IBI Watch 4/8/12

8 04 2012

Maybe We’re Building the Country We Deserve   //

Looks like it’s time for more people to start paying attention.  Any time now.  Right.

Think about it.  Massive changes are afoot in how our system works.   How many people are aware of what is going on?  I really don’t want to believe George Carlin was right about the average person (look it up), and yet . . .

Here we are, flirting with the idea of electing another privileged blue-blood masquerading as a populist, with a generation of extreme conservative, anti-democratic Supreme Court decisions looming just ahead.  And the main issue driving many undecideds toward the arms of Willard Mitt Romney?  High gas prices.  Yup.  Logical.

Look at what the current Supreme Corporatist Court is doing if you want a hint of the future we are in danger of building.  First, there’s the current deliberation around invalidating that baby step toward a rational health care system, the Affordable Care Act.  I think the author of this piece gives the current chief justice too much credit, but that’s just me.  Whew, good thing these rightist justices aren’t ‘activist.’

Then there is this week’s ruling, with the Court practically goading local authorities into gettin’ tough with criminals.  You know, the real hard core – the guy who ran a red light, or that gal who shoplifted a pair of shoes.  This writer made a connection that I did not make when I first heard about the green light for strip searches – it’s just another step toward building the flock of sheep, the compliant, unthinking masses who go along with whatever the overlords cook up.  Just another way to intimidate would-be Occupiers.

And if propaganda about President Obama’s ‘socialist’ record is not enough to fire up the masses to deny him a second term, well, there are other tools.  Afraid of how people vote?  Make it harder to vote.  Much harder.  We are doing it right here in Minnesota.

This week, our Republican-majority legislature approved a second constitutional amendment for the November ballot – one designed to trick enough low-information voters into approving voter ID.  This of course is a solution to a problem that is at best theoretical, and at worst fantasized.  In other words, it is a solution in search of a problem.  This haiku I wrote recently tells the story.


Tinker Bell, Sasquatch

Loch Ness Monster, Tooth Fairy

Santa, Voter Fraud


Of course Minnesota is just the latest state to see this disenfranchisement campaign, disguised as an effort to protect election integrity.  And the ‘voter fraud’ fraud is just one strategy in a well-crafted plan to institutionalize corporatism and plutocracy.  I have said many times – the modern Republican agenda in all its glory would never pass a true up/down vote by an educated, informed public.  Give these people credit – they know what they have to do to get a permanent hold on power, and by God they are doing it.  This Les Leopold piece on AlterNet documents the hits our democracy is taking.  Not sure if you want to read it?  Here is his list, which I think really hits the mark:


  1. Money and Politics
  2. Voter Disenfranchisement
  3. Our Skewed Distribution of Income
  4. Tax Breaks for the Super-rich
  5. Wall Street Bailouts
  6. Deficit Hysteria
  7. Crumbling Social and Physical Infrastructure
  8. The Failure to Create Jobs
  9. The Revolving Door
  10. Worshiping the Market Gods

So – what’s a progressive to do?  One good source of ideas and inspiration is Van Jones, he who was hounded out of the early Obama administration by right-wing attackers.  He has a new book that has landed on my reading list.  His Green Collar Economy was excellent, and Rebuild the Dream looks promising.  These days, we need lots of ‘promising.’


And if you want a more immediate action item, you can help stand our ground against ALEC  – the American Legislative Exchange Council.  Read lots more about these power brokers in last week’s IBI Watch post, then sign this People for the American Way petition.


Just Try to Do as the Book Says

Ira Glass’s consistently excellent This American Life re-ran its show of stories based on the Ten Commandments.  I can’t leave this without pointing to my personal favorites.  First – I found it oddly comforting to know that young Shalom Auslander’s Hebrew school had an equivalent to our cruel Father Cregan.  And then there was the story of the young fundamentalist Christian (Seventh Commandment).   David Ellis Dickerson found himself in a sexual addiction support group, at the direction of his minister.  His sin? The lad was attracted to girls.  Imagine that.


Iconic Animals – Some Win, Some Lose

Here is a tale of two predators that have come back from the brink of extinction in recent years.  But the path ahead diverges for the wolf, which can’t seem to catch a break, and the bald eagle, which is thriving in these parts since DDT has disappeared.

First the wolf.  Minnesota is currently considering following the lead of other states and allowing hunting.  Latest news is available here, from the International Wolf Center.  Here is a group campaigning to delay or stop the hunt.  Need further persuasion?  Check this piece posted in the Star Tribune by environmental reporter Josephine Marcotty.

Eagles, on the other hand, have a soaring future.  The 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi as it meanders through the Twin Cities region shows nests have more than tripled since 2006.  I get a close-up view of these huge birds frequently on my bike commute.  Just the other day, a flock of eight juveniles took off as I two-wheeled toward them.  Until you have seen these birds from a near vantage – I sometimes get within 10 or 15 feet of a perched adult – you have no idea how large and majestic they are.


Extreme Weather Rolls on; Extreme Denial Too

The news is in for February, and some for March as well.  Warm temperature records fell in droves during March across a wide swath of the United States.  In fact, March was a warmer than average and in some cases record April.  First there is February, from Jeff Masters.  Check the picture of the record hailstone from Hawaii.  It is a graphic representation of the way records are not being surpassed, they are being obliterated.

And then there was March – where heat records ‘slightly’ outnumbered cold, i.e. a ration of 35 to 1!  NPR’s All Things Considered did one of the best, most concise pieces I have heard recently.  The string of sunny, warm days was enjoyable, welcome and scary as all get out to those who understand the implications.  On behalf of all happy grumps, thanks, NPR, for telling the truth.  And that wasn’t the only example this week.  Science Friday covered the connection between storms and atmospheric carbon  (we have massively added to it), as did Morning Edition.  The Morning Edition story in particular looks at the changes we are steadily unleashing, and puts them in the context of what the paleoclimate record tells us to beware of.  Not that we are paying much attention.

NPR deserves much credit, especially considering that other media continue publishing denialist propaganda.  Check this William Happer piece in the Wall Street Journal.  The Heartland Institute would surely approve.  Fortunately, Joe Romm’s Climate Progress blog is on the watch for this sort of happy-talk and assertions of propaganda as fact.  And to close, read this short Guardian piece on James Hansen.  The NASA meteorologist will soon receive the Edinburgh Medal for his contributions to science.  Here is a Hansen quote –  “The situation we’re creating for young people and future generations is that we’re handing them a climate system which is potentially out of their control.  We’re in an emergency: you can see what’s on the horizon over the next few decades with the effects it will have on ecosystems, sea level and species extinction.”  “. . . We cannot pretend that we did not know.”  Well said.


She Ought to Know

Not all Mitt Romney gaffes are delivered by the candidate himself.  Stay with Jon Stewart’s video send-up of Republicans’ reluctance to embrace the front-runner for an almost incredible punch line.  You just can’t make this stiff, or rather, stuff, up.


“Well we got caught sleeping at the sentry post,

Now we’re standing toe to toe with what we feared the most”

–       Eliza Gilkyson, Highway 9


Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN


Contributed links or content to this posting –Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper




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