30 October 2008

Angel's Landing

Angel's Landing
"Angel's Landing" (viewed from the shuttle bus stop)
Zion National Park, Utah, Monday, October 27, 2008

16 October 2008

Post Debate Analysis

I am in Texas. I drove from Washington state. Long drive. Very long. However, it's (relatively) warm outside right now where I am here in Eastern Texas, and I can hear crickets chirping. - So I'm not complaining!

Anyway, I want to mention the U.S. presidential debates. Last night, during the third and final presidential debate, I was crossing the border from Colorado into Kansas. Reception was fuzzy, and I missed some, but I was able to listen to a good portion. I had better reception from about a third of the way until the end.

America is under stress. The people and economy of America are both under duress. There have been so many changes, major and minor, over the last few years and decades. So many changes so fast and we really haven't taken stock of how these changes are affecting people (much less the planet.) So it is with that context that I listened to the debate. Knowing how this society is harming the planet. Knowing how people are hurting. Knowing that there is so much potential and promise - such possibility for such an awesome, nurturing and stable - peaceful and prosperous world - for all.

So I am sad! And it is made all the more acute because I don't have more choices than Obama and McCain. More choices like I would have, for example, if McKinney and Nader were to appear on a preferential ballot. But what came across quite clearly to me was the distinction between these two men, Obama and McCain. What stood out to me, what I noticed in particular were what I perceived as McCain's cheap shots - the falsifications, distortions and even obfuscations.

The reason I will vote for Obama is not that I believe an Obama Administration will likely be the herald of the changes that would be necessary to heal America. The reason I will vote for Obama is more because of John McCain. That said, maybe I am being too harsh on Obama... Obama might actually be a step in the right direction. But I am not sure. And I want more. For example, I want real change on foreign policy. So - it's too bad that my choices are essentially limited by a system that has arbitrarily decided to exclude and discriminate against legitimate third party candidates. This has all the markings of corporatism.

[The media has completely hi-jacked this discussion, which should be front and center for any political discussion in America. American foreign policy is not about defense from terrorists, as the media and too many Washington D.C. public officials / politicians (and an astounding number of public officials / politicians elsewhere) would have me (and you) believe. American foreign policy is about imperialism; it is about dominance and hegemony. The public infrastructure of the U.S. military is being used to pursue this policy. The military is not being used to keep the peace in an altruistic sense. The military, all 700+ foreign military base installations (plus the various fortress flotillas) is being used to prop up a foreign policy of interventionism - a foreign policy of inserting "American friendly" people into strategic locations within governments.

So the media has all but completely hi-jacked this discussion. And what will come of it? Benefit for the American people at large (or the people of the world at large?) I don't think so. We need people in government who can, and will, stand up to this new media tyranny...(But how can we get these people into government when the media controls the government, and the debate? - Maybe it's hopeless to seek change at that level? We need a public interest coup!)]

Tax cuts. McCain's tax cuts would be an escalation of the Bush years. And look what 8 years of Bush have brought us. Financial and economic instability. The rich are richer (and their numbers multiplied), and the poor are poorer. Massive inequities are causing social tension. People are losing their jobs and in danger of losing shelter. Meanwhile, vested interests are benefitting - and influencing government to do more of the same - to promote their benefit at the sake of others' wellbeing. Obama wins on tax cuts. Tax the wealthy. It's not "class-warfare." It's called "just compensation." It's called social interest, and public interest. It's called good-government. Tax the wealthy. Especially the biggest corporations.

There was a lot from the debate. A lot to respond to. It's overwhelming at this point. I guess they succeeded if that's there goal. It just pushes me away really. Makes me want to look toward more localized solutions... It was frustrating at times to listen to the debate. And I wanted to call in to a post-debate public radio show. I probably would have if I wouldn't have forgotten my cellphone battery charger.

I wish Nader would have been allowed to debate!

It was frustrating to hear both Obama and McCain speak against Venezuela - considering all of the positive social reforms that have taken place there. The poor people of Venezuela are being lifted up by their government. They are being provided with the basics for a better life: food, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare, and work. What's so bad about Venezuela; is it the socialism? If that's the case, then what's bad about socialism in Venezuela, and good about socialism on Wall Street? What's the difference? Or is the distinction just an arbitrary one - is it just a matter of "mine is okay, when yours is not."

I am frustrated because I think it will take more than Obama's chanting "Hope" and "Change" to actually affect meaningful changes within the system. The powers that influence government are deeply entrenched. Does Obama really mean what he says when he talks of advocating reform, or are his words just empty rhetoric, and only designed to boost him into a position of power? What are Obama's true motivations for seeking the presidency? Is it to serve the best and highest interests of the American people - or is it simply to attain power as a manifestation of personal desire, of selfish egoism? America would do well with having, rather than a "politician" as president, having a public service president - a servant to the highest needs and loftiest aspirations of the American people and future generations. The people need health. Healthy food, air, land, water - healthy and stable ecosytems - sustainability. The people need meaningful work. The people need to fit into a sustainable society. The people need to belong to a community. The people need education. The people need justice. (I could go on and on - but people - all people - do have the same needs, a basic set of needs that is common to all people.)

Perhaps most importantly: The people need the truth.

The people do not need to be living, and taking, at the sake of the planetary (human and ecological) community - nor is it at all desirable for the people to do so. The people do not need to be living in a way that is causing harm to other people and the planet.

This planet Earth is a tremendous "gift" - really it is not a gift. It doesn't belong to any of us, nor any group of us, nor all of us collectively. It is of its own. It is a tremendous and wonderful being all on its own. - It is its own. - All of its own, on its own (except for the sun and moon, and other planets, and stars, etc.). It was here before humans came into being. It may likely be here long after humans have faded into the past. The Earth is full - full of such wonder and beauty. There is so much potential. - So it is sad to see so much of it wasted and trashed and abused. I lay this culture of destruction squarely at the feet of politicians and vested business interests, notably in the entertainment and media and military sectors.

Back to the debate and the post debate call-in show. One of the callers to the after-debate public-radio-show mentioned the possibility of war over energy resources. She said it as if there was the future possibility of this happening. Honestly, I think she was being sarcastic or facetious or perhaps just explicitly understating the obvious.

I mean really people! - The Global War on Terror is a facade for active and ongoing wars over energy resources: resource wars - people killing people over things (minerals).

The front line of the United States government's foreign policy of global dominance, aka "hegemony," as it is promoted by big business corporate hegemons - seems to be evinced quite clearly in the obvious efforts to control foreign energy resources. We see this in both Iraq and Afghanistan (the latter being home to a major pipeline.) We see this in Georgia, where fighting recently broke out in a separatist area. Georgia is home to a major pipeline for transporting Caspian sea fossil fuels to the West.

And we also see this developing, most alarmingly, in a posture of belligerence, and in the use of bellicose rhetoric by U.S. officials, toward Iran. About Iran, I will say this: neither the state nor the people of Iran (including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard) are terrorists. If Iran wants to pursue nuclear weapons, why shouldn't it be able to? Shouldn't individual nations have the right to self-determination? What gives the U.S. the right to deliberate which nation can and which nation cannot pursue nuclear power, or nuclear weapons? Forgive my digression. But a U.S. (or Israeli) attack on Iran would have truly devastating economic consequences. Your $10 gallon of gasoline? That would likely do it. America and Americans, and indeed the world, would possibly be pushed into an emergency disaster scenario. All because of political posturing. All because of an attitude of belligerence and a drive for hegemony. It's sick.

These foreign wars over resources, certainly in at least the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, can rightly understood to be aggression, and these wars are illegal and immoral. My government, your government, our government - of the USA - is attacking countries, bullying them. What it's doing is, essentially, to take without asking. It's not much different than what happened a couple hundred years ago with the "Manifest Destiny" when Europeans thought themselves to be superior and rightful in their conquering of the North American continent, much however to the detriment of Native people and culture.

It doesn't have to be like this. There is a better way! Violence is not the solution. People, as individuals and as collective societies, must be treated equally and fairly.

We must ask ourselves what kind of a world we want to leave to future generations: scorched and barren, or healthy and fertile?

We have the power to effect change. We need healing. The planet needs healing. It would be a benefit to have a healer - one who seeks to reconcile, who seeks to achieve mutually beneficial solutions, who seeks to find a balance in the best interests of future generations and in the holistic best interests the whole planet - elected to president. Sadly for America and the World, I do not think that either of Obama or McCain is just such a healer.

###end of rant###

13 October 2008


Go Obama! It's official. Although I have much love for Ralph Nader, and I think that he would serve America very well as President, I have decided that I will now support Barack Obama for President. I have supported Obama in the past, I served as a precinct delegate for Obama, here in Thurston County, Washington (at the county convention/caucus.) But I am disillusioned to the reality of the two party political system and the influence of big business in over government. When Obama started making noises about threatening Iran, I jumped ship. I put the bulk of my support toward the Nader Campaign.

Now don't get me wrong. I still support Nader and the great and important work that he does. But this is the time for realism and pragmatism. Nader is not going to win. Yes - it is an injustice - in a campaign filled with unfairness and injustice. Nader should have been warmly invited to participate in debates...

But I have been tipped. Tipped toward pulling for Obama. What happened?

Yesterday I met with Wayne Smith, director of the Civil Liberties program for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. Wayne made me realize the importance of the (relatively) small differences between McCain and Obama. I say relatively small differences between the candidates because I do believe they are both pro-big business influence establish government politics.

Basically, the "small" differences (really they are not small), are very important. To illustrate, McCain recently had to defend Obama against the words of one of his supporters, who labeled Obama as an Arab and a Terrorist. McCain said no no, that's not true - Obama is a good man and no one should fear him or the spectre of an Obama presidency. McCain never made even the effort - nor did it appear that it occurred to him, to defend Arabs against the racism of his supporter. He could have said - "Arabs are not bad people." He did not.

I will vote for Obama. I love what Ralph Nader has done, and continues to do, for this country. But the stakes are high in this election. A McCain presidency would be devastating and tremendously harmful to the cause of civil liberties in America (and the world.)

Thank you Wayne Smith, for opening my eyes wider to the reality of the contest between Obama and McCain.

Thank you Ralph Nader, and don't give up! I still support you (and other third party candidates like Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney) who are working to move America in a truly progressive and life-serving direction.

But my vote will be for Obama. It's kind of sad. But that's reality. That's the decisive pragmatist in me.

09 October 2008

Give Me Liberty by Naomi Wolf

An interview with Naomi Wolf about her new book Give me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries...This is an important cautionary message about the social condition in America:

My America Project

Representative Brad Sherman of the US House of Representatives "Skeptics Caucus":

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Self-Portrait Sequence


08 October 2008

Naomi Klein on the Wall Street Crisis

Naomi Klein on Democracy Now!
October 06, 2008

Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism

As the world reels from the financial crisis on Wall Street and the taxpayer-funded $700 billion bailout, we spend the hour with Naomi Klein on the economy, politics and “disaster capitalism.” The Shock Doctrine author recently spoke at the University of Chicago to oppose the creation of an economic research center named after the University’s most famous economist, Milton Friedman. Klein says Friedman’s economic philosophy championed the kind of deregulation that led to the current crisis. [includes rush transcript]


Naomi Klein, journalist and author of the books The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and No Logo.

Related Links: Naomi Klein's website

AMY GOODMAN: The credit crunch is spreading to financial markets around the world. Nearly 160,000 jobs were lost here in the United States in September. That’s not including losses directly resulting from the financial meltdown. Wall Street might be breathing a little easier since Congress passed the more-than-$700-billion bailout plan Friday, but there are no signs of an easy or quick recovery.Today we take a look back at the economic philosophy that championed the kind of deregulation that led to this crisis. We spend the hour with investigative journalist and author Naomi Klein, bestselling author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Naomi Klein spoke at the University of Chicago last week, invited by a group of faculty opposed to the creation of an economic research center called the Milton Friedman Institute. It has a $200 million endowment and is named after the University’s most famous economist, the leader of the neoliberal Chicago School of Economics.

NAOMI KLEIN: When Milton Friedman turned ninety, the Bush White House held a birthday party for him to honor him, to honor his legacy, in 2002, and everyone made speeches, including George Bush, but there was a really good speech that was given by Donald Rumsfeld. I have it on my website. My favorite quote in that speech from Rumsfeld is this: he said, “Milton is the embodiment of the truth that ideas have consequences.”

So, what I want to argue here is that, among other things, the economic chaos that we’re seeing right now on Wall Street and on Main Street and in Washington stems from many factors, of course, but among them are the ideas of Milton Friedman and many of his colleagues and students from this school. Ideas have consequences.


Read the rest: Naomi Klein: Wall St. Crisis Should Be for Neoliberalism What Fall of Berlin Wall Was for Communism

07 October 2008

October Surprise?!

What's Important
more commentary linked on flickr

What, oil wasn't trading today? And look how much oil has gone down. I don't know why it doesn't show a change - but I have seen it like that a lot. Do you know what's up with that?

Dow down by over 5%. Overseas markets in even worse shape.

This market fluctuation is ominous. It bears all the markings of a serious economic depression.

What is the problem with a stable economic plateau? Why does it always have to be about growth?

You know what in nature just keeps growing without limit? - Cancer cells. One or two cancer cells won't kill you. But a mass of them will.

This reckless pursuit of growth and economic expansion is harming the planet (and living creatures.)

There is a better way.

03 October 2008

Public Testimony re: Isthmus Building Height Rezone

Here's a video, which includes public comment, oral testimony, that I provided in regard to the proposed building height rezone on the "Isthmus" of downtown Olympia. My testimony is from the first group (selected by lottery) and it begins approximately 1 hour, two minutes, and 30 seconds (1:02:30) into the video (embedded below.) The whole video is worth watching!!! A lot of people gave great testimony. All five + hours of the public hearing are available on the Internet. More information about that: Video from City Council Public Hearing on the Isthmus Building Height Rezone

02 October 2008

Protecting the Natural World from Human Caused Degradation

From OlyBlog: Compromise

I have recently been labeled and accused of such things as zealotry, fanaticism, extremism, and being unwilling to compromise (by people who post on OlyBlog.) This is a response. And let me tell you - I strongly object to being labeled with those terms. But if I am a zealot because I care about the environment, then that is OK with me. In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Rezone Deliberation Composite

If I am an extremist, then I am only extreme in the same degree (albeit in the opposite direction) as mainstream culture is extreme. We live in a culture that prides itself on growth and expansion, even while the natural world resultantly suffers harm. I want to stop the destruction and to protect the natural world.

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