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, February 28, 2007

Iraq and Douglas in a Hard Place

Daily, I am almost in a state of shock of what is reported in the mainstream press. Today’s latest installment of the Burlington Free Press is just another example of the misdirection of today’s media. It is not that the media is either slanted towards the right or the left; it is their choice of articles and how they are reported that is the problem. A headline for today, “Lincoln might not have slept there, but Gov. Douglas did” shows irresponsibility and irrelevancy in their reporting methods.

Governor Douglas was in Washington for the National Governors Association and being an ardent supporter of President Bush, he and his wife were given the honor or staying in the famed Lincoln Bedroom at the White House. It is wonderful that a governor from a small state such as Vermont is able to wield so much influence and accompany the President in the White House; however the problem with this situation is that the story highlights a high amount of irrelevant material.

(As they shared salmon, Douglas said the president praised the University of Vermont's basketball team for its winning record in recent years. "He's a big sports fan," Douglas said. "He asked about our players by name.")

While Vermonters are struggling to pay their costs of health care and education, the farming industry is in a state of crisis and Vermonters are paying a higher percentage of the causalities in the misguided War in Iraq, it seems as if the President, the Governor and the news media would rather want to talk about basketball than real issues. Not to disparage the winning record of UVM’s basketball program, but don’t you think there are more important things to discuss to the President than what’s going on in Vermont than basketball.

I sure hope that the Governor addressed the President and told him that we here in Vermont do not support his war. As I recall, a month ago Governor Douglas said he just might mention it to the President but as far as we can tell all theytalked about was basketball. As for the governor was quoted as saying,

“I don't want to go into too much detail about a private conversation, but we touched on the war as well as those other issues.”

Well anyway, this weekend I hope the real message of how Vermonters feel about the war and the leadership will show brightly throughout the country. In part to gain momentum for the agendas of Town Meeting Day and the various impeachment resolutions Cindy Sheehan will be holding a series events in Vermont. Starting this Friday in the State House, Cindy Sheehan will tell us, why not to support the president.

So, while the Burlington Free Press printed a weak piece of fluff news about the Governor sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom Vermonters this coming week are about to show how the really care about the leadership of the nation and the strategy of the Iraq War. I sure hope that while Cindy Sheehan is coming to town, that Governor Douglass makes it a point to meet with her and then see what the President has done to her son. President Bush has created a war based on a lie and not one more should die.

Robb Kidd

“If you fall on the side that is pro-George, and pro-war, you get your ass over to Iraq, and take the place of somebody who wants to come home. And if you fall on the side that is against this war and against George Bush, stand up and speak out.” Cindy Sheehan


“If we stick together as an American people we can bring down the war criminals that are running our country right now.” Cindy Sheehan

Monday, February 26, 2007

Super Market Maze

Tonight I got lost in the refrigerator section of the local supermarket, Shaws. I was just trying to buy orange juice and I could not figure out which one to buy. There was orange juice with pulp, with little pulp and no pulp. Some fortified with calcium and some that was made from concentrate. Is anything in this store made from nothing but oranges I began to question? Finally I just settled for something labeled Florida’s Natural and proceeded to look for my next item. Oh, according to the label the juice consists of concentrate from Florida, Mexico or Brazil. So even what appears to be natural may not. Large scale supermarkets are flourishing with products that have no connection to the community while local farmers are struggling to survive. (Please note I do know that there are no oranges in VT and due to Sarah not feeling well, juice was called for today.)

What a shock it was to my system to see all these fancy colored coated packages waiting to be grabbed by the next unsuspecting consumer. They where decorated as if all had signs on the outside that said “eat me”. I normally shop at the local food coop and I am satisfied to have just the basics and natural foods. I do not need seventeen different brands of toilet paper to wipe my ass, however maybe yours needs the extra smooth touch of Charmin.

My next item on the list was ginger ale. Sarah was sick today and she felt like having some comfort foods to cheer her up. As I have already stated before I primarily eat and consume only organic foods so strolling along the beverage aisle was more than just a choir, it was an adventure. At the coop I can always find natural products but here among the supermarket I am relegated to consume what they deem as marketable. Schweppes or Seagram’s are the two most popular brands of ginger ale, but a glance at their labels will show more than just ginger.

I settled for a lesser known brand, named Polar with the words “All Natural Ginger” highlighted in red on a yellow banner. Wow something natural I found, I thought to myself. Unfortunately, after closer inspection of the ingredients it was revealed that it consisted of carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, citric acid, natural flavoring and caramel color. Products that are of supposed natural ingredients have hidden qualities. That is why I am so hesitant at shopping at the super markets.

While the major supermarkets showcase products for consumption, the sole purpose is to increase the profit margins, however the consumers' health and well being are being compromised. Most of the aisles of supermarkets are flooded with goods unsuitable for human consumption. The produce sections are filled with bacteria from large scale factory farms that produce lettuce and spinach sometimes tainted with the e-coli bacteria or other harmful containments. Purdue and Tyson poultry products are filled with antibiotics and growth hormones that are potentially harmful for human digestion. Like wise the same with beef and pork products and as well as the grave environmental dangers produced by the industrialization of the food supply. Current food supply from farm to table is off kilter and needs serious resurrection.

The rise of supermarkets throughout the American landscape has driven away the connection the consumer had with its food source in the past. Supermarkets are filled with products made and distributed from foreign lands such as Totowa, New Jersey; Greeley, Colorado or Nelson, New Zealand. There is no face in the food supply and lost in the necessity of production has been the manipulation to benefit the profits of the corporation.

So while I just returned from the supermarket with two products, I was amazed of the fluff and trash sold to the public. Used to the healthy and natural options at the coop I was flabbergasted to see once again what is marketed to the public. As many in rural areas of the country can attest, there is a crisis in small scale and family farming. Noticing the status of food in the supermarkets, there needs to be wholesale changes in every aspect of our food supply. In order for thriving rural communities that still have working farms throughout, society will need to transform their buying power to promote that change. In the meantime to help facilitate change governments need to actively get involved in promoting and supporting of local food sources, it is the only way things will change for the better.

Robb Kidd

“As the Republican platforms says, the welfare of the farmer is vital to that of the whole country.” William Howard Taft (27th US President (1909-13)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Down in Smoke...

In this blog I have written many times about the promise of change and that things must happen from each one of us individually for a successful shift in the direction of the country. While, in the last few years of my life I have tackled many personal issues to reach where I am today, however there is always room for more change. So while I exercise moderately, eat primarily an organic vegetarian diet, boycott Exxon-Mobil and keep myself politically astute I have been caught in a smoking trap for years. Smoking probably the worst of the nasty habits is something I just could not break before and so after my second consultation with a hypno-therapist this last Thursday I was able to break the chain.

Not much time has yet passed since I took the plunge as a non-smoker, but I know within my heart this time it is going to last. In my consultation with the therapist, I expressed a desire for her to reinforce the horrible imagery of the tobacco corporations. Large corporations such as Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds have been poisoning Americans for over a century. Even the supposedly natural cigarettes, American Spirit (owned by RJ Reynolds) have been swallowed by the dominance of the industry and continually keep many folks like myself addicted to their cancer sticks.

So far I have made it over three full days and the anxiety and nervousness is starting to escape my body. Symptoms of withdrawal were prevalent in me for the last few days, and I literally felt sick to my core. What gives the right of this product to be sold openly throughout the country with little or no regulation? Convenience stores and grocery stores sell them with little regards except for the age mandated by law. Contrary to the image of a pharmacy, a store that sells healing products are some how able to sell tobacco products that are killing people. As for the government, tobacco has become an easy form of taxation (sin tax), while they haphazardly promote quit smoking campaigns that are mostly ineffective.

I have been crippled for years by my smoking habit and I see little or no substance from any politicians on the continued legalities of the product. Proponents of “free trade” and big business state that restrictions on tobacco unfairly punishes the corporation’s right to free trade while at the same time the right of individuals to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes is strictly prohibited under the guise of public safety. A product that has been scientifically proven to aid and assist medical procedures is outlawed while a product that is attributed to cancer and severe health detriments is allowed to flourish.

Billions of dollars are spent each year enforcing a “drug war” while one of the most deleterious of substances goes unchecked. In third world countries, American tobacco companies have been expanding their operations. While the share of the American market has decreased over the years, American tobacco companies have targeted other nations. As a result their profits are rising exponentially. As our government wages war in Central and South America under the guise of stopping drugs, major corporate entities are pumping their drugs on the rest of the world. To me that is a crime and the corporations who are purposely exploiting people by selling products that kill are criminally negligent.

I have spent years trapped under the spell of a cigarette and while I smoked my last one just a few days ago, I know the remnants will remain with me for years to come. The massive industries involved with the marketing and production of cigarettes are responsible for many deaths worldwide. Yes it was our own freewill that started the deadly habit; however it is just as much the responsibility of those who allowed its influence upon us. I was taught the lessons, but as many children of my day, I looked the other way. There is always room for more change today and while there are forces of greed and the corporations are so strong, I can just look to myself and continue to change from within.

Robb Kidd

“The believing we do something when we do nothing is the first illusion of tobacco.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Retreating Redcoats.

Oh, the mighty British Empire, the masters of imperialism have had enough of War in Iraq. In case anyone hasn’t notice yet that while our psychopathic President has deemed it necessary to not only stay in Iraq and instead of troop withdrawal he has decided to further escalate the United States’ presence while another ally backs down. Prime Minister Blair is set to announce his plans to return British troops from Iraq, while American troops are left hung to dry. How ironic is it that President Bush just other day falsely linked the American Revolution to the war on terror and now Britain is on the mark to withdrawal.

The British, no stranger to military involvement in foreign lands has seen enough. British imperialism had set its mark from India, to the Middle East and to the Americas and if any country should see a lost cause it would be them. Britain, the United State’s most supportive ally in the “War on Terror” has decided to back down. Britain too has been threatened by terrorism on their home front; however instead of continuing a failed policy that inevitable is creating more terrorism they have decided to back down.

A few years ago, President Bush had stated that “you are either with us or against,” now with the withdrawal of Britain it appears that nobody is with us. A mockery has been made of US foreign policy and every bit of goodwill that the world had given the US after the 9/11 tragedy has been flushed down the toilet. Current opinion polls show that only thirty percent of the country supports the war in Iraq, so who is with him?

While the US is supposedly spreading democracy around the world, it seems that the fundamental principles of democracy are being ignored. The people of this country don’t want this war and neither does the rest of the world. Britain is pulling out its troops, so wouldn’t it be nice if the US follows suit and end this bloody war.

Robb Kidd

“The best policy is to declare victory and leave” US Republican Senator, George Aiken from Vermont in regards to the Vietnam War.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Presidential Hopeless

Today is President’s day and the news media and many pundits have already declared Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama as the front runners in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. While the primaries have not been held yet, it seems like the corporate media wants to showcase these two candidates while they ignore any candidates who will advocate change.

Barack Obama has seemed to become the front runner without saying a single word. His book “Audacity of Hope” has been charged as having nothing to say at all. His tenure in the Senate has been sort lived and there seems to be little record on what he stands for. Yes, he can use political buzzwords and make smooth campaign appearances but to claim he is the voice of change is far from being the truth. For the last few years Barack has been strengthening his alliance with the workings of corporate America.

The days of the Clinton presidency saw a sell out of the Democratic Party to corporate America. The Democratic Leadership Committee intertwined its resolve under the influence of the corporations and has transformed the party into being the Republican Party Lite. While Republican leadership has snuggled up to the whims of the oil industry, the Democratic leadership has not followed far behind. Presidential candidates need the vast resources given by the large corporations and unfortunately they dismiss the promises of the people.

For Barack one can not look to far at his sources of revenues to see that he is no different. A major financial backer of Barack is the Entergy Corporation. For those in Southern Vermont they should be quite familiar with Entergy since Entergy is the owner of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. (Also note Rudy Guilianini's firm represents Entergy)Nuclear power has the potential of destroying us all and additionally to the risks of catastrophes like Chernobyl there are problems associated with storing toxic waste. Barack may show a façade of change; however he is still a tool of greedy corporate America.

As for Hilary Clinton, she is not the voice of the people either. Up until just recently she had been part of the meek loyal opposition to the President. She supported the war and has blocked previous attempts of debate. As for her ties to corporate America, first she has gained financially backing by Rupert Murdoch owner of the Fox News Corporation. Secondly, she was on the board of Wal-Mart for six years. Wal-Mart, the company that has been actively destroying towns and communities throughout America, while at the same time exporting American jobs to China and replacing it with very few low paid and uninsured service orientated jobs.

While I here these predications and blind support for candidates who do not offer anything new to the table I am perplexed about the status of our democracy. To me a truly viable candidate, Dennis Kucinich is being hung out to dry and has been ignored even by “liberal” minded individuals. This morning I was able to hear Congressman Kucinich speak on a variety issues on the radio. The most profound statement I heard him say was that “President Bush was able to fool all these members of Congress,” so “what gives them the qualities to be President.” Clinton, Edwards and Obama all unequivocally have given 100percent support to the war whether it was through funding or the initially authorization to use force. All three of those candidates’ reputations are tarnished because of it and if you are truly opposed to the war and the system that has perpetuated it I suppose looking at Congressman Kucinich’s campaign.

So while many throughout the blogsphere and the traditional media continually propagate Clinton and Obama to levels that are undeserving to them, I seek out the information from candidates that I will thoroughly support. I’ll tell you this there is no way Hilary Clinton our Barack Obama will get my vote and nor will the war hawk John McCain. Neither represents me or you, so if you believe in democracy search for the truth and voice it.

Robb Kidd

It makes no difference who you vote for - the two parties are really one party representing four percent of the people” Gore Vidal

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why I write...

The sun was shinning amongst us as we ascended up to the summit of Spruce Mountain. Over two and half feet of snow blanketed the forest floor and even though we were geared with snow shoes it was not an easy task. Heavy clumps of snow wedged atop our snow shoes and an occasional slip into deeper pockets of snow making it tougher than it appear, however days like this is what I cherish.

Out in the realms of nature, there are no distractions from passing cars, music blaring or the loud thundering of society’s daily workings, just nature at its finest. Amongst the snow covered trails two humans trekking along can invigorate one’s soul. Talk and chatter amongst ourselves filled our day. Family histories, relationships, music and politics flowed throughout the walk. Many discussions came about, some things I knew quite well and other things I just did not have a clue.

Immersed in deep conversations, I thought a question to myself. That question was “why do I write?” So, for the last twenty four hours, even though I have had multiple conversations with my partner and friends the question had been pondering in my head. I did not have search too far for answers, because it was right here in front of me.

Just like yesterday’s conversation in the deep snow in which I was able to express my thoughts and wisdom to someone I barely know, my writing here allows more of the same in just another form. The fundamentally greatness of the United States Constitution is our right to free speech and it is the free flowing of ideas that allows us to progress. Communication is not one sided and has many facets, whether it through listening, talking, writing or some form of artistic expression we humans have the ability to converse amongst ourselves.

In college I took a class called “Cultural History of Modern Europe.” Topics ranged from the paintings of Picasso, the poetry of William Blake, the literature of Mary Shelley and to the architecture of Walter Gropious. Upon completion of the class, the professor asked each on of us and what we obtained from the class. Many responses revolved around the notion that they had obtained a new found appreciation to the many works of art. My response was that “it was a pleasure reading the words of countless individuals throughout time and that it made me realize that were and are many others out there who perceive the events of the world like I do and that I am not nuts.” The professor responded with an emotional outburst “that is why I f…ing teach this class.”

In regard to my writing, I realize that there are many issues and ideas out there and not all people perceive them they way I do. So as I realized fifteen years ago, I am not nuts and my writings are more than just my words, they reveal my inner beliefs as a message to all others who come by my words that they are not nuts and that there are others who may think the way they do.

A few years back I received some threats of bodily harm due to my viewpoints on Iraq, despite those vehement insults I continued to express myself and now the nation has began an open debate in the consequences of the War in Iraq. My wish is to see many others to express themselves. Whether it be in a blog or a letter to the editor it is important for you to express yourself, otherwise a viewpoint of powerful entities could destroy it.

A few years back while I was hiking along the Napali Coast,(Kauai, Hawaii) I was immersed in a conversation with a fellow from Northern California. He reminded me that linguist Noam Chomsky stated that “if you can get ten people to think the way you do, you have started a movement.” I reflect back to the discussion on the rocky cliffs of Kauai and I recognize that the statement’s significance shows the power of expression. For chance if myself and many others had kept quite about the Iraq war, would there be debate on the war today?

It takes courage to speak out and when it is unpopular to speak out people generally stay quite in a state of fear. Now that enough people have voiced their opinion about the war, it almost has become an oddity to be in support of it. Those who continually propagate the war’s rhetoric appear to be crazed fanatics, instead of leaders of the majority. Overwhelming support had been given by the American people only because the voices of war had been louder, now as more people are revealed the truth there is more hope on seeing its end. This has only been achieved because people like me have spoken our thoughts.

While the world continuously revolves in orbit, I actively look to speak and document my perspectives and experiences to the world as a beacon of hope that we can change the course of humanity suffering. As I had been immersed discussions with a new friend upon the trails of Spruce Mountain, I not only expressed myself but learned a lot from another fellow man in his life’s journey. I write not because I may know better, for I write because I want to be better.

Robb Kidd

“The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday, February 16, 2007

Non-Binding House

As Vermont was the first state in the union to pass a resolution not just condemning the President’s recent surge in Iraq, but has expedited the call for an orderly withdraw of all troops from Iraq, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution(246-182) stating that same resolve. Unlike the Vermont Legislature, Congress does have the power to call for an end, unfortunately Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House and other Democratic Party leaders have no wherewithal to appropriately act.

Congress has the power of the purse, so while the Democrats and a few Republicans trivially debate on a non-binding resolution more Americans and Iraqi’s await there deaths. Over a million Iraqi’s are now vacating their homes in an attempt to escape the violence in their war torn country. Presidential prerogative has repeatedly told us that the US troops are “liberators” and that it is our duty to assist them in rebuilding their country. A year and a half ago Vice-President Dick Cheney stated that “we’re at the final throes of the insurgency.” War hawks continually denied that there was a civil war, and much to our avail that is the case. Now rehashed rhetoric claims that US can not leave Iraq because turmoil would be unleashed in the region.

Americans overwhelming reject the continuation of the war. Former military generals are now speaking out against the course and the Iraq study group has called on beginning diplomatic relations with Iran and Syria as the proper course of action. So why does it appear that Congress has no intentions on dictating the direction to the President? Even more appalling is the mere observance of the rhetoric related towards Iran. Our country has already been lied to on one war but instead like a crazed mad man all inclinations are towards provoking and advancing war with Iran.

So as news flashes about the eminence of war with Iran are abundant and the half hearted attempts by the leaders in Congress to act I have lost a lot of hope in the promises of the last election. A firm stand must be taken on this war and Congress must reacquire it’s affirmation of legislation and dictate to this President the course of America. America can not afford any more war and nor the rest of the planet. Please contact your Representatives and Senators to stop the madness and demand they vote on fully binding resolutions.

Robb Kidd

“To some degree it matters who's in office, but it matters more how much pressure they're under from the public.” Noam Chomsky

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

White Valentine and Hearts

I had been dreaming of a white Christmas just over a month ago but that vision had come and gone, so at least today Valentines Day is white. The natural beauty of pure white flakes of snow can capture ones soul. Jostling through the snow covered streets of Montpelier is a joy, especially while watching children play. Outside coffee shops and stores a line of skis lay against the walls, but catching my attention the most was not the snow today, it was all of downtown speckled with Valentine’s Day hearts.

Like a folklore hero, the Valentine’s Day Bandit added to the décor of the snow lined streets of the capital city. Nothing was safe, the Unitarian Church, The State House and the Elm Street Market was covered in red hearts. Everywhere in town hearts were the symbol of the day. Not too keen on symbols of what I perceive as a marketing holiday, I was first taken by surprise.

Get your sweety chocolate or a Vermont Teddy Bear is the traditional token of love. Diamonds are a women’s best friend, so the media has told me. I just don’t get it maybe some women get turned on by the fact that those shiny rocks had been mined in Africa under slave through conditions. Even the romantic notion of flowers is flawed in today’s world. This time of year the majority of flowers are grown on plantations in third world countries where people are starving and instead of raising food their natural resources are being used to grow flowers for export. The other day I heard a commercial on the radio from a Guitar store pitching the sales of something red. I do not know maybe I just don’t get it. What is one supposed to do on Valentines Day?

So, my cynical side came out strong with the first glances of hearts decorating the town, but as I watched the snow flakes fall from the sky, I saw another perspective, and that was love. The modern world is lacking in love and as a society we have become so disconnected to one another that love has taken a backseat to our relationships. “Love thy neighbor”, is preached in many religious texts, but due to the splintering of society most people don’t even know their own neighbors.

What is needed is more love? Love the coffee shop staff, the mailman and the senior citizens around the corner. We are all connected together; life is not about trying to screw each other. Maybe if society would just start loving each other we would end violence and oppression towards our fellow man.

As the snow continues to fall in Montpelier I entered the archway of home and was greeted with love. Not with the fancy trinkets or pounds of chocolate, just the woman I love. The hearts spread around town were maybe was just a sign of the holiday, but I looked past it and saw that all we need is love, not just today but everyday.

Robb Kidd

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

VT House A Step Ahead of US House

As the US House of Representatives mulls over the debate of the Iraq war, the Vermont State Legislature called on a bolder initiative to bring all the troops home now. The first resolution of its kind and it is clear that the people in Vermont say no to war. Led by Rep. Michael Fisher the sponsor of this resolution he stated that the Vermont House floor is “as good of a place to have a debate…this is a discussion our constituents care about and Vermonters have paid enough.”

Although the resolution passed 95-52 debate was raucous with emotions. Surprisingly, Rep Leo Valerie of Barre charged that it was nothing but “cut and run.” He stated he was proud of the tradition of duty, honor and country while he declared that the only exit strategy was for complete victory. Thankfully that was not the mood of the general audience, Rep Sue Minter of Waterbury countered with that troops must be “brought home away from a country where they are considered occupiers not liberators,” and delivered with the eloquent response “250 billion for war at the same time we don’t have money for Vermonters.”

Debate was slowed down by attempts from Republicans to bury the resolution. Amendments on language and calls for sending the resolution to committee were futile. One change in the resolution removed language that stated the presence of troops was creating instability. Passionate charges that it would send a mix message to the troops there already, despite having veterans of the Iraq war in the house chambers.

The most bizarre statements from the opposition came from Rep Kilmartin of Newport who rattled of fear tactics and misalignment of historical references. Visions of suitcase bombs, terror plots by Osama and Saddam, Kilmartin read the Neo-Conservative playbook as if President Bush and Dick Cheney called him to voice their side. He mixed in historical references that have no relative historical perspective to the situation, such as Lincoln in the Civil War (As a sidebar there were draft riots opposing that war), Winston Churchill and what would Charles De gaulle say to this, what would France say? No reference was made in his anachronistic thought that France and the majority of the world were opposed to the war in the first place.

Following the empty fear based rhetoric of Kilmartin, Rep Mrowicki of Putney immediate commented about Kilmartin’s flawed historical reference and then quoted George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The historical reference of the British Empire attempt to control the region shows the failed attempt and that we as a nation should have learned from that. Then he closed with the famed Vermont Republican Senator George Aiken’s remarks about the last faulty war, Vietnam “Declare victory and Get Out.”

Unfortunately due to time constraints I was unable to return to the debate after lunch so I did not witness the final votes and words. I am proud that the Vermont Legislature is overwhelming aware that the war is flawed and that the time is right for all troops to return home. So as debate rages on in Washington, I hope that this message resonates strong with the ears in Congress and the rest of nation.

Robb Kidd

In place of a quote today I will end with a video of Vermont’s lone Congressman Peter Welch voice Vermont’s sentiment in the US House of Representatives. At least somebody in Washington knows the war is wrong, next thing we just need to have is some guts and stop the war.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Democracy and Local Farms

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Northeastern Organic Farmers Association of Vermont’s Conference (NOFA-VT). The classrooms and gymnasium of Randolph Technical College were filled to capacity from a crowd egger to learn about opportunities in promoting a healthy and environmentally sustainable food source. Speakers informed attendees on a variety of issues ranging from marketing techniques, farm diversity, soil management and legislative policy

The keynote address titled “Finding the Food Less Traveled on the Road to Democracy” was given by Kathy Lawrence former director of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. She addressed the importance of local food sources as being the key to sustaining our democracy. Current agriculture policy in the US has been centered along the global economy, without little focus on the rural communities. Globalization of agriculture is not something of recent times; it has been an on going process for centuries she stated.

To some there may be nothing wrong with the ramifications of globalized agriculture. There may be nothing wrong on principles getting your apples from New Zealand your beef from Brazil and your lettuce from California but there are lasting impacts of the plight of family farms and sparing of rural America. Massive environmental degradation caused by production of large mono-crops, the commoditization of crops causing loss of jobs, health outbreaks due to super bugs of e-coli and the fuel resources needed to ship products across the globe are all relative to globalized agriculture.

At this juncture in time huge agri-business are competing to dominate the world’s food supply to increase profits. Family farmers and small business are being forced to sell. The problem with this notion is that the corporate model “pushes the cost of production off the backs of their ledger sheets and onto the farmer,” she stated. Profits are their number one priority. The claim that is what the free market is about is a false dichotomy. “The highly concentration of corporate power is destroying the free and fair market place.” Agriculture policy has been manipulated by the large corporations to favor their principles, even in Vermont lobbyist from Monsanto and pseudo dairy Coop- Agri-Mark effectively give expert testimony to legislators in a hope of influencing policy.

While the demand for healthy, natural and environmental sustainable produce and meats has rising there lacks the proper infrastructure to obtain that. Policies have been dictated by industry officials for years but there is hope in creating positive change. “All politics is local” she stressed to the crowd, “You know the solutions; it has to be informed by the people it affects.” Control of local food source is the primary hope of establishing a democracy. A diverse local agriculture produces a sound and clean environment. There are “simple solutions” but your voice needs to be heard. She encouraged everyone to thank Senator Leahy for working on the upcoming farm bill and to push other elected officials for more of the same.

Government can do “good”, despite the perception that has been altered by corporate interests who have manipulated the system to their benefit. If everyone spent five minutes a month calling their elected officials policies can change. We must “Change peoples perception of what government can do for you, this is democracy at work”, she concluded.

Following, Kathy Lawrence, Senator Bernie Sanders thankfully addressed the crowd. “I have heard more intelligent conversation in the last thirty minutes than I have heard in a week in DC,” he opened to the crowd.

“Every area of our country is moving in the wrong direction,” he remarked as if he was still on the campaign trail. He gave thanks for the initiatives in the room for producing local and environmental sustainable agriculture. “Most people are not living a lifestyle that is sustainable.” Evidence of global warming has become a reality and he charged that “organic agriculture is one of the ways” we will control it. “I believe that we have a chance to bring an agriculture bill that is sustainable.” Senator Sanders received a gracious standing ovation to end the session.

A transformation has occurred in the acceptability of organic produce and meats, as evidenced in that room. No longer is it a fringe “hippie” market, the issue now resonates strongly through the halls of laws. While it was my first attendance at a NOFA conference, I could see the passion and interests generated from the crowd. A perception to make an impact and difference in our world was strong in their hearts and minds.

There was more workshops to attend and I choose one led by VT House Agriculture Chair David Zuckerman(Progressive) and Rep. Will Stevens(Independent). Both men are organic farmers first and then citizen legislators second. While many in attendance questioned them regarding policies ranging from Genetically Modified Organisms, to lack of slaughter house facilities to dairy aid there was on over all feeling of concern in the crowded room. Both men listened empathically to the crowd, while trying to address each matter. Rep Zuckerman expressed deep interests and explained the crowd that while he is more of a “socialist” there were many within the House and Senate who do not follow that ideology. He stressed the importance of making contact with legislators and let them be aware of the issues you support. While no answers were achieved in that room, I hope that a greater commitment and involvement will come from it.

Many issues revolve around the fall of democracy. Whether it is in regards to agriculture policy that favors monolithic agri-business or foreign policy that centers on the concerns of the oil industry, our democratic institutions have been sold out to the shallow interests of money. To counter act the power of money it is vital that each and every individual participate in the democratic process. The democratic process is more than just voting it is using your first amendment right of free speech. If you want healthy, locally grown and environmentally sustainable produce and meats speak out.

Robb Kidd

"They are permanently teaching Russia about democracy. But those who teach us, for some reason don't really want to study it themselves." Russian President Vladimir Putin

Friday, February 09, 2007

Faux News

The corporate news media continues its showcasing of meaningless stories to captivate the American public in nonsense. I do not watch television at all and every time I get random glimpses of the vile that is reported my stomach churns in disgust.

Recently, I joined a gym and in one of the rooms there is a television turned onto CNN’s Headline News. Strenuously while I keep my health to par, I can get filled in all the news in just a half-hour. Great idea, if there were actually news broadcasted. Yesterday, a story was repeatedly aired showing a man breaking into a store and then upon exiting slamming his head on the wrong window pane. I saw the clip three times and many others like that, while stories about Iraq and the dismal status of the economy of today were ignored. Hot news, the FDA approved a new diet pill, more money to waste on pharmaceutical products while the real answers of Americans over-indulgence and lack of exercise is dismissed.

The other week I watched a news reporter repetitively inform viewers that there were frigid winter conditions throughout the country and that New Yorkers were suffering with 20 degree temperatures. I found it odd because I just walked in from temperatures that were below zero and to most of us in the area we were not suffering. Twenty degrees at this point is balmy weather conditions. No wonder, why so many people complain about the weather, it’s ingrained in their heads from the media. My favorite comment about the weather is from American Humorist Kin Hubbard, “Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while.”

So the big news for the corporate news media today is that Anna Nicole Smith died. I just ask who the f… cares. Television, Newspapers and internet media is dominated with coverage of her death. Yahoo’s news headlines “Why We Cared About Anna.” Is it that the populace really cares about Anna or is it a purposeful attempt to distract the public from the truth of the day? I wonder, if the public is that shallow and that their priorities are to worry about the everyday lives of a sex symbol. Was her life that important to me or you?

I am not sure of how it happened that the media has become so sensational. I was taught in my history classes the importance of a “free media,” and that it was part of the greatness of America. A free media is supposed to check on the government, but those days are long gone with the emergence of Media Conglomerates owned and operated by the same minions of corporate America. Yellow dog journalism and the muckrakers diligently worked hard to find the latest stories of importance. Unfortunately, the days of Edward R. Murrow tackling the fear of McCarthyism or even the past triumph of Bob Woodward’s attack of President Nixon has gone through the wayside.

News is no longer news. I remember as a teenager my father used to watch the news and then a new hit format on FOX arrived, “A Current Affair” with Maury Povich. Instead of news, stories of topless carwashes and celebrity profiles were the norm. A transformation in the news media had begun and they realized sex and gossip sells. Then out of the blue O.J. Simpson was charged with murdering his ex-wife. Mainstream media followed every nook and cranny of the case. Just yesterday I saw a story on CNN Headline News on OJ’s latest predicament. Following the OJ case, as if the media networks waited to see how gullible the public could be, formats and coverage dominated celebrity affairs such as the death of Princess Diana or abduction of a young debutante in Aruba.

Whether it has been a purposefully attempt to distract the masses with false news or just an honest attempt to make money, it is not right that the media is failing to report the realities of modern life. Society is becoming more alienated from the visions propagated by the media and it is not just the Faux News channel, it is the NBC’s, the CNN’s, the New York Times and the hundreds of media outlets owned by large corporations. As well we are to blame, if they did not have an audience to absorb their mindless rhetoric, who would listen. Boycott the big news and support your local community news organizations that have not sold out to the sensationalism.

Robb Kidd

“To a philosopher all news, as it is called is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.” Henry David Thoreau in Walden.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Super Distraction

As Rome burned, the masses flocked to the Coliseum to see gladiators mercifully plunge beasts to their death. This past Sunday practically a whole nation simultaneously sat around big screen TVs while gorging and drinking themselves to oblivion to watch the Colts devour the Bears, while a nation practically burns in turmoil. News coverage dominates the theme of the Super Bowl, whether it is the game itself or the homophobic Snickers advertisement there was virtually no escape from its broadcast.

Without a TV in sight I did not watch the “big game” and really did not care who won or lost. Not to sound like an intellectually elitist, I did not watch the game due to any sense of greatness of myself but as a realization that it has no meaning on my life. I for one spent many days glued to the dominance of professional sports. Section 308, Row 14, Seat 29 of Giants Stadium was a regular Sunday affair for me, until one day I just woke up and realized that it does not mean a thing. Forgive me for not knowing the name of the movie, but there is a movie with a line that says “Mickey Mantle does not give a damn about you.” That is the way I feel about professional sports, it may provide endless hours of entertainment but what it comes down to is that it is nothing but a business and those involved just do not give a damn about you are me.

Sunday, millions of people were captivated by a game, while the country burns. We have a war in Iraq that is costing billions of dollars and only a few hearty souls dare question its rational. Just the other day, Republicans and Joe Lieberman blocked debate on putting pressures on the President to end the war in Iraq. While the country is bloated and hung-over from a game, still more Americans are left to die. What is the resolve of the nation is it get drunk and worship a barbaric game of men, or is it to progress for the betterment of man?

The President comes up on the news and states that we need more for a “war on terror” and then on the other breath he states the need to cut human services. News flash, the cost of living for the average American is rapidly rising, health care is outrageous, fuel costs are high, and education costs are preposterous; even worse our wages are dropping. I ask the question, do you support the war on lies? What are you doing to stop it? You may not be faced with the prospects of being drafted or having a son or daughter in this war, but your lively hood is frivolously being spent on this war.

For years, I stood by and watched the game, but life is more than just the Super Bowl. I imagine if just ten percent of those who watched the game, used the same amount of time and energy promoting something other than that, the country would be in a much better place. Payton Manning does not give a damn about you and his millions will not pay for your child’s education or your health care, so why do so many people care. There is a big world out there and a meaningless football game does not solve any of the problems in the world, so please wake up out of your Coca-Cola Coma and stop the burning of our home.

Robb Kidd

“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke. But you and I, we’ve been through that and this is not our fate, so let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.” Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Lack of Snow, Southern VT.

The news is full of stories about how global warming has become not just a theory, but a reality. Although, the realities of rising temperatures and erratic weather patterns are so strong, I was still shocked to see on a recent drive a few hours south from my home in Montpelier, Vermont, an absence of snow. February 2nd, driving along Interstate 91 in Vermont, visions of snow this time of year is so prevalent, so looking at the brown and barren countryside was a bit odd.

Southern Vermont still in the heart of ski country was brown as a November day, just after the leaves have fallen. What has happened to winter down here, I just do not know. Having experienced the last few weeks of subzero temperatures in Montpelier, I just could not believe where I was. Thankful that night like magic, snow flakes fell from the sky. Downtown Brattleboro was immersed in a flakey white blanket of snow. Adults slid down sidewalks like children playing at the schoolyard. Winter and snow brings a picturesque sight of joy and freshness to these sleepy parts.

Waking up in the morning, the sun shined bright as could be. I felt like I needed sunglasses to shield the might of the sun’s powerful rays. A beautiful day as I discussed to a woman outside of Mocha Joes Coffee shop. She told me that the night before in Northhampton, Mass., snow ball fights were the activity of the evening and it was a sight to see. Lowell, the innkeeper of 40 Putney Road along with his wife Lindsay, told me that it was the first significant snowfall of the winter around those parts and that it was a pleasure to see. (By the way if you ever want to stay in a nice bed and breakfast in Southern Vermont and do not want to stay in some swanky establishment run by psychotic innkeepers that is the place to stay.)

Anyway, seeing the pleasures and joy of a winter’s day, it made me question even more about the ramifications of global warming. Some climatologists have claimed that this winter's unseasonable warm temperatures are due more to the El Nino effect and not of global warming. Maybe this could be a wake up call for humanity and governments to take action and not wait for the dire predictions to fall upon us. Global warming theories have claimed that average temperatures could rise from 1 degree to eight degrees, so while there are drastic differences in the temperatures of this winter I hope that a spark is driven into our society for the need to act.

In Vermont, most of the carbon emissions attributed to global warming are emitted from private vehicles. While there are other sources, the need for the automobile is creating the greatest dangers. Towns and cities used to be linked by railroads and streetcars as the major forms of transportation, but today it is a distant memory of the past. Society has been built against that and the automobile has become king.

Train travel has become unproductive, time consuming and cost prohibitive. A trip from Montpelier to Brattleboro would leave at 9:42 am and arrive at 12:30pm and the return would be at 5:10pm and arrive at 8:02pm at a cost of $55. Driving takes just about two hours and cost about $25 in gas. Even worse, I have family still in NJ and in order for me to visit them by train it would take about ten hours, while driving takes me five hours. So as a consumer which would use choose?

The federal government, states and municipalities have mass-subsidized the building of roads and highways and the basic infrastructure of the railways has been left to rust. Europe has long been a pioneer in developing and promoting its rail network, but the US has fallen by the wayside and focused on the rise of the automobile. A ninety year old man in Jericho told me that as a youth he remembers trains that ran frequently between there, Burlington, Montpelier and St. Johnsbury.

Whatever happened to "progress," instead of moving forward, we as a nation have been moving backwards. As I have been taught by my outlaw (future father-in-law) and partner that when it comes from discussing railroads we must label it as investing in the infrastructure and that we must stop subsidizing the auto and oil industry through the continued developing of roads and highways that are polluting our earth. Maybe with today’s youth’s fascination with trains the nation will revert back on track.

For those critics of my words, yes I do drive on those roads but I have chosen many options in my own life to help counteract the rise of green house gasses. The truth of the matter is that as much as I am doing and what many others are doing it may be futile without governmental action and real investment in our future. So as I had just returned from the road and back to Montpelier I was thrilled to see the white blanket of snow that covered the landscape I was reminded of the natural beauty of our environment. I just hope that as a society we will progress in a manner that will foster environmental friendly approaches to our lives.

Robb Kidd

"The improved American highway system isolated the American-in-transit. On his speedway he had no contact with the towns which he by-passed. If he stopped for food or gas, he was served no local fare or local fuel, but had one of Howard Johnson's nationally branded ice cream flavors, and so many gallons of Exxon. This vast ocean of superhighways was nearly as free of culture as the sea traversed by the Mayflower Pilgrims." Daniel J Boorstin Historian and former Librarian of Congress

Thursday, February 01, 2007

America in Groundhog's Day

It’s like déjà vu all over again. A few years ago Bill Murray starred in a movie called Ground Hog’s Day and his character continuously had to repeat the day over and over again. His mistakes were repeated many times over again and eventually he got got over his even slothful ways. Reading of history and correlating it to recent events a sense of repetition is quite prevalent in the ways of man. The United States is in its own Groundhog Day and maybe just tomorrow it will wake up and correct its mistakes, I hope.

It must be shocking for some people that the United States has eerily repeated mistakes of the past. The late sixties and early seventies the country was marred by a mass revolt on an unpopular war. Vietnam was heralded by the war hawks as vital and was preventing the spread of communism and if the United States were to leave a vacuum like effect would create the eventual fall of “democracy.” The theory known as the Domino Theory instilled propaganda and fears onto a nation’s resolve and prevented the ending of a war that the US should have never been involved with. Leaders of the day, instead of calling for end, escalated troop size and waged a war to “bomb Vietnam to the Stone Age.”

President Johnson lied to Congress to authorize further troop size when he claimed that US ships were attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin. As witnessed by historians and government officials it was a known lie, but instead America was on the war path. Following Johnson, President Nixon illegal bombed Cambodia and Laos without the support of Congress. Coffins returned to the country in mass, and soon the country was at odds with official policy. It wasn’t until word broke out by the criminal underlings of the Watergate affair did the Presidency begin to crumble.

Fast forward to the 1980’s and during the Reagan administration under the direction of many of the same cast of characters, a program of supporting undemocratic leaders in Central and South America was prevalent. They funded fanatic militia groups like the Contras to rage a terrorist war on democratic elected administrations. To some new Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is a war criminal and should be tried for crimes against humanity for his involvement in Central America.

The Iran-Contra affair showed great weakness in presidential policy, instead of condemnation of criminals like Oliver North and Casper Weinberger, they were heralded as American patriots despite violating the constitution and international laws. Supposedly, Congress purposely did not advance full scale investigations over the matter because it did not want to embarrass the fragileness of the American Presidency having been so close to the Watergate affair. I guess by Clinton’s time embarrassing the Presidency did not mean anything. His sexual affairs were grounds for full investigations and the news media loved it.

The more things change the more they stay the same. The US is now stuck in a quagmire in Iraq and prominent war hawks are saying that the terrorist threat must be contained. It sounds like the Domino (Bullshit) theory propagated thirty-five years ago. Despite the withdrawal from Vietnam the region did not fall to communism. As well faulty evidence had been used in gaining Congressional approval for the Iraq war. Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Saddam and 9/11, aluminum tubes and democracy was the call for war.

Common knowledge now is that the President Bush and his administration “cooked the books” to rally the nation. A campaign of media control was orchestrated to further their agenda. Anyone who questioned their authority was discredited by blatant attacks such as the discrediting of Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame being revealed as a CIA official. In regards to Iran reports are continuously looming that the administration is setting their focus on attack. Instead of following the voice of democracy the President and the administration are creating their “New World Order” or “New American Century” as labeled by the Project for a New American Century.

It seems that so far the only thing that has been corrected from the past is that the American Public is not allowed to see the flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq. I hope that anyone of conscious wake up and see what has happened under your nose. Impeachment charges on a president who has lied over sex is fine, but impeachment for a war based on lies is not. Notwithstanding, the recent noncommittal outcries from the democratic chicken hawks a war continues on. Either this Congress is against the war or they are in support of continuing it.

As those who protested and stood up against the Vietnam have aged and begun to worry more about their lattes and fancy cars a whole new era of deception has been created. It is disheartening to see the great promise of a past generation who influenced a great cultural shift in America society stand back and remain dormant. Instead of South East Asia it is now the Middle East, the war was wrong then and the war is wrong now. I sure hope America wakes up from this bad dream and end this war soon. America is repeating the same story and it sure looks like Groundhog's Day to me.

Robb Kidd

“It's like deja-vu, all over again.” Yogi Berra