July 4, 2008 archive

James Hansen to the G8: We’ve passed safe C02 levels


We’ve reached the tipping point:

On the eve the annual G8 Summit where NASA’s Dr. James Hansen will announce that we’ve passed safe C02 levels (safe being maximum 350 ppm; we’re now at 385 ppm), Hansen has penned a comprehensive letter (PDF) to Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, host of the G8 Summit, requesting his leadership in addressing his findings.

From Dr. Hansen’s letter (Reprinted with his permission on THE ENVIRONMENTALIST)

Dear Prime Minister [Yasuo Fukuda],

Your leadership, and continued leadership by Japan, is needed on the matter of climate change, a matter with ramifications for life on our planet, including all species. Prospects for today’s children, and especially the world’s poor, hinge upon success in stabilizing climate. ~snip~

Japan has been a strong supporter of actions to mitigate dangerous climate change, including the Kyoto Protocol. It is not Japan’s fault that international action has failed so far to slow emission of dangerous gases. But as the host for the upcoming G8 meeting, you can initiate discussion of an approach that could meet the challenge humanity faces.

The past approach, and extensions now under discussion, are fatally flawed and would doom our children and grandchildren to an increasingly impoverished life on a more desolate planet. Clear thinking and bold leadership of the international community are essential in the next 1-2 years to change the course of human history.

More below the fold…

Patriots Are Rebels, Not Bootlickers

Samuel Johnson famously wrote in 1775 that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” In The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce made the appropriate correction: “With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first.”

The past eight years proves Bierce’s thesis once and for all.  

The remorseless gangsters currently in charge of the executive branch aren’t the first American leaders to falsely define patriotism to include torturing, racketeering, warmongering, privatizing, fraud, fecklessness, betrayal, incompetence, injustice, absolutism, corporatism, cronyism and horses’ assism. They aren’t the first to wave the red-white-and-blue while committing sedition against the nation’s citizens by lying them into a war. Nor the first to spy on dissidents of that war. Nor to treat the veterans of that war with public accolades simultaneous to budgetary disdain.

Nor, it must never be forgotten, the first to commit war crimes under a patriotic banner.

But these particular scoundrels have managed one new audacity: cramming the full roster of such behavior into two presidential terms. For this Herculean effort, the cabal of grifters who took over seven-and-a-half years ago surely deserve medals.  

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports Bush plans Guantanamo closure with many detainees unlikely ever to face trial. “The Bush administration is developing a long-range plan to empty the Guantanamo Bay military prison that could include asking Congress to spell out procedures for scores of suspected terrorists whom the government does not plan to bring to trial… Under one scenario being considered by President Bush’s Cabinet, about 80 detainees would remain at the facility in Cuba to be tried by military commissions, and about 65 others would be turned over to their native countries”. Bush will ask Congress for legal procedures to transfer Guantanamo detainees to military or civilian prisons on the U.S. mainland. Roughly 265 detainees are at Guantanamo.

  2. The NY Times reports the U.S. is in no shape to give advice, says Medvedev.

    Russia’s new president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, less swaggering than his predecessor but as touchy about criticism from abroad, said in an interview that an America in “essentially a depression” was in no position to lecture other countries on how to conduct their affairs…

    Mr. Medvedev made his comments on Tuesday in a meeting with a small group of foreign journalists a day after the American treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., appealed in Moscow for Russian investment in the United States. The symbolism of the visit resonated here, in that only a decade had passed since the Russian economy was in shambles and the country was desperate for Western aid…

Four at Four continues with George Washington’s childhood home and America’s oldest Independence Day parade.

Hello Again, Everybody

Happy 4th, everybody.

I’ve been back for a few weeks now and I’m finally getting my life back in order a bit; at least enough to do a little blogging again.

Where have I been? Only the most awesome place on earth: Manly Beach, Australia. I sold a piece of software I had been working on for quite a while and it was actually the second time this company bought the rights to something I had written, so I knew what I was in for.

Liberty from Cars Day

This is a follow-up to Retrofit Suburbia Redux

At Ezra Klein, in a post about The Costs of Cap and Trade, a commentator, “Black Political Analysis” frames the Auto-Uber-Alles position as:

I intuitively agree with your logic, which is correct government policy can move the markets in any particular direction. The real matter is at what points will Americans see increased regulation as better than the status quo. For now, Americans seem quite willing, not content, but willing to pay $4/gallon. The American desire to have the most liberty possible (i.e. the government not telling the people what to do) is quite high; so economic circumstances must be quite severe before Americans embrace your ideas (even though they are good ideas).

July 4, 2008 12:03 PM

I answer:

Except when it comes to regulations preventing a lot near a suburban transport stop from being redeveloped to ground floor professional or retail space with townhouses stacked on top … sacrificing liberty in that situation is done without a moment’s thought.

Cars are liberating if you are the one with the car and not too many other people have them in any given area. Either take away your car, or establish a system of government subsidy and regulation that ensures that everyone must ride a car to get anywhere, and the liberty vanishes.

Indeed, a freedom that rests on the lack of freedom of others is not what I write down under the heading of “liberty”.

Happen 2 U? A friend?

I find it real hard to believe I am the only one this happened to. So please read. if it does not apply to you, and you have no comment, then please go ahead and enjoy the novelty of the problem. It’s long, but it’s fun, unless it’s you,

To preface, because it is now apparent that I owe these guys no Courtesy, the following has been sent for review to :

a/ My family and friends.

b/ The local paper.

c/ The local grapevine.

d/ Representative Defazio.

e/ Representative Conyers, via his blog.

f/ Senator Wyden

g/ You.

But it has not yet been sent to the Department of Education, because they won’t give me their email, and my printer is kaput. Tuesday the Library is open. Then I will burn two copies, one for the bad guys, the other for the local Senior and Disabled Services Office. This gives some time to change the letter, make it better. And that is why I am asking for input.

Thanks all, and with no further ado, on with the show !



Wisconsin peace activists win skirmish with the Army

I wouldn’t blame you, dear reader, if you are weary of this topic, but I feel obliged to write one more time on Milwaukee Summerfest and the US Army.

Having now visited the Army exhibit at Summerfest, rather than relying on newspaper accounts, I am ready to say that Peace Action-Wisconsin, Veterans for Peace and others made some real gains. I had questioned that earlier when Summerfest appeared to back off.

As Julie Enslow of Peace Action-Wisconsin said:

This is a victory. We asked for the Virtual Army Experience to be removed and it was… They removed the Humvee and the huge screen with the virtual ride through the streets of a middle eastern town with people appearing on the streets to shoot at. After a temporary shut down of the tent to remove the virtual experience game, it was reopened with two rifle practice targets.

One target was a typical circular target and the other, according to a TV reporter on the scene, were black silhouettes of the upper body and heads of people such as are used in police target practice, and I guess some arcade games.  I cringe at the thought of the black silhouettes but it is a heck of a lot better than the virtual experience exhibit. Its not often you can take on the Army and win.

I had reacted more negatively based on Summerfest's statement on the issue, devoted in large part to licking the Army's boots and kissing its rear end. But actions speak louder than words, and Summerfest did the right thing.

Peace Action reports that, "There are still heavy recruitment tactics going on, including asking young people to sign up with their personal information which allows you to get a DVD game of the Virtual Army Experience to take home and allows you entrance into the tent to the target practice where you can choose between a rifle or a lazer pistol."

But it's certainly progress.

Summerfest and Peace Action have received lots of irate, vile telephone calls from right-wingers, hopped up from listening to talk radio.

If you have not yet called Summerfest to thank them for removing the Virtual Army Experience Exhibit, please do so. They need to hear some friendly calls from us. 414-273-2690.  

“In Their Boots”-Premiere-Episode 1- Video

The first episode of the groundbreaking new live webcast “In Their Boots” aired on Wednesday, 2 July 2008, with host Jan Bender as he explored the lives of the Babin family as they care for their wounded veteran son Alan. That first show “Beating the Odds” was part 1, the second part to be aired next wednesday, 9 July 2008.

Another Middle Way

He is moving to the center, so they say.

The pragmatists, so-called, recognize a strategic need for this move to the middle, and trusting Obama, applaud it; the purists so-called, wonder what we’re going to win, if moving to the middle is needed to win.

For my part, I’m a pragmatic purist, an idealistic pragmatist, and always worried about falling into what the great writer Walter Benjamin called “left melancholy“–his take, I suppose, on the ways in which “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”

The Mirrors of Reason

“Modern man likes to pretend that his thinking is wide-awake. But this wide-awake thinking has led us into the mazes of a nightmare in which the torture chambers are endlessly repeated in the mirrors of reason.”

Octavio Paz


“My Country…Yet To Be… “

This is my 67th Fourth of July and this is a Eulogy.

I need to lay to final rest, once and for all, the last tattered shreds of my love for and blind faith in this land of mine.

To lose a long beloved one, is very hard. Even harder, is having to admit that that long beloved one never truly existed in the first place.

As if only yesterday, the memories of being literally filled to overflowing with a such deep and abiding love of America I could hardly contain it are still fresh for me.  

Every soldier I saw on the street was a part of my very own child’s heart: I loved them all so much, I embarrassed my mother terribly by inviting every soldier I met home for dinner. I had to do “something” for them at age six..anything..to show them how much I loved them all.

I remember that I cried off and on all day on the 4th of July, as I watched the Parade, hearing the Parade Drums, seeing the crisp formations of soldiers pass by, simply overwhelmed with pride and yearning to be a part of them someday. I’d find a way, even if I was “just a girl”.  

Memorial Day and the Fourth of July were the most important days in the year to me,  much more special than Christmas. The whole world stopped back then, to honor these days of gratitude for those who sacrificed their lives for our beloved America, and to celebrate her with all we had, on Independence Day.

Some of those memories are permanently etched in my brain.

Memorial Day at Evergreen Cemetery, the whole town present, the crisply uniformed ranks, the solemn boom of the 21 gun salute, the planes flying over in missing man formation…and oh, all of the flags proudly flying against the verdant green, on the graves of all those who sacrificed their lives for us….

Then came the 4th of July. Independence Day. Time to truly celebrate the birth of this Great Nation: the Home of the Free and the Brave. I am feeling frustrated as I write, because I sense there are no words I could use, to bring anyone back there with me who has never once experienced this kind of Patriotism, the kind that  seemed programmed into ones very DNA.

Another memory is also etched permanently and so vivid it can still bring tears. Standing at full attention, saluting, as the crisp, perfect formations of Soldiers marched by, my own heartbeat in total synch with the Parade Drums. Every cell of my six year old body yearning to be a part of this, filled with determination to BE a part of it, someday, even if I was “just a girl”.

So odd it seems, that memories like that not only refuse to die, but refuse to even fade, after all these long hard years of discovering that nearly all of it was a bald face lie.

This discovery took forever..and was, in a word, simply excruciating, every damned bit of it.  It was like getting my heart torn out of my body, one small bloody bit at a time. (Except during Viet Nam, when half of it got butchered and buried along side my brother in a very short time)

And it has meant giving up the very foundations my life was built on.  The love of a land where I “belonged” to something so vast, so grand, something that would always be there for me, take care of me, something so good, … to  spend the rest of my life without that foundation at ALL. I am now a  “person without a country” because the country I thought I belonged to simply never existed  

“My Country ‘Tis of Thee..” I sang out so proudly, for so long,  along with everyone else..”Sweet Land Of Liberty…of Thee I Sing!”

There is, I don’t think, any safer more wonderful feeling a human can ever have, than to feel THAT  much belonging; THAT  much love for ones country.

So when I run into older right wing patriotic types now, the ones who WILL NOT SEE…and WILL NOT CHANGE, yes, I understand them. To expect them to change, is to expect them to willing cut out their own hearts. Not all of us can do that and still survive, or are willing to even try. Then factor in the effects of right wing fundamentalist religion,  ..and it’s easy to see why maintaining the status quo is their life’s work.

I don’t believe most of todays (ah hem) “leaders”  who have systematically torn down even the illusion of what America was and is, are old “cellular level” Patriots like this.

I think most of THEM  are greedy, power mad, souless, sociopathic  BASTARDS who are smart enough to have learned how to exploit and harness up all us old patriots, and exploit the hell out of us for personal power and gain.

And until “WE”  ALL DIE OFF…(everyone who was raised with that almost cellular level of  patriotic programming, about the history of this country, and those so well programmed by war-like religious fundamentalism,) and are replaced by enough of you, who were born into lifetimes where you had a damned chance to form your own beliefs..not a hell of a lot is going to go in any direction other than the one we’re heading in right now, big picture. That’s just how it looks to me from here.

So now must say my final good by to that America I once believed was my very own Heart-Land.  It was but an beautiful illusion, inserted into my soul.  

I can no longer sing  “My County, ‘Tis of thee, Sweet Land of Liberty, of Thee I Sing!”

But I can still sing, in a softer, sadder voice,

“My Country, Yet To Be…Sweet Land Of liberty…of Thee I Sing..”

And I am singing it, to all of you.

Take her. She’s yours now, such as she is.

Don’t hate us too much please.

Most of us did the best we could, with what we believed was true.

Remember that America, as she could be, and as I believe she is intended to be, is still in the womb gestating. She has not yet truly been “born” yet: the labor is long and it is hard, and it is going to take all of you to get this baby delivered.

It won’t be an easy birthing and I don’t think it can be done with old methods and systems long in place, either. Those belong to an era that is passing by. If every there was a time for innovation, for blazing new pathways… it’s now.

Me, well, I’m fine now. Us humans are remarkable in how much we can adapt to “whatever is”, given time enough to get past all the phases of shock, denial, depression, bargaining and finally, to acceptance and peace.

I trust you. I can make my exit knowing you will do your part in this birthing process.

(Not perfectly, however. You will bumble and stumble and get lost and try to kill each other off..just as we did!)

I still can hear the fetal heartbeat of this land yet to be born and I believe she is still viable.

And somehow, I just know I will get to see it, wherever the hell I end up..even if only as dust on the wind.. 🙂  


I Didn’t Go to the Fireworks

In fact I can’t recall the last display I did attend.  Something I have seen over these past years.  Something I have experienced.

Something I am far from alone in discovering.

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