Saturday, October 23

The Cardinals, the Red Sox, the Moon and You...

"Hello again, everybody. It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball."
-Harry Caray

The days will be beautiful for this year's World Series, and let's not forget the nights. A lunar eclipse will occur during the fourth game in St. Louis, something that has never happened before.

I'm normally a Dodgers fan, but am happy to root for the Cards, a fantastic team of good sports managed by the classiest manager in baseball, Tony La Russa.

Wednesday, October 13

Tall Pine - Bass Lake, California

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree...."
-Joyce Kilmer - Trees

One of my favorite scenes in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is when the Hobbits discover "Treebeard", the leader of the ancient tree-creatures that protected the forests at the foot of the Misty Mountains. Throughout author R.R. Tolkien's series, the forests represented mystery, protection and life itself. They were fearful places to strangers and havens to the elves who lived nearby. Trees are magical and magnificent in Tolkein's story and in Peter Jackson's movie too.

The movie becomes dark and angry when we see Sauren's minions stipping their corner of Middle Earth of trees to feed the furnaces that make their weapons. Destruction of the forests seemed to signal the beginning of the conflict to come. Isn't it always a tip off that the world is out of whack when the forests begin to die?

I recall my parents comments about their trip to Ireland. They loved the people, the greenery, the lovely buildings, the wild beaches and ocean scenes, but missed trees. Apparently, the British allowed and/or encouraged deforestation of Ireland in the Nineteenth Century which caused widespread poverty and death. No trees, the earth erodes and becomes infertile, and there is no fuel or building materials and the people die.

Wangari Maathai, this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, is a genius with trees. An astounding 30 million trees have been planted because of her simple idea: encourage village women to plant trees. These women were then able to renew the fuel they use, stop soil erosion and cultivate kitchen gardens. This is the essence of the Green Belt Movement she created. She and her village women bypass repression, conflict, politics, and the cycle of death by focusing on creating life. Creating and nurturing life is what peace on earth is all about. The idea that everyone and anyone has the power to do this is what true liberty and freedom are all about.

Power to all creative people!

Saturday, October 9

Was That Crazy or What?

Last night's second Presidential debate was scary! Initially, I thought Bush looked better and seemed amped up and aggressive, but holy smokes, he literally lost his reason after Kerry's response to his no-draft announcement. This was when The President lost the debate. (Link to Presidential debate #2.)

He pulled rank, frankly. Even when the moderator tried to reassure GWB that the issue would be addressed, he had to have it his own way.

Amazingly, at that point, when Bush could have created a major advantage for himself, he carped on how Kerry is disrespecting our allies, one of his weakest issues. He then lost the advantage when Kerry made the point that eight countries have left or are pulling out of the coalition, including POLAND.

The last question of the night asked Bush to admit his mistakes and he wouldn't do it. He was handed the perfect opportunity to co-opt many of Kerry's campaign promises, admit his mistakes, apologize for them, tell people how he'd make amends and do better, but he didn't do it.

No wonder our current foreign policy does not include negotiating or debating or talking to our allies or our enemies. They are supposed to endure his campaign speeches (e.g., his last visit to the UN) instead and gawd help them if they talk back. I can't image what anyone is thinking who would elect this angry, impulsive person to a position where his itchy finger is on the nuclear trigger.

Instead of putting a leash on his daughters as he mentioned in the first presidential debates, he should put one on himself.

Wednesday, October 6

Retaliation Time!

"Well, let me just tell you, I believe to this day that they knew that the charges that they were trying to prove against the Clintons were not true. I think that they knew all along that the story David Hale had told them -- that Clinton had come to him and told him he wanted to borrow $300,000, but he couldn't have his name on the document, so Susan McDougal should come and sign the documents and give him the money -- was not true."
Susan McDougal - 2003 Buzzflash Interview

And so it begins...

Does the Bush administration expect to lose this election? And, if they do are they going to retaliate like they did against Bill Clinton for eight long and scandalous years?

Their main fundraiser, Republican "hammer", Tom DeLay, has been embroiled in a major campaign funds scandal and was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee twice... THIS WEEK! The House wimped out and did not bar him from serving in the House, but slapped his wrists, both of em. Now, he must curtail his unethical fund raising activities. Maybe the Bushites were counting on DeLay's financial coercions to get more money for the attack ads they so desperately need. I don't know, but DeLay is arrogantly unapologetic. Read his comments.

Apparently, he is not to blame for his actions. It's the Democrats!

"For years, Democrats have hurled relentless personal attacks at me, hoping to tie my hands and smear my name. All have fallen short, not because of insufficient venom, but because of insufficient merit."

He must have overlooked the Republicans on the bi partisan, House Ethics Committee, who are trying to reign him in before he gets even more scandalous.

So... while Cheney fluffs off his blatant favoritism toward Halliburton during the VP debate and DeLay shakes off his wrist slapping, the Justice Department goes after Sen. Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign in pursuit of possible fund-raising violations?! Is this a lame attempt to get even with the Democrats?

If so, you'd think they'd go after someone who hasn't functioned successfully under a Whitewater microscope for twelve years. I'd bet anything that she's so squeaky clean, the only dirt they'll find is a lost receipt or two. Unlike DeLay, she's not bleating like a wounded sheep about partisan politics, but then, she doesn't live in the wingnut bubble either, insulated from reality and personal responsibility.

In last night's VP debate, Cheney was reminiscing about the good old days when Dems and Repubs could coexist and *gasp* even be friends! I developed an instant case of acid reflux just witnessing this hypocrisy. He just shook his head in bafflement wondering how those golden days had slipped away, meanwhile kicking Condi's butt to neutralize Bremmer's anti party line (e.g., the truth) about Iraq. I noticed that today's spin machine was especially virulent and frenzied. It reminds me of those little kids who react to bad news or criticism by holding their ears while babbling meaningless phrases to ward off the disapproval. The louder the noise the better.

The resurrection of investigating Clintons caused me to dust off Susan McDougal's book, The Woman Who Wouldn't Talk. McDougal was "detained" for twenty-one months in seven different jails for refusing to testify to Ken Starr against the Clintons. She spent seven weeks in "solitary confinement" in the mental ward of LA County jail. She was purposely taken from Arkansas and put in this hell hole to coerce a confession or statement. Finally she was tried publicly and her trial resulted in a hung jury who acquitted her on the charge of obstruction of justice and was divided on the contempt of court charge. She was released from jail that day.

McDougal claims it's the religious right that zealously pursued the destruction of the Clintons' reputation and political careers using any means to justify the ends. There is certainly that righteous element run rampant in the Bush administration and many other elements that would think nothing of hounding a person to bring down an opponent. Here we are again with another investigation of Hillary Clinton based on the word of another desperate con man. When will the Bushites put down the microscope and pick up the mirror?

And so it goes....

Monday, October 4

The Rape of the World

"Mother of us all
Place of our birth
How can we stand aside
And watch the rape of the world?.."
- Tracy Chapman (
lyrics from The Rape of the World)

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to stay up late and watch an episode of the PBS, Charlie Rose show. He had just begun to interview Robert Kennedy, Jr., about a book he authored titled, Crimes Against Nature : How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy. Normally, Rose is an unashamed blabbermouth who competes with his guests in voicing his opinion which irritates me, but this night, Robert Kennedy, Jr., dominated the conversation and spoke an amazing amount of raw, undiluted truth. As Rose listened and interjected obligatory interview stuff, he was twitchy but enthralled, just like me.

I can't find a reference to this show on the Charlie Rose site, although the forum does discuss Kennedy's book, but I did find a BuzzFlash interview from 2003 that covers much of the same material. I've ordered the book and will give a little report back once I've read it.

What strikes me most about the interview with Kennedy is this assertion:

"..,All of our federal agencies have now been captured by the industries that they’re intended to regulate. The head of the Forest Service is a timber industry lobbyist. The head of our public lands is a mining industry lobbyist. The chief of staff in the White House, Andrew Card, was chief counsel to General Motors and its top lobbyists. And 22 of the top 38 White House officials all have energy industry pedigrees."

I know that Bush is systematically destroying environmental protections going back to the Nixon White House, and that he uses Orwellian terms like "Clear Skies" for legislation that creates the opposite effect. I know that the Bushites are owned by corporations which have perfected the semi-lie, better known as deceptive advertising. They are now using these same tactics to continue to keep the Bushites in the White House and some American voters are so conditioned to buy what these people sell, they actually believe the deceptions and spin. It doesn't occur to them that the Bush administration is simply one big advertising agency, selling a palatable vision of Americana, including yummy godliness, tasty security, and a healthy trickle down economy. What they are really selling is a lot of misery for the most vulnerable and defenseless of our citizens. Sad.

I need to read Kennedy's book to get the names of these officials, but I would image Christy Todd Whitman, former Director of the EPA and Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton are probably mentioned.

I just scanned the Fedstats EPA site and see that the new/current Director is former Utah governor, Mike Leavitt, and his really new "enforcer" for EPA regs, is Deputy Administrator, Stephen L Johnson. Their bios are posted and they both seem to be career bureaucrats, except that Johnson worked for Hazelton Labs and Litton. I'd have to look up the polluting records of these companies, but I do recall that Litton had some "toxic clean up" difficulties in California some years ago.

The most interesting (i.e., don't know what to make of this) group is the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee (CHPAC). Why this committee would include representatives from Monsanto, Bayer, Proctor and Gamble, and BP Products NA, I can't imagine. After reading some of the committee's action item reports and correspondence, it appears that they are getting lots of input, much of it from California, about pesticides and air pollutants harming children, but I didn't see much action other than info gathering and recommendations for more studies.

There was a glimmer of hope when I saw the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children link. After a quick review, I found that this group was initiated in 1997 by Clinton's Executive Order 13045 to:

"a) shall make it a high priority to identify and assess environmental health risks and safety risks that may disproportionately affect children; and (b) shall ensure that its policies, programs, activities, and standards address disproportionate risks to children that result from environmental health risks or safety risks.

1-102. Each independent regulatory agency is encouraged to participate in the implementation of this order and comply with its provisions."

There's a report at the bottom of the linked page that details the accomplishments of this group. So far they've set up an asthma awareness day in schools, and are studying more things. You can really feel GWB's true commitment to America's children as he issued two of his own Executive Orders both of which eliminated the urgency to act until 2005 and the second one deprioritized the issue by making it unnecessary to have high level representation at the meetings.

Ah Ha! I now understand why the EPA has a Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee with Monsanto, et al, advising the advisors who will advise the the President's Task Force (working groups) into the year 2005. I was trying to determine if Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s "industry ties" stats in the quote by him above was bombast or observable fact. It's fact.

I seriously doubt Bush will say much about his environmental accomplishments, but he may try to "sell the sizzle" of those enticing "Clear Skies" and "Great Lakes Environmental Restoration Act" enviro buster bills. He may sell the sizzle of those snappy and deceptive titles, but it would be idiotic to delve deeper into this mess.

He will brag about the things he's doing to kids, though, and I'm going to remember this fact finding exercise. I'll also remember the assessment of The Children's Defense Fund, a co-author of "No Child Left Behind" legislation, which gave the Bush administration and most Republican representatives failing marks in supporting America's kids. Instead of doing some "hard work" on making life better for Americans by simply maintaining current environmental and child protection laws, they substitute industry friendly legislation or fail to enforce them.

The Bushites want Americans to exist on a diet of sizzle when we have the right to eat steak.