Evolving Peace

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Climate Change Hope

Today, in Washington and Montpelier a group representing The Sierra Club and the American Solar Energy Society released a report that reduction of carbon emissions can be obtained by the year 2030. Using existing technologies that goal is obtainable, but only if action is taken. Representing the Sierra Club in Vermont, Steve Crowley spoke at the Vermont State House to a sparse crowd.

“It is common knowledge from leading scientists of climatology; we need sixty to eight percent reduction of carbon emissions,” stated Steve Crowley. That goal can be obtained with the tools already in existence. According to the report energy efficiency is more than half the solution and with a range of solutions we can solve the crisis.

James Moore of Vermont Public Interest Research Group said that it “paints a hopeful picture,” but “the question is, is their going to be more than talk?” Here in Vermont legislators have been consumed with meetings and commissions on the ramifications of global warming, while interest has spread we hope that an aggressive stance will be taken. James Moore elaborated and stated that the nation is vast in renewable energy sources and that each part of the nation is responsible for their commitment.

The southwest with strong solar resources, to Vermont with the possibilities of wind, solar and biomass can provide some of the solutions. Wind power in Vermont is an essential part of the solution in Vermont and if they do not progress with wind power “they can not claim they are addressing the issue,” stated James Moore. Solutions can be done without coal or nuclear power and still maintain healthy environmental.

While debate rages on the solutions of global warming, there are groups who have done the research. Talk is not needed the time now is for all elected officials to act. As activist writer Bill McKibben has stated, “the best time to act on global warming was twenty years ago.” There are vast reports stating the possibilities of environmental calamities if action is not taken, so I beg to ask the question is it worth the chance and not act? Please contact your elected officials and tell them you want action, the power of your voice travels well in the halls of laws.

Robb Kidd

“You cannot be neutral on a moving train". Howard Zinn, US Historian

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Speed Trap

"Slow down your moving to fast," a lyric of a Paul Simon song resonates in my ear from time to time. Speeding probably is the offense most of us do on a regular basis, so it was about time I was pulled over for that violation. This past weekend on my way to visit friends from New York, who was visiting the winter wonderland of Stowe, I was pulled over for driving too fast. Not familiar with Route 108 and busy paying attention to the signs so I could find the swank inn they were staying at, I inadvertently exceeded the speed limit. I admit I lost my awareness and rightfully so was pulled over.

Traveling into a “Gold Town” my perceptions were off and speed was the least of my concern. The officer politely approached my vehicle and asked for my paperwork and told me to wait. Fully expecting a ticket I was ecstatic with joy when he returned and ask me to verify my address and then handed me an official warning. For years growing up with a father who was a police officer I have had a slight bit of fear fo police. So receiving a warning was a pleasant surprise.

This was my second involvement with police in Vermont and coming from where I am from, I have been pleasantly surprised. The other time was a seat belt inspection check point and at that time I wound up engaged in a full length personal conversation with the officer. I am not sure if it is because I reached a point of maturity or that in general the police in Vermont are just friendlier than I was accustomed too. Stressed by dense populations police in the outreaches of the concrete jungles have no patience. Of course, I do speed but I never tend to drive excessively fast so I have now gotten an official warning.

Not so lucky for the many others driving along those roads. On my return I noticed multiple cars pulled over and wondered how many others were getting warnings or tickets. Was I given a warning as I am a resident of Vermont or was it just the understanding of the officer? The following day my friends were leaving Stowe to visit me here in Montpelier and failing to learn from my experience they were caught speeding. In their case a ticket was issued, but of course they are from New York.

I have been warned and I realize I must be aware of my surroundings more frequently. As an uncle of mine had told me when I was driving in Oregon, it takes almost the same amount of time driving the speed limit as it does while speeding. So, what is the rush? Too many times we venture of in tasks with speed, and forget to enjoy the moment. I am I no rush in life, so with my driving I must slow it down. Besides slower driving burns less fuel and in the age of global warming consciousness that is all that matters.

Robb Kidd

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vermont House Comedy

Stuffy boardrooms, stern men in suits and a sprinkling of women is the first image of what comes to mind what a Vermont House committee meeting is like. To the public, politicians are barely ever given an image of jovialness but imagery of strict and down to business is the order at hand. That was not the case this past Friday in the House Agriculture committee meeting.

In observation of the meeting I witnessed multiple laughs breaking up the seriousness of the day. While this committee is committed to finding resources to assist with an aid package to Vermont farmers, a tedious task that some may just find mind-numbingly boring a gasp of civility and humor lightened up the room. Unfortunately, the brunts of the laughs were on Chairman Zuckerman who inadvertently missed a flight to Washington DC. A mix-up occurred by somebody forgetting to purchase the ticket for him.

With the age of security of flights one could begin to question. Rep Zuckerman is going to introduce a bill that calls for the impeachment of the President. Was he prevented from flying or was it a mix-up? Every time, someone entered into the committee room Vice-Chairman Perry explained the predicament and then spontaneously followed the room erupted into a serious of chuckles from the committee and audience. Maybe he is on the “No fly list” or just maybe President Bush personally bared him for flying to Washington. I was there to cover the meeting for an organization I am working for and Rep. Larrabee turned to me to make sure I got that for my report, as he said he is “on the terror list.”

While state houses and Congress are filled with meetings analyzing data, witnessing testimony and interpreting law sprinklings of comedy arise. Reports barely ever show the human side of our elected officials but as witnessed by me they are human. As I have witnessed most politicians are not the vial creatures(just nationally) we suppose but consist of men and women who are overall think they are representing the common good.

Robb Kidd

“God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny.” Garrison Keillor

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Living Music and New Orleans

Music and politics at first glance have no relation to each other but a closer look reveals the trial and tribulations of life. Experience of music has given an alternative perspective to my journey here on planet earth. Legendary rock promoter Bill Graham was quoted as saying “Music is the heart of the heartless world.”

Revolving around in this life on planet earth at times we can feel that there are dark forces trying to smash us apart and it gets difficult to see the light of day. Fortunately, well before the invention of the car radio and Ipod live entertainment and music was formed by man’s ability for creative expression. For Centuries music has provided entertainment from emperors to slaves. Whether it was with the majestic melodies of a harp, the rusty vibrations of a harmonica or the rhythmic palpitations of a drum, music has captivated the souls of all.

Music is a part of our everyday life. To a child, “I hear music every where,” but as adults society tends to loose track of its sweet sounds. I have been blessed with the sounds of music throughout my life. My youth was filled with the colored sounds of the Grateful Dead; it was there that I learned the connection of music and life.

My music tastes evolved from that into a broad spectrum of genres. The rock/folk sounds of Bob Dylan philosophically connected his words and poetry into my own being. The rusty sounds of Neil Young spotlighted the inter-generational link between the modern world and the simplistic ways of the past. The finger picking guitar playing of Willie Nelson surged the rebellious nature in me. The funk sounds of Maceo Parker, the Meters and James Brown grooved me into senses of euphoria. Jazz greats Ornette Coleman and Herbie Hancock mesmerized my consciousness. The power of the blues in Etta James’s belting out her luscious pipes seduced my soul. Ani DiFranco’s onslaught of societal norms continued my natural
predilection to question. The soulful voice of Aaron Neville with the Neville Brothers grounded me to life here on planet earth. Music is more than just noise; it is a deep connection of the inner workings of the soul.

Making a profound impact of my life was my introduction to the New Orleans music scene. Once caught by the bug, there ain’t no turning back. I have not been back to New Orleans since Jazz Fest of 2005, right before the onslaught of Katrina. So, last night was special to see two ambassadors of the New Orleans music scene playing at the ornate Flynn Theater in Burlington. The long and tall Marcia Ball fused her New Orleans musical roots into bluesy rock numbers that captivated the audience’s attention. Buckwheat Zydeco, the pop star of Zydeco attempted to heat up the joint with his Cajun infused accordion.

The warm swamp boogie was no match for the frigid banks of Lake Champlain. If you ever have gone to New Orleans, music is just not to listen to, it is a participatory event. The dance is part of the show and it barely is any other way. From beer halls, to street festivals to parades, to dance is to be a part of the show. Anytime I see a New Orleans band outside of New Orleans it perplexes me in seeing the crowds’ reaction. I have seen Marcia Ball play until 4am and with many others of New Orleans great talents dancing until the rising of the sun. That is where the party is, it is not with the booze or the spirits it is with the dance.

The passion and joy that New Orleans has given me is hard to explain in words, so when Katrina hit New Orleans multiple tears immersed in my eye. As a frequent visitor to New Orleans, I now that New Orleans was more than just the Bourbon Street Crawl or the St. Charles Street car line. Music was a big part of the life and vibrancy of the town. While deep pockets of poverty spread throughout town many found solace in the music and it gave them the joy of life. I like many others donated tons of money in order to assist those in need while the government pondered blame. The news media dominated coverage but just like the attention deficiency of American school children they have moved on to something else. Despite the lack of attention it does not mean the problem has been solved. New Orleans is still not recovered, so while The Saints almost made it to the Super Bowl and the tourist French Quarter is returning to normalcy the city has been let down by America.

America’s heart is good, but we have lost focus on our government. Today the President marches to a different drum than the America. Whatever happened to the world’s largest reconstruction program or is it just a casualty like the forgotten neighborhoods of America’s cities and rural countryside. Instead lost in the rhetoric of political speeches of the President and the loyal opposition, the beating heart of New Orleans is still submerged. I have not forgotten the voices of New Orleans; they parade within me day and night. The music of New Orleans is special and I hope it will live on and help evolve society into a kinder gentler nation. Get up and dance and live the music.

Robb Kidd

“It's like the audience is the fifth Neville Brother…On a good night, it's like everybody's gigging. They don't know it at the time; they think they're just out there having fun. They're part of the show. That's what makes this live album so much more genuine an experience. Because you can hear the camaraderie that's part of what happens when we play. It's like a spiritual revival and a Mardi Gras parade at the same time." Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers.”

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Women Shaping Politics

Living in Montpelier, the capital of Vermont there is always a plethora of political endeavors stretching across town. Last night for one a legislative reception sponsored by the Vermont Historical Society was flowing with many of Vermont’s legislative leaders and other dignitaries. Events welcoming legislators all throughout town keep the capitol city buzzed with activity. Last night, former Governor Madeleine Kunin delivered a passionate speech on the progression of women in politics.

The event sponsored by the Vermont Historical Society was themed after Clarina Howard Nichols, a prominent woman’s suffragist from Vermont. History had been for years taught in manner that did not connect the dots from those of the past to the trends of today. Governor Kunin did just that and connected the past to the present. Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, and other woman political leaders would not be where they are today “if it were not for the foremothers.”

In the past, women had been virtually left out of the male centered power structure and history has treated women as a figure of irrelevancy. Many of the women who bravely stood up never got a chance to see the progress they set forth in society. The struggle for change was a movement that lasted hundreds of years and it is often overlooked how important it was. Women like Clarina Howard Nichols, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul and all the way through the modern times of Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinman and political leaders such as Geraldine Ferraro, Madeleine Kunin as Governor of Vermont and Gaye Symington, Vermont Speaker of the House had set forth the path for woman like Nancy Pelosi to ascend to her position today. Clarina Howard Nichols “paved the way” for the dreams of today.

Woman today can become President, and then she stated “the importance isn’t the Presidency it is the dream.” As witnessed with Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to include children at the gavel on her inauguration day, women are connecting the importance of children and social needs to the political spectrum. Not withstanding that some men have as well, but in general women have crossed party lines and brought out a more compassionate understanding of the social needs of society.

I briefly conversed with Governor Kunin afterwards and expressed my gratitude for her words and commitment. In particular I was thrilled about her remarks during the last election cycle when she endorsed Congressman Peter Welch over a woman. Instead of endorsing Martha Rainville she stated how she always wants to see a woman win but in that case “I would rather see the right man win.” Too frequently there have been those who have overlooked the credibility of an individual and chosen someone of a particular demographic group just for the sake of it.

As witnessed in recent political discussions a woman and an African-American have become serious contenders for the presidency while their political leanings have been over-looked. I for one would rather see the right person ascend to the presidency rather than a candidate who continues the brutality of today’s political world. We as a nation have progressed and advanced to the point where these candidates are giving the chance to serve, but if they are not offering any thing new to the discussion how different are they from the powers that be. The system has been broken and a wolf in sheep’s clothing is not an answer to today's vast problems.

As our society has progressed there have been marketable improvements in equality. One could look at the still abundant inequalities and look at it in pessimistic way. While the world is exhausting from global warming or under constant threat of war there is a disconnection of humanity within politics; women can be that bridge. Our children and women of society “can not be bystanders to their I-Pods and U-Tube, when young men are dying in Iraq; we can not be bystanders,” she charged as a calling for women and others of conscious to be involved.

With the influx of woman in politics, “they can by with their individualized energy create hope and change.” As society has seen some great advances particularly with the advancements of women in society there are many faults that still need to be addressed. The continued degradation of our environment, low wages that are withholding the abilities of life liberty and happiness and the entrenched war in Iraq are issues that need attention. As history has shown with the women’s suffrage movement change does not happen overnight but that it takes commitment from many people in order for society to advance. There is no magic button but if each individual acts eventual change will happen. “Make an impact, make a difference be a whole human being,” she passionately urged those in attendance.

Robb Kidd

“Women need to see ourselves as individuals capable of creating change. That is what political and economic power is all about: having a voice, being able to shape the future. Women's absence from decision-making positions has deprived the country of a necessary perspective.”--Madeleine Kunin

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Protest and Demonstrate

This past weekend hundreds of people flocked to the streets of Montpelier to demonstrate their opposition of the Iraq War. I for one a committed individual for peace was not in attendance, but I honor those that bared the snow and frigid temperatures as an avenue to broadcast our disdain for the direction of the country(my partner was there and she took the corresponding picture). There are those who state that the issue is not something that our local governments should get involved with and actions like this to petition our elected officials are futile. I refute that notion, local elected officials should get involved and feel that the voice of the people shall be echoed from within our local governments in a hope that the national political arena will wake up on the issue.

Democracy is the voice of the people and in our state houses and our town meetings the issue of the war is prevalent. The cost of the war is deeply affecting each one of us whether it is the cost of health care or the ever growing property tax burden. The war will cost each American over three thousand dollars and that my fellow Americans could be spent in a much more productive manner locally within our towns and states.

I honor those who stood out in the cold and voiced their concerns. Democracy is in the streets and may that voice resonate throughout the country. The issue does not stop there by voicing it in the streets. As I have stated I was not at the protest, despite that it was right here in my town but as a friend of mine once told me, “there must be a time in life when you must stop protesting and start demonstrating.”

We all know the war was wrong and that the war was based on the need to control oil. Globally, nations and multinational corporations are competing to dominate the control of the world’s oil reserves. Instead, we must look for ways to remove ourselves from this world economy. Driving less, eating foods that are produced locally and supporting a locally centered infrastructure are all paths to remove of us from the dependency of oil. As much as I dislike President Bush, he was right last year when he said, “We are addicted to oil.” I wonder what profound statment he will say tonight? Now the question is whether we want to do anything about it? That is were I say “stop protesting and start demonstrating.” Demonstrate to the nation and the world that we do not need oil to transport our food three thousand miles, do not need the gargantuan high definition television bougth at Wal-Mart or the gas guzzling SUV.

As a society it is we who must choose the direction of the nation. If we call for an end to oil addiction, there will be no need for the oil industry to dictate foreign policy needs. Power is given only when it is supplied and if the population continues to fuel the need for oil, the power structure will continue to propagate its needs to wage war on oil rich nations. So this Saturday as thousands of Americans converge on Washington to display their disgust, I will be there in spirit but will be left here in Vermont demonstrating a new direction.

Robb Kidd

“Smiling is very important. If we are not able to smile, then the world will not have peace. It is not by going out for a demonstration against nuclear missiles that we can bring about peace. It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, January 22, 2007

Got Raw Milk ?

Fifteen years ago I choose to stop drinking milk. Battle lines were waged strong over the issue of using rBGH an untested growth hormone on milk producing cows. I for one saw the influence of the large scale dairy industry peddling its influence on the Food and Drug Administration and it appeared to me and many others that their motives where to maximize profits instead of looking out for the interests of the public or to assist the needs of farmers. At the time, living in New Jersey there was little or no choice on what options to take. Farm fresh milk was not there, nor was the presence of any organic dairy supply available, so I chose not to drink milk.

I have been so accustomed to not drinking milk that I barely ever missed it, for years I have substituted soy-milk and lived a milk free life. Just a clarification, I still eat cheese and have enjoyed many great locally produce cheeses here in Vermont, including Neighborly Farms in Randolph. This past Saturday I attended the Vermont Grazing Conference and I was enlightened about many issues related to farming and especially the dairy industry. The conference was composed of a diversified group of farmers interested in learning about ways to increase their productivity of their farm while maintaining an environmentally sustainable farm.

Keynote speaker Mark McAfee of the Organic Pastures Dairy Company passionately addressed the attendees about his farms commitment to supplying not only organic milk but raw milk, which is milk that has not been pasteurized. “If you are conscious you seek a desire for sustainability…” so “are we conscious enough,” he questioned the crowd. “Raw milk means managing the entire food chain from pasture to the consumers,” and by that he elaborated by stating that using all natural pastures the cows produce the highest quality milk and then by selling raw milk locally the whole means of production is retained in a locally contained environment. Due to the shelf life of raw milk, it is impossible to orchestrate large scale shipping; consequently the market for raw milk is exclusive local. This means that consumers are then much more closely connected to the farmer instead of the present model where everyone is disconnected from the food supply.

Scientific data has shown that raw milk contains natural nutrients and enzymes that dramatically improve the quality of life. Higher concentrations of enzymes and minerals that are essential in strengthening the human immune system are prevalent in raw milk. These enzymes are attributed to having great healing affects for those suffering of asthma, allergies and depression, as well as assisting in weight loss. Unfortunately, the process of pasteurization removes most of the beneficial enzymes and nutrients, so pasteurized milk does not have its inherent value as marketed by the large scale dairy industry. He stated there are no pathogens in raw milk but “that the only assurance I can give you is that it increases your enzymes,” and there is “no one-hundred percent guarantee there are not any pathogens.” Usage of natural grazing for food source and rigorous testing insures the highest quality milk product. To refute the claims of the safety of pasteurization he stated the fact that in California thirty-one percent of all tested pasteurized milk contains human pathogens. Unlike conventional milk, his raw milk has never tested positive for pathogens.

So you would figure raw milk would be readily accessible to the public, but that is not the case. Raw milk in most states is illegal to sell except in very small quantities. In Vermont, a mere six gallons a day is the legal parameters set. Sales across state lines can only be done if labeled “pet food.” How come these strict measures are set on farmers who are struggling to survive and sell their product? Vermont’s health restrictions forbid the practice as a means of protecting the public health. Contrary to that rational, the case with rBGH shows a pattern that government regulators are not looking out for the interests of consumers by approving an untested hormone, as with the case or raw milk, scientific data has been ignored instead the false claims of consumer protection are propagated. Farmers are prevented from selling their fresh raw product to the public while the interests of the large scale dairy corporations are enforced. The smaller scale farmers are struggling to maintain their farms while the commoditization of conventional milk strangles their needs.

Just a word of advice, due to the richness of enzymes raw milk can not be consumed at first in large quantities. So if you are able to acquire raw milk drink only small amounts at first. The movement for organic milk has enlightened the populace on the dangers of untested ingredients (rBGH) and now the demands for purely natural ingredients are on the rise. Mother Nature intended milk to be a certain way and humans had survived many years without man’s alterations to it. With that in mind, do you GOT RAWMILK?


Robb Kidd

“We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves."

Statement by 24 leading African agriculturalists and environmental scientists representing their countries at the UN in 1998 testifying against Monsanto.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Farm Aid

As a child, my Sunday ritual with my Dad was to drive out to the farm to receive our weeks supply of milk. Those were the days when I thought that brown cows were the ones that supplied chocolate milk. While things have changed since then, I now do know that there are Holstein and Jersey Cows but still have no clue how many teats there are on a cow’s udder (those in VT will appreciate that). The farm was just a short ride from my boyhood home in New Jersey and at that age it was a thrill every time to take that ride to Monroe, NY on a Sunday afternoon. It is sad to say that the farm is no longer there, it had been given way to greener pastures while make rooming for another suburban housing development.

Like that farm, many American farms are going by the wayside. The agrarian society hailed in the age of Jefferson is no longer. Small independent farms have mostly been replaced by the large monolithic factory farms that spread out for miles along many rural areas of the country. These farms are no longer owned by families but owned by large corporations with the soul interest of profits. Family farms can no longer afford to pay equipment costs, mortgages, or energy costs. Excessive rains from last spring and summer hampered the hay cultivation thus adding exorbitant costs onto their backs. So given the choice to continue farming at high debt ratios or to sell to someone looking to develop a home off in the country, which would you choose?

Farms are the most vital resources of a nation, but given the status of the world you would think that we eat and drink oil. Farms are what fuel the country and serious attention should be given to the plight of the family farmer. Farmers are the lifeblood to our lives and we owe them our support.

Throughout the country there are various movements broadcasting their message of concern. In Vermont, the Localvore movement is strong by supporting locally grown food as an attempt to save the small farms from collapse and for protecting the environment. As a benefit for supporting farms as a consumer you would receive fresh foods that have not been shipped half way across the globe. As a result, that meandering countryside retains its esthetic value without resulting into the densely populated suburbs of New Jersey.

Additionaly, the continued resources that are required to ship foods across the globe are wasteful. Statistics have shown that the average American meal travels 3,000 miles to arrive on one’s plate. The nation can debate about the ramifications of global warming but easy steps by eating local foods will help in cutting green house gasses. In a time of environmental uncertainty, all approaches to maintain a more local based diet is not only good for yourself and the local farmer but is good for the planet.

As the issues of farmers may not make it on Headline News, as a populace we need to bring about awareness of the issue. In rural states, farmers issues are still prevalent but unfortunately there lacks a clear consensus on solutions. Vermont has seen battles over genetically modified seeds, animal registration and organic vs. conventional farming. My choice is to have non-genetically modified and organic food, as I hope everyone else would. With any business model there needs to be a profitability factor for farmers. Organic and natural foods are more expensive and the great demands for those options create higher prices.

Conversion to organic foods and niche markets does bring in greater price yields, but it does not answer a complete fix all. A bill recently introduced in Vermont, to remove milk hauling fees from being charged to the farmer can help answer some questions. Dairy is a major ingredient for most food within an American diet and farmers are unnecessarily charged fees to pick up their milk from the farm. While many distributors and other retailers profit exponentially of their product a farmer has to continue to work longer and harder days to stay afloat.

There are many solutions to helping our farmers survive and there are many organizations address their concerns such as Rural Vermont and Farm Aid. I hope for a continued presence of small family farms where I can still obtain locally grown produce and raised meats for my family. Throughout the land many farms have been forced to sell and it reminds me of the Soviet’s forced collectivism of peasant farms. A tragic mistake in the merge to gigantic state based farms. The presence of families and the cultural values were uprooted from their traditions of farming and favored a faceless bureaucracy micromanaging its resources for an efficient commodity. Likewise here farms are merged into corporate industrial farms and that is uprooting the landscapes and traditions of the America’s connection to the land. While no one is putting a gun to them to sell off like in the Soviet case, the economic hardships are just as potent. Plantings no longer are based on needs but what can be cultivated for the highest profit margins.

As a society we owe it to our farmer friends and neighbors to support them. Otherwise the landscape could be further decimated into tracts of suburban style homes. As for the solutions the best we can do is to eat more local foods and encourage the voice of the farmers to speak loudly. I look forward to the day where I will still be able to joke with my children as we see the “chocolate-milk cows” in the pastures of Vermont. Eat local and support your local farmer.

Robb Kidd

“The fight to save family farms isn't just about farmers. It's about making sure that there is a safe and healthy food supply for all of us. It's about jobs, from Main Street to Wall Street. It's about a better America.” Willie Nelson

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

1.2 Trillion Dollar Lie

Latest estimates are stating that the Iraq war is going to cost up to 1.2 trillion dollars but still the fiscally insane conservatives continue to propagate their gung-ho attitude towards a war that the American people and the American military personal just do not want. All throughout the country people are suffering from low wages and unemployment, higher costs in health care and extreme escalation in education costs and they are told there is “no money.” The same excuse rattles of the lips of the fiscally insane that there is just no money to pay for social programs and infrastructure but meanwhile they propose tax cuts. Brilliant idea, wage a war and then give tax breaks to those who are prospering, while the rest of the country falls down the economic ladder.

Imagine what 1.2 trillion dollars can do for you. How much does that equate to if we gave that money to every person in the state of Vermont? (1,926,009 dollars, based on 623,050 people) How much for every citizen of the country? (3,986 dollars based on 300,988,114 people). That is an alarming figure, so what can the fiscal conservatives claim is the rational? There are so many worthwhile causes that are in need of financial resources, but too many people have been victimized by the deceptive neo-conservative and neo-liberal agenda. What is the cost in your community?

The 1.2 trillion dollar cost is a conservative estimate and does not include money already spent on weaponry, health care for returning vets or the costs to replenish the equipment destroyed in the war. Also failing to be accounted for is other wasteful measures such as the “Star Wars” missile program that this President wants to continue or the continued devolvement and testing of nuclear munitions.

President Eisenhower had fore-warned the nation to beware of the “Military Industrial Complex” and that my friends has bringing out the downfall of American democracy. Whole industries rely on the continue need and demand for war. The same people calling for the war are the same ones profiting for the war. Companies such as Halliburton have enriched the coffers of their stakeholders while their corporate friends like Rupert Murdoch and his Fox broadcasting distract you on frivolous news about the latest fashion trends or OJ Simpson’s latest book. They have corrupted democracy and things will not change until you demand it.

So while the numbers of deaths keep escalating on American troops to over 3,026, the mere financial costs and the thirty-four thousand Iraqi's died just from last years violence I duly question the rational of every American politician who does not call for an immediate end to the war. The meaningless condemnations of the President are weak and allow the continue demise of the country. When will someone in Congress or the Senate take the bold initiative and remove funding from this war? It is costing each one of us dearly and not another American should die for a war based on a lie.

Robb Kidd

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

King Would Say No !!!

My heart is a little weary these days, I had seen so much promise and visions of hope in the last couple of months but it now seems as if the President has no intentions on following that path. Instead like a cowboy with mad-cow disease he is trumping his anachronistic war plans onto a nation and a world who just does not want to hear it.

Yesterday, the nation memorialized the legacy of the Reverend Dr Martin Luther King and few words echoed his call on ending war. Dr. King was more than just a voice on the issue of race because he saw through the smokescreen of patriotic lies and realized a country that spent it resources on war did not care about the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some theorize that he was killed once he began to fervently speak out against the Vietnam War. As his memory still lies strong, I ask what would Dr. King say? My partner, Sarah posted a thought provoking perspective on Dr. King’s legacy on Finding Community in and Independent State and I suggest a look at it.

The memories of Dr. King are fading and the United States is still at war. I read daily of the deaths and bloodshed and see little hopes to an end. The emergence of a new Congress was going to work on ending it, instead they have become the mere “Loyal Opposition.” Congressman, Senators and Presidential hopefuls are so brave to condemn the President but unfortunately they lack the political courage to put a stop to him. When will they speak up and put an end to the madness?

Are they wanting for the President to provoke a war on Iran, or what? Reminiscent of the Vietnam Era, when President Nixon illegally bombed Laos and Cambodia words are now circulating that the President’s attentions are set on engaging Iran. There are reports that the US military has been arresting Iranian diplomats under the guise that “they are supplying the insurgency”. The flag waving news media trumps stories about Iran’s development of a nuclear program. The buildup of troops in Iraq and warships into the Persian Gulf appears to be aimed at provoking Iran. This administration being composed of retreads of the Nixon Presidency and with their known propensity to lie, one should be cautious and act.

We have seen how the President already does not seem to care what Congress or the American people want, so how can a society continue under his leadership? I hope that this is not the case, but as we have seen from this President and his administration they have no intention on revealing the truth or following the agenda set by the American people. This new congress has replaced a “Do-Nothing Congress” and I hope it does more than become a “Stand-By-and-Wait Congress." The time has come for action and it is the duty of every citizen to tell our leaders in Congress that we do not want this war or the next war. “If the people lead, the leaders will follow.”

Robb Kidd

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Warming Bush to Change ?

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win."

Here in Vermont, first it was Governor Douglas, then it was Exxon-Mobil and now according to the U.K’s Guardian President Bush plans to address Global Warming in his State of the Union Address. I still won’t believe it until I see it. Global Warming has been an issue that has been ignored, then laughed at, and vehemently attacked by the right wing, so it seems odd that all of sudden their tune is changing.

There is a political slogan that states, “if the people will lead the leaders will follow” and its premise is starting to show how true that is. Global Warming is an issue and it can not be taken lightly. Here in Vermont, as coverage of Global Warming dominates newspapers here in Vermont there is an inevitable mood that action needs to be taken. World wide the crisis is illuminating political discussion. So, what comes about this sudden change of direction from the right wing?

As I discussed in a previous post, I theorized that leaders of industry and top Republicans were aware of the problem, but they stalled on action to gain time to diversify their investments to a changing economy. I also suppose that here in Vermont, leaders such as the governor realize that the reality is so evident with the ever increasing rise in temperatures and that major portions of the Vermont economy are or will be feeling its side effects that it would be political suicide to ignore it. In regards to any change, if the people haven’t asked for it, it would still continue to be ignored. The people have been leading, now it is time for the government to lead and act.

Forty plus years ago, tensions were ripe in regards to race relations and leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King advocated for change. Tomorrow, the nation celebrates Martin Luther King Day in remembrance of his legacy. While there are still strong remnants of racism throughout the country, it was Dr. King who rose to the occasion and represented an increasing mood for change. A strong and powerful figure, Dr. King was not the one lone element that created the movement.

The movement was created by spontaneous and continues acts throughout history. Rosa Park’s courageous act in refusing to give up her seat, the Brown versus Board of Education decision, and northern whites emigrating to the south in an effort to assist the education and integration of blacks into the Southern power structure were all vital to the change that had occurred. More than that hundreds of political action groups such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP or CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) had formed to confront America’s racist undertone.

It was not that all of a sudden American woke up and decided to be fair and bring about equality; it was because the power structure had no choice but to listen. Continued denial was causing turmoil in the streets; cities like Detroit and Newark were burning to the ground. Rise of militant groups such as the Black Panthers could have brought out full scale revolution, so the powers that be had no choice but to respond to the needs of a large portion of the nation.

With the spirit of Martin Luther King I see an awakening happening here in regards to the environment and Global Warming. People have been acting and the attention of political leaders has been obtained. Leaders in the environmental movement such as Bill McKibben, Greenpeace, VPIRG, the Vermont Natural Resource Coalition and Vermont’s past gubernatorial candidate Scudder Parker have been acting on our behalf, but it is up to us all to keep it going. Just like the civil rights movement was not about one-man or one event, action on global warming must be a continual process of action. America is not free of racism and neither will it ever be from those who degrade the environment.

So, I hope that the story is true that Bush really is changing his tune(According to Reuters, US officials are denying the claim). If so it is our duty to keep him, Exxon-Mobil and politicians like Governor Douglass accountable to their words and actions. The issue needs to be addressed, but it just does not end there. Some scientists are predicating that Global Warming will wreck havoc on the earth’s environment and playing a political game with such possible dire circumstances would be just as fatal. There is no middle ground when it comes to the issue, it is either that we as a society change now or we pay the consequences later.

Robb Kidd

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” Dr. Martin Luther King, from “Letter From Birmingham City Jail” April 16,1963

Friday, January 12, 2007

Exxon Whistle Changing Tunes

The times are a changing; today Exxon-Mobil announced that they are no longer going to fuel global warming skeptic organizations such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute. As debate on global warming moves past the efforts of denial, the message is starting to resonate loud and clear. For years skeptics largely financed by Exxon-Mobil and other industry sources have effectively hampered legislation and policy to address the matter. Their efforts have effectively left American way behind the rest of the international community in creating solutions to global climate change.

The international community has been following the Kyoto Protocols in an effort to combat carbon emissions, while US official policy has been dictated by the concerns of the energy industries. President Bush removed the country from following its provisions on the grounds that developing countries are not committed to following the guidelines. The flawed outlook by President Bush failed to rationalize that the US is the single largest producer in carbon emissions, thus the largest culprit. Trade policy could dictate the demands on our trading partners, but that would restrict multinational corporation’s investments and of course the President would not want to jeopardize their right for “free-trade.”

According to the Bush doctrine, the Kyoto protocols would hinder the economic growth of the country, but as we can see that is false. Rising technologies in Europe and across the global are developing tactics and alternative fuel sources that will benefit generations to come. Contrary, to this Presidential administration, not only has denial been its official policy, energy policy had been hand crafted by the captains of the oil industry. Vice-President Dick Cheney held secret meetings with industry executives to create incentives and legislation that would favor their interests. Time has lapsed and the needs of countering global warming have become more pressing everyday, while companies like Exxon-Mobil have exponentially profited and the rest of the country stuck bearing those costs.

So, today I still will not use Exxon-Mobil gas at any rate, I at least applaud them in their change of course. They are whistling a different tune today and it is a start. It has become quite evident that burning of fossil fuels is the major culprit to global warming and that investment needs to be made in other sources of energy. Looking past the issue of global warming there have been numerous scientific and industry reports stating that the worlds oil supply is dwindling done. The notion of Peak Oil refers that there is only a finite amount of oil in the earth’s surface.

Oil industry executives are desperately seeking new sources for drilling. Debates rage the House floor on whether or not to allow drilling in the Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge, other national parks and the coastal shores. Foreign policy is dictated by the needs to control or influence the Middle East’s oil supply.

So as it appears, that popular opinion on global warming has changed and the possibilities of Peak Oil are evident I wonder if this might have all be known already by the industry. As industry officials, they have access to scientific data and analysis in which they should have been able to interpret the information clearly. Corporate policy dictates that they maximize profits as much as they can, so of course their policy would be of denial. But let us suppose that they did know, why would they continue to distort the information. I believe that it was evident for them to change their course, but they needed time to convert their investments into other commodities. Already, companies like BP (British Petroleum) have been marking themselves as Beyond Petroleum and Shell has been promoting advancements in alternative energy.

You can call me a conspiracy theorist, if you would like but I perceive that the oil industry knew it was a matter of time before they were forced to change and they figured that with their Oilman in Chief they had just enough time to diversify their investments and maximize on their profits. The mood with Congress has changed and different legislation is being introduced to address the issue, it would be bad PR for an industry giant to refute scientific data that the majority of leaders and the nation believe.

Today, while Exxon-Mobil has shifted gears in their fueling of skeptics, just maybe the rest of the skepticism will go by the wayside. The mood is rapidly changing within our towns, our statehouses and Washington DC and there are rays of hope glimmering through the darkness.

Robb Kidd

“Now you have people in Washington who have no interest in the country at all. They're interested in their companies, their corporations grabbing Caspian oil.” Gore Vidal

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Liar in Chief

As predicted, last night the President squealed his message of sacrifice to the American public and his resolve in escalating troop size in Iraq. Contrary to what the American people want, the policy of American generals, the advice of the Iraq Study Group and most leaders of Congress, the decider has claimed power to do as he feels fit. I for one preferred not to listen to him speak last night, knowing how upsetting it would be to hear more lies and half-truths coming from that man’s mouth. I feel that he does not represent me or my country and he does not deserve the respect and honor to gain my attention. I did read the transcripts, but I can’t stomach seeing his face or hearing his gibberish.

With that in mind, I would rather focus my attentions on the positives of the day. Yesterday, the Vermont State House was filled with a glimpse of hope. Scientists, speakers and activists educated government officials on the eminent threats of global warming. Serious action is set and I am proud of the steps in taking Vermont forward with an attempt to find solutions to global warming. So it is disheartening to have a day of promise from one form of government and then practically ripped out of your hands like a child loosing his lollipop. That is the way I felt about the President and his call for escalating troops. What is the point of addressing global warming when this madman has grasped the authority to do as he feels fit with our military? The way I see it, we will continue to work together to solve the problems and save our planet, while the President is on route to Armageddon.

Enough of the lies of the President; he has no interest in following our laws and has no interest in following the wishes of the people. He does not want to cooperate, so then it is to time to give the country a wake up call and impeach the President.

Robb Kidd

In place of an ending quote I am posting Keith Olberman’s response to the President. If I had a TV I would watch his show.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Global Warming with Snow

Snow flurries fell down from the sky as I walked into the Vermont State House to hear Bill McKibben address a joint session of Vermont’s House and Senate. Unlike just a few days before, winter has reemerged itself in the mountains of Vermont. For those who are unaware, Bill McKibben is the author of “The End of Nature” and an activist on global warming. So while this past weekend, temperatures soared in the Northeast, the general notion is that global warming is a reality and that measures need to be taken. Inside Room 11 of the Statehouse were the various government committee members eagerly digesting the words and knowledge of Bill McKibben. The room was overflowing with late comers like me, a sign to me that global warming has become an issue that resonates strong with the public.

This legislative session was arranged by House Speaker Symington and Senate Pro-Tem Peter Shumlin as an information session to bring about greater awareness and understanding to its members. Having heard and read Bill McKibben before I had a notion of what his tone would be like. In other settings he has invoked the crowds with passionate calls for action. “The best time for action is twenty years ago,” I have recalled him stating numerous times before, but today with a room packed of Vermont governmental leaders the tone was set more on the ways to help.

Global warming is an issue that affects not just Vermont but affects the whole planet. Vermont itself as a state is carbon-neutral, which means that of all the carbon production with in the state, the natural environmental of trees offsets it. Although, at times it appears that Vermont is it is own republic, Vermont is deeply connected to the rest of the planets ecology. The federal government has denied any such policy addressing the issue and has merely ignored or cover upped the issue. The actions have been forced down to the state legislatures and town meetings to address the populaces concern. Fortunately, there is hope. In California, a Democratic Legislature and Republican Governor passed legislation that was a “break through… and models the European trusts” on the issue, McKibben said. Official US policy has ignored the issues but cities and states throughout the country are now acting on their own resolve.

He fervently flew through numerous issues and highlighted the notion that there is no magic silver bullet solution to the world’s energy problems. “We already had our magic energy supply…black magic” he passionately stated in regards to fossil fuels. Solar energy, hydro power, wind turbines and cow power are all parts of the solutions. It is already an emergency issue and the debate of using ridgelines is flawed, “it is the price we must pay” he concluded.

As this was a legislative session, he called on the legislators to set renewable energy standards high and keep tax credits growing. Vermont is filled with an abundant amount of resources and he urged the legislators to encourage and make it easier for those resources to prosper. In regards to policy, it would help progress the state into a economical and environmental sustainable community.

Blocking the development of sprawl, big box stores and the proposed “circ highway” that create an economy based on automobile usage is in order. Transportation is the cause of forty-six percent of the carbon emissions in the state. A need to address transportation is more than just a switch to hybrid technology; we must make it “so it feels they don’t even need a car.” Too much of modern American society is based on the notions of an automobile, an investment in public transportation and the continued promotion of our local communities is the only way to stop that. The ideal is to live in a community where an automobile is not needed.

He concluded with stating that on the week of April 14 his organization Stepitup2007.org has called for a week of demonstrations to bring about awareness of the issue. He hopes to see a contingent of Vermont’s legislators holding a banner on the statehouse lawn pledging support for this issue in addition to the leadership.

As I walked away from the State House and back into the snow flurries, I saw the potential and promises set forth with in that room. Global warming is not an issue being debated as a theory any longer and actions are starting to be brought out. The only problem is that while the rest of the nation lingers along on the issue the situation worsens. For those within Vermont, thank you for caring and for those outside, please care, it is your world too.

Robb Kidd

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Power of the Purse-Congress

President Bush is about to announce his new policy on Iraq and reports are saying that he is calling for escalating the amount of troops. In a war “that we are not winning and not losing” a drastic recourse needs to be established. The American people have called for new leadership and a new direction in regards to Iraq but the President who claims to be “the decider” appears to be heading in a different direction. Words from Democratic Leaders, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid are starting to reflect the deep divide in policy.

A reminder to the populace, the President serves as a mere executive over the courtship of policy and legislation made by Congress. As addressed by the Constitution,

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

To that regards it is Congress’s duty to enact legislation to call for the end of the War in Iraq. The power of the purse is in the hands of Congress and this new congress ran on a campaign of resolving an end to the war. So while it is their utmost duty to deny any further funding to escalate the war, it is also their duty to remove funding from the war in general.

There are some who use the logic that “you broke it you bought” in regards to the occupation and say that it is the moral responsibility to stay until “the job is done.” This flawed interpretation only exasperates the problem by leaving US soldiers in a hostile land like sitting ducks. Soldiers are mere occupiers and the majority of Iraqi’s want to see the US leave. Given the mood of Iraqi’s, the United States is in no better shape than it was in Vietnam. War Hawks called to escalate troops there but the end result left nothing more than deaths and destruction. “We have to destroy the village in order to save it” did not work in Vietnam and will not work in Iraq.

The President is labeled as the “Commander in Chief,” implies to some that the President can do as he sees fit with the armed forces. Yes, he was given authorization to use military force by the Congress but that was under the stipulation that Saddam Hussein was not cooperating with UN inspectors. Afterwards, it is now prevalent that President Bush over stepped his grounds and failed to approach a diplomatic solution. Most of the International community knew that there no “Weapons of Mass Destruction,” but Presidential policy claimed there was. Due to the release of the Downing Street Memo it has become clear that White House policy had been to distort evidence and orchestrate a campaign to obtain support. Iraq’s ever changing mission began as a mission to eradicate weapons of mass destruction, next morphed into Iraqi freedom and now into Iraqi order. Every White House motive has been refuted, so it is quite evident that war’s purpose is to gain control of oil.

While the President is about to trump his “new” policy in Iraq, I suggest a look at the constitution to decide who has the power to dictate policy. Included in Congress powers are:

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Congress’s original authorization for military force was not a declaration of war but was a conditional authorization in the advent of failed diplomacy. Proven by UN weapons inspectors, Saddam Hussein had been fully cooperating with inspectors and by the absence of any Weapons of Mass Destruction we all can all determine that the President had no interest in diplomacy. Therefore with no grounds for war the President’s actions were illegal, war had not been declared and Congressional stipulations were not followed.

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

The calamity in Iraq continues to grow and the President is proposing to increase troop size. Congress must first say no, and then gradually remove the funding in order for him to orchestrate such maneuvers. The past Congress’s had been duped into given support for the war, but there is nothing that states that it must continue at his discretion. Congress had been given the power to change course and that course begins by removing the funds for Mr. Bush’s war.

As evident the war had been started by deceit and the President has no intentions of answering to the people or to Congress. The powers that the President has acclaimed to are not powers given to him. Congress must provide its duty and pledge of oversight else wise Congress becomes irrelevant. The President has overstepped his boundaries whether it is his military acts of aggression, treatment of prisoners or the illegal spying on American citizens. The House of Representatives main Constitutional duty is to provide a “check and balance” to the system and due to the circumstances that calls for impeachment of the President.

The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The President continues to circumvent the will of the people and his constitutional authority by pushing for escalation of his war in Iraq. The war was based on a lie and thousands are left to die. It is time that Democratic leaders stand up strong and call for a cessation of the war in Iraq. It is clear that the President has no intentions to ending it and in addition due to his past crimes it is grounds for removal. Join me and contacting your elected officials and say no to continuing the war and to impeach the president.

Robb Kidd

“Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” Sir Winston Churchill

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Walking in a .... Wonderland ?

It would be lovely weather, for a sleigh ride together with you if you live in Alaska. As the holiday season has come and gone visions of winter wonderlands sparkled past our eyes. Songs, like “Let it Snow and “White Christmas” flooded the air waves marking the winter season. As the songs have gone away it seems as if those visions have vanished into the dreams of Christmas past.

This weekend as the temperatures escalated to almost sixty degrees in Vermont, one would have to doubt if winter will ever show its frosty lined face again. Streets filled with youths clad in short sleeves, even an occasional jogger or biker donned in shorts instead of the tightly wrapped attire for a winters chill. Words on everybody’s mind “could this really be the effects of global warming or just a fluke pattern in the winter season.” Newspapers are filled with stories on the dire effects due to the unseasonable weather. At first glance one would wonder about Vermont’s vibrant ski industry. Whole towns and villages rely on the winter season, whether it be the ski slope itself or the posh bed and breakfasts that line along the rural routes of Vermont.

Service and sales of snowmobiles are screeching to a halt. Ski shops are holding deep-down sales trying to entice patrons to come in purchase their goods. Ice fishermen of old are waiting for the lakes and ponds to freeze. To no avail, winter is not coming. As I moved to Vermont this past year, I was given forecasts of long drawn out winters, and I replied with the response, “what winter, at the rate of global warming happening, I am just one step ahead of the game, in matter of a few years Vermont will be a tropical paradise.” So maybe the skills I learned from my old roommate (Antonio from Puerto Rico) on how to make a Pina-Colada will come in handy. Island Oasis without ever having to leave home, fresh fruits and pineapple farms will soon replace the maple syrup industry.

While plenty of politicians have echoed industries claims of denial, the reality of global warming is starting to set in. The issues are strong and it appears that man has drastically altered the face of the planet and that actions need to be taken. Ice sheets are collapsing, migrating birds staying put, and freak weather patterns are the norm for the modern world. There are scientific predications claiming that this is just the beginning and things could get worse if man just does not change its ways. As a society we can hang around and let “nature” takes its course or we can act and change our ways. Is it worth the chance and wait for the predictions of New York City flooded with water or violent storms wreaking havoc on the shorelines?

In the Northeast winter is still about to arrive but it is getting shorter every year. To the demise of the flocks of pleasure seekers anxiously waiting to get the rush of gliding down the mountains of snow and villages and business that are struggling to stay afloat, winter is slipping away. The results of global warming may be showing its face here today, and I hope that it awakens people and the government to act. As January progress towards February I am still waiting to be “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”

Robb Kidd

“For those who worry about environmental threats, there are solutions to work through the worst of those problems; for those who wonder if there isn’t something more to life than buying, I encourage you to consider your life as an individual and as a member of a larger community.” Bill McKibben, author of End of Nature and upcoming book Deep Economy.

The following are pictures from a post at the Green Mountain Daily.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Kings and War:

Current strategy in Iraq is a failure and the President is drastically looking for a new strategy. He had overwhelming convinced Congress and the public to implant his deceitful war back in 2003. Now four years later, three thousand Americans dead and hundreds of thousand Iraqis dead, word has reverberated from the land that he is now looking at escalating troop size and committing more soldiers in an attempt to rescue his flawed policy. Back in November, the American people spoke out and voted for a new direction. The new Congress’s stated missions is to the set the course straight and return the troops home where they belong.

In the capital, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Bush stating their lack of support for troop escalation. The power is in the hands of Congress and if they are serious about their desires the only option is to remove funding from the war. The power of the purse is with Congress and if the President does not listen, then they shall have no choice but to act on their own. I suggest everyone write to their Congressman and Senators and demand that they stop financing the war.

While the King and his minions are desperately concocting a new policy framework to sell the American public, I leave you with the words of Abraham Lincoln about such egregious actions by President in acts of war.

Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, ˜ "I see no probability of the British invading us"; but he will say to you, "Be silent: I see it, if you don't."

The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President where kings have always stood. Abraham Lincoln, Letter, while US Congressman, to his friend and law-partner William H. Herndon, opposing the Mexican-American War (15 February 1848):

The President does not speak the demands and the needs of the populace and has taken on powers that just do not belong to him. Congress’s duty is to first remove funding from the war and then to seek Articles of Impeachment. The war had been fabricated to the needs of the neo-conservative agenda; our Representatives in Congress must stand up and restore decency and justice to the land.

Robb Kidd

"They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason." Ernest Hemmingway

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pomp and Rhetoric

Amongst the “Pomp and Circumstance” of political inaugurations the business of the day was to set the agendas and goals for the new government. Nationally, a new Congress convened and Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House and Bernard Sanders of Vermont became the first Socialist United States Senator. So while in Washington the press scurried for quotes and photos from the new movers and shakers, life in the mountains of Vermont were much more subdued.

On Wednesday, a new Vermont House and Senate convened and set out to propel its agenda for Vermont’s future. Today, the executive branch of Vermont took its oaths and gave their inaugural speeches. This morning, newly sworn in Pro-Tem of the Vermont Senate Peter Shumlin called the Senate legislative session to order. Already making headlines Shumlin has stated that Global Warming is his number one priority, so it appears that an inevitable showdown with the Governor Douglass’s office priority in his “affordability agenda” will take place. The order of the day was to swear in Lt. Governor Brian Dubie.

Inside the cozy confines of the Vermont Senate Chambers, Lt Governor Dubie addressed the crowd of Senators, family, government officials and citizens. He began with remarks of candor stating that since this is the only time he is given a speech on the Senate Floor he “alone is the only thing holding you all back from your lunch.” He gave thanks to all and resolved his commitment and honor in working with the various committee members in addressing the problems and concerns of Vermonters. His first order of business was to recommend that the session be dedicated to the Vermonters serving around the world and in particular, Iraq. Various members of the Vermont National Guard were present including his brother Adjutant General, Michael Dubie.

Lt. Governor Dubie a military man himself led of by parlaying a conversation he had with a general on a roof in downtown Baghdad. Accordingly, he was told “that America has to declare its freedom from oil.” His words were reminiscent to the words of George Bush when he stated that “we are addicted to oil.” To me I guess it implies that Republicans are finally admitting that the war in Iraq is all about oil, but nonetheless not a whisper on the moralities of such war.

Moving on he praised the future of Vermont and its progress to becoming an energy independent state. He claimed his Green Mountain Initiatives were leading the way to assisting and developing cutting edge technology to the world. Hydrogen extraction and methane production are all solutions that can be obtained, in addition to working together on the development of wind turbines on Vermont’s ridgelines. The ingenuity and insights of Vermont farmers and business will pave the way for Vermont leading in alternative energy, he stated.

He brought about a pledge to Vermont to serve in a non-partisan manner and prove the pundits wrong about gridlock. Starting with the tone of environmental friendly business and the commitment to alternative energy it appeared as if a promise of cooperation is in store; I guess will just have to wait and see. While at the forefront of his speech was environmental responsibility but his underlining theme was through the foothold of business.

Strikingly, he commented about the “ethics of life”. Knowing his political foundation (anti-choice) I expected a message on the practice of abortion, but I was wrong. Politics is not a mere question of left or right but it is circular. “Left meets right”, he said and for that I have gained some respect for him. Too frequently, we as a society are pigeonholed into an ideological viewpoint and with that we can never see common ground. While there may be those sadistic and criminal elements in Washington I see the majority of those serving in politics as all wanting the desire to do common good, no matter what party preference.

In his closing remarks, he echoed his dedication “for making a better Vermont for our children…” So with the Vermont Senate having a Democratic majority, Brian Dubie portrayed his intentions on working to achieve a better future. As a citizen of this state I hope and wish him well. The floor was passed back to Pro Tem Shumlin and the gavel struck marking the closing of the session. On deck, the Governor’s inauguration in the House chambers before a joint session of the House and Senate.

Outside, the air was unseasonable warm and the sun brought a bright glow to the state house lawn. Conversation revolved around on the warmness of the day and how the ski industry must be hurting to stay afloat and not that Governor was about to give his Inaugural address. With the warm of the air just maybe the Governor will succumb to realize the criticalness of global warming and its ramifications on the Vermont way of life.

Inside the House Chambers, with the absence of Speaker Gaye Symington(she was in Washington to see Peter Welch’s Inauguration and new Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s), House Majority leader, Rep. Carolyn Partridge banged the gavel to call to session of the House and then passing the gavel to Lt Governor Dubie for joint session of the House and Senate. This was my first Inauguration I have attended and was thrown off on all the formalities and traditions followed. Senators had to be escorted into the chambers and following ceremonial tradition distinguished guests and other newly elected state officials were escorted in by members of the Vermont National Guard. I thought to myself, it sure has to be questionable that government operates at all while following these antiquated procedures, but traditions dictate it. From Essex a youth choir solemnly echoed their harmonious voices to the “God Bless America.”

Oaths of offices were administered to Governor Douglas and then subsequently to other newly elected state officials, Deb Markowitz ( Secretary of State), Jeb Spaulding (Treasurer), Thomas Salmon Jr. (Auditor) and Attorney General William Sorrell. So with all the pomp circumstances the orders of the day were complete and it was time for the Governor to address his agenda for his next two years. I am not going to rephrase his speech for you as you can read from the link from the Burlington Free Press, but I will summarize what I perceived.

While hearing him throughout his campaign, I was provoked on what I saw to be a shallow man lost in his own rhetoric. Unlike, Lt. Governor Dubie, Douglass hammered away on his “campaign of affordability.” He praised his and the Legislature’s past success and vowed for a commitment to the future. Noting that Vermonters overwhelming selected a Democratic Legislature he “declared that balance serves Vermont well.” He gave praise to the “landmark reforms” of Catamount Health and having a consistent balanced budget which accordingly he said Vermonters expect.

Astutely he acclaimed to “put Vermonters ahead of politics” as he reflected to his campaign about the property tax burden. “The oppressive property tax burden is the single greatest threat to Vermont’s renowned resolve,” he exasperated like a broken record. Campaign slogans and issues that are transient in nature do nothing about solving problems but invoke partisanship.

Growing on the substantive progress he claimed to move “forward to assure prosperity for decades to come.” The call for leaders in a new economic frontier while growing with creative adaptation he labeled as the “Vermont Way Forward.” His four point program to foster environmental leadership, job creation, technological advancement and innovative education. I reflected on the campaign of Scudder Parker where he called on Vermont to become a leader by example and develop alternative energies for the promise of a prosperous and sustainable economic future. Senate Pro Tem Peter Shumlin remarked that "I was encouraged that our agenda and his agenda have become so similar," and that “it sounded like he's adopted our religion. Let's hope he comes to services."

For technological advancement, he visualized Vermont becoming the “first true E-State.” Broadband and wireless connection throughout the state allowing Vermonters to work anywhere and having the most technological advance state ready to do business. Wherever there is a need he proposes to build the infrastructure. I guess cell phone towers are esthetically pleasing compared to windmills.

Despite his calls to tackle education cost, he proposed development of Robert T Stafford schools to advance math and science technologies. The advancement of math and sciences is the same rationally as “keeping the trains running on time.” What about advancement of thought and building the intellectual abilities of students so they can think critically? Vermont has just been ranked third in the nation in regards to education according to Education Week Magazine, so why is there a rush to change. Do the politicians know better than educators or is it just more political rhetoric out of the mouth of Jim Douglas.

The governor was trying to whistle a different tune over the pomp and circumstances of his inauguration. His words flew from his mouth like a polished car-salesman selling add-on features one just does not need. While his words may have sound well intended, to me a casual observer they sounded as nothing more than political rhetoric. I do not doubt Gov Douglass motives but as an outsider looking upon him at the podium I heard borrowed visions and rehashed statements that reflected the mood of the day. I hope that Vermont can become a leader and lead the country and world to an environmentally friendly and stable economy. So where there is a will there is a way and just by chance maybe the Governor and Lt. Governor will whistle the same tune as the Senate and House.

Robb Kidd

“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Winston Churchill