s history. pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn’t make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union. WHY AM I WRITING THIS? First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you Google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations. Secondly, I’ve always operated in the belief that “Bad things happen when good people stay silent”. Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings. Third, I am just a housewife. I don’t have a job she can bump me out of. I don’t belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that’s life. Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah’s attempt at censorship. Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable. m CAVEATS I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can’t recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall-they are swamped. So I can’t verify my numbers. You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my “about 5,000″, up to 9,000. The day Palin’s selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90’s. Anne Kilkenny

05 September 2008

Government Whore...recorded live in NYC

I wrote this song in the run up to and during 'The Persian Gulf War'...nothing seems to change. Clik on the title to hear the song. Or go directly to http://www.box.net/shared/gbg6mej0ca for download

04 September 2008

Wrap It In A Tortilla!

That would be my message to Barack Obama over the next 61 days: Wrap it in a tortilla, if you want to sell it. I say that because I've noticed recently that KFC is trying to get everything on their menu either on a bun, in a bowl, or wrapped up in a tortilla and Taco Bell has adapted to today's busy lifestyle by gluing all their food together with cheese.. Why? Because if people can't cram it down their pieholes between stoplights without getting it all over the seat, they're just not going to buy it.. Period. Who sits down at their desk or in their cars with a knife and fork and enjoys a two piece breast and wing meal with green beans, mashed potatoes, and a biscuit? Nobody...that's who. Politics today are exactly the same, and the Democrats have a long history of offering up seven course meals against the Republicans' grab'n'go "cheese rollups" -- and they lose! Yes, it's true that a cheese rollup consists solely of microwave-melted cheese in a stale tortilla, and that a seven course meal is ultimately better than one or five cheese rollups, but you can eat a cheese rollup in like...12 seconds. And when you're done, you're not hungry anymore! Constipated, maybe.. But not hungry.. Malnutritioned? Absolutely -- but you're stuffed! That's all people have time for.. They've got about 12 seconds to get their fill of politics for the day, and whatever makes them feel like they've gotten their fill in the shortest possible time is what they'll choose, hands down.. So, Barack Obama.. Next time you're asked when life begins, don't spend too much time ruminating on it and end by saying that it's above your pay grade.. Just say "Only God knows the answer to that question" -- and be done with it! That's how you put it in a tortilla. (Thanks to Justice)

John McCain...Who he is...clik to link

Sarah Palin and Gender Card...Jon Stewart

clik title to link

22 August 2008

I wrote as we were culminating hospice with my sister, Linda...in 2003...just prior to my own diagnosis of cancer (I'm fine, thank you)...and now, after the memorial for Audrey, Cheryl's mother...who died two weeks ago...and all this nation and the nations of the world are experiencing...and all we as individuals, and we as a world community, are going through...it is as pertinent now, as then...if not more so. *** With all that we've been experiencing this year, collectively and individually, I have some thoughts I'd like to communicate. A Hopi Elder says about these times: "You have been telling the people it is the eleventh hour, now you must go back and tell the people, this is the hour, and there are things to be considered. Where are you going? What are you doing? Are you in right relation? Where is your water? Do you know your garden? It is time to speak your truth. There is a river flowing now, very fast. It is so great and swift, there are those who will be afraid. They will hold on to the shore, and they will suffer greatly. The elders say, 'Push off of the shore into the middle of the river, keep your eyes open and your head above water.' And I say, 'See who is in there with you, and celebrate! For at this time in history your are to take nothing personally, least of all yourselves. For the moment that you do, your spiritual journey has come to a halt. Gather yourselves, banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that you do must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we've been waiting for.' " Ivan Illich died on December 2nd, in Bremen, Germany. In the last 20 years of his life, he suffered increasingly from a persistent growth on the side of his face, which he never treated, nor had diagnosed. In what was his most provocative and perhaps final comment on the "pursuit of health", Illich wrote: "Yes, we suffer pain, we become ill, we die. But we also hope, laugh, celebrate; we know the joy of caring for one another; often we are healed and we recover by many means. We do not have to pursue the flattening-out of human experience. I invite all to shift their gaze, their thoughts, from worrying about 'health care' to cultivating the art of living. And, today with equal importance, the art of suffering, the art of dying." Paper covers rock, rock breaks scissors, scissors cut paper...but fear destroys magic...that has been the celebrated cause of "Civilisation"... parents beating the magic from the child...the religious governments and governmental religions instilling fear to cloud the reality that we glimpse periodically when we are quiet by a river, in the woods, or celebrating life amongst the dearest of our friends... Thank you all for being such dears. Bruce

16 August 2008

I Can See More Clearly Now

I watched an interview with Michael Klare (The New Geopolitics of Energy) in which he was discussing the two different foreign policies which come out of the Bush White House...the Condoleeza Rice/State Department and the Neo-Cons led up by Dick Cheney...Dick Cheney's policies apparently encourage confrontation with the Russians (and global hegemony as in the PNAC statement of the late 90s)...so the Georgian president felt that he was told that we and NATO would have his back if he moved on South Ossetia...which is why he excoriated the west for not 'showing up'...meanwhile, Russia is pissed at the oil pipeline which is crossing Georgia and the proposed gas pipeline...all coming from former soviet states north of Iran...and possibly Iran herself... So...once again...it's all about oil/oilmen/money/power/greed...and innocents are caught in the crossfire...(an excuse for land grabs/ethnic cleansing or whatever you'd like to do as the army of the moment)... "While the day-to-day focus of US military planning remains Iraq and Afghanistan, American strategists are increasingly looking beyond these two conflicts to envision the global combat environment of the emerging period--and the world they see is one where the struggle over vital resources, rather than ideology or balance-of-power politics, dominates the martial landscape. Believing that the United States must reconfigure its doctrines and forces in order to prevail in such an environment, senior officials have taken steps to enhance strategic planning and combat capabilities. Although little of this has reached the public domain, there have been a number of key indicators... ... Russia, too, is being viewed through the lens of global resource competition. Although Russia, unlike the United States and China, does not need to import oil and natural gas to satisfy its domestic requirements, it seeks to dominate the transportation of energy, especially to Europe. This has alarmed senior White House officials, who resent restoration of Russia's great-power status and fear that its growing control over the distribution of oil and gas in Eurasia will undercut America's influence in the region. In response to the Russian energy drive, the Bush Administration is undertaking countermoves. "I do intend to appoint...a special energy coordinator who could especially spend time on the Central Asian and Caspian region," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February. "It is a really important part of diplomacy." A key job of the coordinator, she suggested, would be to encourage the establishment of oil and gas pipelines that bypass Russia, thereby diminishing its control over the regional flow of energy..." The article (and book) go much deeper into global competition and arms build-ups to surrogates...China, Africa...increasing grabs and tension over oil and other depleting resources... So who's the bad guys and who's the good guys? I believe we as homesteaders (and individuals) can and will understand more and more that it is "control" which is the bad guy...and independence the good guy. To me, McCain isn't so frightening as McBush...as he is as McCheney... It ain't pretty. http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080519/klare

09 August 2008

04 August 2008

The Right Wing Nuts Are Coming Out Of The Woodwork

click the title for link: August 1, 2008...Obama: Harbinger of the Anti-Christ...Hal Lindsey, best known as the author of "Late Great Planet Earth” once speculated that “the decade of the 1980's could very well be the last decade of history as we know it.” Yet here we are, twenty years later so it’s not as if Lindsey has a particularly good record on making predictions. Yet that isn’t stopping him from warning that with Barack Obama running for president and generating excitement in places like Berlin, Germany, it can only mean one thing: the Anti-Christ is coming America has never faced so many different crises at the same time in living memory. The war with al-Qaida and Islamic terror, the Iran crisis, Afghanistan, nuclear proliferation, the rising price of oil, the falling dollar, enemy acronyms like OPEC, NAM, OIC, U.N. ... Obama is correct in saying that the world is ready for someone like him – a messiah-like figure, charismatic and glib and seemingly holding all the answers to all the world's questions. And the Bible says that such a leader will soon make his appearance on the scene. It won't be Barack Obama, but Obama's world tour provided a foretaste of the reception he can expect to receive. He will probably also stand in some European capital, addressing the people of the world and telling them that he is the one that they have been waiting for. And he can expect as wildly enthusiastic a greeting as Obama got in Berlin. The Bible calls that leader the Antichrist. And it seems apparent that the world is now ready to make his acquaintance. The idea that Obama may not be the actual Anti-Christ but sure has a lot in common with him seems to be spreading among right-wing activists, as Sarah Poser recently reported: On Friday, the day after Obama's Berlin speech, the AFA Report's host, Fred Jackson, made note of the "messianic tone" of the speech, then quickly denied that he believes Obama is messianic. Ed Vitagliano, one of the program's roundtable guests, chimed in, "I don't think he's the Antichrist, but there is a spirit of Antichrist at work in the West in a very strong and open way that is leading people to want to solve their problems and have a desire to have their lives improved without Christ. That's what the spirit of Antichrist does, it denies Christ." In other words, Obama's not the Antichrist. He's just like the Antichrist. But apparently John McCain’s campaign hasn’t yet gotten on board with the messaging, since they just released their latest typically informative, fact-based, and classy ad suggesting instead that Obama sees himself as the Messiah: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mopkn0lPzM8 For more information go to: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=the_fundamentalist_073008

17 July 2008

Living In The Woods

A few of us got together for conversation, wine, evening fire and a crayfish boil last evening...the lakes and gardens provide some great food...

16 July 2008

A little sidestep...one, two, three...

I've noticed a couple of things in the past few days which are an attempt, I believe, by this administration (and the RNC) to change things a bit to get McCain elected...enacting policies that Obama has been speaking about...the administration and McCain are talking about bringing troops home from Iraq, sending more troops to Afghanistan, opening diplomatic exchanges with Iran... Oil is down 10 dollars a barrel since yesterday...if they stop their sabre rattling and continue with the policies Obama has outlined...they may mask our problems enough, at least until the election...to get McCain elected...especially in an environment where many citizens in the USA wouldn't vote for a black man (nor would they vote for a woman) if their lives depended on it...which may just be the case.

08 July 2008

We Won't Be Duped Again...

Let's face it. McCain, once again, is dragging out the time worn Republican mantra of balanced budget/limited government/personal choices...Reagan and the two bushes walked that dog already, and look whose park it crapped in. 10 trillions of dollars of debt, a much larger government presence, extra-constitutional perving into your private records...it's hogwash. Clinton balanced the budget and made government smaller, floated all boats by booming the economy...so...he's the best Republican President fielded in the past century. If we want privatisation of social security...letting wall street manage main street...anyone who depends on social security right now would be screwed...if we allow big pharma/insurance companies to dictate our health insurance policies, we'll get the same crap we got when Cheney created his 'energy policy' behind closed doors with his cronies in the oil industry. Oil at record highs, gasoline breaking some folks' personal banks. These people are 'daddy warbucks' of the modern era...it's time to bust them up.

15 June 2008

The Fallacious Arguments of the Republicans

noticed that on the Sunday morning talk shows, Newt Gingrich was on CBS talking about how the Supreme Court decision to maintain our constitution and the right to habeas corpus will cause one of our major cities to be destroyed by a nuke (more or less)...and on ABC, Fred Thompson was talking against Obama's policy of increasing the taxes on the super-rich while lowering taxes on the lower and middle classes...saying that McCain's tax policy will build our economy...okay...let's look at that one (neither interviewer questioned the validity of either Newt's or Fred's statements...just acted like these were the most knowledgeable guys in the world...blech)...Reagan, Bush I and Bush II have presided over administrations which have given us over 90% of the national debt we have...taken us from a net investor nation to the largest debtor nation in the world...plus...our balance of trade is in the tank to the tune of 60 billion dollars per month...that's 700 billion plus dollars per year that we are importing more than we are exporting... The argument that our unemployment rate is low (even though it jumped a half percent this past quarter)...is also fallacious. The way unemployment is calculated is skewed in favour of the administration, and only counts people who are drawing unemployment...(perhaps one reason the Republicans are against extending unemployment benefits for the hardest hit...it will increase the percentage unemployed because those whose benefits would have ended will still be on the rolls...) The small government, balanced budget, conservatives...(all terms are said with my tongue firmly in my cheek)...are the ones who have ballooned government (Homeland Security, anyone) incompetently, never submit a balanced budget (even when they controlled both houses of congress and the white house the budget was massively imbalanced)...and conservative...choke...shred the constitution...and then lambaste the Supreme Court for actually restoring habeas corpus by the very thinnest of margins...one vote... We are one vote away from fascism...one supreme court justice away from fascism... We need to get this message out to the workers of this country...the middle class which is being decimated while corporate oil companies are given tax subsidies and have record 45 billion dollar profits...with oil men in the white house...Bush/Cheney...and all through the administration...with lobbyists and destroyers of our economy (Phil Gramm is McCain's 'economic advisor') running the McCain campaign and situated to further damage our economy, the dollar and our prestige in the world community...not to mention placing all our liberties at risk. If you can get your hands on the current issue (July/August 2008) of Mother Jones read "Who Wrecked the Economy?"...and why they work for John McCain. On Phil Gramm: Phil Gramm is, perhaps, one of the most shifty figures in modern Washington history. In 1978, he was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat from Texas. In 1981, Gramm betrayed the caucus that spent hundreds of thousands to elect him by attending Democratic budget meetings and passing along strategy memos to Republicans. He is oft cited as the figure most responsible for handing Reagan his massive tax cuts. When, in 1982, the Democrats stripped him of his committee seat, Gramm resigned from the House and won the seat again in a special election, this time as a Republican. Gramm was elected to the Senate in 1984, proving that Texas isn't a state where common sense and decency reign supreme. Moreover, in his time in the Senate, he was the author of the Financial Services Modernization Act, the bill which paved the way for the mortgage crisis. From Mother Jones: "In 1999, Gramm pushed through a historic banking deregulation bill that decimated Depression-era firewalls between commercial banks, investment banks, insurance companies, and securities firms—setting off a wave of merger mania" You can read more about the bill at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gramm-Leach-Bliley_Act As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Gramm received over $1 million from the securities and financial sector for his dutiful contributions to this industry's profits. Gramm's wife, who had sat on the board of the Commodity Trading Futures Commission, had pushed through a rule excluding Enron's energy futures contracts from government oversight. That rule was due to be overturned. In his third, and thankfully final, term in the Senate, Gramm was the author of another bill called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. This bill featured the now-infamous "Enron loophole", which allowed the energy company to be exempt from keeping detailed records on over-the-counter energy and commodity trades. Without a doubt, the CFMA codified the conditions into law that were needed for Enron to pull off one of the grandest corporate swindles in American history. It was later revealed that Gramm had received the language for the loophole directly from Enron lobbyists. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity_Futures_Modernization_Act_of_2000 From Mother Jones, again: "But the Enron loophole was small potatoes compared to the devastation that unregulated swaps would unleash. Credit default swaps are essentially insurance policies covering the losses on securities in the event of a default. Financial institutions buy them to protect themselves if an investment they hold goes south. It's like bookies trading bets, with banks and hedge funds gambling on whether an investment (say, a pile of subprime mortgages bundled into a security) will succeed or fail. Because of the swap-related provisions of Gramm's bill—which were supported by Fed chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury secretary Larry Summers—a $62 trillion market (nearly four times the size of the entire US stock market) remained utterly unregulated, meaning no one made sure the banks and hedge funds had the assets to cover the losses they guaranteed." Anyone who argues that complete de-regulation of an industry, where there is so much money involved, is a good thing simply does not understand how economics works. Now, and only now, has the federal government decided to step into the crisis, by using taxpayer dollars --that's right, the money that Republicans so often say needs to be dealt with responsibly -- to bail out corporate banks that got in way over their heads. In 2003, Gramm left the Senate, to give current Texas Senator John Cornyn seniority over the rest of the class. Because he had been such a friend to the industry, mega-bank UBS hired Gramm to serve them as a lobbyist. His role: lobby Congress, the White House and the Federal Reserve on issues of credit industry regulation. Let me repeat that: After a career of taking money from the financial services, writing the bills that the UBS board members dreamt of at night and having them signed into law, Gramm became a highly-paid lobbyist whose job it was to get more deregulation, less oversight. From the Politico: "According to federal lobbying disclosure records, Gramm lobbied Congress, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department about banking and mortgage issues in 2005 and 2006. During those years, the mortgage industry pressed Congress to roll back strong state rules that sought to stem the rise of predatory tactics used by lenders and brokers to place homeowners in high-cost mortgages. For his work, Gramm and two other lobbyists collected $750,000 in fees from UBS’s American subsidiary." (I apologise for any attributions I may have failed to make)

11 June 2008

I really need to be better about posting

So much has been happening recently, it's difficult to keep up with...from giving of care to Cheryl's mother/father...ferrying our grandson back and forth to school to finish out the year (he graduated from elementary school and has moved in with his mom, now...) Plants had to be started in the greenhouse, gardens prepared, new landscaping developed from our bathroom/laundryroom project just prior to winter...attended a grafting seminar in Decorah, IA at Seed Savers Exchange, Cheryl had surgery on both wrists for carpal tunnel...rain has been consistently falling for the past few weeks...even had a tornado touch down on Pickerel Lake and the area around Emmaville. No one hurt physically, although a few cabins were very damaged and many trees were downed. I'd like to include an excerpt from a posting at DailyKos...a friend asked how much it would cost to have it tattoed on his chest... The link is at the end of the post: OKLAHOMA CITY—Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma said Tuesday Barack Obama is "the most liberal senator" in Congress and he has no intention of endorsing him for the White House. [...] Boren, a self-described centrist, is seeking a third term this year in a mostly rural district that stretches across eastern Oklahoma. "We're much more conservative," Boren said of district. "I've got to reflect my district. No one means more to me than the people who elected me. I have to listen them." He called Obama "the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate." Boren still is going to vote for Obama, mind you, just not "endorse" him. Because, you know, Obama is "liberal", and that's just not an OK thing to be in the OK state. It seems like a rather odd line for a Democrat to be taking -- clipped as it is from conservative talking points -- but I'll be honest. I can't get all that worked up about it. So, you know, whatever -- if he "votes for" Obama, but "endorses" an animated tick hiding in a Pokemon's brightly colored back fur, meh. I'm hoarding my disapprobation right now, in anticipation of Peak Outrage. Which will probably be sometime in 2009, for those of you who are following the outrage markets. So here's my gentle question for Rep. Boren. Let's just suppose that he was right, and Obama really was "the most liberal senator" in the entire Democratic contingent -- a term magically conferred by conservatives on whatever figure wins the nomination, election after election, while hyper-mega-death-penalty-mocking-war-humping-salmon-punching-archconservative Republicans magically turn into "moderates", using those same conservatives' exact same terribly objective calculations for such things. So let's just stipulate that someone might be "the most liberal" senator. My question for Rep. Boren, and for his Oklahoma constituents, is this: so what? So what if someone is a "liberal"? What exactly are you afraid of? What, will he start some wars? Will the economy go to hell? Will gasoline suddenly cost four bucks a gallon, so that getting from one end of town to the other starts to be something you have to plan for in your family budget? Oh, wait, no -- that's what conservatism has wrought. So what big, scary menace will "liberalism" rain down upon us all? The horror of free public education? The apocalypse of affordable healthcare for families and the elderly? An energy policy that consists of something other than "hell, let's just sit on our asses and see what happens"? My God, maybe we'll have a foreign policy that doesn't revolve around sucking thousands of dollars out of your constituents' pockets, lighting all that money on fire, and using the pyre to make super-special Democracy Smores in the middle of the Iraqi desert? What, are we afraid less American soldiers will die? That our trade deficit will be, if not reversed, at least addressed? Are Oklahomans all huddled in their closets, lest some of the now-legions of outsourced jobs start reappearing in their towns? What? What is it that is so absolutely alarming about the word "liberal" that you'd rather stomach having everything that's happened to America for the past decade continue, rather than being seen as someone who might secretly have tolerance for, shudder, that word? Markos linked to this only briefly, in an open thread, but I think in order to absorb the true terror of liberalism, we must seek out those that fear our liberalism the most. The powerhouses of conservative thought who can really define, for us, what exactly it is conservatism is facing. If our fine Democratic representative Boren cannot explicitly define why liberal is supposed to be a bad word, let us go to the experts at Townhall.com, in this case one Mary Grabar, whose name I will not childishly compare to fellow cartoon elephant Babar because I'm trying to be helpful and understanding and all that other terribly earnest crap. So perhaps by understanding conservative fears, we liberals can assuage those fears? Grabar: An Obama presidency would signal the final salvo by the Left in the culture wars. Obama’s advance troops have already taken over our college campuses, have bound and gagged our conservative professors, have ravished our virgins, have pillaged our stores of wisdom, and have ensconced themselves in the thrones of power in deans’, presidents’ and department heads’ offices. The victory cry is heard across the land in the cheers of Obama’s constituency on college campuses. This has been going on under the very noses of the Republicans. Ok... I was wrong. There's absolutely no way I can assuage those fears. For starters -- and I will here too strive not to be too harsh on the poor creature that wrote such things -- they are the demented ravings of a buffoon. They would make the screechings of howler monkeys sound like enlightened discourse. They would make the graffiti on a bathroom stall look like the Gettysburg Address. We have met the enemy, and it is not us, but an imaginary sprite inside a delusional head, and it is called liberalism, and by God it does sound scary when you put it like that. Anything that can ravage your wisdom -- no, sorry, bound your daughters -- no, sorry again, pillage your... thrones... in the dean's office... um, where were we again? Suddenly it sounds like conservatives don't fear liberalism, but some post-Narnian villain. (The lion in that story? That was supposed to be Jesus, if Jesus had three-inch claws and powerful jaws capable of snapping a gazelle's neck like a toothpick. Now that's a Jesus we can all relate to!) I think, in the end, perhaps the conservative fear of liberalism really is all about scary people ravishing their virgins. That is the only thing that comes up consistently in so-called conservative intellectual thought; the notion that someone, somewhere is just one dashing, hopelessly suave line from getting it on with your virgin daughter. Or son. For a long time, it was black people seeking to move into your neighborhoods and seduce your offspring. Then it was illegal immigrants -- yes, apparently all these people were swarming across our border because your virgin daughter was just that damn hot. Don't even get me started on the homosexuals -- they are all about corrupting your virgins. Except conservative Mark Foley, who was innocent. And conservative Larry Craig, who was twice as innocent. And conservative preacher Ted Haggard, who in his defense was mostly just in it for the drugs. The problem, you see, is that since we can't be freaked out about ethnic people anymore, at least not in polite company, and you can't be all that freaked out about gay people now that we've figured out that most gay people are, you know, boring... so now it is simply the ephemeral liberals that are after your virgins. (continued at link) http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/11/54116/8362/89/533846

25 May 2008

Brazil relies on vast expanses of sugarcane...which has a conversion rate of 7 to 1...and still provides sugar. Corn has a conversion rate of 1.1 to 1...folly. We have massive inputs of petroleum products that we put into our agricultural products... We need this concentrated form of energy...petroleum...to design and produce the next generation of energy...which will not be as concentrated...we are quickly missing the opportunity to make a paradigm shift. The cheapest form of energy is conservation. We can create the equivalent of billions of barrels of oil by cutting our consumption and switching to more energy efficient appliances, lights, buildings, and modes of transportation. We can create energy by not using it...to commute, living within walking or biking distance to work. We can create energy by stopping the creation of plastic packaging and crap. It is, indeed, a case of 'a penny saved is a penny earned'... As Mark Twain once pointed out...if your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. We need new tools, new ways of thinking. And simpler local lives.

17 May 2008

Our Phony Economy

It sounds incredible, but when this nation drills its oil and mines its coal, the national accounts treat this as an addition to the national wealth rather than a subtraction from it. The result is like a car with a gas gauge that goes up as the fuel tank empties. The national accounts portray a nation getting richer when it is in fact draining itself dry. The purpose of an economy is to meet human needs in such a way that life becomes in some respect richer and better in the process. Building more cars would seem productive, but more cars can mean more traffic and therefore a transportation system which is less productive. The medical system is the same. The aim should be healthy people, not the sale of more medical services and drugs. Now, however, we assess the economic contribution of the medical system on the basis of treatments rather than results. Economists see nothing wrong with this. They see no problem that the medical system is expected to produce 30 to 40% of new jobs over the next thirty years. "We have to spend our money on something," shrugged a Stanford economist to the New York Times. This is more insanity. Next we will be hearing about "disease-led recovery." To stimulate the economy we will have to encourage people to be sick so that the economy can be well. Conservation of energy can do more for this nation much sooner than production of energy will. It is folly to use corn for fuel, using 20% of a food crop to produce a drop in a bucket...a drop which uses as much fuel to produce as it gives up. Lobbyists, oil executives and automobile manufacturers don't want us to conserve...raising CAFE standards to 45 mpg is possible within two years. There were cars manufactured in the late 70s and early 80s which achieved those numbers...and technology has advanced since then. But, we've allowed ourselves to be lulled into going backwards. An energy shock could destroy this nation because we (and our government) are ill prepared to withstand it. The time to act is now, not tomorrow...not next year. GW Bush missed a golden opportunity on 9/11...and we're paying at the pump...and in our national debt...and in our preparation for our own national security. To allow his policies to continue ala John McCain would be insanity. GDP as a measurement of the health of the nation is absurd. Growth for growth's sake, whether it is expenditures on gambling, cancer treatments, medical expenses due to obesity, pharmaceuticals, violent video games, war munitions, day care centers, child psychologists...is completely inane. A stay at home parent, according to GDP, is a non-contributor. An organic garden and meals made at home are non contributors. Walking in the evening with your family doesn't contribute to the 'health of the economy'... Simon Kuznets, who studied the economy and its component parts at the behest of Congress in 1932, wrote in The New Republic in 1962 that in evaluating growth "distinctions must be kept in mind between quantity and quality of growth, between its costs and return, and between the short and long run...Goals for 'more' growth should specify more growth of what and for what." If you are going to "stimulate" the economy, in other words, could we at least have a little debate over what exactly you are going to stimulate? (Thanks to Jonathon Rowe, co-director of a community organizing group in California...and Harper's Magazine)

28 April 2008

Listening to the radio...abandoned stores in strip malls across the country, people can't afford earrings when they can't afford food or gas...linens and things going belly up...they named a litany of store closings...and then, they talked about one area of retail that is prospering. High end retail...luxury cars, diamonds...luxury homes, booming sales...airplanes, yachts... The Republican trickle down economic theory. The rich get uber wealthy...and the rest of us get pissed on. Trillions of dollars of debt fueling these crony capitalist tax cuts... With food prices escalating we may have no other choice but to "EAT THE RICH"..."Let them eat cake" has been transformed into "let them make fuel from corn"... What will you do with your 'economic stimulus check'? A bribe borrowed from China and Saudi Arabia, increasing the debt...and causing the dollar to fall ever lower against other currencies. War profiteers should be indicted for treason.

28 February 2008

Pow/MIA...what does it mean to me?

I was inserted onto the mountain above Kham Duc airstrip along the laotian border in 1969...along with a contingent of the 5th ARVN Rangers, and two Australians...a warrant officer and a lieutenant...long story short...when we were digging in, I hit something odd...kept digging...bones...three human leg bones...all left legs...found some miscellaneous more bones, a wallet in plastic with photos and a military ID...and a set of dog tags which didn't match the ID...so at least these were three MIAs...from when the special forces camp had been overrun a few months before...and bombed into oblivion by B52s....I notified graves registration...after we cooled the LZ...took a couple of weeks...they came out and dug some more...forensic archaelogists, more or less. They found more US remains... They would have been MIA forever. I keep a POW/MIA decal on the back window of my pickup...but I use it to remind myself of how many were lost, never to be found again...Vietnamese...millions...as well as Americans. A great book...really great book..."The Sorrow of War"...by Boa Ninh... From Publishers Weekly "Kien, the protagonist of this rambling and sometimes nearly incoherent but emotionally gripping account of the Vietnam war, is a 10-year veteran whose experiences bear a striking similarity to those of the author, a Hanoi writer who fought with the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade. The novel opens just after the war, with Kien working in a unit that recovers soldiers' corpses. Revisiting the sites of battles raises emotional ghosts for him, "a parade of horrific memories" that threatens his sanity, and he finds that writing about those years is the only way to purge them. Juxtaposing battle scenes with dreams and childhood remembrances as well as events in Kien's postwar life, the book builds to a climax of brutality. A trip to the front with Kien's childhood sweetheart ends with her noble act of sacrifice, and it becomes clear to the reader that, in Vietnam, purity and innocence exist only to be besmirched. The Sorrow of War is often as chaotic in construction as the events it describes. In fact, it is untidy and uncontrolled, like the battlefield it conveys. The point of view slips willy-nilly from the third person to the first, without any clear semblance of organization. The inclusion of a deaf mute who falls for Kien, and acts for a while as a witness to his life, seems gratuitous. The faults of this book are also its strengths, however. Its raggedness aptly evokes the narrator's feverish view of a dangerous and unpredictable world. And its language possesses a ferocity of expression that strikes the reader with all the subtlety of a gut-punch. Polishing this rough jewel would, strangely, make it less precious." I highly recommend it!

16 February 2008

The Depths of Winter

The temperatures have been consistently below zero F for the past couple of weeks...with a few breaks. I've rec'd good news from my check-up...I'm good to go...but where? Cheryl has carpal tunnel surgery scheduled for 6 March and is looking forward to it with some trepidation. Three weeks minimum of immobilisation of her hands...she'll be my betsy-wetsy doll for that time. Then another three weeks of light duty 'til she can begin some exercise therapy. That puts us at about mid April, which is the average time for the ice to be off the lakes around here, and spring to really begin in earnest. Just think...there'll be asparagus poking through the soil, morels up with a bit of warmth...sunfish biting...what a great spring meal. Five months of winter is too much. I love my homestead, and the critters I've come to know and love who hang around on our land...from Shakespeare, the barred owl...to little black ears and downy...and Bucky...and all the rest of the herd of 15 who meander through, at times walking amongst us as we meander ourselves. The four cats...pogo, tigger, 'baby' and goldenrod...(the mom)...all fit in so well...they are friends with the deer and lay low when Shakespeare is about. Who knows what the spring will bring? I've still got some seeds to order from FedCo in Maine...I've got work to do in my shop when the temps stay consistently above 30 degrees F... Sugar Camps should be opening within two weeks...sap will be rising. I need to fall some trees which have grown so tall they obscure our solar exposure for the PV panels...it's mostly the balsam firs...they grow so fast and they just don't allow any light through. I love their pointy little heads... Playing guitar quite a bit again. The best therapy for the little hammer finger on my left hand...chording is a bit more of a challenge since I broke it last March... This country, this world, is in a state of flux. I wonder and I dream. I hope for the best for all of us, and wish for everyone to be kind to one another, respectful and sharing...how much is too much...can't we ever say 'enough'? Especially when so many go to sleep in hunger and fear... If someone does come along to bring us all together and to make the world a peaceful place...rumours will stalk him or her, 'they' will be killed...and more wars fought...because we fear peace and tranquility, equality and justice...why, that's downright communistic. "Where ya think ya live, boy?" I'm truly sorry.

10 February 2008

To Be a Republican You Need to Believe

1. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. 2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him , a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a 'we can't find Bin Laden' diversion. 3. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Viet Nam is vital to a spirit of international harmony. 4. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq . 5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational drug corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation. 6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay. 7. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex. 8. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money. 9. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMO's and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart. 10. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools. 11. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which tens of thousands die is solid defense policy. 12. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet . 13. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery. 14. You support 'Executive Privilege' for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity.) 15. Support hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail. (anonymous e-mail)

08 February 2008

The 'Reagan Legacy' and Republican Idolatry

Ronald Reagan ran on a 'balanced budget' and limited government...and yet never submitted a balanced budget, and increased the size of government...He ran on cutting taxes, yet was responsible for the largest tax increase on the working class in history...doubling the FICA tax...(Federal Insurance Contributions Act...social security)...to create a trust fund which he then raided to mask his deficit spending. He took the country from a debt of 700 billion dollars to a debt of 4 trillion dollars...He granted amnesty to over a million 'illegal' aliens...now it's being spun that he was 'forced' to grant the amnesty by democrats...was he that weak? He supported death squads and paramilitary operations...I personally saw the results up close, taking medicines into villages in the mountains of Nicaragua, near the Honduran border...a day or two after first aid workers and teachers had been killed by 'contras', most of whom were from Somoza's army... supported by Reagan's policies...clinics bombed, schools targeted... From the 'October Surprise' to 'Iran-Contra'...Ronald Reagan was bad mojo... I'll quote here from Media Matters: Ronald Reagan was many things, but most undeniably he was a pathological liar. True, he also gave every impression of being an unbelievable moron (which is why Saturday Night Live could once parody his pathetic excuses for the Iran/contra scandal with a skit that depicted Reagan as -- get this! -- brilliant and competent). His worshipful, if fanciful, biographer Edmund Morris even calls him an "apparent airhead." The President's famous cluelessness was so obvious during his years in office that his defenders would attempt to deploy it as a defense of his actions, as if he were a small child or a beloved but retarded uncle. The President tended to "build these little worlds and live in them," noted a senior adviser. "He makes things up and believes them," explained one of his kids. Recall that ol' Dutch frequently made arguments about history based on movies he half-recalled. He thought he'd liberated concentration camps. He invented what he called "a verbal message" from the Pope in support of his Central America policies, news to everyone in Vatican City. In 1985, Reagan one day announced that the vicious apartheid regime of P.W. Botha had already "eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country." Not only did Reagan make things up, he also forgot some things that most of us consider pretty important. Morris, for instance, lets us in on the astonishing fact that the President not only did not know his own Secretary of Housing and Urban Development--no big whoop, as the guy was, after all, black--but that Mr. Family Values also failed to recognize his own son (his own son!) while attending his graduation. If any of us had a parent given to such behavior, we might feel compelled to look into some sort of institutionalized care, if only for his own protection. But another, more significant, little-mentioned tendency of the ex-President was his fondness for genocidal murderers. I do not use the term "genocide" lightly. Take Guatemala. That nation's official Historical Clarification Commission charged its own government with a campaign of "genocide" in murdering roughly 200,000 people, mainly Mayan Indians, during its dictatorial reign of terror. The commission's nine-volume 1999 report singled out the US role in aiding this "criminal counterinsurgency." The violence in Guatemala reached a gruesome climax in the early eighties under the dictatorship of the born-again evangelical, Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt. Nine hundred thousand people were forcibly relocated and entire villages leveled. As army helicopters strafed a caravan of 40,000 unarmed refugees seeking to escape to Mexico, Reagan chose that moment to congratulate Ríos Montt for his dedication to democracy, adding that he had been getting "a bum rap" from liberals in Congress and the media. His Administration soon provided as much aid to the killers as Congress would allow. Reagan showed a similar indulgence toward the terrorists in El Salvador. The President and his equally immoral advisers consistently behaved as if they were hired public relations agents for the murderers of children, nuns, priests and peasants. Not long after these killings reached the amazing level of more than 200 per week -- in a country with just 5.5 million people -- Reagan mused aloud that they were not the work of "so-called murder squads" on the right, but of "guerrilla forces" who think they "can get away with these violent acts, helping to try and bring down the government, and the right wing will be blamed for it." In fact, only days later, Vice President Bush flew to San Salvador to insist that "every murderous act" committed by "right-wing fanatics ... poisons the well of friendship between our two countries," and that "death squad murders" could cost the killers "the support of the American people." Didn't Reagan know what Bush knew? Does anyone care? After the war, the Catholic archdiocese in San Salvador documented the number of killings on each side. The tally: military and government-assisted death squads, 41,048; left-wing guerrillas, 776. Reagan was off by almost 5,500 percent. Liar or moron? You tell me. Historians are starting to provide a useful corrective, perhaps in anticipation of an orgy of dishonest eulogies like those for Richard Nixon in 1994, while pundits casually credit Reagan with inspiring Moscow's capitulation in the cold war, via his obsession with Star Wars. But as Frances FitzGerald demonstrates in her new book, Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan and Star Wars and the End of the Cold War, the historical record does not even remotely support this wishfully ignorant thesis. Similarly, in Matthew Evangelista's new work, Unarmed Forces, we discover the key role played by transnational forces in convincing Gorbachev & Co. to shut down the arms race in spite -- not because -- of the belligerence emanating from Reagan and his men.

21 January 2008

Applications Accepted Soon

I'm thinking about this election cycle. I'm not too happy with my choices. I'm seeking a technocrat who can figure out some solutions to this nation's huge problems. Rotting infrastructure, near bankruptcy... I'm seeking to hire someone who will give us bullet trains throughout the land. Who will encourage local, sustainably produced foods...improving the land and the quality of rural life. Someone who can have a vision of cities designed around people not the automobile. Living, working, communing, relaxing without the need to drive. Walking trails, bicycling. Solar panels for all the roofs of all the buildings in the USA...small electric/pneumatic cars... Department of Peace and Prosperity...rather than Department of War...demilitarisation... We can do it...we just need to hire some good garbage collectors. No buzzwords allowed, please. "Hope", "Fear", "Security", "Terrorism", "Freedom", "Change"...forget it.

07 January 2008

My Law...by Tieme Ranapiri of the Maori

The sun may be clouded - yet ever the sun , Will sweep on it's course 'til the cycle is run. And when into chaos the system is hurled , Again shall the builder reshape a new world. Your path may be clouded , uncertain your goal ; Move on - for your orbit is fixed to your soul , And though it may lead into darkness of night , The torch of the builder shall give it new light. You were , you will be - know this while you are ; Your spirit has travelled both long and afar. It came from the source , to the source it returns - The spark which was lighted eternally burns. It slept in a jewel , it leapt in a wave , It roamed in the forest , it rose from the grave , It took on strange garbs for long eons of years , And now in the soul of yourself it appears. From body to body your spirit speeds on - It seeks a new form when the old one has gone. The form that it finds is the fabric you wrought On the loom of the mind from the fabric of thought. As dew is drawn upwards , in rain to descend , Your thoughts drift away and in destiny blend. You cannot escape them , for petty or great , Or evil or noble , they fashion your fate. Somewhere on some planet, sometime and somehow Your life will reflect your thoughts of your now. My law is unerring , no blood can atone - The structure you built you will live in - alone. From cycle to cycle through time and through space , your lives with your longings will ever keep pace. And all that you ask for , and all you desire , Must come at your bidding , as flame out of fire. Once list' to that voice and all tumult is done - Your life is the life of the infinite one. In the hurrying race , you are conscious of pause , With love for the purpose , and love for the cause. You are your own devil , you are your own god , You fashioned the paths your footsteps have trod. And no one can save you from error or sin , Until you have hark'd to the spirit within.

The River

upstream from white sand beaches are hamlets, paddies and canyons bombshells unexploded, cratered land, cratered faces  mangled extremities...