Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Well...not much, you?

The Constitution of the United States calls for the President, from time to time, to give a report to Congress on the state of the Union.

We're waiting for that to happen.

Instead, what we're being given is the opening salvo in the Bushista campaign for 2006. This was the beginning of the attempt to retain control of both houses of government instead of any real meaningful assesment of the state of this Nation's Unity, or lack there of.

The real disappointment to me is not the Bush speech speech and it's lack of meaning. No, I was more disappointed in the news media blather surrounding it. The failure of the American Corporate Press to challenge the lies and misinformation flowing out of Washington is nothing short of tragic.

So much for the "Informed Electorate" needed for democracy to function properly.

As Gordon points out:

As Air America Radio pointed out:

This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fall
on the same day.

"It is an ironic juxtaposition - one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other...

involves a groundhog."

One thing Bush said, tonight, that he should take well to heart,

"We love our Freedom...And we'll fight to keep it!"



Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dang at the Birds!

Ok, so...We decided we had to go see the Sandhill cranes. I mean it was a beeyooteefool day and you just gotta go do stuff on days like this, right? So we called around trying to get inside info on where to go and none of the usual suspects knew anything, so like we googled Hiwasee refuge and got a road map and went down there and like we got confused on Blythe Ferry road, but then we saw the sign pointing back the way we had just come and so we turned around and went down the road and there was this parking lot, and a bunch of people were looking off in the distance at these little specks and there were like hundreds of them and when we looked through the binoculars they were these really big birds with red on their heads and then a bunch of them came over the horizon and they were sqwauking and held their heads straight up and put out their feet and they landed in the fields, and it's not really all that hard to fly, anyway, it's the last two feet to the ground that cause all the trouble, and then we saw this blue phase snow goose all by himself(her?) and the sorta heavy set guy said those white ones hadn't come in today and we figured out that the "White ones" were Whooping Cranes from talking to the ranger, but they really weren't here today...yet...but they could fly in any moment but they didn't and we watched and watched and the big birds were soooo cool.

But they were still a ways off, so we didn't take any pictures and then we headed home...But then, in the cow pasture...next to the, like, cows...were these really big birds...and they were right beside the road, almost, eating the corn the farmer had put out for the cows and the cows didn't seem to care, so we took this picture of the birds talking to each other, and if you live anywhere near here and don't go and see these birds... Like Dude! There's like thousands of them and they make this noise you can hear for miles...NowatImsayin?...And you gotta go see 'em. It's like awesome like awesome is supposed to be, and the ranger said they had knocked a bunch of corn down(cause the birds can't get to it while it's still standing)so the birds will come up really close to the viewing stand tomorrow when his friends get there, so tomorrow, Sunday, will be a really cool day to go see the birds even if it's raining, I mean REALLY!

Saturday Funnies

Are we living in some kind of weird theater set from the Twilight Zone? Reality seems to have taken a holiday inthe American media, with the spew of lies coming from the Republican party.

Here's the biggest liar since George W. Bush said he never met Jack Abrahmoff and always got a court order before he tapped a phone (Yep, he said that):

Quotes of the day:

"I had absolutely nothing to do--never met, never talked, never coordinated, never did anything -- with Grover Norquist and the -- quote -- K Street Project."


"Thank you Grover, and I appreciate your help and support on this and many other issues..."

Senator Rick Santorum, R-PA, last June

Via Kos

Grover Norquist and Karl Rove are the men most responsible for the Jack Abrahmoff - Tom DeLay Lobbyist money laundering scandal. Santorum is a pathological nut job, sliming around in the sewer of the Republican party. He first came to attention when he was going after abortion doctors so hard he was slipping around in the drool flowing from his own mouth. We then came to find out why...

Rick Santorum fell in love with a woman who was living with and abortion provider doctor who was 30 years her senior. Ricky married the lady, had six children with her, and has been on his psycho vendetta ever since. He has also gone after gays, apparently thinking his own marriage could be jepardized by homosexuals being allowed to get married. Umm...possible...

Santorum has a relationship with the K street lobbyist money project he now says he knows nothing about. Now this fine prince of a guy is going to help clean up the Abramoff scandal....I feel much better, now.



Friday, January 27, 2006

Keep your enemies closer

Ok, so over at Knoxviews.com we've been having a discussion. We've been ranting about Tennessee Governor Bredesen. I've sorta been defending him. Frankly, I think there's no way to get into a position of real power in this state without a fair amount of communal backscratching, which at times must be distasteful to the scratcher.

When I started trying to have some positive effect on the way things were going, I thought, well gee, you just tell folks the obvious truth and they'll stop what they're doing, change their minds, and we'll all work together for the good of all humankind.


Enter Cognitive Dissonance.

Beliefs are nearly invincible against change.

All I knew about Phil Bredesen at the start of is campaign was that the other guy was nothing more than the rich son of a rich fascist businessman, who was also a serious polluter (which is how I came to know the guy in the first place). I knew that Van Hilleary was poison, literally, so off I go to check out Bredesen. Turns out, Phil and I have exactly opposite views on a core principle.

I believe that ecology is the bottom line. We should develop our economy within the comfines of a healthy Earth... And right now, the Earth ain't healthy.

Phil seems to believe (and who can really know) that you have to have a strong economy in order to have the money in the State coffers to deal with the problems that are making the society unhealthy.

I don't quite get how a man whose fortune came from healthcare comes to this position, the Frist family sure hasn't, but there it is. I am frustrated at times with Bredesen's businessman approach to problems, but I have seen him be responsive to most situations that hit his radar screen. His screen has been incredibly full, based on what the disasterous Sundquist regime left him. Sunquist calculatedly ignored the looming Tenncare debacle and the state's massive loss of revenues from business tax breaks. Bredesen has used an MBA's methods to first get the state functioning in the black and then try to deal with the problems. He is not King, however, and can only get the legislation he can force past an aggressively antagonistic state legislature. I don't think anybody is happy with Tenncare, but having seen the numbers, I don't think Bredesen had any choice in what we have now. Neither do I think he's happy with it.

As for those who are complaining about Bredesen's staff, Dave Cooley in particular, I understand. There's way to much wink, wink, nudge, nudge, in Tennessee politics. It is nothing short of ugly.

Guys, don't think I disagree with anything you're complaining about, 'cause I don't.

This country as a whole seems like a freight train headed toward fascism and I can't see anything that's going to turn it around all at once short of an armed rebellion Central American style. Problem with that method is that you can get your revolution stolen, like Nicaragua did. So what we have is a situation where the Dems are corrupt and the Repubs are corrupt and evil to boot...So what is a Progressive to do? I see absolutely nothing to gain by ever, ever, ever, voting for a Republican, except on a local level where all corruption begins.

For now, I see Governor Bredesen doing what he can to put the Tennessee freight train on a new track, even though it frustrates me at the slow pace of change. But, there is no Star Trek transporter room to beam us from here to there. We can't skip a single step and get anyplace.

I still have reservations though. Why haven't we had a top to bottom house cleaning of the Democratic party, for instance? Why are they so brain dead about public relations and framing issues? Why the hell do they have the link to Instapundit on the front page of Go4Truth.com? Why are they so slow in responding to real questions like the ones showing up at KnoxViews.com?

Why does Dave Cooley still have a job? (Well actually, I think he should have one just not the one he's in just now.)

And finally: Why hasn't Bredesen been more open about his discussions with Howard Dean?

Dean sees Tennessee as a microcosm of the problems facing Progressives all over the USA... Me, too! the Democratic Party is fiecely divided. On one hand you have Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council which is where ther term "Republican Lite" came from, and on the other you have Howard Dean, Al Gore, John Edwards, and a new breed of Progressive/Democrat leaders whose biggest obstacle is the old guard in their own party.

Where does Phil Bredesen stand? Is he trying not to pick sides in his own party? Maybe, and that could be the source of our problems with him.

Frankly, I see no better choice in this state than Phil Bredesen. His biggest problem is inept communications.

Did you guys know that the Land Trust for Tennessee started on Phil Bredesen's kitchen table? Did you know that he has reinvigorated the Conservation Commission and Water Pollution Control? Did you know that actual fines are actually being levied against actual polluters in this State?

No...you didn't know that, and that is Bredesen's problem. We'll see what he does to fix this.

Peace for now,


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Act Naturally

I like wandering around in the woods. it is resorative like nothing else. I think there should be more forests and park preserves and places where people can go and experience things that are not the byproducts of other people, but of nature.

A few years back, there was a conservative politician based drive to cut public funding from parks. Could it be that Conservatives hate public land because they can't exploit it? Anyway, as a result, there was an idiotic fee program put into place that made just enough money to pay for the people that had to be hired to drive all over the place and collect the three dollar fee envelopes from thousands of out of the way parking areas at trailhead parking areas. I always wondered why the amount was three dollars, which is an unlikely amount of dollar bills to have in your wallet. Thankfully, a lot of these fee boxes have been removed. Most people did not like the idea of "Paying twice," once on April 15 and again everytime they wanted to get away from the evils of town.

The biggest problem with fees is that you really never know where the money is going to go. I detested with all my being, paying the fee at the Chattooga river Wild and Scenic River, knowing full well that the money went straight into the general coffers of the National Forest Service. Nothing was spent on the Chattooga river. All it needs is to be left alone. They said the money would go toward better parking facilities or trails or something. Of course there weren't any parking lots that came close to being filled up and some of the trails were actually obscene intrusions into the wild areas which became degraded as a result. So what was the money for? How about "I don't know" for an answer.

Now, Tennessee has a fee at any number of State Parks. It is fairly low but it's a fee nonetheless. It collected just under a million bucks last year. Governor Bredesen knows the fee is unpopular and has now proposed to eliminate it. Well folks, I never thought I'd say this....I'm going against the Governor. I don't think we should eliminate the entrance fee.

"What!" you say.

Keep the fees...but tell us exactly what the money will be spent on. Actually...I'll tell you what the money should be spent on.

Collect the fee at the entrance to our State Parks and Natural Areas and use one hundred percent of that money to...

Buy more land for State Parks and Natural Areas.

If the State of Tennessee had an extra $300 milion bucks, we could have the best Parks and natural areas in the country by buying parts of the Bowater Land that is up for sale and there are other tracks of similar importance. We have a phenominal ecology in this state, but we're losing it fast. Well we don't have $300,000,000.00. But, there's a way to throw another penny or two in the pile and that is to keep the park fees and earmark the money.

There really is no other way to stop sprawl and development. We have to buy the land, or conservation easements of some sort.

So what do you say, folks? After all...All we have to do is act naturally.



Further reading:


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ed's Toe

Ok, It is time for the winter canoe trip.

These shots are from the Edisto river in flood in South Carolina a year or so ago with Charlie, and Gordon. We have high standards of misbehavior on our trips, but it involves more overeating than anything else, since I travel with the best paddling chefs, ever.



I made Charlie do the work as Gordon disappears into the flooded forest.
Camp, the first night.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday Sermon

"...NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 22, 2006, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to reaffirm our commitment to respecting and defending the life and dignity of every human being..."

Defend the life of every human being...What a noble thing.

From Iraq Body count:

Civilian deaths directly attributed to the United States Military:

28,000 to 31,676

Nearly another 100,000 dead due to secondary causes as a result of the Iraq war.

American Dead?

Closing in on 2300 with no end in sight.

I am ashamed of my country...So scared of shadows...so lacking in courage...

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision guaranteeing an American citizen's right to privacy. This decision is known as Roe v Wade.



Saturday, January 21, 2006


There comes a time in winter when the berries of vintage murder mystery wine come to pleasantness. They sit in clusters coloring the otherwise drab hardwood forest or along the banks of creeks in shadow and ripen slowly, hanging distasteful until that moment when other foodstuffs have been exhausted in the search for sustenance. Now is the time for oversized birds to hang in the tips of dogwoods, too large to be adequately supported by the smallest twigs which carry the deep burgundy berries. Sapsuckers, robins, and others perch among the limbs discussing the fruits like ladies at a tea twittering to themselves...

"Well...This certainly is no Boursin, but once you get past the aroma, you know...And it seems to go well with a bit of pear and lemon...umm...Not the most delightful tidbit, but interesting, eh?"

They won't eat but a couple before they leave. No gorging to be done here. It is difficult work, hanging out at the very end of a twig, dancing about as the twig and morsel bounce under the weight of the modern dinosaur.

Consider the irony: A four ounce descendant of a cousin of Tyrannosaur, right there above my deck chair, eating the berry from a tree that has waited until now to become palatable, insuring for itself the best chances of mobility to a likely spot for germination, growth, and resumption of the cycle of life. At other times there is too much food to choose from, and the distasteful fruit would simply fall to the earth underneath its mother/father onto ground already tapped for the essential nutrients required of that particular plant. New ground is best, and the seed rides the dinosaur taxi to new real estate and is dropped off, literally, with a nice deposit of starter nutrients...repayment of a sort. Self serving in the long run for the dinosaur and its own descendants. Some future winter's meal, prepared by this feathered farmer, will serve its children a decade hence.

The trees grown from seeds that are planted now will nourish our children...Or not. Who foresaw the incredible damage to our Nation that a simple thing like eliminating the "Fairness Doctrine" from our media would have? The worst thing about today's situation is not that we have ceded our Nation's morality to corportions, but that we ourselves prepared the ground for our own destruction as a free country.

Can we be thoughtful enough to plant the proper seeds for our children's future?

I'm betting on it!



Friday, January 20, 2006

Love Comes Tumbling Down

I don't think I could have gotten through college without the money I made playing in a rock band in the 60's. We were rather bad, thankfully, and most of us turned to real jobs at the first opportunity, rather than staying on the National Guard Armory circuit in small town South Georgia. All southern wannabe bands covered soul groups as best we could until Hendrix came along and screwed everything up for those of us who actually could not play the instruments we were dancing around with on stage. But kids came and danced and sang along anyway.

Another way to look at this is to realize that Wilson Pickett put me through school. had it not been for "Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally" we would have had to play a lot more Temptations or some other group for which our voices were totally unsuited.

"In the Midnight Hour" is an anthem for the early soul years and horn harmony. Wilson wrote it. One time we were booked at the Laurens County Fairgrounds playing for a politicians barbecue. I don't know why we were booked but $75 bucks was $75 bucks and there we were, screeching into cheap microphones with a bunch of coveralled farmers staring at our hair combed the wrong way. One of them repeatedly came up and told us (not asked... told) to turn that noise down. We did. The only music we could come up with was thirty minutes of instrumental "Hour" and harmonies we made up on the spot, the words making fun of our situation in call and answer improv. It might have been Our finest hour...It was certainly our most creative. The politician was Lester Maddox.

Wilson Pickett just passed away of a heart attack. I have a few minutes alone in the house this morning and I will pick up my old pawn shop Stratocaster and step to a little "Wickett Pickett" before I venture out into the day. I'm turning it up real loud, in the volume makes up for lack of talent theory.

Thanks, Wilson!




When thinking about scientific research into climate change, I find myself comparing it to the mesmerized fascination of a caged rat staring at the face of a snake...waiting...

Wanna know what actual climate scientists are finding out about climate change? I mean without politics? This is a website for and by scientists with a synopsis linking articles that even I can understand.


A soldier returns but not really:


the Story

In our Senator Frist Friday news, there's a startling buzz about his Washington office. Seems he had staffers in his office daytrading on inside info from lobbyists and legislators. If this revelation holds up, somebody is in serious big trouble...Oh wait...Frist is already under investifgation for insider trading...Duh!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Speaketh the President

I know you've been hearing a lot about the new Medicare prescription drug plan, particularly if you have a Mom or Grandmother on the damned thing. Well here you go. Juanita has our dear leader explaining it clearly and concisely in his own words so everyone can understand it.

"Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised."

There ya go. Simple isn't it?


When it comes to Jack Abramoff, Bush has put his lying muscle into high gear...check this whopper:

"I'm not, frankly, all that familiar with a lot that's going on over at Capitol Hill, but it seems like to me that [Abramoff] was an equal money dispenser, that he was giving money to people in both political parties."

Abramoff never gave one penny to Democrats, people. His whole operation with Tom Delay was the K Street project. K Street is set up to eliminate any Democrats holding any position at any lobbying firm.

The Abramoff scandal is one hundred percent Republican. It's not the Lobbyists, though you may be surprised to hear me say that.

No, in fact, it is the scheme that ambitious Republican creeps, like Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay, set in place piece by piece to enrich themselves by setting up the "Will Legislate for Money" operation where the old principle of "One person, one vote" has been buried under the new K Street version, "$100,000.00, one piece of legislation that totally favors your gambling operation or Multinational corporation."

Further reading (short version) is here:


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

They're Lying

Ok, I have to do something about the flying squirrels in the attic. After I figure out how they're getting in there, I'll put metal wire over their front door if possible. I like to be aware of the night rovings of the beastie world, but I have to have a little sleep, eh?

Is it mating season already?

Have you noticed the usual suspects franticly puting the old "Clinton did it" excuse for Bush's illegal wiretaps? In addition to the blather, they're lying about it. Why isn't it some kind of crime agains tour democracy when the Presidential spokesman lies?

here's the short version:

The Clinton justice department did not break the law with its secret search of the premises of foreign spy who had worked his way into the CIA, Aldrich Ames. In doing that they realized the potential for abuse and supported a law change that made warrantless searches illegal under the FISA act, which had been enacted because of Nixon's criminal abuse of power during Watergate. Clinton never performed an illegal search or wiretap, contrary to what Scott McClellan implied. Bush did.

Here's an even shorter version:

Clinton followed the law and caught a spy.

Bush broke the law and caught....well nobody so far. Nothing. Zip. After thousands of wiretaps for which there is no judicial oversight...Not squat!

Now here's the part that troubles me...

Why did the Bush administration go to such extreme lengths to perform wiretaps without a paper trail?

That is the only thing they gained by breaking the law.

It appears that Colin Powell may have been wiretapped. Members of the United Nations may have been wiretapped. Reporters may have been wiretapped.

"These are bad people." said President Bush. "Remember, these are bad people."
Yeah, right. Bad people like Americans who believe in the Constitution!



Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I've got just one thing to add to Al Gore's speech yesterday....


Al Gore

Monday, January 16, 2006


Some things seem totally bad, as in the pine beetle epidemic that wiped out a huge percentage of the pine trees in the South over the last five years. The carcasses have mostly fallen over and are beginning to return to the earth, though some still stand, making it important to locate your tent in the daylight. The woodpeckers have been doing well but their bounty of wood boring insects may be coming to an end, as dead soldiers fall and the woods open up to winter daylight.

For me, the removal of the evergreeens on the eastern edge of the gorge has given me a direct view of the rising sun. I watched it rise above the horizon at 7:46 by my stove top clock, painting the hill tops red for a few minutes. The red dot on the other side of the gorge was actually a bald eagle. He's gone white with the risen sun...And the clouds have moved in, so I guess it's gonna rain soon.

I started wondering what actually counted as the moment of sunrise? After a little checking I found this US Naval Observatory site, which has a calculator for anywhere in the world. It officially calculated my sunrise at 7:48...I'll go set my clock.

Have fun.

Sun and Moon Calculator


Why I live in East Tennessee

A recent early Spring day at Potter's Falls:


Sunday, January 15, 2006


Last night I was kidnapped, put in a car, driven far away from my beloved and protective woodland refuge into the bowels of Thunder Road, led into a chef owned restaurant and forced to eat pieces of dead duck, and that only after I had been tempted with a small plate of sea creatures followed by a few slices of a Japanese cow.

I have regrets.

One has these when forced to make unfortunate choices. I cannot remember previously leaving a last lonely glassfull of wine, that had nearly reached adolescence, still trapped inside its expensive bottle. Those who know me will tell you that I always give respect to the elderly and It was the presentation of the small green and red glass of 40 year old port, I swear, that caused me to abandon one pleasure for another. I didn't want to offend my captor, after all.

The morning is clear, and thankfully, so is my head. Careful pacing is required if one is to make the midnight journey home in safety. Last night as I stood between the car and house, I looked at Orion standing up on the cliff across the gorge. Other than Cygnus on a perfect night and the Dippers, no constellation looks so much like its name. A few discreet clouds, illuminated by the full moon, caused me to admire such a clear night that I could just make out the nebula in Orion's "sword" even in the wolf light.

Cities are curious things, filled with scared people who must have their night lights to chase away gremlin fears. On evenings like this, I am grateful for cities and their sublime pleasures. Out here, I have my own fears, but they do not include the monsters of the darkness that hide under the bed. I am afraid that one day, too many people will escape from the city and, bringing their fear-lights, they will steal Orion's sword from me. Don't they realize the price they pay, accepting an ineffective amulet for protection from a monster existing only in their imaginations? Don't they realize it is a false choice?

I guess it is the same human mechanism that drives us to trade the freedom guranteed by a Constitution for the false security of a corrupt fanaticism. I think humans can escape this false choice with awareness and thoughtfulness. For my beliefs, I prefer forget the industrial age illumination and choose the imaginary sword lighting the winter sky.



Saturday, January 14, 2006


Looking out this morning got me to thinking.

Eagles have the better paint job but when the wind is gusting to 35 knots, buzzards are better fliers and sure do seem to enjoy it. Why do I think of the "Undertakers Ball" when I see vultures ripping up the sky?

The yard deer are starting to eat the rhododendron. Time to cut up a soap bar and hang the pieces on plants I'd like to still have in the spring. The twin button bucks are really growing fast. As I watch them, I wonder what they are feeding on...besides my garden?

The wind knocked another tree down across the paved road in front of one of the neighbor's farm driveway. AS usually happens, the other folks that live back here got a saw and cleared it out, cutting the hardwood into firewood lengths. As a group, the neighborhood clears a couple of trees a year out of those folks way. Since 1988 no one remembers them ever saying "thankyou." We'll talk about them but it won't matter. Even if the tree is lying across their driveway and everybody else can get by, the neighbors will still get together and cut it up... But we'll talk about them.

The woodpeckers were everywhere this morning. I wondered about this until I noticed that the wind had knocked the suet feeder down onto the porch and Maggie, the cat, was standing guard, trying to look disinterested. The birds are studying the situation but refuse to get closer than a certain distance. Maggie gets up to the deck by climbing twenty feet up a dogwood tree. She is all fluffy looking but when some one tries to pick her up, they realize that she's hard as a concrete block wearing a fur coat. The coyotes don't mess with her and the dogs get out of her way when she walks up to the water dish. Oddly, even though she lays her ears back and cat growls at them, the racoons eat whatever they want of her food. It's a rock, paper, scissors, pecking order out there, and I don't pretend to understand it.

It's cold today, dusting us with snow, and I have to restock the firewood on the back porch. This is a good chore. it has a far more tangible reward than things like cleaning, which also must be done before the wife gets home from her mother's house in Virginia. We men have decided that it's better for her not to know what the house looks like when she's been gone. After we clean up, it will still be a mess by her standards. I don't pretend to understand this either.



The years teach much which the days never knew. ..The days come and go like muffled and veiled figures sent from a distant friendly party, but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them as silently away.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Full Wolf Moon

So Friday the Thirteenth and the full moon fall on the same day....Oooooeeeeeoooooo....

One of the things I pity city dwellers for is night lights. When I get to be Emperor of the Universe, I will have them turned off. Until then, you poor urbanites will not know the monthly wonder and peace of a world seen only by the illuminations of a full moon.

A gift I would give each person would be a clear winter night in a deep hardwood forest with the full wolf moon. Last night was close enough. Clouds are coming to the Cumberland Plateau so we may miss true fullness. Friday and Saturday nights will share the brightness. I hope you folks get the chance to find someplace to go, even if only for a little while.

At our house, there are lots of windows and no curtains. The only time this is a problem is when the Air National Guard is flying night maneuvers or there is a full moon. Did you know that black helicopters are not chased away by a naked middle aged man standing on the deck of his cliffside bedroom giving them the finger?

The other time bare windows are problematic is when a body is trying to sleep through a moonlit night. I don't under stand why anyone would want to sleep all the way through a moonlit night, actually, but I do get the concept of needing just one more little nap before the alarm goes off. It's hard to get that last one in with a bright beam lunar headlight shining in your face.

The four legged vigilantes we feed on the back porch seem to feel the need, on such nights, to alert us to the movement of every beast larger than a shrew. This is an audible alarm only, since any real confrontation results in the dogs demonstrating that they have mastered the art of barking ferociously while retreating at full speed. My studies indicate that the only animal they will approach within strinking distance of is a skunk, of which we apparently have plenty. Everything else has free rein to eat the new fruit trees or the remaining greens left in the kitchen garden, as long as whatever it is can ignore the incessant yapping...and most of them do.

So I'm groggier than normal this day. I'll try to steal a nap sometime after lunch. I count it as a blessing that I don't sleep through the night. It is such a stunning world.



Thursday, January 12, 2006

Any Ideas, Anyone?

Ok, here are the predictions:

1. Alito will be confirmed. The news media simply aren't covering the hearings in any meaningful way.

2. Lots of noise will be made about impeaching George W. Bush. Could go either way as more and more scandal floats to the top.

3. Tom DeLay will be convicted, as will several other Republicans but Alito will be the vote needed to get Bush and them off the hook, ultimately.

4. The Roane County jail will be remodeled and at least one judge will not get reelected...and it's a judge I like, actually.

5. The Roane County commission will look entirely different after the next election cycle. This is not necessarily good, but it could be.

6. Global warming will take off in a huge way. Say bye to the Arctic ice cap and polar bears.

Feeling cheerful now?

America is broken. I can rant all I want to prove that but it wouldn't help, would it? What we need are ideas to get behind, simple effective ideas. Since the politicians won't do it, we must.

Here is a list of 21 that have been whittled out of thousands that were submitted. Some I like, some I don't. What do you think?

At the very least, there is discussion going on. That's a start.


Hey, folks, this is where we are. The only thing we can do is start turning this ship around and do our best. If you aren't willing to get your hands dirty, stay inside and keep out of the way.



Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hi Ho, Hi Ho...

I'm working today.

This interferes with my posting in a big way, particularly when the old steam powered connection at the cabin isn't working. This will come as a great relief to the County Commissioners, one of whom resigned over the jail issue. I hate that. I would rather they just realize that they represent all the people and not just the rich ones. Particularly the rich ones who don't even live here.

So far, none of the commissioners nor the bail bondsman have given us their side of things in the comments section. Wonder why?

The Alito hearings are amazing. Not the hearings themselves, so much, but the dichotomy between what is actually happening and what is making it into the public consciousness. It couldn't be more obvious that Alito was chosen to get Bush off the hook when the warrantless spying hits the courts. From now on, the President will be above the law. The term you will hear a lot about is the term, "Unitary President" which is another term for fascist dictator.

As we hear comments from insiders that there were "millions" of NSA wiretaps of "Bad people" we are left to speculate on why the Democrats in the Senate keep rolling over and offering only mild and ineffective opposition as the country tanks.



Monday, January 09, 2006

Slippery Judge

The Scribble

The End of America

Sitting here at the table, I just noticed a white dot on the other side of the ridge. These white dots have meaning. They are weather predicters, usually forcasting a winter drizzle.

Picking up the massive set of binoculars by the window, I can see the eagle sitting in the top of a pine tree. He see's me better than I can see him, and this seems unfair, but it is the way of the world. I don't know why the eagles prefer to sit around on gloomy days instead of hunting the edges of Watts Bar Lake for dead things, but they do. Sometimes several of them will gather up and talk, especially if it gets foggy. The conversation is reminiscent of a bunch of old women in a bar. Animated, rasping, and meaningless to me. I love it.

It dawns on me that this is the symbol of my government. Eagles are regal birds, half predator...half vulture. How fitting!

There are many forms of government, but the funny thing is that the citizens themselves rarely actually choose their own government.

Neither you nor I chose the one we have here in the U.S.A. That was done for us a long time ago. Even then, the American form of government that was put in place was worked out among a few movers and shakers in a mixture of idealism, greed, and self interest. The original American form of government was essentially a Libertarian incarnation, and it simply did not work. We switched over to a democratic republic with the framework set down in the highest law of the land entitled, The Constitution of the United States of America.

Twern't perfect. Nothing ever is, but it has been a danged fine document up until now. It had one overriding concept, in that it expected the people who had a burning desire to control our government to be infected with greed and self interest to a far greater degree than with idealism, ergo, the checks and balances concept, with an innovative Rock, Paper, Scissors arrangement that took the elementary Yin-Yang balance to a new order of magnitude. This very day, Congressional hearings will start that will determine the future of this form of government.

Samuel Alito is a fine advocacy lawyer. Unfortunately, advocacy is uncalled for on the Supreme Court of the United States, unless it is advocacy for the Citizens, something which has never ever been found in Alito's record. The confirmation if Alito will change our form of government from Democracy to Fascism. You folks who think his biggest issue is Roe v Wade are so wrong, and it's scary. Alito believes in an imperial presidency. He believes that the President can issue a Presidential Statement and define the meaning of a law. If he is confirmed, it means the end of the American experiment.

George Bush will decide what laws mean from now on. Well that's fine, right? We elected him King, right? ACtually, no.

Flashnack 2000.....Ok, so I've been told that "Bush won, get over it" so many times I'm sick of it. Folks who support Bush seemed so smug and gloating after the 2000 election. Bush did not win Florida and should never have been President. Further research proves that Al Gore won Florida by at least 29,000 votes.

There were 175,000 votes overall that were so-called “spoiled ballots.” About two-thirds of the spoiled ballots were over-votes; many or most of them would have been write-in over-votes, where people had punched and written in a candidate’s name.

...in an analysis of the 2.7 million votes that had been cast in Florida’s eight largest counties, The Washington Post found that Gore’s name was punched on 46,000 of the over-vote ballots it, while Bush’s name was marked on only 17,000.

Al Gore won Florida in a decisive victory and his brother Jeb stole it for him. Under recount rules in Florida, these ballots were valid. Here's the proof:


So there ya go. Alito thinks it is ok for Bush to listen to your phone calls without a warrant. No paper trail. Alito thinks that Corporations have the right to privacy and human beings don't. Roe v Wade was a Right to Privacy issue...abortion was just the framework. America will be very different if he is confirmed and Conservatives retain their hold on all three branches of American government.

It was a great country while it lasted.



Sunday, January 08, 2006

Can we Disagree for the Common Good?

It's over...there were thousands more signatures turned in than are needed to force our local jail bond issue to a referendum. This has been a fun experience and I've met or spent time with a number of people who I knew, but now know better.

Roane County is better for the activism of its citizens. This is a small community in some ways, even though there are 52,000 people here. They need to talk to each other more often. Not only that, but...

We have to learn how to disagree with each other.

As it is, we seem to be running as fast as we can to one side of an issue or the other, ripping each other's reputation to shreds in the process, when instead, we should be sitting down and, as a great philosopher once said...

"Reason together."

It's OK to argue! Let's just don't stay mad about it.

We will never totally agree and this is a good thing. It keeps us from holding hands and cheerfuly marching over a cliff together. Some one has to think about it and say, "Hey guys! Are we sure this is such a good idea?"

Then we have to listen and think.

The problem is that in today's political world, it has become fashinable to attack that someone on a personal level rather than giving pause and thinking about what they are saying. This world is too small to survive if this is how we will deal with each other from now on. On the local level that same sentiment applies. this small piece of Tennessee needs the activism of its people. In order for activism to work, we have to let each issue play out to its conclusion shake hands and say, "Good game!" and turn to the next problem. This is where we find ourselves now.

There will be no new jail at Roane County Community college. The number of signatures guarantees that the referendum will fail. A narrow majority of Commissioners voted in favor in the first place and the people have over ruled those eight. This being America, the losing faction on the commission will not be ordered to commit Hari Kari. They will take their seats at the next meeting and continue with their mission to govern this county as the people require. They are not evil. There were simply wrong. And we still have problems we need their help to solve. We have to choose an alternate solution to the jail problem, for instance.

Personally, I think the jail should be looked at right after we deal with the $20,000,000.00 or more needed to give our students the opportunity for a first class education in Roane County.

I want each commisioner to know that we can disagree and still work together.

Now, I have heard from a Commissioner and a Bail Bondsman who disagree with things posted on this blog. I offered both of them the opportunity to publish a comment. Nothing special about them, though, I offer everyone an opportunity to comment. The Commissioner has declined up to this point and we'll see about the Bondsman. We need their information in order to make a good decision. We'll see if they share with us.

If they present facts, I'll move their comments to the front page. If it's opinion, it can stay in the comments for all to read. And guess what? The Commissioner and the Bondsman are just like all of you. You can comment at any time you wish.

It's a free blog. have at it.



Friday, January 06, 2006

Two O'clock on Friday

I sat at the petition table outside a local grocery store while the retired gentleman that had been collecting petition signatures went to take a little break. Very interesting...

Several folks hustled past in the cold and several people smiled and said they'd already signed. Several folks stopped, chatted, and filled out the form. Why are "They" trying to do this?" was the most common question followed by, "It doesn't make sense." One man in his Fireman uniform parked his firetruck in the parking lot and came over after he had picked up something for the firestation. He gave a short oratory on who was behind the whole thing, signed, and left. "It's those _______ people" he said. "It's all about money."

We now have more than the required number of signatures but some will be thrown out so we need to get plenty of extras. The core group of organizers want to get enough to shake the commissioners into realizing they had better back up and come up with another plan. From here on, every signature is one more message to the Commission. Hopefully, they will have sense enough to rescind their previous vote and come up with something that makes more sense.

As it is, I am having fun talking with people. Nothing like a popular cause to unify folks.

Gotta run, now...Mr. Collins needs a little break. Wave if you drive by!




In my never ending quest for Truth, Justice, and the American way, I will be forced to go to our highschool basketball game tonight in Oliver Springs. Having dear friends on both sides, I have more fun watching them each yell at the refs for favoring the other team.

I will, of course, be there to gather jail petition signatures. Getting to watch a little highschool hoops is just the duty to be endured... I love this stuff.

I know you guys are tired of this jail issue....Me too. But what must be done, must be done.

Good people have let themselves be used as pawns in the Corporate/Right wing ideological battle against public schools for too long now and it's time to fight. The secret goal is to overload government with debt so deeply, that the great moral issue of working for the common good cannot be funded. This is the Conservative plan as espoused by Newt Gingrich so long ago. Corporations Good, human beings Bad.

Why else do you think there is such a push to load us up with debt on such a transparently stupid prison project, when our schools are in serious need of attention?

(Well ok, I know that the consulting firms make a killing on these projects and push the hell out of them, but can't I indulge myself on the right wing nut jobs at the same time? Thank you.)

We're on the home stretch in the jail referendum petition drive. This has really brought our county together, in an odd way. For the first time in memory, we have the Young Republicans and the Young Democrats standing shoulder to shoulder calling for signatures.

If I were a County Commissioner and had refused to vote to allow the people to decide for themselves whether or not to spend this huge amount of money on a prison...I might be thinking about making a public announcement Today, that I would rescind my vote! ...Or whatever it would take to get on the right side of this issue. Roane County voters will remember who voted against them in the next election.

I'll make sure of that!

Sign and deliver your petitions, as soon as possible. Call us and we'll come get them.

603-6981 (update: this is the correct number)


Glad to see Facing South back up and running. Here's a couple of clips from a bit about the Bush Administration's pathological obsession (stole that phrase) with destroying all that is good about America:

"I worked for four Republican Presidents and two Democrats and during the course of that career, never have I witnessed such an ideological war on the natural resource laws, policies or practices or institutions," Mike Finley, former superintendent of Yellowstone National Park, said in a speech today. "Even our national parks are not safe from this assault."

Preliminary assessment of the Department of Interior’s proposed revisions to the existing (2001) Management Policies raises concerns that the overall impact of the language changes in the draft weaken protections for our national parklands, in particular, park air quality and wilderness, and could lead to increased use of Jet Skis, off-road vehicles, commercialization, and grazing at the cost of preservation.

Parks Under Attack

Here's a quick overview of Republican scandals over the last year. There are sooo many....




Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Jail House Rock

You folks who "ain"t from around here" will have to bear with me for a minute. I have local housekeeping to deal with for a minute.

Ok, so as of Tuesday we are about halfway done gathering the number of signatures we need. The only people who haven't offered to sign the petition are those who simply don't know enough to decide. Too bad, because if we don't decide, the eight people on the County Commission, who can't give you a real reason for the jail when you corner them, will be able to raise your property taxes by over $2,000,000.00 a year.

here's a quick check list:

1. The given reason for the Jail, overcrowding, is an administrative problem and doesn't really exist.

2. Roane County does not release anyone on their own recognizance, they have to make bond. (This is incredible, actually...Be sure and say hi to the Judges next time you see them out to lunch with the bail bondsmen.)

3. Ten percent of the prisoners don't belong to Roane County in the first place. (Duh...guess what step one to eliminate overcrowding should be?)

4. The budget for the new jail as presented to the public is woefully inadequate and very misleading. (Surprise!)

5. No accurate cost for transportation has been presented. This will be huge. (You mean the commissioners aren't telling us the whole story?....Shocked! Shocked! I tell you!)

Why the Rockwood representatives want that jail down near their town is a mystery to me, anyway. Don't they know that if you have jails, you have created a gathering place for the most nefarious of the underclasses in America? The dregs of society? I mean, why would the good citizens of Rockwood want to create, near their homes right in their own community, a haven and gathering place for...


Print this out and get every registered Roane County voter you know to sign it and get it to us by this Thursday. We'll have signing tables set up at all the Roane County Food City locations. You can drop them off there or emaill me and we'll come pick your petition up.

Jail Petition

I had the pleasure of spending time with Congressman Harold Ford yesterday, and frankly, I'm impressed.

Apparently, so is everyone else that meets this guy. While the Republican smear machine works overtime to tar Harold with the deeds of his relatives, he seems to keep his head high, look people in the eye and ask folks to judge him own his own record of public service...Unblemished and impressive.

I've been in the room with any number of politicians and most of the time I feel like I need a shower afterward. Harold Ford is something different. We'll see if Tennessee is ready. I hope so.



Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What's this List missing?

Several folks sent messages about my List. A very good friend asked why I didn't mention "Love more?"

I thought I did, but not in that exact term. I view love as an action, not just an emotion.

In that vein, I encourage you to read Denise's "comment" to my list.



Financial Green

I tend to post alarming happenings here, but this will be different. I have often said that the humankind will turn from destroying this planet to saving it only when enough of them realize there is no other choice. Ecosystems have a certain amount of resiliancy and no more. Beyond a certain point there is no recovery. This beautiful planet's ability to support us is shrinking fast, closing like a knothole that humanity must pass through in order to survive. The only question in all this is, "How small will the organizations of humanity allow that knothole to become before they start trying to turn the economic ships of the world?"

It is a monument to the collective human death wish that our economic systems are set up to profit from the destruction of the very forces that sustain life on Earth.

At what point will this change?

There are hopeful signs in this world and here is a very large one. This is a framework whereby environmental considerations will be included in that most evil of all documents

....The Business Plan.

Here are tenets of the framework:
disclose the greenhouse gas emissions of all its operations;

make $1 billion available for investments in renewable energy;

set up a think tank to identify other lucrative green markets;

work on public policy measures relating to climate change;

conduct more rigorous assessments of its new projects' impacts on the environment and on indigenous people;

refuse to finance extractive projects in World Heritage sites or any projects that violate the environmental laws of the host country.

Sounds pretty strong. The most hopeful thing of all is who this business plan is from:

Goldman Sachs, the world leading investment bank. Noting that two thirds of the world's resources are being depleted unsustainably and calculating that the Earth's ecosystem provides $33,000,000,000,000.00 worth of value each year to human enterprise, Goldman Sachs has taken the stance that money has little value if there is no planet on which to spend it.

That figure was thirty three TRILLION dollars, by the way. That's what Mother Nature means to us. Here's the full report:

Business Plan



Monday, January 02, 2006


Things to do this coming year:

1. Work on being kinder.

2. Get fit.

3. Be more active Environmentally.

4. Play more.

5. Bring rationallity to the Taj Ma Jail debacle.

6. Impeach Bush.

7. Teach Critical Thinking to a Baptist.

8. Read a book on digital photography.

9. Raise my children well.

10. Save the World.

There....That should do it!

Love to all!