Archive - 2013

February 21st

Geographic returns to ND

Follow the links in this Herald article to get to a most excellent National Geographic article on the North Dakota oil fields. A few years ago, National Geographic wrote on the emptying of North Dakota's farm country. It was an accurate article, but because it didn't include the Chamber of Commerce booster points, it was greeted with anger by the more defensive North Dakotans. This article is just as good, and gives a detailed and enlightening account of conditions on the oil field. 

Can we not face the notion that most things are simultaneously good and bad? The economic boom helps people make money, but the environmental and social impact of oil development is a disaster. Why hide the downside? 

February 20th

Hegel, etc.

Sen. Hegel would make a good Secretary of Defense for the very reasons his fellow Republican senators are blocking his nomination: He doesn't believe we should take orders from Israel. He doesn't believe starting the Iraq war was wise. He doesn't believe the so-called "surge" did much. He doesn't believe we need to spend more than then next 45 ranking nations combined in defense. 

In other words, Hegel is not a paranoid authoritarian nut case like Cheney, therefore he must suffer the ire of those of his colleagues who still think it is 2002. John McCain has admitted that the delay of Hegel's probably inevitable confirmation is simply revenge politics. And he's all for it. 

Meanwhile, McCain came to Arizona to try to sell immigration reform to a bunch of angry old white people at a town hall in Green Valley. It didn't go well. They want everybody without papers mass deported. They don't like Hispanics. "Cut off their benefits, and they'll go home," one shouted. 

To be down here and see the Latinos doing the hard work makes a sham out of the hatred spewed by the old white people who have moved here from other regions to contribute nothing to society. The bulk of them are militantly worthless as citizens. Yet, they feel entitled to new free hips and knees paid by us all. If I was to start a nursery down here, I would take 100 illegal Mexicans as employees (hypothetically, of course) before I'd take 150 of the whiners at McCain's town hall meeting. 

McCain and Rubio are talking some sense on immigration. What people don't realize is that President Obama has deported more immigrants (400,000) than any previous president. He has done this, I suspect, to prove his toughness, just as he continued Bush's wars longer than he should have and has continued airport friskings longer than necessary. I submit that Obama should just quit trying to appease the bozos and go with rational policies. 

Here's a few: End the waste of billions on the drug war. Bring the troops home from Afghanistan. Open trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba. Close Guantanamo Bay. Institute a single-payer health care system for all. Cut military spending way, way down. We do not need bases all over the world. Increase infrastructure spending. Raise the minimum wage. Close loopholes in the tax code. Tax every Wall Street trade. That alone would raise billions. Regulate Wall Street so they don't drag us into another financial mess through their unconscionable, treasonous greed. Demonstrate daily that higher taxes can actually stimulate the economy by encouraging investment. Mock the neanderthal positions of Republican politicians who support teaching of creationism, want to return women to the 1950s or earlier, who believe more guns are the answer to violence, who deny the realities of climate science research, who marry four times and then righteously claim to "protect" marriage by denying it to people who actually value it--these people need to be mocked from the highest pulpit in the land until they crawl back under their rock and await death. These are not normal times. These people are not civil, nor are they rational. They have gained unnatural influence through the endless propaganda of FOX news and right-wing radio. It is time they are dismissed from the public stage with appropriate contempt. 

The racists who threw a four-year fit when President Obama entered office, who balked at every one of his initiatives and sabotaged his attempts to merely govern because they thought it might win them neanderthal votes, who shouted "you lie" in the House Chamber, who questioned Obama's birth certificate (McCain's claim to being "natural born" was less credible), who made fun of him for using the teleprompter, who said he was forming a police force loyal only to him, who deny him credit for every achievement, including the assassination of Osama bin Laden, because they hate the president so much that they can't imagine him doing anything good, the people who said he was deliberately hurting this country, the makers of the movie "2016" who claimed Obama was a trained communist revolutionary even though his father, who had some Marxist views, was never around; the idiots at the bar who claimed that Obama was simultaneously Muslim, Communist and Nazi--these people should be shoved aside. Their actions and accusations during the first term of Obama should never be forgotten. If any of them run for office, they should be forced to defend every crazy lie they spewed in their frenzy of hatred against a black president.

The Tea Party types just assume that somebody as exotic as a black president would want to destroy the country. They can't imagine he's moderate. They can't imagine that he's milquetoast Midwest, being raised in Kansas for part of his youth, for crying out loud. No, they couldn't get past the color of his skin. They assumed he has some hidden agenda to take revenge against a nation he must certainly hate, given how we treated black people for 90% of our history.

Obama is a slightly-left-of center pragmatist. If his skin were white, his politics would be viewed as blander than Bill Clinton's. Texas Senator Ted Kruz is just the most recent to call Obama "the most radical president ever," but cited no evidence. Why? There isn't any. The only thing radical about Barack Obama is that he's black and president at the same time. And that's enough for these people to call him radical. That's all the evidence they need to incite their slithering, seething followers. 

Columnists from the right have spent the past four years, not debating policy, but mocking every trait in Obama's character, every little event, every twitch. Skeet shooting? It was fake. Teleprompter? It was due to Obama's stupidity. Harvard? He got in due to racial preferences. Bin Laden? He had nothing to do with it. He bowed to the wrong person. He has started a "personality cult." He didn't put his hand on his chest during the National Anthem. All sorts of false charges given legitimacy by supposed journalists who jumped on the hate wagon when it served them instead of fulfilling their responsibility as journalists to curb the worst impulses of the fearful in our midst. 

I want these people to tell me what black person could possibly stand a chance when haters are going to mock their every achievement as being the result of unfair favoritism? How could you ever win? Have they ever met a black person? Have they ever watched a white person assume a black person is the waiter when in fact he is part of the party? When they act surprised that black people have families and own homes? Recently, I talked to a local who came back from Washington D.C. and said the blacks there were "so well-behaved." And you say the only racism is against whites? Have you ever had to put up with such humiliation and condescension? 

No previous president has had to attempt to govern with the most-watched TV news network tearing him apart every day and the entire radio dial stirring up hatred against him. I am surprised some lunatic hasn't taken a pot shot. To say Obama has the media behind him is to ignore that FOX had more viewers than any other news show during his first term. It also is to ignore that the mainstream media didn't do their job in properly reporting the origins of the Tea Party (the Koch Brothers funded it) and all of the proposed legislation at the state level to disenfranchise minority voters, lower taxes on the rich, allow more pollution, deregulate banks, regulate women's bodies by forcing ultra-sounds, and other such neanderthal absurdities. 

The mainstream press also hasn't done a proper job of chronicling the crazy radicalism of the National Rifle Association, to which my own Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson has sworn eternal fealty and devotion. Remember, the National Rifle Association was once for gun control: when the Black Panthers attempted to arm themselves in the late 1960s. That tells you pretty much what you need to know about who they want armed and who they want unarmed. And Collin Peterson, you should be ashamed. 

The election of 2012 was probably the most important in my lifetime so far. It is my hope that it will eventually be seen as the moment when we began to come to our senses and stopped allowing an angry, retrograde minority to hinder all progress. May the pitiful, ugly minority which is shamelessly obstructing the business of the country in Congress be first discredited, then mocked, then wiped out in the next election. 

And may a rational, secular conservative party arise in its place. 

 

 

Superstitions with Snow

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At about nine this morning, it started to snow in earnest here in Gold Canyon.  A while later, the clouds lifted, revealing scenes like this one. Lance and I went out for a drive to take photos, only to find 1) everybody else was out holding their phones up taking the same photos and 2) the best view of them all was from our back yard. 

It looks in this photograph as if  Lance is communicating with his phone, but he is actually taking pictures of the ground. He prefers close-ups to landscapes, and the snow provided some of both today. 

What a contrast to yesterday when I sat outside and worked for well over an hour, went running, had all kinds of fun. My moods go with the weather, and today I was shot. 

Snow in Gold Canyon

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February 18th

Hospice

A founder of the hospice movement in this country is profiled in this article. It is difficult to believe that hospice was once a revolutionary concept. It is also difficult to believe how much resistance there is to the notion yet today in the medical establishment. At some point, death is natural. We should stop poking people with needles and pumping them full of poisons until there is nothing left of them. 

February 17th

Valentine

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Aunt Olive, age 101, with a Valentine's Day bouquet from her boyfriend Bunny, age 52. 

Another day in paradise

Yesterday was one of those sterling Arizona days that makes you wonder why a person would spend winter anywhere else. Mid-70s. Slight breeze. Sunny. I sat in the back yard and watched the golfers while editing. Then I went on a slow walk down the wash and listened to all the different birds. Migration must be starting, as there are new songs every day. Somebody set up a bench under a mesquite tree in the wash, so I sat in the shade. Then went for a run. 

A perfect day.

The trip home for the blizzard made me doubly appreciative of the weather here. If you don't see and feel the alternative every now and then, you can get jaded by the monotony of endless perfect days.

Fifteen major league baseball teams are training in the Phoenix area this winter. I could drive to one of the complexes and watch baseball drills instead of sitting in the back yard and watching golfers. However, the nearest complex is 29 miles away, so that will require some planning.

On Friday evening, Lance and I picked up cousin Tina and went to a party celebrating the beginning of spring training. The host, a big St. Louis Cardinals fan, has two rooms in his house devoted to baseball memorabilia. I was reminded that the Cardinals have won the World Series 14 times in their existence. Below is a small sample: 

baseballstuff.jpg 

February 16th

National Geographic in the Bakken

This is the single most informative article I have read on the Bakken oil boom in the past few months. I am always thankful for the continued excellence of the National Geographic. 

Fertile shop teacher

I suspect the Herald's Ryan Bakken and Eric Hylden enjoyed reporting this story more than is journalistically proper. Get back to the city hall beat, boys! Look at the picture. My goodness. A pink welding helmet? C'mon. 

Van Halen comes to mind. 

February 14th

Back to AZ

As I drove towards Fargo last night, the weather worsened. Freezing rain, sleet, whatever you call it. Slick roads. Huge snowbanks. Just the stuff you stay in Arizona to avoid.

However, the people at the airport weren't even worried. With a slight delay for de-icing, the plane took off as planned and within three hours I was back in snow-free country.

This morning dawned clear and beautiful, with birds singing.

The trip home was good. I got to visit Aunt Olla twice. She is in such good spirits and looks great. I also got to spend a few hours playing the family game, Boggle. 

Joe's wife Kae is the life of the party, importing Thai cheer to the farm place where we can get preoccupied with the drear. She is the instigator for Boggle, even though she is just learning English. She tries out words and gleefully reports her score at the end of almost every round: Egg! Either for goose egg (zero), or for the shape a zero makes when you circle it, denoting your final score--it looks like a fried egg. It is difficult not to have fun when Kae is around.

While Lance and I are in AZ, sister Tracie is using the house for a massage studio. I got worked over yesterday. Well, worked over is the wrong term as Tracie is a practitioner of a more subtle form of massage called cranial sacral therapy. She worked on my brain yesterday. It certainly needs it. She got at my brain by putting on a glove and pressing against the roof of my mouth until she found the right spot and thunk! I was out.  

While I was home, we also had a delightful house guest, Megan, who is a sister to a friend of Lance's. She is a student and was spending a week at the Fertile Hilton job shadowing. They put her to use right away, so when she'd get back to the house, thunk! out she went on the couch. 

Sometimes it is good to have a house full. 

Meanwhile, Lance stayed back in Phoenix where he has been exploring the metropolis, finding the neighborhoods of Tempe much to his liking. 

I am inclined to start exploring the spring training complexes of some of the 15 teams who train here. What a menu of options!

In any case, the trip home to snowbanks and cold really woke me up to how good things are in February in Arizona. Wow.