Thank You, You Insufferable Bastards!

Just…….thank you!

To everyone who has worked so hard to make this place go and infuse it with such aw wonderful spirit. Countless people have commented today on how the blog…..feels! Nothing can replace that….and that is due to all of you who have been infusing madly away!

This DOES already feel like a very special place…and now we also have the people to fuel it with energy! How many people you ask?

Right now….540!

Special thanks go out to ek and OTB, of course….everybody now! Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!

But thanks to ALL of us, we want a special place….and we are ALL working our butts off to make this it! And there is no better feeling in the world than working hard for something you believe in and want to succeed! Well….except for stopping for the night and having a few beers and getting laid….

But that is always true!

So blessings….. and once again…. thank you to all of you, “long timers” as well as all of you who have just come here for the first time!


How to live with bitches

I hesitate writing this, because of the judgments passed on those who have too much, who need too much, who are not careful enough. But sometimes you just have to wallow in what you have and forget about the things you’re missing. Right now, I’m living the life of an animal maniac, in a household of five female dogs and two male dogs. I have three daughters living at home at this moment, too.

You think you can imagine chaos? I can describe it in granular detail more finely drawn than that pixelated image of God on your screensaver.

Why reclining, interrogating? Why myself and all drowsing? 
What deepening twilight! scum floating atop of the waters! 
Who are they, as bats and night-dogs, askant in the Capitol? 
What a filthy Presidentiad!

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Yes, I have seven dogs living with me now.

mood swings while using propecia pills One: A nasty, smelly Chihuahua, Guy, who just two nights ago I almost lost in the dark; he’s blind and deaf and we walked around the block of the building I live in and he lagged and suddenly he was gone. Thought I’d lost him for good. That thing has a homing device so profound that he beat me back to the front door after I spent 45 minutes searching for the ungrateful vicious beast. How do you call a dog who’s blind and deaf in the dark? There’s no punchline for that joke. Ba-dum Dum.

I thought of offering you apothegms. 
I might have said, “Dogs bark and the wind carries it away.” 
I might have said, “He who would make a door of gold must knock a nail in every day.”

Carl Sandburg, Circles of Doors

In any event, I don’t know what happened – if he tired of my company or the direction I took with the other two dogs walking with us, or if he just got confused and said, “Fuck it. I am trotting with my tiny matchstick-sized feet and pea-sized brain back to the adobe now. I will leave some fleez at the door for you.”

enter Two: Josephine, a Pomeranian who is almost four years old and the love of my animal life as I masquerade in the role of The Doggess. She’s tiny, cream-coloured, fluffy, dainty, retiring – my complete and total opposite. 

Simætha calls on Hecate 
  And hears the wild dogs at the gate; 
Dost thou remember Sicily?

Oscar Wilde, Theocritus

Except when you have food in your hand and then she becomes a raging, whirling fur-spitting slobbering typhoon of such manifest proportions that she even scares the cat who outweighs her four times over. Then, then she becomes my mirror image.

source Three: Leopold, my fox-colored Pomeranian mixed with who-knows-but-its-a-handsome-furry-fellow. Given to me with the assurance that he was a full-bred Pom; but like so many males, this turned out not to be true. Ooooh.

“Liberals are like dogs: The liberal holds that he is true to the republic when he is true to himself. (It may not be as cozy an attitude as it sounds.) He greets with enthusiasm the fact of the journey, as a dog greets a man’s invitation to take a walk. And he acts in the dog’s way too, swinging wide, racing ahead, doubling back, covering many miles of territory that the man never traverses, all in the spirit of inquiry and the zest for truth. He leaves a crazy trail, but he ranges far beyond the genteel old party he walks with and he is usually in a better position to discover a skunk.”

E.B. White

He does this funny dance where he backs up diagonally left and then diagonally right and paws the floor twice with each push-back. He looks like he’s doing the Pomeranian version of the Electric Glide at Showtime at the Apollo.

lasix mg of metolazone day Four: Pugsley. She’s my oldest daughter’s pug, a year and a half old. Typical muscular pug personality – part comedienne, part bulldog, part baby. A grin as wide as Ms. PacMan. Eats cat shit whenever she can.

I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.

Will Rogers

I love her to death, but only after I brush her teeth. Imagine brushing a pug’s teeth with an oversized toothbrush and Tom’s natural spearmint toothpaste with xylitol. I have strange obsessions.

samples of viagra tablets Five, Six, Seven:
Bones, Wednesday, and Porkman.

“If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.”

James Thurber

We have three of Pugsley’s puppies left from their birth at the end of June, post adoption of the fourth, Lucy. You keep puppies too long, you can’t give them away. I would only give them to good, responsible, safe homes, and so far, the only folks who have applied seem to think a new puppy for a two year-old is a good idea. I do not agree.

Porkman: So named because she was twice the size of the rest of the babies at birth; now looks like a miniaturized Ewok/Gremlin with the body of a Claymation hippo. Every single time I look at her lumbering about, ears flapping like Wright Brother’s canvass wings, bowlegs in a rolling gait galloping lowly across the floor, I laugh out loud with pure puppy heart-clenching delight. She is the most delightful critter born on earth in the last three months, I swear.

Wednesday: Perhaps the most normal-looking of the puppies – she’s a perfect match of a Pug and a Poodle (the breed of the children’s errant father). She’s black, curly-haired, perfectly proportioned, bear-nosed and bright-eyed, and with a great loving temperament. She crawls into and digs in the food bowl when it is empty, convinced that her digging will eventually cause the bowl to fill magically with manna from canine heaven. And it does appear – the Gods of Chow cannot resist such perserverance by one so small.

Bones Let an epitaph read: 
  He loved the straight eyes of dogs and the strong heads of men.

Carl Sandburg, Smoke and Steel

Bones: The runt, the slightly wall-eyed, gawky beauty queen. She is now the tallest and skinniest puppy with legs that are literally double the length of either Wednesday or Porkman. Her feet look like charcoaled, bent at the ankle, oversized Q-Tips. She’s not very good on navigating with them yet – her hind legs tend to run faster than her front legs, so she’s always angling across the room somewhat diagonally. When she turns and spins, her revolutions carry enough momentum that she gets dizzy. Her eyes turned out wacky, too. The vet believes that it is highly likely that she sees double most of the time. As you can see above, though, she knows she’s a star…

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.

Groucho Marx

There is no silence inside of chaos, either. And it’s never boring.

Wednesday Night Poetry and Whatnot Essay

Good evening all (especially to the hundreds who signed up today).

It is a cool night in the Philly suburbs. The lights are low and my eyes are tired, but I feel the need to post.

Down below, I will share some poetry, some youtube clips and the like (some my own, some of others).

Please share in the comments something of your own, something that makes you laugh, think, all the whatnot.

First up, one of my own…

click here Don’t listen to lying cowboys

we skipped stones over muddy waters
fishing for sunnies with stale white bread
while an evil Empire cast long shadows
over the world
with fear in the form of mushroom clouds
but, the skies were blue
over the muddy waters
of the lake
a turtle, a snapper,
breaks the surface
and quickly disappears
and our president
was a former cowboy
but only in the movies
and my bobber
cast trailing ripples
over the surface
nudged by a sunfish
nibbling on bread
and the specter of
nuclear war
cast trailing ripples
over a child’s mind
because the cowboy
told him
to be

darrell gahm

and now, a video of mine, called “American Music”…

and here is one from Bukowski, quite possibly my favorite of his poems…

the strongest of the strange

  you wont see them often
for wherever the crowds are
are not.

  these odd ones, not
but from them
the few
good paintings
the few
good symphonies
the few
good books

and other

  and from the
best of the
strange ones

  they are
their own
their own
their own
their own

  sometimes i think
i see
them- say
a certain old
sitting on a
certain bench
in a certain

a quick face
going the other
in a passing

there’s a certain motion
of the hands
of a bag-boy or a bag-
while packing

it is even somebody
you have been
living with
for some
you will notice
lightning quick
never seen
from them

you will only note
some months
some years
after they are

  i remember
such a
he was about
20 years old
drunk at
10 a.m.
staring into
a cracked
new orleans

  face dreaming
against the
walls of
the world

did i

  -charles bukowski.

here is a pretty cool video someone made to a recording of Buke reading the above poem…

and finally,  a recent and relevant piece by Lawrence Ferlinghetti…

go with peace,

The four rules

In Samuel Shem’s wonderfully satiric look at medical education, he follows some students on the final leg of that education: Internship.

Most of the older doctors are what you might expect, although Shem draws them all as neurotic and funny, in very dark ways.  But one really has the truth in mind, and is intent on teaching the youngsters what life is really like.  He tells them the four rules of medicine. 

They are below the fold

1.  If what you’re doing is working, keep doing it.
2.  If what you’re doing isn’t working, stop doing it.
3.  If you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything.
4.  Never call a surgeon.

Now, except for the last, are these not wonderful guides to politics?  And might the last not be “never start a war”?

In particular, I am thinking what would happen if Bush paid attention to these rules.

What he is doing isn’t working.  He should stop doing it.
He doesn’t know what to do, so he should not do things

and, of course…. not starting wars would be good.


I was a competitive swimmer as a kid.  In fact, I held a state record in one of my events.  Impressed?  Don’t be.  ‘Cuz it twarn’t nuthin’.  It was as insignificant a state record as anyone could ever hold.  Why?  Because I won the first event run in the first 25-meter pool in the state (before that, they were 25 yards).  That day, the competition was not fierce in my event, and it ended in a tie for first place.  My name was entered in the record book.  And a week later, it was gone for good.

So, you see?  It’s perfectly true that I held that state record.  But it’s equally true that upon closer examination, its significance is underwhelming.  All too often, crucial government pronouncements need to be examined closely to see if they have any more substance than my state record.

One of the better classes I ever took in college was something called follow link Data Analysis.  I use its lessons regularly.  In it, amongst other things, we learned that one of the seminal, oft-cited scientific papers proving that salmon navigate by magnetic orientation was fatally flawed.  The prof contacted the authors, and got them to send him their raw data.  They used two tanks for the studies, located in the field.  And, as it turns out, the effect was only seen in one of them – the one closest to their campfire.  Those ever-fascinating fish were orienting towards the light!  But the paper’s still cited today.  Looks like their sense of smell – shown in some other studies involving water diverted for a power plant – is much more what it’s about.

If you were giving a presentation, and that prof showed up with his calculator, it was enough to rattle you, no matter how well you knew your stuff.  If only more of our journalists had been required to take a similar class!

Like this damned business of deaths in Iraq.  Now, it’s only sectarian violence if they’re shot in the back of the head?  It’s garden variety criminality if they’re shot in the face?  Nice fiction.  And it’s not really a new game: The Nixon Administration (or was it James Watt under Reagan?) instituted a new legal definition of old growth forest, that trees of a much younger age were now defined as mature (aka “Old Growth”).  The arrogance of it all is breathtaking.  Like if you call something by a different name, then it doesn’t really count.

Of course, with the deaths in Iraq, it’s not spin, it’s lying!!  With the forest?  Maybe willful ignorance.  But maybe lying, too.

There are some laws you just cannot break, not even if you’re Dick Cheney.  Gravity for one.  And, unintended consequences for another.  And when it comes to dismantling the planet’s natural systems, no amount of legislating and pontificating will negate the reality on the ground.

I’ve had to deal with the Environmental Protection Agency through my work over the years.  Including in 2000, the year that a mega-forest fire roared through Los Alamos.  Let me say: The EPA is founded on a good idea.  Like the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, etc. – all positive legacies from the Nixon years.  But it got maimed and mutilated during the “go-go” Reagan years.  They couldn’t abolish it, so they did the next best thing (from their POV) – they mired it down in red tape and bureaucratic ineffectiveness.  Unlike the Republicans, who start cutting agencies they don’t like off at the knees right out of the starting gate, the Clinton Administration didn’t rush in to reverse the damage.  That presidency was drawing to a close – well into its 8th year –  when Los Alamos was burning.  And the EPA was still, in important ways, a travesty.  The case of the Cerro Fire, the one that burned Los Alamos, is a good illustrative example.

Los Alamos was where the first atom bomb was invented.  They tested it a few hundred miles away, down south, not so far from Socorro.  (The Trinity Site is open to visitors twice a year, for those who would like to consider an unconventional vacation destination.  And Roswell’s not far from there!  But I digress…)

All the lead-up experiments were here amongst the norteños, on a bunch of finger mesas overlooking San Ildefonso Pueblo along the Rio Grande.  In the early days of the Manhattan Project, they dumped all their waste – from motor oil to plutonium-contaminated material – in open unlined pits.  Sometimes, they set off small explosions which embedded uranium shrapnel in the Ponderosa pines which dominate the forested landscape around the Lab.

It’s hard to fathom why the neighboring Bandelier National Monument started up their “controlled burn” back in spring 2000.  Because it had been a very dry winter, and we were having one hellacious windy season, too.  It’s no gentle breeze that makes for a smoke plume like this:

But the folks at Bandelier had their reasons.  Arguably good ones, looking at the big picture.  The entire area was ripe for fire, and stewardship agencies had been racing against time to thin and do controlled burns reduce just the kind of fire that they inadvertently set loose across the landscape.  From the excellent Bill deBuys, in a High Country News essay that summer:

The physical culprits are well known: grazing, which removed the fuels that powered forest-thinning light burns, and fire suppression combined to jack up stand densities. The fire-starved pine zone shrank as pinon and juniper crept upslope and mixed conifer species crept down. Logging probably accelerated both trends; by removing big trees, it speeded establishment of over-dense, weedy cohorts. follow These were not accidental outcomes. The ultimate culprit was a way of thinking: the impulse to simplify.

Strontium shares many chemical characteristics with calcium, which is one row above it on the periodic table of the elements.  (The link is to a LANL full periodic table: clicking it could alert them to this diary.) Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope, a product of the decay of uranium-235, and is common in spent nuclear fuel.  Because it is chemically similar to calcium and only slightly larger in size, it enters the same biochemical pathways as calcium – which is to say, into numerous metabolic processes, as calcium’s a central player in all sorts of cell signalling.

Strontium-90 had been taken up by the trees around Los Alamos over the years, from the shrapnel and from the soil.  It was in the smoke while the fire was burning through the lab, along with all kinds of other nasty stuff deserving big “Mister Yuck” labels.  But such things are classified…  This is a rural area, so not a whole lot of people were exposed, but I was one of the ones who was.  Home is right under that plume.

But, if you ask the government, there was nothing to worry about in that smoke.  I’m told there’s a general principle of emergency management that long-term effects take a back burner to the dictates of the emergency at hand.  Just like at the World Trade Center site after the towers fell.  The claim of “nothing to worry about” is less robust than my state record in swimming.  Such claims should always be doubted in crisis situations.  Actually, not just during crises, if you consider what’s happened to former uranium miners from Acoma & Laguna Pueblos who worked at (or lived downwind from) the Jackpile Mine.  Often, it seems best to be cautious with anyone from the government at all.

Here’s how it went down: After the fire started, EPA spent a few days on logistics, arranging for a mobile air quality lab to be brought in (from Alabama or Mississippi, IIRC).  But by the time it arrived, the fire had moved on, burning with a fury up around the Puye ruins above Santa Clara Pueblo.  The Lab’s contribution to the smoke was minimal by then.

I was working in a tribal environmental program, and so had the ear of EPA people available to take my calls.  The densest part of the smoke had been going over Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (then known as San Juan), Picuris Pueblo, and right over Jicarita Peak, the highest point in the Pecos Wilderness, the southernmost part of the Rockies.  There was still plenty of snow left up above the timberline, and abundant soot had deposited thereon.  So, I suggested that EPA send people up to take samples of that blackened snow cap as the best way to find out what we’d all been breathing.  No dice!  These were air quality technicians, and they didn’t do snow, melted or otherwise.  That was a job for the water quality people, who had not been dispatched to this emergency.  So they sent dozens of people out (including plenty of “community relations” types), but neglected to collect the samples from the one place that could have told ’em what had gone on.  And they could have formed advisories about what would be in the water rushing down the mountains in the spring melt.  Water used for agricultural irrigation throughout the region.

So, no one sampled the smoke while the Lab proper was burning.  But an oft repeated scientific maxim is this: Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence.. The EPA emergency responders at Los Alamos pretended otherwise.

Oh, but wait!!  LANL had worked cooperatively with tribes and communities in the area, and there were sensors installed to record various “parameters” of interest.  And, as it happened, the one at Ohkay Owingeh/San Juan had just been checked, calibrated and certified as working properly just a few weeks before the fire.  Lo and behold, it recorded a big spike of radioactivity.  And the “experts” consulted and decided that the monitoring station was broken and didn’t work properly.  That data point was just discarded, La-Dee-Dah.  It never appeared in any articles or presentations about the fire from the authorities.

That fall, and the next year, there was some “unusual” stuff, like friggin’ Americium fer chrissakes, found in agricultural produce under the plume area.  Americium is a “synthetic” element, not known to occur in nature.  But no one was ever advised against eating locally-grown produce.

There was a public information meeting that spring, while the fire was still smoldering a little.  The Forest Service (USFS), the EPA and the NM Environment Department (NMED) all gave presentations. 

  • The forest service reviewed the air quality data from another fire, focusing on all the unhealthy stuff dumped into the air by any garden-variety forest fire
  • NMED gave us a standard litany related to domestic hazmat.  400 families lost their homes in that fire – homes full of synthetic carpet, paint, and various commonly used household products that put all kinds of toxic particles and fumes in the smoke.
  • Last was someone from EPA, and they reported the data from analysis of the air sampling they’d done.  They had found that there was nothing in the air samples to worry about.  They neglected to mention that they had taken no samples while the fire line was racing through the Lab.  Which makes their statement more disingenuous than my swimming record.

Clearly somebody wasn’t thinking about how these arguments would come across, strung together like that.  I’d heard all I needed to for my job, and was getting disgusted.  I almost walked out the door, but turned back as soon as left the room.  I raised my hand, and was recognized right away.

Your presentations would have us believe that bad toxic materials are released when a ponderosa forest burns, and when private homes burn.  But that the smoke that came out of Los Alamos was “clean”.  My question?  Do you actually expect that to pass the laugh test?

I didn’t really get an answer – they just changed the subject ASAP.  But that’s OK – it was a rhetorical question, after all.

DeBuys closes his HCN essay like this.  Always, it would seem, the people with valuable insights are much more modest in putting them forth than overconfident, strident ideologues:

Nevertheless, the debates will rage, and it will be interesting to see if anyone acknowledges the 600-pound gorilla frowning in the background of every discussion.  That gorilla is our ignorance. We don’t have complete answers to the conundrums we face. We really have not learned how to live in this place. Our land-management infrastructure (in which I include environmental and industry interests) is presently incapable of dealing effectively with the fuel and fire challenge. This inability is perfectly mirrored by the sustained lunacy of mortgagors, insurance companies, and the general citizenry.

How else should we characterize subdivisions and second homes in the piney woods – frame houses with shake or tar-based roofs, pine straw lawns, and doghair yards? Enforcement of a fire-savvy building code might have cut the losses in Los Alamos by half, but a town that leads the world in Ph.Ds per capita never thought the matter through. Good luck to the rest of us.

If we were to acknowledge the gorilla of our ignorance, we might start by putting aside the language of “land management.” We rarely manage; we mostly shove and bludgeon, or we walk away. A few noteworthy individuals have learned to nudge, and go with the flow, and if the rest of us wanted to be like them, we would approach every land treatment as an experiment, and we would experiment explicitly with different approaches in different places. We would monitor everything. We would expect to be surprised. We would become compulsive learners. We would study humility. We would agree that we are all in this together.

Thoughtful management?  Good luck on that!  Four years later, the following story was held for a couple of weeks, released in the hubbub the weekend before the Presidential election, where it was picked up by few news outlets:

Looking for a place to grow marijuana and live, rent-free, in a cave with all the creature comforts of home? Why not a canyon, tucked away within the 40 square miles of the nation’s top-secret nuclear weapons research facility in Los Alamos?

That’s where Roy Michael Moore, 56, was recently discovered living in a cave equipped with a glass front door, a wood stove, a bed, electricity-generating solar panels with batteries to store the power, and lights.

And this happened with security-conscious Republicans in charge!

From all I know of our flagship top secret weapons lab (beyond this whopper), its security measures are way short of stellar.  They’ve added vehicle checkpoints when you’re entering Los Alamos since then.  But curiously, none for those departing.  In some places, one mostly worries about what people might smuggle in.  And so, we have metal detectors at federal courthouses, and so on.  But Los Alamos? All the WMD-related stuff is already there.  You’d think they might want to protect against it leaving.  But what would I, just an ordinary citizen, know about that sort of technical stuff?

For all the billions being spent on high end security, I’ve long figured that someone who wanted to mess up the U.S. could travel around through drought areas with a Bic Lighter, and do immeasurable damage.  For a bio-attack, you’d infect someone who enters the country (while incubating), and send ’em to a conference with people from all over the country.

Speaking of bioweapons:  In early 2001, Los Alamos held hearings around the region about their plans to open a Biohazard Level 3 lab, which would keep live cultures of various potential bio-weapons pathogenic agents (anthrax, plague, influenza – 7 in all).  Oh joy!  A new 400-pound gorilla in the neighborhood!  My boss sent me to that meeting, asking for a report.  It was a lively three-ring circus.  But it is also a story for another day.  Suffice it to say that had they found a lab like the Los Alamos BioLab in Iraq, it would have been proof of WMD’s, fer sure!


They Must Know We’re Here

Maybe it’s just a coincidence. Maybe. But there’s good news from the Democrats, today, on a few different fronts.

First, and a hit tip to Granny Doc, the Associated Press is reporting:

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner intends to run for the Senate next year, Democratic officials said Wednesday, assuring his party a competitive race for a seat long in Republican hands.

Warner scheduled an e-mail announcement of his plans for Thursday. The seat is currently held by Republican Sen. John Warner, who recently said he will retire at the end of his current term after 30 years in office.

This should be as close to a gimme as the Democrats will get, next year. Only Jeanne Shaheen, if she runs against Sununu in New Hampshire, should be as easy a pick-up. This would also mean two Democratic senators from formerly deep red Virginia.

But the news gets even better.

From Reuters:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid vowed on Wednesday to block former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson from becoming attorney general if President George W. Bush nominates him to replace Alberto Gonzales.

Congressional and administration officials have described Olson as a leading contender for the job as chief U.S. law enforcement officer, but Reid declared, “Ted Olson will not be confirmed” by the Senate.

“He’s a partisan, and the last thing we need as an attorney general is a partisan,” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told Reuters in a brief hallway interview on Capitol Hill.

Olson is very smart, and very connected, and his wife was murdered by the 9/11 terrorists, for which he deserves great sympathy, but he’s also a very sleazy man. Read a book about the actual right wing conspiracy that actually did hound the Clintons, and you’ll read about Ted Olson. He wouldn’t be the complete lapdog attorney general that Abu Gonzales was, but he might actually be worse. Because he can think for himself. And there is no reason to think he would be any more an honorable or professional attorney general than was Abu. Kudos to Senator Reid!

And then, there’s the sudden tough talk about Iraq…

The New York Times reports that Democratic leaders are opposed to the Petraeus smoke-and-mirrors plan:

Senate Democratic leaders today called the Bush administration’s plan to keep 130,000 or more troops in Iraq through mid-2008 unacceptable and promised to challenge the approach through legislation next week.

Several proposals were being weighed, including one requiring the American military role to be shifted more to training and counterterrorism in order to cut the force more deeply than President Bush is expected to promise on Thursday. Another would guarantee troops longer respites from the battlefield, effectively cutting the numbers available for combat.

Even if those proposals were able to draw the 60 votes needed to overcome a Senate filibuster – a level that has eluded Democrats this year – any real strictures on the president would face a veto, frustrating war critics and raising the prospect that roughly as many American troops might be in Iraq a year from now as were there a year ago.

Still, the Democrats tried to get ahead of President Bush’s planned Thursday night speech on Iraq, and to press what they see as a political advantage in opposing the war during the months before the 2008 elections, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, and two party leaders on military issues accused Mr. Bush of embracing “more of the same” and trying to pass off as a significant policy shift a troop drop that would probably have occurred without a policy change.

Will they actually do something, this time? Will they hold the line? We’ll see. But they’re at least saying the right things, for the moment. Clearly, they know we’re here. Clearly, they’re trembling! Not bad for our first day! And maybe they will soon get on board with Armando’s plan to defund. After that, impeach!

Global Warming Impact on “Level of Nuclear War”: IISS Report

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) has released their latest annual Strategic Survey report for 2007 likening the impact of global warming to nuclear war according to a story in Reuters today. The report states:

The most recent international moves towards combating global warming represent a recognition … that if the emission of greenhouse gases … is allowed to continue unchecked, the effects will be catastrophic — on the level of nuclear war.

The IISS is a forty-nine year old British think tank that describes itself as “the world’s leading authority on political military conflict”.

Despite what some naysayers would have us believe, global warming is not just the concern of ‘treehuggers’ and environmentalists. The Security Survey 2007 makes it clear that global warming is a national security issue for every country on the planet. The report’s executive summary states:

International moves towards combating global warming indicates recognition of the need to curb emissions of greenhouse gases. Even if effective measures are adopted there will still be unavoidable impacts on the environment, economies and human security… The security dimension will come increasingly to the forefront as countries begin to see falls in available resources and economic vitality, increased stress on their armed forces, greater instability in regions of strategic import, increases in ethnic rivalries, and a widening gap between rich and poor.

War in Sudan

The world has already been witness to resource driven conflicts in the Darfur region of Sudan and in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Reuters notes the IISS found global warming’s “impact was already being felt — particularly in conflicts in Kenya and Sudan — and more was expected in places from Asia to Latin America as dwindling resources led to competition between haves and have nots.” IISS specialists acknowledged that mitigating the threat of global warming is more difficult than identifying it.

The IISS report predicts that climate change will cause states to collapse and reduce the international community’s ability to “tackle the causes and to reduce the effects of global warming.” In addition, “state failures would increase the gap between rich and poor and heighten racial and ethnic tensions which in turn would produce fertile breeding grounds for more conflict.”

Overall, it said 65 countries were likely to lose over 15 percent of their agricultural output by 2100 at a time when the world’s population was expected to head from six billion now to nine billion people.

Urban areas would not be exempt from the fallout as falling crop yields due to reduced water and rising temperatures would push food prices higher, IISS said.

“Fundamental environmental issues of food, water and energy security ultimately lie behind many present security concerns, and climate change will magnify all three,” it added.

Addressing global warming and mitigating the impact of climate change is a national security issue for every nation in the world, including the United States of America. The tired arguments about how dealing with global warming will hurt the economy do not consider how the world economy will crater as the earth continues to heat up. I suspect that the ever-widening gap between rich and poor is part of the wealthy’s strategy to insulate themselves from the impending planetary disaster. Securing more oil from Iraq, the Arctic, or Canadian oil tar sands is not going to make the United States be better situated to muddle through the climate meltdown. Unless we start rolling back our rampant consumer society, the war in Iraq is just a prelude to the future resource wars to come.

My Journey To Wounded Knee

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The Native Artist didn’t choose to share secrets of his spirituality or ceremonies and I didn’t ask, but he told me there was a large book of newspaper articles about the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 over on the table, “Read it all,” he said. Then, he explained some things to me after I asked the right questions.

First however, I want to repost most of an earlier dairy to put the new information into historical context, then we will proceed.

Crossposted at Progressive Historians


Vital parts of understanding the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 are preexisting conditions, Wovoka, and the Ghost Dance.

Thomas E. Mails. “Fools Crow.” p.22:

…The first census was of the Sioux was taken in 1886. Thereafter they were required to have a family name. One of the father’s names was usually taken by the other members of the family, and everyone was given a distinguishing white first name, such as John or Nancy. Some family names, in translation, were unsuitable, so the census takers renamed them with complete English names…1889 and 1890 were years of severe drought, and unlike the white farmers, Indians could not move away to better ground. The buffalo were being systematically wiped out by white hunters, and indeed were virtually gone before 1890. In February 1890, the Dakota Reservation was opened to homesteading by non-Indians, and now the Sioux were ready to turn to anything that would offer them the slightest hope of returning to their old way of life. They prayed desperately, and sought visions from Wakan-Tanka for guidance and deliverance…It was at this point that a Paiute Indian named Wovoka entered the scene…”


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Wovoka or “Jack Wilson,” who started the Ghost Dance was the prophet or messiah of the Ghost Dance to the Sioux. They practiced that religion prior the Massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.

Sitting Bull had been recently assassinated, yet they chose to peacefully dance, believing their way of life, the buffalo, and the land would be returned to them. They chose dancing the Ghost Dance in winter snow over revenge. They stood earnestly by their convictions, even up until the moment that the soldiers started massacring them.

The Ghost Dancers believed their shirts were bullet proof, and that their way of life would be returned. To understand some of why they believed those things; one needs to understand what was believed about Wovoka.


In his early adulthood, Wovoka gained a reputation as a powerful shaman. He was adept at magic tricks. One trick he often performed was being shot with a shotgun, which may have been similar to the bullet catch trick. Reports of this trick may have convinced the Lakota that their “ghost shirts” could stop bullets.

Ghost Dance

Also, Wovoka was reported to have had the Stigmata, same as

Padre Pio about 30 years later.

I heard an elder talk about Wovoka having the Stigmata, as well as the intent behind the Ghost Dance. It was nothing but peaceful, though it was controversial to many who did not participate. It hasn’t been done since the 1973 Siege of Wounded Knee as far as I know.

Some say Wovoka’s Stigmata wounds were self-inflicted; some say his wounds were not.

I don’t know.

In addition, there is a lesser well-known fact about this history: a relationship between Wovoka’s philosophies, his instructions to the Ghost Dancers, and the words of Jesus Christ:

Paiute ~ Wovoka ~ Ghost Dancers

“Jesus is now upon the Earth,” he stated. But again, there is historic contradiction here- Wovoka is quoted as saying he was Christ and he wasn’t Christ. It would seem that either he excelled at playing to different audiences or was damned to being preserved by faulty historians.

Despite the later association of the Ghost Dance with the Wounded Knee Massacre and unrest on the Lakota reservations, Wovoka charged his followers:
  “Do not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight. Do not refuse to work for the whites and do not make any trouble with them.”

While the Ghost Dance is sometimes seen today as an expression of Indian militancy and the desire to preserve traditional ways, Wovoka’s pronouncements ironically bore the heavy mark of popular Christianity.

I disagree that last sentence, “Wovoka’s pronouncements ironically bore the heavy mark of popular Christianity.”

Here is a historical teaching of fundamentalist, patriarchal, and Dominionist Christianity (not based on Christ’s teachings):

A short excerpt from: “Religion on the Frontier” by Bernard A Weisberger. From “Historical Viewpoints.” pp. 253-254:

The great revival in the West, or the Kentucky Revival of 1800, as it was sometimes called, was a landmark in American History… Which way would the West go?… No group asked this question more anxiously than eastern clergymen. For, in 1800, they saw that their particular pattern was being abandoned on the frontier….McGready began to preach to these congregations, and he did not deal with such recondite matters as the doctrines contained in Matthew
…Instead he would “so describe Heaven” that his listeners would “see its glories and long to be there.” Then he went on to “array hell and its horrors” so that the wicked would “tremble and quake, imagining a lake of fire and brimstone yawning to overwhelm them.”

That excerpt contains examples of:



coercive persuasion

These are some words of Jesus:

(Matthew 26:51-52):

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

Compare those words more closely with what Wovoka said, “Do not hurt anybody or do harm to anyone. You must not fight. Do not refuse to work for the whites and do not make any trouble with them.”

No wonder the preachers “did not deal with such recondite matters as the doctrines contained in Matthew,” they would have been morally obligated to preach against the extermination of the indigenous people.

Now, onto the new information I learned.

I stood at the mass grave at the Wounded Knee Massacre recently, where the bones of Big Foot and Standing Bear are amongst all the others who were massacred in 1890 at Wounded Knee.

Here was then:

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Here is now:

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In addition to the above photo being the mass grave site, it is also the site of where the massacre began, where two soldiers made it look like a deaf man “started it.” Framing him, they grabbed the gun and blamed him as the excuse they needed to begin killing. The soldiers were given forty-six medals of honor for mowing down the disarmed Big Foot’s band (46 if memory serves from information from an original news article from “Lakota Times.” It was not merely 20 medals of honor). They disarmed them before massacring them. Later in 1973 at the Siege of Wounded Knee 1973, it was also the location of the church which once stood in the “firefight” between the FBI and those at the Siege (that church has since been bulldozed). Amongst those were Crow Dog and Mary Crow Dog. “Firefight” is in quotations, because it shouldn’t be called as such. They were defending their lives, family’s lives, land, and their way of life.

Allow me to share the words a friend shared with me on the matter.


The big problem on Pine Ridge was economic before, during and after Wounded Knee II, and the big problem tomorrow will likely still be economic. Pine Ridge has always (even before 1973) been the most poverty-stricken community in the nation. And Pine Ridge has a whole lot of valuable natural resources; coal, uranium, an aquifer with millions of gallons of clean water. In 1868 after getting their deserved butt-kick in battle against the Lakota, the US negotiated the Fort Laramie Treaty and right away began breaking the treaty by stealing Indian land and resources. By the 1970s, the Lakota had lost two-thirds of their land and the government had plans to steal even more – especially uranium filled land.

Early in 1972 Raymond Yellow Thunder was beat to death by two white men in Gordon Nebraska. Attacks on Indian people by racists and Dickie Wilson and his GOONS had been increasing on the reservation and the whites who committed these crimes were seldom punished (like rape charges against Governor Janklow).

The traditional camp represented by Chief Fools Crow and Elders like Ellen Moves Camp and Gladys Bissonette, formed Oglala Sioux Civil Rights Organization and began impeachment proceedings against Dickie Wilson, charging him with use of tribal funds, harassing and failing to protect the rights and interests of the Pine Ridge people. Erosion of the tribal land base and acceptance of government money for lost tribal land were at the heart of the conflict.

But, when Raymond Yellow Thunder was murdered, the Traditionals called on AIM and things got a bit better with Fools Crow welcoming Russel Means and Dennis Banks onto the Rez. And then things got way out of hand and grew worse. And I think maybe Fools Crow soon wished he hadn’t.

Carter Camp has said “I could still hear the words of the traditional chiefs of my Oglala Lakota Nation, spoken earlier that fateful day…Chief Fools Crow had told us: ‘Go to Wounded Knee. There you will be protected.’

Camp: “People were waiting for us to appear on the scene and for some Indians to stand up and say that we’re not going to take this shit no more. We’ve lived under this oppression for so many years. We’re going to fight back now. The American Indian Movement is the force that stood for the people as a warrior society and said we’re no longer going to allow you to roll over our people, to take our land, to pave over our reservations and dam up our rivers.”

But then the FBI – AIM seige happened.

Not a whole lot of people really wanted to talk about what happened in 1973 at the time and they still don’t. But a whole lot of key players sure wrote a lot of books about it. The conflicts and accusations between them are enough to make the head spin and makes me wonder if the truth can ever be known! A pretty condensed history is found on the pages of this link.

“Where White Men Fear to Tread: The Autobiography of Russell Means” by Russell Means  vs

“Ojibwa Warrior: Dennis Banks And The Rise Of The American Indian Movement” by Dennis Banks and Richard Erdoes  vs

“Loud Hawk: The United States Versus the American Indian Movement” by Kenneth S Stern  vs

“Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance” by Leonard Peltier, Harvey Arden, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and Ramsey Clark

“Crow Dog: Four Generations of Sioux Medicine Men” by Leonard Crow Dog  vs

“Lakota Woman” by Mary Crow Dog

“Songs called poems (Living in reality)” by John Trudell 

“Who Would Unbraid Her Hair: the Legend of Annie Mae” by Antoinette Nora Claypoole

“The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country” by Steve Hendricks

To compliment this, here’s some more information about the Siege Of Wounded Knee 1973:


Nowhere was that awakening more profound, nor reaction by the government greater than around the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Racism and violence against Indians, corruption, and repression of traditional people on the reservations had left many Indians desperate. After the brutal deaths of two Indian men, traditional leaders called upon AIM. Fearing a takeover of tribal headquarters, federal law enforcement, armed with modern weapons and armored personnel carriers moved to protect the tribal government.

On February 27, 1973 traditional and AIM leaders chose another location to make a stand-the site of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee. Cold, hungry, and armed only with hunting rifles, fake guns, and one AK-47, they held out for 71 days against the US government. Over 500,000 rounds were exchanged between federal officers and Indians during the siege. Two Indians were killed, and several other wounded.
Nearly 600 federal criminal charges were filed. A Tattoo on My Heart: The Warriors of Wounded Knee 1973 tells this dramatic and emotional story in the words of those men and women who struggled for survival inside the bunkers and ravines at Wounded Knee.

I believe this is a core issue of the Siege of Wounded Knee 1973:

Self-defense Summary: Should the law punish those who use force to defend themselves against criminal acts?

What do you think? I’ll say what I think in the conclusion.

Going back to 1890 from 1973, more people survived if they tried to escape through this tree row, because there was more tree cover.

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More were massacred if they tried to escape through this tree row, because there was much less tree cover.

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The truth has still been tried to be slanted and concealed, even after over one century ago, because the old sign said that there were 150 warriors. The truth is, there were only 40 warriors (the sign at the beginning of this diary records the truth of there being 40 warriors).

To conclude, I think that forgiveness will be very difficult, especially as long as this history is revised to suite the “victors,” the Black Hills continue to be raped, and the fact that many deny the problems indigenous people still face are because of the direct and long lasting effects of the United States extermination policy against them in the most immediate forms of Intergenerational Boarding School Trauma and the Forced Sterilizations that ended in the approximate 1950’s (when Indian Boarding Schools closed) and mid 1970’s, respectively. This is not even mentioning Alex White Plume’s case regarding his attempts to grow Hemp.

However, I sincerely hope that reparations and forgiveness will someday become reality. For forgiveness leads to healing prayers and healing actions in my personal experience, and I believe that healing prayers and healing actions such as the Big Foot Memorial Ride can and will mend the sacred hoop.

It’s like politics, only better

I am a part of Democrats Work.

I plant trees and then blog about it. That is my job. On a scale from one to happy that makes me damn near ecstatic. This is what politics looks like in five states across America:

Democrats Work supports a politics of service. It means getting up on sunny weekends and being a steward of a river. It means going out on a snowy evening and working at a food bank. It is about standing up and doing the job that needs to be done and discovering that people pitch in and help when they see others taking care of each other. It changes the world the instant you lay your hand to it, and the changes keep rippling out.

President Jimmy Carter was one of the early visionaries who helped promote Habitat for Humanity. It continues to be a world changing organization, and it has been a powerful catalyst for positive and peaceful social change.

There was something in that vision that has been missing from our modern political process, but two generations later, Jason Carter and his friend Thomas Bates are infusing the electoral process with a similar spirit.

Here is a YouTube link. That will take you to a tape I found of Jason speaking in Georgia.

And then here is a clip from the news this weekend that tells why the paint on my jeans today is making me feel very good about what I have been doing with my days.

I am a blogger at where I cover Colorado politics. When I have something a little more national to say, I put it up over at Kos. But I am hoping to use my diaries at Docudharma to ~blog the future~ by talking more about my projects with DemocratsWork and on the impact I see being made by this new (and ancient) approach to politics.

Pragmatists and Idealists: A Word About John Kerry

The nomination of John Kerry in 2004 was an act of “pragmatism” (to be sure, misguided pragmatism, I mean, seriously, a Massachusetts Senator as the pragmatic choice?) by the Democratic electorate. While most Democrats liked Kerry on the issues (except the big one Iraq, of course) voting for John Kerry was largely a collective act of pragmatism imo.

It’s interesting that Kerry was the pragmatic choice for the Democratic electorate as he behaved as a “pragmatic” politician in the run up to the 2004 campaign, and for too long in the general election campaign. It was a mistake for the Democratic electorate and a mistake for Kerry.

Of course after he lost, John Kerry became a brave politician. And credit to him for that. I will always have great respect for John Kerry now for one reason especially, his willingness to lead a filibuster fight against Sam Alito. Kerry and the many “idealists” at Daily Kos shamed me into joining what remains, in my estimation, the Netroots’ finest moment – leadership from the bottom up that led to a principled and WISE fight against Sam Alito’s confirmation. The interesting result of that fight, in the face of predictions of political doom, was an invigorated Democratic base and a Democratic Establishment that learned in 2006 that the sky would not fall if they ignored the DC Establishment and stood for something.

Does this have lessons for us as Democrats and activists? I think it does. I’ll explain on the flip.

Those who have read me over the years should be aware that I have advocated for a Politics of Contrast for the Democratic Party. The essence of the idea is to clearly delineate differences between the Republican Party, its policies and values, and those of the Democratic Party. Whenever Democrats do that, as during the Alito fight, the image of Democrats, EVEN AMONG THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH US, improves. Democrats become seen as people who believe in something and care about those things they believe in.

In short, “pragmatism” in politics is usually NOT pragmatic. It is stupid politics. What Democrats need to be reminded of is their strength in 2006 derived from their willingness to fight fights they knew they would probably lose. Because it defined the Democrats as standing for something and the issues they fought for defined themselves and the Republicans. The more Democrats did that, the stronger they became politically.

As the Democratic base, as activists, when we urge the Democratic leadership and the Party as a whole to do this, we are being “pragmatic.” We are being politically shrewd. We are in an era, and it is not always this way, when doing the right thing also happens to be doing the smart thing politically.

Many might now ask me – so why is not the fight for impeachment one of those idealistically “politically smart” fights, for the Party and for us? My reasoning has always remained the same and it remains so now – we have a more important fight to fight right now:

(1) It will NEVER happen . . . Remember, to remove Bush from office requires a 2/3 vote from the Senate, which means 17 Republicans (I count Lieberman as a Republican) must vote to remove from office. It simply will never happen. No realistic person can think it will. So let’s be clear, impeachment here is nothing but a symbolic gesture.

(2) It is likely to have negative political ramifications for Democrats in 2008. I care less about this than most. If Bush and Cheney could be removed, the political cost could be worth it. But since they can not be removed, then it simply is not.

(3) Impeachment would preclude discussion of of all other issues, most notably Iraq. Indeed, impeachment would be the worst possible development for ending the war in Iraq. It supplants getting out of Iraq as the centerpiece issue for progressive activism.

Last, and probably least, the progressive base and the Netroots would be utterly defanged and treated as completely irrelevant if it chooses to waste its time on pushing for impeachment. No more than a handful of Democrats will vote for it. The Media will portray as on par with 9/11 conspiracies. It is to throw away the progressive base and Netroots’ power as a Left flank in the political discourse. It relegates it to crazy Larouche status.

. . .

But my ultimate bottom line is that the essential role the progressive base and the Netroots can and should play on ending the war in Iraq will be completely squandered. That is the part that I will find hard to forgive.

We have a fight to fight right now – ending the Iraq Debacle. We can win that fight and we can sway Democrats on it. Let’s fight that fight.

Pony Party: Angela Davis Edition

A short, somewhat meandering, but still memorable flick of Angela talkin’.

Which she does, as always, very well…

Enjoy, comment, discuss amongst yourselves….be excellent to each other.

Dr. Turing will return this evening to give belated ponies!

PONY PARTY… your favorite things (like ponies)

My Favorite Things

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels;
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles;
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes;
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes;
Silver-white winters that melt into springs;
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers

John Coltrane playing sax0phone. One of my favorite things. Zen. Somewhere else.
Transcendent. Terrifying. Alone. Everything.

If you’ve never experienced Trane, here’s a taste,
blowing what else, My Favorite Things.
The soprano… sharp and new. So outside, it’s inside.
Love the way musicians talk. I always thought that if God existed,
his spirit was channeling through these cats…

okay… we’ve launched… and this is not your kid’s MySpace…
it’s way more than politics… it’s open… it’s zen, and it’s not…
there is still some ass-whomping to be had here… so don’t take a seat..
keep on your feet: play, talk and, as buhdy commands, be excellent to each other….

oh… forgot to ask: what are your favorite things?

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