Saturday, September 29, 2007

"Black Waters, Black Waters Run Down Through The Land"

Nobody sees a flower---really---it is so small it takes time---we haven't time---and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.

---Georgia O'Keeffe

Let us be moral. Let us contemplate existence.

---Charles Dickens

We learn something by doing it. There is no other way.

---John Holt

Many of us here in the coal mining regions of Appalachia can hear Jean Ritchie's sweet voice in our imaginations by just reading her lyric in the title up there. Black water refers to the toxic sludge that kills all life in the creeks and streams near mining operations, particularly what's called mountaintop removal. Sometimes whole hillsides of the stuff falls down on top of properties owned by people for generations. Folks have been killed in those landslides, but there's little recourse since Bush made the previously banned practice legal 5 years ago.

So when I learn a good Republican Christian boy decided to name his private security company Blackwater, and stick it in North Carolina, I thought there must be some kind of---er---black humor involved. Maybe there is. Erik Prince was making the Navy Seals his career until his mother died and left him the family fortune. His sister was the chairperson of the Republican Party in Michigan, and wife to gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos. Erik moved South, set up Blackwater, and also sits on the board of Christian Freedom International, a group helping "Christians who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ".

This was 10 years ago, when Erik was 27. Now, we learn, "Blackwater is currently the biggest of the US State Department's three private security contractors. At least 90% of its revenue comes from government contracts, two-thirds of which are no-bid contracts." To be well connected thus seems the best way...and maybe the only really get in to the true American liberty we call global capitalism. Papa Bush introduced it as The New World Order, but wasn't that a mite Roman Empire? So the following presidents just talk about the freedom and democracy of globalization. We know quite a few families have gotten very rich from all this, but many of the rest of us look at our tax bill and feel we're financing the whole thing. Are the returns worth it?

Economist Paul Krugman yesterday called global capitalism's need for companies like Blackwater a "Hired Gun Fetish."

Tomorrow The New York Times Book Review section will offer up opinion on Naomi Klein's view of global capitalism. The work is called "The Shock Doctrine," referring specifically to CIA interrogation techniques, and is reviewed by Joseph E. Stiglitz, a university professor at Columbia, who was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2001. His latest book is “Making Globalization Work.”

As a sort of footnote to how well the United States is managing its liberation of the globe, Jane Goodall this week warned of what many saw as the problem with alternate fuels based on corn crops and such. You want corn? Developers in Brazil will just plow down what remains of the rain forest and plant it for you.

Here are the full lyrics to Black Waters~~~

BLACK WATERS(Jean Ritchie)

I come from the mountains, Kentucky's my home,Where the wild deer and black bear so lately did roam;By cool rushing waterfalls the wildflowers dream,And through every green valley there runs a clear stream.Now there's scenes of destruction on every handAnd only black waters run down through my land.

CHORUSSad scenes of destruction on every hand,Black waters, black waters, run down through my land.

O the quail, she's a pretty bird, she sings a sweet tongue;In the roots of tall timbers she nests with her young.But the hillside explodes with the dynamite's roar,And the voices of the small birds will sound there no more;And the hillsides come a—sliding so awful and grand,And the flooding black waters rise over my land.

CHORUSSad scenes of destruction on every hand;Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

In the rising of the springtime we planted our corn,In the ending of the springtime we buried a son,In summer come a nice man, said, "Everything's fine—My employer just requires a way to his mine"—Then they threw down my mountain and covered my corn,And the grave on the hillside's a mile deeper down,And the man stands and talks with his hat in his handAs the poisonous water spreads over my land.

CHORUSSad scenes of destruction on every hand;Black waters, black waters run down through the land.

Well, I ain't got no money and not much of a home;I own my own land, but my land' s not my own.But if I had ten million thereabouts—I would buy Perry County and I'd run 'em all out!Set down on the bank with my bait in my can,And just watch the clear waters run down through my land!

CHORUSWell, wouldn't that be like the old Promised Land?Black waters, black waters no more in my land!

Source: Celebration of Life - Jean Ritchie, Geordie Music Publishing © 1971

YouTube has a video of her singing it, with pictures of the Appalachians~~~

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This Is Worse Than Viet Nam

People in the West are always getting ready to live.

---Chinese proverb

If you're afraid of being grabbed by God, don't look at a wall. Definitely don't sit still.

---Jiyu Kennett

When the mind is not aroused, this is discipline.
When the mind is unmoved, this is concentration.
When the mind is not obscured, this is insight.


Frank Rich is a columnist for The New York Times who focuses on American politics and cultural trends. His column Sunday~~~

Will the Democrats Betray Us? By Frank Rich The New York Times
Sunday 16 September 2007

"Sir, I don't know, actually": The fact that America's surrogate commander in chief, David Petraeus, could not say whether the war in Iraq is making America safer was all you needed to take away from last week's festivities in Washington. Everything else was a verbal quagmire, as administration spin and senatorial preening fought to a numbing standoff.

Not that many Americans were watching. The country knew going in that the White House would win its latest campaign to stay its course of indefinitely shoveling our troops and treasure into the bottomless pit of Iraq. The only troops coming home alive or with their limbs intact in President Bush's troop "reduction" are those who were scheduled to be withdrawn by April anyway. Otherwise the president would have had to extend combat tours yet again, mobilize more reserves or bring back the draft.

On the sixth anniversary of the day that did not change everything, General Petraeus couldn't say we are safer because he knows we are not. Last Sunday, Michael Scheuer, the former chief of the C.I.A.'s Osama bin Laden unit, explained why. He wrote in The Daily News that Al Qaeda, under the de facto protection of Pervez Musharraf, is "on balance" more threatening today that it was on 9/11. And as goes Pakistan, so goes Afghanistan. On Tuesday, just as the Senate hearings began, Lisa Myers of NBC News reported on a Taliban camp near Kabul in an area nominally controlled by the Afghan government we installed. It is training bomb makers to attack America.

Little of this registered in or beyond the Beltway. New bin Laden tapes and the latest 9/11 memorial rites notwithstanding, we're back in a 9/10 mind-set. Bin Laden, said Frances Townsend, the top White House homeland security official, "is virtually impotent." Karen Hughes, the Bush crony in charge of America's P.R. in the jihadists' world, recently held a press conference anointing Cal Ripken Jr. our international "special sports envoy." We are once more sleepwalking through history, fiddling while the Qaeda not in Iraq prepares to burn.

This is why the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq, including those more accurate than Mr. Bush's recent false analogies, can take us only so far. Our situation is graver than it was during Vietnam.

For the rest of the column~~~

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Exactly How Bush Spends Your Money

In the photo (Wong/Getty) President Bush speaks at a meeting of the Associated General Contractors of America on May 2, 2007 in Washington, DC.

As a man is, so he sees.

---William Blake

There is only one great adventure and that is inwards toward the self.

---Henry Miller

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.

---Henry David Thoreau

In America we believe in the marketplace, and we expect bang for our buck. The educated consumer is more highly valued than an educated voter. The wise shopper researches the available products before making a major purchase. Sometimes we complain we have too MANY product choices---like when you need to buy some cough syrup.

We detest socialism, and the mere mention of it can get you a punch in the nose. We think it's probably wasteful, and we can't stand being told what to do. Freedom means I choose the car I drive...and whether or not I throw trash out the window.

So how is it George Bush gets away with 7 years of no-bid contracts clearly to companies that support the Republican Party with lots of cash? What is a no-bid contract anyway and where did it come from? Does no one ask this? Is presidential war powers the answer to every inquiry?

I've spent the morning with 3 articles that have appeared online during the past week, and I feel the need to share them. The first is in the current issue of Rolling Stone (#1034) with How Bush's Cronies Swindled Billions blazing across the cover. May I repeat that word again, since so many seem to blank out at high numbers? BILLIONS. Its author is Matt Taibbi, to whom I referred you last April in a piece called Oil's Final Trickle . If this journalist, still in his 30s, doesn't get a Pulitzer someday, I'll be surprised.

The next is Paul Krugman's commemorating the 2nd Anniversary last week of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans. TruthOut kindly put up the premium column yesterday. And finally there's an essay by Nat Hentoff on CIA torture. Well, this is Labor Day weekend reading to get you stirred up admittedly. It did me, and probably will give me more to talk about at the picnic than sale prices at the big boxes.

We'll start with Matt Taibbi's research. It's long and contains strong language. Rightly so!

Rollingstone.comThe Great Iraq Swindle How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury --From Issue 1034 Posted Aug 23, 2007 8:51 AM

Coincidentally, yesterday's New York Times contained a story entitled U.S. Says Company Bribed Officers for Work in Iraq. WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 — An American-owned company operating from Kuwait paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to American contracting officers in efforts to win more than $11 million in contracts, the government says in court documents...One of the officers, Maj. Gloria D. Davis, a contracting official in Kuwait, shot and killed herself in Baghdad in December 2006. Government officials say the suicide occurred a day after she admitted to an Army investigator that she had accepted at least $225,000 in bribes from the company. The United States has begun proceedings to seize Major Davis’s assets, a move her heirs are contesting. you wonder just what it takes to bring something like this to light, eh?

Here's Paul Krugman on more of the economics involved in cleaning up New Orleans~~~

Katrina All the Time
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Friday 31 August 2007

Katrina, Iraq, and finally Torture---the 3 pillars of the Bush legacy...and if We the People don't wise up, they could amount to the epitaph of this democratic republic. Nat Hentoff still writes about jazz and justice, bless him~~~

The Village VoiceNat HentoffHistory Will Not Absolve UsLeaked Red Cross report sets up Bush team for international war-crimes trialby Nat HentoffAugust 28th, 2007 6:30 PM,hentoff,77643,6.html