Longmont

When is a “Democrat” not a Democrat?

Ah, for the “good old days.”  It’s a lament that’s heard a lot these days — from a lot of quarters and for a lot of reasons. Some pine for their youth and vigor. An “empty nester” might long for the days when the kids were little. Some might wish for a full head of hair.

But more often than not, those words are spoken in a political context. Conservative Republicans long for their hero, Ronald Reagan. Progressives have to go all the way back to Carter or Johnson, and especially to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Up and down the political “food chain” there are not many “real Democrats” left. (Yes, I know, very punny.) It’s especially true as you go further up that chain. The genuine Democrats were replaced by others heralding from the Democratic Leadership Council or eliminated by the painstaking work of Newt Gingrich to poison the public’s perception of Congress so that it would be ripe for a takeover by his clones.

OK, I can see conservatives and corporatists “visitors” uttering “yeah” with two thumbs up. The “flat earthers” and the “birthers” and the “Bible thumpers” may not join in the cheers. But, hey, they are mostly just along for the ride (or the votes), while the money changers are forming “one world under the dollar with liberty and “justice” only for them.”

In reality, there is no more Democratic Party. Oh, yes, they still use that name. We have only ONE political party in charge of our government; but it has two branches. I like to call them the Republican Corporate Party and the Republican Lunatic Fringe Party.

Which leads me to the point of this article — President Barack Obama and his junior wannabe president Governor John Hickenlooper. The “we have every right to spy on Americans” president and the “fracking fluid drinker” governor are two cases in point.

worried ObamaWhile spending some time exploring the many articles that find their way into my Inbox, I found one especially astute and honest, brought to me courtesy of OpEdNews. “Dear Obamaheads” by John and Jean Anton is worth reading in it’s entirety. Please do. But here’s the part that I’ll borrow for this article. (Some of my good Democratic friends may not like this.  But there’s an elephant that some don’t want to see.)

[Obama] should consider how much easier life would be for him, if he were a Republican.   He wouldn’t have to make any more promises that he had no intention of keeping.   He could build even more nuclear plants, extend even more gas lines, and subsidize fracking everywhere without worrying about environmentalists.   Whistle-blowers could still be arrested as traitors, tortured, and imprisoned indefinitely “for their own good” without guilt….

Best of all, in the name of national security, he could join Republicans in ignoring all the amendments to the constitution except two: the one that says corporations are people, and the one that says yes, even four-year-olds have the right to carry weapons of mass destruction to school, to libraries, to lavatories.

He could lie like a Republican.   He could bully like a Republican.

He could steal from the poor and the middle class to give to the rich like a Republican.   He could continue to wage war everywhere in the world with only a nod of his head, without congressional approval, without the support of the American people whose blood he could spill and treasure he could spend because —  he wants to.

In other words, instead of being a fake Democrat, he could be a real Republican.

 What is it that broadcasters like to say?  “And now we return you to your local programming.”  Moving on to Colorado…

Frackenlooper appears to be digging his own political grave.

Frackenlooper appears to be digging his own political grave.

Yes, I really need to say more about our beloved Frankenlooper.  We wouldn’t want him to feel slighted.  After all, he may be the “chosen one” to replace Obama in 2016.  The Democratic Governors Association loves him and is doing everything in its power to elevate Hick’s profile (with a little help for oil and gas $$$).  And he’s a safer bet than New York’s guv, Andrew Cuomo — at least when it comes to oil and gas.

Although not everyone has faced the true political identity of Barack Obama, there IS a growing body of awareness where Frackenlooper is concerned.  He knows how to get down to business, Big Business, Big Oil Business.  Whether overt or covert, he gets the job done for them.

BUT!  He overplayed his hand when he sued the City of Longmont.  No one bought his “sleepless nights” or his “last resort” rhetoric.  Well, maybe not “no one.”  But it certainly was a media and public wake-up call. Even then, Hick was more politically tone-deaf than what might be expected of a calculating pol.  He went for the knock-out punch and instead got knocked out himself when he strutted his stuff and said that he’d sue the pants off anymore communities that dared to ban fracking for oil and gas.

Oops!!  That’s when his handlers stepped in.  And if he didn’t figure it out all by his lonesome, they said, “Hey, Hick!  You can’t keep doin’ this.  When you find yourself in a hole, stop diggin’.  Let COGA [Colorado Oil and Gas Association] and the industry folks do it for you.”

It wasn’t long ago that Hickenlooper was sporting a 54% approval rating. However, the recent Quinnipaic poll has him now at 47%. That’s frightening for an incumbent, even if it’s spun otherwise.  Quinnipaic coupled this survey with Hickenlooper’s decision on the Dunlap death penalty matter. But they were too narrow in their research into causation. Many of those up in arms about Hickenlooper’s decision for a temporary reprieve won’t vote for the governor for any number of other reasons.

Hick is losing support from “his base,” the Democratic voter that is furious with him for his position on oil and gas legislation.

No-fracking-logoSo here’s the message to our Colorado governor: If you want to get re-elected in 2014 and have that shot at the coveted whole enchilada, get on the right side of history. Let local governments determine whether or not they want oil and gas drilling and specifically hydraulic fracturing for the stuff in their communities. Don’t con us. No weasel words. No lies.

If you do this, most will come back to you next November in stead of staying home or even voting Republican because they just can’t pull the lever for you. The big oil and gas bucks into your campaign account are not going to save your political hide. In fact, they will help do you in. “You can run but you can’t hide.” has all kinds of meanings this time around. Your Republican opponent may not bring that up, but be sure that others will.

So spend some of those sleepless nights that you really didn’t spend before you sued Longmont thinking about YOUR future. The rest of us are going to do all we can to preserve ours. And that might not include YOU.

Adult Education Graduation – June 20, 2013

DSC_0134-ThrillOfGraduationThe Adult Education progam of St. Vrain Valley schools had their final graduation ceremony on Thursday June 20, 2013. I believe there were 100 graduates, all obviously thrilled to have their prized diplomas in hand. I heard stories about overcoming adversity to get an education, mothers working and going to school and the powerful support of friends and family. These are people working hard to achieve the American Dream, they embody the basic principles that America was founded on. And they make me very proud. Thank you to the staff for all their work and thanks for inviting me to attend! I hope you like the photos, glad I could be on hand!

Here’s the entire photoset – you can also go directly to the Flickr set by clicking here.

[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157634238206045″]

Here’s two of the speeches I heard:

J. Ruben Saenz

J. Ruben Saenz, 2013

J. Ruben Saenz, 2013

I am a Mexican by birth and an American by naturalization. I am originally from Ojinaja Chihuahua Mexico, a small town on the border with Texas, in 1979 I waved goodbye to my country and moved to New Orleans, which is a multicultural city, it was there, that for the first time in my life I was exposed to a wide variety of languages and dialects, that awakened in me a passion for languages and gave me an idea where to direct my steps to.

I came to this school with two purposes: a) when I left my country, even though I had already some academic achievements, I did not bring with me any transcripts to accredit my education, I decided therefore, to get a high school diploma from an accredited American institution. b) Having obtained a High School Diploma entailed also a personal challenge, the intellectual exorcism of certain fears, concerns I had regarding subjects I struggle with when I was young, math to be specific. Those fears have been conquered, it was a challenge that in the end was well worth it, in fact this second time around, it was actually fun.

To retiterate what I mentioned earlier, getting a High School Diploma was most of all a personal challenge, which I was able to accomplish the only way success is achieved in this life, through hard work and effort.. By the way, my appreciation and respect for all the ladies who are graduating tonite, what you’ve accomplished is commendable. It’s all the same, through hard work and effort were you able to juggle school and a job, while at the same time taking care of your families. It goes to prove that you ladies can accomplish anything if you wish: the sky is the limit, and may this High School Diploma be just the beginning of a series of academic achievements.

As for me, I plan to pursue my goal, which is to grow in the exciting field of translation and interpretation, which by the way I also became certified on just two days ago from the Community College of Aurora. It’s a very demanding and challenging career, but at the end of the day, I thrive on challenges.

For us Latinos, the family plays a crucial role in our daily lives; I dare to say that just as it was for me, for many of the Latinos gathered here tonight, we are what we are, thanks to the unwavering support of our respective families. We Latinos, regardless of our ages and whereabouts, in a way, we actually never left home. Even though we did, we’ll always carry wherever we go a piece of it.

And last but not least, I would like to thank on my behalf and that of my fellow students, The Board of Education for this unique academic opportunity offered to us, thanks also to all the teachers, Mrs. Hena, Marcia, Betsy, Rebecca, Susannah. Thanks to all the substitute teachers and volunteers for donating your time and effort. I apologize if I omitted anyone.

In closing, I would like to make a small personal comment regarding the closure of this school, it’s a shame that other adults, minorities as well as young people, won’t be able to benefit from a quality education. This just gives us a glimpse of where the priorities of our leaders are.

On this note congratulations to teachers and students for a job well done and good luck to all in the future.


Douglas Joel Guzman Cerna

Douglas Joel Guzman Cerna - 2013

Douglas Joel Guzman Cerna – 2013

First of all I would like to thank the creator of life, honored guests, fellow graduates, staff and friends. My name is Douglas Joel Guzman Cerna. I’m from Nicaragua and I’m 36 years old. I came to the U.S. when I was 15 years old. I went to school in North Carolina for about three years. Then, I quit school and I started working. I started meeting many people who encouraged me to stay in school but I never listened to them. I would like to thank all those people that have been in my life in so many different ways. Also I would like to thank the negative people too, because they encouraged me to prove them wrong.

I came to Adult Education with the hunger to learn more and to earn a high school diploma, what the inside of me had always wanted. I came to that point and made that decision, and now I did it, with my efforts and the good teachers I had.

My family has been all the people that I have met in my journey of this life. I have been learning from them, from the way they live their lives and the way they treat me. It has been awesome. Even the negative people have helped me because I done what they didn’t expect me to do.

My plans are that one day I will be an architect because I have been learning a lot about construction. As you know when you have the desire to do what you want, you do it; there’s nothing easy but you can do it. Nobody will do it for you. I hope one day that I will reach my goal to be an architect just like I have reached this goal of my high school diploma.

I would like to thank the District Board of Education and the St. Vrain Valley School District for providing the opportunity to earn my high school diploma. Thanks to all and God bless all of us.

 

Down the corporate greed rabbit hole

Capitalism, gun to headWhen did making a profit turn into greed? Greed has been around from the beginning of time, but my guess would be it was unleashed in the1980s when American voters bought the farce that wealth would trickle down to them. There was no proof of this theory, but politicians kept saying it over and over until a majority of people began voting against their self-interests: Electing congressional representatives who approved lower corporate tax rates and numerous business deductions, but were against that job killer, increasing the minimum wage.

The fear tactic

When companies downsize, the actual work does not go away. One employee leaves; her co-worker takes up the slack, receiving extra duties. Or technical assistance is transferred to a phone bank in India. The fear tactic is deathly subtle: Either work harder and longer hours or you’ll be out of a job. Result: less overhead, more profit. Improving procedures and workflow? Not in the picture because that worker picking up the slack will stay at the same pay. What’s to change?

The early-out two-step

Older workers on the cusp of reaching retirement are offered a quick out — with reduced benefits. The work remains but will be done by lower-paid rookies. Conservatives in Congress refuse to compromise on solutions to fully fund Social Security. Their best thinking is to push up the retirement age and reduce benefits. Does anyone who’s been out looking for a job after age 40 really believe you can find one after 50? 60? Or even 70?

The possibilities?

I retired on an early-out offer at 51. In the succeeding 20 years I have worked in several full-time jobs and a half-dozen part-time ones. My job experience: toll booth operator; free-lance writer; warehouseman; multiple-choice question writer; online accounting system tech writer; AmeriCorps writing mentor; law firm runner; para-educator; sole business owner writing and selling books; writing coach; creative writing instructor; concierge; writer-in-residence. There were pluses and minuses. I wanted to write after I retired, so the keyword “writing” is sprinkled among my various jobs. But among the good experiences was a nasty confrontation with exhaust fumes in that toll booth — it was either that or wear a Donald Duck costume and walk around Walt Disney World in 90-degree heat. Worse was physical exhaustion in the warehouse doing a job designed for someone 30 years younger. Yet I discovered the joy of writing at home and selling a few books.

Something different is needed

A paradigm shift in thinking would lower the retirement age, not raise it. Consider this: What if the tax code favored workers who wanted to retire early, even at 45 or 50? Going further: What if big business/large corporations got a tax deduction only if they created jobs? Moving us older workers into retirement earlier makes room for younger folks. Let’s tell it like it is. Is it more cost-effective to pay hundreds of thousands of workers unemployment insurance or to rewrite the tax code making it feasible for older workers to leave earlier? Perhaps more would sample the work world as I have done and create their own job. Or start a small business.

Slurping at the federal trough

Entrepreneurs know where the big money is, in that trough filled with our taxes; politicians need money to keep their jobs. It has become a traditional tradeoff. The push for an independent Congress requires getting money out of elections. Changes to thinking, especially for a tax code favorable to American workers, require publicly funded elections, setting term limits and abolishing political parties. While we’re at it, let’s throw open primary and general elections to all voters no matter their political affiliation. No one really won the 2012 general election. Less than 24 hours after the votes were counted, stalemate returned, or really, simply remained. Does anyone really like gridlock? The work of Congress has become winner take all. Any vote is not for the people but for the particular party’s ideology. Meanwhile political spin managers try to convince us that our friends and neighbors we know to be moderate and independent are actually out to destroy our country. Preposterous.

Bill Ellis is a local author and can be reached at

contact@billelliswrites.com

 

Hickenlooper / COGCC overreach in lawsuit

Longmont’s rules are legal and make good common sense.

The state legislative session has ended, with oil and gas drilling impacts on our communities still largely unaddressed — in no small part due to the active resistance of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration. Even more concerning, the Governor continues to actively undermine the efforts of local governments to respond to the growing citizen outcry against fracking and other industrial activities in their neighborhood
Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

Former Longmont City Manager, Gordon Pedrow

For example, last year the governor sued the city of Longmont, where I was city manager for 19 years, for adopting local oil and gas rules to protect its citizens. While I appreciate Gov. Hickenlooper’s characterization of the lawsuit as “a last resort,” I want to explain why Longmont’s rules are legal and make good common sense.

Longmont didn’t take the task of adopting new oil and gas rules lightly. The City Council acted because state rules under the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) were insufficient to protect our community. The council carefully crafted an ordinance that would safeguard the health and welfare of Longmont citizens and promote industry accountability and responsibility. Working with its most active oil and gas company, the city negotiated an operator agreement that went beyond COGCC requirements. Notably, while the governor sued Longmont for its new rules, the local oil and gas operator did not.

The new regulations prevent oil and gas development within residential neighborhoods, and require drilling to be a reasonable distance from occupied structures to better protect residents from noxious fumes, chemical spills, and dangerous and noisy truck traffic. Separating industrial uses from homes, schools, and nursing homes is part of the fundamental zoning role that local governments play.

When Longmont passed its rules, COGCC regulations allowed new oil and gas wells to be as close as 350 feet from homes in high-occupancy residential areas and 150 feet from homes in rural areas. Those “setbacks” applied whether there was one well or 22 planned for a site. Longmont residents were concerned about the health of children and seniors and the livability of their neighborhoods. The City Council increased the setbacks to 750 feet from homes and allowed for comprehensive review of multiwell sites to ensure they are located appropriately with respect to traffic and adjacent land uses. In response, Gov. Hickenlooper sued Longmont, stating the ordinance was “preempted” by the state.

COGCC rules require that toxic chemicals used in fracking be disclosed to the state 60 days after the operation has been completed. Since most accidents happen when chemicals are being transported or during the fracking process, the Council opted to increase safety for residents and emergency responders by requiring that chemicals be disclosed prior to trucking them through our neighborhoods and pumping them underground. The COGCC is suing for this, too.

The COGCC is also suing Longmont for trying to prevent facilities within the city limits from being an eyesore — such as requiring that tanks be painted and well heads be screened by landscaping. Why is the state threatened by this? The city of Greeley has had a similar requirement in its land use code for years.

Hickenlooper 2The governor accuses Longmont’s use of its zoning authority as a “taking” of private property. Yet, reasonable zoning restrictions — such as those to protect public health — have never been considered a taking by the courts. That is probably why the state is not suing Longmont for a “takings” — even though that is the governor’s rationale.

Applying local zoning to oil and gas development is common. Just look to the birthplaces of the industry: Texas allows municipalities to set their own setback rules; Pennsylvania allows local governments to apply their zoning authority to oil and gas development; and Oklahoma allows its municipalities to ban oil and gas development within their borders. Yet, these states aren’t suffering from an “uneven patchwork of regulations.”

Zoning industrial land uses inside the city is within Longmont’s authority as a home rule city. From mining operations to marijuana dispensaries, barber shops to breweries, local governments have the authority and responsibility to regulate land use to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare. Oil and gas development should be no different.

The oil and gas industry is booming in Colorado. Responsible development of the industry is appropriate. However, responsible does not mean steamrolling the citizens of Longmont. Longmont’s future should be dictated by the needs of its community, not the desires of the industry or the governor. One thing we all agree with the governor on: “Our ultimate responsibility is to protect people.”

I hope the governor will rethink his approach and work with local officials to ensure Longmont remains a great place to live.

Gordon L. Pedrow is a former city manager of Longmont.

In the Days Before – Part 4

Mary Pitt

Mary Pitt – age 30

It is easy to recall my days in school as a halcyon time, though the happiness was not, of course, unstained by some coarser events. But that is childhood, is it not? Mother delayed my entry into formal school by a year because, she said, I was ill with some sort of respiratory disease, but I have no memory of being ill. In later days, I teased her, saying that she had had a baby in the house for so many years that she delayed the “empty nest syndrome” as long as possible. This is not to say that I learned nothing in the pre-school years!

My youngest brother started to school when I was only in the toddler stage and, from that time was, like the other boys, spent either in school or working at tasks assigned by my father. This left Mother home alone all day, every day. And she was a garrulous talker, spinning our her stream-of-consciousness verbally in order to banish her own boredom and loneliness. And I had nothing to do but to listen and to absorb her life into my own memory.

I heard tales of adventure as her grandfather strode the decks of a freighter plying the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Hudson River as it made its way even deeper into the New World, bringing trade goods to the Indians and returning loaded with valuable furs as the result. He was following his father in the endeavor as did his many brothers and, between them, they established permanent residences and families ashore all along the boundary of what became Canada and the United States.

I heard tales of hardship as her mother accompanied her own husband, first to a logging camp in what would become the state of Washington and then to Oklahoma after the Land Rush where they lived in a “dugout” cabin on the arid plains and where my mother lived her own childhood. She, herself, had known both cowboys and Indians and shared her many memories of her daily life and that of her mother and her older sisters. Every tale was an entertaining movie in my over-active imagination and one which would be acted out in my out-of-door play in the summer.

When the day was over, the door would open and in would troop an assortment of brothers, eager to change out of their school clothes and go outside to do their assigned chores. Later, they would all return, accompanied by Father, to line the long kitchen table and eagerly fill plates with the result of Mother’s afternoon work at the wood-burning cook stove. Mother baked twelve loaves of homemade bread every other day and, on fresh-bread day the aroma would be a great appetite-inducer. There may have been no meat on the table but there would be Navy beans and home-canned vegetables, usually potatoes and, always, white gravy. Gravy was a staple in our diet since Father insisted on it, three meals a day, every day, while praising its “stick-to-the-ribs” qualities.

I do wish I could recall verbatim some of those dinner-table conversations but, fortunately, only snippets remain. If I had ever written anything like them, I would likely have been arrested for writing obscenities. But Mother listened carefully to learn of weather conditions, neighborly chit-chat, and political doings. She, too, was a farmer, being in charge of the gardening, chickens, and turkeys as well as attending to the milk, cream, and eggs that were produced to provide food for the brood.

After supper, all moved about the house, getting settled for homework time. This was my first school! I would move from brother to brother, asking questions and getting answers.

“What are you reading? What does it mean? How do you do that? Show me!” And, bless their hearts, I got real answers! I was shown unfamiliar words, told what they mean, and encouraged to study the letters therein. With my little slate and a short, grubby piece of chalk, I would approach a boy who was working on arithmetic and repeat the demand, “Show me!”

On occasional Saturday nights, our neighbors would show up and get set for a night of card playing. First, I was allowed to keep score for their games of Pitch. That was easy and already within my range of abilities but I yearned to also learn to keep score for Rummy, which required a good deal of multiplication as well as simple addition. I put the heat on my brothers, who obediantly taught me to multiply through the number thirteen!

At that time the school systems were set up according to “townships.” The State was divided by counties which were, in turn, divided into townships and each township maintained a school. These were simple one-room buildings containing desks, a wood-fired heating stove, and either a bell tower or a little hand bell, according to what the district could afford. The first school I attended was in a larger township and had a two-room schoolhouse.

Teachers were hired on a room, board, and tiny salary basis. Almost all were young women and a new teacher created a bit of excitement among the young men of a community! The room-and board were usually contributed by a local taxpayer who had an extra bedroom. Only a dedicated person would have dared accept such an offer but these were hard times and jobs were scarce. During the coldest winters, the teacher was at the school early so that the fire in the big stove would be rekindled the little fingers could be warmed in its glow as the children arrived by whatever mode of transportation was available to them. Sometimes the aroma of a pot of hot soup simmering on the stove would make a warm and welcome addition to the cold sandwiches which were taken from the lunch boxes.

We must remember that, “In the Days Before”, each school was funded only by the property taxes paid by the farmers in that township with no State or Federal assistance whatever. Each autumn, a teacher was confronted with a deluge of children of varying ages and abilities, some prim and proper while others were as wild as little mavericks. She was charged with the task of turning them all into literate young people who would be able to make their way in the world. The miracle was that they were usually successful. Not only did they teach the academics but also congributed some small knowledge of whatever talent they possessed. One teacher might play the piano, another a guitar, and still another would teach awkward little girls to tap-dance!

In short, these miracle-workers brought a finer example of civilization to small offspring of unlearned and largely rough-hewn humanity to the status of up-standing citizens who could function to further build a growing nation into a united entity which could exert great influence on the world. They were over-worked and underpaid and, unfortunately, they still are. We entered our school years as blank slates and departed from them as literate and understanding individuals with a mission to make ourselves and our nation capable of bequeathing to our progeny a better life than we had experienced,

Many of these children would find their education cut short after less than a high school diploma and those early years must of necessity cram a lot of learning into the very young. Many young men were required to assist their parents on the farm and girls could expect to be married by the end if their teens. Few women worked outside the home and those who did not marry young were condemned to clerical work or to teaching, so the small proportion who were able to extend their education became teachers until marriage, so most of the teachers were young. The amazement was that so many of them were excellent, considering that the work was only a stop-gap to support themselves until marriage.

But that was a long time ago. Post World War II, the baby boom brought ever-larger schools and population growth in communities that could not afford to support them all. More Federal aid was channeled to the States as were funds for things like welfare and Medic-Aid for families in need. The nation grew and, of necessity, the government grew to deal with the ever-increasing population. New schools were built and buses provided for the transportation of the children to ever-larger schools. The percentage of high school graduates grew as did that of post-high-school education in the rising number of colleges. We became the best-educated population in the world!

Now we find ourselves governed by those with the money to exert undue influence on our representatives to government. Their battle cry is, “Stop spending! Cut taxes!” The nation is as split as any time since the Civil War as half the States are pursuing those same policies. Schools are being closed, free lunches and food stanmps are cut for hungry children, and the law-makers are talking about the Good Old Days but few of them were yet alive during the conditions that existed before the institution of the very programs that they choose to cut. Our expensive infrastructure is collapsing from neglect while the nation becomes more like “Les Miserable.” Soon, it will be divided between the huge cities with the financial concentration on assuring the super-rich that their lifestyle will not be threatened, and the rest of the country where children, old people, the infirm, and the will serve their local masters until blessed with the delivery of death.

Did the thousands of young men who were my brothers sacrifice their “lives and fortunes” in order to establish this kind of uncaring society. I think not! Will we dishonor The Greatest Generation by turning our national back on those sacrifices as well as those of all the other great patriots in our history to satisfy the desires of those for whom “All” is never “Enough?” That remains to be seen and depends entirely on the degree of sacrifice and dedication that is offered by today’s patriots.

We who remember “The Days Before” are now old, weak, and few. And so, the decision is up to you, the readers, to decide and to do whatever is necessary to stop it!

Commissioners rate truck traffic above people

Want to get an idea about the scale of industrialization of Boulder County?

In Colorado, trucks haul fluids more than 100 miles one-way into Utah on Interstate 70 (where the speed limit is 75 mph) to a large open pit facility. Photo courtesy of TEDX The Endocrine Disruption Exchange

Photo courtesy of TEDX The Endocrine Disruption Exchange

Let’s take a look at truck traffic alone. According to the recent “Boulder County Oil and Gas Roadway Impact Study” presented to the Boulder County Commissioners, each well fracked in Boulder County would take about 2,206 truck trips to complete. Given the commissioners’ estimate that up to 1,800 wells are conceivable in Boulder County, this equates to 3,970,800 truck trips to complete these wells. If we assume the average tractor-trailer length to be 70 feet, this gives a perspective on the scope of the industrialization being considered.

Given the report and county’s numbers, the resulting line of trucks would span from New York to Los Angeles and back over 10 times. Of course the study assumes the wells are fracked only once. In reality wells can be fracked up to 18 times. Can you imagine, from truck traffic alone, what the sky above Boulder County might look like to someone from on top of the Flatirons by the end of this process?

The study does not calculate the costs to people. What would the rise in cases of asthma cost due to ozone? What are the total costs to public and environmental health associated with the full process of gas and oil operations? It is clear that the Boulder County Commissioners need to take as much consideration into the human impacts of industrialization as they do roads. For a real picture of what this would mean we would have to include complete health impact studies and baseline air and water quality studies. For a county whose oil and gas permit moratorium expires on June 10, it sure seems like there is a lot of homework to be done.

Frackenlooper: No “Fair Witness”

Oil and gas lobbyists call him "a stud."

Hickenlooper 2On May 2, Gov. Hickenlooper participated in the FrackingSENSE lecture series at the University of Colorado. There he stated that he wants to be a “fair witness” of oil and gas development (particularly of fracking) in Colorado. 

The term “fair witness” was introduced in the 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. In this book, a fair witness is defined as an individual trained to observe events and report exactly what he or she sees and hears, making no extrapolations or assumptions. I would venture to say Hickenlooper is anything but a fair witness when it comes to fracking.

Frackenlooper ButtonConsider that he has appeared in paid advertisements for the oil and gas industry claiming that fracking is safe. He has been called a “stud” by oil and gas lobbyists, hardly an impartial reference. He intentionally misled a Senate hearing committee and the press with his claims of drinking fracking fluid, which in reality was not the kind of highly toxic and carcinogenic fracking fluid that is routinely used throughout Colorado. He has sued a local community, Longmont, for imposing a ban on fracking. He has not only continually threatened to veto just about any bills that would strengthen regulations or enforcement of existing regulations, but has pressured Democrats to kill such bills before they even reach his desk so he can avoid looking like the bad guy.

At this same conference Hickenlooper stated that “if we find unhealthy air quality around a community and something coming out of a well that is an issue, we will put the brakes on faster than you can imagine.” Oh really? NOAA recently reported air quality in Weld County that is worse than Los Angeles and Houston and is directly related to oil and gas activity, yet there is no slowdown on activity there. And a recent gas leak near Parachute allowed a carcinogen to seep into the ground near a large creek that feeds into the Colorado River, and I have yet to hear of any “brakes” being applied there.

Probably the most alarming statement that Hickenlooper made at the FrackingSENSE event is that the science on the impacts of fracking is far from settled and that scientists don’t know the impacts of wells on air and how that might affect the health of nearby residents. If this is true, then why are we continuing to drill, baby, drill? Shouldn’t we be implementing the precautionary principal and putting the brakes on fracking until we know the answers to these important questions? Shouldn’t we be putting state money toward studies that would answer these questions instead of toward costly lawsuits against residents who are trying to protect themselves? Instead, Hickenlooper’s appointee to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Dr. Urbina, specifically testified against HB 1275 that would have produced a study on health impacts.

The fact that our governor is saying one thing but doing completely the opposite leads me to believe that he is certainly no fair witness to oil and gas development and fracking but instead is a colluding representative of the industry.

Longmont City Council lap dog for developers

The new mall plan looks DOA to me. Basically, we are replacing Dillard’s with Sam’s Club. Why does Longmont need three Walmarts?

And what small businesses will want to be in the same mall as Walmart? Why cozy up with people who will undercut small business prices?

The stores that NewMark Merrill has in mind are not bringing new kinds of business to Longmont. On the contrary, they are aggressively overlapping with stores on Hover and Ken Pratt that have proven they can do business here. The mall’s intent is to siphon off that business, not develop new business.

Photo by M. Douglas Wray ©2011 FreeRangeLongmont.com

Twin Peaks redevelopment will use TIF to destroy what are now viable businesses

The tax increment financing is what the developer is looking to pocket, and reaping these tax dollars will also give them the upper hand in undercutting the prices of the existing stores they seek to undermine. That’s not a productive way to do business. It will use TIF to destroy what are now viable businesses, and will only replace them with a cheaper version. If you think Twin Peaks Mall has succumbed to urban blight, wait ’til you see what Hover and Ken Pratt will look like in 5-10 years.

Big-box abandonment will be pervasive. Or Longmont City Council will be dishing even more TIF money in an attempt to save them.

This is a poisonous project and NM should be kicked out of here. It is self-destructive for Longmont to continue with this plan.

That the new mall will restore Longmont’s reputation as the armpit of Boulder County is really the least of our problems. This is a financially unsound plan, designed to benefit the developer and not the city or residents. It will damage Longmont seriously. Longmont’s tax dollars would be far better spent in redeveloping Main Street, Kimbark and Coffman.

Corporate Greed, Corporate Bullying, Corporate Slavery

Featured in McClatchy Newspapers articles, Phil Richards, Joe Arredondo, and Lisa Weber are being pushed to their human limits while their employers use technology to measure every minute of their work in a “relentless push for efficiency.” (“A Tougher World: As employers push efficiency, the daily grind wears down workers,” and “Tracking workers’ every move raises stress along with productivity.” Business Section of the Sunday, April 14, Times-Call, page C6.)In Greed We Trust

The technology may be new, but the management strategy is quite old: Use threats and fear to maximize productivity. I saw it working summers in a sweatshirt factory where “efficiency engineers” used the technology of that era, stopwatches, to pressure workers to attain 200 percent of the going piece rate. We called those timers “Khrushchev” behind their backs; the Soviet premier at that time was feared by all blue-collar workers. Cutting wages to the bone and fighting off unions was the norm in the textile industry’s greedy, profit-seeking course as owners moved their factories from England, to New England, to the American South, to out of the United States.

I worked in a Florida sweatshop writing multiple-choice questions for a greedy man who joked as he gave me 25-cent-an-hour raise after a year. “Here’s some motivation,” he said sarcastically. The perks? We all got a turkey for Thanksgiving and a pound of venison sausage from his hunting trips for Christmas. The man flaunted his wealth and was always chipping away at working conditions, making life miserable. It worked. No one stayed long.

In my last part-time job working for a health food store, I was called into the office and given the choice of running to restock shelves faster or quitting. That was my last day.

My wife’s experience more closely mirrors that of many of today’s workers. In her HMO job, she gradually assumed the duties of exiting co-workers without any raises. Her company perk was a grand Christmas party. At her last one, the retiring CEO thanked everyone for helping him build a mansion on a Caribbean island. He said that? Really.

After we moved to Longmont, my wife started as a temp and again gradually took on duties of co-workers who either quit or left in downsizing efficiency moves. After two years she “earned” a 1 percent raise.

The American “business model” is dangerously flawed. Under the guise of a sacrosanct profit motive, and raising productivity to compete in the global economy, government and business leaders, stitched at the hips of special interests, have left out American workers. Just three decades ago Robert Townsend, CEO of Avis and author of “Up the Organization,” set an example by paying his management team members more than he got. Today that strategy has vanished. Multimillions go to the top while arguments to raise the minimum wage for average workers is fought as a job killer. It is absurd.

Today it is a rare event when a smart and conscientious executive like Harold Dominguez, Longmont’s city manager, shares bonus pay with a team of workers. Or, Don Haddad, superintendent of the St. Vrain Valley School District, rejects raises four years running.

In a negative paradigm shift, corporations continue to cry wolf about government regulation stifling business. But their lobbyists and congressional representatives, bought with campaign contributions, have manipulated the tax code to create deductions that virtually avoid their paying a fair share of taxes. Worse, many top earning corporations do not pay any taxes. According to the Corporate Tax Dodgers Report, a joint project of Citizens for Tax Justice and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, for years 2009 and 2010 General Electric made a profit of $10.46 billion and paid no taxes. GE actually got a refund, with a tax rate of minus 45 percent.

My wife and I paid more taxes for 2012 than GE did in 2009 and 2010.

money_stacks_of_100sIn plain English, the untouchable profit motive has been used successfully in “getting government off the backs of businesses” and unleashing obscene greed. Workers have been pummeled with dehumanizing pressure so the big bucks can stay at the top. The middle class is threatened with unconscionable cuts to entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security while lobbyists and politicians rant against raising taxes for the wealthy elite and protect tax deductions that allow mega corporations to avoid paying taxes.

Stand up and fight, Colorado!

No-fracking-logoOur founders stressed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in their Declaration of Independence. A recent survey found the happiest Americans live in Hawaii. Coloradans are second! The unhappiest people live in West Virginia. I think I know why: degradation of the environment and poor health.

I grew up in the 1940s and ’50s in Nitro, W.Va., in the Kanawha River Valley, home to a huge chemical industry. Cancer rates were high, particularly liver and lung cancer. The chemical plants sat outside our city limits, so there was no local control over what they did to our environment. The paint on our houses and cars faded from the chemicals in the air, the water stank and was unpalatable.

West Virginia coal mining mountaintop removal Courtesy EcoWatch

West Virginia coal mining mountaintop removal
Courtesy EcoWatch

Alternatives for West Virginia workers included working in the coal mines. Explosions, collapses and “black lung” took their toll. The coal industry has mined the coal easiest to reach, so they’ve begun blowing up the beautiful West Virginia hills to get at the coal. They let what’s left roll down into the streams, fouling the water, killing the fish and causing landslides onto private property.

Why are West Virginians the unhappiest Americans? Their land, air and water have been degraded by corporations seeking profits without regard to the health and safety of their workers and other citizens.

I hope more Colorado residents will join Longmont and Fort Collins in drawing the line in the sand between us and the oil and gas industry: You cannot ruin our beautiful state, destroy our precious, scarce water resources, pollute our formerly pristine air for your profit. You have a right to extract the minerals you have purchased, but not at the expense of the health and safety of present and future Coloradans. Stand up and fight, Colorado!

In The Days Before – Part 3

Mary Pitt at age 14

Mary Pitt at age 14

On a warm early spring, while I was outside playing, Mother called me back to the front porch where she told me that Father had passed away. She told me that there would be a number of people going in and out of the house and she would like me to stay out of the way until she called me in. As was (and is) my wont, I had no reaction except obedience. I walked up the sidewalk into the next block where I met a slightly smaller boy who, upon seeing me, picked up a rock and threw it with great accuracy right into my forehead. I fell to the ground and lay there weeping long after the bleeding stopped. I knew no emotional ties to this fearsome man but I suppose I knew that this would make new and terrible changes to my life.

And those changes were certainly unwelcome. There was a funeral in this little town where we had taken residence, followed by another in the town where my parents had lived for years. There were many strangers to meet and sort as to their relationship, a solemn visit with the one brother who had been able to obtain a “compassionate” leave for the occasion, and much confusion as to where life would take us next.

Mother decided to stay in the house until “things were settled” and then to take the remaining family back to the town where she had friends and relatives. At the funeral, friends and relatives had given her small donations which she carefully hoarded for moving expenses, and she rented two adjoining rooms upstairs to a newlywed couple who were diligent about paying their $10 a month rent so that, by the time the renter had to report to service, she said that she had enough to move. The oldest brother who remained at home had a birthday and he announced that he was enlisting in the Air Force but would wait until he had helped her move.

Life was again uprooted and my mother and two youngest brothers would undergo another settling-in with nothing but faith and optimism. The following year the next oldest brother enlisted and left, being followed the next year by the next younger brother, leaving only the youngest brother, who joined the Navy at only 17. Mother was left alone with only an adolescent daughter to care for and only minimal means of support.

war-ration-book-1_600
We continued, the two of us, living in the house with the five-star flag in the window and endured the rigors of living, not only in extreme poverty but with the added challenges of the war-time restrictions of food and ordinary daily needs. We were getting a reduced allotment from more than one brother in order to lessen the burden on each of them. I still wore second-hand and hand-me-down clothing, as did she. I vividly recall the time she decided that we could afford a rare visit to the cheapest movie house in town. The tickets cost eleven cents each and it was a rare and treasured event.

As we were leaving the movie, she paused in the midst of the pushing crowd, and all eyes searching her for the reason for the delay. There she stood with her under-drawers crumpled up around her ankles. I was feeling humiliated when she kicked them the rest of the way off, put them in her purse, and announced, “Darn that old Hitler! You can’t even get good elastic any more.” We continued proudly out the door to the sound of applause.

My brothers, as young men do, met lovely young women and got married. In turn, each asked Mother to forgo her allotment from him, to which Mother gladly agreed. Each time, we had to move to smaller and less expensive living quarters. Only one time did either of us have a serious illness and it was a trial. She became ill and the doctor told her that she had an obscure disease which he did not know how to treat. Being poor, hospital treatment was out of the question. She took to her bed and remained there for several weeks with no care other than what I could provide under the direction of the doctor who would stop in to check on her and to give me instructions

I gave up the upstairs bedroom and slept in the living room so I could hear her at night, eventually, staying home from school to care for her. She became delirious from the fever and required constant attention.

Finally, thinking Mother was dying, one of the brothers got a leave and came home to see her “one last time.” It was not the help I needed. He took me to task because the house was not adequately maintained and provided even more tasks, as I was also charged with cooking for him and his small family. His emergency leave ran out and they departed, so I continued caring for Mother until the morning she woke up lucid and demanding breakfast!

As time went on, older members of the family would turn to Mother for help. Because they were working on farms where a house was given as part of the wages, when they lost their jobs, they would have to live elsewhere. While with us, they would take any temporary employment they could find, but it was never enough. But Mother would pinch every dollar even harder and managed to keep children and grandchildren fed. First my sister and then a brother brought their child to us for them to attend school because, living in the country — before there were school buses — the walk was too far for a six-year-old to navigate alone.

The last of these events was when we were living in a one-bedroom house and another brother decided it was necessary to “come home.” Unfortunately, he brought his wife and four kids! Mother slept on the couch so that they and their youngest could have the bedroom. The rest of us slept on pallets of folded bedding on the floor.

My brother was still recuperating from the diphtheria that had cost him his job and it was a long time before he could find work that he could do. After a while, it seemed as though we were living with them! Mother finally informed them that the rent on the house was $15 per month and she had found us a one-bedroom apartment above a store downtown. We moved out and left them there. It was nice to have a bed again.

As more brothers married and cut off the allotments to Mother, money became more scarce than ever. Mother got a part-time job, altering clothes for a women’s store. She made a dime for measuring and sewing a hem, maybe twenty-five cents for alterations, etc., certainly not enough to live on but still welcome in her budget. I also got a job, washing dishes on weekend evenings in a tiny cafe downstairs from our apartment. I was allowed to keep the quarter I was paid each week for mad money!

I shall never forget my fifteenth birthday. Birthdays had never been celebrated in our home, just sort of a family reunion in July near Father’s birthday when we were on the farm. Mother would kill and dress a couple of young chickens to fry, and mix up milk and eggs for a freezer full of home-made ice cream. I recall it as the epitome of our familial happiness. This birthday, however, was an awesome surprise. Mother took me downtown to buy me a pair of shoes, not to the usual second-hand store but to J.C. Penney’s! To my delight, she allowed me to choose a pair of white gillie-tie shoes with the toes out! Then she said that we needed to go to the dress shop where she worked. I floated down the street in my beautiful shoes and into the door of the shop. There, she presented me with a new two-piece blue dress in the height of fashion! This was the first “store-bought-just-for-me” dress I had ever owned in my entire life!

Only over these many years have I really appreciated that gift as I came to understand the horrendous sacrifices and scrimping she had undergone to provide it to me. How many hems she had to stitch, how many seams she had to take in or let out and what she had done without in order to save that much money! It took many years of experience in scrimping and saving for something special for me to really appreciate her heroic efforts.

Today’s people may read of the circumstances of those days but they cannot be expected to truly understand them. It is possible to survive without welfare, Social Security, and medic-aid, but to those forced to live without them, there is a whole lot of miserable existence which only the heroic among us can survive. I lived in “The Days Before” and I know whereof I speak. I can recall as a small child asking my mother, “Why can’t we live in the days of fairy tales? Princesses lived in castles with beautiful things and had servants to do all the work.”

Mother’s reply was succinct and spoken with the wisdom of the ages, “What makes you think that, if you had lived in those days, YOU would be the princess and not the servant?”

America is Dying (But don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger)

SamSkull“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” ~~Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968), Strength to Love, 1963

Over the years I have written many articles about issues I felt are prevalent. For damn good reasons I have sounded the alarm bell for most of my life. And, for those who have paid attention and have answered the call to action while others have not, our country truly thanks you. For the rest of you, at least we have the satisfaction of knowing that in your absence, we have given it our best and we’ll continue to do so, regardless of your silent ineptness, but don’t blame me when I say our country is dying. I’m only the messenger, not the culprit.

Many of my essays on a variety of topics are published at OpEd News. All I can suggest for those who keep their heads buried in FOX News sand — either get wise, get active, or get busy digging a big grave for our national corpse.

If you want a great example of what it means to selflessly give part of yourself to society, a few years ago I wrote an essay honoring my parents, both whom were mavericks for hope and change. This tribute piece was the hardest thing I will ever attempt to write in my lifetime. When I submitted it to Consortium News back in 2008, editor-in-chief Robert Parry wrote a sobering introduction to the article — one that I consider a prime example of where I came from in the activist role-model department:

“Editor’s Note: One of the cruelest acts ever inflicted by the U.S government on its own servicemen was a 1946 experiment that put 42,000 sailors in close proximity to the detonation of two atom bombs to test the effects on humans.”The experiment, called Operation Crossroads, harmed the health of many sailors. It also was a turning point in the life of one, Anthony Guarisco, who dedicated his life — working with his wife Mary — to address the threat of nuclear weapons. In this guest essay, their son, Vincent, pays tribute to his parents and what they gave to him and to the world.

Moreover, I want to take a moment to share the value I place on being a worthy parent. It is after all our job to raise our children — the next generation — the best we can to ensure they have enough knowledge at their disposal to thrive in a world that although it offers much joy and beauty, is often laced with danger at every twist and turn. Their success (and survival) of our children is much greater if we adequately prepare them now for the road ahead.
At the starting gate, I guess I was luckier than most. I had an advantage at birth. I was lucky enough to have wise and loving parents. Looking back, I now know they were my lighthouse, my trusty compass … because they were always there to provide us kids with the essential knowledge and wisdom that gave us safe passage in a vast sea filled with many ripples with each crashing wave.

I wish I could say their life experience ended on a perfect note, but that would be untrue. My parents knew a terrible storm was gathering on the national horizon — much like the one that is building up today. They often spoke of this pending disaster that lay in wait (in the shadows) for just the right time to unleash its hell with ramifications in line with George Orwell’s 1984.Who can blame them for being skeptical of what the future had in store? Especially when we consider that both of them grew up during the great depression, both witnessed the attack of Pearl Harbor, WWII with atom bombs bursting in air and two Presidential assassinations as their horrid history lessons.
I guess my parents found other clues, having devoted most of their time studying history, current events and actively performing social activism that took them around the globe. They say some wounds cut deepest when they’re personal. For them, it was heartbreaking to accept that, while they worked overtime to help the sick and vulnerable in our society, most folks sat on the sidelines doing nothing.

Therefore, a question begs an answer — why do so many do-nothing squatters think “freedom” is free? As history has taught us many times over, tyrants will always try to dominate society in every aspect imaginable, and without hesitation, will always slap a “price tag” on it. If you think otherwise, quickly slap yourself in the face and wake the hell up!

It takes a lot of hard work and courage to step up to the plate and get the job done. With love, intuition and a little weariness, my parents did their best to prepare my sister and I for the many challenges that lie ahead. They knew empty minds are easily manipulated, so they taught us history and pushed education, which they believed was the foundation for creating a better, peaceful society and nation.

They did their best to prepare us for the many obstacles that life can surely put in front of us, and they also included some useful survival techniques to help us avoid many nefarious pitfalls often created by psychopathic individuals working in unison for the global elites. They held nothing back; they told us everything good or bad that we may have to face in life … and I must admit I learned my lessons well. Because, when the inside job of 9/11 occurred and afterward when the same hateful neocons fabricated the bogus War on Terror, I was neither surprised nor fooled; even when many other terrible events later reared their ugly heads for all the world to see.

Early on, I was made aware that most politicians will eagerly kiss your baby at any election photo Op, but afterward … will throw the little tot in the fire of hell (as they steal their future) to serve their own selfish goals. Being armed with the truth is not always pleasant, but I was taught to be a critical thinker and read between the lines so I would not be fooled or manipulated into doing anything that I knew in my heart was against the high principles of my beliefs. In addition, I was taught to redirect my energy and knowledge into positive ways to create a meaningful life not only for myself, but for those around me. However, my father also warned me that if I ever found myself boxed into a corner in harm’s way with no peaceful way out, to be a fierce fighter and defeat my opponent(s) at all cost. Words to live by…

Fast forwarding to today, I know the hard knocks of life are getting tougher with each passing day. Indeed, it’s not getting any easier to decipher truth from lies nor is this heavy burden getting any lighter to carry as we try to keep our heads above the waterline. I understand many folks are woefully confused as to what exactly is going down here, so let me clarify the severity of the situation by offering my synopsis. For those who do not pay attention, It’s a bleak version of the worst-case scenario. Sorry, If you want it candy-coated, go elsewhere…

Listen up. While most of us were fast asleep, the nature of mankind has become disproportionately twisted and has immorally ordered its political sentinels to serve only a select few at the top 1% of the food chain. Thus, a primary method of control has been achieved through violence, oppression, murder and genocide. This applies both at home and abroad. Indeed, other nations the world over are paying the price whenever our leaders desire to crush them for this or that.

Thus, at home we are thoroughly being groomed, brainwashed and inseminated with a barrage of psychological head trips, vicious physical assaults with a mixture of false-flag terrorist acts, including but not limited to, soft-kill tactics in all sectors of psy-Op covert action deployment. Eventually, if we do not stop it, we’ll all become sick, docile and compliant as they would love to reduce our living standards to those comparable to a large third-world prison. It’s the same life-diminishing trick our CIA has been doing to the other nations for decades.

Do the math. Seven billion souls on the planet has been deemed “far too many,” so the elites want to drastically reduce this number to a more manageable amount (perhaps a few hundred million). The hard kill plan is already in motion in most third world countries, and like a thief in the night, it will eventually land here in the U.S. For now though, they’re still using the “soft kill” approach by adding fluoride to our already polluted water supply which already contains mercury, lead and a host of chemicals, all of which are carcinogenic killers from all the fracking. Plus, we are also being fed harmful Genetically Modified Food (GMO) in virtually every food product we consume. Unless of course you have the money to buy all organic.

And don’t forget, we are still receiving our daily dose of radiation exposure from all the fallout drifting over from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. Yes, even though that little goodie fell off the news media map, we are still getting exposed every minute of every day. Quick pop quiz: Raise both hands high in the air if you know someone who is dying of cancer? Golly gee, so many hands extended my way! Now bow your head with your hands extended. Wow! Am I a God or what? Just kidding…

After that, it only gets worse: After the great culling, the rich 1% elites will completely enslave those of us who survive to a life of hard labor factories, and we’ll be worked to the bone until our bodies eventually give out. Thus, we’ll all be slaves to the grave within the construct of our own mundane borders … unless of course some of us are deemed “enemy combatants.” In that case, we will be quickly black-bagged and hauled off to Guantanamo (or imprisoned elsewhere via their extraordinary rendition policy) and forced to dance on a crate with wires attached to our teeth and testicles while some picture-taking gulag goon slowly cranks the handle on a generator just for shits and giggles.

Or — best case scenario — we will simply be placed in cages to rot … or if any of you desire, you can participate in one of the many hunger strikes that are always ongoing. Then, you get to watch your body slowly feed on your own flesh and organs until you eventually perish as a razor-thin skeletal corpse with little meat remaining. Nice, huh?

Yes, we’re in serious trouble! We’re not quite there yet, but all the preparations are almost in place … In fact, when we consider how our lives have drastically changed in just the last 13 years, we will soon realize how intense control-freak obsession can be: to track, monitor and record virtually everything we do.

I mean seriously, are we that damn stupid to merrily get into cars equipped with automated license-plate readers that track where we go? Do you think it’s A-OK that we have smart meters tracking our electrical use or that we walk the streets with a vast network of security cameras and “smart street lights” constantly watching our every step? Do you blindly accept tens of thousands of drones patrolling the air space, spying on us? Think about it — those same drones can zero in on a gnat’s ass and are highly equipped to kill in a variety of ways.

Will you comply when the TSA sets up “internal checkpoints” all over the nation, comparable to what the Soviet Union did during the Soviet Block? Do you accept Homeland Security encouraging all of us to report any (loosely defined) “suspicious activity” on our neighbors so the federal government can flag us as “potential terrorists” if we display a hint of nervousness? I would also mention this is happening at a time when all of us “should be very nervous.”

Will you quietly let the U.S. Military kick down your neighbors’ doors and shove black bags over their heads and indefinitely detain them without ever charging them of a crime whatsoever? To know they will never be afforded due process of law in order to defend themselves against some non-existence crimes they supposedly committed?

What happened? I thought this was the home of the brave and land of the free! Why do we seem content to roll over for this crap? For some time now, I have seen this fundamental shift quickly escalate. I have watched my fellow citizens eagerly give-up huge swaths of liberty and freedom in exchange for vague promises of increased security. Why? Have we lost all common sense along with our druthers?

If we don’t break away from the shackles of corporate fascism and state-sponsored intrusion, that big country-size prison I mentioned earlier will materialize. Thus, like any prison, capital punishment is a reality. A noose can easily be applied, the lever pulled, and a free-fall will commence for that final snap and jerk.

The primary objective of any tyrannical government is to exercise absolute control — to conquer the subjugated populace. For now, it’s mostly about keeping the revenue stream generated by lop-sided trade agreements and myriad forms of taxes imposed on individuals with the Internal Revenue Service collecting the wares for their foreign investors. The Federal Reserve will keep everyone in debt with their worthless fiat money and conduct on-demand inflation until they’re given the green light to crash the system.

Welcome to the “Big Brother” Orwellian prison matrix, a Homeland Security, CIA, NSA, FBI prison playground, where jackboots rule the nest. Truth is, were already walking the green mile. It’s just that far too many of us are too dumbed-down to know it.

This is the truth my parents could not bring themselves to tell their children. Deep down, they hoped we could stop them. But that hope is quickly dwindling away. I guess that is why my mother (before she died) often told me to cherish each moment. Unfortunately, as bad as I think it is now, in reality, these are the good days…

Author’s Bio:

Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I’m wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word — it’s past time to take back what is ours — the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It’s time to take it back. For replies, contact: vincespainting1@hotmail.com

Dangerously Exploitative

bad_idea_sign_crossbonesThe new mall plan looks DOA to me.  Basically, we are replacing Dillard’s with Sam’s Club, aka Walmart.  Why does Longmont need 3 Walmarts?

And what small businesses will want to be in the same mall as Walmart?  Why cozy up with people who will undercut small business prices?

And by the way, it’s not “at the peaks,” which are quite far away.  A confusing name that pretends to be something that it is not, but then the whole project could be seen in the same light.

The stores that Newmark Merrill has in mind are not bringing new kinds of business to Longmont.  On the contrary, they are aggressively overlapping with stores on Hover and Ken Pratt that have proven they can do business here.  The mall’s intent is to siphon off that business, not develop new business.

The TIF (tax incremental financing) is what the developer is looking to pocket, and reaping all these tax dollars will also give them the upper hand in undercutting the prices of the existing stores they seek to undermine.  That’s not a productive way to do business.  It is basically parasitic.  And very NON competitive.  It will use TIF to destroy what are now viable businesses, and will only replace them with a cheaper version.  If you think Twin Peaks Mall has succumbed to urban blight, wait ‘til you see what Hover and Ken Pratt will look like in 5-10 years.

Big box abandonment will be pervasive.  Or Longmont City Council will be dishing even more TIF money in an attempt to save them.

This is a poisonous project and NM should be kicked out of here.  It is self-destructive for Longmont to continue with this plan.

And don’t you look forward to 25 different versions of “Planet of the Apes” in stadium seating.  And then you can enjoy “patio dining” in the low-budget fast food court in 100 degree weather (or about 20 in winter) –cheaper by far since there’s no need for cooling or heating.

That the new mall will restore Longmont’s reputation as the armpit of Boulder  County is really the least of our problems.  This is a financially unsound plan, designed to benefit the developer and not the city or residents.  It will damage Longmont very seriously.  Longmont’s tax dollars would be far better spent in redeveloping Main Street, Kimbark, and Coffman.

Pawns Are Always Expendable When Played

“You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to
pick up the piece and move it. But what Chess teaches you is that
you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really
a good idea and whether there are other
better ideas.”~~Stanley Kubrick

Chess is a crafty old game — one that’s been played throughout the ages. When I was a young lad in my Junior year of High School, I was quite good at it. In fact, I became my school champion. Indeed, I wanted to be the next grand-master like my mentor, “Bobby Fischer.”

In 1974, Fischer’s match against the Russian Spassky was seen as the Match of the Century — East v. West. Soon after, Fisher resigned from chess after a bout with the body politic. It was then that I realized a simple game that I adored could be exploited for political reasons. In 1992, Bobby came out of exile to replay Spassky in Yugoslavia. This outraged some Americans (but not me) as it was declared a breach of a bogus UN embargo. Evading arrest, in July 2004, he successfully got political asylum in Iceland. He remained there until his death in 2008. May the champ rest in peace…

Whew, youthful days can be so innocent, but soon we realize the world operates in nefarious ways…

Chess was first invented in India during the 6th Century, and has since been played around the world over. It’s safe to say that, although the concept of this complex game is a metaphor for various situations, no one can deny that the object of the game — in terms of winning — is to take out the opponent’s “king” at the expense of all other pieces placed on its checkered layout. In essence, it’s a military game. And, as I later learned in life — and I’m sure Fischer would agree if he was with us today — it’s a shrewd game at best.

Since its invention, game pieces have assumed many colors, shapes and sizes and it’s startling to say, chess pieces take on actual human form. It’s not my intention to be cynical in making this comparison but, in lieu of all the present-day wars being fought, and when we consider the many Generals who callously move their battle lines from side to side in the war room (on a big grand chessboard), I think it’s only fitting that we place a real human face on each one of those lively figurines made of flesh, blood and bone.

Indeed, our military-industrial complex has some very busy players. Aside from all the carnage we have done in Afghanistan and Iraq, in 2002, Washington approved and supported a coup against the Venezuelan government which continued non-stop until Hugo Chavez died of cancer in 2013. Who can blame him for noting on his deathbed that he believed he was infected with cancer cells by U.S. Special Ops?

In April 2008, the United States collaborated with Israel to attempt a coup on Hamas in Palestine, even though Hamas was dully elected by the people in a fair democratic election process that was closely monitored. And, although the United States has had an ongoing interest in Somalia for decades, in early 2006 the CIA was sent back in for a fresh round of more covert actions.

In 2005, then President George W. Bush authorized the CIA to undertake black operations against Iran in an effort to destabilize the Iranian government. This covert policy continues unabated today under the directives of the Obama Administration.

In 2011, Obama issued covert action that authorized the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and support to the Libyan opposition. Muammar Gaddafi was ultimately overthrown in the Libyan civil war, which we started and supported. And, In 2012, President Barack Obama authorized U.S. government agencies to support forced regime change in Syria. This covert action is ongoing, with Israel conducting fresh bombing campaigns daily.

In fact, with all the hostility we seem to love to create, I can honestly say that this ancient game that I call “chess for keeps”… is reason enough for me to exercise my God-given right to make a symbolic request for all those poor souls who were duped into war and have been destroyed. If I could ask the Highest Deity for one small favor, one simple concession — it would be that all politicians who support or voted in favor of going to war — including the Generals who think it’s cool to play God with human lives on their chessboard of death via covert action or otherwise — that they attend each soldier’s funeral and look into the eyes of each family member and explain to them why their loved ones are dead! I say let them experience the pain and suffering of having your life ripped apart forever.

Remember when I mentioned earlier it would be fitting to place a real human face on those lively figurines made of flesh and bone? Well, here’s one worth mentioning. In his own words, here is an excerpt from a sobering letter written by Mr. Tomas Young:

The Last Letter
“A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran

“To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

“From: Tomas Young

“I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

“I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all–the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.”

Young went on to say…

“You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans — my fellow veterans — whose future you stole.”

To read Young’s letter in its entirety, click here.

Yes, chess and war are both strati-graphic and strategic, but the end result of war is no game. It’s f*cking deadly — cut and dried. Pawns and People are one and the same, and both are considered expendable. Thus, only a king will survive unscathed… and the only ones who benefit are the shrewd patent holders selling their heartless war game (along with their investors) who always seem to cash in at the expense of everyone else.

Sadly, war will always be big business to those soulless bastards we often write songs about. In fact, here’s classic by Black Sabbath, “War Pigs.”

Let’s do a “Sing-A-Long,” shall we? Here’s the lyrics:

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction

In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor
Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’til their judgment day comes
Yeah!

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!

Author’s Bio:

Vincent L. Guarisco is a freelance writer from Arizona, a contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime founding member of the Alliance of Atomic Veterans. The 21st century, once so full of shining promise, now threatens to force countless millions of us at home and abroad into a dark abyss of languishing poverty and silent servitude; a lowly prodigy of painful struggle and suffering that could stream for generations to come. I’m wishing for a miracle, before it is too late, the masses will figure it out and will stand as one and roar. So, pass the word — it’s past time to take back what is ours — the American Dream where the pursuit of happiness, the ability to live in a free and peaceful nation is a reality. We bought it, and we paid for it. It’s time to take it back.

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea on fracking

Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea (photo courtesy of ClearingTheFogRadio.org)

What a rare and wonderful event to have a nationally known and highly regarded scientist come to Longmont to speak to a group of concerned citizens!  The day-long conference sponsored by Our Longmont began with a keynote address by Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, the Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University and a highly regarded expert of the history of hydraulic fracturing and its present practices.  In 2011, TIME Magazine named him one of its “People Who Mattered.”  His widely published research on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes provides the very latest information on the controversial process of fracking.

In a very engaging lecture with numerous slides, Dr. Ingraffea showed that the deleterious effects of the process of fracking are not in fact controversial.  Only someone ignorant of the widely published research could hold that view, and that includes data made public and researched by oil companies, themselves, as well as independent research scientists.  Among the more disturbing disclosures he offered was the very latest on fracturing technology’s saturation approach to drilling.  Gone are days of drilling single wells that are miles apart, or even drilling just a single well pad.  Dr. Ingraffea showed how the most economical and profitable drilling is now done on wells so closely spaced that the lateral drill shafts are only 500 feet apart.  Companies lease miles of land and then drill literally everywhere within it.  This means there would be explosions of shale every 500 feet.  It’s easy to see that no urban area could maintain its residences or general habitat if it was subjected to saturation drilling.  Why, then, are public officials in Colorado saying that only a few more regulations should make everything ok?  That is absurd.

Dr. Ingraffea also provided a perspective on the real economic data about fracking.  Far from being a great boon to the economy, most wells are played out within 5 years.  Most will also eventually leak, causing environmental damage, even if they are not actively drilled again.  Dr. Ingraffea showed that the Niobrara formation, which is underneath Longmont and most of the Front Range, is nowhere near the size of the Bakken Field in North Dakota.  It is only about one-tenth the size of the Bakken, possibly even less than that.  Why should we destroy the place where we live for this small amount of oil?   It will not significantly benefit the Longmont economy, but it will wreak havoc with our way of life and our health and safety.


You can also listen to an interview of Dr. Ingraffea on ClearingTheFogRadio.org.