Showing posts with label for the children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label for the children. Show all posts

Friday, January 17, 2014

You MUST Subscribe!...and Ultrarunning

Here is the cover of the Feb-Mar edition of National Wildlife.  It's obvious why you should MUST subscribe:

Lefty tree-hugger that I am, I belong to/subscribe to--among other things--to Sierra, Smithsonian, and National Wildlife Federation.  Of these, far and away, I enjoy the magazine of the National Wildlife Federation most.
I could try to enumerate the reasons, but just take one look again at the cover shot above: two fox pups just have to put a smile on your face.  And with membership, if I recall correctly, at only $15, you can't NOT sign up (and, no, I have no financial or otherwise interest in NWF, I'm just a happy member).
Plus--as if the fox photo were not enough--we have the always thoughtful editorial essay by NWF president and CEO Larry Schweiger.  This month it was "Standing at the Edge of the Known World."  Focused on the crisis of global climate change, and the total inaction by the United States of America, Schweiger says:
When did the simple concept of leaving the planet a better place for our kids become a partisan issue?

Climate change is far and away the greatest crisis facing the planet, and we do nothing but bicker, I guess because it's inconvenient to face the music and change our lifestyles. 
But in all things, from climate change to preventing gun violence (think Sandy Hook Elementary and a host of other places) we must simply think, aways, not for us.  No, not for us.
For. The. Children.
The link to Ultrarunning should be obvious.  If we treasure things wild and free and love our backcountry excursions, we owe it to our children to bequeath to them the same or better environment.  That should be a no-brainer, yet with today's "leaders" it seems too hard. 
Among the scientific community, man-made climate change is no longer a discussion point, it is settled fact.  The job now is to craft a robust enough response to solve the problem (although some scientists believe we are already beyond the tipping point of being unable to recover).  So instead of a full-court press--as though the fate of the planet hangs in the balance (it does)--we dither and delay.
For. The. Children.

Friday, January 3, 2014

THis is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

From the always insightful Digby, a chart that is at once fascinating...and profoundly depressing (click to enlarge).  This depicts the highest paid public employee in each state:

Her comment?

But we definitely have to cut back on elementary school teachers, bridges and firehouses. We just don't have the money.

Just to interpret a bit: in 40 of our 50 states, the highest paid public employee is a coach.  Not that I don't love me some sports, because I certainly do, but that sort of prioritization is screwed up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Wider Implications of Sandy Hook Elementary School

I blogged on Monday with some thoughts about the dead children in Connecticut.  Children.  I remain stunned and saddened, along with the nation.

Since then I ran across a couple other viewpoints that are definitely worth sharing.  This is a long post, and please forgive me for asking you to read it all.

From The Rude Pundit (on 17 Dec), who talks about cultural influences, including violent video games and movies:

And as far as cultural influences, I would say that a nation that sanctions capital punishment, use of extreme force by the police in many situations that don't call for it, and the murder of people overseas by drones is a nation that has stated, in a quite official way, that violence is the answer to one's problems. I would say that as far as unintended effects go, those things have done more damage to the American psyche than all the versions of Grand Theft Auto we could play.
The first descriptions of Lanza have talked about his mental illness, but they have also talked about the video games that he played. You could lock yourself in a room and get into Resident Evil 6 until your hands were bloody from pushing buttons. Let's say it warps your brain in some way that it wasn't warped before. It's not likely, but let's say it made you bloodthirsty for real, not zombie or creature, blood. If you don't have access to guns and large magazines, you are not going to do what Lanza did. It's that simple. No, really, it's that simple. Bottom line. Ask any cop, any member of the military, any responsible gun owner. Secure the weapons. Always secure the weapons.

Next up: A Boing Boing post (15 Dec) featuring Roger Ebert's thoughts in 2003 on the Columbine shootings:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about 'Basketball Diaries'?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?" The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.
And about the timing of trying to fix this problem for the future, for the children, we have Skippy (14 Dec):

the right will tell you that now is not the time to discuss gun regulations.
if 4 or 5 nuclear reactors melted down in the period of 3 months, killing dozens of people, would they say "now is not the time to discuss nuclear regulation"?
if a brand of automobiles began exploding for no reason, killing several families in a space of a few weeks, would they say "now is not the time to examine this brand of automobile"?
if 20 children died from tainted peanut butter, would they say "now is not the time to regulate peanut butter"?
now is the time.
And a personal fav of mine, Mike The Mad Biologist, whose cutting wit slices and dices before you know what hit you:

Someday, I will live in a country where birth control pills can be bought freely over the counter, and you will have to speak to a medical professional to buy ammunition for high-powered rifles. Imagine if you did need a prescription to buy ammo. You might have to answer a couple of questions about why you want 6,000 rounds. Perhaps the doctor might decide it’s in your best interest to discuss all options. If a doctor became a ‘bullet mill’, we could shut him down.  
Admittedly, you might run into a medical professional who refuses to let you buy bullets and demands a religious exemption. Could be a problem, but you can always just find another ammunition provider.
Make love, not homicide, baby.

Now on to Garry Wills (15 Dec) at the New York Review of Books, on our gun-worshiping culture:

Read again those lines, with recent images seared into our brains—“besmeared with blood” and “parents’ tears.” They give the real meaning of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School Friday morning. That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god. We guarantee that crazed man after crazed man will have a flood of killing power readily supplied him. We have to make that offering, out of devotion to our Moloch, our god. The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).
The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?
Last, to emphasize my long-held contention that our actions in the Middle East will have adverse international and generational influences, there's Whiskey Fire on the day of the killings (14 Dec), tying what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School to what we did in Iraq:

If you're a normal person or close to it, hearing about what happened in Connecticut is horrifying, even if you're nowhere near Connecticut and you don't know anyone involved personally. And if something like this does happen near you, even if you don't know anyone involved, that sense of horror is amplified. And the trauma of course is amplified catastrophically if you do know anyone affected, or involved. It's awfulness that never really goes away.

Whole generations of Iraqis are going to be incredibly messed up. I'd be surprised if there are any Iraqis unaffected by violent trauma. And the US went to war so... blithely, would be the best possible adverb to use right there.

I'm sure all of us will continue to be hugging our kids a lot more in the days to come, but we need to follow our hearts in the direction of informed action.  You know: For. The. Children.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When a "Cut" is Really an Increase

Credit to PBS, here.  The relevant segment is at 1:17 and is short.

Last week (5 Jan 2012) at the Pentagon, President Obama announced plans to restructure our defense spending.  I've been all over the usual news sources but somehow this quote, straight out of the mouth of the President, did NOT become front page news.

I found it via Corrente, who lead me thru Steve Clemons (who, by the way, thinks Obama should dredge up former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to oversee the cuts to the military), and ultimately to the PBS clip above.  Here's the transcript of the quote I want to highlight:

BARACK OBAMA: Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this. It will still grow. In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration. And I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand that we can keep our military strong and our nation secure with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined.

Let me repeat that quote, lest you missed it, with highlighting:

BARACK OBAMA: Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this. It will still grow. In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration. And I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand that we can keep our military strong and our nation secure with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined.

In a sane world, people all over the country would have been driven to torches and pitchforks, demanding his ouster.  You want to plus up the Pentagon and call it cutting?  And with a straight face applaud the fact that the U.S. spends more than the next 10 countries combined, and act like that's somehow a desirable statistic?  Seriously?  When children in this country are going to bed hungry?

According to CNN, here in the U.S. some 22% of U.S. children are in poverty according to the government's own statistics. 

More children in poverty: The poverty rate for children under age 18 increased to 22% in 2010, meaning more than 1 in 5 children in America are living in poverty.
The nation's poverty rate rose to 15.1% in 2010, its highest level since 1993. In 2009, 14.3% of people in America were living in poverty.

About 46.2 million people are now considered in poverty, 2.6 million more than last year.

The government defines the poverty line as income of $22,314 a year for a family of four and $11,139 for an individual. The Office of Management and Budget updates the poverty line each year to account for inflation.

For. The. Children.  I guess not.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Kind of Statue...and Ultrarunning

[Image credit, from Planet of the Apes]

I would gladly contribute to funding this effort.  From Dave Lindorff at The Smirking Chimp:

Wanted: Sculptor who works in bronze to construct life-sized group of statues of President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, all to be mounted at the high tide line below a high cliff in Maine's Acadia National Park.

There what's left of American posterity can watch as the seas rise inexorably over the coming years and decades, first lapping at the feet of the statues, then the knees, then the waists, then the chests and finally cover over the heads of these "leaders" in Washington who have cynically and foolishly squandered the last opportunity to take effective action to combat climate change.

Such a sculpture would give the lie to these climate deniers, as rise of the sea level due to warming of the ocean and to the melting of the polar caps and the mountain glaciers gradually swamps and submerges these images. It would also serve as a focal point for shaming those politicians who allowed short-term political and monetary gain to blind them to the need for true leadership and action in combating the gravest threat to humanity and to life on the planet since a comet blasted the earth 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs.

Have we forgotten what even animals know is the Prime Directive: For. The. Children? 

If it enhances their chances for survival, do it; if not, don't.

Oh, and the link to Ultrarunning?  Pretty obvious--no habitable planet, no trails.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

More Pacifism....

Via The Smirking Chimp, author David Swanson decries the current Defense Appropriation Bill under consideration as being all-war, all the time.  Can't say that I disagree. 

It's a bill to dump over $650 billion into wars and aggressive weaponry, continue the slaughter in Afghanistan, ramp up the creation and use of drones, and expand U.S. military bases around the globe.

Swanson then goes on to talk passionately about an alternative.

In the absence of an overall conversion-to-sanity-and-sustainability bill, there is a related bill that has been introduced in the current Congress: "The Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act of 2011" introduced by Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Here's the full text.  Simple and elegant, and exactly the type of action that in a sane world we need to do for our descendants.  Unfortunately, it is extremely doubtful that this will even generate much debate, much less passage. 

"(a) In General- The United States Government shall--
(1) by the date that is three years after the date of the enactment of this Act, provide leadership to negotiate a multilateral treaty or other international agreement that provides for--
(A) the dismantlement and elimination of all nuclear weapons in every country by not later than 2020; and
(B) strict and effective international control of such dismantlement and elimination;
(2) redirect resources that are being used for nuclear weapons programs to use--
(A) in converting all nuclear weapons industry employees, processes, plants, and programs smoothly to constructive, ecologically beneficial peacetime activities, including strict control of all fissile material and radioactive waste, during the period in which nuclear weapons must be dismantled and eliminated pursuant to the treaty or other international agreement described in paragraph (1); and
(B) in addressing human and infrastructure needs, including development and deployment of sustainable carbon-free and nuclear-free energy sources, health care, housing, education, agriculture, and environmental restoration, including long-term radioactive waste monitoring;
(3) undertake vigorous, good-faith efforts to eliminate war, armed conflict, and all military operations; and
(4) actively promote policies to induce all other countries to join in the commitments described in this subsection to create a more peaceful and secure world.
(b) Effective Date- Subsection (a)(2) shall take effect on the date on which the President certifies to Congress that all countries possessing nuclear weapons have--
(1) eliminated such weapons; or
(2) begun such elimination under established legal requirements comparable to those described in subsection (a)."


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Climate Change Denial "Progression"

Eric Martin gives us "...a clearer enunciation of the stages of evolution for climate change denialists," that goes something like this:

Stage 1.Climate change isn't real, temperatures aren't actually increasing, El Nino!, etc.

Stage 2. OK, the data can't be denied any longer, temperatures are in fact increasing, but it's not because of the activities of man or increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Stage 3. OK, OK, temperatures are increasing, and it is the result of man-made causes, but doing something to arrest the progress of climate change would simply be too expensive.

My prediction: When the likely catastrophic costs of inaction are fully revealed, we'll see some variation of the following:

Stage 4. We would have agreed to address global warming earlier, but the liberals and scientists were so smug, condescending, etc., and they failed to reach out and create an environment conducive to bipartisan cooperation. 

What I can't get my head around is that the stakes here are epic and final--what sane person would want to take the chance that we're well on the way towards passing the so-called tipping point, beyond which we cannot recover?  What sane person would do that to their children and grandchildren?

I guess it depends upon your definition of "sane."  Apparently its saner to take the short term view and not be inconvenienced now; after all, some technological wizardry will come along to bail the progeny out of this fix we've put them into.  Right?


Monday, June 6, 2011

REPOST: Who are the REAL Robber Barons?

While I am down after arm surgery and can't type, I am recycling some posts from a year ago.

This from 6 June 2010:
An interesting point from the folks at Corrente:
Per President Obama on 27 May 2010: “What’s also been made clear from this disaster is that for years the oil and gas industry has leveraged such power that they have effectively been allowed to regulate themselves.”

Well, the banksters have "leveraged such power that they have effectively been allowed to regulate themselves." Then they crashed the economy, squeezed the taxpayers for the largest transfer of wealth in world history, and the same people are still in charge, and the big banks are bigger than ever. That is a mighty FAIL, and just as mighty as Deepwater Horizon. So why the double standard?

Are Goldman and JP Morgan really all that different from BP? Why?

I mean, say what you like about the oil companies, but they actually deliver oil that people use, a tangible product. They didn't inflate a huge financial bubble based on phony paperwork and accounting control fraud, and then loot the wreckage when the bubble burst, either.

To answer the question posed by the title of this post, obviously both the Banksters and the Oil Companies are culpable for their respective disasters.

Oh, and I do know what the answer is to preventing these types of rape and pillage. Just follow this advice:

I can’t help but think that if we so-called “mature” people would ALWAYS guide our actions by the credo, “Is this good for the children?” then we’d all be much better off. Especially the children.


Friday, February 4, 2011

If I Were King of the Railroad....

(Note: this post was triggered by comments to a couple of my posts over the past week in which I was critical of President Obama.  Here I try for a better explanation of why I've been disappointed in President Obama, and if I were king of the railroad, the dreams that I think need to be dreamed.)

This time in our history calls for a strong person with vision to say “screw bipartisanship,” and do what’s right for the children who will inherit what we have created. Forget what opinions prevail in the Congress—the American people overwhelmingly want a habitable planet, meaningful jobs, secure and affordable health care.

Here’s the dream I would like to see:

--We’re putting on a full court press using the vast resources of the United States of America.

--We need to address the fact that we’re running out of oil and until we get off it completely we’ll be hostage to any nation that wants to shut off the tap. So we’re instituting an Apollo-like program to get off foreign oil by 2020 and completely off using oil as a fossil fuel by 2035.

--Man made climate change is an unimaginable threat--and we may already be beyond the tipping point--but we pussyfoot around with tinkering at the margins, and the Republican party is lockstep against even talking about it. As with oil, we have to go full court press on this one, investing in and building a team of the country's and the world's best scientists, to figure out what we need to do.  And build an international coalition with the clout to implement needed changes, which may be painful.

--On the people front, we’re instituting programs like FDR’s to put millions of people back to work (CCC, WPA, etc.) to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and put money in the hands of families.

--As for health care: the business model is completely wrong. It makes no sense that our basic well-being is in the hands of a for-profit industry whose providers have a vested bottom-line interest in denying claims and NOT paying. Health care is a fundamental human necessity that we will provide via a Medicare for all program (AKA single payer) to every American, regardless of wealth or station. The elimination of the no-value-added middleman will more than pay for universal coverage.

--America’s image in the world is in the toilet. Via our misguided war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, combined with our use of torture, targeted killings, and incursions into our domestic personal rights and freedoms, we have squandered our right to be called the good guys. We must repudiate these actions.

--We must fully exit Iraq promptly in accordance with our announced plans and not drag that out.  And no matter how long we stay in Afghanistan, it is not going to turn out well, so we are leaving now. The money we would have spent on war there we will instead use for schools, wells, hospitals, and roads, leaving the politics to the Afghans.

Even if these not all of these dreams succeed, at least in pressing forward we will have opened the dialog and perhaps moved the goalposts back towards the left. What passes for progressive policies in 2011 are pretty much what mainstream Republicans were calling for back in the Eisenhower administration.

I believe in American exceptionalism, that we can do what we put our minds to. And everything we do--everything--we must do with this thought in mind: For. The. Children. Is it good for them to inherit a planet that’s becoming uninhabitable, one in which they live in a ruined economy, with limited or unaffordable health care, and scorned by the rest of the world?

We can do better.  We must.


Monday, January 10, 2011

You Reap What You Sow

Political post today, as I can't get the targeted shooting of AZ Rep Gabrielle Giffords out of my mind.

You talk the talk, skirt on the edge of hate, and incite a climate of fear.  Then when the predictable result happens, you remain unapologetic, unremorseful, even arrogant as you distance yourself.

You reap what you sow.

For. The. Children. should be the guiding principal in all our lives.  Not this.  Previous post here.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

More on "Victims of a Terrible Swindle"

I wrote about this a month ago but it keeps reappearing my my thoughts, and I find more ways to think about Dr. O'Hare's essay.  From a California professor's letter to his students:
The bad news is that you have been the victims of a terrible swindle.

Swindle – what happened? Well, before you were born, Californians now dead or in nursing homes made a remarkable deal with the future. (Not from California? Keep reading, lots of this applies to you, with variations.) They agreed to invest money they could have spent on bigger houses, vacations, clothes, and cars into the world’s greatest educational system, and into building and operating water systems, roads, parks, and other public facilities, an infrastructure that was the envy of the world. They didn’t get everything right: too much highway and not enough public transportation. But they did a pretty good job.

Young people who enjoyed these ‘loans’ grew up smarter, healthier, and richer than they otherwise would have, and understood that they were supposed to “pay it forward” to future generations, for example by keeping the educational system staffed with lots of dedicated, well-trained teachers, in good buildings and in small classes, with college counselors and up-to-date books. California schools had physical education, art for everyone, music and theater, buildings that looked as though people cared about them, modern languages and ancient languages, advanced science courses with labs where the equipment worked, and more. They were the envy of the world, and they paid off better than Microsoft stock. Same with our parks, coastal zone protection, and social services.

This deal held until about thirty years ago, when for a variety of reasons, California voters realized that while they had done very well from the existing contract, they could do even better by walking away from their obligations and spending what they had inherited on themselves.

Read the whole thing. This is right up my For. The. Children. theme that is never far from my thoughts. 

Oh, and we CAN afford it.  We just choose not to:

The budget deficit that’s paralyzing Sacramento is about $500 per person; add another $500 to get back to a public sector we don’t have to be ashamed of, and our average income is almost forty times that. Of course we can afford a government that actually works: the fact is that your parents have simply chosen not to have it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wall Street's Favorite Politicians


From Zach Carter at Campaign for America's Future:

A full 90 members of Congress who voted to bailout Wall Street in 2008 failed to support financial reform reining in the banks that drove our economy off a cliff. But when you examine campaign contribution data, it's really no surprise that these particular lawmakers voted to mortgage our economic future to Big Finance: This election cycle, they've raked in over $48.8 million from the financial establishment. Over the course of their Congressional careers, the figure swells to a massive $176.9 million.

When you're trying to decide which bums to throw out in November, here's one place to start. These members of Congress are okay with setting up economic calamities, and they don't mind paying for them with your tax dollars.

Zach has the list of 90 at the link.  Again, I go back to the theme of For.The. Children.  Are our leaders acting responsibly, with the best interests of future generations?  As I posted here,

I can’t help but think that if we so-called “mature” people would ALWAYS guide our actions by the credo, “Is this good for the children?” then we’d all be much better off. Especially the children.

In the case of the Pope and high ranking Vatican officials, naturally we first must observe that the actual abuse of a child, of course, is wrong. But then when they put protecting the welfare of the Catholic Church as an institution above that of protecting the welfare of defenseless children, they committed an unconscionable, unforgiveable act. When Tiger Woods chose to dally with women outside of his marriage, he deliberately chose to place his desires above the welfare of his children. Again, unconscionable.

Our children are a gift, and as children do not have the ability to defend themselves. That’s up to the responsible adults.

These politicians are protecting their Wall Street-Washington institution, much like the Vatican circled its wagons.  Self-preservation is a powerful force.

But it goes out the window when you choose to preserve the well-being of children.  For. The. Children....remember and act upon it.


Monday, September 13, 2010

You Have Been The Victims Of A Terrible Swindle

Jacob Davies at the blog, Obsidian Wings, quotes Berkeley professor Michael O'Hare, providing priceless thoughts about how this generation is getting swindled.

This deal held until about thirty years ago, when for a variety of reasons, California voters realized that while they had done very well from the existing contract, they could do even better by walking away from their obligations and spending what they had inherited on themselves. “My kids are finished with school; why should I pay taxes for someone else’s? Posterity never did anything for me!” An army of fake ‘leaders’ sprang up to pull the moral and fiscal wool over their eyes, and again and again, your parents and their parents lashed out at government (as though there were something else that could replace it) with tax limits, term limits, safe districts, throw-away-the-key imprisonment no matter the cost, smoke-and-mirrors budgeting, and a rule never to use the words taxes and services in the same paragraph.

Now, your infrastructure is falling to pieces under your feet, and as citizens you are responsible for crudities like closing parks, and inhumanities like closing battered women’s shelters. It’s outrageous, inexcusable....Of course we can afford a government that actually works: the fact is that your parents have simply chosen not to have it.

PLEASE go read the whole thing.

Again, since there is no such thing as a horse too dead to beat, I must return to my theme of For. The. Children.  If we really took their well-being to heart, rather than merely paying lip service to that concept when it's convenient to do so, this situation would never have occurred.

See my For. The. Children posts here, here, here, here, and here.  Do you catch my drift?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In Case You Thought We Were leaving Iraq Anytime Soon

From Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast on 21 August:

We are still an occupying force in that country, and billions of dollars that could be paying for Social Security, Medicare, health care, teachers, and infrastructure are still going into the pockets of companies like Blackwater and Halliburton.

Endless war. Endless unaccountable money being funneled into these wars. Blank checks for Blackwater, cat food for America's elderly and failing schools for America's children and no jobs for Americas working-age citizens.

Does it really matter anymore who we elect, when one party loves endless war and the other one is so terrified of being labeled weak that they enthusiastically go along? Does it really matter who we elect when BOTH parties are just champing at the bit to make sure people work busing tables at Fuddruckers until they drop dead because they've been pushed out of their living wage jobs? Does it really matter anymore? Or do we just sit and watch it all fall apart?

Jill goes on to quote David Sirota’s piece in the Huffington Post:

As the Associated Press reports, there was lots of happy talk about the end of combat in Iraq this week throughout the national media, as various media outlets stumbled all over themselves in a desperate (and rather blatant) attempt to pitch the news as a reprise of the famous Vietnam withdrawal imagery. The problem, of course, is that there are still tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq -- and, according to the New York Times, the Obama administration is "planning to more than double its private security guards" there (Blackwater anyone?).

That's the story cable news doesn't want you knowing, because it gets in the way of reporters efforts to pretend to be documenting some sort of iconic military history -- when, at least at this moment, it looks like they may be promoting a new version of George W. Bush's infamously misleading Mission Accomplished/"end of major combat operations" declaration back in 2003 -- a typical form of spin that simultaneously reassures a war-weary public and obscures a permanent-war reality.

But for any media outlet to pretend that a change in official policy and rhetoric is akin to the end of the war is arguably as misleading as the "March to War" coverage that led us into this conflict in the first place. And I say that because of what the military itself is telling us not in the glamorous high-spotlight national media, but right here at home where troops and their families live.

Notice today's dispatch from the Colorado Springs Gazette, which has been all but ignored by the national media:

In a matter of days, the seven-year-old Iraq war will officially have a new name: Operation New Dawn. At Fort Carson, however, the new day brings few changes.

In a news conference on post Thursday, representatives of the 4th Infantry Division discussed the future of Fort Carson's infantry soldiers, saying that current and scheduled deployments will resume as planned.

"Our mission has not changed," Maj. Joe Bethel of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team said.

Remember the simple phrase that should be guiding every action that any of us take: For. The. Children. Has this misbegotten military adventure made us or our children safer?


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ocean Warfare Exercises..vs For The Children

Now this, from the 5 Aug 2010 USA Today,  is alarming.  As a career DOD employee I know better than most the need for military readiness....within reason.

But in this case, analogous to the classic guns vs. butter argument, I come down wholeheartedly on the side of the critters.

The Navy plans to increase ocean warfare exercises, conduct more sonar tests and expand coastal training areas by hundreds of square miles - activities that could injure hundreds of thousands of marine mammals or disturb their habitats, federal records show.

Training areas already are established along most of the continental U.S. coastline, so the Navy is seeking federal permits to broaden an existing range off the Pacific Northwest and dramatically expand exercises and sonar use in the Gulf of Alaska.

The Navy estimates in federal permit applications that its activity in those areas will impact about half a million sea mammals each year, including seals, sea lions and whales, some of which are endangered.

The effects range from brief interruptions in normal feedings to significant injury and, in very rare instances, death.

However, the Navy's plans have ignited a debate with environmental groups that say the service underestimates the long-term impact of its activities and fails to restrict training sufficiently in marine sanctuaries and other areas where it is likely to affect sensitive species. The plans to expand training off the Pacific Northwest, where the service's exercise areas reach into the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, have drawn about 3,500 public comments, most in opposition.

Trading off safety and security for a few marine mammals?  Many would think that's a good trade, but I don't.  We need biodiversity and healthy ecosystems more than we can possibly imagine.

Just think, For. The. Children.  If that's our credo, we will always do the right thing.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

For the Children

This past Easter weekend was magnificent, weather wise—the temperature was at near-record highs, the sky was blue, life was good. We had a large family gathering at our home on Saturday, some 18 people, ranging in age from my father-in-law, at age 82 probably one of the youngest WWII vets (he saw service in 1945 as a 17 year old) to granddaughter Miss Sophia, who arrived a month ago. Mister Tristan was the next youngest, at just over 2 years of age.

This family, as do all families, has had its share of grief, of sadness, of tragedy….and joy, happiness, and contentment. This weekend’s gathering was happy and tranquil, and to a large extent all about the children--the Easter baskets full of treats nestled in their (fake) grass, the colored eggs, the egg hunt, the bean bag toss in the back yard….

When I think, say, of the recent issues of the sexual abuse and cover-up scandal rocking the Catholic Church, or Tiger Woods’ recent difficulties as he re-enters tournament play, I can’t help but think that if we so-called “mature” people would ALWAYS guide our actions by the credo, “Is this good for the children?” then we’d all be much better off. Especially the children.

In the case of the Pope and high ranking Vatican officials, naturally we first must observe that the actual abuse of a child, of course, is wrong. But then when they put protecting the welfare of the Catholic Church as an institution above that of protecting the welfare of defenseless children, they committed an unconscionable, unforgiveable act. When Tiger Woods chose to dally with women outside of his marriage, he deliberately chose to place his desires above the welfare of his children. Again, unconscionable.

Our children are a gift, and as children do not have the ability to defend themselves. That’s up to the responsible adults.

For the children….remember and act upon it.

To connect this to UltraRunning (and of course this’ll be a stretch!), I strive mightily to not have my ultra pursuits negatively affect my wife and family. But the fact remains that when I’m away doing ultra things I am torn between the need to be home versus the need to keep myself sane and healthy via running. Balance in all things, but whenever in doubt, the default setting must be to always choose in favor of the children.

(Photo credit here.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

We Have to Do Better

I wonder what the future holds for the Mister Tristans of the world when they reach military age?  We can do better, we have to do better. 

This from Jon Rainwater in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

In the time it takes to read this piece, the troop escalation in Afghanistan will have cost $171,000. This week, President Obama is asking Congress for an additional $33 billion to fund the misguided surge. For the sake of his domestic agenda and our national security, we need an alternative approach in Afghanistan, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should lead the charge.

Conventional wisdom tells us that Americans will not put a price on their security. However, after eight years of dismal results, many Americans struggling to get by are justifiably questioning the expense. After all, how do 100,000 troops in Afghanistan protect us from a Yemeni-trained and Nigerian-born man from London attempting to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit?

I have spoken with many on Capitol Hill who seem paralyzed by the Afghanistan dilemma. Democrats are loath to contradict a president from their own party. To their credit, some members of Congress, including Speaker Pelosi, have indicated discomfort with an intensifying military strategy. But Congress must not waste years and untold lives as it did under the Bush administration. It needs to stand up now to make the case for a comprehensive diplomacy and development-oriented alternative to a status quo that is squandering lives and undermining our security.

We are stuck in a cycle of violence with no end in sight, even with the troop escalation.  Many military experts believe that more troops on the ground will not create more security but rather simply provide more targets.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Gas Masks for Children

Note: link fixed 18 Jan--Gary

What have we done to our planet that such a thing seems normal and rational, the right thing to do?  Truth be told, the gas masks are but a band-aid over the underlying problem of resorting to violence as a means of problem-solving.  "Violence is the last resort of the incompetent."
Gas masks for children:  There’s good news for the children of Israel. Every one of them will soon be getting candy, for free, from their government. Are the Israelis returning to the socialist spirit of their founding fathers? Not quite.

“Candy” is the name of a new kind of gas mask, designed especially for children. “We are the only country in the world that produces gas masks for children,” the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) website boasts. The masks even come with “a connecter to a pacifier and a bottle, especially appropriate for infants.”