Tag Archive for politics

Grab the Rope and Pull

Stock Exchange - sxc.hu

Grab the rope and PULL. You have to do SOMETHING.

Most credible economists (I give Paul Krugman a lot of leeway) insisted that the stimulus wasn’t big enough. As it is, it consisted almost entirely of tax breaks and spending cuts. He did it the way a Republican would have done it in any other year that a Pug sat in the White House. Then it didn’t work, and the Pugs cried about it. Big surprise there.

Austerity is the Big Lie of the day. I’ll never forget Cheney saying “Reagan showed us that deficits don’t matter.” The truth is that fractional reserve banking is what creates the growth- it is the engine in Capitalism that makes the wealthy so wealthy. If you expect your house to be worth more someday or expect your 401k to grow, it’s because of fractional reserve bank practices. It’s not necessarily bad, but when all the spending goes to the top, all the cream is raked off by those who already own all the butter, and they game the system to create artificial ‘cream’ while the rest of us are forced to shave off more of our income so that they can continue to acquire acquire acquire, then yeah, the system is broken.

The Democratic party is infused with corporate money – baaaaaad! BAAAAD!

But you can’t pretend that it’s an equal split. There is no one in the Republican party like Alan Grayson or Elizabeth Warren or Al Franken or Maria Cantwell. It’s a tug-of-war, not a free-for-all, because we only get two parties. That sucks, I want power sharing and instant run-off elections. Then I can vote Green and be ecstatic about my choice. But that isn’t going to work; it’s one of the flaws in our supposedly perfect Constitution. You have to grab one end or the other. If you stand on the sidelines and say “I hate that rope,” you’ haven’t contributed a goddamn thing.

What do I always say? Pick a Democrat (or Republican if you can find one) that you can stand behind and then stand behind them, whether they’re in your district or not. I send Elizabeth Warren a buck or two when I can, even though I can’t vote for her. Grab the rope and pull.

Someone resolved to stake out ground in the “middle” is like the eskimo who pitched his tent on an ice floe. Come morning, the center has moved.

Mothers Project heads to D.C.

Local moms to attend fracking rally in D.C. and deliver letter to Colorado senators signed by constituents statewide

As the oil and gas industry moves full speed ahead with the fracking boom, residents across the state are organizing to protect their health, environment, property values, way of life, communities, and future generations from the impacts of oil and natural gas extraction, including fracking. Two Colorado mothers, Jodee Brekke and Diana Caile, are traveling to Washington D.C. this week to join a nationwide coalition of citizens, communities and organizations in a mass rally on July 28 and to hand deliver a letter to Senators Udall and Bennet signed by constituents statewide. The name of the rally and the message in the letter are the same: stop the frack attack.

“Since our elected officials and government agencies aren’t protecting our basic human and constitutional rights to clean air and water and from numerous other threats imposed on us by the oil and gas industry, then we need to call them to task,” said Ms. Brekke. Ms. Caile said, “the state is suing communities that want to keep the heavy industrial, toxic process of fracking away from neighborhoods and children’s schools. It doesn’t belong there. Period. Our government should be protecting the people of Colorado, not corporate profits at our expense.”

The Mothers Project - United for Sustainability

The Mothers Project, Inc. is launching in Colorado and is hosting the letter to the senators, written by local mothers, on their website. Founded in March, 2012, by Angela Monti Fox, mother of Josh Fox, creator of the documentary Gasland, The Mothers Project is a coalition of mothers advocating for immediate, full-scale investments in renewable energy and opposing extreme fossil fuel extraction, including fracking and its attendant impacts. Currently active in New York and Pennsylvania, where there is widespread opposition to fracking, The Mothers Project provides support to grassroots groups fighting to protect their health, environment and communities.

In addition to individual signatures, seventeen grassroots groups or nonprofit organizations fighting to protect communities through Colorado have signed on to the letter. To view the letter and add your name, go to TheMothersProject.org and click on the slide that says Calling On Mothers at the top. Send inquiries to press@TheMothersProject.org.

Participants in the D.C. rally include Bill McKibben of 350.org; Allison Chin, Sierra Club President; Josh Fox, Director of Gasland; Dr. Catherine Thomasson, Physicians for Social Responsibilities, plus several citizens from affected communities.

American Exceptionalism?

Signing the Declaration of Independence

Government, of by and for the people.

In the late 19th Century, there was a Frenchman (who may or may not have actually lived) named Nicolas Chauvin, a zealous nationalist who believed everything French was superior, merely by virtue of it being French. From his name, was derived the word chauvinism. When I hear conservative talkers and Fox News anchors drone on about “American Exceptionalism,” it makes me cringe. They are the modern-day Nicolas Chauvins, only they aren’t French, they’re Americans. And as was Chauvin, they’re wrong. Dead wrong.

A few months ago, I met with some friends over dinner at an extremely busy restaurant. The place is always packed, with a line of people lined up outside, waiting to get in. In my party of 9, was a couple from Wales, here visiting friends and touring the states from coast to coast. After we finished our dinner, we all walked outside to say our goodbyes, where I spotted a man sitting in a concrete divider in the middle of the street. He only had one leg. Laying beside him was a pair of crutches, and he was muttering to himself incoherently. He was obviously mentally troubled, and the people milling about in front of the restaurant completely ignored this derelict of a human being wasting away before them, as if he were part of the landscape.

And indeed, he was. For me personally, this was mortifying. As for my friends visiting from Wales, it was embarrassing enough to me that they witnessed it, but to have them also see how unremarkable it seemed to the passersby, the shame of it all seared into my brain. I’ve been to Europe several times, and with the exception of the more third-world ex-communist bloc countries, you rarely see beggars anymore, and you never witness a disabled person discarded like a piece of trash. If someone in France, England or Germany has problems as horrendous as this guy apparently did, they’re generally scooped up by social services, and given the appropriate help. This guy could have keeled over and died there that night, and nobody would have known about it until the vultures started circling.

So when I hear this term; American Exceptionalism, being bandied about by the right-wing (and in truth, by some on the left who are too cowardly to refute it and call it what it is: patriotism on steroids), it boils my blood. In truth, the term is a thinly disguised euphemism for American superiority. This is all part of the flotsam and jetsam leftover from the 2000 election, and the hubris that emerged from the neocons after 9/11. That period when “Freedom Fries” replaced French fries, when restauranteurs all across the country were pouring Bordeaux wines into gutters, to protest that nation’s refusal to participate in our little Iraqi adventure, and as a way of poking our collective finger in the eyes of all the other countries who doubted America’s military and political hegemony.

The truth is, American superiority is 100% pure, 24 karat bullshit.

Is America exceptional in many ways? Absolutely. Our national parks, our beautiful coastlines, our rivers, our mountains, the Bill of Rights… I could go on for hours. But could anybody say that our national parks are more beautiful than those of say, Canada? Our coastlines are more beautiful than those of Brazil, Italy or Turkey? Our mountains are more beautiful than the Swiss Alps or the Andes? The Bill of Rights is superior to the Magna Carta? No. Every nation on the planet can in some small way claim to be exceptional. Even the most poverty-stricken nations of the third world have at least one or two unique bragging rights, and NONE of them suggest superiority over all others. Only Americans do that. We just love to remind everyone that we have the most powerful armed forces and the biggest arsenal ever known to man. Yet in all our boasting, we’re quick to skirt such stories such as how our military was misused by its civilian leadership to invade and utterly destroy a nation of 25 million people who posed no threat to us. And, in all our “superiority,” we brush aside as unimportant, the fact that we allow disabled, mentally disturbed citizens to rot in the gutters of otherwise pristine cities.

A truly enlightened nation would have very different priorities. The feeding of our poor and infirm should be at the top of that list. Healthcare for citizens lying in the street, should come before tax breaks for billionaires and subsidies for oil companies. Universally available and affordable education for our children shouldn’t come at the expense of a fleet of stealth aircraft that will (hopefully) never be used. And, perhaps unique amongst us, any truly exceptional nation would NEVER have adopted an electoral process that relies so heavily on electronic voting machines provided by partisan corporate interests!

The fact is, this country now has the highest healthcare costs, the highest infant mortality rate, the worst gender inequality, the highest murder rate and the highest incarceration rate of any developed nation on the planet. Exceptional, indeed. Where do these defenders of American superiority stand on that?

At one time or another, many empires, monarchies and nations have laid claim as the most powerful on Earth. Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, France, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Holland, and probably a half-dozen others whose names are lost to history. And the one thing they all had in common, is that not a single one of them could ever conceive of a time when they weren’t the most powerful, or they didn’t have the biggest armies, or their armadas didn’t rule the Seven Seas. Yet, their power did indeed wane, as will ours. I would argue that the process has already begun, but the folks on the wacky right who measure America’s strength via military prowess, aren’t looking at the big picture. They’re only looking at who has the most muscle, while ignoring — or indeed, causing — our withering backbone.

No nation can survive with an undereducated populace, or with a two-class system; the haves and the have nots… or by spending nearly 60% of its discretionary budget on military hardware. As surely as Rome fell, so too will we one day. And for those who yammer on about American Exceptionalism, in this case, I would tend to agree; we’re exceptional amongst the nations today due to our path of self-annihilation. And I find it ironic beyond words that the right mistakes such obvious weaknesses as strengths.

I love this country, warts and all. But when these faux patriots boast of our power and pressure our politicians to co-opt their talking points, it shames me to have to acknowledge them as compatriots. Is America great? Yes, it is. Are we exceptional? Yes we are, in many ways — as is Guatemala, Bhutan, Gabon, Peru and Laos. But are we superior to any other country on the planet, by any sense of the word? No. And it’s high time we call out this American Exceptionalism meme for what it is; a pompous, overbearing display of nationalistic arrogance, bordering on fascism. American Exceptionalism as defined by the right is a bald-faced lie.

Michael Caddell: Shameless

STOP ROMNEY!

Romney’s just another elephant fart salesman.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach recently declared to the press that lawyers were ‘shameless’ in requesting fees in excess of $675,000 from the federal judges who drew up the redistricting maps that Gov. Brownback and the state legislature could not produce on time.

I would like to remind readers of the more than $640,000 in lawyers fees to defend the unconstitutional and draconian abortion clinic regulations passed by our “free market” loving lawmakers in 2011.

We should not forget the final bill yet to come for Dear Old Phill Kline and his the revolving door of lawyers that is piling up in his defense as former attorney general. The great defender of the “preborn” has been throwing Kansas taxpayers money to his cronies toward keeping his lapsed Kansas law license. The bill isn’t in yet, but coupled with the millions he expended while in office to persecute women and their doctors for legal abortions it promises to be sizable. A fact most Kansas reporters have yet to get paid to find out the figure.

Paraphrasing Donald “Rummy” Rumsfeld we do have a “known unknown.” That is the $75,000 to Art Laffer for his layover in the flyover zone of Topeka. Good Old Boy Art on his way to Tennessee declared Gov. Sam a genius in cutting state jobs, eliminating income taxes, etc. Bush #41 called Laffer’s methods ‘voodoo economics.’ Art declared victory and announced to the country that Kansas is having a “revolution in a corn field.”

Then there is the $31 million Gov. Sam sent back to DC over the health insurance exchange program, and the million or so lost from matching grants for the arts, a small matter for people who only see golf courses. He informs all that the future of the Supreme Court tested Affordable Care Act hinges on the November election and running out of office what many Kansans call “that n-word socialist in the White House.”

Now with 60 and more Kansas counties declared drought disasters there will be lines of heavily subsidized livestock feed farmers with their hands out for federal loans and crop insurance claims. Hateful of the federal government this somehow rings of hollow hypocrisy.

Then our Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, a plastic surgeon, travels to DC to testify, at taxpayer’s expense, against “Obamacare” before a partisan stacked committee in the House of Representatives. He won’t benefit from “Obamacare”, not one cent as a cosmetic surgeon. What does he care if the poor get health care?

Then he returns with Sam who is fresh from the air fair in Great Britain to crank out a press release, lauding the virtues of K. U. Med becoming a national cancer research flagship, as a “job creator” of all things. Of course, they forget to mention just how much hated federal money is pumped each year into the place.

And they want us to vote for that Bozo with the car elevator in one of his mansions? I smell a big, stinking elephant fart coming our way from Topeka again, and we must pay for it.


Michael Caddell is a writer living in Nortonville, KS who runs Fightin’ Cock Flyer.

Falling Through the Cracks

STOP ROMNEY!

The 1% are the real poor – spiritually bankrupt.

From my years of work in providing care for disabled people. I am well aware of the number of people who “fall through the cracks” of our vaunted welfare system. When one is disabled and cannot work, for whatever reason, it is “the Christian thing to do” for society to help them avoid the inevitable ruin for them and their families. However, for many the system as it currently exists falls far short of that target.

One family man of my acquaintance has fallen through that proverbial crack and, as the result his very life and the continuation of his whole family is endangered. As the result of construction work injuries that broke his back, coupled with the extreme hard physical effort expended in working as a roustabout in the gas fields, he could no longer do that kind of work and had to give it up.

As a man who was only in his thirties, he determined to make a living by doing odd jobs, which he did for a period of years as his health continued to decline. As the recession crept up, it was harder to make enough money to support his family so his wife of twenty years began working in the office of a provider of services for the disabled and, for a few years, made enough money to sustain the family while he played “Mr. Mom” for their two sons and worked part time at any odd jobs he could get.

They managed quite well for a few years but, eventually, the strain began its own vengeance and he developed ulcers which sometimes caused him intense pain. The recession deepened and his odd jobs became harder to find and ceased. His wife’s employer, a contractor for the state, began to be squeezed by state budget cuts until they were forced to cut the salaries of their employees. She helped her husband apply for his Social Security disabilty benefits. His application was denied because he had not been working under “covered” employment for too long. Then application was made through the Social and Rehabiliation offices. There they were told that the wife’s income alone would only allow them to receive food stamps.

Then their oldest son turned eighteen, graduated from high school and then left home. With one less person in the house, the food stamps disappeared! This year, the younger son turned eighteen and then graduated from high school. Now he can’t even qualify as a dependent for tax purposes unless he goes to college, which he would love to do. However, in the process of evaluation, it was learned that this proud graduate of the special education classes of our school system failed the entrance examinations because of a “reading comprehension problem.” Sorry, but the scholarships and additional fees paid by his parents are non-refundable!

As problems are wont to do, they keep getting worse. Two days after he finally received a diagnosis of duodenal ulcers, the kind that are prone to rupture and cause one to bleed to death internally, he was moving a very heavy object in his own yard and caused a groin rupture. So, here they are with no medical insurance coverage, a gross family income which cannot pay all their expenses, and the threat of death hanging over them. Unless they take the option offered by the Republican politicians by showing up in a hospital emergency room and “free-loading” the necessary treatment, proving that it is no answer at all, the man is simply living on borrowed time. They know that the collection agency will hound them until hell freezes over in their efforts to collect every single dime. The irony of this situation is that, except for the fact that our Governor has stated that he would not accept the offer made by “Obomneycare” to increase the levels of poverty in Medicaid adjudications, they could, at least, receive the needed medical care under its provisions.

Is it the prevailing theory of the Republicans that this is the way our America should run? Should we give tax breaks to the filthy rich and let the poor just die because they are not able to do sufficient work to maintain life? Is this what the many generations of my family, including five of my brothers, fought and many died, to preserve for posterity? Is this the society we want to leave for our own descendents? If this is not a nightmare, I never want to wake up.

This writer is an octogenarian who has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own working-class family. She spends her “Sunset Years” in writing and struggling with The System.

Jim Davies: Yale letter “poppycock”

Photo by Free Range Longmont

Melinda Yale – spouting “poppycock”

Melinda Yale accuses President Obama of corrupt Chicago politics (Times-Call, July 7) yet makes no case for it. Political corruption is defined as the use of power by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Of all the things the right has thrown at Obama, I don’t recall anybody of accusing him of illicit private gain.

Yale goes on to declare that many of the rich are giving up their citizenship, again with no facts to back up the claim. It appears to me that the rich have done very well during this economic downturn. Large companies are making record profits, and the stock market’s ticking right along. It is just the great unwashed masses that are paying for the mistakes of her “risk takers” (read “banksters.” )

Yale then states that Obama has bypassed both the Constitution and Congress. I’m assuming she is talking of the health care bill and immigration. The health care bill was passed by Congress, just not by her favorite portion of Congress. The bill was held to be constitutional by the Supreme Court, thanks to that turncoat Justice Roberts.

The president tweaked the immigration policy to protect young people brought to this country illegally through no fault of their own because Congress continues to sit on its collective hands and do nothing. The Republicans can either get to work and pass some policy changes or take back the presidency and tweak them back to where they were, but after all their griping they probably won’t change them back — that would be political suicide.

Yale turns the subject to socialism and quickly morphs socialism into communism and declares that the Democratic Party and all labor unions are communists. Perhaps the Republicans need to dig up Joe McCarthy and let him have at it again. What poppycock!

Setting history straight

Jerry Day accused Tom Lopez of rewriting history for criticizing Republicans and went on to accuse five Democratic presidents of starting wars. Such nonsense must be answered. World War I started in Austria in 1914 with an assassination. The U.S. entered in 1915 after German submarines sank unarmed passenger ships, primarily the Lusitania, with Americans on board. Woodrow Wilson did not start the war.

We owe to the victims to get the story straight.

World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany in 1939. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and invasion of the Philippines with the loss of thousands of Americans brought us into the war. The total was much greater than on 9/11. Franklin Roosevelt did not start the war.

North Korea invaded the South in 1950, threatening to drive American and South Korean troops into the sea. Harry Truman did not start the war.

John Kennedy was considering withdrawal from Vietnam when he was assassinated. I will pass on the rest of this one, including Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia.

The Bosnian War started in 1992. Clinton did not get involved with the NATO bombing campaign until 1995. Clinton did not start the war.

Daddy Bush invaded Kuwait and Iraq in 1990 to save American oil interests from Saddam, who had invaded Kuwait, but failed to completely crush his war machine, allowing him to fully recover and slaughter thousands of his people after Daddy Bush urged them to revolt in 1991, and they did. They were hung out to dry.

Junior finished the job, at horrendous cost, by invading Iraq in 2002. It was justified by claiming Saddam was involved in 9/11 and possessing WMDs. Both have been proven to be lies.

Indeed, Mr. Day, some people do try to rewrite history.

Get out of the fracking foxhole

Where's council?

Where’s council?

Just as there are no atheists in a foxhole, so neither Republican nor Democrat is likely to be found. When under fire, there is but one common thought: survival. That and perhaps “Love thy neighbor.” Hold that thought.

Longmont is under siege and, without being overly dramatic, it is obvious to most concerned residents that in fact our city is in a foxhole and under fire from the state and oil and gas industry regulations. At the moment and under current regulations, a fracking well could be sited on a Longmont golf course, a cemetery, a park or within easy breathing distance of a school — and the city cannot at this point do one damned thing about it. Is there room here for partisan politics? I think not, but it is widely assumed to be so.

I care that the Republican, Democratic and independent voters out around Union Reservoir are already seeing their property values slowly circling the drain because the city cannot at this point do one damned thing to protect them. I care that a block or two south of First Avenue there may be open tanks filled with poisonous fluids. I care that no industry will want to be anywhere near these foul pits, thus limiting our city’s ability to attract new enterprise — and I’m enraged that the city cannot at this point do one damned thing about it.

I care that the laws that are now being forced down our throats were promulgated back in the ’80s when no one outside of the oil and gas industry had ever heard of fracking, and that this multibillion-dollar industry wrote its own rules, which were passed by a state Legislature where many (if not all) were bought and paid for by the rule writers. Is there anyone in state or civic government today who believes these extraordinary laws, which pre-empt county, city and local ordinances, would pass today? Would any sane politician under the golden dome even suggest such laws? And what can the city do about it? See above.

Let me be clear. I do not want to ban fracking or oil and gas drilling in Colorado or anywhere else. But think: If laws that would allow an industry to set up shop 150 or 350 feet away from a home or a school or a church were not born in a cesspool of corruption, perhaps we need a new definition of corruption. Ponder that, fellow golfers — a short wedge shot from your backyard lies a drill pad, all brought to you in the 1980s by folks in Denver now likely buried deep in some corporation’s mineral estate.

Back to the foxhole and the siege. Council has proven thus far to be woefully inadequate in defense of this city. It is palpably obvious that certain council members have abandoned their lofty ideals, which originally gave us a 7-0 vote in favor of new regulations and now, in a bizarre dance of twisted logic, they attempt to justify their new rationale to kill the strengthened regs and negotiate under the old and weak. Here, on an issue likely larger than any ever brought before council in modern times, some have caved in and embraced the enemy.

Absent the protection of council, a new movement has grown and is seeking an ordinance that would ban oil, gas and fracking operations from all city property. Our Health, Our Future, Our Longmont is gathering signatures on a petition to ban these operations from within city limits. If successful, the issue would be placed on the November ballot for all Longmont residents to vote. I certainly don’t speak for this group, but firmly applaud their cause — not because I’m a Democrat or a Republican, but because I’m a Longmont resident who wants desperately to protect our values, our safety and the health of our treasured children.

You will see Our Longmont volunteers all over the city — at the library, shopping plazas, restaurants and walking down Main. Please take a moment to sign up in defense of Longmont. We are under siege and there is no room for politics of any hue. We either put aside our political differences or we will all suffer the consequences.

Let’s join hands to bring this petition to a vote in November. There is just over a month to gather 5,800 signatures and one final opportunity to get out of that foxhole.

45 years of occupation with no end in sight

The Israeli attack on Egypt that began the Six-Day War occurred 45 years ago on June 5, 1967. This attack was followed by an Israeli attack on Syria and fighting with Jordan. As a result of its attack, Israel took control of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, part of the Golan Heights in Syria, and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

Some supporters of Israel claim that the attack was necessary. However, leading Israeli leaders clearly reject that claim. For example, former Israeli Prime Minister Begin admitted: “In June, 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai did not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

In 1968, Yitzak Rabin, chief of staff of the Israeli military in 1967, said: “I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to the Sinai in May [1967] would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.”

In a 1972 interview, Mordechai Bentov, a former member of the Israeli ruling coalition during the June war, said: “This whole story about the threat of extermination was totally contrived and then elaborated on afterwards to justify the annexation of new Arab territories.”

As a price for peace with Egypt, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula. However, Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights continues to this day. Some may claim that Gaza is no longer occupied, but the U.N. and the U.S. still recognize Gaza as being an occupied territory.

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank has increased in brutality and harshness over time. Palestinians rights are constantly violated. Living conditions in the West Bank are horrible and are even worse in Gaza, particularly due to the ongoing siege by Israel. For more on this siege, see http://imeu.net/news/article0019152.shtml.

Israel continues its theft of Palestinian lands and places illegal settlements throughout the West Bank including East Jerusalem. As of December 2010, there were an estimated 520,000 Israeli settlers living illegally in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

Israeli expansion and construction of settlements has essentially eliminated the two-state option for a just peace. Israel must now choose between apartheid and democracy.

Reckless helicopter

Enstrom 480

5 passenger 400HP turbine-powered, 8′ wide x 30′ long, 3000+ lbs – this is not a ‘small helicopter’

Imagine a scenario where you are enjoying a lovely backyard gathering on Memorial Day.  You begin to hear the distinctively loud thump-thump of helicopter propellers approaching your home.  Suddenly, a helicopter appears over the treetops and hovers just above the powerlines in your back yard.  This may sound unbelievable, but it really happened – and it was alarming.

At 6 pm a black helicopter with red markings did just that.  It came so close that I could see the pilot’s face.   I was able to track the aircraft on web track (webtrak.bksv.com/den) and verify that it landed at  Longmont’s Vance Brand airport.  I got in my car and drove the 8 miles to the airport to have a little chat with the pilot, but when I arrived the copter and pilot were nowhere to be found.

This isn’t the first incident where this Enstrom 480B* helicopter has harassed our neighborhood**.  Fortunately, this time we were able to record the aircraft’s N number and identify the operator, which is based at the Longmont airport. I filed a formal complaint with the FAA, feeling confident that the matter would be handled appropriately.  Instead, Jack Muldoon at the FAA informed me that the copter was not in violation of any rules.  According to the FAA, helicopters are not held to the same altitude restrictions as fixed-wing aircraft.  Over populated areas, airplanes must fly 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet – but not helicopters.

The voluntary measures currently in place to minimize impacts from aircraft operations are not sufficient.  A small number of pilots seem unconcerned about how their conduct affects local residents.  The solution is fairly simple – adopt reasonable and mandatory regulations aimed at protecting the local community from excessive aircraft noise and reckless pilots.


* N481SH owned by Doug Lyle of Lyle Aviation, 7733 N. 73rd St., Longmont, CO 80503. Current photo.

** Flight Path of N481SH from webtrak. Note: altitudes are estimated, time frame size is 15 seconds, hovers of under 10 seconds are not apparent.

*** corrected weight of helicopter to 3000 lbs as listed here.

FSSW Stand Up For BO&G

The laugh's on US

The laugh's on US

It’s hard to see how the City Council acted to ensure the safety and health of Longmont’s residents from fracking threats as described in last Saturday’s editorial, “Drilling rules show city puts residents first.” Big Oil & Gas finally showed its cards and in no time Councilors Finley, Sammoury, Santos and Witt (FSSW) folded, abandoning the new regulations which at their request had been painstakingly produced by city staff. Now why on earth, I wondered, would they do that?

A few months ago, the vote to craft new regulations was 7-0. All hands were gung-ho to beef up the old 2000 regulations in order to protect the well-being, health and safety of Longmont and its beloved residents. Go, team, go!

But slowly, things became weird.

Councilor Katie Witt, in a convoluted mush of logic turned upside down, having earlier announced she was balancing her duty to protect Longmont against her political future (shouldn’t these be one and the same?), proceeded to vote against the new regulations. So much for protecting Longmont; so much (one hopes) for her political future.

Declaring great optimism, hope and faith that TOP Drilling along with BO&G would negotiate, moderate, mediate and in general do a host of nice things they heretofore had never before done anywhere or for anyone, Ms. Witt demonstrated a novel approach to negotiations: cede everything first, then expect one’s opponents to hand back over whatever is requested.

Councilwoman Finley : limit public's time to thirty minutes

Councilwoman Finley : Frack my constituents!

Councilor Bonnie Finley’s approach was more rational, at least on the surface. She objected to the new regulations because they might bring a lawsuit, despite being told by the legal suits that the regulations were defensible, until finally faulting the preamble as a cover for her “no” vote. Councilor Bagley advised her on at least two occasions that the preamble had no effect in law, offering at one point to shorten it to a brief paragraph, but to no avail. Ms. Finley had her talking points and stuck to them, absurd as they were.

Alex Sammoury, on the team

Councilors Santos and Sammoury, to this point having supported the regulations, had remained quiet as the debate raged around the chamber, until Councilor Sammoury gently opined that an extension to the existing moratorium would give them a chance to try again for cooperation from the quaintly named Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. Despite being reminded that earlier efforts to negotiate had been rebuffed and then rewarded with threats of lawsuits from the state attorney general’s office, the motion passed. These, by the way, are the nice folks who Ms. Witt is confident will bend and bestow great favors if only asked politely.

Gabe Santos, big money's inside man

So where are we? It’s ugly. The revised regulations are tabled. A vote at the next council meeting approving the new 45-day moratorium will be held under “emergency rules,” which requires at least six “aye” votes to pass. If it does, we have more than 45 days to negotiate with TOP and the COGCC (but still under the old regulations). If two councilors — say, Finley and Witt— vote “no,” the moratorium passes but won’t go into effect until three days after the current moratorium ends.

That would leave a gap for TOP to apply for permits to drill under the old regulations — and you can bet they will not be negotiating.

In the end, the stench of BO&G permeates the chamber; in the next election, we may or may not remember this disgraceful chapter in council’s history, but by then, most or all of the players will have moved on — far and away from the drilling rigs, methane gas and gutted property values. There will be no shortage of alibis and excuses, none of which will matter a damn.

Mayor Coombs and Councilors Bagley and Levison held their heads above the stench and may yet prevail in seeing the new regulations passed into law. FSSW (remember them?) have done everything possible to ensure that the safety and health of Longmont and its residents are left in the hands of BO&G. Shame on them.

Surgical Donation from Aspen Meadows

Longmont Humane SocietyAspen Meadows Veterinary Specialists have generously agreed to volunteer the time and expertise of their surgical staff to perform one major surgery per month on shelter pets at the Longmont Humane Society’s Well Pet Clinic.  Dr. Gail Rapport Shelter Veterinarian for the Longmont Humane Society will partner with Matt Rooney, DVM in this effort.  Dr. Rapport is enthusiastic about working with Aspen Meadows, saying “I’ve never seen a group of vets as cooperative and support of their local shelters as Aspen Meadows”.

To kick off this partnership, Aspen Meadows has volunteered to do two surgeries this month!  The first operation that will be performed will benefit Hank, a six year old German Shepherd Mix who came to us with a ruptured ACL .  Aspen Meadows will perform a TPLO (tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy) by cutting the tibial plateau and rotating it. It will then be stabilized with metal plate at as cost of roughly $250 for the hardware.  LHS has a foster home ready to help Hank recover from surgery and hopefully adopt him once he’s all better!

Dahlia the kitten was found as a stray with a lump on her jaw and brought to the Longmont Humane Society by a Good Samaritan.  At first, clinic staff believed the lump was an abscess and it was treated as such.  When the mass returned and continued to grow, the symptoms resembled cancer.  However, Dahlia’s age and behavior aren’t consistent with cancer.  She’s young, playful and has a big appetite.  Exploratory surgery will be conducted during which Dahlia may have a portion of her jaw removed.  If removing a part of the jaw fixes the problem, she will still be able to eat and live a long happy life after the surgery.

You Might be a Conservative If — 2012 Edition

  1. You think that if the government is forced into another shutdown scenario this summer — again — it’ll be the fault of the president — again — and not due to John Boehner and Eric Cantor playing the same game they played last year which resulted in the nation’s credit rating being reduced. And you believe this, in spite of the evidence, because Sean Hannity said so last week — again.
  2. You believe President Obama’s support for gay marriage will weaken the sanctity of your own marriage. And the two babes you’re banging on the side down at Bubba’s Busty Bistro both agree with you.
  3. In the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case, you immediately took the side of Zimmerman, because Martin was wearing a hoody and had no business being out at night in a gated community. But you still insist your position has nothing to do with race.
  4. You bristle whenever someone reminds you that today’s recession began during the George W Bush administration, and have even developed a talking point to combat it; “Bush is gone, It’s Obama’s presidency now!” Except of course, when president Obama killed Osama bin Laden, then suddenly Bush did it.
  5. 2012 is already trending to be the warmest year in recorded meteorological history, followed by 2011, 2010, 2005, 1998, 2003, 2002, 2009, 2006, 2007, 2004 and 2001. But because 2008 didn’t make the grade, you’re quite certain climate change is bullshit.
  6. You’re convinced that there’s massive voter fraud going on in the African/American community, because you saw 13 “New Black Panthers” looking mighty intimidating at a polling station on Fox News once. Even though, those 13 jokers make up the entirety of the New Black Panthers, and Fox News played that footage more times than they played the Rev. Wright tape. Oh, but don’t you assume from this that Fox is appealing to racist voters.
  7. You take Mitt Romney at his word when he said “Of course I would have given the order [to go after bin Laden in Pakistan], even Jimmy Carter would have.” Even though Mitt Romney previously said “Osama bin Laden is not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch. I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours.” But hey, this is all academic anyway, because everyone knows President Obama was only following Bush’s strategeiry.
  8. You think the recall movement going on in Wisconsin is un-American, and Scott Walker is only doing what the voters of his state demand. And that recording of Walker taking a phone call from a bogus David Koch was overblown… He just thought it was a courtesy call to discuss their mutual love of cheese.
  9. You think Romney will be a better president than Obama, because he’s made it crystal clear that he wants nothing to do with those creepy gays. Well, except for that one time, when he was running for governor of Massachusetts (link).
  10. You believe the debt is at $15 trillion today, primarily due to Barack Obama’s failed policies, even though it was at $11 trillion when he was inaugurated, and the tax cuts and wars had yet to be factored in during the Bush years. You also believe George Bush’s role in doubling it was necessary, because he had to combat a Democratic-controlled congress… the very Democrats that voted 126 to 81 against the Iraq War. And the two tax cuts became law by Bush using reconciliation, against the will of the Majority. Together, these made up the bulk of Bush’s spending spree, because after all; “Deficits don’t matter.” ~ Dick Cheney
  11. You tout the concept of “American Exceptionalism,” because America’s the bomb! We’ve done it all, we do it right every time (unless a Democrat’s in power) and those stupid European socialist twits would have been lost decades ago, if not for us. And anybody who says our claims of American Exceptionalism are really just arrogant boasts of “American Superiority,” is just jealous, because they know we’re the best. Booyah!
  12. Even though Rush Limbaugh called a young birth control activist a slut and nobody within the GOP condemned him for it, the Komen Foundation was infiltrated by a mole whose intent was to defund Planned Parenthood, the governor of the state of Virginia proposed a bill that would have required a trans-vaginal probe against her will before being permitted to have an abortion, Planned Parenthood itself has been under attack by Boehner’s congress, and most Republicans voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Law, a bill guaranteeing equal pay for women — you still deny that there’s any sort of “War on Women,” because Gretchen Carlson said so on Fox & Friends. And she’s a woman, so case closed!
  13. You think Mitt Romney would make a better president than Barack Obama, because he’s had hands-on experience in the business world. And who was the last president who ran on his record of business experience? George W. Bush. So there.
  14. You think Barack Obama broke the law by backing the NATO mission to support the Libyan rebellion, which ultimately toppled a true supporter of international terrorism, but Bush’s invasion of Iraq … which wasn’t condoned by NATO or the United Nations, was just swell.
  15. You believe teachers, firemen and cops are overpaid, and that’s a better place to make budget cuts than asking millionaires and billionaires to pay the same tax rate they did under Clinton… when times were good, and the budget was balanced.
  16. You’re a big supporter of Free Speech, but nothing ruins your day more than when some immigrant says Sarah Palin was dumb. How dare they? If that’s what they think, then they should go back to Russia. Then Sarah can wave at them from her porch.
  17. You think Citizens United was the best thing to happen to Democracy since Glenn Beck, because finally, those poor downtrodden corporatists will have a say in who represents their interests… just as poor Siemens, Mengele GmbH, IG Farben and Bayer were finally permitted to do what they do best, once freed of those pesky, restrictive regulations. Because nothing says “Freedom,” better than a government kept in check by industry!
  18. You were shocked, SHOCKED when the Romney campaign suggested Barack Obama might try to use Romney’s Mormon faith as a wedge issue in the coming months, even though there are no such plans to do so. What sort of sick, anti-American commie party would ever use religion to divide America? After all, who’s ever done that?

Balance needed

U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: 412-DA-3630

Oil Seepage in Pond (Foreground), Olin-Mathieson Plant in Background 1972

Most of us take a pretty one sided view of many issues.  A balanced view should be better.

Where is the balance with respect to hydraulic fracking.?  On the one hand we as a nation (and world) are a consumer of fossil fuels and will continue to be until alternate energy sources combined with greater efficiency meets our needs.  On the other hand there are risks associated with this process.  The risks are largely encountered by one group of people while very significant profits are realized by a much smaller group.

Drilling and production of oil and gas has increased dramatically over the last few years.  Currently we both import oil and export refined products.  There are advantages to not importing oil, especially from countries with limited stability.

What are the facts?  The oil and gas representatives that support hydraulic fracking appear to have either avoided some information or intentionally been misleading.

Claims that there has not been a single case of ground water contamination from hydraulic fracking are misleading.  There are several examples where groundwater has been contaminated from the necessary activities that are always associated with the process.  Where groundwater has been contaminated, the distinction is not important.

It is often stated that fracking chemicals are only 0.5 percent of the injected fluid.  This appears to be deliberately misleading.  The risk is a product of the inherent toxicity and concentration of the compound, and exposure (for example amount of water consumed over what period of time).   A concentration of 0.5 percent is 5,000 parts per million (ppm) or 5,000,000 parts per billions (ppb).  The maximum concentration limit (MCL) for benzene in groundwater set by the US EPA is 5 ppb.  We do not know the toxicity of many of the fracking chemicals, or even what they are and it may be that toxicity has not been determined for many of them.  Furthermore, the risk of a mixture may be even greater.

An article in the Times-Call claimed there was no problem because benzene and propane were well below the levels for a 10 hour exposure.  While propane has low toxicity it is ludicrous to talk about a 10 hour exposure rather than a longer term exposure.

Benzene, is a carcinogen as might be other compounds in the fracking fluid.  There is no threshold limit for carcinogens.

The proponents of hydraulic fracking have not in my experience acknowledged the disruption of the lives of families living close to the drilling sites – or the impact on schools for that matter.  Decreased home values are another problem.

It is difficult for most of us to believe what we are being told when so many obviously misleading statements have been made.

The argument has been made that the fracking industry would be challenged to operate under a different set of rules in each community and thus the need for state control.  Of course many housing contractors do operate in a number of communities with differences in construction code.  But if you do allow for some benefit for uniformity, that does not negate the need for communities to protect their own citizens, real-estate values, and schools when state organizations do not.

The state group controlling fracking (Colorado Oil and Gas Commission) has historically been largely controlled by oil and gas interests.  As a result, it is hard to see how that group will not focus on profits over other considerations.  It does not appear to me and many others that  the need for energy sources and profits has been fairly balanced with the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the communities being impacted.

We are now producing more refined fuels than we need and are exporting record amounts helping the balance of trade.  Concern has been raised that the US is likely to have insufficient storage capacity for natural gas by the end of the year.  Then why the need for drilling close to homes and schools?  Why not limit fracking to less hazardous locations including those with minimal potential for groundwater impact?

Why indeed!  Oil companies realized profits in the tens of millions of dollars. The “realized” pay for the CEO of Exxon/Mobile for 2011 was 24.6 million dollars or three times that in 2009 and four times that in 2006.  By how much has your pay increased over this time? By what factor is his pay greater than yours?   CEO pay should be higher than that for most people, but by how much?  Where is the balance?

Bob Norris
Longmont

Bob has lived in Longmont since 2000 and has been active in community issues including having served on the Longmont Board of Environmental Affairs.

James O’Keefe Not Helping Scott Gessler

by Colorado Pols
Wed May 16, 2012 at 15:16:39 PM MDT

Yesterday, right-wing news site Breitbart.com released a new video from conservative “gotcha” artist James O’Keefe, purportedly showing how easy it is for “non-citizens” to vote:

In the video, William Romero, an apparent non-citizen, is shown to be registered to vote in North Carolina. According to jury refusal records obtained by Project Veritas, Romero was recused for being a non-citizen. Yet when a researcher from Project Veritas went into the polling station, he found that not only was Romero still on the voting rolls but  the poll workers were also more than willing to give him Romero’s ballot.The video finds that another alleged non-citizen in Durham County, North Carolina, was on the voter rolls–and apparently voted in 2008 and 2010–even though he had been categorized as “code 7” in jury recusal forms, which means he had been excused as a non-citizen.

In another crucial swing state, Florida, elections officials fear as many as 180,000 non-citizens may be registered to vote. In Colorado, during the 2010 midterm elections, 5,000 non-citizens may have voted…

As you know, we (and others) have repeatedly debunked this persistent claim that “5,000 noncitizens may have voted” in the 2010 elections in Colorado. The claim originates with Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who used this figure in congressional testimony, but it doesn’t stand up to even casual scrutiny. As we noted and local media outlets realized last year, over thirty thousand Colorado residents became citizens during the period Gessler “analyzed,” enough to easily account for the 5,000 “noncitizens” who “may” have voted in 2010.

As liberal blog Think Progress reports, O’Keefe appears to have made exactly the same error.

Read the rest at ColoradoPols.com


Gessler's critics closing in

Truth is closing in on Gessler's lack of proof.

Gessler’s been at this scam for some time – at least since early 2010 – and he’s got a lot of Old Guard money in his pocket so this, to me, sure looks like what they want.