Saturday, November 22, 2008

Talking Turkey on the Economy

This year the American people have more than ever to be grateful for. While this might sound contradictory to a lot of us in the face of this economy, we have been given another chance. How often does that happen? Think about it.

Let's talk turkey. We have been the most spoiled brat consumerist country in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood for decades on end. The process accelerated under the Clinton Administration with the internet bubble and the passage of the first so-called "free trade agreements," and then blasted into outer space by the totally criminal Cheney-Bush war machine. Some of the experts are now saying the whole world economy was based on United States consumerism. No matter what the scientists told us about global climate changes threatening the lives of our own children we continued to buy stuff, bottled water, electronics, SUVs, houses, dinners out with ever increasing size of food portions. Nothing seemed to have any force of waking us up from our American Dream, the corrupted version, now available on DVD. We really must acknowledge the problem to begin recovering.

After the disastrous consequences of 9-11 and various Gulf Coast hurricanes we started yapping on and on, angrily blaming all our problems on the Muslim world, as if they could have done anything to have saved us from our hunger for more-- more oil, more bottled water, more corn syrup in our food and drink, more chain restaurants, more travel, more sex toys, more revealing clothing, more swimming pools and luxury homes, not to mention weapons, guns, bombs and the games that replicate them. Things were as they "should be," USA on top of the world, playing king of the hill, a dangerous and delusional game that could not but result in our eventual tumble down the hill alongside our friend jill, the EU.

Finally the inevitable happened and for the first time since our founding we have had to take a thoroughly good look at ourselves in the mirror of destiny. We haven't even begun to see our own image through that frosted up glass. And we may well remain in this fog until reality sets in. That is how delusional thinking works. "No, this can't be true, we are the wealthiest country on the planet, and nothing will ever change that." China chuckles, Russia outright laughs. And Higher Power, if it Be, raps us hard on our knuckles just for starters.

A lot of us, including me, have likened what we are now experiencing as analogous to the Great Depression. But it isn't. Yes, that fall was precipitated by a Gilded Age, a generous dose of materialistic obsession, as well as political corruption. But the real story today has more to do with the bottom line of natural resources. We have gobbled resources up like rats in a grain elevator who have a genetic metabolic disorder. It hasn't mattered to us how much we have or how little some others are living on-- we have still needed desperately to continue to eat, eat, eat, gobble, gobble.

Now, about those turkeys, and I don't mean the ones that are now leaving office. The turkey was the bird that Benjamin Franklin would have chosen for our national symbol instead of the bald eagle. He was, of course, talking about wild turkeys, the kind that I used to have in my rural front and back yards when I once lived in a little cottage up a gravel lane. They were close to extinction by mid twentieth century, with an estimated count of 300,000 birds nation wide.

The Eastern wild turkey is indigenous to Missouri and also a feed into our current state economy. Unlike eagles that soar in the sky these gloriously feathered creatures keep to the limbs of trees for safety, mostly living close to the earth where they consume insects, select grains and nuts. Every spring and fall these birds, related to quail, pheasant and grouse, reinstate themselves as a success story in the history of conservation in our state, bringing hunters out to rural areas to bag themselves a meal. Because of our first rate conservation efforts Missouri can now afford the hunting of over ten thousands of these creatures each year.

Where I was living in the late 80s, in Iron County, the turkeys were probably attracted to the pond on the roadside end of the property, a watering hole inhabited by peeper frogs and surrounded by tall grass and wildflowers. My undisciplined dog had alerted me to their presence by barking at them at night After that I noticed them more often as I traveled the countryside on home visits. They fly in small groups, gathering in flocks in some fields, and once I happened across a pile of feathers left behind by some hungry coyote.

The local people knew when hunting season began and when it ended so they could choose when they themselves would hunt. "Those city folks are going to be out here this weekend like flies on dead roadkill," they would say on the last days of the shotgun season. It was the most likely weekend for hunting injuries to show up in the ER and the worst two days for putting yourself in harm's way. Same with deer season. But it brought money in, which was important of course. Money is important to all of us, each in our own way. Some of us who are used to living more humbly are also more likely to survive the ups and downs because we have developed survival skills along our paths which we never forget.

Others ride individual private jets to Washington, D.C., to beg for a bailout loan. They expect their workers to keep them fat, even when some of us "lower" beings are starving. Here they are now, wearing their depleted money bags like millstones around their collars, having taken a workforce down with their lack of vision, not having planned ahead or faced the facts about the consumption of domestic and foreign oil that they have been selling to us for decades. We should help them out of this fix? Whatever for? So they can build factories in other countries for lower wage workers?

Instead we need to direct our attention to the workers, the people who create the wealth by their own sweat. We need to extend unemployment compensation, place some safe guards on IRAs and retirement funds, create a system of health care that treats everyone equally and covers all of us. We need infrastructure repair jobs created in every large city. We need mortgage assistance for the people who are in danger of losing their homes. And we will have to shore up the conservation efforts everywhere, planting neighborhood gardens, eating food that is within a two hour drive of where we live, and cutting back on the fertilizers that are creating dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico by farm runoff. We are going to have to start using some of the knowledge we have gained about renewable energy and energy conservation. If we want to remain a viable species in the web of life we will have to steward the planet in a more conservative and responsible way. This will be an exhilarating, wondrous experience as each community begins thinking and acting locally instead of just monetarily.

Globalization is necessary in the realm of human rights but not in the corporate world. The World Bank has not regulated global trade, it has facilitated escalation of exploitation by companies we know as "American," but what have they really become? Truly American corporations will need to be regulated with an eye to benefiting GDP, not CEOs. Capitalism is not in and of itself evil, but the motives behind it often become so.

Do we need any of these fat cats, who have been selling financial products that are essentially empty folders of bad debt? NO! Send them straight to prison. Empty some prison beds for them by creating recovery services for drug users and dealers that include training to work in self motivating neighborhood gardens, cooperatives, local theaters, shops, restaurants, and renewable or passive energy manufacturing. Make small business loans available in downtrodden urban neighborhoods instead of accelerating big business on the interstate edge of suburbia. We need to call a lobbyist what s/he is, a prostitute for corporate bigwigs, and make the job title "lobbyist" represent a felony crime. The johns in Congress need reforming as well as antibiotic shots into their every "but, but, but. . . ."

We are going to have to return to our roots as a community based democracy which is based on an assumption of sharing and responsibility for each other, a naturally occurring hierarchy of cooperation that is inherent in all primates. In the spirit of Thanksgiving perhaps we can remember that the living local model for American democracy was taught to us by the indigenous population of people whom the pilgrims met, and who were later to be exploited by the immigrant European concept of take, take, and take some more.

The reality is that we will have to accomplish this goal of community if we want to survive on a planet that our dear nation has been robbing blind. The word "corporation" in no way actually implies rights recognized by the Constitution. In fact the word has been expanded in meaning from a collection of like minded investors in business together so that it has taken on a connotation of corruption, imperialism, exploitation and downright evil. Money can only be a false idol to a social parasite.

Sometimes I feel kind of sorry for the Ayn Rand fans and other upper one per cent of the top ten percent of our population that control most of the world's wealth. They are so addicted to a way of life that feeds them more, more, more, that they have lost their sanity. If you dropped them off at a house trailer out on old Highway V they wouldn't have the foggiest notion what a turkey looks like or how to hunt for one.

Chances are the one they might spot would be in their own mirror, which is now beginning to defrost. And this is a good sign for the resurgence of true democracy, which has been handed back to the people after a recent significant election.

Just don't let yourselves down, folks. You are going to have some real work ahead of you. Vigilance is ever so. Change is welcome but never easy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Twelve Points in favor of Impeachment

1. My support is fully behind pursuing impeachment of current members of the administration, George W.Bush and Richard (Dick) Cheney. I deign not to designate them by their presumed titles, President and Vice President.
2. Holding the current administration accountable is required to safeguard the United States Constitution.
3. The press has publicly recognized the fears of some members of Congress related to their inside knowledge of administrative policies that skirted legality. Not only was a sovereign nation illegally invaded and war illegally waged, but also illegal torture was used against persons who had not been given Rights which are sacrosanct to Americans as well as to civil society in the World. Lies were used to produce more lies and violence was initiated without warrant or due process
4. Congress now must act, since the truth has emerged, in order to effect a remedy. This will require courage. Courage is a quality admired by the populace.
5. Failure to pursue all legal means necessary to reign in the powers of the Presidency will result in damage beyond knowing to our nation. The failing economy is only the beginning of the decline that could ensue.
6. The outcome of pursuing every legal remedy, including impeachment proceedings against both persons known as the President and the Vice President, preferably simultaneously, will be to relieve our nation of its now damaged reputation in the eyes of the world and to restore confidence of its citizens in the government.
7. Assuming a political stance of looking forward rather than back as a way of protecting individual Congress members is not a choice. It smacks of cowardice. It is an inside-the-Beltway idea that has no relevance to the people who cast votes in a nation no longer recognizing the sovereignty of The People.
8. Our nation has ventured into the beginning of a reign of fascism, a too close alliance between government and corporate powers. The so-called "Bail-out" is symptomatic of this.
9. The Republican and Democratic Parties have become way too intertwined and mutually corrupt. Their members are deluded by material gain and illusory power rather than serving as our true representatives. Other Parties must be allowed equal access to office.
10. Currently reigning political corruption is most damaging to us in foreign policy. We often label other nations as intolerant and in violation of civil rights. In fact we are a nation of great resources and wealth with an obligation to share with those who are not so blessed. Yet we fail to provide some of our own citizens with "the pursuit of happiness" as could be provided by health care.
11. Money forfeited to the now defunct regime of evil, to be replaced by President-elect Barrack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden, has been wasted on violence, personal accrual of assets, false and nefarious propaganda and directives such as the imperial rule of the Department of Justice, blasphemous violations of the Constitution by political operatives for political gain, abuse of the role of Commander in Chief, and establishment of illegal empire in foreign states. These are indeed high crimes and misdemeanors.
12. As a citizen of the United States of America, I demand that the Congress of these United States proceed with impeachment against George W. Bush and Richard (Dick) Cheney.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fwd: Re: [IOW] discussing Emanuel in new role

Thinking in the most optimistically possible vein I will hope that
Emanuel will serve as a good diplomat to deliver the peace plans of
Obama to the conservative element remaining in Congress.

Since the bushco administration has been in power, war resistance has
been a hard row to hoe. Personally I think we need to approach the
subject in a lot smarter way then we did in the Viet Nam era. Perhaps we need to demonstrate against the news media, for example, because they don't cover the protests.

This economy is definitely, most certainly about the war machine. It is
the only industry that continues to thrive in this country, and it uses
tremendous amounts of fuel on an hourly basis to stay alive. Climate
change is in the whole mess too.

What we need is an intelligently woven fabric for our future that
includes all the essential fibers and colors. On some news program
yesterday evening a group of young people were saying that Obama
represents more than a Presidency-- he represents a Movement, the Yes We Can Movement.

After a Peak Experience like we all had on Election Day evening it is
common to drift downward a bit and start to wonder if any good will
really come of the change. If we can keep steadily reassuring each other
that we will find new ways to continue forward with new allies,
including the young people who voted for the first time, I believe, Yes
We Can end these wars. The question about Afghanistan & Iraq that exists as I understand it is that we actually invited a new wing of "Al Quaeda" into Iraq by invading them. Obama has been saying we never should have gone there-- we wasted our resources there and stirred up a genocidal conflict.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan the methods being used to track "the enemy,"
either "Al Quaeda" or the Taliban, has been through satellite images and
a huge electronic secret underground Air Force headquarters that
sometimes mistakes civilians for soldiersof the enemy. They bomb villages by pushing a button. It is the remnants of Rumfelt's idea of the remote control war, and it is devastating to its targets. Foot soldiers might actually
be easier for the local villagers to get along with. I don't know how
the costs would compare. We need to start negotiating instead of just

At least that is my interpretation of what Obama has been trying to tell
us. It is difficult to make your plans clear under the attack of stupid
ads that emphasize every fact in the wrong light.

So, I take it that everyone is planning to meet with the Greens on Sat.
a.m. for local action about the City Gov.,
Organizing meeting to elect Elston K. McCowan Mayor of the City of St.
(Writing a plan to use military dollars for financially strapped
cities sounds like a winner to me
10:00 am, Saturday, November 15, 2008
F.I.R.E. [Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality]
1020 N. Taylor [4 blocks north
of Delmar at C.D. Banks St.]

. . . and then they will attend Chuc's  VFP afternoon event at the Carpenter Library regarding the economy. I would think we would talk even more there about how to shift the military budget to domestic needs, pulling the money out from under the war machine.
Pat B.

Announcement: Town Hall  Meeting: Life on the Edge of a Bubble: How Long Can We Hold On?

Saturday, November 15, 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Carpenter Branch Library, 3309 South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO
(S. Grand at Utah)

Filmographer Michael Berger has organized a Town Hall Meeting concerning the current financial crisis. Come speak out and listen!

Sponsor: Veterans For Peace
Contact Chuc Smith

We are interested in hearing about how the current crisis is affecting people. We will be asking participants what they see as the long term impact of the unfolding events?  What pressures are you experiencing? Does government have an obligation to work for fairness and equitable distribution of the wealth or should "free" markets be allowed to resolve this crisis.  Will our children and future generations have more or less opportunity for economic mobility?  What is role should government play in our economic affairs?  Can we even speak of a "free" market?  How does government policy influence the economy?  These are a few of the questions we would like to explore.

We need voices and ideas as well as folks willing to listen and learn. This is what Democracy looks like!

All the best...

Chuc Smith, past president of the Don Connors Chapter of Veterans For Peace

Wage Peace!

Charles T. Smith
1524 Eastmont Place
University City, MO 63130

Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization.  
Mohandas Ghandi

Saturday, November 8, 2008

After the celebration, back to work in Congress

We can be proud as Missourians that one of our Senators had been on board with the candidacy of Barack Obama from the beginning. They were good friends when Claire McCaskill was running for her current office, and Obama came to Missouri to campaign for her, as she later accompanied him in his run for President.

Now that he is our President-elect, as well as still a Senator for another couple of months, here is a speech that you might want to read that reveals how she felt about the bailout. She and Obama ultimately both voted to support it, but these words do reveal how well she comprehends what they were doing and how adamantly she decries the continued corruption of a deregulated free market system.

Here is a letter that I just sent her encouraging her to continue reigning in the CEOs.

Dear Senator McCaskill:

Most Americans are elated to have our newly elected President preparing to take over. As Missourians we are also proud to have one of our Senators playing the role of close associate to him.

At the same time the reality of everyday life has been shaken by our economic catastrophe. The "news" of the downturn apparently was brought out to the surface months after it first appeared as a way of making certain that the privileged few at the top could hold onto some of their wealth through legislative robbery of the people who are mere workers.

Don't imagine that your constituents will simply get over this. People are blogging about which of these "bailed out" firms contributed to whom and in what amounts.

You yourself are a woman of considerable wealth compared to most, and I hope that you understand that many of us are still angry at the Clinton Administration for passing NAFTA, which seemed to have been based on the economy of Arkansas related to Tyson chicken factories.

When John McCain's campaign began to use the phrase "change is coming," I laughed, saying, no, CHANGE IS HERE. This is the truth of the matter. The ever expanding materialistic marketplace that has put product above humanity has cornered us. Those who recognize how some of this happened will reassess the size of their own garages and tighten their belts, as our parents used to say.

But we will also be looking for people in Washington who are going to show genuine tightening of the Beltway as well.

We are done with artificiality. We want the Senate to take leadership in reigning in the spoiled rotten CEOs. No economy, no bonus. No bailout for bank administrators.

Bailouts for workers.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My computer clock shows a few minutes after 10pm. NBC has just declared Barack Obama the winner, and our new President Elect. I have been watching/listening to the election results via KPLR/The Beacon online.

Lacy Clay is being interviewed. MO has still not been declared either way. It is an emotional moment, electric. Crowd chanting "Yes we did," after campaign slogan "Yes we can" has been accomplished, at least presumably. Tears flow.

And our new Governor is Jay Nixon, no surprise at all. But he has had an impressive lead. He is giving his acceptance speech, and is overjoyed. Of course, he may not have the other State wide offices in his corner.

My daughter calls to share her excitement.

Huh, the real live John Combest, MO bloggers' best friend, is on camera now. I didn't realize he is that young.

10:19 John McCain is conceding already!! OMG! as an election integrity advocate I would advise him to wait until morning, but I guess it looks that solid. My daughter calls to share her excitement.

"Whatever our differences we are all Americans."

The crowd is a bit contentious over his statement of personal blame for the loss. He is very gracious, the crowd is as polarized as ever. Let's hope that they will see the coming change, which has been the theme of the contest, as a transformation that fits their needs as time progresses.

We still don't know the outcome of the Presidential race in MO. I will be curious to see the final results of the polling compared to the counted votes.

So much for now. I have an appointment tomorrow & have to get some sleep. My daughter is elated, and so am I, although still wondering about some of the state offices.

Well, I do need to mention the 7 hour waits in Velda Village today, and Goeke's comment on TV that the Missourians for Honest Elections were to blame, because they advised people to ask for paper ballots, LOL. Everybody with a brain knows by now that paper is quicker as well as safer. You would think that it would be a no brainer to provide all the polling places in North St. Louis which have a majority of black voters with an adequate number of paper ballots.

Nevermind. The truth will emerge. And the BoEC will be newly appointed by a new governor.