Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bret and Erin in Anchorage

I am up in Anchorage and by circumstance had the opportunity to see Bret and Erin at UAA giving their talk to 100+ people. They are becoming minor celebs. Too funny and I hope to see them on David Letterman soon. But they would probably have to walk there.

I am proud of them, in a proxy parental way that I have no right too. I barely knew Bret back in the hood. But we all get to wear our pride and shame of our kids in a small town. I still get a little weepy at every HS graduation.

They were inspirational in a humble, dorky, Bret and Erin way. Very understated about their quest and obviously having fun. They are taking a critical look at the environment on their trek. Looking at the impacts of us on some really remote parts on the Earth, but I get the impression they would probably still be out there if everything in the world was hunky dory. Walking around up to their knees in slush and snow, sleeping under a piece of nylon.

I was reminded of Bernard Moitessier. Back in 1969 he was in the race to be the first person to sail around the world alone, non-stop. He was going to win the race but at as he approached the last leg, and the win, he said "screw it, I am in it for the sailing, the journey" and left the money, fame and fortune behind and kept sailing another 1/2 way around the world.

I hope the kids knees hold out.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Little Stasi in Us All

East German Prison
Saint Reagan took those evil commies down and made the world safe from these kind of prisons.

United States Prison Cell at GitMo
The easily accessed window and bright lighting make solitary confinement so much more humane. I am so proud of my country.

We watched a movie from Netflix last night, "The Lives of Others." It was about the former GDR, East Germany. (Feels like a million years ago that the wall fell, doesn’t it. We were all so optimistic back then. End of Cold War, Mutual Assured Destruction, proxy wars the beginning of peace dividends, spreading of democracy and our global influence. What happened?) Anyhow the movie was set in the early 80’s and was about the Stasi, the secret police whose goal was “to know everything" and how they controlled the country and the effects of this control and secrecy on the watchers and the watched.

The story followed a Stasi agent and a playwrite. The agent was covertly watching the writer who was deemed OK by the government. Eventually he is transformed into not being OK and speaks out against the censureship and governmental control over the arts. It was a very well done movie. And certainly there are always parallels to the present that make you connect with the characters but it seemed rather close at hand. Wiretaps, surveillance, torture, secrecy, stupidity, ideological certainty and state sponsored paranoia. Same as it every was.

Tracy was a little sleepy during the last half; she doesn’t do well with plot driven movies, especially political thrillers. She likes to feel the movie. So I don’t think she was in total control of her facilities, and she was being her contrary late-January self when she flippantly said, “Those damned people should just shut their yaps. They didn’t have it so bad. If they were in Russia or China they would have been shot.” Wow, Dr. of English Literature and poet Philpot, daughter of a lesbian, feminist and green party member, interesting thinking. She spent the next 10 minutes of the movie or so trying to retract or reformulate the statement until she fell asleep on the couch. Even under assault of rapier wit and intellect, she wasn’t really engaged.

My point is Tracy doesn’t really believe that in her heart, but the idea easily takes a root in all of our brains’. I am sure I have said such things about similar situations, matter of fact I think I did even last night. It may take a late night movie, in a warm house, after a couple of beers, feeling kind of sleepy, stressors such as these to break us down but I think we all have a little Stasi in us.

But the smart amoung us realize that this is why we have laws, that Constitution thing that ensures rule of law and that NOBODY can make that kind of judgment stick on someone else. Checks and balance on our government and on our dark impulses. That whole system is working pretty well, right?
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Not sure if the above quote is true but......

Just keep quite and you will be OK.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The New VECO is.......

This was as close as a humpback got to me as I was sailing back home from Homer this last summer.

On another note.
What the HELL! Who keeps electing these people?
Our legislature wants to give money back to the oil companies. These people are making record profits; they, by design, have limited production to raise gas prices, they polluted our ocean and refuse to pay the settlement; and most damning, for me, willfully subverted our democracy. Treasonous!!!! Read the ADN article.
It is shameful and worse yet, so obvious. It would be kinda funny if it wasn't so sad. I continue to be amazed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tiny Hippies Outside My Door & the Sun Returns

The Sun emerged in the valley today at 10:45 and weakly shown on the the house today for 12 minutes. I stared directly at it, so I could still see it for a couple of extra minutes burned into my retina. It then retreated behind the mountains and giggled at me.
I guess I should dig out the solar panels.
I didn't ski that day cause I had to get some firewood. Next year I will have it all put up for winter. (I believe this is the tenth year I have said that.)
I have no idea how that ski run appeared right there.

More Healthcare Ranting

I just heard Mitt Romney giving his “victory" speech in Michigan after the primary there. He was telling the crowd all they voted for him. "You voted for me because you want everyone to be covered by health insurance.” I am paraphrasing but really? Republicans want me to have healthcare? Sure they have controlled Congress for 12 of the last 14 years, and the White House for 7 of those 14, but now Republican Romney, with Reagan hair wants me to have health insurance. OK, how?

So I cruised over to his campaign website and looked up his position on healthcare and how he was going to get it out to people who don’t have it. It wasn’t too darn informative, but I did find out that he wants you to tell your school to have better food so kids won’t get fat and we can deal with obesity and diabetes.

The Republic Party paying lip service to health care reform is just that. Romney wants to require that everyone buy insurance, or they will fine you. They will have “market reforms”, which will look a lot like their Social Security Reform. Suddenly all our health care money is going to corporations, who will ensure a snappy business model built on efficiency, maximizing resources and therefore profit, for themselves. What happens if the business isn’t meeting their quarterly projections and they haven’t meet them in a couple of years and they are going bankrupt. What happens then and who pays. Does anyone remember the Savings & Loan shit of the 80's. Neil Bush does.

I agree that we need to include everyone in the risk pool, therefore covering everyone and pooling the risk and responsibility for all of our care. The best mechanism we have for that is the US Government. They know everyone already. The myth is that government is less efficient than business. It isn’t; it just has to serve everyone (sometime it doesn't feel like service.) Business gets to throw out or choose not to serve some people or target certain markets. It is apples and oranges. Each has its place.

We already do it, you know; Medicare=socialized healthcare, Veteran Administration=socialized healthcare, Medicaide=socialized healthcare, Indian Health Service=socialized healthcare, I get a tetnus shot and flu shot from the public health nurse=socialized healthcare. I bet there are alot of republican voters in those systems.

People go off on the evils of socialized healthcare limiting access and rationing care. The subtext being that Hillary will smother you in the hospital as you recover from butt crack surgery. You will die young and the evil commies sell your organs to the Chinese. But rationing is already happening. It is being done by corporations and I have no recourse, except, of course a trial lawyer after the fact. Maybe we should put one in the White House instead. Go John.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tracy is Naked, I am Scantily Clad, We are all F#@ked

3 things :
1: When I go out to the outhouse in the AM it is dusky and I don't need a headlamp. Winter can be fun soon.
2: It needs to warm up just a little so the mountain in the outhouse tips over; I made it shallow so it would compost instead of fill.

Red Mountain Butt
3: I saw a diary at the Daily Kos the other day about how people are choosing to go or having to go “Naked.” Going naked is a new term for me and refers to dropping your health insurance because you can no longer afford it.

Tracy is naked; Aidan and I have catastrophic health insurance. We two are scantily clad.

I am certainly not proud of the fact that we can’t provide health insurance for everyone in the family. We probably could scrape together another $400 a month and buy Tracy insurance, but what else do we give up.

We don’t live extravagantly, pretty modest really. I guess if we stopped buying the beer, we’d be almost there. Maybe we could stop eating one day a week too, and we could let the house go cold and not use any electricity for a couple of days a week. Stop the Netflix; stop the internet; stop moving around at all. Sit real still and hope that nothing happens to us. I shouldn't ski anymore, dangerous. Stop buying books, sell the boat. We could afford insurance then.

Tracy and I both have college degrees and been employed in social work field. Tracy has a PhD and teaches college courses right now. We could move and find employment in the cities and get more of everything except sanity. I think about that. But Clinton was supposed to fix this back in 92'. What happened?

I suspect that even with insurance, we won’t get health care. In the past 5 years I haven’t gotten a dime from the Blue Cross, but they have gotten around $30,000 from me. I still pay for my real medical care everytime I go see the Dr. Larry here in Seldovia. We are lucky to have a lot of backcountry skiing around here and that the Dr. is addicted to fresh powder. He forgot to get rich and I think he may be naked too.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why I am Caucusing as a Dem

Here is my thinking on why I am facilitating the Democratic Caucus in little Seldovia.

The only political party affiliation I ever claimed previous to this point was as a Green. The Greens kinda faded after 2000; couldn’t quite recapture the Nader magic after that one. And until today I have been registered as an independent. But I am not part of the great “middle” of the political spectrum. That coveted voter who along with the support of a party’s base will put that will put them in the White House.

I am that pissed off liberal that sees an amazing opportunity for this country of great wealth and resource to be an amazing force for good in the world. I have resisted the Dems because they have always seemed to be the other side of the same coin; served the same corporate masters. I wanted them to know that I if they wanted my vote they had to move my way. I believe in almost all of what the Green Party of America platform states, but registering Green was a protest vote against the right ward drift of the Democratic Party.

That only mildly worked. I give. I have reached middle-age and gained a full understanding that I am not going to drastically and cataclysmicly change the world. A little shift to my way of viewing the world would be nice, it might even give me a little hope that this country can right itself and get back to the reality based world view.

So as an Alaskan voter, how am I going to have an impact on the candidate that will be elected in 2008. This has to be a Democratic year, not that they can’t blow it, history shows. But look at the candidates. I am certainly prejudiced, but the Republicans, who have always valued style over substance, haven’t even been able to agree on a style this year. Usually one style has to take the fore front: Macho Cowboy Swagger, Big Business CEO, Military General, Christain Warrior. They just aren’t on their game this cycle. And let’s face they are wrong.

But Alaska will more than likely reflexively vote for a Republican. In the all or nothing system of the electoral college, my vote will mean nothing. By participating in the Democratic Caucus and voting my preference of candidates at this point. I will lend support to that person going into the National Democratic Convention. If my candidate isn’t the party choice, they will have an ability to at least affect the party platform. My view point will have some credence and the world will being to bend to my will.

Well the past seven years have taught me a thing or two. But these years have been decades in the making with a cadre of motivated and crazy right-wingers moving their party further and further right to capture a fringe herd of fundy nut-jobs that will vote as told. Now the great right-wing boogeyman of old, Barry Goldwater, would seem to have a lot more in common with Clinton than he would of with GWB. The swing of the pendulum of American politics, I feel, has to have reached it’s zenith on the right. It is our responsibility to get hold of that pendulum and swing it hard as hell the other way.

The two party system sucks, but a one party system sucks even worse!

Friday, January 11, 2008

I am Iraq or Empathy out of Control

I know it is kind of silly for me to write about these things, war and world politics. I should just post "pictures of pets up close with a wide angle lens." There really is little of value beyond my own catharsis and venting of the rage. So if you are unlucky enough to have ended up here you may be excused and the wife has the valuable kitten photos over at her site. They are cute except when they bring shrews into your room at night.

I read Glen Greenwald every day at Salon.com. I am usually with him 90% of the time, so we know he is smart! Today I read his post and viewed the accompanying videos. It is nothing I don't already know about the situation in Iraq, but I found it more depressing than usual.
The reason we basically block out from our public discourse the effects our behavior has on innocent human beings -- the reason, for instance, we don't bother to count Iraqi victims and the reason we exempt our own behavior from any sort of scrutiny other than the most self-absorbed -- is because that's the only way that the propaganda can be sustained ("Freedom is on the March. We're Liberating Them. They're so Grateful. Winning Hearts and Minds"). Is there anyone who could make a list of all of the pros and cons from our invasion of Iraq and -- while including the hundreds of thousands of innocent dead human beings and the 4 million who are displaced -- argue that it was worth it? What kind of moral depravity would allow that argument to be made?

Read the whole thing.

When I was in the mental health field, I worked with some clients who were sex offenders as well as having a major mental illness. I received some training on treatment issues with individuals who are sexual predators and learned what seems so obvious. A major problem identified in research was that they had no ability to develop empathy with their victims. They can't put themselves in other peoples shoes; they can't see the havoc they do to other people. I believe, obviously, we as a country have the same problem.

For the sexual offenders, the most powerful tool is group therapy with others in various stages of "recovery". The offenders call each other on their bullshit and rationalizing and confront what they have done. Who is doing that for us as a country. We all don't go too deep, we don't demand an end to this because what we have done is just so amazingly horrible. And now, to have political candidates triangulating, avoiding this issue and using this war as a chest thumpin' , big balls swingin' test to show you aren't afraid of killin' is a sham and that they are considering bombing Iran, is criminally stupid.

A white American girl goes missing while on vacation in some tropical country or a girl falls in a well, we come unhinged and the need to do something. Spare no expense. But look at this photo and caption.

It is all so sad. I know those kids. I have played with them at the Boy&Girls Club, they play with my kid, they ARE my kid and I AM that parent that got shot. (I have shitty brakes in my car too.)

But I am also struck by the soldiers; one has his entire face covered, the other is down with the crying kids trying to not look so scary. I bet he has kids. He is comforting a kid and appears to have his hand on the kid's head. Moments before he might have been the guy who shot and killed the parents. You can almost see that he is disassociating from the whole deal, staring at the ground.
I don't know how you could go on. The VA's are going to be filled, the shelters are going to overflowing, the drug companies will make a killing on the prozac and valium, cigarette and alcohol companies are going to do really well numbing people out. We are going to be supporting those troops until they die, long after this crazy empire building is done. But how will we ever make it up to those children.
We gotta work on little empathy and someone make this stop.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

True and True

True and True. I wish Jimmy had lived.
(FYI: The wife never new or cared to know, that the blue text is a link to another web page. Try it .)

The Caucus Flier


I am trying to get a teleconference set up so Seldovia can link up with the District 35 Democratic Caucus on February 5th.

I will post some signs around town later. It should be interesting to go into the Bar after that. I can't wait. I know eventually someone is going to hit me.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Holiday Done

Ok the holidays are over, the kid is almost back to school and a small shift in the amount of light can be felt. I am set to resume my public discourse with myself.

1. Another Canadian Company is going to get a piece of the Alaska action. Mother Palin has deemed that TransCanada is the best company to put up a gas pipeline. Damned socialist with there health care and taxes. It makes the Canadian companies have to work that much harder I guess. The second best was a Chinese company. Communist, I am glad they lost.

2. I was reading this article over at TPM about the Bush administration’s EPA being so pro-corporate as to deny California the right to regulate car emissions. (This is the party of States Rights, right?) And then the Pope says people concerned with global warming are out of line. The ruling elite are pissed, the church is upset, the monied interests concerned. The stars are aligning, as the people most entrenched in the current paradigm are threatened. They are digging in their heels and pinching the profit from the cheap inefficient hydrocarbon fueled economy. Actually they are taking profits by the tanker load. (as an aside one full tanker coming out of Prince William Sound now has almost $100,000,000 worth of crude onboard.)

I recall reading that economies need a new focus, a new thing to produce to stimulate growth anywhere from every 7-14 years. This is the next big thing, efficiency and new energy. Alot of other economies are getting it. It is going to be bigger than oil as it will effect everyone and everything.

Currently the people who set policy and focus the energy of the government are old oil execs or in Alaska’s case, have had there families supported by employment in the industry. Not that one can’t eat at the trough and still be a critical consumer. You would hate to put your husband out of work and the truth is that everyone in Alaska is a dependent of Big Daddy Oil. Oedipus did what he had to do and it was painful too.

Credit to Palin for putting in some funding for renewable energy development in Alaska, but we should be going gang-buster on this. Thinking simplistically, we should tax the hell out of big oil with carbon taxes and use it to develop the next energy base. KISS.