Monday, March 26, 2007

NEW MOTHS IN BAKER & UNION COUNTIES (Oh, & did I mention Iraq?)

Ceanothus Silkmoth

During the last year, there have been range extensions for three moths in Baker and Union Counties While the ranges may not have been accounted for yet on the Butterflies and Moths of North America web site , you can still find information about them on the site. The site keeps track of where moths and butterflies can be found in North America and have pictures with information about each species.

Ceanothus Silkmoth

Last summer my friend Alice Lentz found a Ceanothus silkmoth, Hyalophora euryalus, while we were hiking in southern Union County, OR. It was sitting out the day in a wild rose bush at a spring area. This beautiful, large (3.5 to 5 inch wingspan) moth has never before been documented to occur east of Crook County in Oregon. The larvae feed on several species of shrubs, including ceanothus, gooseberry, willow, alder and mountain mahogany.

Hera Buckmoth

On August 13th of last year, while surveying for plants along the proposed power line route for a wind power project in southern Union County, Leslie Gecy and myself came across a second species of a large beautiful moth not yet recorded in that county. The Hera Buckmoth, Hemileuca hera, is unusual for moths generally in that it is a daytime flier, while most moths fly at night. We found it again, flying in large numbers, a few days later on a near by property. It can be found in large stands of its host plant, big sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata, in most of S.E. Oregon except for possibly Harney County, where it has not yet been recorded. Southern Union County may be the northern extent of its range in Oregon.

I am always amazed at how tough and resilient life can be, particularly when it comes to resisting temperature extremes, like those of northern winters. According to the moth and butterfly site mentioned above, Hera Buckmoth endures the winter here as eggs laid in rings around the host plant, hatching from April to June to feed on the sagebrush. Grown caterpillars again overwinter, as cocoons in the soil or leaf litter, and the adult moths make their debut in the spring.
Hera Buckmoth

On March 14th of this year, while out on Elk Creek Road here in Baker County, OR, I found a Pacific Green Sphinx, Arctonotus lucidus. It has been seen as far east as Lake County, but has not been previously documented in Baker County. This moth is related to the sphinx moth that feeds on tomato plants in much of the U.S., but is smaller. It feeds on evening primrose and clarkia, both of which can be found locally, although not in particularly large numbers.

Common Evening Primrose
Oenothera villosa
Host Plant of the Pacific Green Sphinx
When you are out and about in N.E. Oregon this year, keep an eye out for interesting species that people might not know about. Tell someone about it (Like Me!) and try to get a picture of it or if is common and legal, take a specimen to be identified. There is no doubt that the occurrence of more species out there have yet been documented.

Wood Duck
There is a lot of bird activity in N.E. Oregon right now. Ducks and geese are migrating through in large numbers and new spring and summer breeding birds are arriving every day. One local highlight was a pair of wood ducks seen by Joanne Britton on the little bay of UPS pond # 2. Wood Ducks don't stick around long in the Baker City area due to the absence of suitable habitat like well wooded ponds. (Steve Culley is trying to get OTEC to dig deep holes around the 203 pond so as to plant more trees and will need volunteers.) Other sightings were the tundra swans and savannah sparrows reported by Doug Shorey at or near Baldock Slough. Joanne also saw the former at Beautiful Lake Bob, plus a pied grebe at the UPS ponds. I saw a pied grebe with young at the same location last year. Ring-necked ducks are also making a pretty good showing at the 203 pond and at the pond by Britton sand & gravel on S. Airport near Lindley road. Alice Lentz and I counted 24 yesterday at the last site. Both Joanne and I thought we heard a curlew in the last two days. Joanne also reported seeing violet green swallows in the vicinity of Old Auburn and Beaver Creek Roads on Saturday the 24th.

Other waterfowl that can be found on our ponds locally or at Ladd Marsh include Greater white-fronted, Snow geese, Mallards, Northern pintail, American wigeons, Canvasbacks, Northern shoveler, Green-winged teal, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Goldeneye, Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, Scaup, Red-heads, and Gadwall (and?).

Virginia rails, Marsh wren, Savannah sparrow, Vesper sparrow were also noted Saturday the 24th at Ladd Marsh.

Craig Bennett of LaGrande also reports other new arrivals at Ladd Marsh:

“Had my first of the year Long Billed Curlew and Greater Yellowlegs at Ladd Marsh this afternoon. The Curlew was on Pierce Road just south of Ladd Marsh Headquarters on the east side of the road nicely visible from the little bridge. The Yellowlegs was patrolling the shallows of the largest pond on the east side of Peach Road.

Also saw a couple hundred White Fronted Geese, lots of Tundra Swans, and 5 Snow Geese all along Peach Road. Also had about 20 Sandhill Cranes near the Ladd Creek Bridge on Peach. Lots doing at the marsh these days!”

A Little Humor From Mary McCracken in LaGrande:


"A people may prefer a free government, but if, from indolence, or carelessness, or cowardice, or want of public spirit, they are unequal to the exertions necessary for preserving it; if they will not fight for it when it is directly attacked; if they can be deluded by the artifices used to cheat them out of it; if by momentary discouragement, or temporary panic, or a fit of enthusiasm for an individual, they can be induced to lay their liberties at the feet even of a great man, or trust him with powers which enable him to subvert their institutions; in all these cases they are more or less unfit for liberty: and though it may be for their good to have had it even for a short time, they are unlikely long to enjoy it." -- John Stuart Mill, Representative Government, 1861


From Information Clearing House:


By Cindy Sheehan
Gold Star Families for Peace

The Democratic Congress betrayed American voters, the troops in Iraq and extended the occupation for at least another 18 months.


An Open Letter to the President...Four and a Half Years Later

By Sean Penn

You say we've kept the war on terror off our shores by responding to a criminal act of terror through state sponsored unilateral aggression in a country that took no part in that initial crime. That this war would be fought in Iraq or fought here. They are not our toilet. They are a country of human beings whose lives, while once oppressed by Saddam, are now lived in Dante's inferno.


Support the Troops By Sending Them to War!

How can the Democratic leadership say that with a straight face?

By Kevin Zeese

Do we support the troops when we send them to die and kill? Do we support the troops when we send them into a quagmire without adequate armor?


MoveOn moves in with Pelosi

By Farhad Manjoo

I think the peace movement is being hijacked and rerouted to serve a Democratic leadership and the 2008 political agenda.


Witness to a war crime

Video Shows U.S. Soldiers Killing Unarmed Iraqi Civilians

2 Minute Video

Click to view



Unhappy events abroad have retaught us two simple truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. Franklin D.

Roosevelt : Message to Congress proposing the monopoly investigation, 1938

Friday, March 23, 2007


Sen. Ted Ferrioli

900 Court St. NE, S-223
Salem, OR 97301

In Thursday’s (3/22/07) Baker City Herald, a smiling State Senator and logging lobbyist, Ted Ferrioli, was featured on the front page as the poster child for ethical leadership. In an amendment to budget legislation (SB 10), the Senator’s would create a $14.5 million endowment to provide “permanent” funding for the Government Standards and Practices Commission (G.S.P.C.), the State’s defanged ethics watchdog. Actually, the paper was just doing a favorable public relations piece for the Senator by repeating deceptive quotes he made in his press release. There was no attempt to inform Baker County readers of what the real effect of his amendment would be. The article crowed about Ferrioli’s amendment providing a $600,000 annual budget in “perpetuity” and gave prominent space to his statement that “Oregon is ready for leaders who are above reproach.” Ferrioli is also quoted as saying that “An independent watchdog is critical to keeping the legislature accountable.” The paper also quoted another Republican, Senator David Nelson, saying “Giving our ethical watchdogs permanent, stable funding will take the politics out of our ethics oversight” and that “This is about the public trust.”

Well, yes, it is about the public trust alright. The press release and article clearly show why the public shouldn’t trust Ferrioli, Nelson, or the Baker City Herald.

If the Herald had looked into it and given an objective report instead of passing on the Senator’s propaganda, they would have known that the Commission is seriously under-funded. They wouldn't be able to achieve their most important goals or carry out their increasing responsibilities with a $600,000 budget. After all, they can’t even achieve their mandate with their current budget of over $650,000. Their budget has shrunk from around a million dollars since 1999 and they think they need at least $1.2 million to function at even a moderately effective level. They have only one investigator who is charged with covering the entire state and they don’t have the funds to increase web access to ethics education materials and ethics related documents for either public officials or the general public. Additionally, the “permanent, stable funding” isn’t necessarily either. The legislature could steal from the endowment anytime they saw fit.

Another option that has been put forward, and that the Herald did not bother to report on, would be to have government entities pay an assessment of approximately $7.50 per government employee to go towards funding the Commission. That money would be transferred from the liquor fund to be applied to the Commission’s annual budget. Each year they could proceed in a rational manner to seek the amount of money that was needed to accomplish their goals and the reforms that have been brought forward by the legislature. They don’t need to be hamstrung in their efforts to ensure ethical government by permanent under-funding from an arbitrarily set budget.

Crippling the watchdog by under funding the Commission in “perpetuity” is hardly going to improve government ethics and accountability. Financially starving and destroying the effectiveness of our regulatory and management agencies is an old Republican strategy for undermining accountability. The cruelly deceptive and thoroughly dishonest grand standing by Ferrioli is disgusting to say the least, and you’ve got to wonder why the Herald would want to have any part in promoting it.



"He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust." -- St. Thomas Aquinas

Men do less than they ought, unless they do all that they can. -- Thomas Carlyle

He who allows oppression, shares the crime. -- Erasmus Darwin

Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. -- Paulo Freire

In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade-unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade-unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up. -- attributed to Rev. Martin Niemoller


A Time For Anger, A Call To Action

By Bill Moyers

When Woodrow Wilson spoke of democracy releasing the energies of every human being, he was declaring that we cannot leave our destiny to politicians, elites, and experts; either we take democracy into our own hands, or others will take democracy from us.

Punishing A People For Enduring A Dictator

An interview with Fmr. UN Iraq Mission Chief Hans Von Sponeck

Hans Von Sponeck has been a fierce critic of the war. In the late 1990s, he was the coordinator of the United Nations Humanitarian Mission in Iraq. He resigned in protest over the UN sanctions regime. He is also a former Assistant Secretary General of the UN. Audio and transcript

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Why is reality off limits?"

Guest Editorial from Steve Culley, Baker City

The Alleged War In Iraq
Steve Culley
March 2007

When I was just starting High School I saw on television the police dogs attacking black people while they fought to end segregation. It was a new thing for me to see people treat other people that way. I was no stranger to the bloody facts of life. I was a farm kid. I knew why sheep and cattle were being raised. They were for people to eat. We butchered our own meat and it wasn't long before I was killing and butchering animals for our own table. Still when I saw southern police using dogs and clubs on people it was disturbing.

I graduated high school in May of 1966 and was in Marine Corps boot camp on the 7th of July. I was in Viet Nam on the 28th of December as a Marine Rifleman. I wasn't there 2 days when I rode shotgun for a doctor to go out in the field to see about a wounded PF, popular force, Vietnamese. We armed some villagers so they could fight the Viet Cong. He was dead by the time the marines got him out of the field. They put the body in the back of the jeep with me and the bumpy road made his head jar back and forth and he bled all over my boots. We dropped him off at his home village and I can still see the wife and kids bent down over him in the Monsoon rain. I saw dead marines after that and a kid just 50 yards or so in front of me stepped on a mine and it blew him straight up in the air. It killed him and wounded the marines in front and back of him. There were others. My fire team partner's name is inscribed in the black marble of the Viet Nam War Memorial.

When I got back those who weren't involved in the war seemed to live the lives they were living when I left. Some were in college and some were working. They knew there was a war on because the Nightly News showed pictures of dead and dying Marines and soldiers being loaded onto helicopters, napalm dropping on villages and tree lines, and cargo nets slung under helicopters full of North Vietnamese dead soldiers being hauled to mass graves. After TET an ARVN colonel , Army of the Republic of Vietnam, shot a Viet cong in the head and it ran many times. It is still an Icon of the Viet Nam War. Most baby boomers are familiar with the little Vietnamese girl running naked down the road after having her clothes burned off by napalm and the pictures of Buddhist monks pouring gasoline over themselves and lighting it on fire. Viet Nam was broadcast into our homes very night. The press didn't pull punches when telling the story of war. The reality of it most likely fired the anti war movement and brought it to an end. Whether that was good or bad is still debated.

Americans, during the civil war, got the first battle field photos and the reality of World Wars One and Two, although not in real time eventually made it home.

Now I'm beginning to think that there really isn't a war in Iraq. It could be an alleged war, a wag the dog scenario. I hear of car bombings and mass casualties. The press reports that Iraqis are doing unspeakable things to each other. I've heard tell that they are drilling holes in each other with electric drills and other barbaric acts but I've not seen the evidence on TV or even a news paper photo. I see burned out cars and rubble in the streets. Broken glass seems to be everywhere and it would appear the new icon of the second war in Iraq is a close up of someone's shoes and a pool of blood in the street or a car seat. It seems like the cameras don't roll while the actual carnage is there. Do the editors at CNN, and Fox and the Net works choose to wait for that shot of the ambulances rolling away then broadcast the aftermath? The reporters on the scene then tell us what they saw . We get a verbal description but visual reality is off limits. After a couple of years of this war started we are starting to see wounded as they recover in the hospitals and a special or two showing how our combat wounded are cared for in the field but not the raw reality. If there is some actual combat footage then there is a huge caption either with a Fox or CNN footer blocking half the screen usually informing me that the marines are shooting. I could see that for myself. I want to see if they are hitting what they are shooting at. I want to see how my team is doing. If the same thing happened during a basketball or football game where the play was blocked by a huge caption the American people would be up in arms. Cable brings in advertising money with captioning so the practice is not going away. "Captioning brought to you by (Corporate advertiser)" but usually it tells us nothing we couldn't see for ourselves.

I've heard that the press actually had footage of people jumping from the twin towers. The beheading of hostages by Islamo fascists was seen by the rest of the world but not here. We were denied the opportunity to be enraged.

So what am I getting at? Do I love the carnage of war and get a rush when I hear about someone getting their heads cut off? No, it's disturbing. Its reality and it should be disturbing. My question, "why is reality off limits?" Do they teach in journalism school that we are too soft, to sensitive for the world as it is? Who decided that here in America we should displace reality with reality TV? Our kids can play with the XBOX and pretend that is war. The reality only comes after the recruiter signs them up. The warning that "what you are about to see might be disturbing to some people", allows us to be warned to switch to American Idol or some other soap opera and not be bothered with the things that really affect us. There is always a celebrity to be covered. Someone in the news room decided that Anna Nichole Smith or Britney Spears hair cut was news. There is always a wounded puppy or a rabbit to rescue. The Taliban got away with their religious dictatorship for ten years before Christian Amanpour's special enlightened us. Investigative reporting takes a back seat to the car chase or a sex and murder mystery. Michel Jackson got more coverage than our fighting men and women. The question I have is, "does that really help us, inform us, or help us make decisions based on the world as it really is?"

The Fantasy Island that is modern America goes on as before. But if you happen to believe there really is a war because CNN showed a close up of a burning car or a blood spot on the street or broken glass everywhere you might have the idea that the war should be ended or fought much harder, depending on your point of view. But it is a half-assed belief because you are being shown half-assed news. I say that a full dose of reality, the visual reality of the broken and dead bodies, the carnage and the rubble would move us one way or the other. We would either pull out or fight a total war. It would end one way or the other. This new compassionate press will slowly bleed our military and our treasury to death. Our young men and women still go into the fire and feel the heat while on the home front it's just a little disturbing and uncomfortable.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Sagebrush Buttercups

I’m giving many heart-felt thanks that the spring equinox arrives on Tuesday March 20th, at 5:07 PM. You may have noticed the sagebrush buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus var. glaberrimus) blooming this week if you’ve taken the time for a stroll in the countryside. They were blooming early in the week around Salt Creek north of highway 203 and later in the week along Elk Creek Road west of Bowen Valley. Healthy looking herds of pronghorn antelope can also be found in both areas. Grass widows (Sisyrinchium douglasii) are said to be blooming in Union County and Allium tolmei, with its white or pink flowers, will be blooming soon as well.

Sisyrinchium douglasii

Allium tolmei

Other signs of life are springing forth in back yards around Baker City. Crocus is blooming here along with the violets, and the tulips won’t be far behind. The 'Tricolor' variety of crocus is a selected clone of a subspecies of a snow crocus Crocus sieberi sublimis, native to mountains of the Peleponnese. Very cold hardy, it is suitable down to zone 3.

Crocus sieberi sublimes


On the bird front, the few sage grouse that have survived the human expropriation and/or ruination of their sagebrush habitat will begin their annual booming and strutting sessions about now.
Sage Grouse

From up in the mountains south of Phillips Reservoir, Jim Lawrence reports that “The birds here are getting really fired up, in the last week many elevational migrants have shown up: White-headed woodpeckers, juncos, solitaires, western bluebirds, Cassins finch were all noticeable. Yesterday I had my first saw-whet owl, and today woke to the sound of 2 male redwing blackbirds and a varied thrush. Pretty exciting stuff!”

Again, we should all be so lucky.

Joanne Britton sends along the following: “Cheyleen Davis reports sandhill cranes at Phillips Lake and mountain bluebirds. Jim Lawrence and I saw three sandhills circling high--found them by sound. We also saw tree swallows, horned larks darting around and sitting on fence posts--a great day for birding. Maybe the best sighting for me was a large flock of white-fronted geese at the Nazarene parking lot (sorry, Wanda R., they flew as we left).

Jim is willing to go on field trips with interested people to help identify birds and work with listening and IDing by sound. Does anyone want to join us? This will depend on his availability, but April, May, and June are good months. Please pass the word to those not on the list. I'd like to hear back from you.” (You can e-mail me your interest at and I’ll pass the info on to Joanne and Jim. Also, Cheyleen is looking for native plants for a garden she and her students are putting in behind the old bank vault in Sumpter. If you have anything to offer let me know.)

My raptor count Friday on the Burnt River between Bridgeport and Unity Reservoir wasn’t all that exciting. Diversity was down with lots of red-tail hawks but not much else. The rough-legged hawks have left for their northern breeding areas, and the southern migrants haven’t appeared yet, except that I did get two turkey vultures. Joanne B. had one the same day north west of Baker City. The great horned owl is still nesting on Bridgeport Lane, and I saw only one prairie falcon and no golden eagles or accipiters. There seems to be a mated pair of bald eagles still hanging out as well as one juvenile. Also picked up mountain bluebirds and two northern shrikes. Last year there were about 250 tundra swans on the S. Fork Burnt River arm of Unity Reservoir n the 13th, but by the 16th of this year there were only 74. Did see three separate pairs of sandhill cranes along the route as well as two Say’s phoebes. Also saw four western bluebirds and many horned larks last week in the valley, plus two sandhills flying north over my house. Things are looking up!


From Indy Media: The Pentagon was the focus of a spirited Peace demonstration on March 17, 2007. The crowd in the tens of thousands heard from over 30 riveting speakers. Activist Cindy Sheehan said: “Let’s stop this b... s...These b... s.... wars. It’s for the make them rich and line the pockets of the...war criminals.” She added: “We’re the deciders. And we have decided that we want Bush and Cheney impeached...indicted...and imprisoned.”

Thousands line streets in Hollywood


Iraq war protesters to march on Pentagon after 100 arrested:

Thousands of people are expected to converge on the center of the US capital Saturday and march on the Pentagon to protest the Iraq war, following the arrest of about 100 people during an anti-war vigil the night before.


Christians Gather in D.C. to Protest War:

Thousands of Christians prayed for peace at an anti-war service Friday night at the Washington National Cathedral, kicking off a weekend of protests around the country to mark the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq.


Ellsberg Joins March 19th Stop Funding the War Protest at Speaker Pelosi's Office

Daniel Ellsberg has agreed to be the lead speaker at The Stop Funding the War rally at 12 noon on Monday, March 19, 2007 in front of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district office at the San Francisco Federal Building, 450 Golden Gate Avenue.


True Confessions? The Amazing Tale of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

By Anthony D'Amato

The sweeping Guantanamo "confessions" of al Qaeda leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed rival the scope of those made in the Stalinist purge trials of the 1930s, and should equally prompt us to question the legal process in which they were made...


The Confession Backfired
By Paul Craig Roberts

The first confession released by the Bush regime’s Military Tribunals--that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed--has discredited the entire process. Writing in Jurist, Northwestern University law professor Anthony D’Amato likens Mohammed’s confession to those that emerged in Stalin’s show trials of Bolshevik leaders in the 1930s.


Washington exploits Guantánamo “confession” to justify its crimes
By Bill Van Auken
16 March 2007

What is largely obscured by the media’s approach is that Mohammed’s confession was extracted over the course of four years of detention and torture in secret CIA prisons, and that thousands of others subjected to similar treatment have yet to be accused of, much less tried for, a single crime.
. . . .

As for Mohammed, his confession would be ruled inadmissible in any genuine court. There is no question that he was subjected to forms of extreme torture. He was further intimidated by the CIA’s seizure of his wife and two young children, who were threatened with similar treatment unless he told his interrogators what they wanted to hear.
. . . .

In short, this is an individual who was not an Islamist and whose activities over the course of more than a decade appear to have dovetailed neatly with those of the CIA, directly serving the interests of American foreign policy.

That such an individual is identified as the “mastermind of September 11” only raises once again the essential question surrounding the still unexplained and tragic events of that day: was the US government informed in advance of the 9/11 plot and did it deliberately allow it to take place in order to provide the Bush administration with the pretext that it required to launch its already planned campaign of military aggression and conquest in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf?

It is not only Mohammed’s history as an apparent “asset” of both the CIA and Pakistani intelligence that raises this question. Any serious examination of the information that has emerged about how these attacks were prepared strongly suggests that intelligence officials in the US actively intervened to prevent the plot from being exposed and to protect those who ultimately carried it out.

Those quickly identified as the hijackers after 9/11—Mohammed Atta, Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi and others—were well known to US intelligence and had been under surveillance, in some cases for years, by the CIA. Nonetheless, they were allowed to enter and reenter the US, living openly and flying on transcontinental airplanes under their own names. The latter two individuals were even given housing by the FBI’s chief informant on Islamic radicalism in southern California.

Such questions, however, are raised neither by the media nor by the Bush administration’s ostensible political opposition, the Democratic Party. On the contrary, both rallied in support of the essential aim of the administration in releasing the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed transcript: terrorizing the American people and diverting public opinion.

Particularly revealing was the response of Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barak Obama of Illinois.

“Obviously, just from the confession, we see the scope of the planning that was done by al-Qaeda,” he declared on the morning television news program “Today” Thursday. “I think it just redoubles our need to make sure that we are securing the homeland...and that we are aggressive in terms of human intelligence, and really snuffing out these terrorist networks.”

To talk of the need to be “aggressive in terms of human intelligence” in relation to a case in which US intelligence officials acknowledge the use of the most extreme forms of torture, to the extent that the suspect cannot even be presented publicly, has unmistakable significance. Indeed, the entire subtext of the public discussion of Mohammed’s confession—obviously embraced by Obama—was that torture is both legitimate and necessary.

Obama went on to make the case that the Democrats demand for a withdrawal of combat troops—though by no means all troops—from Iraq was predicated on their redeployment... to Afghanistan.

“We have not followed through on the good starts we made in Afghanistan, partly because we took so many resources out and put them in Iraq,” he said. “I think it is very important for us to begin a planned redeployment from Iraq, including targeting Afghanistan.”

What emerges from this reaction to the Mohammed transcript is the bipartisan support for militarism abroad and sweeping attacks on democratic rights at home. Both major big business parties are agreed that the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan must continue and that the open-ended “war on terror” should be used to justify military aggression internationally. They also both support the use of police state powers and stepped-up spying at home to defend the interests of America’s ruling financial aristocracy. To the extent that there are differences, they are only over how well these methods have been employed and over what constitute the best tactics for accomplishing their shared goals.


The Problem with Barack Obama's Israel Pose

The significance of the World Court ruling on genocide in Bosnia
By Paul Mitchell
16 March 2007

“The aim of the West was to dismantle the state-run economy and restore the economic domination of international capital over Yugoslavia and the entire Balkan region.”

Yugoslavia was destroyed because it was one of the few remaining viable examples of socialism remaining in the world. Wealthy Capitalists live to crush the Socialist ideal.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Democracy and Social Arrangements in Baker City (part1)

One Face of Baker City

Those of you who are interested in participatory democracy, and how it functions here in Baker City and Baker County, might also be interested in my own experience as a concerned citizen trying to participate and give input to local government. But first a little background.

When we think of the democratic ideal, we often think of Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence and its notions of equality. Others might think of the “general Welfare” as found in the preamble to the Constitution. When I think of the reality of democracy in America though, I think of a phrase used by Michael Parenti in the title of one of his books, i.e.: “Democracy For The Few.”

The social structure here in Baker City and Baker County is similar to what will be found throughout America. Put in its simplest form, to paraphrase Bill Moyers, “[business people and the wealthy are our] undisputed overlords of politics and government.” If you are a business person (like all but one of our City Councilors), one involved with the Historic District or the culture industry, a member of the Chamber of Commerce or tourist bureaucracy, a large land owner farmer/rancher, a member of a long established family or a part of a good-old-boys & girls network, a health professional or City/County/State department head, a member of the law enforcement community, a leader in one of the many churches, or simply someone deemed “respectable” by the aforementioned, you stand a chance of receiving fair and equal treatment by local leaders and media. The late, great economist John Kenneth Galbraith defined “respectable” as those who are thought by some to be “individuals of sound, confidence inspiring judgment.” In answering his own question; “And what is the test of [that] respectability?” he replied: “It is broadly whether speech and action are consistent with the comfort and well-being of the people of property and position. A radical is anyone who causes discomfort or otherwise offends such interests.” And so it is in Baker County.
Another Face of Baker City

But what if you are a mere commoner, a member of the subclass mired in what some have referred to as the “culture of rural poverty,” or worse yet, a person whose speech and action are not consistent with the comfort and well-being of the people of property and position? Well, then, you need a good lawyer, but you probably can’t afford one. Your ideas may well be quite logical and sensible, or represent the legitimate attitudes of a significant portion of the American population, but unless they are shared by those in the local governing bodies, good-old boy networks, and media, those ideas become irrelevant and may not see the light of day.
One Flag Is Good

If you are a truly poor member of the “culture of rural poverty,” then your participation is reduced to remembering your place and adorning your property with symbols of acquiescence to the status quo. One of the most popular of these symbols here in Baker City is the American flag, the bigger the better, draped visibly in a front window or prominently displayed on a pole. Other than actually offering up the blood sacrifice of one’s children in our imperial wars (which is also popular), this is the one tried and true method for the poor to attempt to redeem themselves and their self-esteem--to earn some piddling amount of social currency. But the poor learned long ago that they don’t matter and know very well that participation in self-interested political battles is a wasted effort from their position of isolation and resourcelessness, so offering up their children and parading the colors and yellow ribbons largely defines the extent of their participation.

Two Flags Must Be Better

Others, such as myself, are slower learners. My efforts to participate and to engage the local power structure, including the media, in an exchange of ideas, has been met with reactions varying from polite acknowledgement to silent boycott, simple disdain, and outright contempt. Largely though, they just ignore me.

For example:
To be continued . . .


On Monday, March 5, Baker Valley presented many pintails, common goldeneye, mallards, 50-60 common mergansers on "Beautiful Lake Bob," buffleheads, 2 gadwall, and the usual large flock of Canada geese. Also heard my first killdeer in the east valley at Shetky Road.

This morning I heard my first of the season meadowlarks west of Bowen Valley on Elk Creek Road. Two bald eagles have been supervising the calving operation nearby for at least the last two days.

As predicted here last week, the Sandhill Cranes have appeared at Ladd Marsh. Craig Bennet of La Grande reported that 6 pairs were seen west of the freeway yesterday morning. 10 were just below the viewpoint on Foothill Road.

Straight Talk:

In addition to the following item from earlier in the week, NPR carried a story yesterday about the second largest provider of sub-prime home loans being in serious financial trouble. Excess has its consequences (believe me, I know!).

Dean Baker | The Housing Bubble Starts to Burst
Dean Baker writes: "While the collapse of the housing bubble was both predictable and inevitable, it is not pretty. Tens of millions of people will be hurt as they see much of the equity in their homes - money that most had counted on to support their retirement - disappear. Millions more will be forced out of their homes as they find that they are unable to meet the payments on adjustable rate mortgages that reset at higher rates. People who had worked hard and saved in order to become homeowners will see their dream disappear."

More on Honoring Our Veterans:

Valor and Squalor
By Paul Krugman
The New York Times
Monday 05 March 2007
Krugman says: ". . . the administration has broken longstanding promises of lifetime health care to those who defend our nation. Two months before the invasion of Iraq the V.H.A., which previously offered care to all veterans, introduced severe new restrictions on who is entitled to enroll in its health care system. As the agency's Web site helpfully explains, veterans whose income exceeds as little as $27,790 a year, and who lack "special eligibilities such as a compensable service connected condition or recent combat service," will be turned away.

So when you hear stories of veterans who spend months or years fighting to get the care they deserve, trying to prove that their injuries are service-related, remember this: all this red tape was created not by the inherent inefficiency of government bureaucracy, but by the Bush administration's penny-pinching."

See also:

Committee Subpoenas Former Walter Reed Chief
By Kelly Kennedy
The Army Times
Saturday 03 March 2007

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Honoring Our Veterans

You may have been following the story concerning the dilapidated conditions and substandard care our veterans experience at an outpatient unit at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. One of our local authors, Glenda Carter has been following this sad and outrageous story for a much longer time and she recently sent out this note:

Greetings Everyone,

Some people have known that our government system has been lacking in many ways in the care of the wounded, both physically and emotionally, but alone have not been able to do much about it. It has always been my belief that if we are going to send people to war then we, as a nation, need to care for the results. Someone recently reminded me, again, not to pull the punches but to tell it like it is.

We have not had the social atmosphere that would encourage the 'truth' in many matters. I think often of the line in the movie "A Few Good Men" when Jack Nicholson was on the witness stand and told the young lawyer, Tom Cruise, "Truth? You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!" There are many truths that we, as a nation, have a hard time hearing.
And there are many truths that we have a hard time sharing.

I also recall the words of a Vietnam Vet that I met at Bruce’s company reunion in 2004 just a few months before my book was published. In his intoxicated state, he said, "You tell it like it is, don't you pull any punches."

So, I think this information is important to know so we can be part of the solution and not a part of the problem.

I received this link from a woman who served as a Nurse in Vietnam. She, along with many others, continues to suffer from PTSD.

She simply wrote, "I'm having a horrible time. I'm glad people are speaking up."

Some of you receiving this message understand those words without further explanation. For those of you who don't, just remember to pray for the people who continue to struggle and suffer with the silent war of PTSD.

"Emotional wounds are like physical wounds. They need to be cleaned and treated for them to heal properly." gc.

It is time to put aside the differences of our politics and take the time to raise the level of compassion. It is not only time to hear the truth but it is time to 'speak' the truths.

Please take the time to be informed and read this.

‘It is just not Walter Reed,’ one veteran says

Glenda M. Carter - Author
Sacred Shadow Sacred Ground

Two Rainbows Publishing
P.O. Box 89
North Powder, OR 97867

Glenda M. Carter became a Widow of War when her 18 yr. old husband Bruce L. Carter was killed in Vietnam on September 11, 1968.

It was over 3 decades before she began to work through the major part of the unresolved grief issues from the loss of Bruce. After receiving a diagnosis of PTSD in 2001 she began the process of healing and continues that process today.

During the first three years of her recovery, (2001-2004) she wrote and published the book, Sacred Shadow, Sacred Ground: A Vietnam War Widow's Journey Through Unresolved Grief.

Though the process has brought about healing and God's peace, Glenda realizes that PTSD is an on-going condition. She is thankful that today, there is treatment and that treatment is more visible. She is hopeful that the new generation, currently at war, will not have to wait three decades to receive treatment. She continues to be concerned about those of the Vietnam Era, who still suffer from PTSD and who still have yet to be treated. She is quick to remind people that PTSD is not just war related and encourages people to educate themselves on how to recognize, treat and live with the condition, whether it is war related or brought on by a different traumatic loss.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

“I have an appointment with Spring!”

Yellow-Headed Blackbirds can't be too many weeks away.
This beauty was found in the Baker Valley last summer.

I have an appointment with Spring!” - Henry David Thoreau

Still no time for writing much today ;-), but Jim Lawrence reminded me that the breeding birds and migrants are beginning to arrive, so today we have bird news.

Reporting from the Black Mountain area south of Phillips Reservoir, Jim says the “first white headed woodpecker” showed up this week and they had a “junco today”. “All the cavity nesters are pairing up and the owls are calling.” We should be so lucky here in Baker City!

A birding friend, Anne Frost, from Mt. Vernon, reports that she had her first Sandhill Cranes fly over the homestead heading north this week. Might expect to hear reports of them at Ladd Marsh up south of La Grande soon. Also, in a sign that global warming is having its effects, she said her earliest ever red-winged blackbird arrived on January 31st this year.

There were Gray-crowned Rosy-finches reported two weeks ago about 6 & 1/2 miles north of Enterprise just off of Highway 3 on Leap road. Oh well, maybe next year.

Alice Lentz had her usual assortment of goldfinches, pine siskins and California quail in town, with the added unusual bonus of five beautiful evening grosbeaks. Usually have to go out to Joanne Britton’s place around Wingville to find the latter.

The only new species at my place were two Cassin’s finches, but I did have another visit by the neighborhood Sharp-shinned hawk. Seen as a terrorist by some and a blessing by others, myself included, this quick and agile little accipiter is one of the few controls on the burgeoning local population of alien and aggravating house sparrows and starlings. While my chickens do occasionally nail one in an act of thievery at the feeder, it is this small bird hawk, barely bigger than a robin, who probably does the most to keep my feed bill down. I say probably, because a barn owl does occasionally bless the place with its presence, and as we do keep different schedules, it is possible that this angelic owl is more helpful than I know in controlling the mice around the coops.

Sharp-shinned hawk in Baker City

If you have bird sightings to report, please send them my way and I’ll try to compile them for at least a weekly report.


Straight Talk:

Democrats being Democrats: Prostrate for the Israel Lobby i.e., Sacrificing the Palestinians for a chance at the Presidency.

How Barack Obama learned to love Israel
Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 4 March 2007

If you have the bandwidth:
Robert Newman’s History of Oil

Uh Oh! Facts getting “in the way of cherished mythology!”
Not Guilty! Serbia cleared of genocide charges

Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Bring on the Diplomats - Straight Talk on Iran/Iraq - George Carlin On Religion

No time for writing much today so I’ll just mention one of my pet peeves. It goes like this:

If “progressives” are unsuccessful at creating a consensus around an issue or issues, or at simply getting the horses to water, let alone persuading them to drink, it is somehow their fault. We are told that the poor saps who put their necks on the line in an attempt at bringing new information to people just don’t get it right! If they only understood the target audience then they would be responsive. If they would just improve their tone everyone would jump on the bandwagon. If they would only frame the issue correctly we wouldn’t have to put up with people like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush any more. If only they wouldn’t be so direct—if only they would just soften or massage the truth. If only, if only. If only. . . .

Is it really that simple? Is it really that easy to persuade the mass of people to correct course simply by putting up a few inconvenient truths against piles of special interest campaign money, a torrent of media lies and lifetimes of government and corporate brainwashing? Can an atheist change the belief of an evangelical by simply producing the available facts?

This complaint is all the more troubling because it usually comes from other “progressives,” who although they are thought to be wise beyond their years, have had little or no recent success themselves in stopping the destruction of the General Welfare, the corporate attacks on democracy, and the downward slide towards ecological collapse.

So I plead with those of you who make these criticisms: Realize your duty! Don’t hold back any longer! Come away from your cash registers, your foundation grant writing and your personal projects. The beautification programs can wait--we need you now! Bring on the Diplomats and show us the way!


Straight Talk -

“. . . we’re going to wake up one morning soon, very soon, and we will be at war with Iran” - Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski (ret.)

Pentagon Whistle-Blower on the Coming War With Iran

Read the Truthdig Interview:

Listen to the MP3 Audio:
(running time: 32:41 / 29.9 MB)

George Carlin on Religion: