From his brimstone bed at break of day
A walking the Devil is gone,
To visit his snug little farm the earth,
And see how his stock goes on.
[First published on Groundhog Day, 2016, this significant revision was posted in January 2017]
About a billion years or so from now, changes in the sun’s energy output will end the ability of the now 4.5 billion year old Planet Earth to support life. We don’t yet know how or if we can deal with that far-into-the-distant-future problem. But today we are facing an imminent threat to life on Earth and we’d better not put it off. The incessant, increasing activities of human civilization are rapidly depleting and despoiling existing ‘natural resources’, and are simultaneously accelerating the degradation of the ability of this beautiful planet to sustain life. These unprecedented changes include widespread continuing destruction of natural life and ecology; damaging alterations of the planet’s oceans, surface and ground water; and the ominous increase of human produced toxins and global warming “greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere. Despite that, human beings are not the universal invasive species, and we can stop and repair the damage. (more…)
Why do words fail us? Why is demonstrable truth so widely and persistently disdained and ignored? Effective communication with integrity is essential for the people – you and I – to become informed and to take action necessary to establish, maintain and strengthen a democratic republic. But effective communication with integrity, even on a personal, one-to-one level, is very, very difficult in modern times.
Gung Ho (means: work together) America
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
– Mark Twain
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) issued its 2008 Congressional Report Card, and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) issued percentage ratings, on how U.S. Senators and Representatives voted regarding issues of direct importance to disabled veterans and recent combat veterans (and their families). Perhaps, like me, you are interested in how the legislators who represent you in Washington, D.C. and the two Senators who ran last year for President, were rated by the IAVA and the DAV.
“The GI Bill gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down.”
(Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on signing the original G.I Bill for returning veterans)
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is leading an effort to pass a new GI Bill of educational benefits for veterans. What is the bill, what will it cost, and where do Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators and Members of Congress stand?
A discussion has been proceeding for the last month in the Ozaukee News-Graphic regarding the continuing occupation of Iraq. This column continues that important discussion, and asks that you contribute to it, as well.
The next few months will see Wisconsin citizens and all Americans, and those standing for elected office in our Congressional Districts, grappling with or evading several big issues. Among them, none is more important than the continuing occupation of Iraq, which began with the victorious invasion five years ago on March 20.
AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESSMAN SENSENBRENNER:
“Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius–and a lot of courage–to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein (mathematician)
Five years ago (and six months prior to the invasion of Iraq in March, 2003) my column in the Ozaukee News-Graphic (in response to the just-initiated Bush Administration PR campaign to invade Iraq) warned that “Targeting Iraq when no evidence exists and none of the hijackers were Iraqi … indicate(s) that we are off course and heading for the rocks.” There was substantial reader response to that column. There were calls for firing me, and for readers to cancel their subscriptions and their advertising. But, bottom line, 80 percent of all reader response sent to the newspaper agreed with my commentary and brief re-cap of history, archived only here.
This article, published in a general readership local newspaper, when there was plenty of time to stop the Congressional authorization, and the Administration ordered invasion of Iraq, was unique in Wisconsin and America. (more…)
President Bush 43 famously declared four years ago that the American War in Iraq was over and won. Since then it has been an OCCUPATION, with a predictable, understandable insurrection erupting during the occupation, and a terrible civil war emerging and growing rapidly SINCE the American war in Iraq was won.
“Hey, Slick, you got an October surprise for us?” Sid D. Complex greeted me.
“Matter of fact I got a couple, Sid. Where you been keeping yourself?”
“Nose to the grindstone, ol’ buddy, you know how that goes”, declared Sid.
“Are you down with this election?” I asked.
“No point in voting”, said Sid. “As usual, nobody’s running against the local incumbents. Voting here ain’t worth losing time, and catching the boss’s frown.”
The total cost of Congressional appropriations for the invasion and occupation of Iraq since 2003 has risen to a third of a trillion dollars. The portion of that 333 billion that Ozaukee County taxpayers have to pay is 117 million dollars. But those numbers don’t mean much to most of us. So I’m breaking it down here for mulling over a coffee or a beer or at the kitchen table.
117 million dollars comes to a dollar a second just from Ozaukee County taxpayers, just for the war in Iraq. A dollar every second for the last three and a half years. 117 million dollars averages close to three thousand dollars per household, so far. (more…)
Several sharp-eyed readers caught an error of fact in my last column, Call the War Question. These politically astute persons spotted a glaring mistake when I noted the political affiliation of Congressman Jack Murtha. Probably a minority of News-Graphic readers would know the political affiliation of all members of Congress from Wisconsin, let alone their names. And even fewer would know the party of a Congressman from Pennsylvania. But if you write a column or a blog, it better be your business to dispense accurate information, or none at all. Guesswork and playing loose with the facts is maybe OK, and often done, across the fence line, or over a bump and a beer, or on shock talk radio and TV, but it has no place in a good newspaper or blog.
By a very narrow, reconsidered vote, the Ozaukee County Board of Supervisors has placed a question about war on the November ballot. Some say it shouldn’t be there. After all, this County Board just refused to place a question about the health care crisis on the ballot on the strange grounds that health care is a local issue, and asserting, unaccountably, that health care is a battle we can’t win. But I’m glad for an opportunity to send a message on war from the people straight to the top. Since the true cost of war is always and primarily borne by the people and their local communities, there is no good reason why we shouldn’t express our opinion on such an important single issue.
The question asks if you support the U.S. military in waging war “throughout the world…until…terrorism is eliminated and citizens of all countries can be assured of their safety”. Every good American supports our troops, nobody is in favor of terrorism, and everybody wants to be safe, so what’s not to like here? There are three things not to like.
No doubt you recall my old friend, Sid D. Complex, who’s visited with us before in this column, on rare occasions over the last four years. Well, he and I decided to take a final winter opportunity to do some small game hunting. My mouth has been watering thinking about hasenpfeffer, and Sid, as you know, has his own preferences, which don’t usually coincide with mine. But we are both keen on joining the many other carnivores in the predatory pursuit of rabbits. C’mon along, if you like, but keep your safety on when you’re busting brush, and mind where your muzzle is pointed.
She was a nurse who set up field hospitals and then worked beyond exhaustion in them. These hospitals were loaded with waves of wounded and dying from the war in Europe. Her hardest work came during the Battle of the Bulge. Through her life, she has always hated war with an unrelenting and growing intensity. And, with history in the marrow of her bones, she was there, and had been at many other vigils and marches during her subsequent full and rewarding, but haunted life.
Most of them were too young to vote or have a legal drink, and shaving for many was more an assertion of manhood than an actual daily necessity. Weekend passes usually liberated the youthful G.I.s to disperse and fan out over the surrounding heartland counties in search of various releases for their raging hormones. But now, their unit happened to be the division first ready force, and was restricted to the post.
Are we just wired different? That’s how some explain the widely disparate opinions and beliefs of people. But, of course, it’s not hardware that explains the political differences in the electorate. It’s software. And even my software is not that different from yours. Modify the program a bit or plug in some new or different data and maybe I’ll think like you.
It was an awful moment, and many Americans shared it on TV. During Michael Dukakis’ failed bid for the Presidency, an interviewer asked him whether he would still feel the same way about capital punishment if his own wife or family member were a victim of a rapist murderer. Dukakis’ reply, broadcast nationwide, helped to derail his 1988 campaign.
I was checking the sweet corn, and wondering if the raccoons would leave any for us when Sid D. Complex stopped by to scout deer. “Seen any bucks?” he queried.
“I saw a young one on crabapples yesterday, but I’ve been busy. Don’t think I’ll be hunting this fall,” I told him.
“Right…I’ve heard that one before. It depends on how you define the word ‘hunting’.” Sid’s sarcasm could be vicious.
I knew what he meant. Seems too many politicians can’t come up with the simple truth if it’s handed to them. Sid says, “They’re just like con artists…what you call invertebrate liars, ain’a? Not George Dubya though. I voted for him and glad I did. He’s been like a tiger on them terrorists. On the TV he’s four-square supporting our troops. I say it’s about time.”
Since “free trade” policies got rolling, and the World Trade Organization, run by and for trans-national corporations, has taken powers formerly reserved to elected governments, the quantity of international shipping, by train, truck, plane and ship has skyrocketed. Ships can be owned by anyone, but even most of those that are owned by American corporations are not inspected or documented by the United States. This of course is because it costs more to comply with U.S. safety and pollution and labor regulations than it does to register a ship with a “flag of convenience” nation.
“Against our traditions, we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war. This republic’s life is not in peril. The nation has sold its honor for a phrase. It … is drifting, its helm is in pirate hands. … Each of you…must speak. … Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn’t.” – Glances at History – by Mark Twain
To remember and memorialize those thousands of souls murdered in one shocking and horrific crime last September;
To honor those heroes who, to render aid and rescue, courageously entered the maelstrom from which all others were understandably fleeing;
To express deep gratitude for those who fought to prevent the airline in which they flew from being used to kill many more on the ground;
To extend deep sympathy and help to those family and friends who have been left to mourn and wonder why and struggle with grief and rage and their lives so brutally shattered;
To do this with justice, with reverence for all life, with love suffusing our hearts and to do this while defeating terrorism should be our goal.