Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Understand The Problems... To Fix Them

Lesson #1: Sicko

Lesson #2: Why We Fight

Lesson #3: the Corporation

Americans have finally gotten off our tails and made a difference – by coming together to vote for change. This gives me hope.

  • It's starting to look more and more like America will be generating our future power from sustainable sources.

  • Our government might start to respect our constitution again.

  • And maybe, just maybe, we can start to fix the rampant corruption so entrenched within our systems.

However, many of us don't have a clue what the magnitude of the problems really are. Moreover, a significant portion of those in power are making way too much money to consider the true costs of their actions. For these people, I suggest you see these three videos; Sicko, Why We Fight, and the Corporation. Seen together, these films give us a better overall understanding of how bad things have become... Really, really bad.

Which in a way, also gives me hope. Now we're paying attention. If enough people see all three of these films, we might start to think of ways to fix our government, control the criminal element within the corporate world, and even work around the intractable flaws in our systems. Together, we can overpower the antiquated, corrupt ways of doing things.

Creative and well informed people are often the most frightening to the powers that be – we represent change. Of course, we do need conservatives to reign us in once and a while. But as long as the change makes sense, try it. The consequences of making the same old mistakes are mounting – to the breaking point. We really need to fix things. And together, working in new ways, I believe we can make our world a better place overall.

I wouldn't be here, trying as hard as I do; if I were not fully convinced this change is better for all of us. That's right – all of us. There is even irrefutable evidence (on the video Sicko). Just consider mortality rates of Americans vs many European nations. Americans die younger, even the rich. We can do better.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Biggest "Patriot" = The Biggest Sucker

Last week I wrote a letter to the Ely Times on how the Air Force intends to turn Steptoe Valley into a supersonic war game area – and set our mountain ranges on fire with their errant dogfight flares. In spite of the obvious ramifications, I was really surprised by the number of online comments for the airspace grab. WTF?... This is far more complex than one of the comments about “kick(ing) some terrorist butt.” (Terrorists don't have jets to get into dogfights.) Actually, this is more about money than it is security. But this is really about freedom. There are people who have convinced us that high taxes for military spending will bring us freedom... that's right, high taxes bring us “freedom.” (That makes about as much sense as gutting the Bill of Rights in the name of “freedom.”)

First, I want to make it very clear that I realize that our country needs military defense. And of course, our military pilots need to train. But haven't they already been doing that for decades?

American fighter pilots are already well prepared. F-15s have a combat record of 101 victories and zero loses in actual air to air combat. The F-16 has a combat record of 71 victories and zero losses in actual air to air combat. We don't need an expert opinion. Our fighter pilots have done an extraordinary job. And part of that is because these days, pilots avoid a dogfights by just launching a missile or two.

Moreover, in the past 20 years, there just haven't been that many aerial conflicts. US fighters shot down 5 Iraqi jets in 1991. And in 1999, 5 enemy jets were shot down over Kosovo. That's it. Which leads us to the question: Why? Why do they want more?

The answer is obvious – because there is REALLY BIG money in it.

The F-22 fighter plane cost over $300 million dollars each! The total program cost for all of the F-22s has been $62 billion! And the CEO for Lockheed Martin (builder of the F-22) received $37 million – just in 2007! (Hey, the CEO of General Dynamics received $60 million!) For 2007, the average CEO compensation among aerospace and defense companies was $20.6 million – 60% more than the average fortune 500 CEO!

With that kind of carrot, is it any wonder that the military/industrial/congressional complex always wants more?

I used to work for a military contractor. I have a sense of how they think. Sure, they want to defend America – but let's face it, they're in it for the money. And they'll tax us into the poorhouse if we let them... actually, they already have.

My point is simple; we can find the money to help people amongst the money that is wasted on what we spend to kill people.

The money to be spent on these additional dogfight exercises is just wasted money that could be better spent on humanitarian needs. If you agree with me, please write to our Senators and Representatives.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Now We've Got an Airspace Grab

To: Honorable Senator Harry Reid

The lame duck Bush Administration is working overtime fast-tracking last minute favors to their buddies in big business and the military/industrial complex. There is even an airspace grab going on in Eastern Nevada.

The proposed expansion of military operations area into Nevada (White Elk Military Operations) is unacceptable. It will profoundly effect those of us who live here; physically, economically, environmentally, and spiritually.

  1. With some of our airspace gone, we probably won't see nearly as many gliders in the future.

  2. Our property values will decline due to jet noise and sonic booms.

  3. Our natural spaces will be degraded.

  4. This will be one more reason not to visit White Pine County.

  5. This will be one more reason not to move to White Pine County.

  6. Peak noise levels (from sonic booms) will likely harm our hearing.

  7. Increased anxiety from loud noise has been shown to result in health problems, such as heart disease.

  8. Property damage has occurred in the past near sonic booms.

  9. Wildlife and livestock will be disturbed significantly.

  10. Flares and chaff will be littered over wilderness and public lands. Flares pose increased fire risk. And over wilderness areas, there doesn't appear to be any fire suppression plans.

  11. Chaff pose health risks if inhaled or ingested.

  12. Degradation of my Native (Western Shoshone) homeland will harm us spiritually. This is far more significant than a sonic boom going off during a ritual. This is the desecration of the place that sustains us.

  13. And of course, our tax money will be wasted on excessive, unnecessary training for cold war era threats. More supersonic flight training will not protect us from terrorists.

Apparently, there was a public hearing in Ely on this on September 2. But nobody I know heard about it. Was it publicized? I've heard about unpopular “public” hearings that the military has conducted without any practical announcements. Either way, we need more time to make our comments. It isn't right that residents here will find out about this after the public comment period is over.

Thank you,

Richard A. Spilsbury

I've been informed that the White Elk Operations Area Draft Environmental Impact Statement attempts to veil damaging health impacts from earth shattering sonic booms by providing ONLY noise level averages while ignoring peak sonic boom noise levels.

As you can see by the blank areas on the map, they will let wilderness areas burn! We saw the BLM watch a fire in wilderness area burn on for months last summer. Flares over wilderness areas are a recipe for multiple fire disasters.

Please write your Senators and Representatives about this.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Landslide or Lose

For a Obama to win the presidential election, he has to beat the “fraud factor.” In case you haven't been paying attention for the past 8 years, there has been rampant election fraud in some states. And it's obvious who has benefited – the Republicans.

Gore received 150,000 more votes nationwide than Bush in 2000. But winning the popular election wasn't enough.

Exit polls in Ohio showed that Kerry had won in 2004. Yet, somehow Bush won this critical state.

In the election of 2008; for our vote to count, we have to expect that many of our votes won't count. In other words; VOTE, dammit!

The only way to assure a legitimate Democratic win in this election is for it to be an overwhelming landslide. Get out and VOTE!

If this is close, the GOP will likely challenge the results. And we all know what could happen if the election gets decided by the Supreme Court (again)...

You think that won't happen? Well, consider ACORN. This is an organization which has been getting poor people to vote. They've done an excellent job of registering voters. But that's probably not how you heard about them. You've probably heard about some individuals who filed false registrations to get a few bucks more in pay. Here's the real story of ACORN:

What we are talking about here is a few extra people registered – who won't vote, because they don't even know they're registered. Think about it. If the same person kept coming back to vote, sooner or later he would get caught. For this to work, the conspiracy would have to be enormous. And obviously, huge conspiracies can't be kept secret. The whole concept of rigging elections like this is totally impractical.

On the other hand, one person in the right position, can disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters – often without them even knowing it. We have evidence of caging lists. We have records. And some of these corrupt officials are up to it again.

“In Mississippi before the March 2008 primary, a county election official — from her home computer — secretly deleted 10,000 voters from the rolls.”

Some states have voting machines with no paper trail (thanks to Republicans). It has been shown that not only are these machines easy to hack, they don't function reliably.

“Early voting has begun, and problems are already emerging at the polls. In West Virginia, voters using touchscreen machines have claimed their votes were switched from Democrat to Republican. In North Carolina, a group of McCain supporters heckled a group of mostly black supporters of Barack Obama. In Ohio, Republicans are being accused of trying to scare newly registered voters by filing lawsuits that question their eligibility.”

“The Justice Department leaks an FBI probe of ACORN but remains silent on widespread voter intimidation tactics.”

“In Alabama, scores of voters are being labeled as convicted felons on the basis of incorrect lists.
Tens of thousands of voters could be affected in Wisconsin.”

“More than 30,000 registered Coloradans barred from voting”

1.6 million voters have been purged from New York rolls.

Republicans sent more than 4,000 challengers to 1,800 polling places across the Ohio in 2004 and are expected to head a similar effort this year.”

“The New York Times has also reported that boards of elections in Nevada, North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio have illegally used federal Social Security databases to flag and possibly eliminate voters whose registration applications were suspected of irregularities. The Times reported some 37,000 Colorado voters removed in the three weeks after July 21; Secretary Coffman said the number was 14,000.”

“Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported purging more than 13 million voters from registration rolls between 2004 and 2006.”

But all is not lost. Obama could still win. But only if he wins by a landslide – which is likely to happen. In fact, not only is it likely that Obama will win the election, it is also possible the Senate Democrats could achieve the “magic 60” - a filibuster proof majority. This is very important, because for the past two years, Republicans have utilized the filibuster at an unprecedented rate to keep bills from passing. This is the cause of the “do nothing Congress.”

With Obama as president and a magic 60 in the Senate, Democrats will have an opportunity to make progressive changes at a critical time in history. We could actually fix things. Whether that will actually happen or the Democrats just sell out to remains to be seen. But I have hope.