Monday, April 26, 2004

I became politically aware because I had to. I coulda been killed. In 1968 I registered for the draft. That meant that I could be chosen to give up my life for reasons determined in secret by the folks who had control of the United States Government at the time. I lost friends to that secret cabal. Turns out it was mostly a bad decision by one guy, Robert McNamarra, that got the whole country all torn apart. Some of my friends were blown to bits in Southeast Asia and some of them were merely shot and killed. I have been wanting to go see the Viet Nam war memorial to look for their names. Some of my friends are like my neighbor up on the mountain. His sister in law describes him as one of those poor boys who never came all the way back from Viet Nam. He has all his fingers and toes but something else never was right about him and won't be...ever.

We will see the same thing when all this war that is happening now is over. The world will not be a better place for our war in Iraq. It will not be the fighting that will change the world, it will be when we stop the killing that change will come. Why not do it right now? As it is right now, we will have friends who will never come back completely. We can make the choice right now or we can wait until we hit the thousand mark in dead children of America. Or we can do like Richard Nixon did...He ran for his second term saying he needed to be kept in office so that he could end the war. He got reelected and he did in fact end the war...after another 50,000 American children got killed. The we got "Peace with Honor". Yeah, right!

Country Joe and the Fish wrote the song that replaced the National Anthem during the Viet Nam War. It is the "I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag." Its most famous line is, "...and it's one, two, three, What am I fighting for?" Here is a line from another Country Joe song:

"And those who took so long to learn the subtle ways of death / Lie and bleed in paddy mud with questions on their breath / And we send prayers and praises."

Country Joe is still playing music and writing songs. Here is a line from his recent effort. it sounds familiar:

"And pound their feet into the sand of shores they've never seen / Delegates from the western land to join the death machine / And we send cards and letters."

So now here we are, driving our country incredibly deep in debt with the money essentially going to a company with huge financial ties to the Vice President who is one of the four or five men who are the architechs of the war in the first place. The organization they belong to is called the Project for a New American Century. Things have gone very very wrong for them and their war. That means that things have gone very very wrong for us and our children.

Ask yourself this question: "What is the best possible outcome that can be reasonably expected from the Iraq War?" It is not good. I have a proposal to make. Instead of reinstating the draft, instead of creating ahorrible division within our own country, and instead of killing and wounding physically and emotionally thousands more of our children, instead of killing more Iraqis... Let's just leave! Here's how we can do it. Let's load up and come home. We spend a fraction of the money on alternative enrgy sources and energy conservation and we redirect our economy to creating healthy industries and the price of oil drops through the floor! There is then no money to support the Saudis, the Syrians, the cartel in Venezuela, and the house of Bush and Cheney go bancrupt too, but hey, there have to be casualties in any war, right? Why not them instead of our children?


This might just sum up the problem:

"We don't have a choice. God is the only one who can decide,"

That was from a woman on the sidelines at the Women's march in Washington this weekend. An open minded reader will identify the woman as one who is willing to impose her particular version of God on all of the others marching down the street. Why aren't they entitled to their own God instead of hers? Isn't that the ultimate freedom supposedly guaranteed by our Constitution?

My own view of the abortion issue is very simple: It is none of my business! A long time ago I decided that men should stay out of this debate. In fact, I think women of child bearing age are the only ones who should have a say, period. The rest of us can offer our thoughts if asked but otherwise, what do we think we are doing telling someone else they have to bear a child?

Isn't that a form of slavery?

It all comes down to someone wanting power over someone else. Anti-choice people take the ridiculous position that it is murder but that cannot be defended if you think about it. Here is the argument:

Life begins at conception.


Life begins at birth.

or, as the Catholic Church would claim:

Life begins with consumation

(or possibly even the intent to consumate, I am unclear on this one).

What we have is an unanswerable question that simply depends on "belief" for a determination. I don't "believe" we should force our own "belief", which in this case is nothing more than an "opinion", on another person.

I have noticed something, else, and I'm not the only one who has. It seems to me that the people who are so willing to force their will on a pregnant woman under the auspices of saving a "child" are the same ones who were willing to kill an untold number of children on the off chance that Saddam Hussein would be killed at the same time.

Remember back before the war actually started, when George Bush sent a cruise missile to deal death on a house in Bagdad? That was a decision to kill everyone in that house regardless of who they were. How on earth can you justify that decision? Between 20 and 30 of the nearly fifty people killed were women and children. Saddam wasn't there. I call that an act of murder! I call that a war crime. President Bush authorized more than one attack of this sort. More than a few children died.

That is a small number of children when you compare it to the thousands of civilians we have killed during this war. I guess they are free now, huh? That's why we killed them isn't it? To bring them Freedom? Jim Jones had something along the same idea when he freed all his followers with cyanide Kool-ade. Makes just about the same amount of sense to me.

This war was entered with far less thought than the average woman gives to an abortion. That is apparent due the amazing incompetence of it all. The Bush people seem to stagger from blunder to blunder as they make us safer from Terror. (Does anybody still believe this lie?)

At the end of the day, there is only one tenable postition: Every woman must make this very difficult decision for herself. Not the Pope, Not the President, Not the Supreme Court, Not me and not you! And guess what? That is the opinion of the majority of all Americans! I think the Majority should get their way in the next Presidential election.

Yesterday in Washington, DC about a million women asked us to leave them alone. Works for me!

Thursday, April 22, 2004

I heard this song on the radio on the way to work Wednesday morning. I was merrily singing along having a fine time until I got to the last two verses. Danged if I didn't get all misty eyed!

Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.
Little Jackie Paper loved that rascal Puff
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff, oh
Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.
Puff, the magic dragon, lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honalee.

Together they would travel on boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on Puff's gigantic tail
Noble kings and princes would bow whene'er they came
Pirate ships would lower their flags when Puff roared out his name, oh


A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys
Painted wings and giants's rings make way for other toys.
One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.
Without his lifelong friend, Puff could not be brave
So, Puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave, oh


By Peter Yarrow and Leonard Tipton On Peter, Paul & Mary's
Copyright 1963 Pepamar Music.

I grabbed the beater guitar I keep at my office and worked through the song a couple of times and I still got misty before Puff could slip into his cave. I don't know why. Perhaps it is because my own dragons have lost their painted wings. Perhaps it is because my children are now young men and I don't get to play with them in the dirt with stuffed animals. It is soccer balls, mountain bikes, and kayaks, instead, and though that works too, it is not the same.

It's not a song about pot, by the way. (I can hear some of you snickering) Here's what the guys that wrote it had to say about that urban legend:

I get fairly irritated when I hear someone talk about environmental extremists. Earth day is tomorrow and I happened to hear the term used by a local conservative radio jock. I was at a gathering in Atlanta on the very first Earth Day. We listened to speeches and music and swore we wouldn't let the world continue to die like it looked like our parents had. We have done some good., but not enough.

Water quality is better today, although it has gone well south in areas downstream of CAFO's. Those are factory farms that dump huge quantities of animal waste into our streams. People get sick and die downstream of them, but hey, that's "BIDNESS". Remember Pfisteria? The evil organism that showed up in North Carolina coastal waters that was infecting people as well as fish? Some of those infected will never recover. The water is still unhealthy years later even though the CAFO's are now so heavily regulated that they have run to Alabama, taking the problems with them. They are jumping from state to state trying to stay ahead of the locals who don't know any better and welcome them in to their counties as "Economic Development".

Here in Tennessee we have managed to let corporations steal the very air we breathe. It is unhealthy to go up into the Smoky Mountains and breathe. Now let me ask you who is the extremist, the environmental activist or the corporate CEO that chooses to let his business poison the air we all must share rather than commit to paying the price to keep it clean? We make the metaphorical pact with the devil to take pieces of our health away in the name of economic development without taking the time to face reality. There are only so many pieces that can be taken before we die. Worse than that, we let our leader make choices that will destroy some one else's health. The coal fired generating plant in Kingston makes lots of electric power and the emmisions go up a 1000 foot smoke stack and float away to somewhere else. Where? The first stop is the Smoky Mountain National Park.

Great courage is required by a leader to face his constituency and tell them he will make a choice to keep them healthy instead of allowing a few people to get richer. Courage is not something we see in politicians. Yeah, lots of them are my friends and they know I think they are pussies! That is a kind word for coward. That's just the honest ones. An oxymoron? Honest politician? I actually think there are honest elected officials. I know a few. We have to help them be strong and can help them make that choice. It takes work and eternal vigilance. There is always someone who can rationalize your health against his bank account. I have lost too many battles because I was not willing to keep the fight going all the time.

Dennis Hayes organized the first Earth Day in 1970. He has kept the fight going for a long time. I urge you to read what he has to say. It is your children he is trying to protect.

The Magic Dragon has lost his cave. That's where we put the Nukular waste now.



PS: I still have my ponytail. My hair cut was put off until next Tuesday. Pictures then.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

You folks got relief from my blog this morning. I was traveling to my job actually. This evening I am relaxing at our old cabin in South Carolina. Way back in 1976 I moved to this area for one thing, mainly. Quiet. Yeah, quiet as in the absence of noise. No interstates or trains or gun shots in the night. Well there are actually no interstates but I can hear a few cars now and again out on the paved road. Trains? Nope.

There was going to be a railroad in these mountains but the going is tough up here. They never finished the tunnels for what would have been the Black Diamond railroad. For a while they made cheese in Stumphouse tunnel but never did a train rumble through it. I use to tell my younger brother and sister scary stories at the end of it in the dark. When I say dark, I mean dark like you have never seen. Well of course you haven't seen it(even the folks who have seen it, and some of you have, haven't "seen it"), but I want you to understand dark as in a quarter of a mile back into a mountain in a tunnel dug into solid rock by Irish immigrants with star drills and green oak stobs, dark. First they would pound a drill hole into the granite with a star drill. That wasn't actually a drill but is a steel rod with a star shaped end that you hit with a two pound hammer. Each time you hit it, the end of the drill chips a little bit of rock loose, you turn the drill slightly and hit it again. After hitting it enough times there is a hole in the rock. I have used a star drill. Tain't work I liked. In Stumphouse tunnel they knocked holes in granite and then drove oak stobs into them. The stobs were dried in kilns and had shrunk up as much as the wood could. after driving it into the rock a worker would pour water on the end of the stob. eventually the water would soak into the wood and cause it to expand. The pressure from the expanding wood put pressure on the rock internally and with the help of the workers pounding hammers on a line connecting several holes the rock would eventually crack off. it would be hauled away and the next hole would be started with the star drills and hammered. Apparently Irishmen were cheaper than black powder.

Anyway it is relatively quiet here. Except for the planes. They fly high on the way to Atlanta and tend to quit after midnight so I can deal with it. Gunshots were a problem when I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta in 1968. Back then, nobody much, maybe a few, got shot but that isn't true nowadays. We in America got all upset when 19 Arabs killed a little less than 3000 People on 9-11 but we can move right along with our lives as over ten times that number get shot each year in our country. As for where I am now, the shots in the night come from coon hunters. I have tried to reason with coon hunters late at night or early in the morning, as in one or two am, but it doesn't work. They don't seem to understand why they can't shoot a racoon out of a tree in your yard at 2 in the morning. They're hunters, the dogs ran the coon up a tree and they have to shoot it. Sorry about it being in your yard but that's where the coon went. Not their fault! Coons got to be shot! Dogs are barking, hundred thousand candle power flashlights are waving up in the trees and two little beady eyes are reflecting back at us all. The coon hunters have dogs and guns and seem to be just a bit drunk. I am in a disturbed sleep quiet rage. After a bit they fear me. I am not a rational human being. They have treed a coon and I will not let them fire their weapons because there will be noise. They can't comprehend that is the noise that I will not tolerate. It's just a shotgun...They are just going to shoot the coon and leave after it hits the ground. If they can do it with out making noise,I say, fine... I must be crazy. Finally I say, 'Guys, you're on my land. You didn't ask me. Go away and some other time we'll talk about coon hunting." This seems to give them a way out of having to deal with me and we all smile, see ya, and they go away. I will never let them shoot racoons out of my trees in the middle of the night, ever, even though I hate the damned things. it makes too much noise. I hate the coon that is clinging to the tree maybe forty feet above me but he will live through this night. In my heart of hearts, I hope he dies tomorrow night, as long as he makes no noise in the process.

It is very quiet now. Coon hunters fear the insane. it is still winter here and the frogs are quiet, too. They fear nothing... it is too cold for them. Not me, I like it now. For a moment, I can hear the stars twinkle.



Check what's happening in the tanks: