30 September 2005

9/30/05 Photography

I took this photo on September 2nd, with the Ricoh. I had to manually hold the shutter open with the bulb feature (though I lacked a bulb.) I got lucky with the time guesstimate and the mountain shows up on film, even though it was just barely perceptible to the naked eye when I took the photo.

George Bush Has To Go!

President Bush, his executive administration and the interests which they represent must go. America, and indeed the whole world are suffering as a result of the social, ecological and economic policies espoused and founded within the administration and associated interests (industrial et al.)

It's time for the American people to take back our country. I'll refrain from my typical name calling (which would usually follow right about here.)

Check out the Galloway perspective on the War and Bush from September 30th, here.

Tom DeLay: Un-American

Tom DeLay is unamerican. What else can explain his willingness to put the interests of big business before those of the people. America was founded in a large part to escape the tyranny of the oppressor. It looks to me like DeLay was born about 300 years too late, and on the wrong side of the Atlantic.

The DeLay phenomenon is sensational, yet it is just the tip of a large insidious ice berg that has floated into Washington DC in the last dozens or so years.

America needs a thorough house cleaning of our governmental structures and systems. Are we going to have one?

It remains to be seen, whether the current system of checks and balances will suffice to prevent the full erosion of the rights of the people and the land. The tide of of corporate sway is high, and the current will be strong.

It may be that the corporate titan and the plutocratic society which reigns over it will simply have to spell its own eventual destruction.

9/30/05 Photo

Olympia's West Bay Drive, looking to the West at sunset on August 29th.

26 September 2005

America is Running Out of Time

This from Paul Craig Roberts' latest article published on Counter Punch:

Iraq War Winners: Al-Qaeda, Iran and Military Contractors

"Bush used deceit and hysteria to lead America into a war that is bleeding the US economically, militarily, and diplomatically. The war is being fought with hundreds of billions of dollars borrowed from foreigners. The war is bleeding the military of troops and commitments. The war has ended the US claim to moral leadership and exposed the US as a reckless and aggressive power...
..."Global labor arbitrage is rapidly dismantling the ladders of upward mobility and thereby endangering American political stability. This threat is far greater than any Osama bin Laden can mount..."

Prez on the Precipice

This fabulous piece of political opinion comes from The Nation's Editors:

editorial | posted September 22, 2005 (October 10, 2005 issue)
Prez on the Precipice

Two-term presidencies rarely end on the twentieth day of January in the odd year following a national election. Rather, history tells us, they tend to flame out months--sometimes years--before the Oval Office officially changes hands. After a response to Hurricane Katrina that reinforced Americans' doubts about George W. Bush's competence and his caring, and with continuing turns for the worse in Iraq, the President has blundered toward the precipice of a prematurely finished presidency. But as history also tells us, presidencies don't plunge into political free-fall on their own. The opposition party must stoke public resentment and offer convincing alternatives to the Commander in Chief's failed vision.

Bush boosted his sagging approval ratings a bit by tarting up his Gulf Coast reconstruction plans in Franklin Roosevelt drag. But he's facing a revolt within his own party over what some see as an attempt to spend his way out of the doghouse. The danger for Democrats is that the debate over rebuilding New Orleans and the rest of the stricken region could play out as an intramural fight between a "compassionate" President and his fiscally conservative compatriots. That would leave Democrats where they were after the 9/11 terrorist attacks--as hapless allies with a President they are unwilling, or unsure of how, to challenge.

This is no time for such timidity. If Democrats want to get the better of Bush at last, and if they want to advance an agenda that could revitalize their party and their country, they must not get stuck between the Administration and its right flank. They must be blunt about the fact that while it has a big price tag, Bush's response to the Gulf Coast crisis is inadequate and irresponsible. The first step is fighting the President's decision to waive prevailing-wage laws on the Gulf Coast--a giveaway to contractors that denies displaced workers a chance to earn enough to piece their lives back together. Democrats should reject the President's attempts to ease environmental regulations in a region already ecologically devastated. They should back a proposal by Senator Russ Feingold and Representative John Conyers to delay the implementation of bankruptcy "reforms" that will make it tougher for Gulf Coast residents to get back on their feet. And they should launch a frontal assault on the tax policies of an Administration that has starved the government's capacity to provide basic protections and services. That means shooting down the President's proposal to eliminate estate taxes. It also means demanding that Bush be accountable for the $200 billion he has sunk into Iraq, with no end in sight.

At a time when savvy Republicans are starting to put distance between themselves and the President, Democrats have a chance to develop broad coalitions to demand accountability. Not just accountability for the occupation of Iraq and the campaign of calculated deceit that led us to war but for reckless tax cuts, environmental degradation and other domestic disasters this President has ushered in.

But pushing back against Bush's destructive policies is not enough. While Democrats expose and oppose the President's attempt to make the Gulf Coast a laboratory for conservative pet projects and crony capitalism, they must also lay out a full-scale reconstruction plan of their own--a "people's reconstruction" that advances a democratically accountable, economically viable, socially just and environmentally sustainable plan for regional rebuilding. By doing so, Democrats will accomplish something more lasting and important than nudging a faltering President over the precipice. They will identify their party as the credible alternative--the credible leader--it has failed to be for far too long.

If you like this article, consider making a donation to The Nation.

25 September 2005

Chance Photography

Here's a photo I took while trying to capture Mt. Rainier, which kept getting obscured by trees on the side of the interstate.

The photograph is titled, "Interstate."

View a full resolution version here.

13 September 2005

Roberts' Confirmation Hearing

The Stakes is High

John Roberts' photo courtesy of REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

"Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts listens to a question from Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) during the second day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington September 13, 2005. Roberts was pressed by senators for his views on the strength of established legal precedent with regard to the controversial issue of abortion rights and the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion case."

11 September 2005

New Title

Any suggestions for a new title are welcome. I was thinking how I want to change the title of this site. My first inclination was to name it Express Yourself. But after putting it on, and looking at it, it doesn't work. It's too clichéd and tired. So, the search for a new title is on!

What do you think? Please leave suggestions on the comment form!


10 September 2005

A Perspective on Katrina - "Povertina" from Cornel West

Exiles from a city and from a nation
Cornel West
Sunday September 11, 2005

It takes something as big as Hurricane Katrina and the misery we saw among the poor black people of New Orleans to get America to focus on race and poverty. It happens about once every 30 or 40 years.

What we saw unfold in the days after the hurricane was the most naked manifestation of conservative social policy towards the poor, where the message for decades has been: 'You are on your own'. Well, they really were on their own for five days in that Superdome, and it was Darwinism in action - the survival of the fittest. People said: 'It looks like something out of the Third World.' Well, New Orleans was Third World long before the hurricane. (continued...)

Bring it On!

"Heh, Terrorists, Global Warming induced super storms, rising ocean levels, international debt collectors: Bring 'Em On! Ain't that right Dick?"

06 September 2005

FEMA Encouraged Donations to Pat Robertson in the Wake of Katrina

Thanks much to Congressman John Conyers for bringing this to my attention.

Apparently, one of three links FEMA listed for making donations to help victims of hurricane Katrina, was to Pat Robertson's web-site for his (and his wife's) charity, Operation Blessing.

You will find a link to a cached page, before FEMA removed the advertisement due to public scrutiny, on Representative Conyers' weblog (linked same as above here.)

"Hey, what's the big deal. Assassination? Don't be so literal - only the Bible was meant to be taken literally! Me? I am just a humble servant of the lord!"

04 September 2005

New Orleans: Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Response

Statement from United for Peace and Justice
Sept. 2, 2005

The effects of Katrina are tragic, causing death, the disruption of lives, and the loss of property on an unimaginable scale. Although Katrina was a natural catastrophe, its effects were largely avoidable and parallel another tragedy unfolding daily near another Gulf, 7000 miles away. Both disasters flow from the criminal behavior of the Bush administration and are closely related. Much can be said about how long-term policies -- from denying the existence of global warming to permitting greedy developers to destroy protective offshore islands and wetlands -- may have contributed to the severity of Katrina. But now there are more immediate concerns.

FEMA and President Bush have failed to provide timely aid for the poorest people of New Orleans. They had no way to escape. They have been virtually abandoned for days in waist-deep polluted water, the Convention Center, or the Superdome, sharing space with the already dead, surrounded by stinking garbage and human waste, without potable water, food, or medical care.

This reminds us of Iraq, where the infrastructure has been destroyed by blockade and war causing people to endure sweltering heat, without electricity, medical care and jobs. Both disasters were predicted. Numerous studies anticipated that a major hurricane could flood New Orleans, while many predicted that the invasion of Iraq would punish millions of innocents, bringing resistance and possibly civil war. However, these studies were ignored by federal administrations, hell-bent on domination and profit.

In both the Persian and American gulfs, the poorest people suffer most. In both places, people of color are neglected and brutalized by racist policies. This ugliness is reflected in graphic images of neglect that come bursting daily from the TV screens. People desperate for necessities are now criminalized as looters. The New Orleans police were ordered to stop rescue efforts and instead protect property, and the National Guard has been given "shoot to kill" orders.

The war in the Persian Gulf impacts directly on the unfolding catastrophe in our Southern states. Budgets for flood control, strengthening the levees, evacuation, and relief have been inadequate and have actually been reduced. Last year $71 million was cut from the budget for flood control in New Orleans alone. Meanwhile more than $200 billion has been squandered in Iraq. Where are the giant helicopters that could rescue stranded people? Where are the giant air conditioned tents and the ready-to-eat meals that could house and feed refugees -- the same tents and meals that Halliburton provides so expensively in Iraq? Why are 35-40% of the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guards in Iraq, on missions of death, instead of back home where they are so desperately needed?

Disruption of Middle East oil production (by the Iraq War) and refining capabilities on the Gulf coast (by Katrina) are forcing gas prices to spiral upward. These shortages are already being used by the big oil, pipeline and refining companies as pretexts to extort ever greater profits from the working people of the U.S. Because of this exploitation, the economy will be globally affected, potentially bringing inflation together with joblessness, a re-enactment of the "stagflation" that punished us during the Vietnam War.

Now, more than ever, our voices must be heard. Call the White House to demand immediate and effective relief efforts in New Orleans, along the Gulf coast and wherever the refugees are being taken. The White House phone number is 202-456-1111. And make our own contribution through either of these two special hurricane relief funds:

AFL-CIO – http://www.aflcio.org/
NAACP - https://www.naacp.org/disaster/contribute.php

Teenager snatches bus to save dozens

John Harlow

A NEW Orleans teenager saved dozens of people from the stricken city after commandeering a 70-seat school bus and driving it on a harrowing 300-mile journey to Houston.
Jabbar Gibson, who was reported by an American television channel to be just 15, was determined to leave New Orleans after two days wading alone through the filthy waters of the former red-light district of Storyville. Although he had never driven a bus in his life, he broke into a school and made off with the bright yellow vehicle.

What began as an act of sheer panic turned into what has been called a “magnificent journey” that placed Gibson among the heroes emerging from the horrors of Hurricane Katrina.

“I knew how to get over the fence, and where the keys were, so I felt it was worth the chance,” said Gibson, whose age was given by another channel as 18.

Although he had only eight passengers on board when he set off on Highway 10 towards Texas, Gibson picked up many more, young and old, stranded beside the road during the eight-hour journey.

“By the time we gotten here we had all kinds of folk on board, from mothers with young babies to people in their seventies and eighties,” said Gibson, speaking from Houston. “And when we ran out of gas we had a whip-round and everyone gave me enough cents to fill up and get here.”

The young driver, who was still looking for some of his friends and family, said he was not worried about the legal repercussions of driving without a licence.

“I don’t care if I get blame for it so long as I saved my people,” he said. “If we had stayed there, we would still have been waiting.”

There were other tales of heroics, equally colourful. Mark Perillat, 49, escorted his wife and children to nearby Lake Charles before returning to New Orleans to rescue the stranded by canoe. Among those he paddled to safety were a couple in their fifties who had stood in water for three days before he arrived.

Louis Armstrong New Orleans international airport, 10 miles west of the flooded areas, was turned into a huge medical centre with doctors and nurses working 24-hour shifts to save those suffering from thirst and heat exhaustion.

Don Smithberg, chief executive of a local group of hospitals, said some of his staff had stayed awake throughout much of the crisis. “Some did not eat or sleep for days, they have been so busy,” he said. “This is one definition of heroism.”

02 September 2005

Terrorized by Bush and Company, "Neoconservatives" et. al.

Ever since the SCOTUS appointed George Bush and Dick Cheney to the executive administration in the year 2000, I have felt a range of emotions and states of being: from apathy to depression; from incredulity to rage; brief glimpses of hope and encouragement to brief snatches of fear.

It is the last descriptor that I want to address.

I am not someone who takes fear lightly. I work hard in my life to make fear as small an aspect of my being as possible. I don't do all that I could surely, but I do practice several ways and means of reducing the impact of fear in my life. One important process in this is my belief in Karma and right action. When I am myself, and I am true, I treat my environment with respect, which helps avoid unpleasant feed back.

It doesn't always work. And in this day and age, it is important to take risks. It is important to speak up and to speak out against the tyranny of the oppressor.

And that is what I would like to explore: Are the keepers of power planning on the institution of absolute rule? Federal reaction to the NOLA disaster might lead one to tend to think so. Sure, it's a conspiracy theory, but it's good practice for them. Wait until the chaos ripens, criminals over-run the streets - the common man may actually welcome the tyrants' martial forces.

Our best line of defense against this imperial tyranny of federalist plutocrats (ie Bushco Neocons et al) is local government, cities, states, counties and a well prepared and organized citizenry.

The actions of the mayor of New Orleans shows this. Like a well-rehearsed set of escape routes in case of a house fire, we should know what to do in case of unrest - due to another 9/11 type event (dirty nuke? viral outbreak?)

Back to fear, sorry. Anyway, sometimes when I am really putting a bore into the neoconservative agenda, when I am really digging into the motives and hideous qualities of it all and I feel that I have stricken a nerve; I get a sense is that these men are filled with a vile and insidious wrath. Are they bent on wielding total control, absolute power, over their respective plots? It is these images, coupled with the Cheney snarl, the Bush temper tantrum, the Rumsfeld whine and whimper that make me feel sick and worried, even fearful of what these men are capable of.

They show no remorse. It haunts me occasionally, disturbs my dream states... (Is there a law-suit for emotional trauma here?)