Thursday, August 2, 2007

Real Citizens and the Cost of War

I’ve been out for a while due to feelings of utter hopelessness :-) and also the time constraints associated with the celebration of the gifts of spring and summer, but recent events and the coming of fall have spurred me to new attempts.

In addition to the usual complaints, this and future blogs will present some of those seasonal gifts, in the form of pictures and information about the flowers and other critters we are still blessed with here in Baker County.

Gnophaela vermiculata

Late last month, Alice Lentz and I documented the occurrence of Gnophaela vermiculata, AKA, the police car moth (Can’t we get a better name???) on Vinegar Hill Road in Grant County. It is the first documented occurrence of the moth there, but it has likely been around for eons. It occurs here in Baker County too and is flying right now up high on east side of the Marble Pass road. Not much is known about it apparently, but it drinks nectar from the flowers of Senecio Serra (tall butterweed), as well as goldenrod, and it is unusual for a moth in that it is a day flier.

Speyeria cybele, Female, upper wings

Speyeria cybele, lower wings

One of the more distinctive and easily identified butterflies that can be found right now in the Baker County mountains is the great spangled fritillary, Speyeria cybele. The host plant for this butterfly, as with most fritillaries, is the violet. Amazingly, the little first-stage larvae hibernate through the frozen winter and resume feeding in the spring. You can find adults feeding in the mountains now on thistles, like Utah thistle above, and also on tall butterweed and dogbane. If you want to see butterflies, look for these plants at this time of year.


It was a real hopeful and inspirational few moments today when I opened up the Herald and saw Suzanne and Ed Moses DOING SOMETHING (Again!!!) to tell government that they just can’t proceed willy-nilly to destroy the quality of our lives—like arbitrary and unsupported destruction of Baker City trees that are providing valuable environmental services in an otherwise sterile and completely over-manipulated environment. Suzanne just set herself into a chair under the tree that city crews were busy destroying, and rather than bring a limb crashing down on her head, they stopped cutting. (OK, I admit that it helps to be wealthy Baker City property owners/taxpayers—be careful trying this behavior at home if you are poor!)

Kudos to the City and their police representatives for responsibly acknowledging legitimate a citizen grievance and not over-reacting! But why not ease up on the butchering of trees, even if it is a part of local custom and culture!

Cutting down trees because a branch or two may create a safety hazard, if followed to its logical conclusion, would require cutting down all the street trees in Tree City USA. That logic could see the City’s portion of the Powder River begin to resemble the bleak and barren privately owned ranch properties downstream, where a war on willows has been going on for many years, often accomplished by cows instead of chainsaws.

Thanks Ed and Suzanne for drawing lines/creating boundaries, and telling government that they are responsible to the citizens of Baker City.



Almost all the letters to the editor concerning the forest travel plan in recent weeks emphasize that historic uses by local citizens need to be protected. The argument seems to be that “We’ve had our way with the local publicly owned forest for years and that use alone is enough reason for us to continue it.” (I use the forest myself, but we need to recognize how much use is appropriate for maintaining sustainable use and healthy ecosystems.) The County Commissioners have now appointed the usual suspects to a committee that is supposed to represent all of our interests. As far as I could tell from newspaper reports, not a single "environmentalist" who was not previously associated with a government land or wildlife bureaucracy was appointed to the committee. Correct me if I am wrong. The NGO enviros, whose nationwide membership is in the many millions, seem to be completely under-represented. (This too seems to be local custom and culture as the Democrats did the same thing when appointing a panel discussion on predators.) The reality--that the National Forests are owned by all Americans, a good many of them NGO enviros, and not just the extractive users in North East Oregon--is apparently not a part of the local consciousness.

Who is represented? Traditional exploiters of the forest and special interests, led by the Chair, a Commissioners wife, who’s claim to fame, besides being fabulously wealthy, is that she spearheaded an earlier effort to deny protection of habitat for threatened bull trout. Business as usual for the Commissioners.

A big thank you to the beleaguered Forest Supervisor for obliquely pointing out in tonight’s paper that the goal isn’t to provide as many avenues as possible for local citizens to destroy the forest. His job, and everyone’s ethical responsibility, is to provide a sustainable future for the forest ecosystem, including soil, water, vegetation and wildlife.



So people are dying due to our ignoring the maintenance needs of national infrastructure. And they are dying due to our nearly genocidal and totally illegal activities in Iraq. The blame lies squarely with President Bush, a corporate/military industrial complex controlled Congress (including the complacent and corrupt Democrats), the mainstream media, and roughly 50% of the American people. Yes, those gullible among you who voted for George W. Bush also bear responsibility for this outrageous and criminal war and the trashing of the American future. You elected a psychopath and war criminal, and if you had been paying attention, you would have known he was lying us into a war. As I told some of our knee-jerk militarist “citizens” in Stockman’s bar prior to the 2004 elections, “He lies to you every time he opens his mouth.” And hey, I don’t care if you like me or not. My duty is to tell you the truth.

When you vote in the representatives of military profiteering and big oil, you pay a price in blood and treasure. You condemn your children to an impoverished future and you derail possibilities for the building of a decent and equitable society. You give your sons and daughters to people who care nothing about them, you, or your needs. The most recent example of how much they care about our society: Your infrastructure is crumbling around you and people are dying because of it. Additionally, the fact that many go without the minimal medical care found in most industrialized countries is another cost that creates needless deaths of Americans. Those less well off among you who have supported this criminal administration are the biggest suckers in the world. Perhaps it is like Jesus said: “Forgive them Lord, for they know not what they do.” Or do you???

My unsolicited advice: Quit listening to the mainstream media—they too lie to you almost every time they open their mouths!

So infrastructure crumbles and people die.

I heard on the radio today that it would cost around $60 Billion to bring the 25% of our faulty bridges back to life and safe use. Other reports indicate that it is more like $200 Billion. ( )

Not a single report on the mainstream media tonight connected the infrastructure problems we face to the extravagant expenditures for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or to our self-destructive relationship with Israel (over $100 billion since 1948, and terrorists galore!). Just last week the Bush administration gave away over $60 Billion to Israel and a few of our Arab despot allies. Bush is bringing freedom and democracy to the world—WHAT HYPOCRISY!!!

We’ve been warned by the civil engineers since at least 2003 that our infrastructure is crumbling—there is no excuse. The corporate controlled government simply doesn’t care how many of you die as long as they can keep the money flowing to themselves and their friends. When will people wake up and stand up—not just for our local trees, but for what is left of our alleged “democracy?”


Again, wake up people, we reap what you sew!

From a Friend

A major research institution has just announced the discovery of the densest element yet known to science.

The new element has been named "Bushcronium." Bushcronium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311. These particles are held together by dark forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.

The symbol for Bushcronium is "W". Bushcronium's mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons in a Bushcronium molecule, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Bushcronium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass".

When catalyzed with money, Bushcronium activates Foxnewsium, an element that radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.



European Hypocrisy

By Saifedean Ammous

While in Paris a few weeks ago, whenever I would discuss Middle East politics with anyone, I would be overwhelmed with the traditional refrains of classical anti-Americanism: “they have no culture and deal with the world as if it had no culture”, “they have no morality in their foreign policy”, “they go to war for oil and money” and so on with inane over-simplified stereotypes. Soon after would come the cackle of self-righteous pride: “we Europeans are different”, “we want our foreign policy based on a concept of morality”, “we attempt to promote justice in the world and fix up the mess left behind by the Americans”. I would then usually be told something about all the aid that Europeans give to Palestinians as proof of the decency of Europeans as opposed to the rabidly Zionist Americans who give billions to fund Israel’s murderous army.

Would that this were true.

Europe’s policy with regard to Palestine/Israel is so racist, short-sighted, counter-productive and hypocritical that it could almost pass for American policy.

When looking at the current situation in Palestine, an observer will find an illegal Israeli occupation that has been festering for 40 years, combined with illegal ethnically-exclusive colonies built on stolen Palestinian land, and the world’s only ethnically-segregated road network, where many routes can only be accessed by Jews. An internationally-illegal apartheid barrier surrounds Palestinian towns and villages, not only cutting them off from one another, but also cutting off farmers from their lands, children from their schools, patients from their hospitals and workers from their jobs. Israel controls all of the Palestinians’ openings to the outside world, stifling not only Palestinians’ freedom of movement, but also their economy and trade. One of the world’s strongest armies, the IDF, is regularly unleashed on civilian populations in Palestine, murdering thousands and killing innocent children with complete impunity. The Israeli government has as its Deputy Prime Minister an unabashed Fascist who openly and regularly calls for ethnic cleansing and mass murder of Arabs as a solution to the conflict. Israel continues to deny millions of Palestinians their legal right to return to their own homes from which they were ethnically cleansed in 1948, restricts land-ownership to Jews only, and has discriminatory racist laws in countless areas from marriage to immigration.

In the face of this travesty of justice, what is the only thing that the Europeans do? Demand that the oppressed, the Palestinians, only elect political parties that “recognize Israel’s right to exist” as a precondition for sitting on one table and discussing what to do about all these travesties.

Let us first bear in mind that the idea of Hamas—or any Palestinian political party for that matter—recognizing Israel’s “right to exist” is a patently meaningless idea that makes as much sense as Manchester United Football Club recognizing Tanzania’s “right to exist”. Nowhere is it written that nation states have a “right to exist” themselves. What is meant by “recognition” in an international setting is what happens when countries exchange embassies and establish diplomatic relations. Nowhere but in Palestine has the idea of a non-state entity recognizing a state ever been seriously discussed. Further, the imbeciles who repeat this canard conveniently ignore that Israel is not merely “not recognizing Palestine’s right to exist”, but actively, deliberately and comprehensively destroying any chance of a Palestinian state ever existing. But, for the morally-superior Europeans, Hamas’ “recognition” of Israel is the thing that bothers them the most about Palestine/Israel today, and not all of the crimes listed above. The kicker, of course, is not just that this is a morally and logically absurd position, but that Israel’s actions are the root of the conflict, and not whether Hamas recognizes Israel. This recognition won’t change anything on the ground and won’t affect the lives of anyone in any way, but the walls, settlements, killings, checkpoints and Israel’s racist policies will. Only when these are ended can there be peace, regardless of what Hamas “recognizes” or declines to “recognize.”

All of the aforementioned crimes by Israel constitute clear violations of the EU Neighborhood Policy terms under which EU neighbors get preferential access to EU markets and a slew of other benefits and perks. The EU regularly uses its economic and diplomatic influence to try and get countries to desist from carrying out racist policies: it makes trade deals dependent on improvements in human, labor and minority rights; it has made Turkey’s accession to the EU dependent on Turkey’s human rights record, and has stopped Austria from bringing Jorg Haider into the government. Far from taking any action to try to pressure Israel to stop some of its crimes in Palestine, the EU has cowardly chosen a policy of rewarding their transgressions with more carrots, and Israel continues to enjoy extremely generous benefits from its relationship with European countries, even being sold arms by many of them.

The tragic aspect of Europe’s policy with regard to Palestine today is not just that is practically indistinguishable from the policy of the US, but that it comes bundled with great self-righteousness and an unshakable belief that it is not only the correct policy, but is also vastly morally superior to anything anyone else is doing. The financial aid provided by Europe is the major rationale supporting this smugness.

As the Europeans continue to do nothing to stop Israel from destroying the livelihood of the Palestinian people, they take out their checkbooks and assuage their conscience by providing money to the Palestinians. Before the election of Hamas, this money went to prop-up the increasingly unpopular Palestinian Authority in order to guarantee its survival and a continuation of the painful status quo. After Hamas’s election, they tried to surpass the PA by sending money through increasingly complex, inefficient, and often counter-productive mechanisms.

Here is a small microcosm of how this madness works: A Palestinian town has a wall built surrounding it from all sides, making it impossible for previously prosperous farmers to access their land, patients to reach their doctors and children to reach their schools. Naturally, the town is devastated. That’s when Europeans send in their conscience-assuaging, smugness-propping aid “experts” to “save” the town, in the process relieving Israel from having to deal with the consequences of its crimes. They provide the farmers with food instead of the food they could have produced themselves, and proceed with projects to teach Palestinians “alternative industries”, “new business models”, “good local governance”, “participatory development”, “creative educational techniques” and countless other meaningless prattle that the Palestinians would gladly give up for having the wall removed, an independent state and some sense of normalcy bestowed on their lives. Naturally, these projects have a short shelf-life; the funding soon dries up, the “experts” leave, but the apartheid wall remains, the livelihood of a whole town is devastated, and the mirage of Palestinian independence is even more distant. And worst of all: the next time an unfortunate Palestinian like myself visits Paris, they will be bombarded with self-righteous recitation of countless such micro projects, and expected to bow in deference of the mighty superiority of European morality.

This combination of criminal politics combined with generous futile charity is what Ann Le More brilliantly dissected in her appropriately entitled paper: Killing with Kindness: Funding the Demise of a Palestinian State.

More at link above.

"Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom." -- Fredrich August von Hayek (1899-1992), Nobel Laureate of Economic Sciences 1974

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