Saturday, September 8, 2007


*Mad George, mad at George - My brother has a science background and has often told me that he does not believe in coincidence. There are 30 days in September and the Bush administration has selected the 11th for General Patraeus to give his Iraq report. If Bush could sell peace as well as he can sell fear he would be seen as Martin Luther King instead of King George III. In 1776 America revolted against Mad George III.

*View from the Canadian Rockies – Transitioning from a big eastern city to the mountains, lakes, parks, ice fields and glaciers of Montana, Alberta and British Columbia was quite an experience. The spectacular scenery and exhilarating vistas were a reminder of nature’s grandeur, power and interdependence. I was amazed to learn that the Columbia Ice Field melted over a triple continental divide flowing to the Artic, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The resulting rivers flowing to the Atlantic and Pacific nurture vast areas of wheat production and provide water and electricity to millions of people. I was saddened by the thought that our federal government has been so lax in protecting our environment and ignoring the effects that poor planning and policing will have on our future. It is as if these leaders, these elected officials, these watchdogs at the Departments of Agriculture, Interior and the EPA do not have children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters and neighbors. Perhaps there is truth to the characterization that government employees are automatons that are produced in labs and factories. Where is the sense of responsibility? Where is the sense of humanity?

*Traveling to Canada requires a passport but I felt right at home reading the news:
-General Motors of Canada Ltd. will eliminate 1000 jobs (they employ just over 3000) at a truck plant in Ottawa. The U.S. market is the destination of 85% of this plant. This follows a cut of 2000 workers by Chrysler in Windsor Ontario earlier this year and the permanent shutdown of dozens of auto parts plants that supplied Detroit automakers.
-Three Canadian legislators are being investigated for influence peddling and misuse of funds.
-Millions in aid money by the Canadian government in Afghanistan has gone astray. There has been an absence of oversight. The Senlis Council, a think tank that examines security and development issues, has been working in Afghanistan for 2 years and says it is hard-pressed to find positive results of the $139 million expended during that time.
-Canadian Forces (CF) (air force) paid millions of dollars for maintenance work on its Airbus fleet that was never performed over the last 5 years. An audit showed that the CF are not supervising the elements of the contract that have been awarded to contractors. The audit did praise the quality of the maintenance work that was performed.
-In Calgary I saw a political ad on a park bench for the man running for 5th Ward Alderman. I thought that he had the quintessential name for a politician – Pay Jones. Later in the day I was disappointed to learn from another park bench with the same ad that Mr. Jones’ first name had been vandalized when someone painted over the right leg of the “R”.

*John Ibbitson writes a column about America for the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail. With Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig all over the news for soliciting men in a restroom Ibbitson asks, “What is it about conservative politicians that drive so many of them to destroy their lives in pursuit of illicit sex?” He opined that many political careers begin in high school or college before they are fully socially or sexually mature. Because they advocate tolerance, liberal politicians have room to adjust their lives to their adult reality. But conservatives must adhere to the Victorian ideal at odds with their internal urges. They learn to rationalize public positions and embrace party platforms. This denial becomes corrosive. Ibbitson says, “People who lie to themselves (a life unexamined) are poor stewards of the public trust.”

*Larry Craig’s voting record on gay issues:
Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)

*Still under scrutiny 1 - Sen. Ted Stevens (Republican from Alaska) infamously known for the Bridge to Nowhere and more recently for multiple corruption investigations once again comes under our scrutiny. In June, the House of Representatives voted by a wide margin to stop subsidizing new logging roads in the Tongass National Forest, our nation’s largest national forest. Over the last 25 years, more than 1 billion taxpayer dollars have been spent to clearcut and build roads through this irreplaceable forest. Stevens is now working to offset this House decision as well as to shield the National Forest Service from the courts for dereliction of duty. Fortunately, there are organizations such as Earthjustice that work through the courts to protect our natural resources. You can sign a petition to your congressmen to neutralize Stevens’ efforts at this link:

*Still under scrutiny 2 – Rudy Giuliani continues talking about his impeccable role of hero following the attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Center. He wants us to believe that this qualifies him to be President of the U.S. Robert Greenwald interviewed experts, police, firemen and their families to see if the Mayor’s claims have validity. You can be the judge. The link to the short video is:

*It has been 2 years since Katrina devastated New Orleans. In the days that followed I remember our president standing in the French Quarter and telling the citizens of New Orleans and the United States that America would help to re-build the city and help get its citizens back on their feet. What did follow were too many empty promises, incompetence and graft. Senators Dodd and Obama have introduced the Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007 aimed at addressing the inadequacies of the Bush plan. You can sign a petition urging your elected representatives to support this bill and force Bush to administrate responsibly. The link is:

*At least it ain’t guns - Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky, is the Minority Leader and front man for the Bush administration. He recently approved an $8.3 million contract for a company to provide iPod-like devices to Afghani tribesmen. McConnell’s former aid Hunter Bates was paid $200,000 for his connection to McConnell. Bates, representing the company, helped McConnell raise $120,000 in contributions from his clients. It is comforting to know that when the tribesmen’s laptops go down they can listen to Eric Clapton singing Cocaine while working the poppy fields. It is less comforting to know that too many of our country’s elected leaders continue to be low-class prostitutes earning high-class fees and the only ones getting screwed are the constituents.

*Obscene – would be the word to describe what federal authorities have allowed credit card companies to do with interest charges and policies that at one time would have been illegal under usury laws. The Federal Reserve Board is considering new rules favorable to consumers although not likely to put a reasonable ceiling on interest rates. You can sign a petition supporting rule changes that are more consumer friendly at:

*The longer we stay the ‘longerer’ we stay - I recently watched part of a C-SPAN interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter. He observed that the escalation and continuance of the Iraq War could result in an enlarged war that could last for 20 years in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. The conventional wisdom is that Bush will leave the settlement of the Iraq War to his successor. The question now becomes how many successors?

*Crunched by the numbers – In 2006 the Iraqi ministries of defense, health and interior reported Iraqi civilian casualties to total 12,357. The U.N reported that the casualties were 33,717. Embarrassed by the high reported death toll, the Iraqi government refused the U.N. access to Health Ministry statistics in 2007.

*The devil takes many forms - In 2003 the Defense Department started an anti-terrorism data base called TALON to protect military bases in the U.S. It soon strayed from its intended mission and expanded the database to include reports by local law enforcement agencies and military security personnel about nonviolent demonstrations and anti-war rallies, activities protected by the First Amendment of our constitution. In 2006 the ACLU filed a lawsuit against this activity and it was just announced that the Pentagon will shut down the data base of secret information on peaceful groups. This is an excellent example of what can happen when government is allowed to conduct domestic spying activities with no oversight and guards. To those who advocate ceding freedoms to protect us from terrorists I would suggest that ceding freedoms ushers in equally dangerous threats.

*I dreamt in a dream – The war in Iraq is now costing $3 billion per week. With this amount of money how many children could receive health insurance, how many roads and bridges could be repaired, how many border guards could be hired, how many alternative fuel projects could be funded, how many diseases could be cured, how many …?

*He dreamt in a dream - Progress (definition): positive development; development, usually of a gradual kind, toward achieving a goal or reaching a higher standard - We will hear progress used frequently this week as Bush forwards his Iraq fantasy. Bush has claimed progress since 2003 while lacking a plan, a goal or a standard.

*Why I decided not to purchase Exxon/Mobil products – A report last February by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries concluded, "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Worse, there was now at least a 90 percent likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves, way up from earlier studies.” reports that, “A conservative think tank long funded by Exxon/Mobil has offered scientists $10,000 to write articles undercutting the new report and the computer-based climate models it is based on.” Rather than garnering its vast resources to research and develop fuels more compatible with the environment and healthier for the human beings living on this planet, Exxon/Mobile has chosen to dig in its business-as-usual heels and obstruct both the truth and the progress for a better global community. Equal culpability belongs to our government which has been a tool of big oil interests rather than a progressive influence for constructive, positive change. Not to be forgotten in this equation is you and me. We have not been sufficiently pro-active in demanding better leadership from our elected representatives. AND, I am ticked that Mobil has stopped supporting Mystery Theater on PBS.

* ”Perhaps Special Places exist only in the minds of the observer, the special places where the human spirit joins freely to the movement of the land, where happiness within is expressed in the beauty without.”
Tom Willock, Canadian photographer

1 comment:

Ruth Deming said...

Food for thought, as always, Stephen. Your readers might enjoy the photos on, eerie prophetic pre-Katrina photos of New Orleans. How'd I learn of them? Thru a happy coincidence!