Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why the bailout failure was not a failure

I know some things about certain subjects. I don't know diddlysquat about economics.

Paulson and Bush the "W" and other wealthy people want me to be scared. Very scared. A taxpayer scared enough to fork over $700 Billion (with free refills!) to bail out faltering banks and other firms saddled with bad assets due to their greedy overreach. Screw that.

They tell me that if this doesn't happen that we're all going to go down. Hard.


They say if I don't, that no one will be able to get credit. I think maybe we owe enough already.

They say if I don't, that the economy will depress. But did the concept of economic expansion and unlimited growth ever really make sense? We're living on Spaceship Earth, Folks. What happens when "unlimited" expansion depletes the resources we've got here? There's only so much. Maybe it is time to slow down.

Bush said the nation is facing "the real prospect of economic hardship." I say, "Bring it on."

I don't care if my retirement account goes to zero. I don't care if I have to eat thin soup for the rest of my life. I don't care. I will not approve giving those greedy bastards one penny.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yea! Awards!

I'm not going to kid you, I love blog awards.

A very deserving progressive patriot, Fran of Ramblings, awarded this to me. Fran's blog is top-notch, so I'm in heaven. Fran moves me to action: one post recently triggered my register-the-homeless-to-vote initiative. Her photo illustrations are wickedly good. Fran also posts regularly on The Siren's Chronicles. Thank you very much, Fran!

I don't read neo-con wing-nut blogs; every blog I visit belongs to a progressive patriot. Here are five award winners I read faithfully:

1. Robert Rouse at Left of Centrist. If we all were as committed and dedicated to patriotism as Robert, we'd take this country back. (Of course it would also help if we were all as talented and creative as he is, too.)

2. Mardé at SeevsPlace. He is a true patriot and political commentator I've gotten to know recently.

3. Illiterate Electorate. This joint effort brings political blogging to the attention deficit generation. I really appreciate what they do. (Maybe I'm AD/HD?)

4. Social Seppuku. This joint effort moves toward the anarchist-patriot arena. It's radical. It makes me uncomfortable sometimes. That's a good thing.

5. L'ennui mélodieux. Randal Graves is amazing. Go. See. Now. Prepare to be impressed. He's not pictured on the Border Explorer masthead above Obama for nothing, ya know.

Another blogger I respect so much, Ruth of Ruth's Visions and Revisions, chose me for this one. Coming from Ruth, I am honored. She is a wonderful blogger with many well-deserved readers who become her friends. Her great writing (she's a pro) and thoughtful content, illustrated with her own photography keep us coming back and back. Thank you very much, Ruth!

And now--how wonderful it is to say "I love your blog" to these people:

1. Dusty at It's My Right to be Left of Center. Even my husband, the anti-blogger, knows Dusty. That's how much I talk about her blog. If everyone cared like she does, the world would be a very different place. A much better one.

2. Diane of Faith in Community. At the moment Diane is on a blog-hiatus. I so appreciate her vision and insight. She has been a positive influence on me. I feel lucky to know her.

3. Ingrid of Blogger Round Table. Ingrid's global background, now grounded in Texas, lends her blog a rich perspective. Her posts are sometimes personal, sometimes challenging but always well-written.

4. Susan of Phantsythat--what a remarkable talent rolled up into a wonderful person. She also posts on Politits. I wonder how she gets it all done, and everything she does is wonderful.

5. Fran of FranIAm. We all know she's a great writer and an in-depth person...grounded with an unfailing sense of humor. Besides the fact that I love her blog, I also love that I've met so many great bloggers through her.

I wish I could give an award to every one of the people who populate my virtual life here on Border Explorer. That sounds trite, unfortunately, because I am so grateful--always grateful--to you who visit here and share your thoughts and comments.

Thank you once again, Fran and Ruth!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Meanwhile, what's happening back in Postville IA?

photo caption: Protesters flocked to a pro-immigrant rally in Postville, IA in July 2008.

Regular readers here joined the national outrage over the immigration raid conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in tiny Postville, IA May 2008. Nearly 400 undocumented immigrant workers at Agriprocessors, a kosher meat packing plant, were arrested on criminal--not immigration--charges in what was until that point the largest ICE raid in U.S. history. What has happened since we last visited Postville (a month ago or so)?

* Its claim to fame as site of the largest-ever raid melted like an ice cone at the state fair. In late August U.S. immigration cops nabbed 595 workers in Laurel, MS. Iowa apparently was a training camp for even bigger projects on ICE's to-do list.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, filed a federal complaint against Agriprocessors saying it violated the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act (as caught on plant videotape.)

* In early September
the Iowa attorney general on Tuesday brought an array of criminal charges for child labor violations against the owners and top managers of a meatpacking plant--over 9,000 charges! Human rights activists across the nation exalted.

Further, two Agriprocessors Inc. human resources employees named in state charges were arrested and charged additionally with document fraud and identity theft. In reaction, the Orthodox Union threatened to withdraw its kosher certification of the company within two weeks unless new management was hired.

* On the national scene, US Roman Catholic bishops in a formal statement condemned immigration raids on US workplaces, alleging they break up families and disrupt communities, without addressing the country's flawed immigration system.

* By 9/11 Agriprocessors recruited Pacific islanders from Palau to work at the meatpacking plant, in an effort to replace over half of the workforce lost in the raid. Meanwhile, the Postville police force hired additional help to fight the increase in crime since the raid. The Chief of Police speculated it may take years for the situation to normalize.

* Post-raid Postville looks like "an open-air prison" in which "good, decent" women and children without means of support but with "leg monitoring bracelets" rely on the community for survival. Local Catholic priest asks: "What kind of a government makes prisoners of 43 mothers who all have children and then says, 'You can't work, you can't leave and can't stay?' That boggles the imagination." The family breadwinners, meanwhile, are in "nine different prisons around the state," leaving the Postville community to support their families.

* By mid-September, a newly installed CEO promised that Agriprocessors would make fundamental changes.

* Questions arose on substandard housing in Postville since the raid. City officials are considering the unusual move of regulating rental properties in a small town. [Click the link for photos...if you're braced. Small town values, anyone?]

* This week the two human resources workers at Agriprocessors pleaded not guilty to federal charges they face on document fraud, identity theft and harboring undocumented aliens. Thus, a trial comes one step closer.

The soap opera which is Postville, IA continues to weave its tale of broken dreams, unscrupulous exploitation, and lives spinning out of control. Merely a month brings switchbacks and heartaches with a plot careening and lurching into a broken future.

Have mercy, indeed. Have mercy on them. Have mercy on us. We will continue to monitor the situation in Postville. How can we not?

Huge h/t to Letters and Papers from Postville for documenting events as they unfold.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Jackson Browne--Going to Cuba...without McCain!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jackson Browne Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Jackson Browne appeared on the The Colbert Report this week since he's suing McCain's campaign for using music with neither permission nor license. Jackson was unabashedy liberal. To our B.E. delight, he closed off the show performing this song about visiting Cuba. Jackson makes some clever political points the musical way. Chill out with him for a few minutes...with or without a mojito! With our economic instability, perhaps communism is starting to look better.

Lyrics: HERE
Here's a shout out to the Cuban friends we met in 1998 on the Pastors for Peace caravan to Cuba. [I blogged about it last summer. If you're new here & interested, hit the label thread for "Cuba Caravan."] This photo says "Cuba" to me. It shows the diversity of Cuban peoples living together peacefully on their nation island.
If only our Lifeboat Earth could be as united in diversity!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Checking in on our New Millenium Resolutions

Not sure if you knew that in September 2000 189 governments (including the USA) gathered at the United Nations to write The Millennium Development Goals (MDG). The MDG outline steps to create a more just world by 2015.

TODAY on September 25, the United Nations hosts a High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during the General Assembly. We're now at the midway point to the 2015 deadline set to achieve the MDG. High food and fuel prices and the global economic slowdown threaten progress on the goals now. Will the MDG go the route of my New Year's resolutions? [Did I even make a New Year's resolution?]

The Millennium Development Goals intend by the year 2015 to:

  1. ERADICATE EXTREME HUNGER AND POVERTY by cutting in half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Update: 1.2 billion people still live on less than $1 a day. But 43 countries, with more than 60 per cent of the world’s people, have already met or are on track to meet the goal of cutting hunger in half by 2015.

  2. ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION by ensuring all boys and girls complete primary education. Update: 113 million children do not attend school, but this goal is within reach; India, for example, should have 95 per cent of its children in school by 2005.

  3. PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER WOMEN by eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education. Update: Two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are women, and 80 per cent of its refugees are women and children. Since the 1997 Micro Credit Summit, there is progress in reaching and empowering poor women.

  4. REDUCE CHILD MORTALITY by two-thirds for children under five. Update: 11 million young children die every year. That number is down from 15 million in 1980.

  5. IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH by reducing the rate of maternal mortality by three-quarters. In the developing world, the risk of dying in childbirth is one in 48. But virtually all countries now have safe motherhood programs. Will there be progress?

  6. COMBAT HIV/AIDS, MALARIA AND OTHER DISEASES by halting, and beginning to reverse, the spread of these diseases. Update: Killer diseases have erased a generation of development gains. Countries like Brazil, Senegal, Thailand and Uganda have shown that we can stop HIV in its tracks.

  7. ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY by reducing by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, reversing the loss of environmental resources, and improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers (by 2020). Update: More than one billion people still lack access to safe drinking water; however, during the 1990s, nearly one billion people gained access to safe water and as many to sanitation.

  8. DEVELOP A GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT. Too many developing countries are spending more on debt service than on social services.

There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth.
Everybody’s crew.

Marshall McCluhan

A global chorus of voices is calling to make poverty history. We have the resources, we have the knowledge, but do we have the will?
What would it take to make them a reality?

photo caption: Bolivian friends, among the world's poorest people, pose with me--their (nerdly!) North American visitor--on their patio.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How much is a billion dollars?

I guess we were too busy working two full time minimum wage jobs in order to pay rent on our one bedroom apartments to notice how this was adding up!

Meanwhile, hope you received your copy of this:

Dear American:
I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.
I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.
This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond
with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.
Yours Faithfully,
Minister of Trea
sury Paulson

Henry Merritt “Hank” Paulson Jr. is the United States Treasury Secretary and member of the International Monetary Fund Board of Governors. He previously served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.
Finally: Web protestors seek posters who want to sell their bad investments for cold, hard cash at buymyshitpile.com. Here's one good item to divest of.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Everything for Wall Street, Nothing for Main Street

With difficulty, I've wrapped my non-analytical mind around this financial crisis.

It didn't require a PhD in economics to see the nation rushing headlong to ruin.
An expensive preemptive war,
a massive defense budget that does not even cover the war cost,
deficit spending,
trade deficits,
slumping dollar...well, these things don't skid along forever.

The bubble has burst. And Congress will finalize this week the largest government intervention in financial markets since the Great Depression. The Bush Administration is asking for $700 billion to bail out Wall Street by buying up the mountains of bad debt they accumulated when the housing market was overvalued.

Outrageously, the Administration includes nothing for struggling homeowners,
no protections for taxpayers or sharing of future profits and no regulatory
control over the institutions that created the mess.

They want to privatize the profits, and socialize the losses!

And, what is perhaps the most galling display of greed and corruption, while the Administration plans to stick each American taxpayer with a $2000 bill, the CEO's who crafted the schemes that led to this disaster get to keep their multi-million dollar salaries and exit on golden parachutes.

My Monday food pantry co-worker is a rabid Republican. We can't discuss politics. His mind is closed. And he rants pro-Bush! But, yesterday he was livid. Republican-schmublican--he knows the difference between what's responsible and what is outrageous. He is seriously ticked!

As for me, I'm not about to get railroaded into another Patriot Act:

"Hurry up! We need this NOW! Don't read it...just pass it. No recourse. No supervision of these powers passing to an appointed official. This is necessary for AMERICA. God bless America!"

A grassroots group I've come to trust, Working Families Win, suggests we insist on:
  • a moratorium on all foreclosure proceedings
  • protection for homeowners equivalent to the assistance given the lenders
  • a cap on CEO pay for the institutions taking the bail out
  • strict regulation of the commercial and investment banking industry and a public share of their profits
  • the breakup of institutions deemed 'too big to fail' who participate in the bail out
Some senators and representatives are beginning to push back, but Congress must hear support from Main Street to get these provisions included.

Call 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Members' office.

Yeah, it might not work. But I'm going down swinging. How about you?

Monday, September 22, 2008

September 21: Equinox (and a guest blogger)

Five years ago, the fall equinox--September 21--became for me a special day of the year.

Since we retired, Mr. B.E. is writing some of his favorite life memories. He let me share this selection (from a chapter of his hitch-hiking stories) with you:

In 2003 we spent a semester in Merida on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula as visiting professor/s of Central College’s (Pella, IA) experiential learning program. Billie and I had both received leaves of absence from our teaching jobs to join them. We had no car, but we were bound and determined (Billie more than I) to witness the twice annual celebration of the equinox.

In historic Dzibilchaltun archaeologists discovered the amazing celestial sophistication of the sun-calendar of Mexico’s indigenous. The Mayans constructed a remarkable ceremonial building. Only on the days of equinox (Sept. 21 and March 21) did the sun come up at the precise angle that allowed it to shine fully through its two narrow doorways. [Similarly there were windows, diagonals from one another, designed so that the same thing happened at the bi-annual solstices!]

We caught the earliest bus north out of Merida on Sept. 21 hoping to witness the event. That bus left us off four miles from our destination, however, and the time factor made it seem unlikely that we could hoof it there on time. After a mile or two, our chances dimmed even more as the sky began to lighten with the approaching dawn. Then a car came barreling down the narrow road in the dark and slammed on its brakes.

“Do you need a lift?”

Yes! We both squeezed into the back seat of the vehicle already carrying four hippie-type European youths who were on the same mission. We arrived at the site just in time for me to take a photo of Billie framed by the rising sun shining through the structure’s doorways behind her. It’s one of her all-time favorite photos.

Later, on the walk back to the highway where the bus left us off, the Yucatan state patrol (who normally appear quite officious and stern) offered us a ride; they even pointed the best spot to stand in order to wave down the bus from Progresso on its return to Merida from the Gulf beach. They seemed quietly appreciative of our interest in their heritage.

We don't know what this fall will bring. May it be a good one. I hope that a dream you risk to achieve will come true for you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bolivia...a love affair...and a promise.

My love affair with Bolivia started a long time ago. Fascination began in high school. It turned to love in college. When we retired from paid work, Mr. B.E & I chose Bolivia for Our Big Retirement Trip. It was my dream-come-true: two months exploring the back roads of the nation.

I began blogging in Bolivia. I didn’t have a digital camera yet. It seems like ages ago, and it seems like just last year—although it was neither: it was 2006. I watched Evo Morales’ inauguration on television, silently cheering the first-ever Bolivian indigenous president. After the ceremony, I watched as he politely refused to return the top military generals’ salutes, offering instead his handshake.

The trip was worth waiting all my life for. I learned lessons I still draw from. The people of Bolivia hugged us close and only released us with tears of mutual love. Bolivia was pivotal in helping us choose the retirement lifestyle we now live.

This week, Bolivia went up in flames—with the dark hand of our government fueling those fires. Newsweek magazine titled it: Bolivia—Revolt of the Rich.

The back roads we traveled are blockaded. The market we shopped is on fire. The people we lived with go without. The Peace Corp is permanently withdrawn (a typical U.S. punishment). At least 30 campesinos are massacred, many with bullet holes in their backs.

A friend in southern Bolivia sent this report from Tarija last week. I like first-hand reports:

Yesterday was rough here in Tarija with a painful confrontation at the campesino market that lasted 11 hours. My friend’s sister, a market vendor, is unable to get to her stand; her perishables are ruined … Food prices have sky rocketed since the rise in oil prices. Every social class is in crisis, especially the poor who feel most keenly the disruptions and violence.

Since ENTEL has been taken over, there is no telephone system. I waited two hours in the bank line yesterday to cash a check only to discover that without a communication system, they could not accept it. Fortunately I don't need the funds immediately.

Lacking diesel, gasoline and propane gas, there is little transportation. Last night…we found the church locked with a tire burning on the street in front. Just as we turned to head back to the house, the police dispelled tear gas. I grabbed my friend´s 3 year old grandniece in my arms and ran to escape. Meanwhile, her niece ran for shelter with a one month old baby in her arms. Fortunately a taxi rescued us.

Stores and businesses are open only a few hours a day. We are so keenly aware of our need for God's help to restore peace to our beloved Bolivia.

The best source for breaking news in Bolivia is The Democracy Center. Yesterday's update is here.

Bolivia, I'm sorry my government is helping provoke this debacle. I promise I'll be watching. I will advocate for you up here, in the heart of the Empire.

photo #1 caption: The church at La Mamora, a tiny village in Southern Bolivia which once housed a Peace Corp volunteer. Bolivia now has no Peace Corps volunteers.
photos #2 & #3 source: The Democracy Center

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Take on the Campaign for President: Meme

At the prompting of Diva Jood who was tagged by Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein for a political meme started up by Jewish Princess, Katie Schwartz., I tackle questions I wish every U.S. voter would address:

1) What is your name (nickname, whatever you're comfortable sharing), your age (range), gender, occupation, income bracket (range), how you identify (gay/straight/whatever)? Married/Single/Divorced? Kids (how many)?
Blogger name: Border Explorer

Age: 58; Female; retired, now a volunteer/activist;

currently living on husband’s social security, he was a teacher all his life—go figure;

straight/married; childless by choice; 2 stepsons, 4 grandchildren.

2) What are the most important issues to you in this presidential election and why?
--war in Iraq, peace issues, U.S. foreign relations

--domestic economy

--international trade issues

--comprehensive immigration reform [To be discussed when the lipstick/pig issue is settled. Correct?]

--eroding Constitutional rights

--environmental issues, energy issues

--universal health care and equality in education opportunity

3) Why do you think voters should vote for Obama/Biden, what differentiates this ticket from McCain/Palin?

The difference is day/night. I don’t remember a presidential choice quite as stark as this one. In years past, I’ve thought the two parties were TweedleDum and TweedleDee—indistinguishable; I’ve voted for third party candidates. Wrong! Not this time. It is critical that Democrats win this election. See #6 below for details.

Obama/Biden represents intelligence, education, and experience. If Obama’s legislative experience is limited, his public service career far outweighs Palin’s. Given McCain’s advanced age and his health concerns, we must seriously entertain the likelihood of a President Palin should the Republican ticket win.

The McCain/Palin ticket represents unbridled ambition and a continuation of policies that have brought our country to the brink of failure.

Media coverage of--and public response to--the campaign, highlight racism (and the ever-present element of white privilege) in this nation. I'm not playing a race card here. I'm calling it as I see it.

4) If McCain/Palin wins this election, where do you see our country going in the next four years?

Our country will get further mired in foreign conflicts and troubled international relationships if the Republicans win. I have feared our ability to survive through this current Bush term. We will never outlast another term of Republican control of the executive branch.

5) Economically, where do you think this country is today and how do you think Obama/Biden can make a positive impact?

Our economy is bottoming out. Irresponsible spending has bankrupted us. The economy is a house of cards ready to tumble at any time. No magic can prop up the assumptions that have brought us here. We need a responsible approach. Deficit spending is intolerable. The defense budget, which represents the majority of our annual budget, incredibly does not include spending for the current wars! How can this be?

The wealthy must contribute their share to support the poor. It may be too late to recover; we'll see. But we simply can’t continue in the patterns that have brought us to where we are today. McCain/Palin will continue the destructive patterns. Obama/Biden are our only hope at real change.

6) In the past 8-years, how do you think this country has changed under the Bush regime? Have you been affected by these changes? If so, in what ways?

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I reprint from The Quaker Agitator’s passionate, truthful political meme:

You mean, besides stealing one election outright and probably a second, thereby coming to power illegally? Besides starting two foreign wars which have killed thousands of American troops and untold numbers of Iraqi and Aghan civilians, and which have maimed untold tens of thousands more? Besides draining hundreds of billions of dollars out of our economy to fund those wars and enrich war profiteers and mercenaries? Besides destroying whatever reputation and good-standing our country had in the community of nations? Besides making torture not only legal but policy? Besides legalizing kidnapping aka “extraordinary renditions”? Besides gutting the Constitution and pissing on the Bill of Rights? Besides packing the Supreme Court with conservative activists who have no respect for the Constitution they were sworn in to protect and defend? Besides encouraging the actions of the Religious Right and Dominionist “Christians” to once again attempt to take over school boards and other local and state governments so they can further erode the wall of separation between church and state? Besides giving my chosen faith - Christianity - such a serious black eye that many folks now view self-described Christians- all of us - with nothing but suspicion and contempt? Besides neglecting the nation’s infrastructure to the point where it has cost us American lives? Besides mismanaging federal disaster relief - even now, after Katrina’s lessons - to the point of what can only be called criminal negligence? Besides destroying the credibility of federal agencies by ignoring sound science and replacing that with corporate interests and/or fundamentalist dogma? Besides helping to destroy the nation’s public education system by placing so much emphasis on bogus standardized test scores that REAL EDUCATION has been left for dead by the side of the road?

7) I have read that Palin is considered the new voice of feminism, which is offensive in my opinion. Of equal concern are her views on abortion and the removal of books from libraries. I'd like to know what you think about all of that and how you feel about McCain choosing Palin as a running mate. And what kind of message you think that sends to women?
The choice of Palin was patent pandering to the Republican Party’s right wing. McCain gained much-needed excitement: a media and public opinion frenzy.

Palin is no feminist. She is patriarchy in a skirt.
I'd love to hear what Maria, Mnmom, Missy, Ruth, and Maggie would say on these questions. Play or pass, as desired.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Constitution and The Environment

Fragile, remarkable ecosystems are under assault due to the Real ID Act of 2005 and its negligent regard of Constitutional protections. Section 102 of the Act empowers Michael Chertoff, an appointed governmental official, the Secretary of Homeland Security, to waive legislation lawfully enacted by our elected officials in order to quickly build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. He took full advantage of that provision in April, waiving 33 laws in one fell swoop.

The wall bars wildlife from vital water sources and disturbs their environments. It bisects a rich corridor of our nation, clearing vegetation. Motor vehicles will tear through previously protected lands--both on and off roads. The wall circumnavigates decades of environmental law painstakingly established since the 1960's.

This five minute clip shows a variety of wildlife in clear distress before a wall that plows through their natural habitat:

The Real ID Act of 2005 and similar subsequent laws bypass our Constitution and put all of us at risk. Even the animals. We need to repeat it. Or there will be certain trouble in our near future.

The Sierra Club offer a solution. Learn here how to take action to protect our habitat.

The full 20 minute video, Wild Versus Wall, is available for purchase for $20 through the Sierra Club of Arizona.

Cross posted on Uncommon Sense.

Monday, September 15, 2008


The ever-brilliant Diva Jood gave me this Brillante Weblog award, for which I now must vote for her for Prezelnut of the Ewe-nighted States. But that's OK, I was gonna vote for her anyway.

See, if Diva is our Prezelnut there will be donuts, cake, beer, and all kinda good things comin' our way. Free health care, too! We'll need it after all that free hi-fat/hi-cal food.

Anyway, this is a great award to get because there AREN'T ANY RULES! Not like that Kick Ass Award where you hafta run all around teh internets six times lookin' for Mama Dawg 'n stuff. All I hafta do is give it to 5 more bloggers who are as brillyante as I am. That's easy, cuz everyone is more brillyante than I'm.

B4 I do, tho, I wanna REEALY Thank DivaJood for this award. She is really really cool, like the coolest girl at your high school. Come to think of it, that girl was a snot. But Diva rocks. You needta go visit her blog. Thank you, Diva!

Now, here goes with the brillante ones:
1) Missy's Big Fish Stories
She's got everything from God to teens. Can cook up a storm. And take photos, too.
2) Redheaded Wisdom
Smarter than your average redhead.
3) The Quaker Agitator
He's shakin' it up on the internets. A whole lot of shakin' goin' on.
4) Mnmom at Happy to be from Iowa
Way cooler than a hockey mom. And I'm not just saying that cuz she came from Iowa.
5) ThailandChani at Finding My Way Home
Hard to sum her up in a few words. I'd pick "beautiful," "thoughtful" and "w-hol(e)y."

If ya's don't want it, that's ok, too. If ya already gots one, pass it on to someone who don't. I'd like to give an award to all my readers. I love 'em.
Have a nice day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More money for the Border Wall? Tell 'em "NO."

You'll never guess what happened! My blogger friend Steev at Project Steev reports that the DHS ran out of border wall money! They are asking Congress for $400 million more so they can finish it this year! Without extra money, they'll have to stop building.

[Pausing here for chorus of moans and groans............Where are they?.........Silence...............(hollow echos of whistling winds)..............OK, I'll continue....]

Steev says:
"In the big scheme of our massive federal budget, this [$400 million] is chump change, and it seems likely that Congress will just reach in their pocket without thinking much about it - but in this election year maybe if enough people make a stink about it, it won't happen. Write your representative and senators today and tell them not to authorize this further insult to injury. Stop the wall!"

HOLY COW! We've got a chance. OK, People, have at it! (You know enough about that wall to call your local senator/rep's office. Go to it! Action reports are welcome in the comments section. And your comments, as always.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Life after death!

I've been living with a secret. Now I can tell. It's a life after death story. It involves the two agencies where we volunteer when we're in Iowa.

First, the death: the largest agency in our city assisting the homeless was hopelessly mismanaged. Last year the director withdrew, the agency downsized and re-organized and honkered down to try to survive.

Last month, they succumbed to a $2.5 million debt. All our friends who work there were pink-slipped that day. The homeless learned the next week that they had one month before their services disappeared. A colossal emergency...the entire civic community realized the ramifications were disastrous.

The other smaller agency we assist here recognized the crisis. This agency is overwhelmingly women assisting homeless women and their children; they give second chances, sometimes enabling miracles. They scrambled, they risked, they summoned allies. They fought government bureaucracy. The clock was ticking a la a time bomb before explosion. It was Mission Impossible in so many ways.

Against all odds, they succeeded. John Lewis Community Services is reborn next week as Humility of Mary Shelter. Typing that sentence, I broke down in tears. This is absolutely huge for so many people. I'm so proud of our leaders at Humility of Mary--the women religious who got the ball rolling and the agency leaders & employees who do amazing work every day, and now are seeing their responsibilities increase exponentially. "We're stepping into deep waters," they humbly remark.

They are just the people who can do it. I am so freaking proud of them. They are going to keep the plane in flight while they are rebuilding it. The homeless will not miss one day of services.

How's that for some good news today?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Rest of the Story...

News is seeping to the Midwest from the final rally in the March against the Border Wall. [I blogged against The Border Wall each day of the March, August 27-31.] Here's a recap/update:

The marchers realized that the work is only beginning, according to the El Paso Times coverage.
The newspaper gave mention to environmental disruption of the wall and...the lone counter-protester got almost as much coverage. (grrrrrr).

One mother's reflection on the final international action is eloquent, poetic, and worthy of your time. I hope you'll visit Border Wall in the News for "Fly on the Wall," a visceral retelling of her experience at the action on the final day.

One of my friends wrote about bouncing balls over the wall in a self-styled international volleyball game, nonviolently turning the wall into a v-ball net. See a few photos here, not many, but nice (not sure how long this link will work.)

Seeing my friends/El Paso co-workers excited me as I watched this video clip (only lasts a minute):

Another short video of the local Catholic bishop denouncing the Wall at the March is here.

Local independent newspaper Grassroots Press gave the 40 marchers a couple paragraphs and a couple photos. Marchers always hope for news coverage to make their effort visible. Sunday’s early events were covered by two local television stations, but one of the marchers said they had been invisible for the last three mornings.

More important: you can add your voice to the chorus opposing this stupidity by signing the petition here. Really, if you're reading these words, I'm sure you want to be on record as opposing the Wall. For your own self-respect, sign the petition.

The border is a statement of who we are as a nation. Every day it represents you. How do you feel about this wall representing who you are? Do what you can. Sign the petition.

And thank you very much for your kind attention though the 5-day March against the Border Wall.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Palin & Stevens' Shifting Views of "The Bridge to Nowhere" through the Rear View Mirror

Sarah Palin appeared before the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce in September 2006 and indicated support for the bridge [B.E.'s note: Senator Ted Steven's controversial earmark to nowhere"] project. "This link is a commitment to help Ketchikan expand its access, to help this community prosper," she stated, according to the Ketchikan Daily News.

But, two years later, Senator Ted Stevens now faces a tough re-election race and better not estrange Sarah Palin, so the WashingtonPost.com reports this evening that he's covering for Palin:
"She was never really behind this," Stevens said today, reminding reporters of his impassioned defense of the project in 2005: "I defended it in the Senate. She did not support that. She did not support that."
"I don't remember her ever campaigning for it. As a matter of fact, she was very critical of it at the time. And she took the money and did not use it for the bridge, so you're wrong, as far as I'm concerned," Stevens said today.

Sarah Palin's RNC rhetoric suggested that she has taken on the likes of Ted Stevens. However, this clip from July 2008 suggests otherwise. Here she clearly states that she opposes earmarks because Obama and McCain do [19 second soundbite]:

Now take one minute to listen to Palin praise Stevens, endorsing him ("I have great respect for him") as she and Stevens review their relationship before the camera:

And finally, from "The Best Defense Is A Good Offense Dept.", we have today's headline from LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP):

-- John McCain and Sarah Palin criticized Democrat Barack Obama over the amount of money he has requested for his home state of Illinois, even though Alaska under Palin's leadership has asked Washington for 10 times more money per citizen for pet projects. [my emphasis]

This post is about integrity and honesty and a lament that they don't co-exist very well with ambition.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Cindy McCain Explains It All to YOU!

Cindy informs the U.S. public just how Sarah Palin has the international experience she needs to be Vice President!

Yes, that's RIGHT! How could I forget? Alaska is the U.S. state closest to Russia! Palin is the woman of international expertise! Palin it IS! Let's bring down those Ruskies once and for all!---Cold War: Round Two---FIGHT!

I feel soooo much better now.