Friday, September 21, 2007

Washington Betrays Us

Another disgraceful week in Washington, and plenty of disgrace to go around. Even Roveless, the Bushites once again outmaneuvered Senate Democrats, shifting attention from the Republicans' despicable betrayal of U.S. troops when they blocked the Webb-Hagel bill to provide longer if not adequate leaves for combat troops between deployments, to phony outrage over the headline to a newspaper ad.

Democrats looked in even more disarray when they once again lost a vote to impose timetables to end the Iraq war, with even fewer Democrats voting for it this time than the last time similar legislation was offered.

The only "bright" spot in Washington was in the House, which hasn't done much but at least hasn't been successfully jerked around by the White House. There some 70 members have signed a pledge not to support funds for Iraq not tied to ending the U.S. occupation, perhaps because they're more attuned to the growing anger in their constituencies about the inaction on stopping the war.

But that's not much. The Democrats in the Senate can't be entirely faulted for failing to pass legislation, since they don't really have a working majority, especially since obstructionist Republicans have made 60 votes the bare necessity for avoiding fillibuster on anything they'd otherwise lose on. But they most definitely can be faulted for being outmanuevered, and failing to make the issue the Republicans who are betraying the troops and the rest of us.

Bushite Republicans are once again literally getting away with murder. The Senate leadership looks inept, as do the Senators who are running for President. They ought to start proving themselves by leading the Senate. They might at least make the Republicans and their betrayals the issue, not to mention (as Keith and guest said tonight) going after the GOP candidates for avoiding each and every opportunity to debate before black or Latino audiences.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

Posted by PicasaSerpenshawk 2004

The Dreaming Up Daily Quote

"It is not necessary to 'go back' in time to be the kind of creature you are. The genes from the past have come forward to us. I am asking that people change not their genes but their society, in order to harmonize with the inheritance they already have."

Paul Shepard
The Only World We've Got

War on Terra: Time's Up

As verified by this year's Red List, the extinction of many of the great ape species --including chimps, gorillas and orangutans--could happen within the lifetime of people reading these words.

We've known about the great apes, the whales and many other threatened species for decades, and though it's been widely accepted that these extinctions are a Bad Thing and we ought to be preventing them, we aren't preventing them. This may come as a surprise. Apparently commercials and cuddly toys don't do it.

The extinction of animal species follows from the larger war on Terra being conducted by greedy elements of the human species. We have also known for decades and have come to accept that wantonly cutting down forests is a very bad thing--it destroys habitat for thousands of species of animals and plants, robs the soil of nutrients and altogether makes life much more difficult for the human species. We've also known for a few decades that forests are incredibly important to protecting us from the effects of greenhouse gases, and in keeping our climate within livable bounds. Trees are--as the saying went in the 1990s--the lungs of the earth.

But the Worldwatch Institute's latest report tells us (in the words of a
Reuters story) "More wood was removed from forests in 2005 than ever before." The report tracked 44 "vital signs" of the planet's health: 28 were designated "bad."

We've known of the potentially critical danger of the phenomenon called the greenhouse effect since the 1960s, and have known enough about it to understand its basic reality and basic threat since the 1980s. But we've done next to nothing, and like the extinctions, time is just about up. We're in the Climate Crisis, and it's going to be with us for the foreseeable future. And the latest signs are, it's going to be worse sooner. Scientists believed that the Arctic sea ice pack could disappear completely in the summer by the year 2070. But the ice has melted away in 2007 to
record low levels, and now the estimate is 2030. That means that it is very likely to continue to decline throughout the lifetime of everyone reading this, and disappear when many of the people who could be reading this are still very much alive.

The loss of Arctic ice will change the world's weather and its total climate. By the time it is gone, apes, polar bears and some whales will be the same as dinosaurs to children (as Barbara Kingsolver suggests in a short story), and they will hardly believe these creatures existed in living memory. But that may not be the worst of it. Their world is not going to be the world we know today, and I don't mean they'll have something better than Iphones.

We may well have been able to prevent this but we didn't. Now we're going to have to deal with and live with the consequences. Our only redemption--indeed the possibly final test of the human species--will be to prevent even worse from happening to this lovely, life-filled planet, in the farther future none of us will live to see. But that will require consciously changing many things about our present, without necessarily gaining benefits ourselves. For that test, the time is coming. Fast.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Dreaming Up Daily Image

Posted by Picasasculpture by Emily Young

No Health Care in Our Time

After seeing what's been happening here in California, where the only real universal health care proposal is being ignored in favor of the tweedledum and tweedledummer choices of the governor and the legislature, all about politics and nothing really about health care--

And now after seeing the proposals of the major presidential candidates, most recently Hillary Clinton's, which suck up to the criminal enterprise known as private health insurance and in some ways make the current criminal-friendly chaos worse by making it mandatory--

I've given up the hope that I'll live to see universal health care come to the U.S. from the many more civilized countries in the world. And I suspect the lack of it will play a part in the circumstances of my final days. As it already does in the lives and deaths of many of my fellow citizens who previously may have believed they live in a civilized and compassionate nation, the best on earth.

Falling Blackwater?

So far, it's being treated as a small story, but I'm guessing that it might turn out to be a lot bigger, a lot more important: the Interior Ministry of Iraq has banned the Blackwater "security firm" from operating in Iraq, because Blackwater troops were implicated in the deaths of civilians in an attack on a U.S. State Department motorcade.

I'd like to see some knowledgeable reporting on what's really behind this--the Interior Ministry is kind of notorious for its own brutal practices and ties to certain insurgent groups. But if this ban is actually enforced it could be quite a blow to the Bushites. Blackwater operates as a mercenary armed force, generally beyond the law. This company is the best known of the armed "contractors" who now outnumber U.S. troops in Iraq. In this for-profit war, they are very important: politically at home as well as on the streets in Iraq, because they are virtually invisible here; militarily because they can be doing jobs U.S. troops can't, because of their numbers or their ethical constraints; and most of all, because they are one of the businesses this war is designed to enrich. If our treasury can't pour money into Blackwater's coffers, what on earth will they spend it on?

Meanwhile, the former Fed chair Greenspan is taking heat for saying outright that the war in Iraq is about oil. He's only partly right. It's not about oil in the sense he means it, as a war for access to a strategic need for the nation. It's not even that noble. It's a war for the money certain folks make from the oil--as well as from the war.