Monday, June 30, 2008

That Lonesome Whistle

I talked with Anne Harris recently. She is a wonderful human being who says, "I'm not trying to save the whole world, just my part of it." This can snowball on you, as she found out.

Anne worked for TVA during the nuclear power plant construction years and after learning of serious safety violation that could jeopardize her part of the world (Think Three Mile Island) she became a whistle blower...A very famous whistle blower because she took on TVA and won.

When Anne went public with the fact that the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant was defective in design and construction, she was harassed, not just by TVA, but by people in her own community. Her pastor and members of her church did the Christian thing by Anne and asked her to leave...Even as she was sacrificing her career in order to try and save their very lives.

As fate would have it, one of the welders at the Watts Bar facility came to work for me after the construction on the plant was halted because of the shoddy construction and serious safety concerns. When I asked him about the welds that had been the "straw" ("smoking gun" might be a better term) he said they were horrible and he was glad he didn't live anywhere near the place. When I asked him why things were so bad, he said it was because they bid the job and went with the lowest bid. There wasn't enough money to pay everybody and do it right.

"And you knew that while you were doing the job?" I asked.

"Yep," he said. "If you wanted to keep your job, you did your job, and don't cause no trouble."

He lost his job at Watts Bar when the shoddy "I just did what I was told" welds came to light and the contractor was terminated. He lost his job at my company when some things also came to light that involved his nonexistent ethical line.

To me this is a graphic illustration of how valuable people with unbreakable principles are to their world. Anne Harris probably saved an untold number lives at great personal sacrifice. She lost her career and was asked to leave her church as a reward. We should honor those people who will "not bear false witness" regardless of the price they will pay...But we don't.

Life is hard for the virtuous.



Anne has a message for us as the fight against climate change has brought nuclear power back to the table... "Nuclear is a problem dressed up as a solution."

The Tennessean has a story on Anne Harris in today's edition

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bored? Blood Pressure too Low? Try a Liberal Blog.

The Roundup at

My Pet Frog

A blogger friend has gotten into raising frogs.

Well sure, me too, in a pond in the yard, where we raise them by maintaining natural habitat and watching nature take her course. Becky is raising, or I should say "keeping" which is the official naturalist term for it, Poison Dart Frogs.

I doubt if she plans to harvest the poison and become an assasin or anything like that. For one thing, poison dart frogs don't have any poison. They are concentrators. They have to eat a tropical variety of poisonous ants, concentrate and store the venom in their skin in order to have any poisonous juice, so don't worry.

Whatever you think about slimy amphibians, you'll be forced to admit that these are stunningly beautiful. Take a look.

I have a pet frog too....Here's Hendrix.

Peace Frog,


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thump Your Contradiction

Barack Obama is attempting to do something radical and dangerous for a Presidential candidate...Speak intelligently about religion:

"Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?" Obama said. "Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?" referring to the civil rights leader.

(Obama cited examples ) asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy — chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."

"Folks haven't been reading their Bibles," Obama said.

This is far too intelligent a discussion to have with most Americans, but James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, immediately proved Obama's point:

"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.

"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

What Dobson means is that the Christian bible means what Dobson tells you it means and don't go off thinking for yourself.

What Obama means is, "See what I mean?"

Then this:

Dobson...accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes
that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.

So is Dobson saying that slavery is ok but the dietary codes aren't? I doubt a sentient being could read what Obama said and think the Obama is "equating" Slavery with eating seafood, exactly the opposite in fact, and Dobson seems to be implying that Slavery IS OK.

These are exactly the questions that people should come to grips with when they decide to practice Christianity...The bible they are supposed to use as their religious foundation is as contradictory as Dobson's own twisted logic, but with a major difference...Jesus really loved people and cared for their welfare. To Jesus, near as I can tell from reading the bible, religion was about thinking and reasoning and loving, and helping and caring for each other...And NOT about smiting each other "in the name of the lord."

As much as anything, Obama's examples of the internal battle within religion, of its own polar opposite factions such as Leviticus and The Sermon on the Mount, frame the problem we face in our society's battle against fundamentalism today. The battle against fundamentalism essentially mirrors the ministry of Jesus Christ.

It is the same battle that intelligent , thoughtful, and caring people fight even now. At any rate, all of this is prima facia evidence in the case against allowing religious factions undue influence in the governance of our country.

I personally would prefer a consensus of the rational, and anyone who tries to thump a bible...ANY bible, claiming we should follow this or that particular passage in our democratic governance needs to be carefully monitored for the destructive symptoms of fundamentalism.



Monday, June 23, 2008

I can't drive..55

I figure half the price of oil is due to the Iraq War and another half is due to speculators. I know that sounds funny but look at it like this...

Oil was on a downward trend for the year 2000, going from almost $40 a barrel to $20. Then Republicans took over. By May of this year it was around $120 (and all this is adjusted for inflation) and we have seen it go higher still after that. For something that costs about $4 to pump our of the ground in Saudi Arabia, that's a pretty good profit margin...Even Bill Gates is envious.

Of course this is not adjusted for the massive subsidies the US Government provides for oil, notably the cost of the Iraq War at $200 Billion a year even if you take the low end of the possible numbers.

See for yourself with this handy chart how oil prices have gone since 2001.

Republicans want to open up all of the now protected coastal United States to drilling and make the absurd claim that we can drill our way out of high gas prices. This lie is so transparent even Windex would be proud. Oil that couldn't reach refineries for 7-10 years and would amount to less than 3% of supplies even then could not have a significant effect on prices. Americans have already reduced oil demand by more than the effect of drilling everywhere in the USA by instigating the largest reduction in car driving in American history and prices are still at stratospheric levels.

There are at least three obvious actions that we could take as a government to reduce oil prices and thereby gas prices and their companion burden on the American economy:

1. End the Iraq War. You want more oil? End the war and I swear somebody will find a way to get Iraq oil out of the ground and into your tank. Don't get me started on the magnificently corrupt Iraqi Oil authority and the just announced agreement to give four big oil corporations a monopoly. I question whether that action will stand anyway.

2. End oil speculation. Somebody deserves to lose a crap load of money for driving up the prices of oil futures. Barack Obama states that he will act to end speculation immediately. This is such a no brainer even a Republican could have thought of it if they cared...They don't!

3. Immediately instigate Conservation measures and measures that discourage the consumption of oil. Not once has the Bush Administration acted to reduce our oil consumption, and frankly, every action they have taken, from starting the Iraq War to giving take breaks for gas guzzlers, has done just the opposite with corresponding corrosive effects on the American economy.
Long term we go for energy reduction and alternative energy research and implementation, and build our new economy on the corresponding growth industry that would result.

As for conservation measures, the American public is instituting their own driving reductions with no help from the Bush Administration other than the noteworthy Bush incompetence. We are now seeing calls for a return to the 55 mph speed limit and I think there is something to that, only I want to change it slightly...

I propose that we give colored license plates to identify vehicles that get 25 miles per gallon or better on the highway and let them go 70 in the left lane. Everybody else has to slow down and conserve fuel or we arrest and fine them a few tanks of gas.

Take THAT, Hummers!


I'm still pretty pissed off about the Congressional cave in on FISA. Why would we want to encourage Telcom Corporations to knowingly break the law by giving them immunity? The larger issue is why would we want to give the Bush Administration immunity from breaking the Constitution?

Keith Olbermann: "If this gets in through the Senate there's no way to get it out again, is there? I mean, the history of this nation in terms of lost civil liberties is pretty bad about restoring them."

John Dean: "Well I spent a lot of time reading that bill today and it's a very poorly drafted bill. One of the things that is not clear is whether it's not possible later to
go after the telecoms for criminal liability. And that's something Obama has said during this campaign he would do - unlike prior Presidents who come in and merely give their predecessor a pass, he said, 'I won't do that.' And that might be why he's just sitting by saying, 'Well, I'm just gonna let this go through but that doesn't mean I'm gonna give the telecom a pass.' I would love it if he gets on the Senate floor and says, 'I'm keeping that option open.'


Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Summer Fling

We have an abundance of wildlife in Tennessee, and too often we overlook the little things.

One of the things I love about where I live is the many butterflies that cruise the gorge. We rarely use insecticides in our garden and there are no farms close by, so other than the aerial pesticide spraying of the timber companies, the absence of chemicals allows things to proceed in the natural order, which can be pretty strange at times.

A few years back I was looking at a Tennessee Conservationist magazine and reading about the Diana butterfly, which was supposed to be rare in our state, only found in four counties high in the Smokies. Looking at the photos I thought that we have those things running around our yard, and grabbed my camera and set out into the yard to prove it.

Turns out there are a lot of butterflies that mimic one of the big swallowtails that is toxic to birds. I found out what a "red spot purple" was, and several swallowtails before I managed to get a shot of a poor old beat up Diana female taking sustenance on the butterfly bush by the driveway. But Diana's are strange as they are beautiful. The male and the female look nothing alike and frankly don't hang around together. What's odder, they don't even come out at the same time of year, for the most part. So how do they, you know, get together? That's what I'd like to know. Butterfly sex has always been a big curiousity of mine...(Not really)

The male Diana is a stunning dark chocolate inside bordered by Tennessee orange. They emerge earlier in the Summer than the girls do, but apparently there is enough overlap for them to get together in a short Summer affair. The boys die off and the girls last until late Fall, depositing their eggs in the violets that are their only food as a caterpillar.

These shots were taken yesterday in Roosevelt State Forest just a few hundred yards from highway 70. Sorry they are not perfect. The boys are fairly hyper and don't like to hold still. The Natural History photographer even got in trouble for chilling a male down in a cooler and posing him on a flower.

We hiked through Roosevelt Mountain State Forest yesterday and saw Diana males several times. I'd already seen one or two in the yard but the road we were on seemed to have bunches of them. We were hiking to the boundary line of the state forest to put up signs quoting the law making it illegal to ride atv's on private land without permission and asking folks to please not do it, as they were destroying the peace, beauty, quiet, and the roads and forest playing with their toys. We noticed several "No Motorized Vehicles" signs the state rangers had put up by the atv trails ripping up the banks and hillsides, and figured our signs would have about the same effectiveness until we have somebody arrested. It will probably come to that, but I hope not.

After posting signs for our neighbor on his land, we were rewarded with views of the stunning forest in Roosevelt as we hiked back to the truck. Roane County could have as nice a hiking trail system as there is anywhere in the Smokies if folks would just quit destroying it.

Last night, lying in bed, we were awakened by the roar of ATV's on our land. 12:35 a.m. the clock said. I supposed it was a group of folks just "enjoying the wilderness". I thought about the fact that they would have had to come by several of our signs asking them not to break the law, and please respect our property. We don't post "No Tresspassing" signs, just "No motorized vehicles." Is this too much to ask?

Earlier that evening I had hiked up to our border and spoken with several riders who said they had seen the signs but came through anyway. I took their picture and said we would maka a case against them the next time they rode in. They all said they don't blame us one bit. One guy with a cooler strapped on the back of his mud covered ATV said, "I can't believe how people have torn this place up."



Here's a Diana female from Whites Creek gorge taken two Falls ago. The pictures are nice but you have to see them in real life to really appreciate their beauty.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Good Water...Bad Water

Pigmy Killer Whales, sick and all washed up. Two fishermen did what they could to save two beached whales near Boca Grande, Fl. Scientists give the animals 25% chance of recovery but are doing all they can. The story

There's water on Mars. Scientists watched some white stuff exposed by their little extra planetary back hoe and it disappeared. It is remotely possible that it is something else besides water but very unlikely. Frozen water, which you may know as "ice", can evaporate without melting in a process known as sublimation. This discovery greatly adds to the possibility that there was, or even still is, life on Mars. We've been dropping space junk onto the planet for decades now, so remember if it ever happens...We attacked them first!
The story

Skin cancer is almost always curable is detected early and rarely so, if detected late. I need to make an appointment with my Dermatologist, now that I think of it. I have loved the sun way too long and much for an auburn haired freckled kid who is now arriving at the "silverback" phase of life. T-cell therapy is showing promise as a cure for late stage melanoma. Here's hoping!
The story

Judging from the progress our garden is making, in another week or so, we won't care where those killer tomatoes came from. A member of the nightshade family, tomatoes have been my favorite garden bounty since I was old enough to hold a saltshaker in one hand and pick my own tomato with the other. Regardless, it looks like the tainted ones came from Florida. Let's take a moment to thank Republicans for all they do to protect America from everything but Republican appointees in high places in our regulatory agencies.
The story

That abstinence education thing works like a charm:
Birth rates for teenagers aged 15 to 17 rose by 3% in 2006, the first increase since 1991, according to preliminary data released in December by the National Center for Health Statistics.
In Massachusetts a group of 16 and under girls made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. Hey...Listen up! The Spears girls are not exactly great role models, ok? And they are even worse parents. You want to make things really really tough on yourself and a child, just try making a decent living and caring for a baby as a 16 year old. Planned Parenthood will give you advice and free condoms, even if your parents won't talk with you, but try them first. You might be surprised.
The story

And while I'm thinking about it, here's a useful link: Planned Parenthood ( We give them money...Go get some of it back in the form of information or whatever. )

I feel for those folks who are living in the flood plain along the Mississippi and are getting flooded. Every levee that is built makes it worse somewhere downstream, and the last time this happened (1993) lots of us said they should NOT rebuild back where they were. They didn't listen and now, lots of disaster profiteers will rush in an maybe sell them trailers that will be too toxic to live in and stuff like that. The folks who need help will get screwed and you and I will get screwed and anybody who ever votes for a Republican ever again ought to have their head examined for earworms or something. It's all headed toward New Orleans. By the way...I don't know if climate change had anything to do with this, but it's the SECOND 200 year flood in 15 years.
The story



Thursday, June 19, 2008


I distrust what I read in most newspapers and see in most media outlets. This was not always the case.

In my old age I've come to realize that critical thinking skills are as rare as accurate reporting. I have, unfortunately, narrowed the list of reporters and columnists I trust down to a very few...And I'm fact checking those. It's not that I toss them away when they make a mistake. Not at all, because everybody does...even on extremely rare occasion, me. It's being open to realizing a mistake and publicly correcting it that is the virtue.

In this day of highly researched political marketing technique, the truth is as elusive as an Ivory Bill's probably out there but nobody seems to be able to find it. A distant squawk and a couple of knocks and people start yelling all sorts of inferences that turn out to be wild speculation. They're everywhere, they're everywhere!...Only they aren't. There's a few of them out there, maybe, just enough to keep things stirred up, and the stuff that's just made up will have to pass as reporting.

The same thing is at work in modern day media. One poor old tired locally elected party official says something rather stupid, ill informed, and down right wrong, and off they go. Poor Fred Hobbs is a sick man, and by that I mean physically as well. He's obviously out of his depth, which is a nice way of saying clueless. For him to be elevated to the national political stage over his "terrorist connections" remark does poor old Fred an injustice. It is like calling up a retired minor league third baseman to pitch in the playoffs. Not only does he look like a fool but it gets stink all over every body else on the team, which is obviously better than that.

The travesty of the media uproar is the greater sin, however, as they took the controversy from the idiotic, ignoring the actual question of what constitutes a terrorist, and ratcheted localized stupidity all the way up to "Everybody who ever met me is a racist." Give me a break, will ya media? Are the reporting skills and editorial capabilities so lacking that this is what you feel you owe your reading public?

Congressman Lincoln Davis was off in other places but also got tarnished by the speculative nature of Hobbs' blathering, even to the point of getting blasted by Harold Ford, Jr. This is nuts. Davis actively campaigned for Harold Ford, making public appearance after appearance with him. Speculation is that Ford has taken advantage of the uproar because he has his eye on the Tennessee Governor's mansion and sees Lincoln as a rival. (Way to treat your friends, Harold... I've got YOUR back, too.)

The media then proceeded to veer off in all sorts of ridiculous directions that simply bore no relationship to anything grounded in fact. Lincoln, who has been busy with his actual job as a Congressman, "Blessed" Harold's heart for being such a loyal friend, Beecher issued as succinct a statement as one can by calling the terrorist flap "idiotic", and reporters, seeing the well of this manufactured story drying up, rushed back to talk to Fred Hobbs, who comes off as ever more pitiful.

I'm tired of this farce.

I wish reporters would move on to something that really matters, like offshore drilling policy, the Iraq War, or whether or not Cindy McCain is plagiarizing recipes for her cookbook. The trustworthiness of reporting in America always takes a dive during election year and that's too bad. This is exactly when we need good information and factual articles.

But with the Republican presidential candidate, as well as the party as a whole, being so incredibly weak that they will have to ratchet up the "Fear and Smear" campaign tactics in order to have a chance of only being defeated by a landslide, the American Media seems to be "Reporting for duty, sir."

If the early signs are any indication, we should put on our hip boots.



PS: I know some very good reporters and media people. Too bad the other 90% give them a bad name. Here's my vote for quote of the day:

I actually think we’re in a very serious situation here. If we’re not careful we’re going to have nothing but a morass of information that’s relatively mindless, and no one will be watching the store. That’s dangerous. Someone has to watch those folks in power, regardless of their power. The role of journalists is that watchdog role. The two most expensive and endangered species of journalism today are international journalism and investigative journalism, and you’ve got every major news organization shutting down bureaus around the world. This has been a difficult time for investigative journalists, so somebody better come up with Plan B.

Charles Lewis

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gray Fossil Site Museum

Imagine the time when these kitties were running through your yard! This one was loose in Tennessee only a few million years ago.

OK...This was the most fun I've had for $10 since...Well, since a long time ago.

The Gray Fossil Site has been on my radar screen for some time but I have just not taken the time to go by and see what the deal is. The short version of our two hours in the museum is that we were amazed.
This is what our Rhinos looked like. No horns that we can tell, but big and stout.

Oddly enough, the gators and turtles are essentially the same ones we have now.

I will have to go back, over and over again.

It's the kid in me, I guess.



The Gray Fossil Museum

Downstream Dems, "Get on the Train"

A message to Tennessee Democrats, "Get on the Love Train now, cause the good seats are going fast." Bob Tuke uses the "crazy" word.

"When he comes to Tennessee, we'll have every significant Democrat running at the event, unless they don't want to be there, and they are crazy if they don't want to be there," said Bob Tuke, a candidate for U.S. Senate and former Tennessee Democratic Party chairman.

Mr. Tuke, running against Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, said his typical campaign events can draw a few hundred people. "And there's no question if Barack Obama comes, you move an expectation of a crowd from several hundred to in the thousands," he said.

He said when Mr. Obama campaigned for then-Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. in 2006 in the latter's Senate bid, he drew 3,000 to the Nashville Courthouse.
"He brings an aura and an excitement to any event that we haven't seen in a long time," Mr. Tuke said.

The real surge is the Obama Surge.

It is almost pitifully funny, the wingnut talking points (read: BS)that get tossed around when discussing Obama and his chances. Poor Fred Hobbs crass statements are the least of them. It doesn't take too much factual knowlege to shoot down any of them and Obama has put up a "Fight the Smears" web site that neatly dismisses the slander. But there one thing that always sits in the room when folks discuss Obama, and that is Race. I always hear some version of, "People just won't vote for a Black Man."

The fact that Obama overwhelmingly won a number of "white" primary states doesn't seem to dent that fallacy in some folks heads so I speak to the part of their brains that still works somewhat. I have decided to use Obama's multi racial heritage to his advantage. If a person wonders about "voting for a black man" I just come back with, "Well...Why don't you just vote for the white half?"

Barack Hussein Obama is going to be the next President. Al Gore knows it, and (it's about time) he said so last night.

So, People get ready...There's a train coming. I want a window seat as close to the engine I can get.



Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Looking Glass

Politicians see the world differently from you and me. Their Looking glass is the Pollster.

I find several interesting things in recent polls, even as I rant about how Progressives should drive opinion rather than be driven by it.

First off, even as certain women rail about sexism defeating Hillary, Obama has a 13 to 19 point lead among women, and the only age group he doesn't lead is older and white. Make of that what you will.

Obama also leads McCain among Blue collar workers and Hispanics, and quite contrary to what you may have been led to believe by the headlines, McCain is behind in both Catholics and Independants...Yes, I did say, "Independants".

Another interesting poll item is that more people consider themselves Independants than Republicans. Self identified Republicans are down by a huge percentage to almost exactly the 28% of the people who still approve of the job President Bush is doing., which leads one to ask the obvious..."Who are these people?"

There is a lot of other stuff and more fun.

Democratic Congressman Denis Kucinich, along with several cosponsors, has introduced Articles of Impeachment against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Congressional leaders have kept saying that they are just too darned busy to make the President obey the law because they are busy passing laws.


Some laws they are working on busily and some other things caught my eye this week that I thought I'd pass along, particularly this little Congressional Bill buried in the long list of legislation that keeps Congress too busy to deal with Impeaching the President and the Vice President...

H.R. 5938 - To provide secret service protection to former Vice Presidents

Gee...I wonder why that is so important to get passed asap?

The same Congressman (Conyers) is all over Bo Diddly, too:

H.Resolution - A resolution regarding the passing of Bo Diddley

And then there's this one:

H.R. 4749 - National Bombing Prevention Act of 2007

Reckon they are talking about preventing, "Bomb, bomb, Iran"?

Let's hope so.



Saturday, June 14, 2008


I failed miserably at getting a proper photo of this clutch of spotted wintergreen (pipsissewa) I found outside the door of our cabin in the mountains of South Carolina. It's nice enough to share, at least.

They are also blooming in Tennessee. Why don't you take a walk in the woods this weekend and see them?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Letter from Senator Bob

I recently wrote Bob Corker urging action on the CO2 cap and trade Bill in the Senate. There was a broad coalition of Corporate and Environmental organizations supporting the bill...Republicans killed it.

Corker sends a letter back that does get one thing right...It's about MONEY. Well that's fine except for one thing...We have no time to waste. Every minute puts us further behind in lessening the devastating effects of global warming.

But here's what his reply said:

Dear Mr. Scarborough,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office to share your concerns about S.3036, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

Climate change and cap-and-trade will be significant issues facing Congress for some time to come, and I have spent my first 17 months in office delving into the complexity of the policy. Last May 2007, I traveled to Europe with Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to meet with European Union officials, carbon traders, representatives from the utility industry, and cement manufacturers. Last July, I went to Greenland with Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to view the effects of climate change.

I agree with you regarding the necessity of addressing climate change, and am open to a form of cap-and-trade as a tool to do so. My goal is to help craft a bill that addresses climate security and energy security in a balanced way, but unfortunately after studying this legislation I do not believe that this bill achieved those objectives. I regret that instead of being about climate security, and instead of being about something that really drives us toward using technologies that would cause our country to be energy secure, this bill in fact ended up being about money. This bill would have doled out trillions of dollars to various industries and organizations and forced hard-working Americans to pay more for gasoline, more for electricity, more for food, and more for everything they buy. Therefore, as you may know, I voted against ending debate on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.

In an effort to get more money returned directly to the pockets of the American people who would bear the brunt of the costs associated with cap-and-trade, I introduced two amendments to S. 3036. Specifically, the amendments would have (1) provided direct relief to American consumers bearing the brunt of the cap-and-trade program's costs; (2) increased direct reimbursement to the American people by eliminating free allowances-worth over a TRILLION dollars-to entities that have nothing to do with reducing carbon emissions; and (3) eliminated the use of international offsets to meet emissions reductions.

While it is unlikely the Senate will return to climate change legislation this year, It is my hope that in the future we will have constructive debate and come together around legislation that focuses on climate security and broadly advances our country's need for energy security in a way that ensures a higher standard of living for those generations that come after us.

I appreciate your concerns regarding the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Bill, and the insight you have give here will certainly help me and my staff look more effectively into this issue. I plan to remain an active participant in this debate, and I look forward to working in a constructive and bipartisan way with my colleagues to develop legislation that will cause our country to be energy secure while at the same time improving our environment.

Thank you again for your letter. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me.


Bob Corker
United States Senator

The Answer is Obviously...

Wow...It's Friday the 13th. I have been stuck with the slowest Interenet connection in the Southeast and have given up trying to post on occaissions. This thing has slowed down to a crawl this morning and I'm sure it's the Friday the 13th jinx that's doing it.

At any rate I'm giving up and handing you fine folks off to someone on a much faster connection.

Tristero asks a serious question that all of us ought to think about:

Do crazy people flock to the top of the Republican party because like attracts like, or does Republicanism drive perfectly normal people insane?

Frankly, I think you have to have a cog loose to still be a Republican by today's standards, which require you to believe that Barack Obama is both a Muslim and a Radical Christian at the same time...Or defending George W. Bush whose first business partner was Osama bin Laden's older brother Salem, while claiming Barak Obama has terrorist connections because he was appointed to a community service board with one member who is a respected PhD Professor who had been a Weatherman 40 years previously. These are disconnects of which rational people are incapable, but these guys seem to eat it up.

The incredibly insulting, as well as just plain incredible, garbage that is going around on the internet tubes is really weird. It has become apparent that right wing Republican crazies can now exist in their own alternative universe without ever having to deal with anything remotely resembling the truth. They simply forward emails around and wave their Confederate flags, while malicious people jerk their chains.

So back to the question and it's answer, which you already know if you followed and read the link.

Do crazy people flock to the top of the Republican party because like attracts like, or does Republicanism drive perfectly normal people insane?

I beg of my Republican friends to turn Independant while they still have a vestigal thought process, because...The answer has to be...YES!



Monday, June 09, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

There is a ruinous flood in Iowa, with river levels at 12 feet above the levees. The National Guard has been sent to a foreign country. The people are desperate for help and no one has come.

The maddening incompetence of the Bush Administration is exceeded only by its mountainous corruption. Bush will probably do a fly over and call for a massive check to be written out of the Nation's credit card account, which he will then give to the people who made those FEMA trailers that nobody can live in.

Iowa is the New Katrina:

NOBODY from the outside has come to help. Our local first responders are exhausted and overwhelmed. Small rural towns downstream tonight are being devastated. Levees everywhere are failing. Calls for help in these small towns have been unmet. Portions of our local guard are in Iraq.

The homeland has been left unprotected and people are suffering horribly.

More from insidethe flood zone

Having done nothing to help fix the broken system that his party's minions put in place, John McCain may stand before a green screen in a small room with his supporters and decry the situation that he himself enabled.

We must save ourselves from these people!


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Camp at Flat Rock

In the 17 years we have been here, we've never camped down by the Whites Creek.

There are several reasons, not the least of which is that living in our house is pretty similar to camping out except for the satellite dish and refrigerator.

The larger reason has been that we have had an open land policy and have not wanted to deal with some of the people who go to the creek. Recent events have pushed us over the limit and we are now in the process of eliminating ATV access to our land due to the intolerable destruction and mountains of trash we've been left as gifts. As a result, it has been much quieter, although we still had a group of ATV's come through at midnight, driving right past the signs that asked them not to do that on private land.

Our neighbor on the Cumberland County end of our yard has had enough also. He tried blocking off the parking area ATV'ers had made on his land. They pushed his fence over and someone shot and killed his son's pet Lama while it was grazing in their pasture. He is the wrong man to anger and I hope that the person that did that awful deed will remain unknown, for the sake of his own health and to keep my neighbor out of jail for what he might do. He is a man that believes in retribution, but he will start with a strong gate and a polite sign.

So after posting signs on our own property, having them torn down, reposting signs on our own property, and talking to a score of riders who said, "What signs?", we have quieted things down a bit and decided to go camp by the creek in one of the places that intruders had, without permission, chainsawed out on the bank. There were two reasons for choosing this spot, one was to be where we could talk to the midnight riders if they showed up, and two, once we had cleaned up all the trash...It's beautiful!

There is a perfect time to camp by Tennessee creeks. The temperatures need to be cool enough to stand when you're out of the water and and warm enough to enjoy when you are in the water. It was perfect on both counts.

We hiked and swam and and picked up trash. And then it was time to be quiet and listen to the world, as evening settled in. The songs of the wood thrush were incredible. (listen) Once we were sitting on a rock with our legs in the water sipping a beverage, and we heard a grunt above us. Looking up we watched a mature bald eagle fly by, not 20 feet above the water with its mouth open and head turned to look at us as it passed. Of course I had just put away the camera.

As it evening passed into night, other sounds started up. In the woods on the side of us away from the creek came this obnoxious rasping "wahhhhhhhhhhhhhnk", a pause, and then again. It was echoed from other places in the woods up and down the creek bank. Then it was closer...coming right at us. "Wahhhhhhhhhhhnk" And again...And then it stepped out of the woods into our camp site, all one and a half inches of it. It would call and scurry a few feet toward the water's edge, sit for a bit, and call again. The little Fowler's toad male inflated his air sac with each call, oblivious to our headlamps shining on him, as we laughed each time he called "wahhhhhhnk" into the night. Other toads had made a similar journey from up in the woods down to the water and now the creek was a noisy place with several species of frogs and toads doing what is is that frogs and toads do in the night.

This is looking downstream toward our house, which is on the other side of the far ridge on the left.
Looking upstream from camp. Looking through the clear water at the bottom, it is easy to see why this spot is called "Flat Rock".



Thursday, June 05, 2008

Republicans Stall Climate Bill

In what has been described as a food fight in the Senate, Republican Senators are stalling the Global Warming bill, mainly because they just didn't get their way. it's like, "I don't care if the fate of the World hangs in the balance, I want my Conservative Judges confirmed, or else!"


I Pledge Allegence to the Constitution of the United States of America

As we look to choose our next president, How about this time, we NOT pick the one we'd most like to go have a beer with and instead, actually think about what this country needs in a leader?

We could start with the candidate's stand on war, where there are clear differences...McCain is FOR war, Obama is against.

Or we could look at education where McCain says, "No Child Left Behind was a good beginning" and Obama says, "[Teachers] feel betrayed and frustrated by No Child Left Behind."

Maybe the environment is your first order of business, where John McCain has suddenly discovered climate change after years of overwhelming support for mining and drilling everything everywhere, so much so that McCain acheived a League of Conservation Voters score for 2007 of, ta-daaaaah...Zero! Obama's 86% lifetime score is rather good by comparison, so no real problem making the choice here. You hate life on this planet? McCain's your man.

Perhaps your big focus is Healthcare. Clear differences there, obviously. McCain is all about protecting big Insurance and Pharmaceuticals by offering a tax break to families that would cover about a third of insurance costs. This can be restated as simply "Screw everybody who makes less than $50,000 a year." Obama favors a form of single payer Universal Health care (although his plan is morphing toward mandated coverage, it's not there yet...we'll see)

All of those are important, but after the incredible abuses of the Bush Administration, I think there is one issue that stands above all others...The rule of law in a Constitutional Democracy. The Constitutional crimes of the Bush administration are just starting to foam over the top, with people like the former spokesman Scott McClellan breaking the news that it was the President who conspired to break the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame for nothing more than political reasons. Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence for obstructing justice will stand as one of the most heinous Presidential crimes in history, when all is said and done.

This administration has found lackeys with law degrees to put out paper that covers for every Constitutional crime they feel like committing, and they essentially say the same thing..."The President is above the Law!"

If you believe that, you are in the wrong country.

Now we see John McCain supporting one of the worst of the Bush crimes against his own citizens. McCain agrees that if he becomes president, he too will invade our privacy and tap our phones any time he feels like it because we are at WAR! His support for perpetual war gives the President powers he would not ordinarily have. Particularly so, with an administration who thinks the Constitution of the United States of America is "Just a piece of Paper."

In order to reinstate the Constitution we must elcet Barack Obama and end this stupid war, which isn't really a war according to the Constitution. The insanity of the neo-Conservatives is readily apparent. It's time to throw them out. We can decide what to do with them later.



Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Real 'Ritin'

My good friend Susan, whom I've never met in person, got herself a real job. Relax, it will be ok, I think.

Texas has the weirdest Primary system going, and is apparently the state for masochists of the political persuasion. They have a Primary AND a Caucus. This year, Hillary won the Primary and Obama won the Caucus bigger. Several folks have pointed out how bad the Texas system is and several folks have pointed to the Texas system and said. "That's the way it ought to be."

I dunno, but it sure seems like fun. With a Primary, you drive to where ever and mess with a machine and go home after saying hello to several people who don't want to tell you how they voted. With a Caucus you drive some where and get into an argument and everybody knows which side of the room you are eating your cookies on.

So anyway, Susan has this job where she has to write things for money. I'm jealous! I have several friends who write things for money and I don't do crap and make more money than they do. It ain't fair. Putting an actual thought down on paper so other people can recognize it when they see it is a real talent. We ought to have to pay people for sharing their talent with us and we dang sure ought to have to pay for what the talent produces , especially when it chisels out a picture in our heads. I mean, when someone can take a bunch of squiggles and arrange them so that someone else gets a case of the big strong tough man sniffles just from looking at the squiggles, that's talent and it deserves a good meal and a place to stay...Back rub included, front rub optional.

We get some of Susan's stuff for free, meaning we don't even have to look at advertisements for blue pills or Ann Coulter's newest collected regurgitation of things a normal person can't stomach anyway. You just click and read and It might help you to appreciate the stuff you have to pay for if you go to the free place first.

Susan just seems to toss off the best of Texas Snark at and makes it look effortless. But then she gets wound up and let's go of the propellor and off she flies. That's when she's having big Fun in Texas and you better go take a look, and be sure to look at the ads 'cause that's how you pay your way in, even if you don't have to buy anything.

Me? I can hear that guy in the high dollar suit grab the microphone and yell..."Let's get Ready to Caucuuuuuhhhsss!"

I'm ready.



"This is our moment...This is our time!"

Barack Obama is now the presumptive Democratic nominee for President.

I was a Clinton fan and I still am, though less so. After the years of Republican tactics I was hoping for a different campaign from Hillary but she chose her associates and acquiesced to the campaign they ran for her. By all reckoning Hillary Clinton should have been the next President. I think she succumbed to nonexistent sniper fire, her duplicity on Nafta, and the Iraq war vote, to be frank.

The turning point for me was the Clinton campaign's use of the detested tactics of Karl Rove when she was busted by the Canadians for her NAFTA stance and tried to blame it on the Obama campaign. I'm tired of that type of tactic in a candidate and certainly in my President. It was unlike the Hillary I thought I knew, but there it was. I hear charges of sexism being the cause for Clinton's failure but that isn't it. Ultimately, as much as so many people wanted her to, she could not rise above the nagging suspicions that her actions would, from time to time, punctuate.

It's now time to turn away from the divisiveness of this Primary contest. Sexism did not cause Hillary to lose... And, Racism did not and will not keep Obama from winning

The Primary campaign is a test of operations. Obama had the team and the organization and the game plan to win. He ran a positive campaign, praising his opponents at every turn, even while challenging their policy differences, and Even while they belittled the staggering accomplishments of his life in public service.

The Presidency is bigger than any one human. It is the ability to build and lead an organization that is actually the ability we need in our President. The magnitude of the coming task of the next president will require exactly the kind of leadership that Obama has shown in the management of his campaign team. Leadership ability developed and honed as a community activist in Chicago. Quality leadership can only come from a quality person.

The quality of the person we have chosen as the Democratic nominee is best illustrated by something Florida Congressman Wexler said as he addressed his own constituents who had voted in the majority for Hillary Clinton. He was asked...

"Could you please tell us more specifically why you chose Obama over Hillary?" ( Lots of "Yeahs!" )

Congressman Wexler:

"I support Barack Obama because he showed better judgment on the Iraq War, because he has remained more forcefully against it. I support him because of his stand on ethics reform, and commitment to engaging our enemies. I support him because he speaks truth to power.

He spoke in front of a largely Cuban-American organization in Miami. Everyone has told this organization the same thing for 40 years. 'We're going to continue the embargo against Cuba, no monetary remittances there, no anything.' Whether or not it works, that's all any politician dares to say. Obama suggested to them we engage with Raul Castro, and take steps towards ending the embargo.

Obama told a crowd in Detroit that we should increase fuel efficiency standards, and he told members of Martin Luther King's church in Atlanta that we all share some of the blame for some of the race problems in America today."

The entire exchange is here.

I noticed one line that stood out in Barack Obama's speech tonight.

...This is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past and bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face. Our time to offer a new direction for the country we love.



Sunday, June 01, 2008

Now for the Championship

The Florida/Michigan Democratic Primaries that "Will not count" according to Hillary Clinton will now be counted. A Clinton campaign paid staffer, Harold Ickes, was a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee that voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposals put forward by the Florida Democatic Committee and the Michigan Democratic Committee. The Compromises went heavily in favor of Hillary Clinton with being awarded the maximum number of delegates that could have been awarded to her under the bylaws of the Democratic Party, and she's just not happy.

Fourteen of thirty Committee members are announced Clinton delegates. Seven are announced Obama delegates. At one point Obama supporters had won the vote to evenly divide Michigan delegates 50-50, and frankly, this was the result actually supported by rule. Magnanimously and rather than have a one vote victory that would have given so much whine material to Clinton, they asked, instead, that the proposal by the Michigan delegation be accepted, which gave Hillary more delegates. Nothing seemed to make the Clinton people happy and five announced Clinton delegates may have decided that they aren't Clinton delegates any more and then voted to accept the 69-59 Michigan proposal, and that did it.

So here is where we stand..

Florida and Michigan delegates will be seated at the convention, but as punishment for breaking the rules will only have a 1/2 vote each.

2,117 delegates are needed to win the Democratic Presidential nomination.

Hillary Clinton has 1876.5 delegates and would need 240.5 to win.

Barack Obama has 2053 delegates and needs 64 to win.

There are 86 delegates to be decided in the last few primaries and 205 unpledged Superdelegates.

The Boston Celtics will face the L.A. Lakers for the NBA Basketball championship.

Barack Obama will face John McCain for the Presidency of the United States of America.

But there's an aftermath...

Here's an interesting discussion of the legal BS with links to videos. I am now a huge Donna Brazile fan.

Here's the Salon rundown on what happened...Very concise, considering it was an all day affair and you can read this in a couple of minutes.

Salon sums it up well:

Despite the marathon cable TV coverage and the breathless sense of showdown, Saturday's rules committee meeting was never really about Obama vs. Clinton. Rather, it was designed to paper over the Michigan and Florida disputes, while, at the same time, underscoring that states that hold illegally scheduled primaries will be penalized. Those accomplishments will probably matter far more than Clinton's Saturday bounty of 24 delegates.

The Clinton campaign made loud and rather silly pronouncements that the Committee took away delegates and that they reserve the right to complain about it all the way to the Denver Convention. It's the difference between Clinton having 47.7% of the delegates to her having....uh...47.7% of the delegates.

Obama has 52.2%, a 9% margin of victory over Clinton which will only increase as the Super Delegates join the team.

...and not only that but, Go Celtics!