Thursday, December 29, 2011

West Meets East

A sobering article by Patricia Williams in The Nation raises concerns about new threats to our civil liberties:
“You know these are interesting times when Glenn Beck, Dianne Feinstein, Rand Paul and the ACLU all stand on the same side of an issue. The issue in question is Subtitle D of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), particularly Sections 1031–1033, being discussed by the House and Senate as I write and headed to the president’s desk any day now. These hastily added, under-the-radar provisions, co-sponsored by Senators John McCain and Carl Levin, would allow for the indefinite military detention of any person alleged to be a member of Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces.” The provisions also apply to any person who supports or aids “belligerent” acts against the United States, whether the person is apprehended beyond our borders or on domestic soil. . . . Under this law, if the Defense Department thinks you’re a terrorist, there would be no presumption of innocence; you would be presumed a detainee of the military unless the executive decides otherwise. . . . You will be an “unprivileged enemy belligerent,” with limited rights to appeal that status, no rights to due process, or to a jury, or to a speedy trial guided by the rules of evidence.”
I have always considered myself to be a liberal and proud of it. “Bleeding heart liberal,” that’s me. But these days, I sometimes find myself agreeing with Libertarians and true conservatives and people of various political persuasions. Perhaps the political spectrum is not a line but a circle. Perhaps if one goes far enough west, it becomes east. Perhaps the erosion of freedom in America is becoming so egregious that we will find our common ground and the 99% will speak with one voice.

Speak out, America, while you still can.

Monday, December 26, 2011

As we go into 2012

I’m back. We’re going into a new year and I’m finding that I have new soap box material that needs an outlet.

I’ve been reading some of Peter Sinclair’s stuff on Facebook -- all that high-tech-will-save-us stuff -- and wondering why I’m so put off by that type of article. Then it dawned on me -- part of it is that science seems to be promising a solution that does not exist -- that the problems of oil depletion and climate change can be cured by some miraculous new invention and business as usual is still in the cards. As long as science keeps dangling this elusive miracle in front of us, we are not going to make the real changes that need to be made. This false hope allows us to continue sleep-walking through the destruction of our planet while dreaming sweet dreams of a delusional Star Trekish future.

But the real problem is that we are trying to treat the symptoms while ignoring the underlying cause and that is like taking antacid to combat stomach cancer. The problem is not a lower energy future, and even climate change is only symptomatic. The problem is that the world is over-populated with human beings who are living unsustainably and destroying Mother Earth and her children in the process. As in the Canadian tar sands. As in mountain top removal. As in deforestation of the Amazon. As in global warming that is melting the ice caps and the methane rich tundra and heating the oceans to the point where currents may change course. As in over-fishing and over-mining and over-paving and over-building and over-producing and having no ‘away’ where we can rid ourselves of our flood of toxic wastes. So solar bubble wrap ain’t gonna cure nothing, Peter. Sorry!

The best thing that could happen right now is the collapse of the world’s economies wherein the bottom falls out of the demand for fossils, wherein people realize that if they are to survive, they are going to have to grow as much of their own food as possible and make do with much less, wherein the ideas of permaculture spread like wildfire across a parched prairie and wherein the status symbols of old become the new social stigmas. Who knows, maybe 2012 will be the watermark year . . .

Ah, 2012. The year has a mythical hold over our imaginations. Over at The Archdruid Report, John Michael Greer states with absolute confidence that December 21, 2012 will go down in history as The Day Nothing Happened. I disagree . . . and go on record as stating, with absolute confidence, that December 21, 2012 will be a day worth remembering. There are no days when nothing happens -- every day is memorable for the moments stacked one upon another that make up our lives.

But of course, that is not the kind of happening which JMG addresses. He is referring to all the prophecies based on a misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar -- events ranging from cataclysmic events to The Rapture to mass enlightenment to alien intervention. He discusses why prophecies have such attraction for us -- and it basically comes down to an aversion to personal responsibility. It is much easier and much more pleasant to sit back and let events unfold than to take responsibility for the trajectory of our lives -- even if we don’t expect major events but just a steady influx of scientific miracles that make tomorrow easier and more golden than today.

I am hoping that JMG is wrong. Granted, the Mayan calendar does not predict the end of the world, but it does indicate the end of a cycle. I don’t know this to be true, but I am hoping that it is -- I am hoping that, as with the winter solstice, the tide of darkness will have reached its apex and begin to give way to the light. As with the solstice, one will not awaken on Dec 22 and notice a difference -- but as time progresses the change becomes evident. How much time? Not likely in months, but in years, decades, maybe even centuries.

Whether or not 2012 is a watermark year, the human tendency to avoid personal responsibility is still a valid observation. So, what about me? I could be the poster child for responsibility avoidance. I sit and dream about other places, other circumstances, other friends, other life-styles. I need to make it work here, with what I have. Not as a forever thing, but as a ‘for now’ thing.

Hmm, easier said than done.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I haven’t been posting for some time now -- I had really said everything I had to say, and what I still wanted to share with the world, I’ve been sharing on Facebook. But today I turned on my computer and was hit with a tsunami of bad news that has left me literally shaking.

First of all, there is the devastating earthquake and tsunami that have devoured parts of Japan and sent ripples all across the Pacific, some ripples big enough to swamp entire islands. That in itself is bad news, very bad news. But it is a natural disaster, and natural disasters do happen, though they seem to be happening more often of late -- beginning with the Indonesian tsunami in 2004. 2010 brought us killer earthquakes in places like Haiti and Chile, a volcanic eruption in Iceland from a volcano that had been dormant for 200 years, and in October, a deadly trio of earthquake, tsunami and volcanic eruption that rocked Indonesia over a 24 hour period. I’m not talking now about weather related disasters that might be attributed, at least in part, to anthropological global climate weirding -- such as Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar back in 2008, or more recently, the deadly flooding of Pakistan, the wild fires in Russia and Australia, or the blizzards and flooding here in our own U S of A. Nor am I referring to man-made disasters such as the BP oil spill. I'm talking about geological disasters, those that can only be attributed to a restless Mother Gaia. These disasters do happen. Unfortunate, and while tragic, not in our power to prevent. No paradigm shift.

Until . . . a chance remark on Facebook sent me back into research mode. It turns out that we cannot blame Mother Gaia for all the seismic activity after all. It seems there is a link between anthropogenic climate weirding and geological disasters. As glaciers melt and sea levels rise, the pressure points on our earth change -- which may contribute to shifts in tectonic plates and the rise of magma to the surface. The bottom line -- generations yet unborn are likely to endure more natural disasters of all kinds and human activity is more to blame than I ever imagined possible.

But the bad news tsunami was not over. A bill has just passed both houses of legislature in Michigan.
In an outrageous power grab, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-dominated state Senate passed, and sent back to the House, legislation today that allows Snyder to declare a local city to be in a financial emergency and appoint an emergency manager. That manager can, without anyone else’s approval, cancel contracts, including collective bargaining agreements, force consolidation of schools, townships, cities and counties and, unbelievably, unilaterally remove local elected officials.

. . . Unbelievably, the bill even allows Snyder to appoint a corporation as the emergency manager. . . Even more outrageous is the fact that Snyder’s budget creates the crisis by eliminating most of the state financial aid from local schools and local governments that many of them will be in dire straits. So, then, as [Rachel] Maddow points out, the governor who created the crisis can declare an emergency and decide what’s best for an entire town. No one can question it because the emergency manager can suspend the elected officials and even remove the town’s incorporation all together.

The state Senate passed the bill by a 26-12 margin today. The legislation now returns to the House, which already had passed it, to approve minor changes made by the Senate.

To recap, the governor has the power to withdraw state funds from town budgets, leaving towns in financial crisis. The governor may then declare the town in financial emergency and single-handedly appoint a crisis manager for the town. The crisis manager, be it person or firm, will be given the power to cancel existing contracts and agreements, award new contracts in any way he sees fit, and dismiss duly elected officials.

Are we still living in America, or have we traveled through some warped time machine to pre-WWII Germany with Hitler rising? Is there any bigger threat to democracy than the power to dismiss duly elected officials??

As global warming, peak everything, and financial melt-down begin to affect our lives in direct and measurable ways, we will face one crisis after another. It is how we face these crises that will determine whether we live out our lives in honor and grace or whether we descend into some kind of nightmarish replay of history's worst moments. So I ask myself, is this how America is going to meet the challenges that are now inevitable??? My only hope is that this move in Michigan is sooooo egregious that these new American fascists will be seen for what they are.

And if there is anyone out there who still thinks we are not going to be challenged again and again by the changes that have already been set in motion, try spending a few hours researching it yourself -- this site contains a wealth of information -- factual, real stuff, not the 'stay positive' wishful thinking that ignores reality. Then go buy yourself a pitch fork. You might want to try your hand at growing your own food . . . and you might need it when the zombies come.