Evolving Peace

A site that is progressing for the goal of everlasting peace within ourselves, our family, our friends, our country and our planet !

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Justice Served ? ? ?

“Justice is served,” is being acclaimed throughout the world from those who were diametrically opposed to the “Butcher of Baghdad," Saddam Hussein. To me the man was a tyrant and somebody who did not deserve respect from anyone. As he has been hung I reflect on questioning how far humanity has evolved since the age of the guillotine.

Yes, Saddam was an evil man, but what has been solved by putting him to death? Does the pain and suffering that his victim’s families felt go away? Supposedly the United States system of government has been brought to Iraqi but in a mere matter of moments Saddam was tried and executed for the select crimes. No there were no lengthy trials for all his acts of tyranny, just a select few. Where was his trial for using chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction? Who questioned him on his battles with Iran?

Maybe this was all a show and just a distraction from the real issues at hand. For years Hussein was “our tyrant,” a good guy in our fight against Iran. Weaponry and financing came from the United States. Rumsfeld provided him with the technology and equipment to gas the Kurds and his own people. US policy was aware of the crimes and brutalities of Saddam but Reagan and Bush officials looked the over way. Relations were “normal” until Saddam invaded Kuwait. US ambassador April Glaspie practically gave Saddam permission to attack, since the US did not have relations with Kuwait. Instantly, Saddam went from good guy to bad guy and US foreign policy would be fixated on his removal for the next fifteen years.

Countless lives have been lost and dollars have been spent trying to topple his leadership. Hindsight shows that simple logic would have prevailed by just not supporting men like him in the first place, but that was not the case. Saddam has been put to death and the men responsible for allowing his reign of terror to occur in the first place walk free. It is a crime that the trials of humanity have not been allowed to continue and the real culprits have not been brought to trial. Robert Frisk of London’s Independent News, sums it up well in his article “A dictator created then destroyed by America.

The hanging of Saddam yesterday is no different than the brutality of the guillotine on the tyrants of the French Revolution. Men like Saddam Hussein sure leave a vile taste on the minds of men but even worse are those who had supported and allowed his rise to power in the first place. The rush to judgment may have removed the plant but the roots of the disease are still in place for the Bush to grow again.

Peace
Robb Kidd

“In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.” Albert Camus


Friday, December 29, 2006

Who Wants to be President ? Part II

Come on down, John Edwards is the next contestant on “Who wants to be President?” Thankfully the news is starting to turn away from presidential hopefuls, Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton towards a campaign with more substance. “Two Americas” a central theme to candidate Edwards message and an issue that is not far from reality for a lot of Americans.

Lost within the television culture of America there are deep pockets of poverty. Separated from the high profile tourist areas of the cities and bypasses of the interstate highway system are whole populations who have not and will never achieve the “American Dream.” Places like the Bronx, Detroit and rural communities of the South, Midwest and Vermont are merely forgotten. Life is not as it is seen on the happy sitcoms or the latest reality shows. America is broken and a major portion of our society is impoverished. While we have had many politicians speak in the past about fixing poverty, such as Johnson’s “War on Poverty” or George H. Bush’s and Reagan's “Trickle Down Economics” approaches, very few have actively pursued solving it. In the political spectrum there is plenty of talk but little action.

John Edwards began his candidacy in New Orleans yesterday with not just talk but action. Alongside him volunteers of all ages joined in helping to rebuild New Orleans 9th Ward. Despite the fact the government has failed them there are people still working hard to fix the city. Action speaks louder than words. For those in Vermont, it is reminiscent of Matt Dunne’s campaign for Lt. Governor. Sarah Adelman compares Edward’s to Dunne’s campaign in her blog, Finding Community in an Independent State. We as a society can complain as much as we want about the problems, but without our actions solutions never surface.

As the news broadcasted his candidacy, I listened to hear statements and visions, but lost within the coverage the talking head punditry was too busy analyzing Edwards’s decision to announce his candidacy during the week between Christmas and New Years. To the news the raging question was if the death of President Ford was going to detract his message from being broadcasted. Lost in that is the real serious problems facing the country. Over a year ago, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast had been devastated and still the harshness of the reality is affecting thousands of people.

As for the “Fair and Balanced” media of Fox, they cut of his speech and began analyzing his candidacy. Edwards through his votes on labor has gained admiration from the labor movement. Edwards a son of a mill worker gradyated from law school and became a successful lawyer representing clientele that had suffered from negligence. Contrary to right wing philosophy, people should be allowed to sue for damages when the are harmed by corporarate or medical neglect. Fox summed up their report by negatively stating that “Edwards has the support of Labor and the Trial Lawyers,” unlike other candidates who get their support from big business, particuarly that of the oil industry.

The pundits all discussed the latest polls and how it looks for his future. Discussions on issues were not their words of the day; it was rather the horse racing of the Presidency. No discussions on Edwards’s original sponsorship of the authorization to use force in the Senate, or his op-ed in The Washington Post from a year ago that stated his regrets on following the flayed doctrine. The issues for many Americans like me are strong and Iraq is one of them. I am reluctant to support any candidate that approved of the initial use of force, but at least Edwards has admitted to his mistake. Unlike the war hawks of McCain and Lieberman who are mere cheerleaders of the Presidents failures.

I look forward to seeing more of the issues affecting America surfacing through the news media. Unfortunately, the media’s stranglehold on debate nearly scratches the surface. As we must with the politicians the media must be held accountable. There are “Two Americas” and the corporate image of Hilary Clinton and the rock star image of Obama are not going to solve the issues. As the passing death of President Ford reminds us that America once needed a solid figure to restore confidence in our government after the zealousness of the Nixon era, it is needed once again after the disaster of the Bush Era. Whether it is Edwards or some one else, American needs a leader and Clinton and Obama are not my choice.

Peace
Robb Kidd

“The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcolm X

Thursday, December 28, 2006

New Direction In Life


May 13, 2006 I woke up with a splitting hangover. No, it was not from a night of excessive drinking but from my nine years eight months and nine days of service to AAA North Jersey. No longer was I an employee and was off on pursuing my passion and enjoying life with my partner. Sarah, my angel already moved to Vermont and had just fulfilled her inner desires of returning to Vermont with a vocation related to her studies. I on the other hand was entering a new frontier.

We moved to Montpelier, a place where I knew no one and little about the history, but upon stepping foot into town I knew it was a place I was going to call home. Unlike, a lot of America’s damaged landscape there is no McDonalds and despite being the state’s capital it is home to only 8,500 people. Small enough to get to know people, but large enough to have a vibrant community.

I was born in a small town, but development changes that. Populations soared further west away from the busy streets of New York City to the suburbs that soon resembled large shopping malls. Small towns in New Jersey are no more but a vision of a distant past. Despite the promises of economic prosperity and jobs, daily living rose exponentially and those who had been raised there could no longer afford to stay. Politicians stated the need to attract business to town to create jobs and prosperity. So what was a town of meandering farms and wooded hills is no longer but an encroachment of the concrete jungle. That same town now is a faceless suburb.

Daily in attempt to survive I drove twenty miles to a job that I just had no passion for. Work became nothing more than just a pay check and the security of health benefits. Through my idealistic college days, I thought of a world that was fun and pleasurable, but succumbed to family pressure in obtaining a job that had benefits. I struck a job with the American Automobile Association, a good reputable company (not for profit membership organization), and first I was excited about the opportunities for advancement. The ability of travel was a strong draw and it lasted for a while. After a few years, my passion for it is was gone. Sending a family to Disney World was not my ideal. Even sending people to Hawaii became mundane, despite my deep connections to the Hawaiian Islands I felt like I was adding to the destruction of the tropical paradise. While I sent hordes of tourists to their dream vacations, native Hawaiians were gradually pushed away from their homes and forced into deeper economic disparity. It was time for me to go.

I left with no regrets, I miss some of my colleagues as they had become like family. I have been told by some that I was crazy for leaving a “good” job, but I just could not take it any longer. Repeatedly, I have been told that you can’t leave a job with benefits until you have another one, but I knew my time was up. Studies have been shown that employment can be attributed to being the number one cause of illnesses in ones life. Work related stress tends to wind its way down into our habits. Bad habits become more amplified with more stress and employment that is counterproductive to one self’s inner ambitions can lead to dire consequences. What’s the difference between work and prison? In prison you can’t wait to get out from behind bars, at work you can’t wait to get behind the bar. That was my life.

I left my job in pursuit of happiness. It was not something I just thought up on a whim, it had been brewing in my head for years. I saw so many things wrong with this world and I knew I had to act upon my visions. In every direction darkness was strong, America waged a preemptive war on Iraq which I knew was wrong, global warming has become a reality instead of theory, continual environmental degradation took place not just in China but in my own backyard, wages are dropping and the cost of living is growing exponentially. America and the world need a change and instead of adding to the problems I was going to speak my voice and work everyday of my life for that change.

Today, I look out my window and see the falling of snow, I am thankful for the change that has revolved around my life. As I continue to search for employment geared to my passions I am reminded of the precious gift I have been given. There are not too many people who are able to pack up everything and look for a new career. The cost of health care is just too high and loosing health care benefits can be very costly for some. Even though, I currently owe hundreds of dollars to a dentist and am in need of more dental care, I will not change my path. I have ignored medical care for minor health ailments which I hope do not hinder my life, but it is worth a shot at fulfilling my dreams. I am fortunate to have been given this opportunity for change but I question how many others just can not do that.

In today’s economy, health Care has become the single most expansive cost of living. Rising costs in health care are forcing business to cut wages and governments to raise taxes but lost in that debate is the happiness of the individual. I wonder how many people are forcibly employed in jobs that they have no interest in. Their desires and talents being wasted building widgets and punching numbers for the sake of obtaining health care. The creative passions of individuals are being lost daily performing mindless tasks. My partner visualizes the day when health care is given to all and then immediately hundreds of workers immediately quitting their jobs and pursuing their dreams.

There are many economic benefits to state sponsored health care but for me it is the basic right for citizens to access affordable health care. The inalienable right in pursuit of happiness requires the right to pursue your dreams without the worries of enormous costs in health care. The United States is well behind the rest of the industrialized world; democracy and freedom require equal access to health care.

So today while I enjoyed the early snow flakes falling to the ground, I look forward and see a world without the worries of health care. I usefully employed in advocating for the rights of our common man and planet and setting us all free to pursue our dreams. Montpelier is lovely in the snow and as I walked my dog into town I was reminded that Hope in is the air.

Peace
Robb Kidd

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.”Bertrand Russell

Sunday, December 24, 2006

So This is Christmas


"So this is Christmas, and what have you done? War is over if you want it…" As we approach the New Year we all have a lot to learn from the past. The War in Iraq still aluminates over us in a very negative way but we are coming closer to an end. A year ago, “stay the courses” was the presidential prerogative, but now things have changed. Debate fills the air on whether to immediately pull out or add more troops and seek a gradual end. The President now instead of using the old baseless rhetoric he says "we're not winning, we're not losing." The American public is speaking but the President is continuing what he had done leading up to the war and that is ignoring the facts and logic. Things are not working in Iraq and things have to change, we the people are not calling for more but for an end. Wake up George!!!

So while we all pontificate on how to end the calamity in Iraq, we can all come together and realize that war is not the answer. Over 65 years ago, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. There is some debate on whether the US government knew that there was an eminent attach on Pearl Harbor, but those warnings were ignored. The population overwhelming supported entry into the war. The population was gung-ho and every where one turned the war effort stood strong. Legendary, film maker Frank Capra made propaganda films; the series “Know your enemy” depicted the Japanese as subhuman species and merciless barbarians.

Left out of popular culture was that most Americans did not know where Pearl Harbor was at that time. President Roosevelt purposely spoke in his “Day of Infamy” speech that our forces were attacked at Oahu not Hawaii because at the time Hawaii was not even a state. Hawaii did not become the 50th state until August 21, 1959. To the Japanese the United States had entered their sphere of influence and combine with an oil embargo, Japan perceived that United States policy was an act of war.

War was in full force in the Pacific had full attention been had been given to the defeat of Japan. While war atrocities are well known for Germany, Japan had not been without its own act of inhumanity was in the brink of collapse. Early in the war, crimes were committed against the civilian population in China. In December of 1937 Japan brutally attacked the Nanking region of China and began executions of suspected military combatants. This horrific event known as The Rape of Nanking had attributed 100,000 to 300,000 deaths, depending on the perspective.

Japan was the United States’s prerogative and little attention had been given to the European front. The famed D-Day invasion did not take place until June 6, 1944. Battles roared throughout the Pacific. Islands of the Pacific were no longer tropical paradises but sweltering hot theaters of hell. War was a bloody game, hundreds of thousand Americans died and millions of Japanese died as a result.

Strategically the US began a campaign of firebombing Tokyo in February of 1945. Official policy was to try to remove the will of the people in continuing the war. There are some who consider the bombing to be a war crime as well. But as victors of a war, that debate has been left behind. Forgetting about Tokyo, the most horrific acts of the war occurred on August 6, 1945, with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and a few days later one on Nagasaki. Years of man’s supposed evolution came down to that, in a matter of mere minutes a whole city could be annihilated.

There has been plenty of critical debate revolving around the dropping of the bombs due to the brutal devastation to the innocent civilian populations. Although, the Soviet Union had just declared their involvement into the war with Japan, the US decided to use the atomic weapon not once but twice. Some theorize that the US did not want to allow the Soviets to gain that much influence in the region, so there was a rush to use the atomic weapons. Popular history has noted that the bombs were important to expedite the surrender and as a mere prevention of any further American causalities, unfortunately at the hands of innocent civilians. The war was over and the allies celebrated with glee.

Sixty years later we see that the nation of Japan and Germany are no threats towards any other nation. The populaces of those countries had seen the effects of war first hand and have become adamant proponents of peace. Whether it is because they were beaten down to submission or that they have collectively realized that war is brutal, neither country remains a threat to world peace. This past December 7 at Pearl Harbor, the remaining survivors of the attack gathered for what may be the last time. Two years ago American Vets of the D-Day invasion returned to shores of Normandy. Many of these individuals are still traumatized by those events and some still do not talk about their experiences. So while the memory of World War II begins to fade, the notions it was the last “good war” fade with it too. War is death and destruction and nothing comes from it.

The other day President Bush affirmed that the United States is not winning the War in Iraq. Amongst his rhetoric are calls for increasing troop size as an alternative to “staying the course” and a complete withdraw. Lost in the world of five second sound bites on the news is the reality of war. Thousands of Americans have died or been injured and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died or have been displaced. War is not a pleasantry and I hope that with each passing day that we are one step closer to ending this war and all other wars. The tide has shifted, the people do not support this war and there is a new Congress pledging to propose an end to the war. As I drive through the streets of Vermont and see the signs, “Vermont Says No To War” I visualize seeing “US Says No To War.” “So this Christmas and what have you done…The War is over if you want it."

Peace
Robb Kidd

“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.” Jimmy Carter

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solistice


The end of darkness, the winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year as we in the northern hemisphere look out into the horizon and see light. As the day will be brief, I will make this brief. As events enfold we are reminded by the news of the calamity of the day, Iraq. How things change within a year and how I am reminded everyday that change does not just happen overnight. The President came up and on the news yesterday and stated that “We’re not winning the war, and we’re not losing the war.” Well which is it? Just a few months ago the President was following his rhetorical line of “staying the course,” how things change.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was here to stay, but America said no. The vote for change forced action by the President and his administration. The President may have been distracted at the time and just heard a whisper in his head, saying Rumsfeld must go. Or maybe it was his “God” that called him to do it, the same “God” he listened to when starting this war. George a supposed Christian has used his might to wage a war on a country that had no capabilities to do any harm to the US. While the age of corporate cronyism and greed have grown stronger official policy has been to wage preemptive war on a sovereign nation. We are told of the Presidents following of Jesus, to him and to the rest of this “Christian land” I ask, what would Jesus do?

As the light grows stronger this upcoming year, we can all expect some more changes. New leaders in Congress are about to set their course. A promise of “a new direction” has been reverberated throughout the land. A new course implies to me an end to the war in Iraq and a return to diplomacy and humanity. The Iraq study group and former Secretary of State Colin Powell now declares that a serious look must be applied to Iraq and that the US should begin diplomacy with Syria and Iran. It surprises me that after all these years the President needs to be told to be diplomatic.

So while the holiday season is coming to an end whether it be the celebration of Hanukah, the festival of lights; Christmas, the birth of the savoir and Prince of Peace; or the Winter Solstice may we all be reminded of the peace and joy that can be obtained by asking for it. There has been great change in the past year, let us revoke all the light that will be shinned in the upcoming year to bring us another step closer to peace.

Peace
Robb Kidd

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” John F. Kennedy

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Animal Reason


What’s the difference between man and animal? The common answer is the ability to reason. The ways of man are so mystifying sometimes I wonder if men really have the ability to reason. Maybe per say animals can reason and men just can not? The ways of men have me perplexed and in a world of so much darkness there is little light to shed on the question.

A look at the definitions of reason might help us answer that question.
Reason
1. Power of orderly thought: the power of being able to think in a logical and rational manner
2. Ability to think clearly: the ability to think clearly and coherently

So I look at my dog, Ella as a case example. We got her from a kennel back in June. Upon bringing her home she was practically shell shocked and scared to even walk past the threshold of a door. Now months later she is the sweetest little creature in the world to Sarah and I. Towards others she won’t go near and practically shakes in fear. I wonder what causes this sweet innocent creature to tremble when approaching another man. Is it reason that has taught her or is something else?

I suppose little Ella was abused in her early days, but with passing time she is learning that Sarah and I are safe, but the remnants of what man have done to her still shine through. So I suppose it is reason that taught her that man is not safe due to the past trauma she had been exposed to. Now she does posses the power with logic that Sarah and I are safe since we treat her with love and care, but to others she still is learning.

Living in town, a walk through the streets of Montpelier can be a challenge. The noise, the people and the cars can be terrifying to her but then into Hubbard Park she becomes a different dog. In town she can not wait to get away, but transplant her into the park she is free and not a care to the world. The sounds of civilization are a distant past to her and all is safe.

Today, while walking across a bridge on the North Branch River a little girl asked if she could pet Ella. I said “yes, you may but she is very shy so be gentle.” Not sure how Ella was going to react, I gently rolled up the leash and brought her closer to the girl. Gently the little girl stroked the side of Ella’s head. I could see Ella’s reservations but she patiently allowed the girl to pet her. A start, Ella had learned to trust me and beginning with this little girl she is starting to see that not all humans are bad. The natural innocence of a child bringing out the beauty of a peaceful and loving creature is a sight to see. I look forward to the day when Ella can respond to all others that way.

To me Ella has reasoned that man is not good, she is a joy with other dogs. Four legs good, two legs bad must be her logic. Now to a recent human experience, the other day Sarah and I were interrupted by a woman while we were eating at Positive Pie 2. As of so many of my discussions the theme was with politics. It was obvious from the start that this woman was not of the same mindset as us but we still conversed. The topic began with global warming, since Sarah and I were discussing that Sean Hannity the political pundit from Fox was going to be vacationing in Vermont for Christmas. How appropriate that a commentary that indoctrinates the Republican Party’s agenda of denial will be in Vermont for the winter holiday when it is quite evident that winter is just not happening. This woman was so adamant against the reality of global warming it was alarming.

Things progressed and the topic switched to her viewpoints on the war and the president. “I am tired on how the left is complaining…we should all stand up behind the President…it’s a embarrassment on how people are talking...our forefathers are rolling in their graves…these people are trying to kill us…” and my personal favorite statement from her was “I think we should institute the draft and require that all men join the army, so men can become men again.” Wow, now is that thought with reason? I do not think so.

Logical and rational thought show that the President has lied to the country about the circumstances of war. It is evident he has broken constitutional and international law. The forefathers of the country were opposed to tyranny and rebelled against what they saw as unjust. George Washington stated that “Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty,” and that is what we have in hand today.

As most of the world knows, Iraq was no threat to the United States. It is a country smaller than most states and had nothing to do with the 9/11 tragedy and contrary to presidential statements had no capabilities of engaging with weapons of mass destruction. Most of the terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, a country ruled by a vicious royal theocracy. Like Iraq, they are rich in oil reserves and the royal family has close ties and friendships to the Bush family. While the royal family lives in luxury the majority of the population is restricted from personal liberties. Due to the close relationship, the United States has provided the royal family with weaponry and other tools to control the population. If it were not for oil, the United States would not be in Iraq or in partnership with undemocratic and oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia.

As for the draft, while officially the US military is composed of an all volunteer army, I state that in reality we have an economic draft. The majority of the military is composed of people from economically depressed areas of the country. The inner cities and rural America is where the promise of economic advancement is sparse, with the military they are given a chance to succeed. Recruitment is high for minorities and that is why Congressman Charles Rangel(D-NY) has called for reinstating the draft. I say go for it and reinstate the draft; let us see how much America really supports this war. I’m sure kids in the rich suburbs of America will come out in full opposition to the war.

So while this woman wants to see the expansion of the draft, she fails to see the rationality of the effects of war. It has been proven that war is psychological dangerous on a man. There are some veterans from World War II that still will not talk about their experiences. (see Bill Moyers recent speech to West Point) There are veterans from Vietnam still suffering from post-traumatic-stress-syndrome and mental institutions are filled with them. Numbers of Iraq returnees are facing severe psychological conditions and there are high numbers of suicides. It is not logical to purposefully create a population of men that will suffer permanent results that can affect their lives and the safety of society.

I listened to this woman with shock and disbelief that such irrational statements could come from anyone’s mouth. Does man have the power to reason? While some may be able to think in a logical and rational manner, there still remains a vast amount of people who do not. On the other hand it appears as if my dog has reasoned that man is not safe. Man is just an animal and it needs to be taught, just like Ella. We as a society must grow and teach others because people like her and those that abused my dog are out there. So, as I’ll continually teach my dog that most humans are safe, I hope that we as a society can reason the consequences of our action and grow towards a more civil, humane and peaceful existence.

Peace
Robb Kidd

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”Buddha

Friday, December 15, 2006

Take Back Vermont


Driving down the dirt road from the trailhead of Spruce Mountain, I saw a man walking his dog. I felt like something was calling me to talk to him. I first slowed down, so as not to hit is furry friend and than I gave him a friendly wave. I slowed to a crawl and said “Hi.” I began to converse with this man, a man I had never spoken to or seen everbefore. Maurice was his name and when asked where he was from, he said “here.” “For how long I asked,” and he replied “forever.”

He told me that he lived around the corner. I already have driven through this dirt road many times before, knew without asking assumed he lived in one of the houses with the sign “Take Back Vermont” blazing across the front lawn. Driving through streets of Vermont, one can see that slogan occasionally popping out of the ground. To some the sign may represent a value that hallows the spirit of hatred or the symbol of bigotry. A few years back Vermont was the first to tackle the issue of civil unions for the homosexual community. The issue had divided Vermont into clear cut lines, America’s “liberal” state had woken up the old conservative base and gay marriages were not acceptable to them. I for one do not agree with the restriction of anyone’s right to marry or join in a civil union, that matter does not affect me and I am positive it has not effected anyone else’s own personal right to liberty. News flash, New Jersey just passed a civil unions law, maybe there will be signs Take Back New Jersey.

So further along in my conversation with Maurice, I asked him if he has seen a lot of changes around these parts in his lifetime. “Oh yeah, change it happens whether you like it or not… This road here was an old wagon road, but nobody used to come here then, it used to be gated up… All these people moved out here to have their house in the country.” He pointed up the hill, “they’re nice people I guess…put in a windmill with their desire to be of the grid, I guess that’s just the way of the future.”

I listened with empathy and told him that I grew up in what was a small town in New Jersey. When I was a child the town was populated with only 8,000 people. Farms were still in existence, dirt roads meandered throughout the wooded tracts of land. “No more,” I told him, the town is now filled with tracts of corporate headquarters, slews of Mc Mansions and rows of condominiums. Now it is just a mere faceless suburb of New York City, where nobody knows anyone’s name.

We discussed things further and he showed a little bitterness towards outsiders, “the problem with all the new folk is that nobody cares about the history.” He’s right I told him, people tend to come to a new area and do not care about it’s treasured past, all they want is the conveniences they had back home. The fancy latte’s, paved roads and services they all had at their fingertips. While Vermont had been Vermont for years, things are rapidly changing. I a newcomer to these parts try to understand of what was here before me. Like Maurice, I too do not want to see Vermont turned into faceless communities like the littered landscape of the rest of America.

So here, two people with divergent views and histories conversing on an old dirt road found some common ground. While the message of Take Back Vermont may have originated as a rebellion against civil unions, I foresee it is a message trying to hold back the progression of development and preserving the decorated past. As a newcomer, I want to see Vermont filled with wholesome communities, natural landscape and meandering farms. So I pulled away from Maurice and said it was a pleasure and until we meet again sometime. He replied to me “I’ll be here till I aint.”

Peace
Robb Kidd

“This is the story of America. Everybody's doing what they think they're supposed to do.” Jack Kerouac


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Spring Time in the Mountains


What’s wrong with this picture? It was a lovely spring day, what remains of the snow were melting from the glow of the sun. A great day for a hike up Spruce Mountain with my dog Ella, but the only problem it was December 14. I past some other hikers and we exchanged greetings but of course the word of the day was how warm it was. The trail,while there were still remnants of snow was covered with mostly mud, the higher up we got the more icy conditions became, but things were not right.

That tended to be the word of the day, things are not right. Talking to the painter for my landlord today, he told me that a coworker of his rode his motorcycle to work today, the latest he had ever. His previous latest was November 30. While the news media still tends to ignore the fundamental issue it is quite evident that global warming is happening, and quite fast and something has to be done about it. Some politicians and some fantacic radio talk show hosts claim that global warming is “a hoax” and part of the communist conspiracy it is a reality that must be looked at.

Now, I have heard comments from some that it is just a seasonal oddity and that it is just a phase. But when will we the people realize that it is more than a phase. I grew up in New Jersey and I remember getting snow in November every year, but that is now a distant memory. Here in Montpelier there used to be snow in October, but we all can see that is no longer. Then there are those who claim that global warming is a natural cycle and that it is actually being caused by volcanic ash in the atmosphere despite the fact that every major climatologists claims the warming of the planet is caused due to human involvement.

Even tonight Sarah and I had a conversation with a woman who practically blew off global warming. She claimed they were talking about fifteen years ago. Yes, they were but society and the powers that be dismissed it and instead things are getting dramatically worse. It has gotten to the point that NASA’s chief scientist, James Hansen on climate change has been blacklisted from engaging with the public. The mainstream press has ignored the scientific data and instead relied on information provided from scientists of the oil, coal and auto industries.

So while we have politicians and industries who just do not care, it is time that as a populace we ignore their agenda and create our own. There are those who do not see the seriousness of the issue and they need to be overridden. Peter Fryne highlights the audacity of Governor Douglass in his latest web blog:

"It's a little warm, isn't it?" Gov. Douglas replied. "I was talking to a ski-area operator this morning and he's not at all concerned because it's very slow until Christmas."

Then looking at what he called "a plus side," the Guv noted "our low-income heating assistance program is not in as great demand when the weather is so warm."

If the politicians can not take something like global warming serious how can we expect them to be serious with our money? The new Pro-Tem of the Vermont Senate, Peter Shumlin has declared that global warming is the state most pressing problem, even over the “burdening property tax.” As I see it, how come Republican politicians have very little substance to issues except for taxes, but when it comes to real issues they are mostly in denial. Global Warming is our top priority and our way of life is threatened by it. We as a society shall not only look for ways to prevent the causes ourselves but to use our fundemental right and petion the government to act.

The following is a letter I had printed in the Times Argus, I suggest others express themselves and do the same.

The two recent articles, "Snowmaking keeps Vt. ski resorts going when weather doesn't" and "Sen.-elect Shumlin to focus on climate," (both published Dec. 11) appear to work hand-in-hand together. Due to effects of warm weather patterns the ski industry has to expend more resources in order to maintain its snowy slopes. It is disturbing that the ski industry has to use so much energy to produce artificial snow to sustain its industry. I salute Okemo in its pursuit of funding alternative energy sources, but greater involvement is needed by governmental policies. A broader approach to using alternative energy sources to combat global warming is well in order. While the industry contributes to the causes they are at least looking for alternatives because as smart businesses they know that their business investment is doomed without proper investment.

As headlined by Peter Shumlin, global warming is the most important issue facing
Vermont. While issues about taxation will always be evident, a serious threat to the Vermont way of life is at hand, whether it be the ski industry, maple syrup industry, tourist industry for fall foliage or the ramifications from unpredictable climate shifts to the farming industry. Global warming is serious and not something to be taken lightly. The state has an ability to become a leader in finding solutions to global warming. By supporting alternative energy, the state will not only benefit economically by reducing our energy costs in our homes, business and communities but can create a wealth of new jobs while protecting our environment. I urge every Vermonter to urge the governor and their state reps and senators and national politicians to take action.

So while the temperature stays warm and I procrastinate in buying those new snowshoes I keep wondering if I’ll ever need to. Global Warming activist, Bill McKibben has stated “the time to act on Global Warming was twenty years ago,” so what are you waiting for Christmas.

Peace
Robb Kidd


"The science is in. The facts are there that we have created, man has, a self-inflicted wound that man has created through global warming.” Arnold Schwarzenegger


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Giving Blood to Your Community


An old college gym packed with folks of all types patiently waited to donate blood this past Monday in Montpelier. Myself have become a regularly blood donor on part of my new found desire of community service. But as I patiently waited on the long line I began to notice that I did not recognize a single soul. Having become very actively involved in politics around Montpelier I was shocked that I was not seeing people I knew. It seems to me that although I am new to Montpelier (since May), it seems that every where I go I know someone from the political campaigns. No matter where it is, whether it’s a stroll through Hubbard Park, shopping at Hunger Mountain Food Coop or grabbing a bite to eat at Positive Pie 2, it’s an oddity if I do not bump into someone.(Just to give credit I saw State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding out of the corner of me eye while I was giving blood.)

So I began to reflect on the elements from the campaign of Matt Dunne for LT. Governor. Matt’s innovative approach was to connect politics within the realm of community service. While my blood was flowing out of my vein, I saw first hand the disconnection between politics and community service. I recently wrote to Matt and expressed my gratitude for giving me the opportunity to volunteer on his campaign, while I tirelessly worked on many other campaigns I left with feelings of accomplishment from my involvement with Matt. Picking potatoes at Food Works at Two Rivers Farm, sorting food at the Vermont Food Bank, cleaning the Passumpsic River and constructing a bike path at North Branch Park gave me a sense of purpose much greater than holding a sign on the corner of Main Street in Barre.

I for one have had some community service in the past but not as much as I wished I had. During my college years, I participated in clothes drives for the underprivileged, litter cleanup and even played Santa for a local animal rescue organization, but for years I had removed myself from any such service not because I just did not care but because I just did not connect with those who did. Years progressed and I became friends with the President of the Saddle River Valley(NJ) Lions Club, Jim Murphy. Upon persistent coaxing by Jim he got me to volunteer for their annual Spring Carnival. Now of course I was somewhat hesitant but it was for charity, so I joined in. I had a blast and wound up doing it for a couple more days and then every year afterward. Now not all community service projects are fun but they can be and it leaves you with a sense of pride.

So the act of giving blood is something simple and does not require a lot of time or effort. I feel so passionate about the issue of having affordable medical care that at least I can do is give my part to those in need of medical assistance. Those of us involved in political issues tend to bitch and complain about the unfavorable conditions we see while there are those out there participating in their community and making a difference. So campaigns such as Matt Dunne’s not only politicize the issues they attempt to rectify them first hand.

In Washington, President Bush has initiated his Faith Based Initiative as a method to spur community outreach from churches. Many of the community service orientated projects do come from religious organization, but I feel the program crosses the line with the separation of church and state. Churches do have a positive impact on communities and many church members are good hearted individuals. So as a way to balance there needs to be governmental programs that encourage civic mindedness. That starts with you and me because “if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.”

To those like me on the left we have to come together and do our part. To answer the critics from the right, government must represent us all, for as a society we are only as strong as the weakest parts of our society. So as the last drops of blood drained out of my vein, I realized that we as a society must come together and express ourselves and participate in the overall health of our communities.

Peace
Robb Kidd

“One is not born into this world to do everything but to do something” Henry David Thoreau.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Who Wants to Be President", America's Newest Reality Show

Landslide by the inevitable element of change, the Democrats regained control of the House and the Senate and within hours the news pundits began speculating the next president of the United States. Who do the media call out to be the favorites to become our next leader? The pundits are lined up for the forecasts like the sportscasters hype of the Kentucky Derby. According to them it might as well be Hilary Clinton versus John McCain but for myself and most others I think we would choose someone else.

Mainstream news fills us with threads of information speculating a run by Hilary Clinton. I suppose she already is a favorite of Rupert Murdoch the ultra-conservative owner of FOX. While he is the model of conservative businesses he has been willing to fill the campaign coffers of the right wing’s most hated liberal. How is that possible that a supposed liberal has become a big benefactor of a notorious conservative or is it all a show? Maybe Murdoch will reap the benefits of added viewers with his networks continually bashing of Democratic policy. Rupert a smart businessman knows that the Republican Conservative Agenda is dead so maybe he is just staying ahead of the game and keeping his influence within the power structure.

Or maybe we can just question Hillary Clinton’s supposed liberal agenda. From the surface Hillary looks like a liberal, but maybe it’s just the old hidden mirror trick. Leaders from the right have criticized Hilary as egotistical and power hunger. As far as I can see the only liberal agenda Hillary has promoted is a national health care policy and that is a stretch. For today’s American politicians anybody who does not say that health care needs to be reworked is practical suicide. Hilary has been a big proponent of the War effort and has only offered minimal criticism of the Iraq War and has balked any alternative plan just as much as President Bush has. We might as well have a Clinton/Lieberman team run for the Republican ticket; it’s not much different than their platform.

Oh, yeah Hilary the champion of liberal politics was on the board of Wal-Mart, see Hilary Clinton and Wal-Mart: A Love Story originally published by Huffington Post on Common Dreams.Org. We can look to the record of her husband as further evidence of contradictory policies. The champions of liberalism agreeing to the passage of NAFTA, the continual bombing of Iraq and blockading humanitarian aid from reaching children and the veil of secrecy that hide information from the public. While the Clinton’s may have given a sense of hope to a portion of the public after years of Reagan and Bush H.W. the record was marred with rhetoric that conceded with the wishes of corporate America. Yes, I still believe there were some misdoings with the Clinton’s in the Whitewater affair, so do I want Hillary for President, the answer is Hell NO.

Barack Obama, as well gets the nod from many. While it has been stated that he is “talented” a “rising talent” or the “next star” of the Democratic Party, I question that notion. Does the American public want a media star or do we want a President who has the courage to stand up for what is right? I ask people what he stands for and all I get are blank stares. David Sorata sums it well in his article “Barrack Obama Is the Almighty - Bow Down To Him Now” about the upcoming rock star image.

We might as well make a new TV series “Who Wants to Be President.” Contestants have to raise as much money as possible, say very little to the media except for five second sound bites and flood the airwaves with marketing dollars trashing their opponents. Rupert Murdoch and Fox will have America captivated for a whole year, sounds like a cash cow. Fox and its cohorts are already working at discrediting Barack, see the post from Philip Baruth at the Vermont Daily Briefing. I must confess I do not know a lot about Barack and would like to hear more but at the same time I do not want the news media telling me who should run.

While the mainstream press gears up for the horse race, other candidates have entered the race. A return to the campaign trail, OH Rep. Dennis Kunnich has just thrown his hat in. Kunnich ran in 2004 but received very little press coverage. An early opponent to the Iraq War and has called for investigations on President Bush’s illegal activities. As a Representative he has been strong on Health Care, strong on the Environment and strong on Labor. Most strikingly his proposal of creating a Department of Peace shows his commitment of peaceful intentions, rather than partisan political rhetoric. The President must be willing to use the voice of the people to be a broker and advocate for world peace but the corporate media wants the war machine to roll on.

Continuing on military issues a declared candidate I have seen very little press on, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel had declared his intentions months ago. Gravel is primarily known for entering the Pentagon Papers into the Senate Record, which helped expediate the end of the Vietnam War. He has been a proponent of decreasing the size of the Military Industrial Complex. President Eisenhower had fore-warned the country about their emerging rise of control of US policy by the Military Industrial Complex but very few have dared to answer to his call. Additionally he has called for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and closures of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Not just a one-dimensional candidate, he supports a single payer national health care plan and reformation of the tax codes. He is a strong advocate of strengthen Americans participation in Democracy. So while little fan fare will arise over his candidacy, his issues resonate strong with me.

On to Iowa, Governor Vilsak joined in the race by focusing on the issue of energy independence. The issue making its appearance into the national campaign is something to look hard at. We are witnessing the first hand detriments to our environment from the burning of fossil fuels and the international tensions created to fuel the demand for oil, energy dependence needs to be prioritized. Vilsak coming from Iowa has a strong commitment towards expansion of ethanol production. The debate on alternative approaches need to be highlighted but I fear Vilsak’s has enormous influence from the large agro-businesses in the production of corn. As well, Vilsak has been molded by the Democratic Leadership Committee which had virtually sold the Democratic Party to the hands of corporate America, leading the progressive roots of the party out to dry.

There is still a year to go before the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa Caucasus take place so I am sure that many more candidates will emerge. Rumors emerge that Al Gore is wrestling the idea after his new found charisma and success of an Inconvenient Truth . I was just forwarded a petition to urge Gore to run again but as well I have my reservation on him. But as my future father in law told me “anybody who would want to run for President must be a psychopath”, so beware of anybody who really wants this job. So stay tuned for the next installment of “Who Wants to Be President.”

Peace
Robb Kidd

“There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president." Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Brunch with Bernie


A serene and calm Sunday morning, feeling more like the days of spring than the beginning of winter people of all types began to flow into the Old Socialist Labor Hall in Barre, Vermont. A natural setting for the first Socialist Senator in United States history, Bernie Sanders, to set off his monumental task of resetting the course of American policy. While listed as a Brunch with Bernie, this event was not the syndicated radio show with Thom Hartman but an actual discussion of issues reflecting Vermont and the country today. While Thanks and praises were given the notions of the continual campaign to bring about change was highly evident.

America needs a revolution in its political culture”, Bernie enthusiastically told the grateful citizenry like a pastor telling the congregation the tenants of morality. The crowd listened with intention and for a sense of hope and positive change. While Bernie has represented the State of Vermont for 16years as its lone House of Representatives member he is more than just the next senator of Vermont, he is “Bernie,” almost like a rock star or cult figure in stature. As a Senator now his status and platform has been elevated to a higher level. His words and passions will resonate louder than ever before, America the “times are a changin.”

So listening to Bernie speak about the magnificent job that the citizens of Vermont did by running a grass roots campaign to help him win the Senate seat by a landside of thirty-three percent, I reflected on the countless people I spoke to throughout the campaign. There are many citizens who will never get involved in the democratic process or even think of its ramifications on their own lives, but it is something I wished everyone would.

The problems of democracy hold true with the notion of apathy and the only way to counteract apathy is by action. As has been standard stock material for Bernie when receiving congratulations or thanks, he passionately says “NO YOU DID IT.” Some may say that Bernie is either modest or is a skilled politician using his speech as a way to captivate and command his audience, but I disagree. Either may be true, but truth of the matter is without the people’s support Bernie can not do it alone. Yes, Bernie is a populist but I see him listen to questions with passion and interest, not as a mere side show. So what Bernie has been saying is that we need a revolution by that we need involvement of people of all types. That involvement is by speaking out at your town committees, writing to the editor and voicing your voice where ever you go. Democracy is an act that comes 365 days a year not just on Election Day.

So very fitting for the location of the Old Socialist Labor Hall, Bernie lectured the crowd on Socialism. Socialism is the notion that government looks out for the week of our society. While there are those who still equate Socialism to Communism and Totalitarianism, nothing could be as far from the truth. It’s the opposite, socialism gives power to people who normally would not have been represented. As we can see in today’s US government we are far from having representation by the people.

Politicians are continually raising their war chests to obtain their positions. Too infrequently the majority of their money comes from the very wealthy or the corporations. So when we have energy bills written by the energy corporations, the pharmaceutical bills written by the pharmacy industry and solutions to fixing health care snubbed by the insurance industry it is not example of a representative government. Neither the bloated military budgets where policies of war trump any policy of social need does not represent the people. Instead the financial interests of those who benefit from policy are the same who support our elected officials. The United States Governmental policy has been moving further away from representational and closer to a rise of corporate fascism. Corporate interests are prioritized over the will of the people and that is not democracy.

The only way to overcome the abundance of money in politics is to be vocal and speak your truth. So when Bernie says we need a political revolution, he is not talking about waging armed insurrection or forcibly seizing control but returning the power of politics to people. World renowned linguist and political scientist, Noam Chomsky has stated that if you get ten people to believe in the way you do you have started a movement. That is all it takes, people and then more people. In America, today is it right that millionaires and billionaires receive tax breaks, corporations allowed to continually degrade our environment or honest people denied quality health care and the right for livable wages. I do not think so and am sure most Americans do not either. So while we have had a system of government that has not voiced those concerns, we must voice it ourselves. Government will have no choice when the people’s voice is louder than the money that controls it. We must use our voice wherever we go.

Peace
Robb Kidd

“Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit.” Abbie Hoffman

Friday, December 08, 2006

Brock Salmon With a Levy Abbott


As I sleep at night this week I have had dreams of ballots and names floating through my thoughts. Brock, Brock, Salmon, Abbot, Brock, Salmon and blank haunt me like guilt festering in a child’s head after stealing a cookie. For the last five days, I have spent my time involved in a recount for the state’s Auditors race. If I had known what I know now, there is no way I would have volunteered to take this task on. Here in Montpelier, Democratic and Republican volunteers under the direction of the Washington County Clerk’s office have labored over the task of recounting the votes for this elected position.

The process while tedious has given me insight of what an arduous task it is too properly tally the votes of an election. Unlike the 2000 presidential election, there are no hanging chads, just the repetitions of the count. The process while not perfect has a built in check systems to verify the accuracy of the count. Rooms are set up of teams of four; each team consists of two Democrats and two Republicans. Teams are given the duty of counting votes, verifying voter check lists or counting out packets of fifty ballots. Every thing is cross checked multiple times. The votes are tabulated by all four people in a team and if the numbers do not coincide with each other the process for that packet must start over. Yes, while there is some human element of error, every effort has been made to obtain accurate counts. Every vote is counted whether for perennial Liberty Union Candidate Jerry Levy, Progressive Martha Abbott, the blanks or the countless write-ins for Mickey Mouse or cousin Brucey.

So while spending the last week captive in a court house with complete strangers has not been my ideal method of occupying my time, I have gained a greater respect for the democratic process. While I do not agree politically with the countless Republicans in the room and some of the Democrats in the room, I have obtained a sense of admiration for all of them. Like me, they all want to see the democratic process work and for them to take time out their schedule shows the good nature of these individuals. The process could not work without them.

Still no winner declared in the recount it will continue until next week, I exited the courthouse and breathed in the fresh cool air on my walk home through the streets of Montpelier, known to some as Montpeculiar. Having spent the last six months here I was beginning to feel that there were no Republicans in this town. Being captivated within the heart of the Democratic campaigns I infrequently associated with anybody who was not a left leaning fanatic.

To me the Republicans of the nationally level are nothing but a bunch of low down scoundrels that are sucking the country dry and I was starting to feel that way about any Republican. I have one uncle who thinks we should line up every Republican and shoot them dead, a bit harsh I think. But as history has shown us any politically party that manipulates the public with fear and patriotism can captivate the public into supporting an agenda that is diametrically opposed to their moral compass. The past few years an agenda of morality and patriotism has been dictated upon us with little regards to the law. Instead inhumanity and treasonous acts have been committed against the nation and the world. So of course my outlook on Republicanism has not been too favorable, but conversing with these Vermont Republicans I realize that while their party may have abandoned them, they as individuals are not bad people. In fact they care as much about society as I do, but see things in another frame of light.

So returning home today, I read a post on www.greenmountaindaily.com about the recount procedure and its perspective was favoring overturning the election towards Salmon. I read the comments and of course a bit of disgruntled commentary from “Independents and Progressives.” Issues of trusting the counters, the absence of Independents or Progressives in the process, or the fact that it occurs during the day while people are working came into question. The recount process does have its flaws, but as a result of the 1980 Leahy vs. Ledbetter recount the state implemented new procedures into law. While election laws have dictated the procedural operations of this recount, there have emerged further issues of election procedures that will have to be addressed.

A Popular issue driven by the Progressives for Instant Runnoff Voting is circulating since no candidate has received over 50 percent of the vote. Issues of a recount would have been mute if a system had been in place. No matter what the results of this election cycle, the victor will not have obtained a majority of voters, thus an elected official representing a populace where the majority of voters have chosen against them. Still the disturbing fact that only 53.5 of registered voters voted in this election shows even greater flaws to the representative government. Additionally, many ballots were left blank thus those voters showed either dissatisfaction with the candidates or their non interests in prioritizing the race. Either way, if the all those who did not vote or left a blank were motivated towards this race there could have been a whole different results.

The criticisms have been heard and the truth of the matter is that in general their needs to be greater participation in the democratic process by all walks of life. Over the summer I heard one Bernie Intern saying “damn Progressives why don’t they go away.” I responded by saying I love the Progressives because at least they are expressing their dissatisfaction with either the Democrats or the Republicans. While, they may not garnish enough votes to obtain statewide office at least they are forcing the Democrats to remember their progressive roots. If a percentage of Martha Abbot’s voters voted instead for Salmon things would have been different, but they hadn’t. The flaws of democracy are abundant but at least there are those who want to see it prosper. No matter who wins this election, I think we all have lessons to learn, what is yours?

Peace
Robb Kidd

“The spirit of democracy cannot be imposed from without. It has to come from within.” Mohandas K. Gandhi

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Kill Your Television


Growing up as a child I remember lying on the living room floor watching television. Evenings were planned based on what was scheduled on T.V. So as a child my vision of the world around me was based on what the networks decided to air. Walter Cronkite was the voice of America and what Walter said was laid in stone, like God speaking to Moses. Now in my thirty’s I see how much of modern American society revolves around television and it scares me.

Today on the blog, Green Mountain Daily (http://www.greenmountaindaily.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=710), Odum lays out the groundwork for petitioning the FCC to revoke the license of local WCAX TV. Being the only major news network broadcasting within the state of Vermont it is known as being “Vermont’s Own.” Or as Vermont Seven Days columnist Peter Fryne labels it as GOP TV. Now, myself as someone who does not watch TV, I can not comment about the content of WCAX but I have a feeling that it is not that much different from TV of years past. Stating from news reports I have read WCAX refused to air or sponsor any of the recent gubernatorial debates during the election campaign, despite airing debates from the other major races.

According to FCC’s license requirements broadcasters on the airwaves must provide certain amounts of service to the public. While there can be debates on how WCAX provides information to the public, we can see that there is a possible problem with the editorial or programming content chosen by the staff at WCAX. While they had chosen the other races they failed to broadcast the race for the leadership of the state it call’s home.

Marselis Parsons, news director and anchor for WCAX, at The Money and Politics symposium(sponsored by VPR) in September had expressed his opinion that it was not the responsibility of the news media to cover every event deemed newsworthy by others, but events that were out of the ordinary should. As an example, he stated that Governor Douglass receiving an endorsement from a union was, but for Bernie Sanders it was not news. I guess his logic is that all unions support Democratic or left leaning candidates and that is old and on the other hand very few unions support Republicans so I guess that is news. Using Marselis’s logic I suppose that is why, the news media never covers the lies and corruption of President Bush and his Republican colleagues since that is not new but old. Corruption and government lies have been a tactic by Republican Presidents for years so nothing new with that, thus not news.

In Florida courts have ruled that the FOX news is not obligated to tell the truth. “In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States” is listed with http://www.projectcensored.org as being a top censored story of 2005. The news media has become flash entertainment and infotainment, with no concerns on the truth or factuality of issues.

As the minds of Americans are being absorbed into their televisions the world revolves around them. There are many American’s who’s view of reality is what is on the latest reality television show, not what is in their family or community. Survivor, American Idol or the Bachelor tell them what is “cool” and what is not. Television news and Sports shows tell them that Chevrolet is the Heartbeat of America, Pepsi is the Right Choice and GE brings good things to life. News channels broadcast gleeful Americans at shopping malls, inform us of the latest diet craze and keep us up to date on Pamela Anderson’s love life. America has the most informed consumers while the rest of the world ponders solving the causes of global warming. Barely ever does the news flash tell you that the Chevy SUV is a major contributor to global warming, Pepsi and other advertisers are responsible for the flabby stomach or that GE is a major recipient in military contracts and heavily invested in volatile Nuclear Power Plants.

So, while we have gone from the days of the past where Walter Cronkite blurted out that Vietnam was a bloodbath and that the Vietnam War should end to a media that has conformed to the wishes of the establishment. Conservatives will complain to you that the “liberal media” is poising the public but the evidence is contradictory to their claims. There is very little media controlled by “liberals” today. Large media conglomerates are dominated by conservatives. Sinclair Broadcasting, News Corp and Rupert Murdoch, Clear Channel and Bloomberg prioritize what the American Public hears. ABC and Disney tell you to go to the Happiest Place on Earth; while in years past GE told you through NBC that nuclear energy is safe. The power of the major advertisers does thwart negative press and demands promotion of their products and agendas.

Here in Vermont, there may be WCAX-TV or GOP-TV and some other stations that I choose not to watch because I fail to see the validity of their content. Yes, there may be some “beneficial television” but I have my skepticism of the messages being aired by that medium. Scientific studies have proven that more brain power is required to focus on a television screen than is used for most other activities, thus leaving the mind with less capacity for activities such as thought. The television is truly the “idiot box,” and if one chooses to I suggest think for yourself and turning of your television. We all have a right to think no matter what Marselis Parsons and WCAX TV or Rupert Murdoch and Fox News tell you.

Peace

Robb Kidd

“Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.” Alfred Hitchcock

Monday, December 04, 2006

Falling Snow in a Democracy


Hanging chads and falling snow, visions of democracy and winter fill the air. Today at least the snow has finally come to Montpelier; a smooth white blanket of snow falling to the frozen ground brings out a romantic vision of winter in Vermont, while the democratic process of elections carry on. Having no actually employment, today I began a stint of participating in the recount for the State of Vermont’s Auditor election. While there are no hanging chads a tedious work is fore coming. The State Auditors race has come down to a recount, provisionary returns has listed incumbent Republican Randy Brock with a 136 vote lead over Democrat Tom Salmon Jr.

So many times I have heard the phrase that every single vote counts, but as mere numbers show there is very little room for error. Sitting in courthouses in every county throughout the state volunteers began their arduous task of recounting the votes. Ballot after ballot has to be recounted to verify the accuracy of the town clerks tally. I give credit to those candidates for really wanting the position. Why would any one of these two men and one woman (Martha Abbot, Progressive Party) really want the job being a state auditor? I for one began college as a math major, but soon realized that playing with numbers was a mind numbing task. Hats off to them for wanting to campaign for this job, I would not be caught dead doing that job.

Lessons of democracy, while only 53.5percent of the state voted in this last election hundreds of volunteers are sacrificing their time to make sure the democratic process works. While, the state’s air waves and landscape were covered by the more publicized election races elected positions like the state auditors race had virtually ignored. Not really sure what the heck the state auditor does, I did not take an avid interest in informing myself on how to vote either. So I see that countless Vermonters did not even vote, or even still fully educate themselves on the candidates, I question how actually voted on the rise with full awareness of the candidacies.

On paper, direct democracy sounds good but when a majority of the population has no time to inform themselves on the major candidates I feel that the process has been expanded too far. Countless ballot items, such as Justice of the Peace, Probate Judge, Sheriff, Bailiff line the ballots. While in an ideal world everybody should be able to vote for those individual positions, so in those I propose that possibly those positions by through political appointment by the Governor and then approved by the Legislature. We have trusted our elections to the higher positions and those lesser known positions should be under their discretion.

So tomorrow, while I go back to the recount, I wonder if there could be better ways for this process. I’m sure Randy Brock, Tom Salmon Jr., or Martha Abbot will all make fine auditors but there already is enough partisan debate and time would be spent more productively addressing the needs of the state in a better way. While almost half of registered voters did not vote at all, elections like this are decided by a few votes and while we are given a choice we should all use it. Democracy can work but only when we are all involved and take the time to care. While we all go to sleep tonight and the snow continues to fall I have visions that our democracy will continue to grow.

Peace

Robb Kidd

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Winston Churchill